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Title: Moral Science; a Compendium of Ethics
Author: Bain, Alexander, 1818-1903
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Author of "Mental Science: A Compendium of Psychology;" "The
Senses and the Intellect;" "The Emotions and the Will;" "A
Manual ooof Rhetoric;" Professor of Logic in the University
of Aberdeen, etc., etc., etc.



The present Dissertation falls under two divisions.

The first division, entitled The Theory of Ethics, gives an account of
the questions or points brought into discussion, and handles at length
the two of greatest prominence, the Ethical Standard, and the Moral

The second division--on The Ethical Systems--is a full detail of all
the systems, ancient and modern, by conjoined Abstract and Summary.
With few exceptions, an abstract is made of each author's exposition
of his own theory, the fulness being measured by relative importance;
while, for better comparing and remembering the several theories, they
are summarized at the end, on a uniform plan.

The connection of Ethics with Psychology is necessarily intimate; the
leading ethical controversies involve a reference to mind, and can be
settled only by a more thorough understanding of mental processes.

Although the present volume is properly a continuation of the Manual
of Psychology and the History of Philosophy, recently published, and
contains occasional references to that treatise, it may still be
perused as an independent work on the Ethical Doctrines and Systems.






  I.--The ETHICAL STANDARD. Summary of views.

 II.--PSYCHOLOGICAL questions.
     1. The Moral Faculty.
     2. The Freedom of the Will; the sources of Disinterested conduct.

III.--The BONUM, SUMMUM BONUM, or Happiness.

 IV.--The CLASSIFICATION OF DUTIES, and the Moral Code.

  V.--Relationship of Ethics to POLITICS.

 VI.--Relation to Theology.



 1. Ethics, as a department of Practice, is defined by its End.

 2. The Ethical End is the welfare of society, realized through rules
    of conduct duly enforced.

 3. The Rules of Ethics are of two kinds. The first are imposed under
    a penalty. These are Laws proper, or Obligatory Morality.

 4. The second are supported by Rewards; constituting Optional
    Morality, Merit, Virtue, or Nobleness.

 5. The Ethical End, or Morality, _as it has been_, is founded partly
    in Utility, and partly in Sentiment.

 6. The Ethical End is limited, according to the view taken of Moral
    Government, or Authority:--Distinction between Security and

 7. Morality, in its essential parts, is 'Eternal and Immutable;' in
    other parts, it varies with custom.

 8. Enquiry as to the kind, of proof that an Ethical Standard is
    susceptible of. The ultimate end of action must be referred to
    individual judgment.

 9. The judgment of Mankind is, with some qualifications, in favour of
    Happiness as the supreme end of conduct.

10. The Ethical end that society is tending to, is Happiness, or

11. Objections against Utility. I.--Happiness is not the sole aim of
    human pursuit.

12. II.--The consequences of actions are beyond calculation.

13. III.--The principle of Utility contains no motives to seek the
    happiness of others.



 1. Question whether the Moral Faculty be simple or complex.

 2. Arguments in favour of its being simple and intuitive:--First, Our
    moral judgments are immediate and instantaneous.

 3. Secondly, It is a faculty common to all mankind.

 4. Thirdly, It is different from any other mental phenomenon.

 5. Replies to these Arguments, and Counter-arguments:---First;
    Immediateness of operation is no proof of an innate origin.

 6. Secondly, The alleged similarity of men's moral judgments holds
    only in a limited degree. Answers given by the advocates of an
    Innate sentiment, to the discrepancies.

 7. Thirdly, Moral right and wrong is not an indivisible property, but
    an extensive Code of regulations.

 8. Fourthly, Intuition is not sufficient to settle debated questions.

 9. Fifthly, It is possible to analyze the Moral Faculty:--Estimate of
    the operation of (1) Prudence, (2) Sympathy, and (3) the Emotions

10. The _peculiar attribute_ of Rightness arises from the institution
    of Government or Authority.

11. The speciality of Conscience, or the Moral Sentiment, is
    identified with our education under Government, or Authority.



SOKRATES. His subjects were Men and Society. His Ethical Standard
indistinctly expressed. Resolved Virtue into Knowledge. Ideal of
pursuit--Well-doing. Inculcated self-denying Precepts. Political
Theory. Connexion of Ethics with Theology slender.

PLATO. Review of the Dialogues containing portions of Ethical
Theory:--_Alkibiades I_. discusses Just and Unjust. _Alkibiades II_.
the knowledge of Good or Reason. _Hippias Minor_ identifies Virtue
with Knowledge. _Minos_ (on Law) refers everything to the decision of
an Ideal Wise man. _Laekes_ resolves Courage, and _Charmides_
Temperance, into Intelligence or the supreme science of good and evil.
_Lysis_ (on Friendship) gives the Idea of the good as the supreme
object of affection. _Menon_ enquires, Is virtue _teachable?_ and
iterates the science of good and evil. _Protagoras_ makes Pleasure the
only good, and Pain the only evil, and defines the science of good and
evil as the comparison of pleasures and pains. _Gorgias_ contradicts
Protagoras, and sets up Order or Discipline as a final end.
_Politikus_ (on Government) repeats the Sokratic ideal of the One Wise
man. _Philebus_ makes Good a compound of Pleasure with Intelligence,
the last predominating. The _Republic_ assimilates Society to an
Individual man, and defines Justice as the balance of the constituent
parts of each. _Timoeus_ repeats the doctrine that wickedness is
disease, and not voluntary. The _Laws_ place all conduct under the
prescription of the civil magistrate. Summary of Plato's views.

THE CYNICS AND THE CYRENAICS. Cynic succession. The proper description
of the tenets of both schools comes under the Summum Bonum. The Cynic
Ideal was the minimum of wants, and their self-denial was compensated
by exemption from fear, and by pride of superiority. The Cyrenaic
ARISTIPPUS:--Was the first to maintain that the summum bonum is
Pleasure and the absence of Pain. Future Pleasures and Pains taken
into the account. His Psychology of Pleasure and Pain.

ARISTOTLE. Abstract of the Nicomachean Ethics. Book First. The Chief
Good, or Highest End of human endeavours. Great differences of opinion
as to the nature of Happiness. The Platonic Idea of the Good
criticised. The Highest End an _end-in-itself_. Virtue referable to
the special work of man; growing out of his mental capacity. External
conditions necessary to virtue and happiness. The Soul subdivided into
parts, each, having its characteristic virtue or excellence.

Book Second. Definition and classification of the Moral virtues.
Virtue the result of Habit. Doctrine of the MEAN. The test of virtue
to feel no pain. Virtue defined (_genus_) an acquirement or a State,
(_differentia_) a Mean between extremes. Rules for hitting the Mean.

Book Third. The Voluntary and Involuntary. Deliberate Preference.
Virtue and vice are voluntary. The virtues in detail:--Courage
[Self-sacrifice implied in Courage]. Temperance.

Book Fourth. Liberality. Magnificence. Magnanimity. Mildness.
Good-breeding. Modesty.

Book Fifth. Justice:--Universal Justice includes all virtue.
Particular Justice is of two kinds, Distributive and Corrective.

Book Sixth. Intellectual Excellences, or Virtues of the Intellect. The
Rational part of the Soul embraces the Scientific and the Deliberative
functions. Science deals with the necessary. Prudence or the Practical
Reason; its aims and requisites. In virtue, good dispositions must be
accompanied with Prudence.

Book Seventh. Gradations of moral strength and moral weakness.
Continence and Incontinence.

Books Eighth and Ninth. Friendship:--Grounds of Friendship. Varieties
of Friendship, corresponding to different objects of liking.
Friendship between the virtuous is alone perfect. A settled habit, not
a mere passion. Equality in friendship. Political friendships.
Explanation of the family affections. Rule of reciprocity of services.
Conflicting obligations. Cessation of friendships. Goodwill. Love felt
by benefactors. Self-love. Does the happy man need friends?

Book Tenth. Pleasure:--Theories of Pleasure--Eudoxus, Speusippus,
Plato. Pleasure is not The Good. Pleasure defined. The pleasures of
Intellect. Nature of the Good or Happiness resumed. Perfect happiness
found only in the philosophical life; second to which is the active
social life of the good citizen. Happiness of the gods. Transition
from Ethics to Politics.

THE STOICS. The succession of Stoical philosophers. Theological
Doctrines of the Stoics:--The Divine Government; human beings must
rise to the comprehension of Universal Law; the soul at death absorbed
into the divine essence; argument from Design. Psychology:--Theory of
Pleasure and Pain; theory of the Will. Doctrine of Happiness or the
Good:--Pain no evil; discipline of endurance--Apathy. Theory of
Virtue:--Subordination of self to the larger interests; their view of
active Beneficence; the Stoical paradoxes; the idea of Duty;
consciousness of Self-improvement.

EPICURUS. Life and writings. His successors. Virtue and vice referred
by him to Pleasures and Pains calculated by Reason. Freedom from Pain
the primary object. Regulation of desires. Pleasure good if not
leading to pain. Bodily feeling the foundation of sensibility. Mental
feelings contain memory and hope. The greatest miseries are from the
delusions of hope, and from the torments of fear. Fear of Death and
Fear of the Gods. Relations with others; Justice and Friendship--both
based on reciprocity. Virtue and Happiness inseparable. Epicureanism
the type of all systems grounded on enlightened self-interest.

THE NEO-PLATONISTS. The Moral End to be attained through an
intellectual regimen. The soul being debased by its connection with
matter, the aim of human action is to regain the spiritual life. The
first step is the practice of the cardinal virtues: the next the
purifying virtues. Happiness is the undisturbed life of contemplation.
Correspondence of the Ethical, with the Metaphysical scheme.

SCHOLASTIC ETHICS. ABAELARD:--Lays great stress on the subjective
element in morality; highest human good, love to God; actions
judged by intention, and intention by conscience.

ST. BERNARD:--Two degrees of virtue, Humility and Love.

JOHN of SALISBURY:--Combines philosophy and theology; doctrine of
Happiness; the lower and higher desires.

AQUINAS:--Aristotelian mode of enquiry as to the end; God the highest
good; true happiness lies in the self-sufficing theoretic
intelligence; virtue; division of the virtues.

HOBBES. (Abstract of the Ethical part of Leviathan). Constituents of
man's nature. The Good. Pleasure. The simple passions. Theory of the
Will. Good and evil. Conscience. Virtue. Position of Ethics in the
Sciences. Power, Worth, Dignity. Happiness a perpetual progress;
consequences of the restlessness of desire. Natural state of mankind;
a state of enmity and war. Necessity of articles of peace, called Laws
of Nature. Law defined. Rights; Renunciation of rights; Contract;
Merit. Justice. Laws of Gratitude, Complaisance, Pardon upon
repentance. Laws against Cruelty, Contumely, Pride, Arrogance. Laws of
Nature, how far binding. Summary.

CUMBERLAND. Standard of Moral Good summed up in Benevolence. The moral
faculty is the Reason, apprehending the Nature of Things. Innate Ideas
an insufficient foundation. Will. Disinterested action. Happiness.
Moral Code, the common good of all rational beings. Obligations in
respect of giving and of receiving. Politics. Religion.

CUDWORTH. Moral Good and Evil cannot be arbitrary. The mind has a
power of Intellection, above Sense, for aiming at the eternal and
immutable verities.

CLARKE. The eternal Fitness and Unfitness of Things determine Justice,
Equity, Goodness and Truth, and lay corresponding obligations upon
reasonable creatures. The sanction of Rewards and Punishments
secondary and additional. Our Duties.

WOLLASTON. Resolves good and evil into Truth and Falsehood.

LOCKE. Arguments against Innate Practical Principles. Freedom of the
Will. Moral Rules grounded in law.

BUTLER. Characteristics of our Moral Perceptions. Disinterested
Benevolence a fact of our constitutions. Our passions and affections
do not aim at self as their immediate end. The Supremacy of Conscience
established from our moral nature. Meanings of Nature. Benevolence not
ultimately at variance with Self-Love.

HUTCHESON.--Primary feelings of the mind. Finer perceptions--Beauty,
Sympathy, the Moral Sense, Social feelings; the benevolent order of
the world suggesting Natural Religion. Order or subordination of the
feelings as Motives; position of Benevolence. The Moral Faculty
distinct and independent. Confirmation of the doctrine from the Sense
of Honour. Happiness. The tempers and characters bearing on happiness.
Duties to God. Circumstances affecting the moral good or evil of
actions. Rights and Laws.

MANDEVILLE. Virtue supported solely by self-interest. Compassion
resolvable into self. Pride an important source of moral virtue.
Private vices, public benefits. Origin of Society.

HUME. Question whether Reason or Sentiment be the foundation of
morals. The esteem for Benevolence shows that Utility enters into
virtue. Proofs that Justice is founded solely on Utility. Political
Society has utility for its end. The Laws. Why Utility pleases.
Qualities useful to ourselves. Qualities agreeable (1) to ourselves,
and (2) to others. Obligation. The respective share of Reason and of
Sentiment in moral approbation. Benevolence not resolvable into

PRICE. The distinctions of Right and Wrong are perceived by the
Understanding. The Beauty and Deformity of Actions. The feelings have
some part in our moral discrimination. Self-Love and Benevolence. Good
and ill Desert. Obligation. Divisions of Virtue. Intention as an
element in virtuous action. Estimate of degrees of Virtue and Vice.

ADAM SMITH. Illustration of the workings of Sympathy. Mutual sympathy.
The Amiable and the Respectable Virtues. How far the several passions
are consistent with Propriety. Influences of prosperity and adversity
on moral judgments. The Sense of Merit and Demerit. Self-approbation.
Love of Praise and of Praiseworthiness. Influence and authority of
Conscience. Self-partiality; corrected by the use of General Rules.
Connexion of Utility with Moral Approbation. Influence of Custom on
the Moral Sentiments. Character of Virtue. Self-command. Opinion
regarding the theory of the Moral Sense.

HARTLEY. Account of Disinterestedness. The Moral Sense a product of


REID. Duty not to be resolved into Interest. Conscience an original
power of the mind. Axiomatic first principles of Morals. Objections to
the theory of Utility.

STEWART. The Moral Faculty an original power. Criticism of opposing
views. Moral Obligation: connexion with Religion. Duties. Happiness:
classification of pleasures.

BROWN. Moral approbation a simple emotion of the mind. Universality of
moral distinctions. Objections to the theory of Utility. Disinterested

PALEY. The Moral Sense not intuitive. Happiness. Virtue: its
definition. Moral Obligation resolved into the command of God. Utility
a criterion of the Divine Will. Utility requires us to consider
_general_ consequences. Rights. Duties.

BENTHAM. Utility the sole foundation of Morals. Principles adverse to
Utility. The Four Sanctions of Right. Comparative estimate of
Pleasures and Pains. Classification of Pleasures and Pains. Merit and
Demerit. Pleasures and pains viewed as Motives: some motives are
Social or tutelary, others Dissocial or Self-regarding. Dispositions.
The consequences of a mischievous act. Punishment. Private Ethics
(Prudence) and Legislation distinguished; their respective spheres.

MACKINTOSH. Universality of Moral Distinctions. Antithesis or Reason
and Passion. It is not virtuous _acts_ but virtuous _dispositions_
that outweigh the pains of self-sacrifice. The moral sentiments have
for their objects Dispositions. Utility. Development of Conscience
through Association; the constituents are Gratitude, Sympathy,
Resentment and Shame, together with Education. Religion must
presuppose Morality. Objections to Utility criticised. Duties to
ourselves, an improper expression. Reference of moral sentiments to
the Will.

JAMES MILL. Primary constituents of the Moral Faculty--pleasurable and
painful sensations. The Causes of these sensations. The Ideas of them,
and of their causes. Hope, Fear; Love, Joy; Hatred, Aversion. Remote
causes of pleasures and pains--Wealth, Power, Dignity, and their
opposites. Affections towards our fellow-creatures--Friendship,
Kindness, &c. Motives. Dispositions. Applications to the virtue of
Prudence. Justice--by what motives supported. Beneficence. Importance
in moral training, of Praise and Blame, and their associations; the
Moral Sanction. Derivation of Disinterested Feelings.

AUSTIN. Laws defined and classified. The Divine Laws; how are we to
know the Divine Will? Utility the sole criterion. Objections to
Utility. Criticism of the theory of a Moral Sense. Prevailing
misconceptions as to Utility. Nature of Law resumed and illustrated.
Impropriety of the term 'law' as applied to the operations of Nature.

WHEWELL. Opposing schemes of Morality. Proposal to reconcile them.
There are some actions Universally approved. A Supreme Rule of Right
to be arrived at by combining partial rules: these are obtained from
the nature of our faculties. The rule of Speech is Truth; Property
supposes Justice; the Affections indicate Humanity. It is a
self-evident maxim that the Lower parts of our nature are governed by
the Higher. Classification of Springs of Action. Disinterestedness.
Classification of Moral Rules. Division of Rights.

FERRIER. Question of the Moral Sense: errors on both sides. Sympathy
passes beyond feeling, and takes in Thought or self-consciousness.
Happiness has two ends--the maintenance of man's Rational nature, and

MANSEL. The conceptions of Right and Wrong are _sui generis_. The
moral law can have no authority unless emanating from a lawgiver. The
Standard is the moral nature, and not the arbitrary will, of God.

JOHN STUART MILL. Explanation of what Utilitarianism consists in.
Reply to objections against setting up Happiness as the Ethical end.
Ultimate Sanction of the principle of Utility: the External and
Internal sanctions; Conscience how made up. The sort of Proof that
Utility is susceptible of:--the evidence that happiness is desirable,
is that men desire it; it is consistent with Utility that virtue
should be desired for itself. Connexion between Justice and
Utility:--meanings of Justice; essentially grounded in Law; the
sentiments that support Justice, are Self-defence, and Sympathy;
Justice owes its paramount character to the essential of Security;
there are no immutable maxims of Justice.

BAILEY. Facts of the human constitution that give origin to moral
phenomena:--susceptibility to pleasure and pain, and to the causes of
them; reciprocation of these; our expecting reciprocation from others;
sympathy. Consideration of our feelings in regard to actions done to
us by others. Our feelings as spectators of actions done to others by
others. Actions done to ourselves by others. The different cases
combine to modify each other. Explanation of the discrepancies of the
moral sentiment in different communities. The consequences of actions
the only criterion for rectifying the diversities. Objections to the
happiness-test. The term Utility unsuitable. Disputes as to the origin
of moral sentiment in Reason or in a Moral Sense.

SPENCER. Happiness the ultimate, but not the proximate, end. Moral
Science a deduction from the laws of life and the conditions of
existence. There have been, and still are, developing in the race,
certain fundamental Moral Intuitions. The Expediency-Morality is
transitional. Reference to the general theory of Evolution.

KANT. Distinguishes between the empirical and the rational mode of
treating Ethics. Nothing properly good, except _Will_. Subjection of
Will to Reason. An action done from natural inclination is worthless
morally. Duty is respect for Law; conformity to Law is the one
principle of volition. Moral Law not ascertainable empirically, it
must originate _a priori_ in pure (practical) Reason. The Hypothetical
and Categorical Imperatives. Imperative of Prudence. Imperative of
Morality. The formula of Morality. The ends of Morality. The Rational
nature of man is an end-in-itself. The Will the source of its own
laws--the Autonomy of the Will. The Reason of Ends. Morality alone has
intrinsic Worth or Dignity. Principles founded on the Heteronomy of
the Will--Happiness, Perfection. Duty legitimized by the conception of
the Freedom of the Will, properly understood. Postulates of the pure
Practical Reason--Freedom, Immortality, God. Summary.

COUSIN. Analysis of the sentiments aroused in us by human actions. The
Moral Sentiment made up of a variety of moral judgments--Good and
Evil, Obligation, Liberty, Merit and Demerit. Virtue brings Happiness.
Moral Satisfaction and Remorse. The Law of Duty is conformity to
Reason. The characteristic of Reason is Universality. Classification
of Duties:--Duties to Self; to Others--Truth, Justice, Charity.
Application to Politics.

JOUFFROY. Each creature has a special nature, and a special end. Man
has certain primary passions to be satisfied. Secondary passions--the
Useful, the Good, Happiness. All the faculties controlled by the
Reason. The End of Interest. End of Universal Order. Morality the
expression of divine thought; identified with the beautiful and the
true. The moral law and self-interest coincide. Boundaries of the
three states--Passion, Egoism, Moral determination.






As a preface to the account of the Ethical Systems, and a principle of
arrangement, for the better comparing of them, we shall review in
order the questions that arise in the discussion.

I. First of all is the question as to the ETHICAL STANDARD. What, in
the last resort, is the test, criterion, umpire, appeal, or Standard,
in determining Right and Wrong? In the concrete language of Paley,
"Why am I obliged to keep my word? The answer to this is the Theory of
Right and Wrong, the essential part of every Ethical System."

We may quote the leading answers, as both explaining and summarizing
the chief question of Ethics, and more especially of Modern Ethics.

1. It is alleged that the arbitrary Will of the Deity, as expressed in
the Bible, is the ultimate standard. On this view anything thus
commanded is right, whatever be its consequences, or however it may
clash with our sentiments and reasonings.

2. It was maintained by Hobbes, that the Sovereign, acting under his
responsibility to God, is the sole arbiter of Right and Wrong. As
regards Obligatory Morality, this seems at first sight an identical
proposition; morality is another name for law and sovereignty. In the
view of Hobbes, however, the sovereign should be a single person, of
absolute authority, humanly irresponsible, and irremoveable; a type of
sovereignty repudiated by civilized nations.

3. It has been held, in various phraseology, that a certain _fitness_,
suitability, or propriety in actions, as determined by our
Understanding or Reason, is the ultimate test. "When a man keeps his
word, there is a certain congruity or consistency between the action
and the occasion, between the making of a promise and its fulfilment;
and wherever such congruity is discernible, the action is right." This
is the view of Cudworth, Clarke, and Price. It may be called the
Intellectual or Rational theory.

A special and more abstract form of the same theory is presented in
the dictum of Kant--'act in such a way that your conduct might be a
law to all beings.'

4. It is contended, that the human mind possesses an intuition or
instinct, whereby we feel or discern at once the right from the wrong;
a view termed the doctrine of the Moral Sense, or Moral Sentiment.
Besides being supported by numerous theorizers in Ethics, this is the
prevailing and popular doctrine; it underlies most of the language of
moral suasion. The difficulties attending the stricter interpretation
of it have led to various modes of qualifying and explaining it, as
will afterwards appear. Shaftesbury and Hutcheson are more especially
identified with the enunciation of this doctrine in its modern aspect.

5. It was put forth by Mandeville that Self-interest is the only test
of moral rightness. Self-preservation is the first law of being; and
even when we are labouring for the good of others, we are still having
regard to our own interest.

6. The theory called, Utility, and Utilitarianism, supposes that the
well-being or happiness of mankind is the sole end, and ultimate
standard of morality. The agent takes account both of his own
happiness and of the happiness of others, subordinating, on proper
occasions, the first to the second. This theory is definite in its
opposition to all the others, but admits of considerable latitude of
view within itself. Stoicism and Epicureanism, are both included in
its compass.

The two last-named theories--Self-Interest, and Utility or the Common
Well-Being, have exclusive regard to the consequences of actions; the
others assign to consequences a subordinate position. The terms
External and Dependent are also used to express the reference to
Happiness as the end: Internal and Independent are the contrasting

II. Ethical Theory embraces certain questions of pure PSYCHOLOGY.

1. The Psychological nature of Conscience, the Moral Sense, or by
whatever name we designate the faculty of distinguishing right and
wrong, together with the motive power to follow the one and eschew the
other. That such a faculty exists is admitted. The question is, what
is its place and origin in the mind?

On the one side, Conscience is held to be a _unique_ and ultimate
power of the mind, like the feeling of Resistance, the sense of Taste,
or the consciousness of Agreement. On the other side, Conscience is
viewed as a growth or derivation from other recognized properties of
the mind. The Theory of the Standard (4) called the doctrine of the
Moral Sense, proceeds upon the first view; on that theory, the
Standard and the Faculty make properly but one question. All other
theories are more or less compatible with the composite or derivative
nature of Conscience; the supporters of Utility, in particular, adopt
this alternative.

2. A second Psychological question, regarded by many (notably by Kant)
as vitally implicated in Moral Obligation, is the Freedom of the Will.
The history of opinion on this subject has been in great part already

3. Thirdly, It has been debated, on Psychological grounds, whether our
Benevolent actions (which all admit) are ultimately modes of
self-regard, or whether there be, in the human mind, a source of
purely Disinterested conduct. The first view, or the reference of
benevolence to Self, admits of degrees and varieties of statement.

(1) It may be held that in performing good actions, we expect and
obtain an immediate reward fully equivalent to the sacrifice made.
Occasionally we are rewarded in kind; but the reward most usually
forthcoming (according to Mandeville), is praise or flattery, to which
the human mind is acutely sensitive.

(2) Our constitution may be such that we are pained by the sight of an
object in distress, and give assistance, to relieve ourselves of the
pain. This was the view of Hobbes; and it is also admitted by
Mandeville as a secondary motive.

(3) We may be so formed as to derive enjoyment from the performance of
acts of kindness, in the same immediate way that we are gratified by
warmth, flowers, or music; we should thus be moved to benevolence by
an intrinsic pleasure, and not by extraneous consequences.

Bentham speaks of the pleasures and the pains of Benevolence, meaning
that we derive pleasure from causing pleasure to others, and pain from
the sight of pain in others.

(4) It may be affirmed that, although we have not by nature any purely
disinterested impulses, these are generated in us by associations and
habits, in a manner similar to the conversion of means into final
ends, as in the case of money. This is the view propounded by James
Mill, and by Mackintosh.

Allowance being made for a certain amount of fact in these various
modes of connecting Benevolence with self, it is still maintained in
the present work, as by Butler, Hume, Adam Smith, and others, that
human beings are (although very unequally) endowed with a prompting to
relieve the pains and add to the pleasures of others, irrespective of
all self-regarding considerations; and that such prompting is not a
product of associations with self.

In the ancient world, purely disinterested conduct was abundantly
manifested in practice, although not made prominent in Ethical Theory.
The enumeration of the Cardinal Virtues does not expressly contain
Benevolence; but under Courage, Self-sacrifice was implied. Patriotic
Self-devotion, Love, and Friendship were virtues highly cultivated. In
Cicero, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, there is a recognition of general

The two heads now sketched--The Standard and the Psychology of our
Moral nature--almost entirely exhaust modern Ethics. Smith, Stewart,
and Mackintosh agree in laying down as the points in dispute these
two:--First, What does virtue consist in? Secondly, What is the power
or faculty of the mind that discovers and enforces it?

These two positions, however, are inadequate as regards Ancient
Ethics. For remedying the deficiency, and for bringing to light
matters necessary to the completeness of an Ethical survey, we add the
following heads:--

III. The Theory of what constitutes the Supreme END of Life, the BONUM
or the SUMMUM BONUM. The question as to the highest End has divided
the Ethical Schools, both ancient and modern. It was the point at
issue between the Stoics and the Epicureans. That Happiness is not the
highest end has been averred, in modern times, by Butler and others:
the opposite position is held by the supporters of Utility. What may
be called the severe and ascetic systems (theoretically) refuse to
sanction any pursuit of happiness or pleasure, except through virtue,
or duty to others. The view practically proceeded upon, now and in
most ages, is that virtue discharges a man's obligations to his
fellows, which being accomplished, he is then at liberty to seek what
pleases himself. (For the application of the laws of mind to the
theory of HAPPINESS, see Appendix C.)

IV.-The CLASSIFICATION OF DUTIES is characteristic of different
systems and different authors. The oldest scheme is the Four Cardinal
Virtues--Prudence, Courage, Temperance, Justice. The modern Christian
moralists usually adopt the division--Duties to God, to Others, to

Moreover, there are differences in the substance of Morality itself,
or the things actually imposed. The code under Christianity has varied
both from Judaism and from Paganism.

V.-The relationship of Ethics to POLITICS is close, while the points
of difference of the two are also of great importance. In Plato the
two subjects were inseparable; and in Aristotle, they were blended to
excess. Hobbes also joined Ethics and Politics in one system. (See
Chap, ii., § 3.)

VI.-The relation of Ethics to THEOLOGY is variously represented in
modern systems. The Fathers and the Schoolmen accepted the authority
of the Bible chiefly on tradition, and did not venture to sit in
judgment on the substance of the revelation. They, therefore, rested
their Ethics exclusively on the Bible; or, at most, ventured upon
giving some mere supplement of its precepts.

Others, in more modern times, have considered that the moral character
of a revelation enters into the evidence in its favour; whence,
morality must be considered as independent, and exclusively human, in
its origin. It would be reasoning in a circle to derive the moral law
from the bible, and then to prove the bible from the moral law.

Religion superadds its own sanction to the moral duties, so far as
adopted by it; laying especial stress upon select precepts. It
likewise calls into being a distinct code of duties, the religious
duties strictly so called; which have no force except with believers.
The 'duties to God,' in the modern classification, are religious, as
distinguished from moral duties.



1. ETHICS, or Morality, is a department of Practice; and, as with
other practical departments, is defined by its End.

Ethics is not mere knowledge or speculation, like the sciences of
Astronomy, Physiology, or Psychology; it is knowledge applied to
practice, or useful ends, like Navigation, Medicine, or Politics.
Every practical subject has some end to be served, the statement of
which is its definition in the first instance. Navigation is the
applying of different kinds of knowledge, and of a variety of devices,
to the end of sailing the seas.

2. The Ethical End is a certain portion of the welfare
of human beings living together in society, realized through
rules of conduct duly enforced.

The obvious intention of morality is the good of mankind. The
precepts--do not steal, do not kill, fulfil agreements, speak
truth--whatever other reasons may be assigned for them, have a direct
tendency to prevent great evils that might otherwise arise in the
intercourse of human beings.

Farther, the good aimed at by Ethics is attained by _rules of acting_,
on the part of one human being to another; and, inasmuch as these
rules often run counter to the tendencies of the individual mind, it
is requisite to provide _adequate inducements_ to comply with them.

The Ethical End is what is otherwise called the STANDARD, test, or
criterion, of Right and Wrong. The leading controversy of Morals is
centered in this point.

3. The Rules of Ethics, termed also Law, Laws, the
Moral Law, are of two kinds:--

The first are rules imposed under a Penalty for neglect, or violation.
The penalty is termed _Punishment_; the imposing party is named
Government, or Authority; and the rules so imposed and enforced, are
called Laws proper, Morality proper, Obligatory Morality, Duty.

4. The second are rules whose only external support is
_Rewards_; constituting Optional Morality, Merit, Virtue,
or Nobleness.

Moral duties are a set of rules, precepts, or prescriptions, for the
direction of human conduct in a certain sphere or province. These
rules are enforced by two kinds of motives, requiring to be kept

I.--One class of rules are made compulsory by the infliction of pain,
in the case of violation or neglect. The pain so inflicted is termed a
Penalty, or Punishment; it is one of the most familiar experiences of
all human beings living in society.

The Institution that issues Rules of this class, and inflicts
punishment when they are not complied with, is termed Government, or
Authority; all its rules are authoritative, or obligatory; they are
Laws strictly so called, Laws proper. Punishment, Government,
Authority, Superiority, Obligation, Law, Duty,--define each other;
they are all different modes of regarding the same fact.

Morality is thus in every respect analagous to Civil Government, or
the Law of the Land. Nay, farther, it squares, to a very great extent,
with Political Authority. The points where the two coincide, and those
where they do not coincide, may be briefly stated:--

(1) All the most essential parts of Morality are adopted and carried
out by the Law of the Land. The rules for protecting person and
property, for fulfilling contracts, for performing reciprocal duties,
are rules or laws of the State; and are enforced by the State, through
its own machinery. The penalties inflicted by public authority
constitute what is called the Political Sanction; they are the most
severe, and the most strictly and dispassionately administered, of all

(2) There are certain Moral duties enforced, not by public and
official authority, but by the members of the community in their
private capacity. These are sometimes called the Laws of Honour,
because they are punished by withdrawing from the violator the honour
or esteem of his fellow-citizens. Courage, Prudence as regards self,
Chastity, Orthodoxy of opinion, a certain conformity in Tastes and
Usages,--are all prescribed by the mass of each community, to a
greater or less extent, and are insisted on under penalty of social
disgrace and excommunication. This is the Social or the Popular
Sanction. The department so marked out, being distinct from the
Political sphere, is called, by Austin, Positive Morality, or Morality

Public opinion also chimes in with the Law, and adds its own sanction
to the legal penalties for offences: unless the law happens to be in
conflict with the popular sentiment. Criminals, condemned by the law,
are additionally punished by social disgrace.

(3) The Law of the Land contains many enactments, besides the Moral
Code and the machinery for executing it. The Province of government
passes beyond the properly protective function, and includes many
institutions of public convenience, which are not identified with
right and wrong. The defence from external enemies; the erection of
works of public utility; the promotion of social improvements,--are
all within the domain of the public authority.[1]

II.--The second class of Rules are supported, not by penalties, but by
Rewards. Society, instead of punishing men for not being charitable or
benevolent, praises and otherwise rewards them, when they are so.
Hence, although Morality inculcates benevolence, this is not a Law
proper, it is not obligatory, authoritative, or binding; it is purely
voluntary, and is termed merit, virtuous and noble conduct.

In this department, the members of the community, in their unofficial
capacity, are the chief agents and administrators. The Law of the Land
occupies itself with the enforcement of its own obligatory rules,
having at its command a perfect machinery of punishment. Private
individuals administer praise, honour, esteem, approbation, and
reward. In a few instances, the Government dispenses rewards, as in
the bestowal of office, rank, titles, and pensions, but this function
is exceptional and limited.

The conduct rewarded by Society is chiefly resolvable into
Beneficence. Whoever is moved to incur sacrifices, or to go through
labours, for the good of others, is the object, not merely of
gratitude from the persons benefited, but of approbation from society
at large.

Any remarkable strictness or fidelity in the discharge of duties
properly so called, receives general esteem. Even in matters merely
ceremonial, if importance be attached to them, sedulous and exact
compliance, being the distinction of the few, will earn the
approbation of the many.[2]

5. The Ethical End, or Morality, _as it has been_, is founded partly
on Well-being, or Utility: and partly on Sentiment.

The portions of Morality, having in view the prevention of human
misery and the promotion of human happiness, are known and obvious.
They are not the whole of Morality as it has been.

Sentiment, caprice, arbitrary liking or disliking, are names for
states of feeling that do not necessarily arise from their objects,
but may be joined or disjoined by education, custom, or the power of
the will. The revulsion of mind, on the part of the Jews, against
eating the pig, and on our own part, as regards horse flesh, is not a
primitive or natural sensibility, like the pain of hunger, or of cold,
or of a musical discord; it is purely artificial; custom has made it,
and could unmake it. The feeling of fatigue from overwork is natural;
the repugnance of caste to manual labour is factitious. The dignity
attached to the military profession, and the indignity of the office
of public executioner, are capricious, arbitrary, and sentimental. Our
prospective regard to the comforts of our declining years points to a
real interest; our feelings as to the disposal of the body after death
are purely factitious and sentimental. Such feelings are of the things
in our own power; and the grand mistake of the Stoics was their
viewing all good and evil whatever in the same light.

It is an essential part of human liberty, to permit each person to
form and to indulge these sentiments or caprices; although a good
education should control them with a view to our happiness on the
whole. But, when any individual liking or fancy of this description is
imposed as a law upon the entire community, it is a perversion and
abuse of power, a confounding of the Ethical end by foreign
admixtures. Thus, to enjoin authoritatively one mode of sepulture,
punishing all deviations from that, could have nothing to do with the
preservation of the order of society. In such a matter, the
interference of the state in modern times, has regard to the detection
of crime in the matter of life and death, and to the evils arising
from the putrescence of the dead.

6. The Ethical End, although properly confined to Utility, is subject
to still farther limitations, according to the view taken of the
Province of Moral Government, or Authority.

Although nothing should be made morally obligatory but what is
generally useful, the converse does not hold; many kinds of conduct
are generally useful, but not morally obligatory. A certain amount of
bodily exercise in the open air every day would be generally useful;
but neither the law of the land nor public opinion compels it. Good
roads are works of great utility; it is not every one's duty to make

The machinery of coercion is not brought to bear upon every
conceivable utility. It is principally reserved, when not abused, for
a select class of utilities.

Some utilities are indispensable to the very existence of men in
society. The primary moral duties must be observed to some degree, if
men are to live together as men, and not to roam at large as beasts.
The interests of _Security_ are the first and most pressing concern of
human society. Whatever relates to this has a surpassing importance.
Security is contrasted with Improvement; what relates to Security is
declared to be Right; what relates to Improvement is said to be
Expedient; both are forms of Utility, but the one is pressing and
indispensable, the other is optional. The same difference is expressed
by the contrasts--Being and Well-being; Existence and Prosperous
Existence; Fundamentals or Essentials and Circumstantials. That the
highway robber should be punished is a part of Being; that the
highways should be in good repair, is a part of Well-being. That
Justice should be done is Existence; that farmers and traders should
give in to government the statistics of their occupation, is a means
to Prosperous Existence.[3]

It is proper to advert to one specific influence in moral enactments,
serving to disguise the Ethical end, and to widen the distinction
between morality as it has been, and morality as it ought to be. The
enforcing of legal and moral enactments demands a _power of coercion_,
to be lodged in the hands of certain persons; the possession of which
is a temptation to exceed the strict exigencies of public safety, or
the common welfare. Probably many of the whims, fancies, ceremonies,
likings and antipathies, that have found their way into the moral
codes of nations, have arisen from the arbitrary disposition of
certain individuals happening to be in authority at particular
junctures. Even the general community, acting in a spontaneous manner,
imposes needless restraints upon itself, delighting more in the
exercise of power, than in the freedom of individual action.

7. Morality, in its essential parts, is 'Eternal and Immutable;' in
other parts, it varies with Custom.

(1) The rules for protecting one man from another, for enforcing
justice, and the observance of contracts, are essential and
fundamental, and may be styled 'Eternal and Immutable.' The ends to be
served require these rules; no caprice of custom could change them
without sacrificing these ends. They are to society what food is to
individual life, of sexual intercourse and mother's care to the
continuance of the race. The primary moralities could not be exchanged
for rules enacting murder, pillage, injustice, unveracity, repudiation
of engagements; because under these rules, human society would fall to

(2) The manner of carrying into effect these primary regulations of
society, varies according to Custom. In some communities the machinery
is rude and imperfect; while others have greatly improved it. The
Greeks took the lead in advancing judicial machinery, the Romans

In the regulations not essential to Being, but important to
Well-being, there has prevailed the widest discrepancy of usage. The
single department relating to the Sexes is a sufficient testimony on
this head. No one form of the family is indispensable to the existence
of society; yet some forms are more favourable to general happiness
than others. But which form is on the whole the best, has greatly
divided opinion; and legislation has varied accordingly. The more
advanced nations have adopted compulsory monogamy, thereby giving the
prestige of their authority in favour of that system. But it cannot be
affirmed that the joining of one man to one woman is a portion of
'Eternal and Immutable Morality.'

Morality is an Institution of society, but not an arbitrary

8. Before adducing the proofs in support of the position above
assumed, namely, that Utility or Human Happiness, with certain
limitations, is the _proper_ criterion of Morality, it is proper to
enquire, what sort of evidence the Ethical Standard is susceptible of.

Hitherto, the doctrine of Utility has been assumed, in order to be
fully stated. We must next review the evidence in its favour, and the
objections urged against it. It is desirable, however, to ask what
kind of proof should be expected on such a question.

In the Speculative or Theoretical sciences, we prove a doctrine by
referring it to some other doctrine or doctrines, until we come at
last to some assumption that must be rested in as ultimate or final.
We can prove the propositions of Euclid, the law of gravitation, the
law of atomic proportions, the law of association; we cannot prove our
present sensations, nor can we demonstrate that what has been, will
be. The ultimate data must be accepted as self-evident; they have no
higher authority than that mankind generally are disposed to accept

In the practical Sciences, the question is not as to a principle of
the order of nature, but as to an _end_ of human action. There may be
_derived_ Ends, which are susceptible of demonstrative proof; but
there must also be _ultimate_ Ends, for which no proof can be offered;
they must be received as self-evident, and their sole authority is the
person receiving them. In most of the practical sciences, the ends are
derived; the end of Medicine is Health, which is an end subsidiary to
the final end of human happiness. So it is with Navigation, with
Politics, with Education, and others. In all of them, we recognize the
bearing upon human welfare, or happiness, as a common, comprehensive,
and crowning end. On the theory of Utility, Morals is also governed by
this highest end.

Now, there can be no proof offered for the position that Happiness is
the proper end of all human pursuit, the criterion of all right
conduct. It is an ultimate or final assumption, to be tested by
reference to the individual judgment of mankind. If the assumption,
that misery, and not happiness, is the proper end of life, found
supporters, no one could reply, for want of a basis of argument--an
assumption still more fundamental agreed upon by both sides. It would
probably be the case, that the supporters of misery, as an end, would
be at some point inconsistent with themselves; which would lay them
open to refutation. But to any one consistently maintaining the
position, there is no possible reply, because there is no medium of

If then, it appears, on making the appeal to mankind, that happiness
is admitted to be the highest end of all action, the theory of Utility
is proved.

9. The judgment of Mankind is very generally in favour of Happiness,
as the Supreme end of human conduct, Morality included.

This decision, however, is not given without qualifications and
reservations; nor is there perfect unanimity regarding it.

The theory of Motives to the Will is the answer to the question as to
the ends of human action. According to the primary law of the Will,
each one of us, for ourselves, seeks pleasure and avoids pain, present
or prospective. The principle is interfered with by the operation of
Fixed Ideas, under the influence of the feelings; whence we have the
class of Impassioned, Exaggerated, Irrational Motives or Ends. Of
these influences, one deserves to be signalized as a source of
virtuous conduct, and as approved of by mankind generally; that is,
Sympathy with others.

Under the Fixed Idea, may be ranked the acquired sense of Dignity,
which induces us often to forfeit pleasure and incur pain. We should
not choose the life of Plato's beatified oyster, or (to use
Aristotle's example) be content with perpetual childhood, with however
great a share of childish happiness.

10. The Ethical end that men are tending to, and may ultimately adopt
without reservation, is human Welfare, Happiness, or Being and
Well-being combined, that is, Utility.

The evidence consists of such facts as these:--

(1) By far the greater part of the morality of every age and country
has reference to the welfare of society. Even in the most
superstitious, sentimental, and capricious despotisms, a very large
share of the enactments, political and moral, consist in protecting
one man from another, and in securing justice between man and man.
These objects may be badly carried out, they may be accompanied with
much oppression of the governed by the governing body, but they are
always aimed at, and occasionally secured. Of the Ten Commandments,
four pertain to Religious Worship; _six_ are Utilitarian, that is,
have no end except to ward off evils, and to further the good of

(2) The general welfare is at all times considered a strong and
adequate justification of moral rules, and is constantly adduced as a
motive for obedience. The commonplaces in support of law and morality
represent, that if murder and theft were to go unpunished, neither
life nor property would be safe; men would be in eternal warfare;
industry would perish; society must soon come to an end.

There is a strong disposition to support the more purely sentimental
requirements, and even the excesses of mere tyranny, by utilitarian

The cumbersome ablutions of oriental nations are defended on the
ground of cleanliness. The divine sanctity of kings is held to be an
aid to social obedience. Slavery is alleged to have been at one time
necessary to break in mankind to industry. Indissoluble marriage arose
from a sentiment rather than from utility; but the arguments, commonly
urged in its favour, are utilitarian.

(3) In new cases, and in cases where no sentiment or passion is called
into play, Utility alone is appealed to. In any fresh enactment, at
the present day, the good of the community is the only justification
that would be listened to. If it were proposed to forbid absolutely
the eating of pork in Christian countries, some great public evils
would have to be assigned as the motive. Were the fatalities attending
the eating of pork, on account of _trichiniae_, to become numerous,
and unpreventible, there would then be a reason, such as a modern
civilized community would consider sufficient, for making the rearing
of swine a crime and an immorality. But no mere sentimental or
capricious dislike to the pig, on the part of any number of persons,
could now procure an enactment for disusing that animal.

(4) There is a gradual tendency to withdraw from the moral code,
observances originating purely in sentiment, and having little or no
connexion with human welfare.

We have abandoned the divine sacredness of kings. We no longer
consider ourselves morally bound to denounce and extirpate heretics
and witches, still less to observe fasts and sacred days. Even in
regard to the Christian Sabbath, the opinion is growing in favour of
withdrawing both the legal and popular sanction formerly so stringent;
while the arguments for Sabbath observance are more and more charged
with considerations of secular utility.

Should these considerations be held as adequate to support the
proposition advanced, they are decisive in favour of Utility as the
Moral Standard that _ought to be_. Any other standard that may be set
up in competition with Utility, must ultimately ground itself on the
very same appeal to the opinions and the practice of mankind.

11. The chief objections urged against Utility as the moral Standard
have been in great part anticipated. Still, it is proper to advert to
them in detail.

I.--It is maintained that Happiness is not, either in fact or in
right, the sole aim of human pursuit; that men actually, deliberately,
and by conscientious preference, seek other ends. For example, it is
affirmed that Virtue is an end in itself, without regard to happiness.

On this argument it may be observed:--

(1) It has been abundantly shown in this work, that one part of the
foregoing affirmation is strictly true. Men are not urged to action
exclusively by their pleasures and their pains. They are urged by
other motives, of the impassioned kind; among which, is to be
signalized sympathy with the pains and pleasures of others. If this
had been the only instance of action at variance with the regular
course of the will, we should be able to maintain that the motive to
act is still happiness, but not always the agent's own happiness. We
have seen, however, that individuals, not unfrequently, act in
opposition both to their own, and to other people's happiness; as when
mastered by a panic, and when worked up into a frenzy of anger or

The sound and tenable position seems to be this:--Human beings, in
their best and soberest moods, looking before and after, weighing all
the consequences of actions, are generally disposed to regard
Happiness, to some beings or others, as the proper end of all
endeavours. The mother is not exclusively bent on her own happiness;
she is upon her child's. Howard abandoned the common pleasures of life
for himself, to diminish the misery of fellow creatures.

(2) It is true that human beings are apt to regard Virtue as an
end-in-itself, and not merely as a means to happiness as the final
end. But the fact is fully accounted for on the general law of
Association by Contiguity; there being many other examples of the same
kind, as the love of money. Justice, Veracity, and other virtues, are
requisite, to some extent, for the existence of society, and, to a
still greater extent, for prosperous existence. Under such
circumstances, it would certainly happen that the means would
participate in the importance of the end, and would even be regarded
as an end in itself.

(3) The great leading duties may be shown to derive their estimation
from their bearing upon human welfare. Take first, Veracity or Truth.
Of all the moral duties, this has most the appearance of being an
absolute and independent requirement. Yet mankind have always approved
of deception practised upon an enemy in war, a madman, or a highway
robber. Also, secrecy or concealment, even although misinterpreted, is
allowed, when it does not cause pernicious results; and is even
enjoined and required in the intercourse of society, in order to
prevent serious evils. But an absolute standard of truth is
incompatible, even with secrecy or disguise; in departing from the
course of perfect openness, or absolute publicity of thought and
action, in every possible circumstance, we renounce ideal truth in
favour of a compromised or qualified veracity--a pursuit of truth in
subordination to the general well-being of society.

Still less is there any form of Justice that does not have respect to
Utility. If Justice is defined as giving to every one their own, the
motive clearly is to prevent misery to individuals. If there were a
species of injustice that made no one unhappier, we may be quite sure
that tribunals would not be set up for enforcing and punishing it. The
idea of equality in Justice is seemingly an absolute conception, but,
in point of fact, equality is a matter of institution. The children of
the same parent are, in certain circumstances, regarded as unequal by
the law; and justice consists in respecting this inequality.

The virtue of Self-denial, is one that receives the commendation of
society, and stands high in the morality of reward. Still, it is a
means to an end. The operation of the associating principle tends to
raise it above this point to the rank of a final end. And there is an
ascetic scheme of life that proceeds upon this supposition; but the
generality of mankind, in practice, if not always in theory, disavow

(4) It is often affirmed by those that regard virtue, and not
happiness, as the end, that the two coincide in the long run. Now, not
to dwell upon the very serious doubts as to the matter of fact, a
universal coincidence without causal connexion is so rare as to be in
the last degree improbable. A fiction of this sort was contrived by
Leibnitz, under the title of 'pre-established harmony;' but, among the
facts of the universe, there are only one or two cases known to

12. II.--It is objected to Utility as the Standard, that the bearings
of conduct on general happiness are too numerous to be calculated; and
that even where the calculation is possible, people have seldom time
to make it.

(1) It is answered, that the primary moral duties refer to conduct
where the consequences are evident and sure. The disregard of Justice
and Truth would to an absolute certainty bring about a state of
confusion and ruin; their observance, in any high degree, contributes
to raise the standard of well-being.

In other cases, the calculation is not easy, from the number of
opposing considerations. For example, there are two sides to the
question, Is dissent morally wrong? in other words, Ought all opinions
to be tolerated? But if we venture to decide such a question, without
the balancing or calculating process, we must follow blindfold the
dictates of one or other of the two opposing sentiments,--Love of
Power and Love of Liberty.

It is not necessary that we should go through the process of
calculation every time we have occasion to perform a moral act. The
calculations have already been performed for all the leading duties,
and we have only to apply the maxims to the cases as they arise.

13. III.--The principle of Utility, it is said, contains no motives to
seek the Happiness of others; it is essentially a form of Self-Love.

The averment is that Utility is a sufficient motive to pursue our own
happiness, and the happiness of others as a means to our own; but it
does not afford any purely disinterested impulses; it is a Selfish
theory after all.

Now, as Utility is, by profession, a benevolent and not a selfish
theory, either such profession is insincere, or there must be an
obstruction in carrying it out. That the supporters of the theory are
insincere, no one has a right to affirm. The only question then is,
what are the difficulties opposed by this theory, and not present in
other theories (the Moral Sense, for example) to benevolent impulses
on the part of individuals?

Let us view the objection first as regards the Morality of Obligation,
or the duties that bind society together. Of these duties, only a
small number aim at positive beneficence; they are either Protective
of one man against another, or they enforce Reciprocity, which is
another name for Justice. The chief exception is the requiring of a
minimum of charity towards the needy.

This department of duty is maintained by the force of a certain
mixture of prudential and of beneficent considerations, on the part of
the majority, and by prudence (as fear of punishment) on the part of
the minority. But there does not appear to be anything in our
professedly Benevolent Theory of Morals to interfere with the small
portion of disinterested impulse that is bound up-with prudential
regards, in the total of motives concerned in the morality of social
order called the primary or obligatory morality.

Let us, in the next place, view the objection as regards Optional
Morality, where positive beneficence has full play. The principal
motive in this department is Reward, in the shape either of benefits
or of approbation. Now, there is nothing to hinder the supporters of
the standard of Utility from joining in the rewards or commendations
bestowed on works of charity and beneficence.

Again, there is, in the constitution of the mind, a motive superior to
reward, namely, Sympathy proper, or the purely Disinterested impulse
to alleviate the pains and advance the pleasures of others. This part
of the mind is wholly _unselfish_; it needs no other prompting than
the fact that some one is in pain, or may be made happier by something
within the power of the agent.

The objectors need to be reminded that Obligatory Morality, which
works by punishment, creates a purely selfish motive; that Optional
Morality, in so far as stimulated by Reward, is also selfish; and that
the only source of purely disinterested impulses is in the unprompted
Sympathy of the individual mind. If such sympathies exist, and if
nothing is done to uproot or paralyze them, they will urge men to do
good to others, irrespective of all theories. Good done from any other
source or motive is necessarily self-seeking. It is a common remark,
with reference to the sanctions of a future life, that they create
purely self-regarding motives. Any proposal to increase disinterested
action by moral obligation contains a self-contradiction; it is
suicidal. The rich may be made to give half their wealth to the poor;
but in as far as they are _made_ to do it, they are not benevolent.
Law distrusts generosity and supersedes it. If a man is expected to
regard the happiness of others as an end in itself, and not as means
to his own happiness, he must be left to his own impulses: 'the
quality of mercy is not _strained_' The advocates of Utility may
observe non-interference as well as others.



1. The chief question in the Psychology of Ethics is whether the Moral
Faculty, or Conscience, be a simple or a complex fact of the mind.

Practically, it would seem of little importance in what way the moral
faculty originated, except with a view to teach us how it may be best
strengthened when it happens to be weak. Still, a very great
importance has been attached to the view, that it is simple and
innate; the supposition being that a higher authority thereby belongs
to it. If it arises from mere education, it depends on the teacher for
the time being; if it exists prior to all education, it seems to be
the voice of universal nature or of God.

2. In favour of the simple and intuitive character of Moral Sentiment,
it is argued:--

First, That our judgments of right and wrong are immediate and

On almost all occasions, we are ready at once to pronounce an action
right or wrong. We do not need to deliberate or enquire, or to canvass
reasons and considerations for and against, in order to declare a
murder, a theft, or a lie to be wrong. We are fully armed with the
power of deciding all such questions; we do not hesitate, like a
person that has to consult a variety of different faculties or
interests. Just as we pronounce at once whether the day is light or
dark, hot or cold; whether a weight is light or heavy;--we are able to
say whether an action is morally right or the opposite.

3. Secondly, It is a faculty or power belonging to all mankind.

This was expressed by Cicero, in a famous passage, often quoted with
approbation, by the supporters of innate moral distinctions. 'There is
one true and original law conformable to reason and to nature,
diffused over all, invariable, eternal, which calls to duty and deters
from injustice, &c.'

4. Thirdly, Moral Sentiment is said to be radically different in its
nature from any other fact or phenomenon of the mind.

The peculiar state of discriminating right and wrong, involving
approbation and disapprobation, is considered to be entirely unlike
any other mental element; and, if so, we are precluded from resolving
or analyzing it into simpler modes of feeling, willing, or thinking.

We have many feelings that urge us to act and abstain from acting; but
the prompting of conscience has something peculiar to itself, which
has been expressed by the terms rightness, authority, supremacy. Other
motives,--hunger, curiosity, benevolence, and so on,--have might, this
has right.

So, the Intellect has many occasions for putting forth its aptitudes
of discriminating, identifying, remembering; but the operation of
discerning right and wrong is supposed to be a unique employment of
those functions.

5. In reply to these arguments, and in support of the view that the
Moral Faculty is complex and derived, the following considerations are

First, The Immediateness of a judgment, is no proof of its being
innate; long practice or familiarity has the same effect.

In proportion as we are habituated to any subject, or any class of
operations, our decisions are rapid and independent of deliberation.
An expert geometer sees at a glance whether a demonstration is
correct. In extempore speech, a person has to perform every moment a
series of judgments as to the suitability of words to meaning, to
grammar, to taste, to effect upon an audience. An old soldier knows in
an instant, without thought or deliberation, whether a position is
sufficiently guarded. There is no greater rapidity in the judgments of
right and wrong, than in these acquired professional judgments.

Moreover, the decisions of conscience are quick only in the simpler
cases. It happens not unfrequently that difficult and protracted
deliberations are necessary to a moral judgment.

6. Secondly, The alleged similarity of men's moral judgments in all
countries and times holds only to a limited degree.

The very great differences among different nations, as to what
constitutes right and wrong, are too numerous, striking, and serious,
not to have been often brought forward in Ethical controversy. Robbery
and murder are legalized in whole nations. Macaulay's picture of the
Highland Chief of former days is not singular in the experience of

'His own vassals, indeed, were few in number, but he came of the best
blood of the Highlands. He kept up a close connexion with his more
powerful kinsmen; nor did they like him the less because he was a
robber; for he never robbed them; and that robbery, merely as robbery,
was a wicked and disgraceful act, had never entered into the mind of
any Celtic chief.'

Various answers have been given by the advocates of innate morality to
these serious discrepancies.

(1) It is maintained that savage or uncultivated nations are not a
fair criterion of mankind generally: that as men become more
civilized, they approximate to unity of moral sentiment; and what
civilized men agree in, is alone to be taken as the judgment of the

Now, this argument would have great weight, in any discussion as to
what is good, useful, expedient, or what is in accordance with the
cultivated reason or intelligence of mankind; because civilization
consists in the exercise of men's intellectual faculties to improve
their condition. But in a controversy as to what is given us by
nature,--what we possess independently of intelligent search and
experience,--the appeal to civilization does not apply. What civilized
men agree upon among themselves, as opposed to savages, is likely to
be the reverse of a natural instinct; in other words, something
suggested by reason and experience.

In the next place, counting only civilized races, that is, including
the chief European, American, and Asiatic peoples of the present day,
and the Greeks and Romans of the ancient world, we still find
disparities on what are deemed by us fundamental points of moral right
and wrong. Polygamy is regarded as right in Turkey, India, and China,
and as wrong in England. Marriages that we pronounce incestuous were
legitimate in ancient times. The views entertained by Plato and
Aristotle as to the intercourse of the sexes are now looked upon with

(2) It has been replied that, although men differ greatly in what they
consider right and wrong, they all agree in possessing _some notion_
of right and wrong. No people are entirely devoid of moral judgments.

But this is to surrender the only position of any real importance. The
simple and underived character of the moral faculty is maintained
because of the superior authority attached to what is natural, as
opposed to what is merely conventional. But if nothing be natural but
the mere fact of right and wrong, while all the details, which alone
have any value, are settled by convention and custom, we are as much
at sea on one system as on the other.

(3) It is fully admitted, being, indeed, impossible to deny, that
education must concur with natural impulses in making up the moral
sentiment. No human being, abandoned entirely to native promptings, is
ever found to manifest a sense of right and wrong. As a general rule,
the strength of the conscience depends on the care bestowed on its
cultivation. Although we have had to recognize primitive distinctions
among men as to the readiness to take on moral training, still, the
better the training, the stronger will be the conscientious

But this admission has the effect of reducing the part performed by
nature to a small and uncertain amount. Even if there were native
preferences, they might be completely overborne and reversed by an
assiduous education. The difference made by inculcation is so great,
that it practically amounts to everything. A voice so feeble as to be
overpowered by foreign elements would do no credit to nature.

7. Thirdly, Moral right and wrong is not so much a simple, indivisible
property, as an extensive Code of regulations, which cannot even be
understood without a certain maturity of the intelligence.

If is not possible to sum up the whole field of moral right and wrong,
so as to bring it within the scope of a single limited perception,
like the perception of resistance, or of colour. In regard to some of
the alleged intuitions at the foundation of our knowledge, as for
example time and space, there is a comparative simplicity and unity,
rendering their innate origin less disputable. No such simplicity can
be assigned in the region of duty.

After the subject of morals has been studied in the detail, it has,
indeed, been found practicable to comprise the whole, by a kind of
generalization, in one comprehensive recognition of regard to our
fellows. But, in the first place, this is far from a primitive or an
intuitive suggestion of the mind. It came at a late stage of human
history, and is even regarded as a part of Revelation. In the second
place, this high generality must be accompanied with detailed
applications to particular cases and circumstances. Life is full of
conflicting demands, and there must be special rules to adjust these
various demands. We have to be told that country is greater than
family; that temporary interests are to succumb to more enduring, and
so on.

Supposing the Love of our Neighbour to unfold in detail, as it
expresses in sum, the whole of morality, this is only another name for
our Sympathetic, Benevolent, or Disinterested regards, into which
therefore Conscience would be resolved, as it was by Hume.

But Morals is properly considered as a wide-ranging science, having a
variety of heads full of difficulty, and demanding minute
consideration. The subject of Justice, has nothing simple but the
abstract statement--giving each one their due; before that can be
applied, we must ascertain what is each person's due, which introduces
complex questions of relative merit, far transcending the sphere of

If any part of Morals had the simplicity of an instinct, it would be
regard to Truth. The difference between truth and falsehood might
almost be regarded as a primitive susceptibility, like the difference
between light and dark, between resistance and non-resistance. That
each person should say what is, instead of what is not, may well seem
a primitive and natural impulse. In circumstances of perfect
indifference, this would be the obvious and usual course of conduct;
being, like the straight line, the shortest distance between two
points. Let a motive arise, however, in favour of the lie, and there
is nothing to insure the truth. Reference must be made to other parts
of the mind, from which counter-motives may be furnished; and the
intuition in favour of Truth, not being able to support itself, has to
repose on the general foundation of all virtue, the instituted
recognition of the claims of others.

8. Fourthly, Intuition is incapable of settling the debated questions
of Practical Morality.

If we recall some of the great questions of practical life that have
divided the opinions of mankind, we shall find that mere Intuition is
helpless to decide them.

The toleration of heretical opinions has been a greatly contested
point. Our feelings are arrayed on both sides; and there is no
prompting of nature to arbitrate between the opposing impulses. If the
advance of civilization has tended to liberty, it has been owing
partly to greater enlightenment, and partly to the successful
struggles of dissent in the war with established opinion.

The questions relating to marriage are wholly undecideable by
intuition. The natural impulses are for unlimited co-habitation. The
degree of restraint to be put upon this tendency is not indicated by
any sentiment that can be discovered in the mind. The case is very
peculiar. In thefts and murder, the immediate consequences are injury
to some one; in sexual indulgence, the immediate result is agreeable
to all concerned. The evils are traceable only in remote consequences,
which intuition can know nothing of. It is not to be wondered,
therefore, that nations, even highly civilized, have differed widely
in their marriage institutions; agreeing only in the propriety of
adopting and enforcing _some_ regulations. So essentially has this
matter been bound up with the moral code of every society, that a
proposed criterion of morality unable to grapple with it, would be
discarded as worthless. Yet there is no intuitive sentiment that can
be of any avail in the question of marriage with a deceased wife's

9. Fifthly, It is practicable to analyze or resolve the Moral Faculty;
and, in so doing, to explain, both its peculiar property, and the
similarity of moral judgments so far as existing among men.

We begin, by estimating the operation of (1) Prudence. (2) Sympathy,
and (3) the Emotions generally.

The inducements to perform a moral act, as, for example, the
fulfilling of a bargain,--are plainly seen to be of various kinds.

(1) Prudence, or Self-interest, has obviously much to do with the
moral conduct. Postponing for the present the consideration of
Punishment, which is one mode of appeal to the prudential regards, we
can trace the workings of self-interest on many occasions wherein men
act right. To fulfil a bargain is, in the great majority of cases, for
the advantage of the agent; if he fails to perform his part, others
may do the same to him.

Our self-interest may look still farther. We may readily discover that
if we set an example of injustice, it may be taken up and repeated to
such a degree that we can count upon nothing; social security comes to
an end, and individual existence, even if possible, would cease to be

A yet higher view of self-interest informs us, that by performing all
our obligations to our fellows, we not only attain reciprocal
performance, but generate mutual affections and sympathies, which
greatly augment the happiness of life.

(2) Sympathy, or Fellow-feeling, the source of our disinterested
actions, must next be taken into the account. It is a consequence of
our sympathetic endowment that we revolt from inflicting pain on
another, and even forego a certain satisfaction to self rather than be
the occasion of suffering to a fellow creature. Moved thus, we perform
many obligations on the ground of the misery (not our own) accruing
from their neglect.

A considerable portion of human virtue springs directly from this
source. If purely disinterested tendencies were withdrawn from the
breast, the whole existence of humanity would be changed. Society
might not be impossible; there are races where mutual sympathy barely
exists: but the fulfilment of obligations, if always dependent on a
sense of self-interest, would fail where that was not apparent. On the
other hand, if we were on all occasions touched with the unhappiness
to others immediately and remotely springing from our conduct--if
sympathy were perfect and unfailing--we could hardly ever omit doing
what was right.

(3) Our several Emotions or Passions may co-operate with Prudence and
with Sympathy in a way to make both the one and the other more

Prudence, in the shape of aversion to pain, is rendered more acute
when the pain is accompanied with Fear. The perturbation of fear rises
up as a deterring motive when dangers loom in the distance. One
powerful check to the commission of injury is the retaliation of the
sufferer, which is a danger of the vague and illimitable kind,
calculated to create alarm.

Anger, or Resentment, also enters, in various ways, into our moral
impulses. In one shape it has just been noticed. In concurrence with
Self-interest and Sympathy, it heightens the feeling of reprobation
against wrong-doers.

The Tender Emotion, and the Affections, uphold us in the performance
of our duties to others, being an additional safeguard against injury
to the objects of the feelings. It has already been shown how these
emotions, while tending to coalesce with Sympathy proper, are yet
distinguished from it.

The AEsthetic Emotions have important bearings upon Ethical Sentiment.
As a whole, they are favourable to human virtue, being non-exclusive
pleasures. They, however, give a bias to the formation of moral rules,
and pervert the proper test of right and wrong in a manner to be
afterwards explained.

10. Although Prudence and Sympathy, and the various Emotions named,
are powerful inducements to what is right in action, and although,
without these, right would not prevail among mankind, yet they do not
stamp the _peculiar attribute_ of Rightness. For this, we must refer
to the institution of Government, or Authority.

Although the force of these various motives on the side of right is
all-powerful and essential, so much so, that without them morality
would be impossible, they do not, of themselves, impart the character
of a moral act. We do not always feel that, because we have neglected
our interest or violated our sympathies, we have on that account done
wrong. The criterion of rightness in particular cases is something

The reasons are apparent. For although prudence, as regards self, and
sympathy or fellow-feeling, as regards others, would comprehend all
the interests of mankind--everything that morality can desire to
accomplish--nevertheless, the acting out of these impulses by each
individual at random would not suffice for the exigencies of human
life. They must be regulated, directed, reconciled by society at
large; each person must be made to work upon the same plan as every
other person. This leads to the institution of Government and
Authority, with the correlatives of Law, Obligation, and Punishment.
Our natural impulses for good are now directed into an artificial
channel, and it is no longer optional whether they shall fall into
that channel. The nature of the case requires all to conform alike to
the general arrangements, and whoever is not sufficiently urged by the
natural motives, is brought under the spur of a new kind of prudential

Government, Authority, Law, Obligation, Punishment, are all implicated
in the same great Institution of Society, to which Morality owes its
chief foundation, and the Moral Sentiment its special attribute.
Morality is not Prudence, nor Benevolence, in their primitive or
spontaneous manifestations; it is the systematic codification of
prudential and benevolent actions, rendered obligatory by what is
termed penalties or Punishment; an entirely distinct motive,
artificially framed by human society, but made so familiar to every
member of society as to be a second nature. None are allowed to be
prudential or sympathizing in their own way. Parents are compelled to
nourish their own children; servants to obey their own masters, to the
neglect of other regards; all citizens have to abide by the awards of
authority; bargains are to be fulfilled according to a prescribed form
and letter; truth is to be spoken on certain definite occasions, and
not on others. In a formed society, the very best impulses of nature
fail to guide the citizen's actions. No doubt there ought to be a
general coincidence between what Prudence and Sympathy would dictate,
and what Law dictates; but the precise adjustment is a matter of
_institution_. A moral act is not merely an act tending to reconcile
the good of the agent with the good of the whole society; it is an
act, prescribed by the social authority, and rendered obligatory upon
every citizen. Its morality is constituted by its authoritative
prescription, and not by its fulfilling the primary ends of the social
institution. A bad law is still a law; an ill-judged moral precept is
still a moral precept, felt as such by every loyal citizen.

11. It may be proved, by such evidence as the case admits of, that the
peculiarity of the Moral Sentiment, or Conscience, is identified with
our education under government, or Authority.

Conscience is described by such terms as moral approbation and
disapprobation; and involves, when highly developed, a peculiar and
unmistakeable revulsion of mind at what is wrong, and a strong
resentment towards the wrong-doer, which become Remorse, in the case
of self.

It is capable of being proved, that there is nothing natural or
primitive in these feelings, except in so far as the case happens to
concur with the dictates of Self-interest, or Sympathy, aided by the
Emotions formerly specified. Any action that is hostile to our
interest, excites a form of disapprobation, such as belongs to wounded
self-interest; and any action that puts another to pain may so affect
our natural sympathy as to be disapproved, and resented on that
ground. These natural or inborn feelings are always liable to coincide
with moral right and wrong, although they are not its criterion or
measure in the mind of each individual. But in those cases where an
unusually strong feeling of moral disapprobation is awakened, there is
apt to be a concurrence of the primitive motives of self, and of
fellow-feeling; and it is the ideal of good law, and good morality to
coincide with a certain well-proportioned adjustment of the Prudential
and the Sympathetic regards of the individual.

The requisite allowance being made for the natural impulses, we must
now adduce the facts, showing that the characteristic of the Moral
Sense is an education under Law, or Authority, through the
instrumentality of Punishment.

(1) It is a fact that human beings living in society are placed under
discipline, accompanied by punishment. Certain actions are forbidden,
and the doers of them are subjected to some painful infliction; which
is increased in severity if they are persisted in. Now, what would be
the natural consequence of such a system, under the known laws of
feeling, will, and intellect? Would not an action that always brings
down punishment be associated with the pain and the dread of
punishment? Such an association is inevitably formed, and becomes at
least a part, and a very important part, of the sense of duty; nay, it
would of itself, after a certain amount of repetition, be adequate to
restrain for ever the performance of the action, thus attaining the
end of morality.

There may be various ways of evoking and forming the moral sentiment,
but the one way most commonly trusted to, and never altogether
dispensed with, is the associating of pain, that is, punishment, with
the actions that are disallowed. Punishment is held out as the
consequence of performing certain actions; every individual is made to
taste of it; its infliction is one of the most familiar occurrences of
every-day life. Consequently, whatever else may be present in the
moral sentiment, this fact of the connexion of pain with forbidden
actions must enter into it with an overpowering prominence. Any
natural or primitive impulse in the direction of duty must be very
marked and apparent, in order to divide with this communicated bias
the direction of our conduct. It is for the supporters of innate
distinctions to point out any concurring impetus (apart from the
Prudential and Sympathetic regards) sufficiently important to cast
these powerful associations into a secondary or subordinate position.

By a familiar effect of Contiguous Association, the dread of
punishment clothes the forbidden act with a feeling of aversion, which
in the end persists of its own accord, and without reference to the
punishment. Actions that have long been connected in the mind with
pains and penalties, come to be contemplated with a _disinterested_
repugnance; they seem to give pain on their own account. This is a
parallel, from the side of pain, of the acquired attachment to money.
Now, when, by such transference, a self-subsisting sentiment of
aversion has been created, the conscience seems to be detached from
all external sanctions, and to possess an isolated footing in the
mind. It has passed through the stage of reference to authority, and
has become a law to itself. But no conscience ever arrives at the
independent standing, without first existing in the reflected and
dependent stage.

We must never omit from the composition of the Conscience the primary
impulses of Self-Interest and Sympathy, which in minds strongly alive
to one or other, always count for a powerful element in human conduct,
although for reasons already stated, not the strictly moral element,
so far as the individual is concerned. They are adopted, more or less,
by the authority imposing the moral code; and when the two sources
coincide, the stream is all the stronger.

(2) Where moral training is omitted or greatly neglected, there is an
absence of security for virtuous conduct.

In no civilized community is moral discipline entirely wanting.
Although children may be neglected by their parents, they come at last
under the discipline of the law and the public. They cannot be
exempted from the associations of punishment with wrong. But when
these associations have not been early and sedulously formed, in the
family, in the school, and in the workshop, the moral sentiment is
left in a feeble condition. There still remain the force of the law
and of public opinion, the examples of public punishment, and the
reprobation of guilt. Every member of the community must witness daily
the degraded condition of the viciously disposed, and the prosperity
following on respect for the law. No human being escapes from thus
contracting moral impressions to a very large amount.

(3) Whenever an action is associated with Disapprobation and
Punishment, there grows up, in reference to it, a state of mind
undistinguishable from Moral Sentiment.

There are many instances where individuals are enjoined to a course of
conduct wholly indifferent with regard to universal morality, as in
the regulations of societies formed for special purposes. Each member
of the society has to conform to these regulations, under pain of
forfeiting all the benefits of the society, and of perhaps incurring
positive evils. The code of honour among gentlemen is an example of
these artificial impositions. It is not to be supposed that there
should be an innate sentiment to perform actions having nothing to
do-with moral right and wrong; yet the disapprobation and the remorse
following on a breach of the code of honour, will often be greater
than what follows a breach of the moral law. The constant habit of
regarding with dread the consequences of violating any of the rules,
simulates a moral sentiment, on a subject unconnected with morality
properly so called.

The arbitrary ceremonial customs of nations, with reference to such
points as ablutions, clothing, eating and abstinence from meats,--when
rendered obligatory by the force of penalties, occupy exactly the same
place in the mind as the principles of moral right and wrong. The same
form of dread attaches to the consequences of neglect; the same
remorse is felt by the individual offender. The exposure of the naked
person is as much abhorred as telling a lie. The Turkish woman
exposing her face, is no less conscience-smitten than if she murdered
her child. There is no act, however trivial, that cannot be raised to
the position of a moral act, by the imperative of society.

Still more striking is the growth of a moral sentiment in connexion
with such usages as the Hindoo suttee. It is known that the Hindoo
widow, if prevented from burning herself with her husband's corpse,
often feels all the pangs of remorse, and leads a life of misery and
self-humiliation. The habitual inculcation of this duty by society,
the penalty of disgrace attached to its omission, operate to implant a
sentiment in every respect analogous to the strongest moral sentiment.



The first important name in Ancient Ethical Philosophy is SOKRATES.
[469-399 B.C.]

For the views of Sokrates, as well as his method,[4] we have first the
MEMORABILIA of XENOPHON, and next such of the Platonic Compositions,
as are judged, by comparison with the Memorabilia, to keep closest to
the real Sokrates. Of these, the chief are the APOLOGY OF SOKRATES,
the KRITON and the PHAEDON.

The 'Memorabilia' was composed by Xenophon, expressly to vindicate
Sokrates against the accusations and unfavourable opinions that led to
his execution. The 'Apology' is Plato's account of his method, and
also sets forth his moral attitude. The 'Kriton' describes a
conversation between him and his friend Kriton, in prison, two days
before his death, wherein, in reply to the entreaties of his friends
generally that he should make his escape from prison, he declares his
determination to abide by the laws of the Athenian State. Inasmuch as,
in the Apology, he had seemed to set his private convictions above the
public authority, he here presents another side of his character. The
'Phaedon' contains the conversation on 'the Immortality of the Soul'
just before his execution.

The Ethical bearings of the Philosophical method, the Doctrines, and
the Life of Sokrates. are these:--

The direction he gave to philosophical enquiry, was expressed in the
saying that he brought 'Philosophy down from Heaven to Earth.' His
subjects were Man and Society. He entered a protest against the
enquiries of the early philosophers as to the constitution of the
Kosmos, the nature of the Heavenly Bodies, the theory of Winds and
Storms. He called these Divine things; and in a great degree useless,
if understood. The Human relations of life, the varieties of conduct
of men towards each other in all capacities, were alone within the
compass of knowledge, and capable of yielding fruit. In short, his
turn of mind was thoroughly _practical_, we might say _utilitarian_.

I.--He gave a foundation and a shape to Ethical Science, by insisting
on its practical character, and by showing that, like the other arts
of life, it had an End, and a Theory from which flows the precepts or
means. The End, which would be the STANDARD, was not stated by him,
and hardly even by Plato, otherwise than in general language; the
Summum Bonum had not as yet become a matter of close debate. 'The art
of dealing with human beings,' 'the art of behaving in society,' 'the
science of human happiness,' were various modes of expressing the
final end of conduct.[5] Sokrates clearly indicated the difference
between an unscientific and a scientific art; the one is an
incommunicable knack or dexterity, the other is founded on theoretical

II.--Notwithstanding his professing ignorance of what virtue is,
Sokrates had a definite doctrine with reference to Ethics, which we
may call his PSYCHOLOGY of the subject. This was the doctrine that
resolves Virtue into Knowledge, Vice into Ignorance or Folly. 'To do
right was the only way to impart happiness, or the least degree of
unhappiness compatible with any given situation: now, this was
precisely what every one wished for and aimed at--only that many
persons, from ignorance, took the wrong road; and no man was wise
enough always to take the right. But as no man was willingly his own
enemy, so no man ever did wrong willingly; it was because he was not
fully or correctly informed of the consequences of his own actions; so
that the proper remedy to apply, was enlarged teaching of consequences
and improved judgment. To make him willing to be taught, the only
condition required was to make him conscious of his own ignorance; the
want of which consciousness was the real cause both of indocility and
of vice' (Grote). This doctrine grew out of his favourite analogy
between social duty and a profession or trade. When the artizan goes
wrong, it is usually from pure ignorance or incapacity; he is willing
to do good work if he is able.

III.--The SUMMUM BONUM with Sokrates was Well-doing. He had no ideal
of pursuit for man apart from virtue, or what he esteemed virtue--the
noble and the praiseworthy. This was the elevated point of view
maintained alike by him and by Plato, and common to them with the
ideal of modern ages.

Well-doing consisted in doing well whatever a man undertook. 'The best
man,' he said, 'and the most beloved by the gods, is he that, as a
husbandman, performs well the duties of husbandry; as a surgeon, the
duties of the medical art; in political life, his duty towards the
commonwealth. The man that does nothing well is neither useful nor
agreeable to the gods.' And as knowledge is essential to all
undertakings, knowledge is the one thing needful. This exclusive
regard to knowledge was his one-sidedness as a moral theorist; but he
did not consistently exclude all reference to the voluntary control of
appetite and passion.

IV.--He inculcated Practical Precepts of a self-denying kind, intended
to curb the excesses of human desire and ambition. He urged the
pleasures of self-improvement and of duty against indulgences,
honours, and worldly advancement. In the 'Apology,' he states it as
the second aim of his life (after imparting the shock of conscious
ignorance) to reproach men for pursuing wealth and glory more than
wisdom and virtue. In 'Kriton,' he lays it down that we are never to
act wrongly or unjustly, although others are unjust to us. And, in his
own life, he furnished an illustrious example of his teaching. The
same lofty strain was taken up by Plato, and repeated in most of the
subsequent Ethical schools.

V.--His Ethical Theory extended itself to Government, where he applied
his analogy of the special arts. The legitimate King was he that knew
how to govern well.

VI.--The connexion in the mind of Sokrates between Ethics and Theology
was very slender.

In the first place, his distinction of Divine and Human things, was an
exclusion of the arbitrary will of the gods from human affairs, or
from those things that constituted the ethical end.

But in the next place, he always preserved a pious and reverential
tone of mind; and considered that, after patient study, men should
still consult the oracles, by which the gods, in cases of difficulty,
graciously signified their intentions, and their beneficent care of
the race. Then, the practice of well-doing was prompted by reference
to the satisfaction of the gods. In so far as the gods administered
the world in a right spirit, they would show favour to the virtuous.

PLATO. [427-347 B.C.]

The Ethical Doctrines of Plato are scattered through his various
Dialogues; and incorporated with his philosophical method, with his
theory of Ideas, and with his theories of man and of society.

From Sokrates, Plato derived Dialectics, or the method of Debate; he
embodied all his views in imaginary conversations, or Dialogues,
suggested by, and resembling the real conversations of Sokrates. And
farther, in imitation of his master, he carried on his search after
truth under the guise of ascertaining the exact meaning or definition
of leading terms; as Virtue, Courage, Holiness, Temperance, Justice,
Law, Beauty, Knowledge, Rhetoric, &c.

We shall first pass in review the chief Dialogues containing Ethical

The APOLOGY, KRITON, and EUTHYPHRON (we follow Mr. Grote's order) may
be passed by as belonging more to his master than to himself;
moreover, everything contained in them will be found recurring in
other dialogues.

The ALKIBIADES I. is a good specimen of the Sokratic manner. It brings
out the loose discordant notions of _Just_ and _Unjust_ prevailing in
the community; sets forth that the Just is also honourable, good, and
expedient--the cause of happiness to the just man; urges the
importance of Self-knowledge; and maintains that the conditions of
happiness are not wealth and power, but Justice and Temperance.

ALKIBIADES II. brings out a Platonic position as to the _Good_. There
are a number of things that are good, as health, money, family, but
there is farther required the skill to apply these in proper measure
to the supreme end of life. All knowledge is not valuable; there may
be cases where ignorance is better. What we are principally interested
in knowing is the Good, the Best, the Profitable. The man of much
learning, without this, is like a vessel tossed on the sea without a

In HIPPIAS MINOR, appears an extreme statement of the doctrine, common
to Sokrates and Plato, identifying virtue with knowledge, or giving
exclusive attention to the intellectual element of conduct. It is
urged that a mendacious person, able to tell the truth if he chooses,
is better than one unable to tell it, although wishing to do so; the
knowledge is of greater worth than the good disposition.

In MINOS (or the Definition of _Law_) he refuses to accept the decree
of the state as a law, but postulates the decision of some Ideal wise
man. This is a following out of the Sokratic analogy of the
professions, to a purely ideal demand; the wise man is never
producible. In many dialogues (Kriton, Laches, &c.) the decision of
some Expert is sought, as a physician is consulted in disease; but the
Moral expert is unknown to any actual community.

In LACHES, the question 'what is Virtue?' is put; it is argued under
the special virtue of _Courage_. In a truly Sokratic dialogue,
Sokrates is in search of a definition of Courage; as happens in the
search dialogues, there is no definite result, but the drift of the
discussion is to make courage a mode of intelligence, and to resolve
it into the grand desideratum of the knowledge of good and
evil--belonging to the One Wise Man.

CHARMIDES discusses _Temperance_. As usual with Plato in discussing
the virtues, with a view to their Logical definition, he presupposes
that this is something beneficial and good. Various definitions are
given of Temperance; and all are rejected; but the dialogue falls into
the same track as the Laches, in putting forward the supreme science
of good and evil. It is a happy example of the Sokratic manner and
purpose, of exposing the conceit of knowledge, the fancy that people
understand the meaning of the general terms habitually employed.

LYSIS on _Friendship_, or Love, might be expected to furnish some
ethical openings, but it is rather a piece of dialectic, without
result, farther than to impart the consciousness of ignorance. If it
suggests anything positive, it is the Idea of Good, as the ultimate
end of affection. The subject is one of special interest in ancient
Ethics, as being one of the aspects of Benevolent sentiment in the
Pagan world. In Aristotle we first find a definite handling of it.

MENON may be considered as pre-eminently ethical in its design. It is
expressly devoted to the question--Is Virtue _teachable_? Sokrates as
usual confesses that he does not know what virtue is. He will not
accept a catalogue of the admitted virtues as a definition of virtue,
and presses for some common, or defining attribute. He advances on his
own side his usual doctrine that virtue is Knowledge, or a mode of
Knowledge, and that it is good and profitable; which is merely an
iteration of the Science of good and evil. He distinguishes virtue
from Right Opinion, a sort of quasi-knowledge, the knowledge of
esteemed and useful citizens, which cannot be the highest knowledge,
since these citizens fail to impart it even to their own sons.

In this dialogue, we have Plato's view of Immortality, which comprises
both pre-existence and post-existence. The pre-existence is used to
explain the derivation of general notions, or Ideas, which are
antecedent to the perceptions of sense.

In PROTAGORAS, we find one of the most important of the ethical
discussions of Plato. It proceeds from the same question--Is virtue
teachable?--Sokrates as usual expressing his doubts on the point.
Protagoras then delivers a splendid harangue, showing how virtue is
taught--namely, by the practice of society in approving, condemning,
rewarding, punishing the actions of individuals. From childhood
upward, every human being in society is a witness to the moral
procedure of society, and by degrees both knows, and conforms to, the
maxims of virtue of the society. Protagoras himself as a professed
teacher, or sophist, can improve but little upon, this habitual
inculcation. Sokrates, at the end of the harangue, puts in his usual
questions tending to bring out the essence or definition of virtue,
and soon drives Protagoras into a corner, bringing him to admit a view
nowhere else developed in Plato, that Pleasure is the only good, Pain
the only evil, and that the science of Good and Evil consists in
Measuring, and in choosing between conflicting pleasures and
pains--preferring the greater pleasure to the less, the less pain to
the greater. For example, courage is a wise estimate of things
terrible and things not terrible. In consistency with the doctrine
that Knowledge is virtue, it is maintained here as elsewhere, that a
man knowing good and evil must act upon that knowledge. Plato often
repeats his theory of Measurement, but never again specifically
intimates that the things to be measured are pleasures and pains. And
neither here nor elsewhere, does he suppose the virtuous man taking
directly into his calculation the pleasures and pains of other

GORGIAS, one of the most renowned of the dialogues in point of
composition, is also ethical, but at variance with the Protagoras, and
more in accordance with Plato's predominating views. The professed
subject is Rhetoric, which, as an art, Sokrates professes to hold in
contempt. The dialogue begins with the position that men are prompted
by the desire of good, but proceeds to the great Platonic paradox,
that it is a greater evil to do wrong than to suffer wrong. The
criminal labours under a mental distemper, and the best thing that can
happen to him, is to be punished that so he may be cured. The
unpunished wrong-doer is more miserable than if he were punished.
Sokrates in this dialogue maintains, in opposition to the thesis of
Protagoras, that pleasure is not the same as good, that there are bad
pleasures and good pains; and a skilful adviser, one versed in the
science of good and evil, must discriminate between them. He does not
mean that those pleasures only are bad that bring an overplus of
future pains, which would be in accordance with the previous dialogue.
The sentiment of the dialogue is ascetic and self-denying.[7] Order or
Discipline is inculcated, not as a means to an end, but as an end in

The POLITIKUS is on the Art of Government, and gives the Platonic
_beau idéal_ of the One competent person, governing absolutely, by
virtue of his scientific knowledge, and aiming at the good and
improvement of the governed. This is merely another illustration of
the Sokratic ideal--a despotism, anointed by supreme good intentions,
and by an ideal skill. The Republic is an enlargement of the lessons
of the Politikus without the dialectic discussion.

The postulate of the One Wise man is repeated in KRATYLUS, on the
unpromising subject of Language or the invention of Names.

The PHILEBUS has a decidedly ethical character. It propounds for
enquiry the _Good_, the Summum Bonum. This is denied to be mere
pleasure, and the denial is enforced by Sokrates challenging his
opponent to choose the lot of an ecstatic oyster. As usual, good must
be related to Intelligence; and the Dialogue gives a long disquisition
upon the One and the Many, the Theory of Ideas, the Determinate and
the Indeterminate. Good is a compound of Pleasure and Intelligence,
the last predominating. Pleasure is the Indeterminate, requiring the
Determinate (Knowledge) to regulate it. This is merely another
expression for the doctrine of Measure, and for the common saying,
that the Passions must be controlled by Reason. There is, also, in the
dialogue, a good deal on the Psychology of Pleasure and Pain. Pleasure
is the fundamental harmony of the system; Pain its disturbance. Bodily
Pleasure pre-supposes pain [true only of some pleasures]. Mental
pleasures may be without previous pain, and are therefore pure
pleasures. A life of Intelligence is conceivable without either pain
or pleasure; this is the choice of the Wise man, and is the nature of
the gods. Desire is a mixed state, and comprehends body and mind. Much
stress is laid on the moderate and tranquil pleasures; the intense
pleasures, coveted by mankind, belong to a distempered rather than a
healthy state; they are false and delusive. Pleasure is, by its
nature, a change or transition, and cannot be a supreme end. The
mixture of Pleasure and Intelligence is to be adjusted by the
all-important principle of Measure or Proportion, which connects the
Good with the Beautiful.

A decided asceticism is the ethical tendency of this dialogue. It is
markedly opposed to the view of the Protagoras. Still greater is the
opposition between it and the two Erotic dialogues, Phaedrus and
Symposium, where _Bonum_ and _Pulchrum_ are attained in the pursuit of
an ecstatic and overwhelming personal affection.

The REPUBLIC starts with the question--what is JUSTICE? and, in
answering it, provides the scheme of a model Republic. Book I. is a
Sokratic colloquy, where one speaker, on being interrogated, defines
Justice as 'rendering to every man his due,' and afterwards amends it
to 'doing good to friends, evil to enemies.' Another gives 'the right
of the strongest.' A third maintains that Injustice by itself is
profitable to the doer; but, as it is an evil to society in general,
men make laws against it and punish it; in consequence of which,
Justice is the more profitable. Sokrates, in opposition, undertakes to
prove that Justice is good in itself, ensuring the happiness of the
doer by its intrinsic effect on his mind; and irrespective of
exemption from the penalties of injustice. He reaches this result by
assimilating an individual to a state. Justice is shown to be good in
the entire city, and by analogy it is also good in the individual. He
accordingly proceeds to construct his ideal commonwealth. In the
course of this construction many ethical views crop out.

The state must prescribe the religious belief, and allow no
compositions at variance with it. The gods must always be set forth as
the causes of good; they must never be represented as the authors of
evil, nor as practising deceit. Neither is it to be allowed to
represent men as unjust, yet happy; or just, and yet miserable. The
poetic representation of bad characters is also forbidden. The musical
training is to be adapted for disposing the mind to the perception of
Beauty, whence it becomes qualified to recognize the other virtues.
Useful fictions are to be diffused, without regard to truth. This
pious fraud is openly recommended by Plato.

The division of the human mind into (1) REASON or Intelligence; (2)
ENERGY, Courage, Spirit, or the Military Virtue; and (3) Many-headed
APPETITE, all in mutual counter-play--is transferred to the State,
each of the three parts being represented by one of the political
orders or divisions of the community. The happiness of the man and the
happiness of the commonwealth are attained in the same way, namely, by
realizing the four virtues--Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, Justice; with
this condition, that Wisdom, or Reason, is sought only in the Ruling
caste, the Elders; Courage, or Energy, only in the second caste, the
Soldiers or Guardians; while Temperance and Justice (meaning almost
the same thing) must inhere alike in all the three classes, and be the
only thing expected in the third, the Working Multitude.

If it be now asked, what and where is Justice? the answer is--'every
man to attend to his own business.' Injustice occurs when any one
abandons his post, or meddles with what does not belong to him; and
more especially when any one of a lower division aspires to the
function of a higher. Such is Justice for the city, and such is it in
the individual; the higher faculty--Reason, must control the two
lower--Courage and Appetite. Justice is thus a sort of harmony or
balance of the mental powers; it is to the mind what health is to the
body. Health is the greatest good, sickness the greatest evil, of the
body; so is Justice of the mind.

It is an essential of the Platonic Republic that, among the guardians
at least, the sexual arrangements should be under public regulation,
and the monopoly of one woman by one man forbidden: a regard to the
breed of the higher caste of citizens requires the magistrate to see
that the best couples are brought together, and to refuse to rear the
inferior offspring of ill-assorted connexions. The number of births is
also to be regulated.

In carrying on war, special maxims of clemency are to be observed
towards Hellenic enemies.

The education of the Guardians must be philosophical; it is for them
to rise to the Idea of the good, to master the science of Good and
Evil; they must be emancipated from the notion that Pleasure is the
good. To indicate the route to this attainment Plato gives his theory
of cognition generally--the theory of Ideas;--and indicates (darkly)
how these sublime generalities are to be reached.

The Ideal Commonwealth supposed established, is doomed to degradation
and decay; passing through Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, to
Despotism, with a corresponding declension of happiness. The same
varieties may be traced in the Individual; the 'despotized' mind is
the acme of Injustice and consequent misery.

The comparative value of Pleasures is discussed. The pleasures of
philosophy, or wisdom (those of Reason), are alone true and pure; the
pleasures corresponding to the two other parts of the mind are
inferior; Love of Honour (from Courage or Energy), and Love of Money
(Appetite). The well-ordered mind--Justice--is above all things the
source of happiness. Apart from all consequences of Justice, this is
true; the addition of the natural results only enhances the strength
of the position.

In TIMAEUS, Plato repeats the doctrine that wickedness is to the mind
what disease is to the body. The soul suffers from two distempers,
madness and ignorance; the man under passionate heat is not wicked
voluntarily. No man is bad willingly; but only from some evil habit of
body, the effect of bad bringing-up [very much the view of Robert

The long treatise called the LAWS, being a modified scheme of a
Republic, goes over the same ground with more detail. We give the
chief ethical points. It is the purpose of the lawgiver to bring about
happiness, and to provide all good things divine and human. The divine
things are the cardinal virtues--Wisdom, Justice, Temperance, Courage;
the human are the leading personal advantages--Health, Beauty,
Strength, Activity, Wealth. He requires the inculcation of
self-command, and a training in endurance. The moral and religious
feelings are to be guided in early youth, by the influence of Poetry
and the other Fine Arts, in which, as before, a stringent censorship
is to be exercised; the songs and dances are all to be publicly
authorized. The ethical doctrine that the just man is happy and the
unjust miserable, is to be preached; and every one prohibited from
contradicting it. Of all the titles to command in society, Wisdom is
the highest, although policy may require it to be conjoined with some
of the others (Birth, Age, Strength, Accident, &c.). It is to be a
part of the constitution to provide public exhortations, or sermons,
for inculcating virtue; Plato having now passed into an opposite phase
as to the value of Rhetoric, or continuous address. The family is to
be allowed in its usual form, but with restraints on the age of
marriage, on the choice of the parties, and on the increase of the
number of the population. Sexual intercourse is to be as far as
possible confined to persons legally married; those departing from
this rule are, at all events, to observe secresy. The slaves are not
to be of the same race as the masters. As regards punishment, there is
a great complication, owing to the author's theory that wickedness is
not properly voluntary. Much of the harm done by persons to others is
unintentional or involuntary, and is to be made good by reparation.
For the loss of balance or self-control, making the essence of
injustice, there must be a penal and educational discipline, suited to
cure the moral distemper; not for the sake of the past, which cannot
be recalled, but of the future. Under cover of this theory, the
punishments are abundantly severe; and the crimes include Heresy, for
which there is a gradation of penalties terminating in death.

We may now summarize the Ethics of Plato, under the general scheme as

I.--The Ethical Standard, or criterion of moral Right and Wrong. This
we have seen is, ultimately, the Science of Good and Evil, as
determined by a Scientific or Wise man; the Idea of the Good, which
only a philosopher can ascend to. Plato gave no credit to the maxims
of the existing society; these were wholly unscientific.

It is obvious that this vague and indeterminate standard would settle
nothing practically; no one can tell what it is. It is only of value
as belonging to a very exalted and poetic conception of virtue,
something that raises the imagination above common life into a sphere
of transcendental existence.

II.--The Psychology of Ethics.

1. As to the Faculty of discerning Right. This is implied in the
foregoing statement of the criterion. It is the Cognitive or
Intellectual power. In the definite position taken up in Protagoras,
it is the faculty of Measuring pleasures against one another and
against pains. In other dialogues, measure is still the important
aspect of the process, although the things to be measured are not

2. As regards the Will. The theory that vice, if not the result of
ignorance, is a form of madness, an uncontrollable fury, a mental
distemper, gives a peculiar rendering of the nature of man's Will. It
is a kind of Necessity, not exactly corresponding, however, with the
modern doctrine of that name.

3. Disinterested Sentiment is not directly and plainly recognized by
Plato. His highest virtue is self-regarding; a concern for the Health
of the Soul.

III.--On the Bonum, or Summum Bonum, Plato is ascetic and
self-denying. 1. We have seen that in Philebus, Pleasure is not good,
unless united with Knowledge or Intelligence; and the greater the
Intelligence, the higher the pleasure. That the highest happiness of
man is the pursuit of truth or Philosophy, was common to Plato and to

2. Happiness is attainable only through Justice or Virtue. Justice is
declared to be happiness, first, in itself, and secondly, in its
consequences. Such is the importance attached to this maxim as a
safeguard of Society, that, whether true or not, it is to be
maintained by state authority.

3. The Psychology of Pleasure and Pain is given at length in the

IV.--With regard to the scheme of Duty. In Plato, we find the first
statement of the four Cardinal Virtues.

As to the Substance of the Moral Code, the references above made to
the Republic and the Laws will show in what points his views differed
from modern Ethics.

Benevolence was not one of the Cardinal Virtues.

His notions even of Reciprocity were rendered hazy and indistinct by
his theory of Justice as an end in itself.

The inducements, means, and stimulants to virtue, in addition to penal
discipline, are training, persuasion, or hortatory discourse,
dialectic cognition of the Ideas, and, above all, that ideal
aspiration towards the Just, the Good, around which he gathered all
that was fascinating in poetry, and all the associations of religion
and divinity. Plato employed his powerful genius in working up a lofty
spiritual reward, an ideal intoxication, for inciting men to the
self-denying virtues. He was the first and one of the greatest of
preachers. His theory of Justice is suited to preaching, and not to a
scientific analysis of society.

V.--The relation of Ethics to Politics is intimate, and even
inseparable. The Civil Magistrate, as in Hobbes, supplies the Ethical
sanction. All virtue is an affair of the state, a political
institution. This, however, is qualified by the demand for an ideal
state, and an ideal governor, by whom alone anything like perfect
virtue can be ascertained.

VI.--The relationship with Theology is also close. That is to say,
Plato was not satisfied to construct a science of good and evil,
without conjoining the sentiments towards the Gods. His Theology,
however, was of his own invention, and adapted to his ethical theory.
It was necessary to suppose that the gods were the authors of good, in
order to give countenance to virtue.

Plato was the ally of the Stoics, as against the Epicureans, and of
such modern theorists as Butler, who make virtue, and not happiness,
the highest end of man. With him, discipline was an end in itself, and
not a means; and he endeavoured to soften its rigour by his poetical
and elevated Idealism.

Although he did not preach the good of mankind, or direct beneficence,
he undoubtedly prepared the way for it, by urging self-denial, which
has no issue or relevance, except either by realizing greater
happiness to Self (mere exalted Prudence, approved of by all sects),
or by promoting the welfare of others.


These opposing sects sprang from Sokrates, and passed, with little
modification, the one into the Stoics, the other into the Epicureans.
Both ANTISTHENES, the founder of the Cynics, and ARISTIPPUS, the
founder of the Cyrenaics, were disciples of Sokrates.

Their doctrines chiefly referred to the Summum Bonum--the Art of
Living, or of Happiness.

The CYNICS were most closely allied to Sokrates; they, in fact,
carried out to the full his chosen mode of life. His favourite
maxim--that the gods had no wants, and that the most godlike man was
he that approached to the same state--was the Cynic Ideal. To subsist
upon the narrowest means; to acquire indifference to pain, by a
discipline of endurance; to despise all the ordinary pursuits of
wealth and pleasure,--were Sokratic peculiarities, and were the _beau
idéal_ of Cynicism.

The Cynic succession of philosophers were, (1) ANTISTHENES, one of the
most constant friends and companions of Sokrates; (2) DIOGENES of
Sinope, the pupil of Antisthenes, and the best known type of the sect.
(His disciple Krates, a Theban, was the master of Zeno, the first
Stoic.) (3) STILPON of Megara, (4) MENEDEMUS of Eretria, (5) MONIMUS
of Syracuse, (6) KRATES.

The two first heads of the Ethical scheme, so meagrely filled up by
the ancient systems generally, are almost a total blank as regards
both Cynics and Cyrenaics.

I.--As regards a Standard of right and wrong, moral good or evil, they
recognized nothing but obedience to the laws and customs of society.

II.--They had no Psychology of a moral faculty, of the will, or of
benevolent sentiment. The Cyrenaic Aristippus had a Psychology of
Pleasure and Pain.

The Cynics, instead of discussing Will, exercised it, in one of its
most prominent forms,--self-control and endurance.

Disinterested conduct was no part of their scheme, although the
ascetic discipline necessarily promotes abstinence from sins against
property, and from all the vices of public ambition.

III.--The proper description of both systems comes under the Summum
Bonum, or the Art of Living.

The Cynic Ideal was the minimum of wants, the habituation to pain,
together with indifference to the common enjoyments. The compensating
reward was exemption from fear, anxiety, and disappointment; also, the
pride of superiority to fellow-beings and of approximation to the
gods. Looking at the great predominance of misery in human life, they
believed the problem of living to consist in a mastery over all the
forms of pain; until this was first secured, there was to be a total
sacrifice of pleasure.

The Cynics were mostly, like Sokrates, men of robust health, and if
they put their physical constitution to a severe test by poor living
and exposure to wind and weather, they also saved it from the wear and
tear of steady industry and toil. Exercise of body and of mind, with a
view to strength and endurance, was enjoined; but it was the drill of
the soldier rather than the drudgery of the artisan.

In the eyes of the public, the prominent feature of the Cynic was his
contemptuous jeering, and sarcastic abuse of everybody around. The
name (Cynic, dog-like) denotes this peculiarity. The anecdotes
relating to Diogenes illustrate his coarse denunciation of men in
general and their luxurious ways. He set at defiance all the
conventions of courtesy and of decency; spoke his mind on everything
without fear or remorse; and delighted in his antagonism to public
opinion. He followed the public and obtrusive life of Sokrates, but
instead of dialectic skill, his force lay in vituperation, sarcasm,
and repartee. 'To Sokrates,' says Epiktetus, 'Zeus assigned the
cross-examining function; to Diogenes, the magisterial and chastising
function; to Zeno (the Stoic), the didactic and dogmatical.'

The Cynics had thus in full measure one of the rewards of asceticism,
the pride of superiority and power. They did not profess an end apart
from their own happiness; they believed and maintained that theirs was
the only safe road to happiness. They agreed with the Cyrenaics as to
the end; they differed as to the means.

The founders of the sect, being men of culture, set great store by
education, from which, however, they excluded (as it would appear)
both the Artistic and the Intellectual elements of the superior
instruction of the time, namely, Music, and the Sciences of Geometry,
Astronomy, &c. Plato's writings and teachings were held in low esteem.
Physical training, self-denial and endurance, and literary or
Rhetorical cultivation, comprise the items taught by Diogenes when he
became a slave, and was made tutor to the sons of his master.

IV.--As to the Moral Code, the Cynics were dissenters from the
received usages of society. They disapproved of marriage laws, and
maintained the liberty of individual tastes in the intercourse of the
sexes. Being free-thinkers in religion they had no respect for any of
the customs founded on religion.

V. The collateral relations of Cynical Ethics to Politics and to
Theology afford no scope for additional observations. The Cynic and
Cyrenaic both stood aloof from the affairs of the state, and were
alike disbelievers in the gods.

The Cynics appear to have been inclined to communism among themselves,
which was doubtless easy with their views as to the wants of life. It
is thought not unlikely that Sokrates himself held views of communism
both as to property and to wives; being in this respect also the
prompter of Plato (Grant's Ethics of Aristotle, Essay ii.).

The CYRENAIC system originated with ARISTIPPUS of Cyrene, another
hearer and companion of Sokrates. The temperament of Aristippus was
naturally inactive, easy, and luxurious; nevertheless he set great
value on mental cultivation and accomplishments. His conversations
with Sokrates form one of the most interesting chapters of Xenophon's
Memorabilia, and are the key to the plan of life ultimately elaborated
by him. Sokrates finding out his disposition, repeats all the
arguments in favour of the severe and ascetic system. He urges the
necessity of strength, courage, energy, self-denial, in order to
attain the post of ruler over others; which, however, Aristippus
fences by saying that he has no ambition to rule; he prefers the
middle course of a free man, neither ruling nor ruled over. Next,
Sokrates recalls the dangers and evil contingencies of subjection, of
being oppressed, unjustly treated, sold into slavery, and the
consequent wretchedness to one unhardened by an adequate discipline.
It is in this argument that he recites the well-known apologue called
the choice of Herakles; in which, Virtue on the one hand, and Pleasure
with attendant vice on the other, with their respective consequences,
are set before a youth in his opening career. The whole argument with
Aristippus was purely prudential; but Aristippus was not convinced nor
brought over to the Sokratic ideal. He nevertheless adopted a no less
prudential and self-denying plan of his own.

Aristippus did not write an account of his system; and the particulars
of his life, which would show how he acted it, are but imperfectly
preserved. He was the first theorist to avow and maintain that
Pleasure, and the absence of Pain, are the proper, the direct, the
immediate, the sole end of living; not of course mere present
pleasures and present relief from pain, but present and future taken
in one great total. He would surrender present pleasure, and incur
present pain, with a view to greater future good; but he did not
believe in the necessity of that extreme surrender and renunciation
enjoined by the Cynics. He gratified all his appetites and cravings
within the limits of safety. He could sail close upon the island of
Calypso without surrendering himself to the sorceress. Instead of
deadening the sexual appetite he gave it scope, and yet resisted the
dangerous consequences of associating with Hetaerae. In his enjoyments
he was free from jealousies; thinking it no derogation to his pleasure
that others had the same pleasure. Having thus a fair share of natural
indulgences, he dispenses with the Cynic pride of superiority and the
luxury of contemning other men. Strength of will was required for this
course no less than for the Cynic life.

Aristippus put forward strongly the impossibility of realizing all the
Happiness that might seem within one's reach; such were the attendant
and deterring evils, that many pleasures had to be foregone by the
wise man. Sometimes even the foolish person attained more pleasure
than the wise; such is the lottery of life; but, as a general rule,
the fact would be otherwise. The wisest could not escape the natural
evils, pain and death; but envy, passionate love, and superstition,
being the consequences of vain and mistaken opinion, might be
conquered by a knowledge of the real nature of Good and Evil.

As a proper appendage to such a system, Aristippus sketched a
Psychology of Pleasure and Pain, which was important as a beginning,
and is believed to have brought the subject into prominence. The soul
comes under three conditions,--a gentle, smooth, equable motion,
corresponding to Pleasure; a rough, violent motion, which is Pain; and
a calm, quiescent state, indifference or Unconsciousness. More
remarkable is the farther assertion that Pleasure is only _present_ or
_realized_ consciousness; the memory of pleasures past, and the idea
of pleasures to come, are not to be counted; the painful
accompaniments of desire, hope, and fear, are sufficient to neutralize
any enjoyment that may arise from ideal bliss, Consequently, the
happiness of a life means the sum total of these moments of realized
or present pleasure. He recognized pleasures of the mind, as well as
of the body; sympathy with the good fortunes of friends or country
gives a thrill of genuine and lively joy. Still, the pleasures and the
pains of the body, and of one's own self, are more intense; witness
the bodily inflictions used in punishing offenders.

The Cyrenaics denied that there is anything just, or honourable, or
base, by nature; all depended on the laws and customs. These laws and
customs the wise man obeys, to avoid punishment and discredit from the
society where he lives; doubtless, also, from higher motives, if the
political constitution, and his fellow citizens generally, can inspire
him with respect.

Neither the Cynics nor the Cyrenaics made any profession of generous
or disinterested impulses.

ARISTOTLE. [384-322 B.C.]

Three treatises on Ethics have come down associated with the name of
Aristotle; one large work, the Nicomachean Ethics, referred to by
general consent as the chief and important source of Aristotle's
views; and two smaller works, the Eudemian Ethics, and the Magna
Moralia, attributed by later critics to his disciples. Even of the
large work, which consists of ten books, three books (V. VI. VII.),
recurring in the Eudemian Ethics, are considered by Sir A. Grant,
though not by other critics, to have been composed by Eudemus, the
supposed author of this second treatise, and a leading disciple of

Like many other Aristotelian treatises, the Nicomachean Ethics is
deficient in method and consistency on any view of its composition.
But the profound and sagacious remarks scattered throughout give it a
permanent interest, as the work of a great mind. There may be
extracted from it certain leading doctrines, whose point of departure
was Platonic, although greatly modified and improved by the genius and
personality of Aristotle.

Our purpose will be best served by a copious abstract of the
Nicomachean Ethics.

Book First discusses the Chief Good, or the Highest End of all human
endeavours. Every exercise of the human powers aims at some good; all
the arts of life have their several ends--medicine, ship-building,
generalship. But the ends of these special arts are all subordinate to
some higher end; which end is the chief good, and the subject of the
highest art of all, the Political; for as Politics aims at the welfare
of the state, or aggregate of individuals, it is identical with and
comprehends the welfare of the individual (Chaps. I., II.).

As regards the _method_ of the science, the highest exactness is not
attainable; the political art studies what is just, honourable, and
good; and these are matters about which the utmost discrepancy of
opinion prevails. From such premises, the conclusions which we draw
can only be probabilities. The man of experience and cultivation will
expect nothing more. Youths, who are inexperienced in the concerns of
life, and given to follow their impulses, can hardly appreciate our
reasoning, and will derive no benefit from it: but reasonable men will
find the knowledge highly profitable (III.).

Resuming the main question--What is the highest practical good--the
aim of the all-comprehending political science?--we find an agreement
among men as to the name _happiness_ [Greek: eudaimonia]; but great
differences as to the nature of the thing. The many regard it as made
up of the tangible elements--pleasures, wealth, or honour; while
individuals vary in their estimate according to each man's state for
the time being; the sick placing it in health, the poor in wealth, the
consciously ignorant in knowledge. On the other hand, certain
philosophers [in allusion to Plato] set up an absolute good,--an Idea
of the Good, apart from all the particulars, yet imparting to each its
property of being good (IV.).

Referring to men's lives (as a clue to their notions of the good), we
find three prominent varieties; the life of pleasure or
sensuality,--the political life, aspiring to honour,--and the
contemplative life. The first is the life of the brutes, although
countenanced by men high in power. The second is too precarious, as
depending on others, and is besides only a means to an end--namely,
our consciousness of our own merits; for the ambitious man seeks to be
honoured for his virtue and by good judges--thus showing that he too
regards virtue as the superior good. Yet neither will virtue satisfy
all the conditions. The virtuous man may slumber or pass his life in
inactivity, or may experience the maximum of calamity; and such a man
cannot be regarded as happy. The money-lender is still less entitled,
for he is an unnatural character; and money is obviously good as a
means. So that there remains only the life of contemplation;
respecting which more presently (V.).

To a review of the Platonic doctrine, Aristotle devotes a whole
chapter. He urges against it various objections, very much of a piece
with those brought against the theory of Ideas generally. If there be
but one good, there should be but one science; the alleged Idea is
merely a repetition of the phenomena; the recognized goods (_i.e._,
varieties of good) cannot be brought under one Idea; moreover, even
granting the reality of such an Idea, it is useless for all practical
purposes. What our science seeks is Good, human and attainable (VI.).

The Supreme End is what is not only chosen as an End, but is never
chosen except as an End: not chosen both for itself and with a view to
something ulterior. It must thus be--(1) An _end-in-itself_ pursued
for its own sake; (2) it must farther be _self-sufficing_ leaving no
outstanding wants--man's sociability being taken into account and
gratified. Happiness is such an end; but we must state more clearly
wherein happiness consists.

This will appear, if we examine what is the work appropriate and
peculiar to man. Every artist, the sculptor, carpenter, currier (so
too the eye and the hand), has his own peculiar work: and good, to
him, consists in his performing that work well. Man also has his
appropriate and peculiar work: not merely living--for that he has in
common with vegetables; nor the life of sensible perception--for that
he has in common with other animals, horses, oxen, &c. There remains
the life of man as a rational being: that is, as a being possessing
reason along with other mental elements, which last are controllable
or modifiable by reason. This last life is the peculiar work or
province of man. For our purpose, we must consider man, not merely as
possessing, but as actually exercising and putting in action, these
mental capacities. Moreover, when we talk generally of the work or
province of an artist, we always tacitly imply a complete and
excellent artist in his own craft: and so likewise when we speak of
the work of a man, we mean that work as performed by a complete and
competent man. Since the work of man, therefore, consists in the
active exercise of the mental capacities, conformably to reason, the
supreme good of man will consist in performing this work with
excellence or virtue. Herein he will obtain happiness, if we assume
continuance throughout a full period of life: one day or a short time
is not sufficient for happiness (VII.).

Aristotle thus lays down the outline of man's supreme Good or
Happiness: which he declares to be the beginning or principle [Greek:
archae] of his deductions, and to be obtained in the best way that the
subject admits. He next proceeds to compare this outline with the
various received opinions on the subject of happiness, showing that it
embraces much of what has been considered essential by former
philosophers: such as being 'a good of the mind,' and not a mere
external good: being equivalent to 'living well and doing well,'
another definition; consisting in virtue (the Cynics); in practical
wisdom--[Greek: phronaesis] (Sokrates); in philosophy; or in all these
coupled with pleasure (Plato, in the Philebus). Agreeing with those
who insisted on virtue, Aristotle considers his own theory an
improvement, by requiring virtue in act, and not simply in possession.
Moreover, he contends that to the virtuous man, virtuous performance
is in itself pleasurable; so that no extraneous source of pleasure is
needed. Such (he says) is the judgment of the truly excellent man;
which must be taken as conclusive respecting the happiness, as well as
the honourable pre-eminence of the best mental exercises.
Nevertheless, he admits (so far complying with the Cyrenaics) that
some extraneous conditions cannot be dispensed with; the virtuous man
can hardly exhibit his virtue in act, without some aid from friends
and property; nor can he be happy if his person is disgusting to
behold or his parentage vile (VIII.).

This last admission opens the door to those that place good fortune in
the same line with happiness, and raises the question, how happiness
is attained. By teaching? By habitual exercise? By divine grace? By
Fortune? If there be any gift vouchsafed by divine grace to man, it
ought to be this; but whether such be the case or not, it is at any
rate the most divine and best of all acquisitions. To ascribe such an
acquisition as this to Fortune would be absurd. Nature, which always
aims at the best, provides that it shall be attained, through a
certain course of teaching and training, by all who are not physically
or mentally disqualified. It thus falls within the scope of political
science, whose object is to impart the best character and active
habits to the citizens. It is with good reason that we never call a
horse happy, for he can never reach such an attainment; nor indeed can
a child be so called while yet a child, for the same reason; though in
his case we may hope for the future, presuming on a full term of life,
as was before postulated (IX.). But-this long term allows room for
extreme calamities and change in a man's lot. Are we then to say, with
Solon, that no one can be called happy so long as he lives? or that
the same man may often pass backwards and forwards from happiness to
misery? No; this only shows the mistake of resting happiness upon so
unsound a basis as external fortune. The only true basis of it is the
active manifestation of mental excellence, which no ill fortune can
efface from a man's mind (X.). Such a man will bear calamity, if it
comes, with dignity, and can never be made thoroughly miserable. If he
be moderately supplied as to external circumstances, he is to be
styled happy; that is, happy as a man--as far as man can reasonably
expect. Even after his decease he-will be affected, yet only feebly
affected, by the good or ill fortune of his surviving children.
Aristotle evidently assigns little or no value to presumed posthumous
happiness (XI.).

In his love of subtle distinctions, he asks, Is happiness a thing
admirable in itself, or a thing praiseworthy? It is admirable in
itself; for what is praiseworthy has a relative character, and is
praised as conducive to some ulterior end; while the chief good must
be an End in itself, for the sake of which everything else is done
(XII.). [This is a defective recognition of Relativity.]

Having assumed as one of the items of his definition, that man's
happiness must be in his special or characteristic work, performed
with perfect excellence,--Aristotle now proceeds to settle wherein
that excellence consists. This leads to a classification of the parts
of the soul. The first distribution is, into Rational and Irrational;
whether these two are separable in fact, or only logically separable
(like concave and convex), is immaterial to the present enquiry. Of
the irrational, the lowest portion is the Vegetative [Greek:
phytikon], which seems most active in sleep; a state where bad men and
good are on a par, and which is incapable of any human excellence. The
next portion is the Appetitive [Greek: epithymaetikon], which is not
thus incapable. It partakes of reason, yet it includes something
conflicting with reason. These conflicting tendencies are usually
modifiable by reason, and may become in the temperate man completely
obedient to reason. There remains Reason--the highest and sovereign
portion of the soul. Human excellence [Greek: aretae] or virtue, is
either of the Appetitive part,--moral [Greek: aethikae] virtue; or of
the Reason--intellectual [Greek: dianoaetikae] virtue. Liberality and
temperance are Moral virtues; philosophy, intelligence, and wisdom,
Intellectual (XIII.).

Such is an outline of the First Book, having for its subject the Chief
Good, the Supreme End of man.

Book Second embraces the consideration of points relative to the Moral
Virtues; it also commences Aristotle's celebrated definition and
classification of the virtues or excellencies.

Whereas intellectual excellence is chiefly generated and improved by
teaching, moral excellence is a result of habit [Greek: ethos]; whence
its name (Ethical). Hence we may see that moral excellence is no
inherent part of our nature: if it were, it could not be reversed by
habit--any more than a stone can acquire from any number of
repetitions the habit of moving upward, or fire the habit of moving
downward. These moral excellencies are neither a part of our nature,
nor yet contrary to our nature: we are by nature fitted to take them
on, but they are brought to consummation through habit. It is not with
them, as with our senses, where nature first gives us the power to see
and hear, and where we afterwards exercise that power. Moral virtues
are acquired only by practice. We learn to build or to play the harp,
by building or playing the harp: so too we become just or courageous,
by a course of just or courageous acts. This is attested by all
lawgivers in their respective cities; all of them shape the characters
of their respective citizens, by enforcing habitual practice. Some do
it well; others ill; according to the practice, so will be the
resulting character; as he that is practised in building badly, will
be a bad builder in the end; and he that begins on a bad habit of
playing the harp, becomes confirmed into a bad player. Hence the
importance of making the young perform good actions habitually and
from the beginning. The permanent ethical acquirements are generated
by uniform and persistent practice (I.). [This is the earliest
statement of the philosophy of _habit_.]

Everything thus turns upon practice: and Aristotle reminds us that his
purpose here is, not simply to teach what virtue is, but to produce
virtuous agents. How are we to know what the practice should be? It
must be conformable to right reason: every one admits this, and we
shall explain it further in a future book. But let us proclaim at
once, that in regard to moral action, as in regard to health, no exact
rules can be laid down. Amidst perpetual variability, each agent must
in the last resort be guided by the circumstances of the case. Still,
however, something may be done to help him. Here Aristotle proceeds to
introduce the famous doctrine of the MEAN. We may err, as regards
health, both by too much and by too little of exercise, food, or
drink. The same holds good in regard to temperance, courage, and the
other excellences (II.).

His next remark is another of his characteristic doctrines, that the
_test of a formed habit of virtue, is to feel no pain_; he that feels
pain in brave acts is a coward. Whence he proceeds to illustrate the
position, that moral virtue [Greek: aethikae aretae] has to do with
pleasures and pains. A virtuous education consists in making us feel
pleasure and pain at proper objects, and on proper occasions.
Punishment is a discipline of pain. Some philosophers (the Cynics)
have been led by this consideration to make virtue consist in apathy,
or insensibility; but Aristotle would regulate, and not extirpate our
sensibilities (III.).

But does it not seem a paradox to say (according to the doctrine of
habit in I.), that a man becomes just, by performing just actions;
since, if he performs just actions, he is already just? The answer is
given by a distinction drawn in a comparison with the training in the
common arts of life. That a man is a good writer or musician, we see
by his writing or his music; we take no account of the state of his
mind in other respects: if he knows how to do this, it is enough. But
in respect to moral excellence, such knowledge is not enough: a man
may do just or temperate acts, but he is not necessarily a just or
temperate man, unless he does them with right intention and on their
own account. This state of the internal mind, which is requisite to
constitute the just and temperate man, follows upon the habitual
practice of just and temperate acts, and follows upon nothing else.
But most men are content to talk without any such practice. They fancy
erroneously that _knowing_, without doing, will make a good man. [We
have here the reaction against the Sokratic doctrine of virtue, and
also the statement of the necessity of a _prosper motive_, in order to

Aristotle now sets himself to find a definition of virtue, _per genus
et differentiam_. There are three qualities in the Soul--_Passions_
[Greek: pathae], as Desire, Anger, Fear, &c., followed by pleasure or
pain; _Capacities_ or _Faculties_ [Greek: dynameis], as our capability
of being angry, afraid, affected by pity, &c.; _Fixed tendencies,
acquirements_, or _states_ [Greek: hexeis]. To which of the three does
virtue or excellence belong? It cannot be a Passion; for passions are
not in themselves good or evil, and are not accompanied with
deliberate choice [Greek: prouiresis], will, or intention. Nor is it a
Faculty: for we are not praised or blamed because we _can_ have such
or such emotions; and moreover our faculties are innate, which virtue
is not. Accordingly, virtue, or excellence, must be an acquirement
[Greek: hexis]--a State (V.). This is the _genus_.

Now, as to the _differentia_, which brings us to a more specific
statement of the doctrine of the _Mean_. The specific excellence of
virtue is to be got at from quantity in the abstract, from which we
derive the conceptions of more, less, and equal; or excess, defect,
and mean; the equal being the mean between excess and defect. But in
the case of moral actions, the arithmetical mean may not hold (for
example, six between two and ten); it must be a mean relative to the
individual; Milo must have more food than a novice in the training
school. In the arts, we call a work perfect, when anything either
added or taken away would spoil it. Now, virtue, which, like Nature,
is better and more exact than any art, has for its subject-matter,
passions and actions; all which are wrong either in defect or in
excess. Virtue aims at the mean between them, or the maximum of Good:
which implies a correct estimation of all the circumstances of the
act,--when we ought to do it--under what conditions--towards whom--for
what purpose--in what manner, &c. This is the praise-worthy mean,
which virtue aspires to. We may err in many ways (for evil, as the
Pythagoreans said, is of the nature of the Infinite, good of the
Finite), but we can do right only in one way; so much easier is the
path of error.

Combining then this _differentia_ with the _genus_, as above
established, the complete definition is given thus--'Virtue is an
acquirement or fixed state, tending by deliberate purpose (genus),
towards a mean relative to us (difference).' To which is added the
following all-important qualification, 'determined by reason [Greek:
logos], and as the _judicious man_ [Greek: ho Phronimos] would
determine.' Such is the doctrine of the Mean, which combines the
practical matter-of-fact quality of moderation, recognized by all
sages, with a high and abstract conception, starting from the
Pythagorean remark quoted by Aristotle, 'the Infinite, or Indefinite,
is evil, the Finite or the Definite is good,' and re-appearing in
Plato as 'conformity to measure' [Greek: metriotaes], by which he
(Plato) proposes to discriminate between good and evil. The concluding
qualification of virtue--'a rational determination, according to the
ideal judicious man'--is an attempt to assign a standard or authority
for what is the proper 'Mean;' an authority purely ideal or imaginary;
the actual authority being always, rightly or wrongly, the society of
the time.

Aristotle admits that his doctrine of Virtue being a mean, cannot have
an application quite universal; because there are some acts that in
their very name connote badness, which are wrong therefore, not from
excess or defect, but in themselves (VI.). He next proceeds to resolve
his general doctrine into particulars; enumerating the different
virtues stated, each as a mean, between two extremes--Courage,
Temperance, Liberality, Magnanimity, Magnificence, Meekness,
Amiability or Friendliness, Truthfulness, Justice (VII.). They are
described in detail in the two following books. In chap. VIII., he
qualifies his doctrine of Mean and Extremes, by the remark that one
Extreme may be much farther removed from the Mean than the other.
Cowardice and Rashness are the extremes of Courage, but Cowardice is
farthest removed from the Mean.

The concluding chapter (IX.) of the Book reflects on the great
difficulty of hitting the mean in all things, and of correctly
estimating all the requisite circumstances, in each particular case.
He gives as practical rules:--To avoid at all events the worst
extreme; to keep farthest from our natural bent; to guard against the
snare of pleasure. Slight mistakes on either side are little blamed,
but grave and conspicuous cases incur severe censure. Yet how far the
censure ought to go, is difficult to lay down beforehand in general
terms. There is the same difficulty in regard to all particular cases,
and all the facts of sense: which must be left, after all, to the
judgment of Sensible Perception [Greek: aisthaesis].

Book Third takes up the consideration of the Virtues in detail, but
prefaces them with a dissertation, occupying five chapters, on the
Voluntary and Involuntary. Since praise and blame are bestowed only on
voluntary actions,--the involuntary being pardoned, and even
pitied,--it is requisite to define Voluntary and Involuntary. What is
done under physical compulsion, or through ignorance, is clearly
involuntary. What is done under the fear of greater evils is partly
voluntary, and partly involuntary. Such actions are voluntary in the
sense of being a man's own actions; involuntary in that they are not
chosen on their own account; being praised or blamed according to the
circumstances. There are cases where it is difficult to say which of
two conflicting pressures ought to preponderate, and compulsion is an
excuse often misapplied: but compulsion, in its strict sense, is not
strength of motive at all; it is taking the action entirely out of our
own hands. As regards Ignorance, a difference is made. Ignorance of a
general rule is matter for censure; ignorance of particular
circumstances may be excused. [This became the famous maxim of
law,--'Ignorantia facti excusat, ignorantia juris non excusat.'] If
the agent, when better informed, repents of his act committed in
ignorance, he affords good proof that the act done was really
involuntary. Acts done from anger or desire (which are in the agent's
self) are not to be held as involuntary. (1) If they were, the actions
of brutes and children would be involuntary. (2) Some of these acts
are morally good and approved. (3) Obligation often attaches to these
feelings. (4) What is done from desire is pleasant; the involuntary is
painful. (5) Errors of passion are to be eschewed, no less than those
of reason (I.).

The next point is the nature of Purpose, Determination, or Deliberate
Preference [Greek: proairesis], which is in the closest kindred with
moral excellence, and is even more essential, in the ethical estimate,
than acts themselves. This is a part of the Voluntary; but not
co-extensive therewith. For it excludes sudden and unpremeditated
acts; and is not shared by irrational beings. It is distinct from
desire, from anger, from wish, and from opinion; with all which it is
sometimes confounded. Desire is often opposed to it; the incontinent
man acts upon his desires, but without any purpose, or even against
his purpose; the continent man acts upon his purpose, but against his
desires. Purpose is still more distinct from anger, and is even
distinct (though in a less degree) from wish [Greek: boulaesis], which
is choice of the End, while Purpose is of the Means; moreover, we
sometimes wish for impossibilities, known as such, but we never
purpose them. Nor is purpose identical with opinion [Greek: doxa],
which relates to truth and falsehood, not to virtue and vice. It is
among our voluntary proceedings, and includes intelligence; but is it
identical with predeliberated action and its results? (II.)

To answer this query, Aristotle analyzes the process of Deliberation,
as to its scope, and its mode of operation. We exclude from
deliberation things Eternal, like the Kosmos, or the incommensurability
of the side and the diagonal of a square; also things mutable, that are
regulated by necessity, by nature, or by chance; things out of our
power; also final ends of action, for we deliberate only about the
_means_ to ends. The deliberative process is compared to the
investigation of a geometrical problem. We assume the end, and enquire
by what means it can be produced; then again, what will produce the
means, until we at last reach something that we ourselves can command.
If, after such deliberation, we see our way to execution, we form a
Purpose, or Deliberate Preference [Greek: proairesis]. Purpose is then
definable as a deliberative appetency of things in our power (III.).

Next is started the important question as to the choice of the final
_End_. Deliberation and Purpose respect means; our Wish respects the
End--but what is the End that we wish? Two opinions are noticed;
according to one (Plato) we are moved to the good; according to the
other, to the apparent good. Both opinions are unsatisfactory; the one
would make out an incorrect choice to be no choice at all; the other
would take away all constancy from ends.

Aristotle settles the point by distinguishing, in this case as in
others, between what bears a given character simply and absolutely,
and what bears the same character relatively to this or that
individual. The object of Wish, simply, truly, and absolutely, is the
Good; while the object of Wish, to any given individual, is what
appears Good to him. But by the Absolute here, Aristotle explains that
he means what appears good to the _virtuous_ and _intelligent_ man;
who is is declared, here as elsewhere, to be the infallible standard;
while most men, misled by pleasure, choose what is not truly good. In
like manner, Aristotle affirms, that those substances are truly and
absolutely wholesome, which are wholesome to the healthy and
well-constituted man; other substances may be wholesome to the sick or
degenerate. Aristotle's Absolute is thus a Relative with its correlate
chosen or imagined by himself.

He then proceeds to maintain that virtue and vice are voluntary, and
in our own power. The arguments are these. (1) If it be in our power
to act right, the contrary is equally in our own power; hence vice is
as much voluntary as virtue. (2) Man must be admitted to be the origin
of his own actions. (3) Legislators and others punish men for
wickedness, and confer honour on good actions; even culpable ignorance
and negligence are punished. (4) Our character itself, or our fixed
acquirements, are in our power, being produced by our successive acts;
men become intemperate, by acts of drunkenness. (5) Not only the
defects of the mind, but the infirmities of the body also, are blamed,
when arising through our own neglect and want of training. (6) Even if
it should be said that all men aim at the apparent good, but cannot
control their mode of conceiving [Greek: phantasia] the end; still
each person, being by his acts the cause of his own fixed
acquirements, must be to a certain extent the cause of his own
conceptions. On this head, too, Aristotle repeats the clenching
argument, that the supposed imbecility of conceiving would apply alike
to virtue and to vice; so that if virtuous action be regarded as
voluntary, vicious action must be so regarded likewise. It must be
remembered that a man's fixed acquirements or habits are not in his
own power, in the same sense and degree in which his separate acts are
in his own power. Each act, from first to last, is alike in his power;
but in regard to the habit, it is only the initiation thereof that is
thoroughly in his power; the habit, like a distemper, is taken on by
imperceptible steps in advance (V.).

In the foregoing account of the Ethical questions connected with the
Will, Aristotle is happily unembroiled with the modern controversy.
The _mal-apropos_ of 'Freedom' had not been applied to voluntary
action. Accordingly, he treats the whole question from the inductive
side, distinguishing the cases where people are praised or blamed for
their conduct, from those where praise and blame are inapplicable as
being powerless. It would have been well if the method had never been
departed from; a sound Psychology would have improved the induction,
but would never have introduced any question except as to the relative
strength of the different feelings operating as motives to voluntary

In one part of his argument, however, where he maintains that vice
must be voluntary, because its opposite, virtue, is voluntary, he is
already touching on the magical island of the bad enchantress;
allowing a question of fact to be swayed by the notion of factitious
dignity. Virtue is assumed to be voluntary, not on the evidence of
fact, but because there would be an _indignity_ cast on it, to suppose
otherwise. Now, this consideration, which Aristotle gives way to on
various occasions, is the motive underlying the objectionable

After the preceding digression on the Voluntary and Involuntary,
Aristotle takes up the consideration of the Virtues in order,
beginning with COURAGE, which was one of the received cardinal
virtues, and a subject of frequent discussion. (Plato, _Laches,
Protagoras, Republic_, &c.)

Courage [Greek: andreia], the mean between timidity and foolhardiness,
has to do with evils. All evils are objects of fear; but there are
some evils that even the brave man does right to fear--as disgrace.
Poverty or disease he ought not to fear. Yet, he will not acquire the
reputation of courage from not fearing these, nor will he acquire it
if he be exempt from fear when about to be scourged. Again, if a man
be afraid of envy from others, or of insults to his children or wife,
he will not for that reason be regarded as a coward. It is by being
superior to the fear of great evils, that a man is extolled as
courageous; and the greatest of evils is death, since it is a final
close, as well of good as of evil. Hence the dangers of war are the
greatest occasion of courage. But the cause must be honourable (VI.).

Thus the key to true courage is the quality or merit of the action.
That man is brave, who both fears, and affronts without fear, what he
ought and when he ought: who suffers and acts according to the value
of the cause, and according to a right judgment of it. The opposites
or extremes of courage include (1) Deficiency of fear; (2) Excess of
fear, cowardice; (3) Deficiency of daring, another formula for
cowardice; (4) Excess of daring, Rashness. Between these, Courage is
the mean (VII.).

Aristotle enumerates five analogous forms of quasi-courage,
approaching more or less to genuine courage. (1) The first, most like
to the true, is political courage, which is moved to encounter danger
by the Punishments and the Honours of society. The desire of honour
rises to virtue, and is a noble spring of action. (2) A second kind is
the effect of Experience, which dispels seeming terrors, and gives
skill to meet real danger. (3) Anger, Spirit, Energy [Greek: thymos] is
a species of courage, founded on physical power and excitement, but not
under the guidance of high emotions. (4) The Sanguine temperament, by
overrating the chances of success, gives courage. (5) Lastly, Ignorance
of the danger may have the same effect as courage (VIII.).

Courage is mainly connected with pain and loss. Men are called brave
for the endurance of pain, even although it bring pleasure in the end,
as to the boxer who endures bruises from the hope of honour. Death is
painful, and most so to the man that by his virtue has made life
valuable. Such a man is to be considered more courageous, as a soldier,
than a mercenary with little to lose (IX.).

The account of Courage thus given is remarkably exhaustive; although
the constituent parts might have been more carefully disentangled. A
clear line should be drawn between two aspects of courage. The one is
the resistance to Fear properly so called; that is, to the perturbation
that exaggerates coming evil: a courageous man, in this sense, is one
that possesses the true measure of impending danger, and acts according
to that, and not according to an excessive measure. The other aspect of
Courage, is what gives it all its nobleness as a virtue, namely,
_Self-sacrifice_, or the deliberate encountering of evil, for some
honourable or virtuous cause. When a man knowingly risks his life in
battle for his country, he may be called courageous, but he is still
better described as a heroic and devoted man.

Inasmuch as the leading form of heroic devotion, in the ancient world,
was exposure of life in war, Self-sacrifice was presented under the
guise of Courage, and had no independent standing as a cardinal virtue.
From this circumstance, paganism is made to appear in a somewhat
disadvantageous light, as regards self-denying duties.

Next in order among the excellences or virtues of the irrational
department of mind is TEMPERANCE, or Moderation, [Greek: sophrosynae],
a mean or middle state in the enjoyment of pleasure. Pleasures are
mental and bodily. With the mental, as love of learning or of honour,
temperance is not concerned. Nor with the bodily pleasures of muscular
exercise, of hearing and of smell, but only with the animal pleasures
of touch and taste: in fact, sensuality resides in touch; the pleasure
of eating being a mode of contact (X.).

In the desires natural and common to men, as eating and the nuptial
couch, men are given to err, and error is usually on the side of
excess. But it is in the case of special tastes or preferences, that
people are most frequently intemperate. Temperance does not apply to
enduring pains, except those of abstinence from pleasures. The extreme
of insensibility to pleasure is rarely found, and has no name. The
temperate man has the feelings of pleasure and pain, but moderates his
desires according to right reason (XL.). He desires what he ought, when
he ought, and as he ought: correctly estimating each separate case
(XII.). The question is raised, which is most voluntary, Cowardice or
Intemperance? (1) Intemperance is more voluntary than Cowardice, for
the one consists in choosing pleasure, while in the other there is a
sort of compulsory avoidance of pain. (2) Temperance is easier to
acquire as a habit than Courage. (3) In Intemperance, the particular
acts are voluntary, although not the habit; in Cowardice, the first
acts are involuntary, while by habit, it tends to become voluntary

[Temperance is the virtue most suited to the formula of the Mean,
although the settling of what is the mean depends after all upon a
man's own judgment. Aristotle does not recognize asceticism as a thing
existing. His Temperance is moderation in the sensual pleasures of
eating and love.]

Book Fourth proceeds with the examination of the Virtues or Ethical

LIBERALITY [Greek: eleutheristaes], in the matter of property, is the
mean of Prodigality and Illiberality. The right uses of money are
spending and giving. Liberality consists in giving willingly, from an
honourable motive, to proper persons, in proper quantities, and at
proper times; each individual case being measured by correct reason. If
such measure be not taken, or if the gift be not made willingly, it is
not liberality. The liberal man is often so free as to leave little to
himself. This virtue is one more frequent in the inheritors than in the
makers of fortunes. Liberality beyond one's means is prodigality. The
liberal man will receive only from proper sources and in proper
quantities. Of the extremes, prodigality is more curable than
illiberality. The faults of prodigality are, that it must derive
supplies from improper sources; that it gives to the wrong objects, and
is usually accompanied with intemperance. Illiberality is incurable: it
is confirmed by age, and is more congenial to men generally than
prodigality. Some of the illiberal fall short in giving--those called
stingy, close-fisted, and so on; but do not desire what belongs to
other people. Others are excessive in receiving from all sources; such
are they that ply disreputable trades (I.).

MAGNIFICENCE [Greek: megaloprepeia] is a grander kind of Liberality;
its characteristic is greatness of expenditure, with suitableness to
the person, the circumstances, and the purpose. The magnificent man
takes correct measure of each; he is in his way a man of Science
[Greek: ho de megaloprepaes epistaemoni eoike]--II. The motive must be
honourable, the outlay unstinted, and the effect artistically splendid.
The service of the gods, hospitality to foreigners, public works, and
gifts, are proper occasions. Magnificence especially becomes the
well-born and the illustrious. The house of the magnificent man will be
of suitable splendour; everything that he does will show taste and
propriety. The extremes, or corresponding defects of character, are, on
the one side, vulgar, tasteless profusion, and on the other, meanness
or pettiness, which for some paltry saving will spoil the effect of a
great outlay (II.).

MAGNANIMITY, or HIGH-MINDEDNESS [Greek: megalopsychia], loftiness of
spirit, is the culmination of the virtues. It is concerned with
greatness. The high-minded man is one that, being worthy, rates himself
at his real worth, and neither more (which is vanity) nor less (which
is littleness of mind). Now, worth has reference to external goods, of
which the greatest is honour. The high-minded man must be in the
highest degree honourable, for which he must be a good man; honour
being the prize of virtue. He will accept honour only from the good,
and will despise dishonour, knowing it to be undeserved. In all good or
bad fortune, he will behave with moderation; in not highly valuing even
the highest thing of all, honour itself, he may seem to others
supercilious. Wealth and fortune contribute to high-mindedness; but
most of all, superior goodness; for the character cannot exist without
perfect virtue. The high-minded man neither shuns nor courts danger;
nor is he indisposed to risk even his life. He gives favours, but does
not accept them; he is proud to the great, but affable to the lowly. He
attempts only great and important matters; is open in friendship and in
hatred; truthful in conduct, with an ironical reserve. He talks little,
either of himself or of others; neither desiring his own praise, nor
caring to utter blame. He wonders at nothing, bears no malice, is no
gossip. His movements are slow, his voice deep, his diction stately

There is a nameless virtue, a mean between the two extremes of too much
and too little ambition, or desire of honour; the reference being to
smaller matters and to ordinary men. The fact that both extremes are
made terms of reproach, shows that there is a just mean; while each
extreme alternately claims to be the virtue, as against the other,
since there is no term to express the mean (IV.).

MILDNESS [Greek: praotaes] is a mean state with reference to Anger,
although inclining to the defective side. The exact mean, which has no
current name, is that state wherein the agent is free from perturbation
[Greek: atarachos], is not impelled by passion, but guided by reason;
is angry when he ought, as he ought, with whom, and as long as, he
ought: taking right measure of all the circumstances. Not to be angry
on the proper provocation, is folly, insensibility, slavish submission.
Of those given to excess in anger, some are quick, impetuous, and soon
appeased; others are sulky, repressing and perpetuating their
resentment. It is not easy to define the exact mean; each case must be
left to individual perception (V.).

The next virtue is Good-breeding in society, a balance between
surliness on the one hand, and weak assent or interested flattery on
the other. It is a nameless virtue, resembling friendship without the
special affection. Aristotle shows what he considers the bearing of the
finished gentleman, studying to give pleasure, and yet expressing
disapprobation when it would be wrong to do otherwise (VI.).

Closely allied to the foregoing is the observance of a due mean, in the
matter of Boastfulness. The boastful lay claim to what they do not
possess; false modesty [Greek: eironeia] is denying or underrating
one's own merits. The balance of the two is the straightforward and
truthful character; asserting just what belongs to him, neither more
nor less. This is a kind of truthfulness,--distinguished from 'truth'
in its more serious aspect, as discriminating between justice and
injustice--and has a worth of its own; for he that is truthful in
little things will be so in more important affairs (VII.).

In the playful intercourse of society, there is room for the virtue of
Wit, a balance or mean between buffoonish excess, and the clownish
dulness that can neither make nor enjoy a joke. Here the man of
refinement must be a law to himself (VIII.).

MODESTY [Greek: aidos] is briefly described, without being put through
the comparison with its extremes. It is more a feeling than a state, or
settled habit. It is the fear of ill-report; and has the physical
expression of fear under danger--the blushing and the pallor. It befits
youth as the age of passion and of errors. In the old it is no virtue,
as they should do nothing to be ashamed of (IX.).

Book Fifth (the first of the so-called Eudemian books), treats of
Justice, the Social virtue by pre-eminence. Justice as a virtue is
defined, the state of mind, or moral disposition, to do what is just.
The question then is--what is the just and the unjust in action? The
words seem to have more senses than one. The just may be (1) the
Lawful, what is established by law; which includes, therefore, all
obedience, and all moral virtue (for every kind of conduct came under
public regulation, in the legislation of Plato and Aristotle). Or (2)
the just may be restricted to the fair and equitable as regards
property. In both senses, however, justice concerns our behaviour to
some one else: and it thus stands apart from the other virtues, as
(essentially and in its first character) seeking another's good--not
the good of the agent himself (I.).

The first kind of justice, which includes all virtue, called Universal
Justice, being set aside, the enquiry is reduced to the Particular
Justice, or Justice proper and distinctive. Of this there are two
kinds, Distributive and Corrective (II.). Distributive Justice is a
kind of equality or proportion in the distribution of property,
honours, &c., in the State, according to the merits of each citizen;
the standard of worth or merit being settled by the constitution,
whether democratic, oligarchic, or aristocratic (III.). Corrective, or
Reparative Justice takes no account of persons; but, looking at cases
where unjust loss or gain has occurred, aims to restore the balance, by
striking an arithmetical mean (IV.). The Pythagorean idea, that Justice
is Retaliation, is inadequate; proportion and other circumstances must
be included. Proportionate Retaliation, or Reciprocity of services,--as
in the case of Commercial Exchange, measured through the instrument of
money, with its definite value,--is set forth as the great bond of
society. Just dealing is the mean between doing injustice and suffering
injustice (V.). Justice is definitely connected with Law, and exists
only between citizens of the State, and not between father and
children, master and slave, between whom there is no law proper, but
only a sort of relation analogous to law (VI.). Civil Justice is partly
Natural, partly conventional. The natural is what has the same force
everywhere, whether accepted or not; the conventional varies with
institutions, acquiring all its force from adoption by law, and being
in itself a matter of indifference prior to such adoption. Some persons
regard all Justice as thus conventional. They say--'What exists by
nature is unchangeable, and has everywhere the same power; for example,
fire burns alike in Persia and here; but we see regulations of justice
often varied--differing here and there.' This, however, is not exactly
the fact, though to a certain extent it is the fact. Among the gods
indeed, it perhaps is not the fact at all: but among men, it is true
that there exists something by nature changeable, though everything is
not so. Nevertheless, there are some things existing by nature, other
things not by nature. And we can plainly see, among those matters that
admit of opposite arrangement, which of them belong to nature and which
to law and convention; and the same distinction will fit in other cases
also. Thus the right hand is by nature more powerful than the left; yet
it is possible that all men may become ambidextrous. Those regulations
of justice that are not by nature, but by human appointment, are not
the same everywhere; nor is the political constitution everywhere the
same; yet there is one political constitution only that is by nature
the best everywhere (VII.).

To constitute Justice and Injustice in acts, the acts must be
voluntary; there being degrees of culpability in injustice according to
the intention, the premeditation, the greater or less knowledge of
circumstances. The act that a person does may perhaps be unjust; but he
is not, on that account, always to be regarded as an unjust man

Here a question arises, Can one be injured voluntarily? It seems not,
for what a man consents to is not injury. Nor can a person injure
himself. Injury is a relationship between two parties (IX.). Equity
does not contradict, or set aside, Justice, but is a higher and finer
kind of justice, coming in where the law is too rough and general.

Book Sixth treats of Intellectual Excellences, or Virtues of the
Intellect. It thus follows out the large definition of virtue given at
the outset, and repeated in detail as concerns each of the ethical or
moral virtues successively.

According to the views most received at present, Morality is an affair
of conscience and sentiment; little or nothing is said about estimating
the full circumstances and consequences of each act, except that there
is no time to calculate correctly, and that the attempt to do so is
generally a pretence for evading the peremptory order of virtuous
sentiment, which, if faithfully obeyed, ensures virtuous action in each
particular case. If these views be adopted, an investigation of our
intellectual excellences would find no place in a treatise on Ethics.
But the theory of Aristotle is altogether different. Though he
recognizes Emotion and Intellect as inseparably implicated in the mind
of Ethical agents, yet the sovereign authority that he proclaims is not
Conscience or Sentiment, but Reason. The subordination of Sentiment to
Reason is with him essential. It is true that Reason must be supplied
with First Principles, whence to take its start; and these First
Principles are here declared to be, fixed emotional states or
dispositions, engendered in the mind of the agent by a succession of
similar acts. But even these dispositions themselves, though not
belonging to the department of Reason, are not exempt from the
challenge and scrutiny of Reason; while the proper application of them
in act to the complicated realities of life, is the work of Reason
altogether. Such an ethical theory calls upon Aristotle to indicate,
more or less fully, those intellectual excellences, whereby alone we
are enabled to overcome the inherent difficulties of right ethical
conduct; and he indicates them in the present Book, comparing them with
those other intellectual excellences which guide our theoretical
investigations, where conduct is not directly concerned.

In specifying the ethical excellences, or excellences of disposition,
we explained that each of them aimed to realize a mean--and that this
mean was to be determined by Right Reason. To find the mean, is thus an
operation of the Intellect; and we have now to explain what the right
performance of it is,--or to enter upon the Excellences of the
Intellect. The soul having been divided into Irrational and Rational,
the Rational must farther be divided into two parts,--the Scientific
(dealing with necessary matter), the Calculative, or Deliberative
(dealing with contingent matter). We must touch, upon the excellence or
best condition of both of them (I). There are three principal functions
of the soul--Sensation, Reason, and Appetite or Desire. Now, Sensation
(which beasts have as well as men) is not a principle of moral action.
The Reason regards truth and falsehood only; it does not move to
action, it is not an end in itself. Appetite or Desire, which aims at
an end, introduces us to moral action. Truth and Falsehood, as regards
Reason, correspond to Good and Evil as regards Appetite: Affirmation
and Negation, with the first, are the analogues of Pursuit and
Avoidance, with the second. In purpose, which is the principle of moral
action, there is included deliberation or calculation. Reason and
Appetite are thus combined: Good Purpose comprises both true
affirmation and right pursuit: you may call it either an Intelligent
Appetite, or an Appetitive Intelligence. Such is man, as a principle of
action [hae toiautae archae anthropos].

Science has to do with the necessary and the eternal; it is teachable,
but teachable always from _praecognita_, or principles, obtained by
induction; from which principles, conclusions are demonstrated by
syllogism (III.). Art, or Production, is to be carefully distinguished
from the action or agency that belongs to man as an ethical agent, and
that does not terminate in any separate assignable product. But both
the one and the other deal with contingent matters only. Art deals for
the most part with the same matters as are subject to the intervention
of Fortune or Chance (IV.).

Prudence or Judiciousness [Greek: phronaesis], the quality of [Greek:
ho phronimos], the Practical Reason, comes next. We are told what are
the matters wherewith it is, and wherewith it is not, conversant. It
does not deal with matters wherein there exist art, or with rules of
art. It does not deal with necessary matters, nor with matters not
modifiable by human agency. The prudent or judicious man is one who
(like Pericles) can accurately estimate and foresee matters (apart from
Science and Art) such as are good or evil for himself and other human
beings. On these matters, feelings of pleasure or pain are apt to bias
the mind, by insinuating wrong aims; which they do not do in regard to
the properties of a triangle and other scientific conclusions. To guard
against such bias, the judicious man must be armed with the ethical
excellence described above as Temperance or Moderation. Judiciousness
is not an Art, admitting of better and worse; there are not good
judicious men, and bad judicious men, as there are good and bad
artists. Judiciousness is itself an excellence (_i.e._, the term
connotes excellence)--an excellence of the rational soul, and of that
branch of the rational soul which is calculating, deliberative, not
scientific (V.). Reason or Intellect [Greek: nous] is the faculty for
apprehending the first principles of demonstrative science. It is among
the infallible faculties of the mind, together with Judiciousness,
Science, and Philosophy. Each of these terms connotes truth and
accuracy (VI.). Wisdom in the arts is the privilege of the superlative
artists, such as Phidias in sculpture. But there are some men wise, not
in any special art, but absolutely; and this wisdom [Greek: sophia] is
Philosophy. It embraces both principles of science (which Aristotle
considers to come under the review of the First Philosophy) and
deductions therefrom; it is [Greek: nous] and [Greek: epistaemae] in
one. It is more venerable and dignified than Prudence or Judiciousness;
because its objects, the Kosmos and the celestial bodies, are far more
glorious than man, with whose interests alone Prudence is concerned;
and also because the celestial objects are eternal and unvarying; while
man and his affairs are transitory and ever fluctuating. Hence the
great honour paid to Thales, Anaxagoras, and others, who speculated on
theories thus magnificent and superhuman, though useless in respect to
human good.

We have already said that Prudence or Judiciousness is good counsel on
human interests, with a view to action. But we must also add that it
comprises a knowledge not of universals merely, but also of
particulars; and experienced men, much conversant with particulars, are
often better qualified for action than inexperienced men of science
(VII.). Prudence is the same in its intellectual basis as the political
science or art--yet looked at in a different aspect. Both of them are
practical and consultative, respecting matters of human good and evil;
but prudence, in the stricter sense of the word, concerns more
especially the individual self; still, the welfare of the individual is
perhaps inseparable from household and state concerns. Prudence farther
implies a large experience; whence boys, who can become good
mathematicians, cannot have practical judgment or prudence. In
consultation, we are liable to error both in regard to universals, and
in regard to particulars; it is the business of prudence, as well as of
the political science, to guard against both. That prudence is not
identical with Science, is plain enough; for Science is the
intermediate process between the first principles and the last
conclusions; whereas prudence consists chiefly in seizing these last,
which are the applications of reasoning, and represent the particular
acts to be done. Prudence is the counterpart of Reason [Greek: Nous] or
Intellect, but at the opposite extremity of the mental process. For
Intellect [Greek: Nous] apprehends the extreme Universals,--the first
principles,--themselves not deducible, but from which deduction starts;
while Prudence fastens on the extreme particulars, which are not known
by Science, but by sensible Perception. We mean here by sensible
Perception, not what is peculiar to any of the five senses, but what is
common to them all--whereby we perceive that the triangle before us is
a geometrical ultimatum, and that it is the final subject of
application for all the properties previously demonstrated to belong to
triangles generally. The mind will stop here in the downward march
towards practical application, as it stopped at first principles in the
upward march. Prudence becomes, however, confounded with sensible
perception, when we reach this stage. [The statement here given
involves Aristotle's distinction of the proper and the common
Sensibles; a shadowing out of the muscular element in sensation]

Good counsel [Greek: euboulia] is distinguished from various other
qualities. It is, in substance, choosing right means to a good end; the
end being determined by the great faculty--Prudence or Judiciousness
(IX.). Sagacity [Greek: synesis] is a just intellectual measure in
regard to the business of life, individual and social; critical ability
in appreciating and interpreting the phenomena of experience. It is
distinguished from Prudence in this respect--that Prudence carries
inferences into Practice (X.). Considerateness [Greek: gnomae] is
another intellectual virtue, with a practical bearing. It is that
virtue whereby we discern the proper occasions for indulgent
construction, softening the rigour of logical consistency. It is the
source of equitable decisions.

The different intellectual excellences just named--Considerateness,
Sagacity, Prudence [Greek: phronaesis], and Intellect [Greek: Nous],
seem all to bear on the same result, and are for the most part
predicable of the same individuals. All of them are concerned with the
ultimate applications of principle to practice, and with the actual
moments for decision and action. Indeed, Intellect [Greek: Nous] deals
with the extremes at both ends of the scale: with the highest and
lowest terms. In theoretical science, it apprehends and sanctions the
major propositions, the first and highest _principia_ of
demonstrations: in practical dealings, it estimates the minor
propositions of the syllogism, the possibilities of the situation, and
the ultimate action required. All these are the _principia_ from whence
arises the determining motive: for the universal is always derived from
particulars; these we must know through sensible perception, which is
in this case the same thing as intellect [Greek: Nous]. Intellect is in
fact both the beginning and the end: it cognizes both the first grounds
of demonstration and the last applications of the results of
demonstration. A man cannot acquire science by nature, or without
teaching: but he may acquire Intellect and Sagacity by nature, simply
through, long life and abundant experience. The affirmations and
opinions of old men deserve attention, hardly less than demonstrations:
they have acquired an eye from experience, and can thus see the
practical principles (though they may not be able to lay out their
reasons logically) (XI.).

But an objector may ask--Of what use are Philosophy and Prudence? He
may take such grounds as these. (1) Philosophy has no practical aim at
all; nor does it consider the means of happiness? (2) Prudence, though
bearing on practice, is merely knowledge, and does not ensure right
action. (3) Even granting the knowledge to be of value as direction, it
might be obtained, like medical knowledge, from a professional adviser.
(4) If philosophy is better than prudence, why does prudence control
philosophy? We have to answer these doubts. The first is answered by
asserting the independent value of philosophy and prudence, as
perfections of our nature, and as sources of happiness in themselves.
The second and third doubts are set at rest, by affirming prudence to
have no existence apart from virtue. Without a virtuous aim, there is
no such thing as Prudence: there is nothing but cleverness degenerating
into cunning; while virtue without virtuous prudence is nothing better
than a mere instinct, liable to be misguided in every way (XII.).

There is one more difficulty to be cleared up respecting virtue. All
our dispositions; and therefore all our ethical excellences, come to us
in a certain sense by nature; that is, we have from the moment of birth
a certain aptitude for becoming temperate, courageous, just, &c. But
these natural aptitudes or possessions [Greek: physikai hexeis] are
something altogether distinct from the ethical excellences proper,
though capable of being matured into them, if intellect and prudence be
superadded. Sokrates was mistaken in resolving all the virtues into
prudence; but he was right in saying that none of them can exist
without prudence. The virtues ought to be defined as, not merely
ethical dispositions _according_ to right reason, but ethical
dispositions _along with_ right reason or prudence (_i.e._, prudence is
an ever present co-efficient). It is thus abundantly evident that none
but a prudent man can be good, and none but a good man can be prudent.
The virtues are separable from each other, so far as the natural
aptitudes are concerned: a man may have greater facility for acquiring
one than another. But so far as regards the finished acquirements of
excellence, in virtue of which a man is called _good_--no such
separation is possible. All of them alike need the companionship of
Prudence (XIII.).

Book Seventh has, two Parts. Part first discusses the grades of moral
strength and moral weakness. Part second is a short dissertation on
Pleasure, superseded by the superior handling of the subject in the
Tenth Book.

With reference to moral power, in self-restraint, six grades are
specified. (1) God-like virtue, or reason impelling as well as
directing. (2) The highest human virtue, expressed by Temperance
[Greek: sophrosynae]--appetite and passion perfectly harmonized with
reason. (3) Continence [Greek: egkrateia] or the mastery of reason,
after a struggle. (4) Incontinence, the mastery of appetite or passion,
but not without a struggle. (5) Vice, reason perverted so as to
harmonize entirely with appetite or passion. (6) Bestiality, naked
appetite or passion, without reason. Certain prevalent opinions are
enumerated, which are to form the subject of the discussions
following--(1) Continence and endurance are morally good. (2) The
Continent man sticks to his opinion. (3) The Incontinent err knowingly.
(4) Temperance and Continence are the same. (5) Wise and clever men may
be Incontinent. (6) Incontinence applies to other things than Pleasure,
as anger, honour, and gain (I.).

The third point (the Incontinent sin knowingly) is first mooted.
Sokrates held the contrary; he made vice and ignorance convertible.
Others think that the knowledge possessed by the incontinent is mere
opinion, or a vague and weak conviction. It is objected to No. 4, that
continence implies evil desires to be controlled; while temperance
means the character fully harmonized. As to No. 2, Continence must
often be bad, if it consists in sticking to an opinion (II.).

The third point, the only question of real interest or difficulty, is
resumed at greater length. The distinction between _knowledge_ and
_opinion_ (the higher and the lower kinds of knowledge) does not settle
the question, for opinion may be as _strong_ as knowledge. The real
point is, what is meant by _having knowledge_? A man's knowledge may be
in abeyance, as it is when he is asleep or intoxicated. Thus, we may
have in the mind two knowledges (like two separate syllogisms), one
leading to continence, the other to incontinence; the first is not
drawn out, like the syllogism wanting a minor; hence it may be said to
be not present to the mind; so that, in a certain sense, Sokrates was
right in denying that actual and present knowledge could be overborne.
Vice is a form of oblivion (III.).

The next question is, what is the object-matter of incontinence;
whether there is any man incontinent simply and absolutely (without any
specification of wherein), or whether all incontinent men are so in
regard to this or that particular matter? (No. 6). The answer is, that
it applies directly to the bodily appetites and pleasures, which are
necessary up to a certain point (the sphere of Temperance), and then he
that commits unreasonable excess above this point is called Incontinent
simply. But if he commits excess in regard to pleasures, which, though
not necessary, are natural and, up to a certain point, reasonable--such
as victory, wealth, honour--we designate him as incontinent, yet with a
specification of the particular matter (IV.).

The modes of Bestiality, as cannibalism and unnatural passion, are
ascribed to morbid depravity of nature or of habits, analogous to
disease or madness (V.).

Incontinence in anger is not so bad as Incontinence in lust, because
anger (1) has more semblance of reason, (2) is more a matter of
constitution, (3) has less of deliberate purpose--while lust is crafty,
(4) arises under pain; and not from wantonness (VI.).

Persons below the average in resisting _pleasures_ are incontinent;
those below the average in resisting _pains_ are soft or effeminate.
The mass of men incline to both weaknesses. He that deliberately
pursues excessive pleasures, or other pleasures in an excessive way, is
said to be abandoned. The intemperate are worse than the incontinent.
Sport, in its excess, is effeminacy, as being relaxation from toil.
There are two kinds of incontinence: the one proceeding from
precipitancy, where a man acts without deliberating at all; the other
from feebleness,--where he deliberates, but where the result of
deliberation is too weak to countervail his appetite (VII.).
Intemperance or profligacy is more vicious, and less curable than
Incontinence. The profligate man is one who has in him no principle
(archae) of good or of right reason, and who does wrong without
afterwards repenting of it; the incontinent man has the good principle
in him, but it is overcome when he does wrong, and he afterwards
repents (VIII.). Here, again, Aristotle denies that sticking to one's
opinions is, _per se_, continence. The opinion may be wrong; in that
case, if a man sticks to it, prompted by mere self-assertion and love
of victory, it is a species of incontinence. One of the virtues of the
continent man is to be open to persuasion, and to desert one's
resolutions for a noble end (IX.). Incontinence is like sleep or
drunkenness as opposed to wakeful knowledge. The incontinent man is
like a state having good laws, but not acting on them. The incontinence
of passion is more curable than that of weakness; what proceeds from
habit more than what is natural (X.).

The Eighth and Ninth Books contain the treatise on Friendship.

The subject deserves a place in an Ethical treatise, because of its
connexion with virtue and with happiness. Several questions have been
debated concerning Friendship,--Is it based on likeness or unlikeness?
Can bad men be friends? Is there but one species of Friendship, or more
than one? (I.) Some progress towards a solution of these questions may
be made by considering what are the objects of liking; these are the
good, the pleasant, the useful. By the good is not meant the absolute
good of Plato, but the apparent good. Inanimate things must be
excluded, as wanting reciprocation (II.). The varieties of friendship
follow these three modes of the likeable. The friendships for the
useful and the pleasant, are not disinterested, but self-seeking; they
are therefore accidental and transitory; they do not involve intimate
and frequent association. Friendship for the good, and between the
virtuous, is alone perfect; it is formed slowly, and has the requisites
of permanence. It occurs rarely (III.). As regards the useful and the
pleasant, the bad may be friends. It may happen that two persons are
mutually pleasant to each other, as lover and beloved; while this
lasts, there is friendship. It is only as respects the good, that there
exists a permanent liking for the person. Such friendship is of an
absolute nature; the others are accidental (IV.). Friendship is in full
exercise only during actual intercourse; it may exist potentially at a
distance; but in long absence, there is danger of its being dissolved.
Friendship is a settled state or habit, while fondness is a mere
passion, which does not imply our wishing to do good to the object of
it, as friendship does (V.). The perfect kind of friendship, from its
intensity, cannot be exercised towards more than a small number. In
regard to the useful and the pleasant, on the other hand, there may be
friendship with many; as the friendship towards tradesmen and between
the young. The happy desire pleasant friends. Men in power have two
classes of friends; one for the useful, the other for the pleasant.
Both qualities are found in the good man; but he will not be the friend
of a superior, unless he be surpassed (by that superior) in virtue
also. In all the kinds of friendship now specified there is equality
(VI.). There are friendships where one party is superior, as father and
son, older and younger, husband and wife, governor and governed. In
such cases there should be a proportionably greater love on the part of
the inferior. When the love on each side is proportioned to the merit
of the party beloved, then we have a certain species of equality, which
is an ingredient in friendship. But equality in matters of friendship,
is not quite the same as equality in matters of justice. In matters of
justice, equality proportioned to merit stands first--equality between
man and man (no account being taken of comparative merit) stands only
second. In friendship, the case is the reverse; the perfection of
friendship is equal love between the friends towards each other; to
have greater love on one side, by reason of and proportioned to
superior merit, is friendship only of the second grade. This will be
evident if we reflect that extreme inequality renders friendship
impossible--as between private men and kings or gods. Hence the friend
can scarcely wish for his friend the maximum of good, to become a god;
such extreme elevation would terminate the friendship. Nor will he wish
his friend to possess all the good; for every one wishes most for good
to self (VII.). The essence of friendship is to love rather than to be
loved, as seen in mothers; but the generality of persons desire rather
to be loved, which is akin to being honoured (although honour is partly
sought as a sign of future favours). By means of love, as already said,
unequal friendships may be equalized. Friendship with the good, is
based on equality and similarity, neither party ever desiring base
services. Friendships for the useful are based on the contrariety of
fulness and defect, as poor and rich, ignorant and knowing (VIII.).
Friendship is an incident of political society; men associating
together for common ends, become friends. Political justice becomes
more binding when men are related by friendship. The state itself is a
community for the sake of advantage; the expedient to all is the just.
In the large society of the state, there are many inferior societies
for business, and for pleasure: friendship starts up in all (IX.).
There are three forms of Civil Government, with a characteristic
declension or perversion of each:--Monarchy passing into Despotism;
Aristocracy into Oligarchy; Timocracy (based on wealth) into Democracy;
parent and child typifies the first; husband and wife the second;
brothers the third (X.). The monarchial or paternal type has
superiority on one side, and demands honour as well as love on the
other. In aristocracy, the relation is one of merit, and the greater
love is given to the better. In timocracy, and among brothers, there is
equality; and hence the most frequent friendships. There is no
friendship towards a slave, as a slave, for, as such he is a mere
animate tool (XL.). In the relations of the family, friendship varies
with the different situations. Parents love their children as a part of
themselves, and from the first; children grow to love their parents.
Brothers are affected by their community of origin, as well as by
common education and habits of intimacy. Husband and wife come together
by a natural bond, and as mutual helps; their friendship contains the
useful and the pleasant, and, with virtue, the good. Their offspring
strengthens the bond (XII.). The friendships that give rise to
complaints are confined to the Useful. Such friendships involve a legal
element of strict and measured reciprocity [mere trade], and a moral or
unwritten understanding, which is properly friendship. Each party is
apt to give less and expect more than he gets; and the rule must be for
each to reciprocate liberally and fully, in such manner and kind as
they are able (XIII.). In unequal friendships, between a superior and
inferior, the inferior has the greater share of material assistance,
the superior should receive the greater honour (XIV.).

Book Ninth proceeds without any real break. It may not be always easy
to fix the return to be made for services received. Protagoras, the
sophist, left it to his pupils to settle the amount of fee that he
should receive. When there is no agreement, we must render what is in
our power, for example, to the gods and to our parents (I.). Cases may
arise of conflicting obligation; as, shall we prefer a friend to a
deserving man? shall a person robbed reciprocate to robbers? and
others. [We have here the germs of Casuistry.] (II.) As to the
termination of Friendship; in the case of the useful and the pleasant,
the connexion ceases with the motives. In the case of the good, it may
happen that one party counterfeits the good, but is really acting the
useful or the pleasant; or one party may turn out wicked, and the only
question is, how far hopes of his improvement shall be entertained.
Again, one may continue the same, while the other makes large advances
in mental training; how far shall present disparity operate against old
associations? (III.). There is a sort of illustrative parallelism
between the feelings and acts of friendship, and the feelings and acts
of self-love, or of a good man to himself. The virtuous man wishes what
is good for himself, especially for his highest part--the intellect or
thinking part; he desires to pass his life in the company of his own
thoughts; he sympathizes with his own sorrows. On the other hand, the
bad choose the pleasant, although it be hurtful; they fly from
themselves; their own thoughts are unpleasant companions; they are full
of repentance (IV.). Good-will is different from friendship; it is a
sudden impulse of feeling towards some distinguished or likeable
quality, as in an antagonist. It has not the test of longing in
absence. It may be the prelude to friendship (V.). Unanimity, or
agreement of opinion, is a part of friendship. Not as regards mere
speculation, as about the heavenly bodies; but in practical matters,
where interests are at stake, such as the politics of the day. This
unanimity cannot occur in the bad, from their selfish and grasping
disposition (VI.).

The position is next examined--that the love felt by benefactors is
stronger than the love felt by those benefitted. It is not a sufficient
explanation to say, the benefactor is a creditor, who wishes the
prosperity of his debtor. Benefactors are like workmen, who love their
own work, and the exercise of their own powers. They also have the
feeling of nobleness on their side; while the recipient has the less
lovable idea of profit. Finally, activity is more akin to love than
recipiency (VII.). Another question raised for discussion is--'Ought a
man to love himself most, or another?' On the one hand, selfishness is
usually condemned as the feature of bad men; on the other hand, the
feelings towards self are made the standard of the feelings towards
friends. The solution is given thus. There is a lower self (predominant
with most men) that gratifies the appetites, seeking wealth, power, &c.
With the select few, there is a higher self that seeks the honourable,
the noble, intellectual excellence, at any cost of pleasure, wealth,
honour, &c. These noble-minded men procure for themselves the greater
good by sacrificing the less: and their self-sacrifice is thus a mode
of self. It is the duty of the good man to love himself: for his noble
life is profitable, both to himself, and to others; but the bad man
ought not to love himself. [Self-sacrifice, formerly brought under
Courage, is here depicted from another point of view] (VIII.).

By way of bringing out the advantages of friendship, it is next asked,
Does the happy man need friends? To this, it is answered, (1) That
happiness, being the sum of all human good, must suppose the possession
of the greatest of external goods, which is friendship. (2) The happy
man will require friends as recipients, of his overflow of kindness.
(3) He cannot be expected either to be solitary, or to live with
strangers. (4) The highest play of existence is to see the acts of
another in harmony with self. (5) Sympathy supports and prolongs the
glow of one's own emotions. (6) A friend confirms us in the practice of
virtue. (7) The sense of existence in ourselves is enlarged by the
consciousness of another's existence (IX.). The number of friends is
again considered, and the same barriers stated--the impossibility of
sharing among many the highest kind of affection, or of keeping up
close and harmonious intimacy. The most renowned friendships are
between pairs (X.). As to whether friends are most needed in adversity
or in prosperity--in the one, friendship is more necessary, in the
other more glorious (XI.). The essential support and manifestation of
friendship is Intercourse. Whatever people's tastes are, they desire
the society of others in exercising them (XII.).

Book Tenth discusses Pleasure, and lays down as the highest and perfect
pleasure, the exercise of the Intellect in Philosophy.

Pleasure is deserving of consideration, from its close intimacy with
the constitution of our race; on which account, in our training of
youth, we steer them by pleasure and pain; and it is of the first
importance that they should feel pleasure in what they ought, and
displeasure in what they ought, as the groundwork (or _principium_) of
good ethical dispositions. Such a topic can never be left unnoticed,
especially when we look at the great difference of opinion thereupon.
Some affirm pleasure to be the chief good [Eudoxus]. Others call it
altogether vile and worthless [party of Speusippus]. Of these last,
some perhaps really think so; but the rest are actuated by the
necessity of checking men's too great proneness to it, and disparage it
on that account. This policy Aristotle strongly censures, and contends
for the superior efficacy of truth (I.).

The arguments urged by Eudoxus as proving pleasure to be the chief
good, are, (1) That all beings seek pleasure; (2) and avoid its
opposite, pain; (3) that they seek pleasure as an end-in-itself, and
not as a means to any farther end; (4) that pleasure, added to any
other good, such as justice or temperance, increases the amount of
good; which could not be the case, unless pleasure were itself good.
Yet this last argument (Aristotle urges) proves pleasure to be _a_
good, but not to be _the_ Good; indeed, Plato urged the same argument,
to show that pleasure could _not_ be The Good: since The Good (the
Chief Good) must be something that does not admit of being enhanced or
made more good. The objection of Speusippus,--that irrational creatures
are not to be admitted as witnesses,--Aristotle disallows, seeing that
rational and irrational agree on the point; and the thing that seems to
all, must be true. Another objection, That the opposite of pain is not
pleasure, but a neutral state--is set aside as contradicted by the fact
of human desire and aversion, the two opposite states of feeling (II.).

The arguments of the Platonists, to prove that pleasure is not good,
are next examined. (1) Pleasure, they say, is not a quality; but
neither (replies Aristotle) are the exercises or actual manifestations
of virtue or happiness. (2) Pleasure is not definite, but unlimited, or
admitting of degrees, while The Good is a something definite, and does
not admit of degrees. But if these reasoners speak about the pure
pleasures, they might take objection on similar grounds against virtue
and justice also; for these too admit of degrees, and one man is more
virtuous than another. And if they speak of the mixed pleasures
(alloyed with pain), their reasoning will not apply to the unmixed.
Good health is acknowledged to be a good, and to be a definite
something; yet there are nevertheless some men more healthy, some less.
(3) The Good is perfect or complete; but objectors urge that no motion
or generation is complete, and pleasure is in one of these two
categories. This last assertion Aristotle denies. Pleasure is _not_ a
motion; for the attribute of velocity, greater or less, which is
essential to all motion, does not attach to pleasure. A man may be
quick in becoming pleased, or in becoming angry; but in the act of
being pleased or angry, he can neither be quick nor slow. Nor is it
true that pleasure is a generation. In all generation, there is
something assignable out of which generation takes place (not any one
thing out of any other), and into which it reverts by destruction. If
pleasure be a generation, pain must be the destruction of what is
generated; but this is not correct, for pain does not re-establish the
state antecedent to the pleasure. Accordingly, it is not true that
pleasure is a generation. Some talk of pain as a want of something
required by nature, and of pleasure as a filling up of that want. But
these are corporeal, not mental facts, and are applicable only to
eating and drinking; not applicable to many other pleasures, such as
those of sight, hearing, or learning. (4) There are some disgraceful
pleasures. Aristotle replies that these are not absolutely and properly
pleasures, but only to the depraved man; just as things are not yellow,
which appear so to men in a jaundice. Pleasures differ from each other
in species: there are good pleasures, _i.e._, those arising from good
sources; and bad pleasures, _i.e._, from bad sources. The pleasure _per
se_ is always desirable; but not when it comes from objectionable acts.
The pleasures of each man will vary according to his character; none
but a musical man can enjoy the pleasures of music. No one would
consent to remain a child for life, even though he were to have his
fill of childish pleasure.

Aristotle sums up the result thus. Pleasure is not The Good. Not every
mode of pleasure is to be chosen. Some pleasures, distinguished from
the rest specifically or according to their sources, are to be chosen
_per se_ (III.).

He then attempts to define pleasure. It is something perfect and
complete in itself, at each successive moment of time; hence it is not
motion, which is at every moment incomplete. Pleasure is like the act
of vision, or a point, or a monad, always complete in itself. It
accompanies every variety of sensible perception, intelligence, and
theorizing contemplation. In each of these faculties, the act is more
perfect, according as the subjective element is most perfect, and the
object most grand and dignified. When the act is most perfect, the
pleasure accompanying it is also the most perfect; and this pleasure
puts the finishing consummation to the act. The pleasure is not a
pre-existing acquirement now brought into exercise, but an accessory
end implicated with the act, like the fresh look which belongs to the
organism just matured. It is a sure adjunct, so long as subject and
object are in good condition. But continuity of pleasure, as well as of
the other exercises, is impossible. Life is itself an exercise much
diversified, and each man follows the diversity that is suitable to his
own inclination--music, study, &c. Each has its accessory and
consummating mode of pleasure; and to say that all men desire pleasure,
is the same as saying that all men desire life. It is no real question
to ask--Do we choose life for the sake of pleasure, or pleasure for the
sake of life? The truth is, that the two are implicated and inseparable

As our acts or exercises differ from each other specifically, so also
the pleasures that are accessory to them differ specifically. Exercises
intellectual differ from exercises perceptive, and under each head
there are varieties differing from each other. The pleasures accessory
and consummating to each, are diversified accordingly. Each pleasure
contributes to invigorate and intensify the particular exercise that it
is attached to; the geometer who studies his science with pleasure
becomes more acute and successful in prosecuting it. On the other hand,
the pleasures attached to one exercise impede the mind in regard to
other exercises; thus men fond of the flute cannot listen to a speaker
with attention, if any one is playing the flute near them. What we
delight in doing, we are more likely to do well; what we feel pain in
doing, we are not likely to do well. And thus each variety of exercise
is alike impeded by the pains attached to itself, and by the pleasures
attached to other varieties.

Among these exercises or acts, some are morally good, others morally
bad; the desires of the good are also praise-worthy, the desires of the
bad are blameable; but if so, much more are the pleasures attached to
the good exercises, good pleasures--and the pleasures attached to the
bad exercises, bad pleasures. For the pleasures attached to an exercise
are more intimately identified with that exercise than the desire of it
can be. The pleasure of the exercise, and the exercise itself, are
indeed so closely identified one with the other, that to many they
appear the same. Sight, hearing, and smell, differ in purity from touch
and taste; and the pleasures attached to each differ in like manner.
The pleasures of intellect differ from those of sense, as these two
exercises differ from one another. Every animal has its own peculiar
pleasures, as it has also its own peculiar manifestation and exercises.
Among the human race, the same things give pleasure to one individual
and pain to another. The things that appear sweet to the strong and
healthy man, do not appear sweet to one suffering from fever, or
weakly. Now, amidst this discrepancy, what _appears_ to the virtuous
and intelligent man, really _is_. His pleasures are the true and real
pleasures. Excellence, and the good man _quâtenus_ good, are to be
taken as the standard. If what he abhors appears pleasurable to some
persons, we must not be surprised, since there are many depravations of
individuals, in one way or another; but these things are not pleasures
really, they are only pleasures to these depraved mortals (V.).

So far the theory of Pleasure. Aristotle now goes back to his starting
point--the nature of the Good, and Happiness. He re-states his
positions: That Happiness is an exercise or actuality [Greek:
energeia], and not an acquirement or state (hexis), That it belongs to
such exercises as are worthy of choice for their own sake, and not to
such as are worthy of choice for the sake of something else; That it is
perfect and self-sufficing, seeking nothing beyond itself, and leaving
no wants unsupplied. Hence he had concluded that it consisted in acting
according to virtue; for the honourable and good are chosen for their
own sake. But amusements are also sought for their own sake; Are these
also to be called happiness? No. It is true that they are much pursued
by those whom the vulgar envy--men of wealth and despots--who patronize
and reward the practitioners of amusement. But this proves nothing, for
we cannot adopt the choice of these despots, who have little virtue or
intellect, and have never known the taste of refined and liberal
pleasure. Children and mature men, bad men and virtuous, have each
their different pleasures; the virtuous and intelligent man finds a
life of excellence and the pleasures attached thereunto most worthy of
his choice, and such a man (Aristotle has declared more than once) is
our standard. It would indeed be childish to treat amusements as the
main end of life; they are the relaxation of the virtuous man, who
derives from them fresh vigour for the prosecution of the serious
business of life, which he cannot prosecute continuously. The serious
exercises of life are better than the comic, because they proceed from
the better part of man. The slave may enjoy bodily pleasures to the
full, but a slave is not called happy (VI.).

We have thus shown that Happiness consists in exercise or actual living
according to excellence; naturally, therefore, according to the highest
excellence, or the excellence of the best part of man. This best part
is the Intellect (_Nous_), our most divine and commanding element; in
its exercise, which is theoretical or speculative, having respect to
matters honourable, divine, and most worthy of study. Such
philosophical exercise, besides being the highest function of our
nature, is at the same time more susceptible than any mode of active
effort, of being prosecuted for a long continuance. It affords the
purest and most lasting pleasure; it approaches most nearly to being
self-sufficing, since it postulates little more than the necessaries of
life, and is even independent of society, though better _with_ society.
Perfect happiness would thus be the exercise of the theorizing
intellect, continued through a full period of life. But this is more
than we can expect. Still, we ought to make every effort to live
according to this best element of our nature; for, though small in
bulk, it stands exalted above the rest in power and dignity, and, being
the sovereign element in man, is really The Man himself (VII.).

Next, yet only second, come the other branches of excellence: the
active social life of a good citizen. Exercises according to this
branch of virtue are the natural business of man, for it is bound up
with our whole nature, including body as well as mind, our appetites,
and our passions, whereas the happiness of intellect is separate.
Active social virtue postulates conditions of society and external aids
in considerable measure; but the life of intellect requires only the
minimum of these, and is even impeded by much of them.

That perfect happiness is to be found in the philosophical life only,
will appear farther when we recollect that the gods are blest and happy
in the highest degree, and that this is the only mode of life suitable
to them. With the gods there can be no scope for active social virtues;
for in what way can they be just, courageous, or temperate? Neither
virtuous practice nor constructive art can be predicated of the gods;
what then remains, since we all assume them to live, and therefore to
be in act or exercise of some kind; for no one believes them to live in
a state of sleep, like Endymion. There remains nothing except
philosophical contemplation. This, then, must be the life of the gods,
the most blest of all; and that mode of human life which approaches
nearest to it will be the happiest. No other animal can take part in
this, and therefore none can be happy. In so far as the gods pay
attention to human affairs, they are likely to take pleasure in the
philosopher, who is most allied to themselves. A moderate supply of
good health, food, and social position, must undoubtedly be ensured to
the philosopher; for, without these, human nature will not suffice for
the business of contemplation. But he will demand nothing more than a
moderate supply, and when thus equipped, he will approach nearer to
happiness than any one else. Aristotle declares this confidently,
citing Solon, Anaxagoras, and other sages, as having said much the same
before him (VIII.).

In the concluding chapter, Aristotle gives the transition from Ethics
to Politics. Treatises on virtue may inspire a few liberal minds; but,
for the mass of men, laws, institutions, and education are necessary.
The young ought to be trained, not merely by paternal guidance
directing in the earliest years their love and hatred, but also by a
scheme of public education, prescribed and enforced by authority
throughout the city. Right conduct will thus be rendered easier by
habit; but still, throughout life, the mature citizen must continue
under the discipline of law, which has force adequate to correction,
and, being impersonal, does not excite aversion and hatred. Hence the
need for a system of good public training. Nowhere is this now
established and enforced; hardly anywhere, except in Sparta, is it even
attempted. Amid such public neglect, it becomes the duty of an
individual to contribute what he can to the improvement of those that
he is concerned in, and for that purpose to acquire the capacities
qualifying him for becoming a lawgiver. Private admonition will
compensate to a certain extent for the neglect of public interference,
and in particular cases may be even more discriminating. Bat how are
such capacities to be acquired? Not from the Sophists, whose method is
too empirical; nor from practical politicians, for they seem to have no
power of imparting their skill. Perhaps it would be useful to make a
collection of existing laws and constitutions. Aristotle concludes with
sketching the plan of his own work on Politics.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Aristotelian doctrines are generally summed up in such points as
these:--The theory of Good; Pleasure; the theory of Virtue; the
doctrine of the Will, distinguishing voluntary from involuntary; Virtue
a Habit; the doctrine of the MEAN; the distinction between the Moral
Virtues and the Intellectual Virtues; Justice, distributive, and
commutative; Friendship; the Contemplative Life.

The following are the indications of his views, according to the six
leading subjects of Ethics.

I. and II.--It is characteristic of Aristotle (as is fully stated in
Appendix B.) to make the judgment of the wisest and most cultivated
minds, the standard of appeal in moral questions. He lays down certain
general principles, such as the doctrine of the Mean, but in the
application of these (which is everything), he trusts to the most
experienced and skilled advisers that the community can furnish.

III.--On the theory of Happiness, or the Summum Bonum, it is needless
to repeat the abstract of the tenth book.

IV.--In laying down the Moral Code, he was encumbered with the too wide
view of Virtue; but made an advance in distinguishing virtue proper
from excellence in general.

V.--He made Society tutelary to the individual in an excessive degree.
He had no clear conception of the province of authority or law; and did
not separate the morality of obligation from the morality of reward and

VI.--His exclusion of Theology from morality was total.


The Stoics were one of the four sects of philosophy, recognized and
conspicuous at Athens during the three centuries preceding the
Christian era, and during the century or more following. Among these
four sects, the most marked antithesis of ethical dogma was between the
Stoics and the Epicureans. The Stoical system dates from about 300
B.C.; it was derived from the system of the Cynics.

The founder of the system was ZENO, from Citium in Cyprus (he lived
from 340--260 B.C.), who derived his first impulse from Krates the
Cynic. He opened his school in a building or porch, called the _Stoa
Poecile_ ('Painted Portico') at Athens, whence the origin of the name
of the sect. Zeno had for his disciple CLEANTHES, from Assos in the
Troad (300--220 B.C.), whose _Hymn to Jupiter_ is the only fragment of
any length that has come down to us from the early Stoics, and is a
remarkable production, setting forth the unity of God, his omnipotence,
and his moral government. CHRYSIPPUS, from Soli in Cilicia (290--207
B.C.), followed Cleanthes, and, in his voluminous writings, both
defended and modified the Stoical creed. These three represent the
_first_ period of the system. The _second_ period (200--50 B.C.)
embraces its general promulgation, and its introduction to the Romans.
Chrysippus was succeeded by ZENO of Sidon, and DIOGENES of Babylon;
then followed ANTIPATER, of Tarsus, who taught PANAETIUS of Rhodes (d.
112 B.C.), who, again, taught POSIDONIUS of Apamea, in Syria. (Two
philosophers are mentioned from the native province of St. Paul,
besides Chrysippus--ATHEKODOEUS, from Cana in Cilicia; and ARCHEDEMUS,
from Tarsus, the apostle's birthplace. It is remarked by Sir A. Grant,
that almost all the first Stoics were of Asiatic birth; and the system
itself is undeniably more akin to the oriental mind than to the Greek.)
Posidonius was acquainted with Marius and Pompey, and gave lessons to
Cicero, but the moral treatise of Cicero, _De Officiis_, is derived
from a work of Panaetius. The _third_ period of Stoicism is Roman. In
this period, we have Cato the Younger, who invited to his house the
philosopher Athenodorus; and, under the Empire, the three Stoic
philosophers, whose writings have come down to us--SENECA (6 B.C.-65
A.D.), EPICTETUS (60-140 A.D.), who began life as a slave, and the
Emperor MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS (121-180 A.D.). Stoicism prevailed
widely in the Roman world, although not to the exclusion of Epicurean

The leading Stoical doctrines are given in certain phrases or
expressions, as 'Life according to Nature' (although this phrase
belongs also to the Epicureans), the ideal 'Wise Man,' 'Apathy,' or
equanimity of mind (also an Epicurean ideal), the power of the 'Will,'
the worship of 'Duty,' the constant 'Advance' in virtue, &c. But
perspicuity will be best gained by considering the _Moral_ system under
four heads--the Theology; the Psychology or theory of mind; the theory
of the Good or human happiness; and the scheme of Virtue or Duty.

I.--The THEOLOGICAL doctrines of the Stoics comprehended their system
of the Universe, and of man's position in it. They held that the
Universe is governed by one good and wise God, together with inferior
or subordinate deities. God exercises a moral government; under it the
good are happy, while misfortunes happen to the wicked. According to
Epictetus, God is the father of men; Antoninus exults in the beautiful
arrangement of all things. The earlier Stoics, Zeno and Chrysippus,
entertained high reverence for the divination, prophecy, and omens that
were generally current in the ancient world. They considered that these
were the methods whereby the gods were graciously pleased to make known
beforehand revelations of their foreordained purposes. (Herein lay one
among the marked points of contrast between Stoics and Epicureans.)
They held this foreordination even to the length of fatalism, and made
the same replies, as have been given in modern times, to the difficulty
of reconciling it with the existence of evil, and with the apparent
condition of the better and the worse individuals among mankind. They
offered explanations such as the following: (1) God is the author of
all things except wickedness; (2) the very nature of good supposes its
contrast evil, and the two are inseparable, like light and dark, (which
may be called the argument from Relativity); (3) in the enormous extent
of the Universe, some things must be neglected; (4) when evil happens
to the good, it is not as a punishment, but as connected with a
different dispensation; (5) parts of the world may be presided over by
evil demons; (6) what we call evil may not be evil.

Like most other ancient schools, the Stoics held God to be corporeal
like man:--Body is the only substance; nothing incorporeal could act on
what is corporeal; the First Cause of all, God or Zeus, is the primeval
fire, emanating from which is the soul of man in the form of a warm

It is for human beings to recognize the Universe as governed by
universal Law, and not only to raise their minds to the comprehension
of it, but to enter into the views of the administering Zeus or Fate,
who must regard all interests equally; we are to be, as it were, in
harmony with him, to merge self in universal Order, to think only of
that and its welfare. As two is greater than one, the interests of the
whole world are infinitely greater than the interests of any single
being, and no one should be satisfied with a regard to anything less
than the whole. By this elevation of view, we are necessarily raised
far above the consideration of the petty events befalling ourselves.
The grand effort of human reason is thus to rise to the abstraction or
totality of entire Nature; 'no ethical subject,' says Chrysippus,
'could be rightly approached except from the pre-consideration of
entire Nature, and the ordering of the whole.'

As to Immortality, the Stoics precluded themselves, by holding the
theory of the _absorption_ of the individual soul at death into the
divine essence; but, on the other hand, their doctrine of advance and
aspiration is what has in all times been the main natural argument for
the immortality of the soul. For the most part, they kept themselves
undecided as to this doctrine, giving it as an alternative, reasoning
as to our conduct on either supposition, and submitting to the pleasure
of God in this as in all other things.

In arguing for the existence of Divine power and government, they
employed what has been called the argument from Design, which is as old
as Sokrates. Man is conscious that he is in himself an intellectual or
spiritual power, from which, by analogy, he is led to believe that a
greater power pervades the universe, as intellect pervades the human

II.--In the PSYCHOLOGY of the Stoics, two questions, are of interest,
their theory of Pleasure and Pain, and their views upon the Freedom of
the Will.

1. _The theory of Pleasure and Pain_. The Stoics agreed with the
Peripatetics (anterior to Epicurus, not specially against _him_) that
the first principle of nature is (not pleasure or relief from pain,
but) _self-preservation_ or _self-love_; in other words, the natural
appetite or tendency of all creatures is, to preserve their existing
condition with its inherent capacities, and to keep clear of
destruction or disablement. This appetite (they said) manifests itself
in little children before any pleasure or pain is felt, and is moreover
a fundamental postulate, pre-supposed in all desires of particular
pleasures, as well as in all aversions to particular pains. We begin by
loving our own vitality; and we come, by association, to love what
promotes or strengthens our vitality; we hate destruction or
disablement, and come (by secondary association) to hate whatever
produces that effect.[8] The doctrine here laid down associated, and
brought under one view, what was common to man, not merely with the
animal, but also with the vegetable world; a plant was declared to have
an impulse or tendency to maintain itself, even without feeling pain or
pleasure. Aristotle (in the tenth Book of the Ethics) says, that he
will not determine whether we love life for the sake of pleasure, or
pleasure for the sake of life; for he affirms the two to be essentially
yoked together and inseparable; pleasure is the consummation of our
vital manifestations. The Peripatetics, after him, put pleasure down to
a lower level, as derivative and accidental; the Stoics went farther in
the same direction--possibly from antithesis against the growing school
of Epicurus.

The primary _officium_ (in a larger sense than our word Duty) of man is
(they said) to keep himself in the state of nature; the second or
derivative _officium_ is to keep to such things as are _according to
nature_, and to avert those that are _contrary to nature_; our
gradually increasing experience enabled us to discriminate the two. The
youth learns, as he grows up, to value bodily accomplishments, mental
cognitions and judgments, good conduct towards those around him,--as
powerful aids towards keeping up the state of nature. When his
experience is so far enlarged as to make him aware of the order and
harmony of nature and human society, and to impress upon him the
comprehension of this great _ideal_, his emotions as well as his reason
become absorbed by it. He recognizes this as the only true Bonum or
Honestum, to which all other desirable things are referable,--as the
only thing desirable for itself and in its own nature. He drops or
dismisses all those _prima naturae_ that he had begun by desiring. He
no longer considers any of them as worthy of being desired in itself,
or for its own sake.

While therefore (according to Peripatetics as well as Stoics) the love
of self and of preserving one's own vitality and activity, is the
primary element, intuitive and connate, to which all rational
preference (_officium_) was at first referred,--they thought it not the
less true, that in process of time, by experience, association, and
reflection, there grows up in the mind a grand acquired sentiment or
notion, a new and later light, which extinguishes and puts out of sight
the early beginning. It was important to distinguish the feeble and
obscure elements from the powerful and brilliant aftergrowth; which
indeed was fully realized only in chosen minds, and in them, hardly
before old age. This idea, when once formed in the mind, was _The
Good_--the only thing worthy of desire for its own sake. The Stoics
called it the only Good, being sufficient in itself for happiness;
other things being not good, nor necessary to happiness, but simply
preferable or advantageous when they could be had: the Peripatetics
recognized it as the first and greatest good, but said also that it was
not sufficient in itself; there were two other inferior varieties of
good, of which something must be had as complementary (what the Stoics
called _praeposita_ or _sumenda_). Thus the Stoics said, about the
origin of the Idea of Bonum or Honestum, much the same as what
Aristotle says about ethical virtue. It is not implanted in us by
nature; but we have at birth certain initial tendencies and capacities,
which, if aided by association and training, enable us (and that not in
all cases) to acquire it.

2. _The Freedom of the Will_. A distinction was taken by Epictetus and
other Stoics between things in our power and things not in our power.
The things in our power are our opinions and notions about objects, and
all our affections, desires, and aversions; the things not in our power
are our bodies, wealth, honour, rank, authority, &c., and their
opposites. The practical application is this: wealth and high rank may
not be in our power, but we have the power to form an _idea_ of
these--namely, that they are unimportant, whence the want of them will
not grieve us. A still more pointed application is to death, whose
force is entirely in the idea.

With this distinction between things in our power and things not in our
power, we may connect the arguments between the Stoics and their
opponents as to what is now called the Freedom of the Will. But we must
first begin by distinguishing the two questions. By things _in our
power_, the Stoics meant, things that we could do or acquire, _if we
willed_: by things _not in_ our power, they meant, things that we could
not do or acquire if we willed. In both cases, the volition was assumed
as a fact: the question, what determined it--or whether it was
non-determined, _i.e._ self-determining--was not raised in the
abovementioned antithesis. But it was raised in other discussions
between the Stoic theorist Chrysippus, and various opponents. These
opponents denied that volition was determined by motives, and cited the
cases of equal conflicting motives (what is known as the ass of
Buridan) as proving that the soul includes in itself, and exerts, a
special supervenient power of deciding action in one way or the other:
a power not determined by any causal antecedent, but self-originating,
and belonging to the class of agency that Aristotle recognizes under
the denomination of automatic, spontaneous (or essentially irregular
and unpredictable). Chrysippus replied by denying not only the reality
of this supervenient force said to be inherent in the soul, but also
the reality of all that Aristotle called automatic or spontaneous
agency generally. Chrysippus said that every movement was determined by
antecedent motives; that, in cases of equal conflict, the exact
equality did not long continue, because some new but slight motive
slipped in unperceived and turned the scale on one side or the other.
(See Plutarch De Stoicorum Repugnantiis, c. 23, p. 1045.) Here, we see,
the question now known as the Freedom of the Will is discussed: and
Chrysippus declares against it, affirming that volition is always
determined by motives.

But we also see that, while declaring this opinion, Chrysippus does not
employ the terms Necessity or Freedom of the Will: neither did his
opponents, so far as we can see: they had a different and less
misleading phrase. By Freedom, Chrysippus and the Stoics meant the
freedom of doing what a man willed, if he willed it. A man is free, as
to the thing that is in his power, when he wills it: he is not free, as
to what is not in his power, under the same supposition. The Stoics
laid great stress on this distinction. They pointed out how much it is
really in a man's power to transform or discipline his own mind: in the
way of controlling or suppressing some emotions, generating or
encouraging others, forming new intellectual associations, &c., how
much a man could do in these ways, _if he willed it_, and if he went
through the lessons, habits of conduct, meditations, suitable to
produce such an effect. The Stoics strove to create in a man's mind the
volitions appropriate for such mental discipline, by depicting the
beneficial consequences resulting from it, and the misfortune and shame
inevitable, if the mind were not so disciplined. Their purpose was to
strengthen the governing reason of his mind, and to enthrone it as a
fixed habit and character, which would control by counter suggestions
the impulse arising at each special moment--particularly all disturbing
terrors or allurements. This, in their view, is a _free mind_; not one
wherein volition is independent of all motive, but one wherein the
susceptibility to different motives is tempered by an ascendant reason,
so as to give predominance to the better motive against the worse. One
of the strongest motives that they endeavoured to enforce, was the
prudence and dignity of bringing our volitions into harmony with the
schemes of Providence: which (they said) were always arranged with a
view to the happiness of the kosmos on the whole. The bad man, whose
volitions conflict with these schemes, is always baulked of his
expectations, and brought at last against his will to see things
carried by an overruling force, with aggravated pain and humiliation to
himself: while the good man, who resigns himself to them from the
first, always escapes with less pain, and often without any at all.
_Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt_.

We have thus seen that in regard to the doctrine called in modern times
the Freedom of the Will (_i.e._, that volitions are self-originating
and unpredictable), the Stoic theorists not only denied it, but framed
all their Ethics upon the assumption of the contrary. This same
assumption of the contrary, indeed, was made also by Sokrates, Plato,
Aristotle, and Epicurus: in short, by all the ethical teachers of
antiquity. All of them believed that volitions depended on causes: that
under the ordinary conditions of men's minds, the causes that volitions
generally depended upon are often misleading and sometimes ruinous: but
that by proper stimulation from without and meditation within, the
rational causes of volition might be made to overrule the impulsive.
Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, not less than the Stoics, wished to create
new fixed habits and a new type of character. They differed, indeed, on
the question what the proper type of character was: but each of them
aimed at the same general end--a new type of character, regulating the
grades of susceptibility to different motives. And the purpose of all
and each of these moralists precludes the theory of free-will--_i.e._,
the theory that our volitions are self-originating and unpredictable.

III.--We must consider next the Stoical theory of Happiness, or rather
of the _Good_, which with them was proclaimed to be the sole,
indispensable, and self-sufficing condition of Happiness. They declared
that Pleasure was no part of Good, and Pain no part of Evil; therefore,
that even relief from pain was not necessary to Good or Happiness.
This, however, if followed out consistently, would dispense with all
morality and all human endeavour. Accordingly, the Stoics were obliged
to let in some pleasures as an object of pursuit, and some pains as an
object of avoidance, though not under the title of Good and Evil, but
with the inferior name of _Sumenda_ and _Rejicienda_.[9] Substantially,
therefore, they held that pains are an evil, but, by a proper
discipline, may be triumphed over. They disallowed the direct and
ostensible pursuit of pleasure as an end (the point of view of
Epicurus), but allured their followers partly by promising them the
victory over pain, and partly by certain enjoyments of an elevated cast
that grew out of their plan of life.

Pain of every kind, whether from the casualties of existence, or from,
the severity of the Stoical virtues, was to be met by a discipline of
endurance, a hardening process, which, if persisted in, would succeed
in reducing the mind to a state of _Apathy_ or indifference. A great
many reflections were suggested in aid of this education. The influence
of exercise and repetition in adapting the system to any new function,
was illustrated by the Olympian combatants, and by the Lacedaemonian
youth, who endured scourging without complaint. Great stress was laid
on the instability of pleasure, and the constant liability to
accidents; whence we should always be anticipating and adapting
ourselves to the worst that could happen, so as never to be in a state
where anything could ruffle the mind. It was pointed out how much might
still be made of the worst circumstances--poverty, banishment, public
odium, sickness, old age--and every consideration was advanced that
could 'arm the obdurate breast with stubborn patience, as with triple
steel.' It has often been remarked that such a discipline of endurance
was peculiarly suited to the unsettled condition of the world at the
time, when any man, in addition to the ordinary evils of life, might in
a moment be sent into exile, or sold into slavery.

Next to the discipline of endurance, we must rank the complacent
sentiment of _Pride_, which the Stoic might justly feel in his conquest
of himself, and in his lofty independence and superiority to the
casualties of life.[10] The pride of the Cynic, the Stoic's
predecessor, was prominent and offensive, showing itself in scurrility
and contempt towards everybody else; the Stoical pride was a refinement
upon this, but was still a grateful sentiment of superiority, which
helped to make up for the surrender of indulgences. It was usual to
bestow the most extravagant laudation on the 'Wise Man,' and every
Stoic could take this home to the extent that he considered himself as
approaching that great ideal.

The last and most elevated form of Stoical happiness was the
satisfaction of contemplating the Universe and God. Epictetus says,
that we can accommodate ourselves cheerfully to the providence that
rules the world, if we possess two things--the power of seeing all that
happens in the proper relation to its own purpose--and a grateful
disposition. The work of Antoninus is full of studies of Nature in the
devout spirit of 'passing from Nature up to Nature's God;' he is never
weary of expressing his thorough contentment with the course of natural
events, and his sense of the beauties and fitness of everything. Old
age has its grace, and death is the becoming termination. This high
strain of exulting contemplation reconciled him to that complete
submission to whatever might befall, which was the essential feature of
the 'Life according to Nature,' as he conceived it.

IV.--The Stoical theory of Virtue is implicated in the ideas of the
Good, now described.

The fountain of all virtue is manifestly the life according to nature;
as being the life of subordination of self to more general
interests--to family, country, mankind, the whole universe. If a man is
prepared to consider himself absolutely nothing in comparison with the
universal interest, and to regard it as the sole end of life, he has
embraced an ideal of virtue of the loftiest order. Accordingly, the
Stoics were the first to preach what is called 'Cosmopolitanism;' for
although, in their reference to the good of the whole, they confounded
together sentient life and inanimate objects--rocks, plants, &c.,
solicitude for which was misspent labour--yet they were thus enabled to
reach the conception of the universal kindship of mankind, and could
not but include in their regards the brute creation. They said: 'There
is no difference between the Greeks and Barbarians; the world is our
city.' Seneca urges kindness to slaves, for 'are they not men like
ourselves, breathing the same air, living and dying like ourselves?'

The Epicureans declined, as much as possible, interference in public
affairs, but the Stoic philosophers urged men to the duties of active
citizenship. Chrysippus even said that the life of philosophical
contemplation (such as Aristotle preferred, and accounted godlike) was
to be placed on the same level with the life of pleasure; though
Plutarch observes that neither Chrysippus nor Zeno ever meddled
personally with any public duty; both of them passed their lives in
lecturing and writing. The truth is that both of them were foreigners
residing at Athens; and at a time when Athens was dependent on foreign
princes. Accordingly, neither Zeno nor Chrysippus had any sphere of
political action open to them; they were, in this respect, like
Epictetus afterwards--but in a position quite different from Seneca,
the preceptor of Nero, who might hope to influence the great imperial
power of Rome, and from Marcus Antoninus, who held that imperial power
in his own hands.

Marcus Antoninus--not only a powerful Emperor, but also the most gentle
and amiable man of his day--talks of active beneficence both as a duty
and a satisfaction. But in the creed of the Stoics generally, active
Beneficence did not occupy a prominent place. They adopted the four
Cardinal Virtues--Wisdom, or the Knowledge of Good and Evil; Justice;
Fortitude; Temperance--as part of their plan of the virtuous life, the
life according to Nature. Justice, as the social virtue, was placed
above all the rest. But the Stoics were not strenuous in requiring more
than Justice, for the benefit of others beside the agent. They even
reckoned compassion for the sufferings of others as a weakness,
analogous to envy for the good fortune of others.

The Stoic recognized the gods (or Universal Nature, equivalent
expressions in his creed) as managing the affairs of the world, with a
view to producing as much happiness as was attainable on the whole.
Towards this end the gods did not want any positive assistance from
him; but it was his duty and his strongest interest, to resign himself
to their plans, and to abstain from all conduct tending to frustrate
them. Such refractory tendencies were perpetually suggested to him by
the unreasonable appetites, emotions, fears, antipathies, &c., of daily
life; all claiming satisfaction at the expense of future mischief to
himself and others. To countervail these misleading forces, by means of
a fixed rational character built up through meditation and
philosophical teaching, was the grand purpose of the Stoic ethical
creed. The emotional or appetitive self was to be starved or curbed,
and retained only as an appendage to the rational self; an idea
proclaimed before in general terms by Plato, but carried out into a
system by the Stoics, and to a great extent even by the Epicureans.

The Stoic was taught to reflect how much that _appears_ to be
desirable, terror-striking, provocative, &c., is not really so, but is
made to appear so by false and curable associations. And while he thus
discouraged those self-regarding emotions that placed him in hostility
with others, he learnt to respect the self of another man as well as
his own. Epictetus advises to deal mildly with a man that hurts us
either by word or deed; and advises it upon the following very
remarkable ground. 'Recollect that in what he says or does, he follows
his own sense of propriety, not yours. He must do what appears to him
right, not what appears to you; if he judges wrongly, it is he that is
hurt, for he is the person deceived. Always repeat to yourself, in such
a case: The man has acted on his own opinion.'

The reason here given by Epictetus is an instance, memorable in ethical
theory, of respect for individual dissenting conviction, even in an
extreme case; and it must be taken in conjunction with his other
doctrine, that damage thus done to us unjustly is really little or no
damage, except so far as we ourselves give pungency to it by our
irrational susceptibilities and associations. We see that the Stoic
submerges, as much as he can, the pre-eminence of his own individual
self, and contemplates himself from the point of view of another, only
as one among many. But he does not erect the happiness of others into a
direct object of his own positive pursuit, beyond the reciprocities of
family, citizenship, and common humanity. The Stoic theorists agreed
with Epicurus in inculcating the reciprocities of justice between all
fellow-citizens; and they even went farther than he did, by extending
the sphere of such duties beyond the limits of city, so as to
comprehend all mankind. But as to the reciprocities of individual
friendship, Epicurus went beyond the Stoics, by the amount of
self-sacrifice and devotion that he enjoined for the benefit of a

There is also in the Stoical system a recognition of duties to God, and
of morality as based on piety. Not only are we all brethren, but also
the 'children of one Father.'

The extraordinary strain put upon human nature by the full Stoic
_ideal_ of submerging self in the larger interests of being, led to
various compromises. The rigid following out of the ideal issued in one
of the _paradoxes_, namely.--That all the actions of the wise man are
equally perfect, and that, short of the standard of perfection, all
faults and vices are equal; that, for example, the man that killed a
cock, without good reason, was as guilty as he that killed his father.
This has a meaning only when we draw a line between spirituality and
morality, and treat the last as worthless in comparison of the first.
The later Stoics, however, in their exhortations to special branches of
duty, gave a positive value to practical virtue, irrespective of the

The idea of Duty was of Stoical origin, fostered and developed by the
Roman spirit and legislation. The early Stoics had two different
words,--one for the 'suitable' [Greek: kathaekon], or incomplete
propriety, admitting of degrees, and below the point of rectitude, and
another for the 'right' [Greek: katorthoma], or complete rectitude of
action, which none could achieve except the wise man. It is a
significant circumstance that the 'suitable' is the lineal ancestor of
our word 'duty' (through the Latin _officium_).

It was a great point with the Stoic to be conscious of 'advance' or
improvement.[11] By self-examination, he kept himself constantly
acquainted with his moral state, and it was both his duty and his
satisfaction to be approaching to the ideal of the perfect man.

It is very illustrative of the unguarded points and contradictions of
Stoicism, that contentment and apathy were not to permit grief even for
the loss of friends. Seneca, on one occasion, admits that he was
betrayed by human weakness on this point. On strict Stoical principles,
we ought to treat the afflictions and the death of others with the same
frigid indifference as our own; for why should a man feel for a second
person _more_ than he ought to feel for himself, as a mere unit in the
infinitude of the Universe? This is the contradiction inseparable from
any system that begins by abjuring pleasure, and relief or protection
from pain, as the ends of life. Even granting that we regard pleasure
and relief from pain as of no importance in our own case, yet if we
apply the same measure to others we are bereft of all motives to
benevolence; and virtue, instead of being set on a loftier pinnacle, is
left without any foundation.

EPICURUS. [311--270 B.C.]

Epicurus was born 341 B.C. in the island of Samos. At the age of
eighteen, he repaired to Athens, where he is supposed to have enjoyed
the teaching of Xenocrates or Theophrastus. In 306 B.C., he opened a
school in a garden in Athens, whence his followers have sometimes been
called the 'philosophers of the garden.' His life was simple, chaste,
and temperate. Of the 300 works he is said to have written, nothing has
come down to us except three letters, giving a summary of his views for
the use of his friends, and a number of detached sayings, preserved by
Diogenes Laertius and others. Moreover, some fragments of his work on
Nature have been found at Herculaneum. The additional sources of our
knowledge of Epicurus are the works of his opponents, Cicero, Seneca,
Plutarch, and of his follower Lucretius. Our information from Epicurean
writers respecting the doctrines of their sect is much less copious
than what we possess from Stoic writers in regard to Stoic opinions. We
have no Epicurean writer on Philosophy except Inicretius; whereas
respecting the Stoical creed under the Roman Empire, the important
writings of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Antoninus, afford most
valuable evidence.

To Epicurus succeeded, in the leadership of his school, Hermachus,
Polystratus, Dionysius, Basilides, and others, ten in number, down to
the age of Augustus. Among Roman Epicureans, Lucretius (95--51 B.C.) is
the most important, his poem (De Rerum Natura), being the completest
account of the system that exists. Other distinguished followers were
Horace, Atticus, and Lacian. In modern times, Pierre Gassendi
(1592--1655) revived the doctrines of Epicurus, and in 1647 published
his 'Syntagma Philosophiae Epicuri,' and a Life of Epicurus. The
reputation of Gassendi, in his life time, rested chiefly upon his
physical theories; but his influence was much felt as a Christian
upholder of Epicureanism. Gassendi was at one time in orders as a Roman
Catholic, and professor of theology and philosophy. He established an
Epicurean school in France, among the disciples of which were, Moliere,
Saint Evremond, Count de Grammont, the Duke of Rochefoncalt,
Fontenelle, and Voltaire.

The standard of Virtue and Vice is referred by Epicurus to pleasure and
pain. Pain is the only evil, Pleasure is the only good. Virtue is no
end in itself, to be sought: Vice is no end in itself, to be avoided.
The motive for cultivating Virtue and banishing Vice arises from the
consequences of each, as the means of multiplying pleasures and
averting or lessening pains. But to the attainment of this purpose, the
complete supremacy of Reason is indispensable; in order that we may
take a right comparative measure of the varieties of pleasure and pain,
and pursue the course that promises the least amount of suffering.[12]

In all ethical theories that make happiness the supreme object of
pursuit, the position of virtue depends entirely upon the theory of
what constitutes happiness. Now, Epicurus (herein differing from the
Stoics, as well as Aristotle), did not recognize Happiness as anything
but freedom from pain and enjoyment of pleasure. It is essential,
however, to understand, how Epicurus conceived pleasure and pain, and
what is the Epicurean scale of pleasures and pains, graduated as
objects of reasonable desire or aversion? It is a great error to
suppose that, in making pleasure the standard of virtue, Epicurus had
in view that elaborate and studied gratification of the sensual
appetites that we associate with the word _Epicurean_. Epicurus
declares--'When we say that pleasure is the end of life, we do not mean
the pleasures of the debauchee or the sensualist, as some from
ignorance or from malignity represent, but freedom of the body from
pain, and of the soul from anxiety. For it is not continuous drinkings
and revellings, nor the society of women, nor rare viands, and other
luxuries of the table, that constitute a pleasant life, but sober
contemplation, such as searches out the grounds of choice and
avoidance, and banishes those chimeras that harass the mind.

Freedom from pain is thus made the primary element of happiness; a
one-sided view, respected in the doctrine of Locke, that it is not the
idea of future good, but the present greatest uneasiness that most
strongly affects the will. A neutral state of feeling is necessarily
imperilled by a greedy pursuit of pleasures; hence the _dictum_, to be
content with little is a great good; because little is most easily
obtained. The regulation of the desires is therefore of high moment.
According to Epicurus, desires fall into three grades. Some are
_natural_ and _necessary_, such as desire of drink, food, or life, and
are easily gratified. But when the uneasiness of a want is removed, the
bodily pleasures admit of no farther increase; anything additional only
_varies_ the pleasure. Hence the luxuries which go beyond the relief of
our wants are thoroughly superfluous; and the desires arising from them
(forming the _second_ grade) though _natural, are not necessary_. A
_third_ class of desires is neither natural nor necessary, but begotten
of vain opinion; such as the thirst for civic honours, or for power
over others; those desires are the most difficult to gratify, and even
if gratified, entail upon us trouble, anxiety, and peril. [This account
of the desires, following up the advice--If you wish to be rich, study
not to increase your goods, but to diminish your desires--is to a
certain extent wise and even indispensable; yet not adapted to all
temperaments. To those that enjoy pleasure very highly, and are not
sensitive in an equal degree to pain, such a negative conception of
happiness would be imperfect.] Epicurus did not, however, deprecate
positive pleasure. If it could be reached without pain, and did not
result in pain, it was a pure good; and, even if it could not be had
without pain, the question was still open, whether it might not be well
worth the price. But in estimating the worth of pleasure, the absence
of any accompanying pain should weigh heavily in the balance. At this
point, the Epicurean theory connects itself most intimately with the
conditions of virtue; for virtue is more concerned with averting
mischief and suffering, than with multiplying positive enjoyments.

Bodily feeling, in the Epicurean psychology, is prior in order of time
to the mental element; the former was primordial, while the latter was
derivative from it by repeated processes of memory and association. But
though such was the order of sequence and generation, yet when we
compare the two as constituents of happiness to the formed man, the
mental element much outweighed the bodily, both as pain and as
pleasure. Bodily pain or pleasure exists only in the present; when not
felt, it is nothing. But mental feelings involve memory and
hope--embrace the past as well as the future--endure for a long time,
and may be recalled or put out of sight, to a great degree, at our

This last point is one of the most remarkable features of the Epicurean
mental discipline. Epicurus deprecated the general habit of mankind in
always hankering after some new satisfaction to come; always
discontented with the present, and oblivious of past comforts as if
they had never been. These past comforts ought to be treasured up by
memory and reflection, so that they might become as it were matter for
rumination, and might serve, in trying moments, even to counterbalance
extreme physical suffering. The health of Epicurus himself was very bad
during the closing years of his life. There remains a fragment of his
last letter, to an intimate friend and companion, Idomeneus--'I write
this to you on the last day of my life, which, in spite of the severest
internal bodily pains, is still a happy day, because I set against them
in the balance all the mental pleasure felt in the recollection of my
past conversations with you. Take care of the children left by
Metrodorus, in a manner worthy of your demeanour from boyhood towards
me and towards philosophy.' Bodily pain might thus be alleviated, when
it occurred; it might be greatly lessened in occurrence, by prudent and
moderate habits; lastly, even at the worst, if violent, it never lasted
long; if not violent, it might be patiently borne, and was at any rate
terminated, or terminable at pleasure, by death.

In the view of Epicurus, the chief miseries of life arose, not from
bodily pains, but partly from delusions of hope, and exaggerated
aspirations for wealth, honours, power, &c., in all which the objects
appeared most seductive from a distance, inciting man to lawless
violence and treachery, while in the reality they were always
disappointments, and generally something worse; partly, and still more,
from the delusions of fear. Of this last sort, were the two greatest
torments of human existence--fear of Death, and of eternal suffering
after death, as announced by prophets and poets, and Fear of the Gods.
Epicurus, who did not believe in the continued existence of the soul
separate from the body, declared that there could never be any rational
ground for fearing death, since it was simply a permanent extinction of
consciousness.[13] Death was nothing to us (he said); when death comes,
we are no more, either to suffer or to enjoy. Yet it was the groundless
fear of this nothing that poisoned all the tranquillity of life, and
held men imprisoned even when existence was a torment. Whoever had
surmounted that fear was armed at once against cruel tyranny and
against all the gravest misfortunes. Next, the fear of the gods was not
less delusive, and hardly less tormenting, than the fear of death. It
was a capital error (Epicurus declared) to suppose that the gods
employed themselves as agents in working or superintending the march of
the Cosmos; or in conferring favour on some men, and administering
chastisement to others. The vulgar religious tales, which represented
them in this character, were untrue and insulting as regards the gods
themselves, and pregnant with perversion and misery as regards the
hopes and fears of mankind. Epicurus believed sincerely in the gods;
reverenced them as beings at once perfectly happy, immortal, and
unchangeable; and took delight in the public religious festivals and
ceremonies. But it was inconsistent with these attributes, and
repulsive to his feelings of reverence, to conceive them as agents. The
idea of agency is derived from human experience; we, as agents, act
with a view to supply some want, to fulfil some obligation, to acquire
some pleasure, to accomplish some object desired but not yet
attained--in short, to fill up one or other of the many gaps in our
imperfect happiness; the gods already _have_ all that agents strive to
get, and more than agents ever do get; their condition is one not of
agency, but of tranquil, self-sustaining, fruition. Accordingly,
Epicurus thought (as Aristotle[14] had thought before him) that the
perfect, eternal, and imperturbable well-being and felicity of the gods
excluded the supposition of their being agents. He looked upon them as
types of that unmolested safety and unalloyed satisfaction which was
what he understood by pleasure or happiness--as objects of reverential
envy, whose sympathy he was likely to obtain by assimilating his own
temper and condition to theirs, as far as human circumstances allowed.

These theological views were placed by Epicurus in the foreground of
his ethical philosophy, as the only means of dispelling those fears of
the gods that the current fables instilled into every one, and that did
so much to destroy human comfort and security. He proclaimed that
beings in immortal felicity neither suffered vexation in themselves nor
caused vexation to others--neither showed anger nor favour to
particular persons. The doctrine that they were the working managers in
the affairs of the Cosmos, celestial and terrestrial, human and
extra-human, he not only repudiated as incompatible with their
attributes, but declared to be impious, considering the disorder,
sufferings, and violence, everywhere visible. He disallowed all
prophecy, divination, and oracular inspiration, by which the public
around him believed that the gods were perpetually communicating
special revelations to individuals, and for which Sokrates had felt so
peculiarly thankful.[15]

It is remarkable that Stoics and Epicureans, in spite of their marked
opposition in dogma or theory, agreed so far in practical results, that
both declared these two modes of uneasiness (fear of the gods and fear
of death) to be the great torments of human existence, and both strove
to remove or counterbalance them.

So far, the teaching of Epicurus appears confined to the separate
happiness of each individual, as dependent upon his own prudence,
sobriety, and correct views of Nature. But this is not the whole of the
Epicurean Ethics. The system also considered each man as in
companionship with others; The precepts were shaped accordingly, first
as to Justice, next as to Friendship. In both these, the foundation
whereon Epicurus built was Reciprocity: not pure sacrifice to others,
but partnership with others, beneficial to all. He kept the ideas of
self and of others inseparably knit together in one complex
association: he did not expel or degrade either, in order to give
exclusive ascendancy to the other. The dictate of Natural Justice was
that no man should hurt another: each was bound to abstain from doing
harm to others; each, on this condition, was entitled to count on
security and relief from the fear that others would do harm to him.
Such double aspect, or reciprocity, was essential to social
companionship: those that could not, or would not, accept this
covenant, were unfit for society. If a man does not behave justly
towards others, he cannot expect that they will behave justly towards
him; to live a life of injustice, and expect that others will not find
it out, is idle. The unjust man cannot enjoy a moment of security.
Epicurus laid it down explicitly, that just and righteous dealing was
the indispensable condition to every one's comfort, and was the best
means of attaining it.

The reciprocity of Justice was valid towards all the world; the
reciprocity of friendship went much farther; it involved indefinite and
active beneficence, but could reach only to a select few. Epicurus
insisted emphatically on the value of friendship, as a means of
happiness to both the persons so united. He declared that a good friend
was another self, and that friends ought to be prepared, in case of
need, to die for each other. Yet he declined to recommend an
established community of goods among the members of his fraternity, as
prevailed in the Pythagorean brotherhood: for such an institution (he
said) implied mistrust. He recommended efforts to please and to serve,
and a forwardness to give, for the purpose of gaining and benefiting a
friend, and he even declared that there was more pleasure in conferring
favours than in receiving them; but he was no less strenuous in
inculcating an intelligent gratitude on the receiver. No one except a
wise man (he said) knew how to return a favour properly.[16]

Virtue and happiness, in the theory of Epicurus, were thus inseparable.
A man could not be happy until he had surmounted the fear of death and
the fear of gods instilled by the current fables, which disturbed all
tranquillity of mind; until he had banished those factitious desires
that pushed him into contention for wealth, power, or celebrity; nor
unless he behaved with justice to all, and with active devoted
friendship towards a few. Such a mental condition, which he thought it
was in every man's power to acquire by appropriate teaching and
companionship, constituted virtue; and was the sure as well as the only
precursor of genuine happiness. A mind thus undisturbed and purified
was sufficient to itself. The mere satisfaction of the wants of life,
and the conversation of friends, became then felt pleasures; if more
could be had without preponderant mischief, so much the better; but
Nature, disburthened of her corruptions and prejudices, required no
more to be happy. This at least was as much as the conditions of
humanity admitted: a tranquil, undisturbed, innocuous, non-competitive
fruition, which approached most nearly to the perfect happiness of the

The Epicurean theory of virtue is the type of all those that make an
enlightened self-interest the basis of right and wrong. The four
cardinal virtues were explained from the Epicurean point of view.
_Prudence_ was the supreme rule of conduct. It was a calculation and
balancing of pleasures and pains. Its object was a judicious selection
of pleasures to be sought. It teaches men to forego idle wishes, and to
despise idle fears. _Temperance_ is the management of sensual
pleasures. It seeks to avoid excess, so as on the whole to extract as
much pleasure as our bodily organs are capable of affording.
_Fortitude_ is a virtue, because it overcomes fear and pain. It
consists in facing danger or enduring pain, to avoid greater possible
evils. _Justice_ is of artificial origin. It consists in a tacit
agreement among mankind to abstain from injuring one another. The
security that every man has in his person and property, is the great
consideration urging to abstinence from injuring others. But is it not
possible to commit injustice with safety? The answer was, 'Injustice is
not an evil in itself, but becomes so from the fear that haunts the
injurer of not being able to escape the appointed avengers of such

The Physics of Epicurus were borrowed in the main from the atomic
theory of Democritus, but were modified by him in a manner subservient
and contributory to his ethical scheme. To that scheme it was essential
that those celestial, atmospheric, or terrestrial phenomena that the
public around him ascribed to the agency and purposes of the gods,
should be understood as being produced by physical causes. An eclipse,
an earthquake, a storm, a shipwreck, unusual rain or drought, a good or
a bad harvest--and not merely these, but many other occurrences far
smaller and more unimportant, as we may see by the eighteenth chapter
of the Characters of Theophrastus--were then regarded as visitations of
the gods, requiring to be interpreted by recognized prophets, and to be
appeased by ceremonial expiations. When once a man became convinced
that all these phenomena proceeded from physical agencies, a host of
terrors and anxieties would disappear from the mind; and this Epicurus
asserted to be the beneficent effect and real recommendation of
physical philosophy. He took little or no thought for scientific
curiosity as a motive _per se_, which both Democritus and Aristotle put
so much in the foreground.

Epicurus adopted the atomistic scheme of Democritus, but with some
important variations. He conceived that the atoms all moved with equal
velocity in the downward direction of gravity. But it occurred to him
that upon this hypothesis there could never occur any collisions or
combinations of the atoms--nothing but continued and unchangeable
parallel lines. Accordingly, he modified it by saying that the line of
descent was not exactly rectilinear, but that each atom deflected a
little from the straight line, and each in its own direction and
degree; so that it became possible to assume collisions, resiliences,
adhesions, combinations, among them, as it had been possible under the
variety of original movements ascribed to them by Democritus. The
opponents of Epicurus derided this auxiliary hypothesis; they affirmed
that he invented the individual deflection of each atom, without
assigning any cause, and only because he was perplexed by the mystery
of man's _free-will_. But Epicurus was not more open to attack on this
ground than other physical philosophers. Most of them (except perhaps
the most consistent of the Stoic fatalists) believed that some among
the phenomena of the universe occurred in regular and predictable
sequence, while others were essentially irregular and unpredictable;
each philosopher devised his hypothesis, and recognized some
fundamental principle, to explain the first class of phenomena as well
as the second. Plato admitted an invincible Erratic necessity;
Aristotle introduced Chance and Spontaneity; Democritus multiplied
indefinitely the varieties of atomic movements. The hypothetical
deflexion alleged by Epicurus was his way, not more unwarranted than
the others, of providing a fundamental principle for the unpredictable
phenomena of the universe. Among these are the mental (including the
volitional) manifestations of men and animals; but there are many
others besides; and there is no ground for believing that the mystery
of free-will was peculiarly present to his mind. The movements of a man
or animal are not exclusively subject to gravitation and other general
laws; they are partly governed by mental impulses and by forces of the
organism, intrinsic and peculiar to himself, unseen and unfelt by
others. For these, in common with many other untraceable phenomena in
the material world, Epicurus provides a principle in the supplementary
hypothesis of deflexion. He rejected the fatalism contained in the
theories of some of the Stoics, and admitted a limited range of empire
to chance, or irregularity. But he maintained that the will, far from
being among the phenomena essentially irregular, is under the influence
of motives; for no man can insist more strenuously than he does (see
the Letter to Menoecens) on the complete power of philosophy,--if the
student could be made to feel its necessity and desire the attainment
of it, so as to meditate and engrain within himself sound views about
the gods, death, and human life generally,--to mould our volitions and
character in a manner conformable to the exigencies of virtue and

When we read the explanations given by Epicurus and Lucretius of what
the Epicurean theory really was, and compare them with the numerous
attacks made upon it by opponents, we cannot but remark that the title
or formula of the theory was ill chosen, and was really a misnomer.
What Epicurus meant by Pleasure was, not what most people meant by it,
but something very different--a tranquil and comfortable state of mind
and body; much the same as what Democritus had expressed before him by
the phrase [Greek: euthymia]. This last phrase would have expressed
what Epicurus aimed at, neither more nor less. It would at least have
preserved his theory from much misplaced sarcasm and aggressive


PLOTINUS (A.D. 205--70), PORPHYRY, &c.

Constructed with reference to the broken-down state of ancient society,
and seeking its highest aim in a regeneration of humanity, the
philosophical system of Neo-Platonism was throughout ethical or
ethico-religious in spirit; yet its ethics admits of no great
development according to the usual topics. A pervading ethical
character is not incompatible with the absence of a regular ethical
scheme; and there was this peculiarity in the system, that its end,
though professedly moral, was to be attained by means of an
intellectual regimen. In setting up its ideal of human effort, it was
least of all careful about prescribing a definite course of external

The more strictly ethical views of PLOTINUS, the chief representative
of the school, are found mainly in the first of the six Enneads into
which Porphyry collected his master's essays. But as they presuppose
the cosmological and psychological doctrines, their place in the works,
as now arranged, is to be regarded as arbitrary. The soul having fallen
from its original condition, and, in consequence and as a penalty,
having become united with a material body, the one true aim recognized
for human action is, to rise above the debasing connection with matter,
and again to lead the old spiritual life. For those that have sunk so
far as to be content with the world of sense, wisdom consists in
pursuing pleasure as good, and shunning pain as evil: but the others
can partake of a better life, in different degrees. The first step in
reformation is to practise virtue in the affairs of life, which means
to subject Sense and the lower desires to Reason. This is done in the
fourfold form of the common cardinal virtues, called _political_ by
Plotinus, to mark the sphere of action where they can be exerted, and
is the virtue of a class of men capable of a certain elevation, though
ignorant of all the rest that lies above them. A second step is made
through the means of the [Greek: katharseis] or _purifying_ virtues;
where it is sought to root out, instead of merely moderating, the
sensual affections. If the soul is thus altogether freed from the
dominion of sense, it becomes at once able to follow its natural bent
towards good, and enters into a permanent state of calm. This is virtue
in its true meaning--becoming like to the Deity, all that went before
being merely a preparation. The pure and perfect life of the soul may
still be described as a field whereon the four virtues are exercised,
but they now assume a far higher meaning than as political virtues,
having relation solely to the contemplative life of the Nous.

Happiness is unknown to Plotinus as distinct from perfection, and
perfection in the sense of having subdued all material cravings (except
as regards the bare necessities of life), and entered upon the
undisturbed life of contemplation. If this recalls, at least in name,
the Aristotelian ideal, there are points added that appear to be echoes
of Stoicism. Rapt in the contemplation of eternal verities, the
purified soul is indifferent to external circumstances: pain and
suffering are unheeded, and the just man can feel happy even in the
bull of Phalaris. But in one important respect the Neo-Platonic
teaching is at variance with Stoical doctrine. Though its first and
last precept is to rid the soul from the bondage of matter, it warns
against the attempt to sever body and soul by suicide. By no forcible
separation, which would be followed by a new junction, but only by
prolonged internal effort is the soul so set free from the world of
sense, as to be able to have a vision of its ancient home while still
in the body, and to return to it at death. Small, therefore, as is the
consideration bestowed by Neo-Platonism on the affairs of practical
life, it has no disposition to shirk the burden of them.

One other peculiar aim, the highest of all, is proposed to the soul in
the Alexandrian philosophy. It is peculiar, because to be understood
only in connexion with the metaphysics and cosmology of the system. In
the theory of Emanation, the primordial One or Good emits the Nous
wherein the Ideas are immanent; the Nous, in turn, sends forth the
Soul, and the Soul, Matter or nature; the gradation applying to man as
well as to the Universe. Now, to each of these principles, there is a
corresponding subjective state in the inner life of man. The life of
sense answers to nature or the material body; the virtue that is
founded upon free-will and reason, to the soul; the contemplative life,
as the result of complete purification from sense, to the Nous or
Sphere of Ideas; finally, to the One or Good, supreme in the scale of
existence, corresponds the state of Love, or, in its highest form,
_Ecstasy_. This peculiar elevation is something far above the highest
intellectual contemplation, and is not reached by thought. It is not
even a mere intuition of, but a real union or contact with, the Good.
To attain it, there must be a complete withdrawal into self from the
external world, and then the subject must wait quietly till perchance
the state comes on. It is one of ineffable bliss, but, from the nature
of man, transitory and rare.


ABAELARD (1079-1142) has a special treatise on the subject of Ethics,
entitled _Scito te ipsum_. As the name implies, it lays chief stress
upon the Subjective element in morality, and, in this aspect, is
considered to supply the idea that underlies a very large portion of
modern ethical speculation. By nature a notoriously independent
thinker, Abaelard claimed for philosophy the right of discussing
ethical questions and fixing a natural moral law, though he allowed a
corrective in the Christian scheme. Having this position with reference
to the church, he was also much less under the yoke of philosophical
authority than his successors, from living at a time when Aristotle was
not yet supreme. Yet, with Aristotle, he assigns the attainment of the
highest good as the aim of all human effort, Ethics showing the way;
and, with the schoolmen generally, pronounces the highest good to be
God. If the highest good in itself is God, the highest human good is
love to God. This is attained by way of virtue, which is a good Will
consolidated into a habit. On the influence of habit on action his view
is Aristotelian. His own specialty lies in his judging actions solely
with reference to the intention _(intentio)_ of the agent, and this
intention with reference to conscience _(conscientia)_. All actions, he
says, are in themselves indifferent, and not to be called good or evil
except from the intention of the doer. _Peccatum_, is properly only the
action that is done with evil intent; and where this is present, where
the mental consent _(consensus)_ is clearly established, there is
_peccatum_, though the action remains unexecuted. When the _consensus_
is absent, as in original sin, there is only _vitium_; hence, a life
without _peccata_ is not impossible to men in the exercise of their
freedom, however difficult it may be.

The supremacy assigned by him to the subjective element of conscience
appears in such phrases as, there is no sin except against conscience;
also in the opinion he pronounces, that, though in the case of a
mistaken moral conviction, an action is not to be called good, yet it
is not so bad as an action objectively right but done against
conscience. Thus, without allowing that conscientious persecutors of
Christians act rightly, he is not afraid, in the application of his
principle, to say that they would act still more wrongly if through not
listening to their conscience, they spared their victims. But this
means only that by following conscience we avoid sinning; for virtue in
the full sense, it is necessary that the conscience should have judged
rightly. By what standard, however, this is to be ascertained, he
nowhere clearly says. _Contemptus Dei_, given by him as the real and
only thing that constitutes an action bad, is merely another subjective

ST. BERNARD of Clairvaux (1091-1153), the strenuous opponent of
Abaelard, and the great upholder of mysticism against rationalism in
the early scholastic period when the two were not yet reconciled, gave
utterance, in the course of his mystical effusions, to some special
views of love and disinterestedness.

There are two degrees of Christian virtue, Humility and Charity or
Love. When men look into themselves, and behold the meanness that is
found there, the fitting state of mind is, first, humility; but soon
the sense of their very weakness begets in them charity and compassion
towards others, while the sense also of a certain human dignity raises
within them feelings of love towards the author of their being. The
treatise _De Amore Dei_ sets forth the nature of this love, which is
the highest exercise of human powers. Its fundamental characteristic is
its disinterestedness. It has its reward, but from meriting, not from
seeking. It is purely voluntary, and, as a free sentiment, necessarily
unbought; it has God for its single object, and would not be love to
God, if he were loved for the sake of something else.

He distinguishes various degrees of love. There is, first, a natural
love of self for the sake of self. Next, a motion of love towards God
amid earthly misfortunes, which also is not disinterested. The third
degree is different, being love to God for his own sake, and to our
neighbour for God's sake. But the highest grade of all is not reached,
until men come to love even themselves only by relation to God; at this
point, with the disappearance of all special and interested affection,
the mystic goal is attained.

JOHN of SALISBURY (d. 1180) is the last name to be cited in the early
scholastic period. He professed to be a practical philosopher, to be
more concerned about the uses of knowledge than about knowledge itself,
and to subordinate everything to some purpose; by way of protest
against the theoretic hair-splitting and verbal subtleties of his
predecessors. Even more than in Ethics, he found in Politics his proper
sphere. He was the staunchest upholder of the Papal Supremacy, which,
after long struggles, was about to be established at its greatest
height, before presiding at the opening of the most brilliant period of

In the _Policraticus_ especially, but also in his other works, the
foundations and provisions of his moral system are found. He has no
distinction to draw in Ethics between theology and philosophy, but uses
Scripture and observation alike, though Scripture always in the final
appeal. Of philosophizing, the one final aim, as also of existence, is
Happiness; the question, of questions, how it is to be attained.
Happiness is not pleasure, nor possession, nor honour, but consists in
following the path of virtue. Virtue is to be understood from the
constitution of human nature. In man, there is a lower and a higher
faculty of Desire; or, otherwise expressed, there are the various
affections that have their roots in sense and centre in self-love or
the desire of self-preservation, and there is also a natural love of
justice implanted from the beginning. In proportion as the _appetitus
justi_, which consists in will, gains upon the _appetitus commodi_, men
become more worthy of a larger happiness. Self-love rules in man, so
long as he is in the natural state of sin; if, amid great conflict and
by divine help, the higher affection gains the upper hand, the state of
true virtue, which is identical with the theoretic state of belief, and
also of pure love to God and man, is reached.

By the middle of the thirteenth century, the schoolmen had before them
the whole works of Aristotle, obtained from Arabian and other sources.
Whereas, previous to this time, they had comprehended nearly all the
subjects of Philosophy under the one name of Dialectics or Logic,
always reserving, however, Ethics to Theology, they were now made aware
of the ancient division of the sciences, and of what had been
accomplished in each. The effect, both in respect of form and of
subject-matter, was soon apparent in such compilations or more
independent works as they were able to produce after their commentaries
on the Aristotelian text. But in Ethics, the nature of the subject
demanded of men in their position a less entire submission to the
doctrines of the pagan philosopher; and here accordingly they clung to
the traditional theological treatment. If they were commenting on the
Ethics of Aristotle, the Bible was at hand to supply his omissions; if
they were setting up a complete moral system, they took little more
than the ground-work from him, the rest being Christian ideas and
precepts, or fragments borrowed from Platonism and other Greek systems,
nearly allied in spirit to their own faith.

This is especially true, as will be seen, of Thomas Aquinas. His
predecessors can be disposed of in a few words. ALEXANDER of HALES (d.
1245) was almost purely theological. BONAVENTURA (1221-74) in his
double character of rigid Franciscan and mystic, was led far beyond the
Aristotelian Ethics. The mean between excess and defect is a very good
rule for the affairs of life, but the true Christian is bound besides
to works of supererogation: first of all, to take on the condition of
poverty; while the state of mystic contemplation remains as a still
higher goal for the few. ALBERT THE GREAT (1193-1280), the most learned
and complete commentator of Aristotle that had yet appeared, divide the
whole subject of Ethics into _Monastica, Oeconomica_, and _Politica_.
In this division, which is plainly suggested by the Aristotelian
division of Politics in the large sense, the term _Monastica_ not
inaptly expresses the reference that Ethics has to the conduct of men
as individuals. Albert, however, in commenting on the Nicomachean
Ethics, adds exceedingly little to the results of his author beyond the
incorporation of a few Scriptural ideas. To the cardinal virtues he
appends the _virtutes adjunctae_, Faith, Hope, and Charity, and again
in his compendious work, _Summa Theologiae_, distinguishes them as
_infusae_, the cardinal being considered as _acquisitae_.

Besides his commentaries on the Aristotelian works (the Ethics
included) and many other writings, THOMAS AQUINAS (1226-74) left two
large works, the _Summa philosophica_ and the famous _Summa
Theologiae_. Notwithstanding the prominence assigned to theological
questions, the first is a regular philosophical work; the second,
though containing the exposition of philosophical opinions, is a
theological textbook. Now, as it is in the Summary for theological
purposes that the whole practical philosophy of Aquinas is contained,
it is to be inferred that he regarded the subject of Ethics as not on
the same level with other departments of philosophy. Moreover, even
when he is not appealing to Scripture, he is seen to display what is
for him a most unusual tendency to desert Aristotle, at the really
critical moments, for Plato or Plotinus, or any other authority of a
more theological cast.

In the (unfinished) _Summa Theologiae_, the Ethical views and cognate
questions occupy the two sections of the second part--the so-called
_prima_ and _secunda secundae_. He begins, in the Aristotelian fashion,
by seeking an ultimate end of human action, and finds it in the
attainment of the highest good or happiness. But as no created thing
can answer to the idea of the highest good, it must be placed in God.
God, however, as the highest good, can only be the object, in the
search after human happiness, for happiness in itself is a state of the
mind or act of the soul. The question then arises, "what sort of act?"
Does it fall under the Will or under the Intelligence? The answer is,
Not under the will, because happiness is neither desire nor pleasure,
but _consecutio_, that is, a possessing. Desire precedes _consecutio_,
and pleasure follows upon it; but the act of getting possession, in
which lies happiness, is distinct from both. This is illustrated by the
case of the miser having his happiness in the mere possession of money;
and the position is essentially the same as Butler's, in regard to our
appetites and desires, that they blindly seek their objects with no
regard to pleasure. Thomas concludes that the _consecutio_, or
happiness, is an act of the intelligence; what pleasure there is being
a mere accidental accompaniment.

Distinguishing between two phases of the intellect--the theoretic and
the practical--in the one of which it is an end to itself, but in the
other subordinated to an external aim, he places true happiness in acts
of the self-sufficing theoretic intelligence. In this life, however,
such a constant exercise of the intellect is not possible, and
accordingly what happiness there is, must be found, in great measure,
in the exercise of the practical intellect, directing and governing the
lower desires and passions. This twofold conception of happiness is
Aristotelian, even as expressed by Thomas under the distinction of
perfect and imperfect happiness; but when he goes on to associate
perfect happiness with the future life only, to found an argument for a
future life from the desire of a happiness more perfect than can be
found here, and to make the pure contemplation, in which consists
highest bliss, a vision of the divine essence face to face, a direct
cognition of Deity far surpassing demonstrative knowledge or mortal
faith--he is more theologian than philosopher, or if a philosopher,
more Platonist than Aristotelian.

The condition of perfect happiness being a theoretic or intellectual
state, the _visio_, and not the _delectatio_, is consistently given as
its central fact; and when he proceeds to consider the other questions
of Ethics, the same superiority is steadily ascribed to the
intellectual function. It is because we _know_ a thing to be good that
we wish it, and knowing it, we cannot help wishing. Conscience, as the
name implies, is allied to knowledge. Reason gives the law to will.

After a long disquisition about the passions and the whole appetitive
side of human nature, over which Reason is called to rule, he is
brought to the subject of virtue. He is Aristotelian enough to describe
virtue as _habitus_--a disposition or quality (like health) whereby a
subject is more or less well disposed with reference to itself or
something else; and he takes account of the acquisition of good moral
habits (_virtutes acquisitae_) by practice. But with this he couples,
or tends to substitute for it, the definition of Augustin that virtue
is a good quality of mind, _quam Deus in nobis sine nobis operatur_, as
a ground for _virtutes infusae_, conferred as gifts upon man, or rather
on certain men, by free grace from on high. He wavers greatly at this
stage, and in this respect his attitude is characteristic for all the

So again in passing from the general question of Virtue to the virtues,
he puts several of the systems under contribution, as if not prepared
to leave the guidance of Aristotle, but feeling at the same time the
necessity of bridging over the distance between his position and
Christian requirements. Understanding Aristotle to make a co-ordinate
division of virtues into Moral and Intellectual, he gives reasons for
such a step. Though virtue, he says, is not so much the perfecting of
the operation of our faculties, as their employment by the will for
good ends, it may be used in the first sense, and thus the intellectual
virtues will be the habits of intelligence that procure the truest
knowledge. The well-known division of the cardinal virtues is his next
theme; and it is established as complete and satisfactory by a twofold
deduction. But a still higher and more congenial view is immediately
afterwards adopted from Plotinus. This is the Neo-Platonic description
of the four virtues as _politicae, purgatoriae_, and _purgati animi_,
according to the scale of elevation reached by the soul in its efforts
to mount above sense. They are called by Thomas also _exemplares_, when
regarded at once as the essence of the Deity, and as the models of
human perfections.

This mystical division, not unsupported by philosophical authority,
smooths the way for his account of the highest or _theological_
virtues. These bear upon the vision of Deity, which was recognized
above as the highest good of humanity, and form an order apart. They
have God for their object, are altogether inspired by God (hence called
_infusae_), and are taught by revelation. Given in connection with the
natural faculties of intellect and will, they are exhibited in the
attainment of the supernatural order of things. With intellect goes
_Faith_, as it were the intellect applied to things not intelligible;
with Will go Hope and Charity or Love: Hope being the Will exercised
upon things not naturally desired, and Love the union of Will with what
is not naturally brought near to us.

Aquinas then passes to politics, or at least the discussion of the
political ideas of law, right, &c.

Coming now to _modern_ thinkers, we begin with

THOMAS HOBBES. [1588-1679.]

The circumstances of Hobbes's life, so powerful in determining the
nature of his opinions, had an equally marked effect on the order and
number of expositions that he gave to the psychological and political
parts of his system. His ethical doctrines, in as far as they can be
dissociated from, his politics, may be studied in no less than three
distinct forms; either in the first part of the Leviathian (1651); or
in the De Cive (1647), taken along-with the _De Homine_ (1658); or in
the Treatise of Human Nature (1650, but written ten years earlier),
coupled with the De Corpore Politico (also 1650). But the same result,
or with only unimportant variations, being obtained from all, we need
not here go beyond the first-mentioned.

In the first part of the Leviathan, then, bearing the title _Of Man_,
and designed to consider Man as at once the _matter_ and _artificer_ of
the Commonwealth or State, Hobbes is led, after discussing Sense,
Imagination, Train of Imaginations, Speech, Reason and Science, to take
up, in chapter sixth, the Passions, or, as he calls them, the Interior
beginnings of voluntary motions. Motions, he says, are either vital and
animal, or voluntary. Vital motions, _e.g._, circulation, nutrition,
&c., need no help of imagination; on the other hand, voluntary motions,
as going and speaking--since they depend on a precedent thought of
whither, which way, and what--have in the imagination their first
beginning. But imagination is only the relics of sense, and sense, as
Hobbes always declares, is motion in the human organs communicated by
objects without; consequently, visible voluntary motions begin in
invisible internal motions, whose nature is expressed by the word
_Endeavour_. When the endeavour is towards something causing it, there
is Appetite or Desire; endeavour 'fromward something' is Aversion.
These very words, and the corresponding terms in Greek, imply an
actual, not--as the schoolmen absurdly think--a metaphorical motion.
Passing from the main question, he describes Love and Hate as Desire
and Aversion when the object is present. Of appetites, some are born
with us, others proceed from experience, being of particular things.
Where we neither desire nor hate, we contemn [he means, disregard].
Appetites and aversions vary in the same person, and much more in
different persons.

Then follows his definition of _good_,--the object of any man's
appetite or desire, as evil is the object of his hate and aversion.
Good and evil are always merely relative, either to the person of a
man, or in a commonwealth to the representative person, or to an
arbitrator if chosen to settle a dispute. Good in the promise is
_pulchrum_, for which there is no exact English term; good in the
effect, as the end desired, is _delightful_; good as the means, is
_useful_ or _profitable_. There is the same variety of evil.

His next topic is Pleasure. As sense is, in _reality_, motion, but, in
'_apparence_,' light or sound or odour; so appetite, in reality a
motion or endeavour effected in the heart by the action of objects
through the organs of sense, is, in 'apparence,' delight or trouble of
mind. The emotion, whose _apparence_ (_i.e._, subjective side) is
pleasure or delight, seems to be a corroboration of vital motion; the
contrary, in the case of molestation. Pleasure is, therefore, the sense
of good; displeasure, the sense of evil. The one accompanies, in
greater or less degree, all desire and love; the other, all aversion
and hatred. Pleasures are either of _sense_; or of the _mind_, when
arising-from the expectation that proceeds from the foresight of the
ends or consequence of things, irrespective of their pleasing the
senses or not. For these mental pleasures, there is the general name
_joy_. There is a corresponding division of displeasure into _pain_ and

All the other passions, he now proceeds to show, are these _simple_
passions--appetite, desire, love, aversion, hate, joy, and grief,
diversified in name for divers considerations. Incidental remarks of
ethical importance are these. _Covetousness_, the desire of riches, is
a name signifying blame, because men contending for them are displeased
with others attaining them; the desire itself, however, is to be blamed
or allowed, according to the means whereby the riches are sought.
_Curiosity_ is a lust of the mind, that by a perseverance of delight in
the continual generation of knowledge, exceedeth the short vehemence of
any carnal pleasure. _Pity_ is grief for the calamity of another,
arising from the imagination of the like calamity befalling one's self;
the best men have, therefore, least pity for calamity arising from
great wickedness. _Contempt_, or little sense of the calamity of
others, proceeds from security of one's own fortune; 'for that any man
should take pleasure in other men's great harms, without other end of
his own, I do not conceive it possible.'

Having explained the various passions, he then gives his theory of the
Will. He supposes a _liberty_ in man of doing or omitting, according to
appetite or aversion. But to this liberty an end is put in the state of
_deliberation_ wherein there is kept up a constant succession of
alternating desires and aversions, hopes and fears, regarding one and
the same thing. One of two results follows. Either the thing is judged
impossible, or it is done; and this, according as aversion or appetite
triumphs at the last. Now, the last aversion, followed by omission, or
the last appetite, followed by action, is the act of _Willing_. Will
is, therefore, the last appetite (taken to include aversion) in
deliberating. So-called Will, that has been forborne, was _inclination_
merely; but the last inclination with consequent action (or omission)
is Will, or voluntary action.

After mentioning the forms of speech where the several passions and
appetites are naturally expressed, and remarking that the truest signs
of passion are in the countenance, motions of the body, actions, and
ends or aims otherwise known to belong to a man,--he returns to the
question of good and evil. It is _apparent_ good and evil, come at by
the best possible foresight of all the consequences of action, that
excite the appetites and aversions in deliberation. _Felicity_ he
defines continual success in obtaining the things from time to time
desired; perpetual tranquillity of mind being impossible in this life,
which is but motion, and cannot be without desire and fear any more
than without sense. The happiness of the future life is at present

Men, he says at the close, _praise_ the goodness, and _magnify_ the
greatness, of a thing; the Greeks had also the word [Greek:
makarismos], to express an opinion of a man's felicity.

In Chapter VII., Of the Ends of Discourse, he is led to remark on the
meaning of _Conscience_, in connection-with the word _Conscious_. Two
or more men, he says, are conscious of a thing when they know it
together (_con-scire_.) Hence arises the proper meaning of conscience;
and the evil of speaking against one's conscience, in this sense, is to
be allowed. Two other meanings are metaphorical: when it is put for a
man's knowledge of his own secret facts and thoughts; and when men give
their own new opinions, however absurd, the reverenced name of
conscience, as if they would have it seem unlawful to change or speak
against them. [Hobbes is not concerned to foster the moral independence
of individuals.]

He begins Chapter VIII. by defining Virtue as something that is valued
for eminence, and that consists in comparison, but proceeds to consider
only the intellectual virtues--all that is summed up in the term of a
_good wit_--and their opposites. Farther on, he refers difference of
wits--discretion, prudence, craft, &c.--to difference in the passions,
and this to difference in constitution of body and of education. The
passions chiefly concerned are the desires of power, riches, knowledge,
honour, but all may be reduced to the single desire of power.

In Chapter IX. is given his Scheme of Sciences. The relation in his
mind between Ethics and Politics is here seen. Science or Philosophy is
divided into Natural or Civil, according as it is knowledge of
consequences from the accidents of natural bodies or of politic bodies.
Ethics is one of the ultimate divisions of Natural Philosophy, dealing
with consequences from the _passions_ of men; and because the passions
are _qualities_ of bodies, it falls more immediately under the head of
Physics. Politics is the whole of the second main division, and deals
with consequences from the institution of commonwealths (1) to the
rights and duties of the Sovereign, and (2) to the duty and right of
the Subject.

Ethics, accordingly, in Hobbes's eyes, is part of the science of man
(as a natural body), and it is always treated as such. But subjecting,
as he does, so much of the action of the individual to the action of
the state, he necessarily includes in his Politics many questions that
usually fall to Ethics. Hence arises the necessity of studying for his
Ethics also part of the civil Philosophy; though it happens that, in
the Leviathan, this requisite part is incorporated with the Section
containing the Science of Man.

Chapter X. is on Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour, and Worthiness. A man's
_power_ being his present means to obtain some future apparent good, he
enumerates all the sources of original and acquired power. The _worth_
of a man is what would be given for the use of his power; it is,
therefore, never absolute, but dependent on the need and judgment of
another. _Dignity_ is the value set on a man by the state. _Honour_ and
_dishonour_ are the manifestation of value. He goes through all the
signs of honour and dishonour. _Honourable_ is any possession, action,
or quality that is the sign of power. Where there is the opinion of
power, the justice or injustice of an action does not affect the
honour. He clearly means a universally accepted opinion of power, and
cites the characters of the pagan deities. So, too, before times of
civil order, it was held no dishonour to be a pirate, and even still,
duels, though unlawful, are honourable, and will be till there be
honour ordained for them that refuse. Farther on, he distinguishes
_Worthiness_, (1) from worth, and (2) from merit, or the possession of
a particular ability or desert, which, as will be seen, presupposes a
right to a thing, founded on a promise.

Chapter XI. bears the title, Of the difference of Manners; by manners
being meant, not decency of behaviour and points of the 'small morals,'
but the qualities of mankind that concern their living together in
peace and unity. Felicity of life, as before, he pronounces to be a
continual progress of desire, there being no _finis ultimus_ nor
_summum bonum_. The aim of all men is, therefore, not only to enjoy
once and for an instant, but to assure for over the way of future
desire. Men differ in their way of doing so, from diversity of passion
and their different degrees of knowledge. One thing he notes as common
to all, a restless and perpetual desire of power after power, because
the present power of living well depends on the acquisition of more.
Competition inclines to contention and war. The desire of ease, on the
other hand, and fear of death or wounds, dispose to civil obedience. So
also does desire of knowledge, implying, as it does, desire of leisure.
Desire of praise and desire of fame after death dispose to laudable
actions; in such fame, there is a present delight from foresight of it,
and of benefit redounding to posterity; for pleasure to the sense is
also pleasure in the imagination. Unrequitable benefits from an equal
engender secret hatred, but from a superior, love; the cheerful
acceptation, called _gratitude_, requiting the giver with honour.
Requitable benefits, even from equals or inferiors, dispose to love;
for hence arises emulation in benefiting--'the most noble and
profitable contention possible, wherein the victor is pleased with his
victory, and the other revenged by confessing it.' He passes under
review other dispositions, such as fear of oppression, vain-glory,
ambition, pusillanimity, frugality, &c., with reference to the course
of conduct they prompt to. Then he comes to a favourite subject, the
mistaken courses whereinto men fall that are ignorant of natural causes
and the proper signification of words. The effect of ignorance of the
causes of right, equity, law, and justice, is to make custom and
example the rule of actions, as with children, or to induce the setting
of custom against reason, and reason against custom, whereby the
doctrine of right and wrong is perpetually disputed, both by the pen,
and by the sword. Again, taking up ignorance of the laws of nature, he
is led on to the subject of natural Religion, and devotes also the
whole of Chapter XII. to Religion and kindred topics.

In Chapter XIII., he deals with the natural condition of Mankind, as
concerning their Felicity and Misery. All men, he says, are by nature
equal. Differences there are in the faculties of body and mind, but,
when all is taken together, not great enough to establish a steady
superiority of one over another. Besides even more than in strength,
men are equal in _prudence_, which is but experience that comes to all.
People indeed generally believe that others are not so wise as
themselves, but 'there is not ordinarily a greater sign of equal
distribution of anything than that every person is contented with his

Of this equality of ability, the consequence is that two men desiring
the exclusive possession of the same thing, whether for their own
conservation or for delectation, will become enemies and seek to
destroy each other. In such a case, it will be natural for any man to
seek to secure himself by anticipating others in the use of force or
wiles; and, because some will not be content with merely securing
themselves, others, who would be content, will be driven to take the
offensive for mere self-conservation. Moreover, men will be displeased
at being valued by others less highly than by themselves, and will use
force to extort respect.

Thus, he finds three principal causes of quarrel in the nature of
man--_competition, diffidence_ (distrust), and _glory_, making men
invade for gain, for safety, and for reputation. Men will accordingly,
in the absence of any power to keep them in awe, be in a constant state
of war; by which is meant, not actual fighting, but the known
disposition thereto, and no assurance to the contrary.

He proceeds to draw a very dismal picture of the results of this state
of enmity of man against man--no industry, no agriculture, no arts, no
society, and so forth, but only fear and danger of violent death, and
life solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. To those that doubt the
truth of such an 'inference made from the passions,' and desire the
confirmation of experience, he cites the wearing of arms and locking of
doors, &c., as actions that accuse mankind as much as any words of his.
Besides, it is not really to accuse man's nature; for the desires and
passions are in themselves no sin, nor the actions proceeding from
them, until a law is made against them. He seeks further evidence of an
original condition of war, in the actual state of American savages,
with no government at all, but only a concord of small families,
depending on natural lust; also in the known horrors of a civil war,
when there is no common power to fear: and, finally, in the constant
hostile attitude of different governments.

In the state of natural war, the notions of right and wrong, justice
and injustice, have no place, there being no law; and there is no law,
because there is no common power. Force and fraud are in war the two
cardinal virtues. Justice is no faculty of body and mind like sense and
passion, but only a quality relating to men in society. Then adding a
last touch to the description of the state of nature,--by saying of
property, that 'only that is every man's that he can get, and for so
long as he can keep it,'--he opens up, at the close of the chapter, a
new prospect by allowing a possibility to come out of so evil a
condition. The possibility consists partly in the passions that incline
to peace--viz., fear of death, desire of things necessary to commodious
living, and hope by industry to obtain them; partly in reason, which
suggests convenient articles of peace and agreement, otherwise called
the Laws of Nature.

The first and second Natural Laws, and the subject of contracts, take
up Chap. XIV. First comes a definition of _Jus Naturale_ or Right of
Nature--the liberty each man has of using his own power, as he will
himself, for the preservation of his own nature or life. Liberty
properly means the absence of external impediments; now a man may
externally be hindered from doing all he would, but not from using what
power is left him, according to his best reason and judgment. A Law of
Nature, _lex naturalis_ is defined, a general rule, found out by
reason, forbidding a man to do what directly or indirectly is
destructive of his life, or to omit what he thinks may best preserve
it. Right and Law, though generally confounded, are exactly opposed,
Right being liberty, and Law obligation.

In the natural state of war, every man, being governed by his own
reason, has a right to everything, even to another's body. But because
thus no man's life is secure, he finds the First and fundamental law of
nature, or general rule of reason, to be _to seek peace and follow it,
if possible_: failing which, we may defend ourselves by all the means
we can. Here the law being 'to endeavour peace,' from this follows the
Second law, that a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth
as for peace and self-defence he shall think it necessary, to _lay down
this right to all things_; and be contented with so much liberty
against other men as he would allow other men against himself. This is
the same as the Gospel precept, Do to others, &c.

Laying down one's right to anything is divesting one's self of the
liberty of hindering another in the exercise of his own original right
to the same. The right is _renounced_, when a man cares not for whose
benefit; _transferred_, when intended to benefit some certain person or
persons. In either case the man is _obliged_ or _bound_ not to hinder
those, in whose favour the right is abandoned, from the benefit of it;
it is his _duty_ not to make void his own voluntary act, and if he
does, it is _injustice_ or _injury_, because he acts now _sine Jure_.
Such conduct Hobbes likens to an intellectual absurdity or
self-contradiction. Voluntary signs to be employed in abandoning a
right, are words and actions, separately or together; but in all bonds,
the strength comes not from their own nature, but from the fear of evil
resulting from their rupture.

He concludes that not all rights are alienable, for the reason that the
abandonment, being a voluntary act, must have for its object some good
to the person that abandons his right. A man, for instance, cannot lay
down the right to defend his life; to use words or other signs for that
purpose, would be to despoil himself of the end--security of life and
person--for which those signs were intended.

_Contract_ is the mutual transferring of right, and with this idea he
connects a great deal. First, he distinguishes transference of right to
a thing, and transference of the thing itself. A contract fulfilled by
one party, but left on trust to be fulfilled by the other, is called
the _Covenant_ of this other, (a distinction he afterwards drops), and
leaves room for the keeping or violation of faith. To contract he
opposes _gift, free-gift_, or _grace_, where there is no mutual
transference of right, but one party transfers in the hope of gaining
friendship or service from another, or the reputation of charity and
magnanimity, or deliverance from the merited pain of compassion, or
reward in heaven.

There follow remarks on signs of contract, as either express or by
inference, and a distinction between free-gift as made by words of the
present or past, and contract as made by words past, present, or
future; wherefore, in contracts like buying and selling, a promise
amounts to a covenant, and is obligatory.

The idea of _Merit_ is thus explained. Of two contracting parties, the
one that has first performed merits what he is to receive by the
other's performance, or has it as _due_. Even the person that wins a
prize, offered by free-gift to many, merits it. But, whereas, in
contract, I merit by virtue of my own power and the other contractor's
need, in the case of the gift, I merit only by the benignity of the
giver, and to the extent that, when he has given it, it shall be mine
rather than another's. This distinction he believes to coincide with
the scholastic separation of _merilum congrui_ and _merilum condigni_.

He adds many more particulars in regard to covenants made on mutual
trust. They are void in the state of nature, upon any reasonable
suspicion; but when there is a common power to compel observance, and
thus no more room for fear, they are valid. Even when fear makes them
invalid it must have arisen after they were made, else it should have
kept them from being made. Transference of a right implies
transference, as far as may be, of the means to its enjoyment. With
beasts there is no covenant, because no proper mutual understanding.
With God also none, except through special revelation, or with his
lieutenant in his name. Anything vowed contrary to the law of nature is
vowed in vain; if the thing vowed is commanded by the law of nature,
the law, not the vow, binds. Covenants are of things possible and
future. Men are freed from them by performance, or forgiveness, which
is restitution of liberty. He pronounces covenants extorted by fear to
be binding alike in the state of mere nature and in commonwealths, if
once entered into. A former covenant makes void a later. Any covenant
not to defend one's self from force by force is always void; as said
above, there is no transference possible of right to defend one's self
from death, wounds, imprisonment, &c. So no man is obliged to accuse
himself, or generally to give testimony where from the nature of the
case it may be presumed to be corrupted. Accusation upon torture is not
to be reputed as testimony. At the close he remarks upon oaths. He
finds in human nature two imaginable helps to strengthen the force of
words, otherwise too weak to insure the performance of covenants. One
of these--_pride_ in appearing not to need to break one's word, he
supposes too rare to be presumed upon. The other, _fear_, has reference
either to power of spirits invisible, or of men. In the state of
nature, it is the first kind of fear--a man's religion--that keeps him
to his promises. An oath is therefore swearing to perform by the God a
man fears. But to the obligation itself it adds nothing.

Of the other Laws of Nature, treated in Chap. XV., the third, _that men
perform their covenants made_, opens up the discussion of _Justice_.
Till rights have been transferred and covenants made there is no
justice or injustice; injustice is no other than the non-performance of
covenants. Further, justice (and also property) begins only where a
regular coercive power is constituted, because otherwise there is cause
for fear, and fear, as has been seen, makes covenants invalid. Even the
scholastic definition of justice recognizes as much; for there can be
no constant will of giving to every man his own, when, as in the state
of nature, there is no _own_. He argues at length against the idea that
justice, _i.e._, the keeping of covenants, is contrary to reason;
repelling three different arguments. (1) He demonstrates that it cannot
be reasonable to break or keep covenants according to benefit supposed
to be gained in each case, because this would be a subversion of the
principles whereon society is founded, and must end by depriving the
individual of its benefits, whereby he would be left perfectly
helpless. (2) He considers it frivolous to talk of securing the
happiness of heaven by any kind of injustice, when there is but one
possible way of attaining it, viz., the keeping of covenants. (3) He
warns men (he means his contemporaries) against resorting to the mode
of injustice known as rebellion to gain sovereignty, from the
hopelessness of gaining it and the uncertainty of keeping it. Hence he
concludes that justice is a rule of reason, the keeping of covenants
being the surest way to preserve our life, and therefore a law of
nature. He rejects the notion that laws of nature are to be supposed
conducive, not to the preservation of life on earth, but to the
attainment of eternal felicity; whereto such breach of covenant as
rebellion may sometimes be supposed a means. For that, the knowledge of
the future life is too uncertain. Finally, he consistently holds that
faith is to be kept with heretics and with all that it has once been
pledged to.

He goes on to distinguish between justice of men or manners, and
justice of actions; whereby in the one case men are _just_ or
_righteous_, and in the other, _guiltless_. After making the common
observation that single inconsistent acts do not destroy a character
for justice or injustice, he has this: 'That which gives to human
actions the relish of justice, is a certain nobleness or gallantness of
courage rarely found, by which a man scorns to be beholden for the
contentment of his life to fraud, or breach of promise.' Then he shows
the difference between injustice, injury, and damage; asserts that
nothing done to a mail with his consent can be injury; and, rejecting
the common mode of distinguishing between _commutative_ and
_distributive_ justice, calls the first the justice of a contractor,
and the other an improper name for just distribution, or the justice of
an arbitrator, _i.e._, the act of defining what is just--equivalent to
equity, which is itself a law of nature.

The rest of the laws follow in swift succession. The 4th recommends
_Gratitude_, which depends on antecedent grace instead of covenant.
Free-gift being voluntary, _i.e._, done with intention of good to one's
self, there will be an end to benevolence and mutual help, unless
gratitude is given as compensation.

The 5th enjoins _Complaisance_; a disposition in men not to seek
superfluities that to others are necessaries. Such men are _sociable_.

The 6th enjoins _Pardon_ upon repentance, with a view (like the last)
to peace.

The 7th enjoins that punishment is to be only for correction of the
offender and direction of others; _i.e._, for profit and example, not
for 'glorying in the hurt of another, tending to no end.' Against

The 8th is against _Contumely_, as provocative of dispeace.

The 9th is against _Pride_, and enjoins the acknowledgment of the
equality of all men by nature. He is here very sarcastic against
Aristotle, and asserts, in opposition to him, that all inequality of
men arises from consent.

The 10th is, in like manner, against _Arrogance_, and in favour of
_Modesty_. Men, in entering into peace, are to reserve no rights but
such as they are willing shall be reserved by others.

The 11th enjoins _Equity_; the disposition, in a man trusted to judge,
to distribute equally to each man what in reason belongs to him.
Partiality 'deters men from the use of judges and arbitrators,' and is
a cause of war.

The 12th enjoins the common, or the proportionable, use of things that
cannot be distributed.

The 13th enjoins the resort to _lot_, when separate or common enjoyment
is not possible; the 14th provides also for _natural_ lot, meaning
first possession or primogeniture.

The 15th demands safe conduct for mediators.

The 16th requires that parties at controversy shall submit their right
to _arbitration_.

The 17th forbids a man to be his own judge; the 18th, any interested
person to be judge.

The 19th requires a resort to witnesses in a matter of fact, as between
two contending parties.

This list of the laws of nature is only slightly varied in the other
works. He enumerates none but those that concern the doctrine of Civil
Society, passing-over things like Intemperance, that are also forbidden
by the law of nature because destructive of particular men. All the
laws are summed up in the one expression: Do not that to another, which
thou wouldest not have done to thyself.

The laws of nature he regards as always binding _in foro interno_, to
the extent of its being desired they should take place; but _in foro
externo_, only when there is security. As binding _in foro interno_,
they can be broken even by an act according with them, if the purpose
of it was against them. They are immutable and eternal; 'injustice,
ingratitude, &c., can never be made lawful,' for war cannot preserve
life, nor peace destroy it. Their fulfilment is easy, as requiring only
an unfeigned and constant endeavour.

Of these laws the science is true moral philosophy, _i.e._, the science
of good and evil in the society of mankind. Good and evil vary much
from man to man, and even in the same man; but while private appetite
is the measure of good and evil in the condition of nature, all allow
that peace is good, and that justice, gratitude, _&c._, as the way or
means to peace, are also good, that is to say, _moral virtues_. The
true moral philosophy, in regarding them as laws of nature, places
their goodness in their being the means of peaceable, comfortable, and
sociable living; not, as is commonly done, in a mediocrity of passions,
'as if not the cause, but the degree of daring, made fortitude.'

His last remark is, that these dictates of reason are improperly called
laws, because 'law, properly, is the word of him that by right hath
command over others.' But when considered not as mere conclusions or
theorems concerning the means of conservation and defence, but as
delivered in the word of God, that by right commands all, then they are
properly called laws.

Chapter XVI., closing the whole first part of the Leviathan, is of
Persons, Authors, and Things Personated. The definitions and
distinctions contained in it add nothing of direct ethical importance
to the foregoing, though needed for the discussion of 'Commonwealth,'
to which he passes. The chief points under this second great head are
taken into the summary.

The views of Hobbes can be only inadequately summarized.

I.--The Standard, to men living in society, is the Law of the State.
This is Self-interest or individual Utility, masked as regard for
Established Order; for, as he holds, under any kind of government there
is more Security and Commodity of life than in the State of Nature. In
the Natural Condition, Self-interest, of course, is the Standard; but
not without responsibility to God, in case it is not sought, as far as
other men will allow, by the practice of the dictates of Reason or laws
of Nature.

II.--His Psychology of Ethics is to be studied in the detail. Whether
in the natural or in the social state, the Moral Faculty, to correspond
with the Standard, is the general power of Reason, comprehending the
aims of the Individual or Society, and attending to the laws of Nature
or the laws of the State, in the one case or in the other respectively.

On the question of the Will, his views have been given at length.

Disinterested Sentiment is, in origin, self-regarding; for, pitying
others, we imagine the like calamity befalling ourselves. In one place,
he seems to say, that the Sentiment of Power is also involved. It is
the great defect of his system that he takes so little account of the
Social affections, whether natural or acquired.

III.--His Theory of Happiness, or the Summum Bonum, would follow from
his analysis of the Feelings and Will. But Felicity being a continual
progress in desire, and consisting less in present enjoyment than in
_assuring_ the way of future desire, the chief element in it is the
Sense of Power.

IV.--A Moral Code is minutely detailed under the name of Laws of
Nature, in force in the Natural State under Divine Sanction. It
inculcates all the common virtues, and makes little or no departure
from the usually received maxims.

V.--The relation of Ethics to Politics is the closest imaginable. Not
even Society, as commonly understood, but only the established civil
authority, is the source of rules of conduct. In the _civil_ (which to
Hobbes is the only meaning of the _social_) state, the laws of nature
are superseded, by being supposed taken up into, the laws of the
Sovereign Power.

VI.--As regards Religion, he affirms the coincidence of his reasoned
deduction of the laws of Nature with the precepts of Revelation. He
makes a mild use of the sanctions of a Future Life to enforce the laws
of Nature, and to give additional support to the commands of the
sovereign that take the place of these in the social state.

Among the numberless replies, called forth by the bold speculations of
Hobbes, were some works of independent ethical importance; in
particular, the treatises of Cumberland, Cudworth, and Clarke.
Cumberland stands by himself; Cudworth and Clarke, agreeing in some
respects, are commonly called the _Rational_ moralists, along with
Wollaston and Price (who fall to be noticed later).


Cumberland's' Latin work, _De Legibus Naturae, disquisitio philosophica
contra Hobbium instituta_, appeared in 1672. The book is important as a
distinctly philosophical disquisition, but its extraordinarily
discursive character renders impossible anything like analysis. His
chief points will be presented in a fuller summary than usual.

I.--The STANDARD of Moral Good is given in the laws of Nature, which
may all be summed up in one great Law--_Benevolence to all rational
agents_ or the endeavour to the utmost of our power to promote the
common good of all. His theory is hardly to be distinguished from the
Greatest Happiness principle; unless it might be represented as putting
forward still more prominently the search for Individual Happiness,
with a fixed assumption that this is best secured through the promotion
of the general good. No action, he declares, can be called 'morally
good that does not in its own nature contribute somewhat to the
happiness of men.' The speciality of his view is his professing not to
make an induction as regards the character of actions from the
observation of their effects, but to deduce the propriety of
(benevolent) actions from, the consideration of the character and
position of rational agents in nature. Rules of conduct, all directed
to the promotion of the Happiness of rational agents, may thus be found
in the form of propositions impressed upon the mind by the Nature of
Things; and these are then interpreted to be laws of Nature (summed up
in the one great Law), promulgated by God with the natural effects of
actions as Sanctions of Reward and Punishment to enforce them.

II.--His Psychology of Ethics may be reduced to the following heads.

1. The Faculty is the Reason, apprehending the exact Nature of Things,
and determining accordingly the modes of action that are best suited to
promote the happiness of rational agents.

2. Of the Faculty, under the name of _Conscience_, he gives this
description: 'The mind is conscious to itself of all its own actions,
and both can, and often does, observe what counsels produced them; it
naturally sits a judge upon its own actions, and thence procures to
itself either tranquillity and joy, or anxiety and sorrow.' The
principal design of his whole book is to show 'how this power of the
mind, either by itself, or excited by external objects, forms certain
universal practical propositions, which give us a more distinct idea of
the happiness of mankind, and pronounces by what actions of ours, in
all variety of circumstances, that happiness may most effectually be
obtained.' [Conscience is thus only Reason, or the knowing faculty in
general, as specially concerned about actions in their effect upon
happiness; it rarely takes the place of the more general term.]

3. He expressly leaves aside the supposition that we have _innate
ideas_ of the laws of Nature whereby conduct is to be guided, or of the
matters that they are conversant about. He has not, he says, been so
happy as to learn the laws of Nature by so short a way, and thinks it
ill-advised to build the doctrine of natural religion and morality upon
a hypothesis that has been rejected by the generality of philosophers,
as well heathen as Christian, and can never be proved against the
Epicureans, with whom lies his chief controversy. Yet he declines to
oppose the doctrine of innate ideas, because it looks with a friendly
eye upon piety and morality; and perhaps it may be the case, that such
ideas are _both_ born with us and afterwards impressed upon us from

4. Will, he defines as 'the consent of the mind with the judgment of
the understanding, concerning things agreeing among themselves.'
Although, therefore, he supposes that nothing but Good and Evil can
determine the will, and that the will is even _necessarily_ determined
to seek the one and flee the other, he escapes the conclusion that the
will is moved only by private good, by accepting the implication of
private with common good as the fixed judgment of the understanding or
right reason.

5. He argues against the resolution of all Benevolence into
self-seeking, and thus claims for man a principle of disinterested
action. But what he is far more concerned to prove is, that benevolence
of all to all accords best with the whole frame of nature, stands forth
with perfect evidence, upon a rational apprehension of the universe, as
the great Law of Nature, and is the most effectual means of promoting
the happiness of individuals, viz., through the happiness of all.

III.--Happiness is given as connected with the most full and constant
exercise of all our powers, about the best and greatest objects and
effects that are adequate and proportional to them; as consisting in
the enlargement or perfection of the faculties of any one thing or
several. Here, and in his protest against Hobbes's taking affection and
desire, instead of Reason, as the measure of the goodness of things,
may be seen in what way he passes from the conception of Individual, to
the notion of Common Good, as the end of action. Reason affirms the
common good to be more essentially connected with the perfection of man
than any pursuit of private advantage. Still there is no disposition in
him to sacrifice private to the common good: he declares that no man is
called on to promote the common good beyond his ability, and attaches
no meaning to the general good beyond the special good of _all_ the
particular rational agents in their respective places, from God (to
whom he ventures to ascribe a Tranquillity, Joy, or Complacency)
downwards. The happiness of men he considers as _Internal_, arising
_immediately_ from the vigorous exercise of the faculties about their
proper and noblest objects; and _External_, the _mediate_ advantages
procurable from God and men by a course of benevolent action.

IV.--His Moral Code is arrived at by a somewhat elaborate deduction
from the great Law of Nature enjoining Benevolence or Promotion of the
Common Good of all rational beings.

This Common Good comprehends the Honour of God, and the Good or
Happiness of Men, as Nations, Families, and Individuals.

The actions that promote this Common Good, are Acts either of the
understanding, or of the will and affections, or of the body as
determined by the will. From this he finds that _Prudence_ (including
Constancy of Mind and Moderation) is enjoined in the Understanding,
and, in the Will, _Universal Benevolence_ (making, with Prudence,
_Equity_), _Government of the Passions_, and the Special Laws of
Nature--_Innocence, Self-denial, Gratitude, &c._

This he gets from the consideration of what is contained in the general
Law of Nature. But the obligation to the various moral virtues does not
appear, until he has shown that the Law of Nature, for procuring the
Common Happiness of all, suggests a natural law of _Universal Justice_,
commanding to make and preserve a _division_ of Rights, _i.e._, giving
to particular persons Property or Dominion over things and persons
necessary to their Happiness. There are thus Rights of God (to Honour,
Glory, &c.) and Rights of Men (to have those advantages continued to
them whereby they may preserve and perfect themselves, and be useful to
all others).

For the same reason that _Rights_ of particular persons are fixed and
preserved, viz., that the common good of all should be promoted by
every one,--two _Obligations_ are laid upon all.

(1) Of GIVING: We are to contribute to others such a share of the
things committed to our trust, as may not destroy the part that is
necessary to our own happiness. Hence are obligatory the virtues (_a_)
in regard to Gifts, _Liberality, Generosity, Compassion, &c._; (_b_) in
regard to Common Conversation or Intercourse, _Gravity and
Courteousness, Veracity, Faith, Urbanity, &c._

(2) Of RECEIVING: We are to reserve to ourselves such use of our own,
as may be most advantageous to, or at least consistent with, the good
of others. Hence the obligation or the virtues pertaining to the
various branches of a limited Self-Love, (_a_) with regard to our
_essential parts_, viz., Mind and Body--_Temperance_ in the natural
desires concerned in the preservation of the individual and the
species; (_b_) with regard to _goods of fortune--Modesty, Humility, and

V.--He connects Politics with Ethics, by finding, in the establishment
of civil government, a more effectual means of promoting the common
happiness according to the Law of Nature, than in any equal division of
things. But the Law of Nature, he declares, being before the civil
laws, and containing the ground of their obligation, can never be
superseded by these. Practically, however, the difference between him
and Hobbes comes to very little; he recognizes no kind of earthly check
upon the action of the civil power.

VI.--With reference to Religion, he professes to abstain entirely from
theological questions, and does abstain from mixing up the doctrines of
Revelation. But he attaches a distinctly divine authority to his moral
rules, and supplements earthly by supernatural sanctions.

RALPH CUDWORTH. [1617-88.]

Cudworth's _Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality_, did
not appear until 1731, more than forty years after his death. Having in
a former work ('Intellectual system of the Universe') contended against
the 'Atheistical Fate' of Epicurus and others, he here attacks the
'Theologick Fate' (the arbitrarily omnipotent Deity) of Hobbes,
charging him with reviving exploded opinions of Protagoras and the
ancient Greeks, that take away the essential and eternal discrimination
of moral good and evil, of just and unjust.

After piling up, out of the store of his classical and scholastic
erudition, a great mass of testimony regarding all who had ever founded
distinctions of Right and Wrong upon mere arbitrary disposition,
whether of God or the State of men in general, he shadows forth his own
view. Moral Good and Evil, Just and Unjust, Honest and Dishonest (if
they be not mere names without any signification, or names for nothing
else but _Willed_ or _Commanded_, but have a reality in respect of the
persons obliged to do and to avoid them), cannot possibly be arbitrary
things, made by Will without nature; because it is universally true
that Things are what they are not by Will, but by nature. As it is the
nature of a triangle to have three angles equal to two right angles, so
it is the nature of 'good things' to have the nature of goodness, and
things just the nature of justice; and Omnipotence is no more able to
make a thing good without the fixed nature of goodness, than to make a
triangular body without the properties of a triangle, or two things
like or equal, without the natures of Likeness and Equality. The Will
of God is the supreme _efficient_ cause of all things, but not the
_formal_ cause of anything besides itself. Nor is this to be understood
as at all derogating from God's perfection; to make natural justice and
right independent of his will is merely to set his Wisdom, which is a
rule or measure, above his Will, which is something indeterminate, but
essentially regulable and measureable; and if it be the case that above
even his wisdom, and determining it in turn, stands his Infinite
Goodness, the greatest perfection of his will must lie in its being
thus twice determined.

By far the largest part of Cudworth's treatise consists of a general
metaphysical argument to establish the independence of the mind's
faculty of Knowledge, with reference to Sense and Experience. In Sense,
according to the doctrine of the old 'Atomical philosophy' (of
Democritus, Protagoras, &c.--but he thinks it must be referred back to
Moses himself!), he sees nothing but _fancies_ excited in us by local
motions in the organs, taken on from 'the motion of particles' that
constitute 'the whole world.' All the more, therefore, must there exist
a superior power of Intellection and Knowledge of a different nature
from sense, a power not terminating in mere seeming and appearance
only, but in the reality of things, and reaching to the comprehension
of what really and absolutely is; whose objects are the immutable and
eternal essences and natures of things, and their unchangeable
relations to one another. These _Rationes_ or Verities of things are
_intelligible_. only; are all comprehended in the eternal mind or
intellect of the Deity, and from Him derived to our 'particular
intellects.' They are neither arbitrary nor phantastical--neither
alterable by Will nor changeable by Opinion.

Such eternal and immutable Verities, then, the moral distinctions of
Good and Evil are, in the pauses of the general argument, declared to
be. They, 'as they must have some certain natures which are the actions
or souls of men,' are unalterable by Will or Opinion. 'Modifications of
Mind and Intellect,' they are as much more real and substantial things
than Hard, Soft, Hot, and Cold, modifications of mere senseless
matter--and even so, on the principles of the atomical philosophy,
dependent on the soul for their existence--as Mind itself stands prior
in the order of nature to Matter. In the mind they are as
'anticipations of morality' springing up, not indeed 'from certain
rules or propositions arbitrarily printed on the soul as on a book,'
but from some more inward and vital Principle in intellectual beings,
as such whereby these have within themselves a natural determination to
do some things and to avoid others.

The only other ethical determinations made by Cudworth may thus be
summarized:--Things called _naturally_ Good and Due are such as _the
intellectual nature_ obliges to immediately, absolutely, and
perpetually, and upon no condition of any voluntary action done or
omitted intervening; things _positively_ Good and Due are such as are
in themselves indifferent, but the intellectual nature obliges to them
accidentally or hypothetically, upon condition, in the case of a
command, of some voluntary act of another person invested with lawful
authority, or of one's self, in the case of a specific promise. In a
positive command (as of the civil ruler), what _obliges_ is only the
intellectual nature of him that is commanded, in that he recognizes the
lawful authority of him that commands, and so far determines and
modifies his general duty of obedience as to do an action immaterial in
itself for the sake of the formality of yielding obedience to lawfully
constituted authority. So, in like manner, a specific promise, in
itself immaterial and not enjoined by natural justice, is to be kept
for the sake of the formality of keeping faith, which _is_ enjoined.

Cudworth's work, in which these are nearly all the ethical allusions,
gives no scope for a summary under the various topics.

I.--Specially excluding any such External _Standard_ of moral Good as
the arbitrary Will, either of God or the Sovereign, he views it as a
simple ultimate natural quality of actions or dispositions, as included
among the verities of things, by the side of which the phenomena of
Sense are unreal.

II.--The general Intellectual Faculty cognizes the moral verities,
which it contains within itself and brings rather than finds.

III.--He does not touch upon Happiness; probably he would lean to
asceticism. He sets up no moral code.

IV.--Obligation to the Positive Civil Laws in matters indifferent
follows from the intellectual recognition of the established relation
between ruler and subject.

V.--Morality is not dependent upon the Deity in any other sense than
the whole frame of things is.

SAMUEL CLARKE. [1675-1729.]

Clarke put together his two series of Boyle Lectures (preached 1704 and
1705) as 'A Discourse, concerning the Being and Attributes of God, the
Obligations of Natural Religion and the Truth and Certainty of the
Christian Revelation,' in answer to Hobbes, Spinoza, &c. The burden of
the ethical discussion falls under the head of the Obligations of
Natural Religion, in the second series.

He enounces this all-comprehensive proposition: 'The same necessary and
eternal different Relations that different Things bear one to another,
and the same consequent Fitness or Unfitness of the application of
different things or different relations one to another, with regard to
which the will of God always and necessarily does determine itself to
choose to act only what is agreeable to Justice, Equity, Goodness, and
Truth, in order to the welfare of the whole universe--ought likewise
constantly to determine the Wills of all subordinate rational beings,
to govern all their actions by the same rules, for the good of the
public, in their respective stations. That is, these eternal and
necessary differences of things make it fit and reasonable for
creatures so to act; they cause it to be their duty, or lay an
obligation on them so to do; even separate from the consideration of
these Rules being the positive Will or Command of God, and also
antecedent to any respect or regard, expectation or apprehension of any
particular private and personal Advantage or Disadvantage, Reward or
Punishment, either present or future, annexed either by natural
consequence, or by positive appointment, to the practising or
neglecting of these rules. In the explication of this, nearly his whole
system is contained.

His first concern is to impress the fact that there are necessary and
eternal differences of ail things, and implied or consequent relations
(proportions or disproportions) existing amongst them; and to bring
under this general head the special case of differences of Persons
(e.g., God and Man, Man and Fellow-man), for the sake of the
implication that to different persons there belong peculiar _Fitnesses_
and _Unfitnesses_ of circumstances; or, which is the same thing, that
there arises necessarily amongst them a suitableness or unsuitableness
of certain manners of Behaviour. The counter-proposition that he
contends against is, that the relations among persons depend upon
_positive constitution_ of some kind, instead of being founded
unchangeably in _the nature and reason of things_.

Next he shows how, in the rational or intellectual recognition of
naturally existent relations amongst things (he always means persons
chiefly), there is contained an obligation. When God, in his
Omniscience and absolute freedom from error, is found determining his
Will always according to this eternal reason of things, it is very
unreasonable and blameworthy in the intelligent creatures whom he has
made so far like himself, not to govern their actions by the same
eternal rule of Reason, but to suffer themselves to depart from it
through negligent _misunderstanding_ or wilful _passion_. Herein lies
obligation: a man _ought_ to act according to the Law of Reason,
because he can as little refrain from _assenting_ to the reasonableness
and fitness of guiding his actions by it, as refuse his assent to a
geometrical demonstration when he understands the terms. The original
obligation of all is the eternal Reason of Things; the sanction of
Rewards and Punishments (though 'truly the most effectual means of
keeping creatures in their duty') is only a secondary and additional
obligation. Proof of his position he finds in men's judgment of their
own actions, better still in their judgments of others' actions, best
of all in their judgment of injuries inflicted on themselves. Nor does
any objection hold from the ignorance of savages in matters of
morality: they are equally ignorant of the plainest mathematical
truths; the need of instruction does not take away the necessary
difference of moral Good and Evil, any more than it takes away the
necessary proportions of numbers. He, then, instead of deducing all our
several duties as he might, contents himself with mentioning the three
great branches of them, (_a_) Duties in respect of _God_, consisting of
sentiments and acts (Veneration, Love, Worship, &c.) called forth by
the consideration of his attributes, and having a character of Fitness
far beyond any that is visible in applying _equal_ geometrical figures
to one another, (_b_) Duties in respect of our _Fellow-creatures:_ (1)
Justice and Equity, the doing as we would be done by. Iniquity is the
very same in Action, as Falsity or Contradiction in Theory; what makes
the one _absurd_ makes the other _unreasonable_; 'it would be
impossible for men not to be as much (!) ashamed of _doing Iniquity_,
as they are of _believing Contradictions_;' (2) _Universal Love or
Benevolence_, the promoting the welfare or happiness of all, which is
obligatory on various grounds: the Good being the fit and reasonable,
the greatest Good is the _most_ fit and reasonable; by this God's
action is determined, and so ought ours; no Duty affords a more ample
pleasure; besides having a 'certain natural affection' for those most
closely connected with us, we desire to multiply affinities, which
means to found society, for the sake of the more comfortable life that
mutual good offices bring. [This is a very confused deduction of an
_obligation_.'] (c) Duties in respect to our _Selves_, viz.,
_self-preservation, temperance, contentment, &c._; for not being
authors of our being, we have no just power or authority to take it
away directly, or, by abuse of our faculties, indirectly.

After expatiating in a rhetorical strain on the eternal, universal, and
absolutely unchangeable character of the law of Nature or Right Reason,
he specifies the sense wherein the eternal moral obligations are
independent of the will of God himself; it comes to this, that,
although God makes all things and the relations between them, nothing
is holy and good because he commands it, but he commands it because it
is holy and good. Finally, he expounds the relation of Reward and
Punishment to the law of Nature; the obligation of it is before and
distinct from these; but, while full of admiration for the Stoical idea
of the self-sufficiency of virtue, he is constrained to add that 'men
never will generally, and indeed 'tis not very reasonably to be
expected they should, part with all the comforts of life, and even life
itself, without any expectation of a future recompense.' The 'manifold
absurdities' of Hobbes being first exposed, he accordingly returns, in
pursuance of the theological argument of his Lectures, to show that the
eternal moral obligations, founded on the natural differences of
things, are at the same time the express will and command of God to all
rational creatures, and must necessarily and certainly be attended with
Rewards and Punishments in a future state.

The summary of Clarke's views might stand thus:--

I.--The STANDARD is a certain Fitness of action between persons,
implicated in their nature as much as any fixed proportions between
numbers or other relation among things. Except in such an expression as
this, moral good admits of no kind of external reference.

II.--There is very little Psychology involved. The Faculty is the
Reason; its action a case of mere intellectual apprehension. The
element of Feeling is nearly excluded. Disinterested sentiment is so
minor a point as to call forth only the passing allusion to 'a certain
natural affection.'

III.--Happiness is not considered except in a vague reference to good
public and private as involved with Fit and Unfit action.

IV.--His account of Duties is remarkable only for the consistency of
his attempt to find parallels for each amongst intellectual relations.
The climax intended in the assimilation of Injustice to Contradictions
is a very anti-climax; if people were only '_as much_' ashamed of doing
injustice as of believing contradictions, the moral order of the world
would be poorly provided for.

V.--The relation of Ethics to Politics is hardly touched. Society is
born of the desire to multiply affinities through mutual interchange of
good offices.

VI.--His Ethical disquisition is only part of a Theological argument;
and this helps to explain his assertion of the Independence as well as
of the Insufficiency of Morality. The final outcome of the discussion
is that Morality needs the support of Revelation. But, to get from this
an argument for the truth of Revelation, it is necessary that morality
should have an independent foundation in the nature of things, apart
from any direct divine appointment.

WILLIAM WOLLASTON (1659-1724), author of the 'Religion of Nature
Delineated,' is usually put into the same class of moralists with
Clarke. With him, a _bad_ action (whether of commission or omission)
contains the denial of a true proposition. Truth can be denied by
actions as well as by words. Thus, the violation of a contract is the
denial by an action that the contract has been concluded. Robbing a
traveller is the denial that what you take from him is his. An action
that denies one or more true propositions cannot be good, and is
necessarily bad. A _good_ action is one whose omission would be bad or
whose contrary is bad, in the above sense. An _indifferent_ action is
one that can be omitted or done without contradicting any truth.
Reason, the judge of what is true and false, is the only faculty
concerned; but, at the same time, Wollaston makes large reference to
the subject of Happiness, finding it to consist in an excess of
pleasures as compared with pains. He holds that his doctrine is in
conformity with all the facts. It affirms a progressive morality, that
keeps pace with and depend upon the progress of Science. It can explain
_errors_ in morals as distinct from vice. An error is the affirmation
by an action of a false proposition, thought to be true; the action is
bad, but the agent is innocent.

JOHN LOCKE. [1632-1704.]

Locke did not apply himself to the consecutive evolution of an Ethical
theory; whence his views, although on the whole sufficiently
unmistakeable, are not always reconcileable with one another.

In Book I. of the 'Essay on the Understanding' he devotes himself to
the refutation of Innate Ideas, whether Speculative or Practical. Chap.
III. is on the alleged Innate Practical Principles, or rules of Right
and Wrong. The objections urged against these Principles have scarcely
been added to, and have never been answered. We shall endeavour to
indicate the heads of the reasoning.

1. The Innate Practical Principles are for the most part not
self-evident; they are, in this respect, not on an equal footing with
the Speculative Principles whose innate origin is also disputed. They
require reasoning and explanation in order to be understood. Many men
are ignorant of them, while others assent to them slowly, if they do
assent to them; all which is at variance with their being innate.

2. There is no Practical Principle universally received among mankind.
All that can be said of Justice is that _most men_ agree to recognize
it. It is vain to allege of confederacies of thieves, that they keep
faith with one another; for this keeping of faith is merely for their
own convenience. We cannot call that a sense of Justice which merely
binds a man to a certain number of his fellow-criminals, in order the
more effectually to plunder and kill honest men. Instead of Justice, it
is the essential condition of success in Injustice.

If it be said in reply, that these men tacitly assent in their minds to
what their practice contradicts, Locke answers, first, that men's
actions must be held as the best interpreters of their thoughts; and if
many men's practices, and some men's open professions, have been
opposed to these principles, we cannot conclude them to be Innate.
Secondly, It is difficult for us to assent to Innate Practical
Principles, ending only in contemplation. Such principles either
influence our conduct, or they are nothing. There is no mistake as to
the Innate principles of the desire of happiness, and aversion to
misery; these do not stop short in tacit assent, but urge every man's
conduct every hour of his life. If there were anything corresponding to
these in the sense of Right and Wrong, we should have no dispute about

3. There is no Moral rule, that may not have a reason demanded for it;
which ought not to be the case with any innate principle. That we
should do as we would be done by, is the foundation of all morality,
and yet, if proposed to any one for the first time, might not such an
one, without absurdity, ask a reason why? But this would imply that
there is some deeper principle for it to repose upon, capable of being
assigned as its motive; that it is not ultimate, and therefore not
innate. That men should observe compacts is a great and undeniable
rule, yet, in this, a Christian would give as reason the command of
God; a Hobbist would say that the public requires it, and would punish
for disobeying it; and an old heathen philosopher would have urged that
it was opposed to human virtue and perfection.

Bound up with this consideration, is the circumstance that moral rules
differ among men, according to their views of happiness. The existence
of God, and our obedience to him, are manifest in many ways, and are
the true ground of morality, seeing that only God can call to account
every offender; yet, from the union of virtue and public happiness, all
men have recommended the practice of what is for their own obvious
advantage. There is quite enough in this self-interest to cause moral
rules to be enforced by men that care neither for the supreme Lawgiver,
nor for the Hell ordained by him to punish transgressors.

After all, these great principles of morality are more commended than
practised. As to Conscience checking us in these breaches, making them
fewer than they would otherwise be, men may arrive at such a
conscience, or self-restraining sentiment, in other ways than by an
innate endowment. Some men may come to assent to moral rules from a
knowledge of their value as means to ends. Others may take up the same
view as a part of their education. However the persuasion is come by,
it will serve as a conscience; which conscience is nothing else than
our own opinion of the rectitude or pravity of our actions.

How could men with serenity and confidence transgress rules stamped
upon their inmost soul? Look at the practices of nations civilized and
uncivilized; at the robberies, murders, rapes of an army sacking a
town; at the legalized usages of nations, the destruction of infants
and of aged parents for personal convenience; cannibalism; the most
monstrous forms of unchastity; the fashionable murder named Duelling.
Where are the innate principles of Justice, Piety, Gratitude, Equity,

If we read History, and cast our glance over the world, we shall
scarcely find any rule of Morality (excepting such as are necessary to
hold society together, and these too with great limitations) but what
is somewhere or other set aside, and an opposite established, by whole
societies of men. Men may break a law without disowning it; but it is
inconceivable that a whole nation should publicly reject and renounce
what every one of them, certainly and infallibly, knows to be a law.
Whatever practical principle is innate, must be known to every one to
be just and good. The generally allowed breach of any rule anywhere
must be held to prove that it is not innate. If there be any rule
having a fair claim to be imprinted by nature, it is the rule that
Parents should preserve and cherish their children. If such a principle
be innate, it must be found regulating practice everywhere; or, at the
lowest, it must be known and assented to. But it is very far from
having been uniformly practised, even among enlightened nations. And as
to its being an innate truth, known to all men, that also is untrue.
Indeed, the terms of it are not intelligible without other knowledge.
The statement, 'it is the duty of parents to preserve their children,'
cannot be understood without a Law; a Law requires a Lawmaker, and
Reward or Punishment. And as punishment does not always follow in this
life, nothing less than a recognition of Divine Law will suffice; in
other words, there must be intuitions of God, Law, Obligation,
Punishment, and a Future Life: every one of which may be, and is,
deemed to be innate.

It is incredible that men, if all these things were stamped on their
minds, could deliberately offend against them; still more, that rulers
should silently connive at such transgressions.

4. The supporters of innate principles are unable to point out
distinctly what they are.[18] Yet, if these were imprinted on the mind,
there could be no more doubt about them than about the number of our
fingers. We well know that, if men of different sects were to write out
their respective lists, they would set down exactly such as suited
their several schools or churches.

There is, Locke remarks, a ready, but not very material, answer to his
objections, namely, that the innate principles may, by Education and
Custom, be darkened and worn out of men's minds. But this takes away at
once the argument from universal consent, and leaves nothing but what
each party thinks should pass for universal consent, namely, their own
private persuasion: a method whereby a set of men presuming themselves
to be the only masters of right reason, put aside the votes and
opinions of the rest of mankind. Thus, notwithstanding the innate
light, we are as much in the dark as if it did not exist; a rule that
will warp any way is not to be distinguished amidst its contraries. If
these rules are so liable to vary, through adventitious notions, we
should find them clearest in children and in persons wholly illiterate.
He grants that there are many opinions, received by men of different
countries, educations, and tempers, and held as unquestionable first
principles; but then the absurdity of some, and the mutual
contradiction of others, make it impossible that they should be all
true. Yet it will often happen that these men will sooner part with
their lives, than suffer the truth of their opinions to be questioned.

We can see from our experience how the belief in principles grows up.
Doctrines, with no better original than the superstition of a nurse, or
the authority of an old woman, may in course of time, and by the
concurrence of neighbours, grow up to the dignity of first truths in
Religion and in Morality. Persons matured under those influences, and,
looking into their own minds, find nothing anterior to the opinions
taught them before they kept a record of themselves; they, therefore,
without scruple, conclude that those propositions whose origin they
cannot trace are the impress of God and nature upon their minds. Such a
result is unavoidable in the circumstances of the bulk of mankind, who
require some foundation of principles to rest upon, and have no means
of obtaining them but on trust from others. _Custom is it greater power
than Nature_, and, while we are yet young, seldom fails to make us
worship as divine what she has inured us to; nor is it to be wondered
at, that, when we come to mature life, and are engrossed with quite
different matters, we are indisposed to sit down and examine all our
received tenets, to find ourselves in the wrong, to run counter to the
opinions of our country or party, and to be branded with such epithets
as whimsical, sceptical, Atheist. It is inevitable that we should take
up at first borrowed principles; and unless we have all the faculties
and the means of searching into their foundations, we naturally go on
to the end as we have begun.

In the following chapter (IV.), he argues the general question of
Innate Ideas in the case of the Idea of God.

In Book II., Chap. XXI., Locke discusses the freedom of the will, with
some allusions to the nature of happiness and the causes of wrong
conduct. Happiness is the utmost pleasure we are capable of, misery the
utmost pain; pleasure and pain define Good and Evil. In practice, we
are chiefly occupied in getting rid of troubles; absent good does not
much move us. All uneasiness being removed, a moderate portion of good
contents us; and some few degrees of pleasure in a succession of
ordinary enjoyments are enough to make happiness. [Epicurus, and others
among the ancients, said as much.]

Men have wrong desires, and do wrong acts, but it is from wrong
judgments. They never mistake a present pleasure or pain; they always
act correctly upon that. They are the victims of deceitful appearances;
they make wrong judgments in comparing present with future pains, such
is the weakness of the mind's constitution in this department. Our
wrong judgments proceed partly from ignorance and partly from
inadvertence, and our preference of vice to virtue is accounted for by
these wrong judgments.

Chap. XXVIII. discusses Moral Relations. Good and Evil are nothing but
Pleasure and Pain, and what causes them. Moral Good or Evil is the
conformity or unconformity of our voluntary actions to some Law,
entailing upon us good or evil by the will and power of the Law-giver,
to which good and evil we apply the names Reward and Punishment.

There are three sorts of Moral Rules: 1st, The Divine Law, whether
promulgated by the Light of Nature or by Revelation, and enforced by
rewards and punishments in a future life. This law, when ascertained,
is the touchstone of moral rectitude. 2nd, The Civil Law, or the Law of
the State, supported by the penalties of the civil judge. 3rd, The Law
of Opinion or Reputation. Even after resigning, to public authority,
the disposal of the public force, men still retain the power of
privately approving or disapproving actions, according to their views
of virtue and vice. The being commended or dispraised by our fellows
may thus be called the sanction of Reputation, a power often surpassing
in efficacy both the other sanctions.

Morality is the reference of all actions to one or other of these three
Laws. Instead of applying innate notions of good and evil, the mind,
having been taught the several rules enjoined by these authorities,
compares any given action with these rules, and pronounces accordingly.
A rule is an aggregate of simple Ideas; so is an action; and the
conformity required is the ordering of the action so that the simple
ideas belonging to it may correspond to those required by the law.
Thus, all Moral Notions may be reduced to the simple ideas gained by
the two leading sources--Sensation and Reflection. Murder is an
aggregate of simple ideas, traceable in the detail to these sources.

The summary of Locke's views is as follows:--

I.--With reference to the Standard of Morality, we have these two great

First, That the production of pleasure and pain to sentient beings is
the ultimate foundation of moral good and evil.

Secondly, That morality is a system of Law, enacted by one or other of
three different authorities.

II.--In the Psychology of Ethics, Locke, by implication, holds--

First, That there is no innate moral sentiment; that our moral ideas
are the generalities of moral actions. That our faculties of moral
discernment are--(1) those that discern the pleasures and pains of
mankind; and (2), those that comprehend and interpret the laws of God,
the Nation, and Public Opinion. And (3) he counts that the largest
share in the formation of our Moral Sentiments is due to Education and

[We have seen his views on Free-will, p. 413.]

As regards the nature of Disinterested Action, he pronounces no
definite opinion. He makes few attempts to analyze the emotional and
active part of our nature.

III.--His Summum Bonum is stated generally as the procuring of Pleasure
and the avoiding of Pain.

IV.--He has no peculiar views on the Moral Code, or on the enforcements
of Morality.

V.--The connexion of Ethics with Politics is, in him, the assimilating
of Morality to Law.

VI.--With reference to Theology, he considers that, by the exercise of
the Reason, we may discover the existence and attributes of God, and
our duties to him; his ascertained will is the highest moral rule, the
true touchstone of Moral Rectitude.

JOSEPH BUTLER. [1692-1752.]

Butler's Ethical System may be found--First, in a short Dissertation on
Virtue, appended to the Analogy; secondly, and chiefly, in his first
three Sermons, entitled 'Human Nature;' thirdly, in other Sermons, as
(V.) on Compassion, and (XL) on Benevolence. Various illustrations of
Ethical doctrine are interspersed through the Analogy, as in Part I.,
Chap. 2, entitled 'the government of God by rewards and punishments.'

The Dissertation on Virtue is intended to vindicate, in man, the
existence of a moral nature, apart from both Prudence and Benevolence.

A moral government supposes a moral nature in man, or a power of
distinguishing right from wrong. All men and all systems agree as to
the fact of moral perceptions.

As characteristics of these moral perceptions, it is to be
noted--First, they refer to voluntary actions. Secondly, they are
accompanied with the feelings of good or of ill desert, which good or
ill desert is irrespective of the good of society. Thirdly, the
perception of ill desert has regard to the capacities of the agent.
Fourthly, Prudence, or regard to ourselves, is a fair subject of moral
approbation, and imprudence of the contrary. Our own self-interest
seems to require strengthening by other men's manifested pleasure and
displeasure. Still, this position is by no means indisputable, and the
author is willing to give up the words 'virtue' and 'vice,' as
applicable to prudence and folly; and to contend merely that our moral
faculty is not indifferent to this class of actions. Fifthly, Virtue is
not wholly resolvable into Benevolence (that is, the general good, or
Utility[19]). This is shown by the fact that our approbation is not in
proportion to the amount of happiness flowing from an action [he means
_immediately_ flowing, which does not decide the question]. We
disapprove of falsehood, injustice, and unprovoked violence, even
although more happiness would result from them than from the contrary.
Moreover, we are not always judges of the whole consequences of acting.
Undoubtedly, however, benevolence is our duty, if there be no moral
principle to oppose it.

The title 'Human Nature,' given to Butler's chief Ethical exposition,
indicates that he does not take an _a priori_ view of the foundations
of Ethics, like Cudworth and Clarke, but makes them repose on the
constitution of the human mind.

In Sermon first, he lays out the different parts of our Emotional and
Active nature, including Benevolence, Self-love, Conscience. The
recognition of these three as distinct, and mutually irresolvable, is
the Psychological basis of his Ethics.[20]

The existence of pure or disinterested Benevolence is proved by such
facts, as Friendship, Compassion, Parental and Filial affections,
Benevolent impulses to mankind generally. But although the object of
benevolence is the public good, and of self-love private good, yet the
two ultimately coincide. [This questionable assertion must trammel any
proof that the author can give of our possessing purely disinterested

In a long note, he impugns the theory of Hobbes that Benevolent
affection and its pleasures are merely a form of the love of Power. He
maintains, and with reason, that the love of power manifests its
consequences quite as much in cruelty as in benevolence.

The second argument, to show that Benevolence is a fact of our
constitution, involves the greatest peculiarity of Butler's Psychology,
although he was not the first to announce it. The scheme of the human
feelings comprehends, in addition to Benevolence and Self-Love, a
number of passions and affections tending to the same ends as these
(some to the good of our fellows, others to our own good); while in
following them we are not conscious of seeking those ends, but some
different ends. Such are our various Appetites and Passions. Thus,
hunger promotes our private well-being, but in obeying its dictates we
are not thinking of that object, but of the procuring of _food_.
Curiosity promotes both public and private good, but its direct and
immediate object is _knowledge_.

This refined distinction appears first in Aquinas; there is in it a
palpable confusion of ideas. If we regard the final impulse of hunger,
it is not toward the food, but towards the appeasing of a pain and the
gaining of a pleasure, which are certainly identical with self, being
the definition of self in the last resort. We associate the food with
the gratification of these demands, and hence food becomes an end to
us--one of the _associated_ or _intermediate_ ends. So the desire of
knowledge is the desire of the pleasure, or of the relief from pain,
accruing from knowledge; while, as in the case of food, knowledge is to
a great degree only an instrument, and therefore an intermediate and
associated end. So the desire of esteem is the desire of a pleasure, or
else of the instrument of pleasure.

In short, Butler tries, without effect, to evade the general principles
of the will--our being moved exclusively by pleasure and pain. Abundant
reference has been already made to the circumstances that modify in
appearance, or in reality, the operation of this principle. The
distinction between self-love and the particular appetites, passions,
and affections, is mainly the distinction between a great aggregate of
the reason (the total interests of our being) and the separate items
that make it up.

The distinction is intended to prepare the way for the setting forth of
Conscience,[21] which is called a 'principle of reflection in men,
whereby they distinguish between, approve and disapprove, their own
actions.' This principle has for its result the good of society; still,
in following it, we are not conscious of aiming at the good of society.
A father has an affection for his children; this is one thing. He has
also a principle of reflection, that urges him with added force and
with more steady persistency than any affection, which principle must
therefore be different from mere affection.

Butler's analysis of the human feelings is thus: I.--Benevolence and
Self-love. II.--The particular Appetites, Passions, and Affections,
operating in the same direction as Benevolence and Self-love, but
without intending it. III.--Conscience, of which the same is to be

His reply to the objection,--against our being made for
Benevolence,--founded on our mischievous propensities, is, that in the
same way there are tendencies mischievous to ourselves, and yet no one
denies us the possession of self-love. He remarks farther that these
evil tendencies are the abuse of such as are right; ungovernable
passion, reckless pursuit of our own good, and not pure malevolence,
are the causes of injustice and the other vices.

In short, we are made for pursuing both our own good and the good of
others; but present gratifications and passing inclinations interfere
alike with both objects.

Sermons II., III., are meant to establish, from our moral nature, the
Supremacy of Conscience.

Our moral duties may be deduced from the scheme of our nature, which
shows the design of the Deity. There may be some difficulties attending
the deduction, owing to the want of uniformity in the human
constitution. Still, the broad feelings of the mind, and the purpose of
them, can no more be mistaken than the existence and the purpose of the
eyes. It can be made quite apparent that the single principle called
conscience is intended to rule all the rest.

But, as Conscience is only one part of our nature, there being two
other parts, namely, (1) Benevolence and Self-love, and (2) the
particular Appetites and Passions, why are they not all equally
natural, and all equally to be followed?

This leads to an inquiry into the meanings of the word Nature.

First, Nature may mean any prompting whatever; anger and affection are
equally natural, as being equally part of us.

Secondly, it may mean our strongest passion, what most frequently
prevails with us and shows our individual characters. In this sense,
vice may be natural.

But, thirdly, we may reclaim against those two meanings, and that on
the authority both of the Apostle Paul and of the ancient sages, and
declare that the proper meaning of following nature is following
Conscience, or that superior principle in every man which bears
testimony to its own supremacy. It is by this faculty, natural to a
man, that he is a moral agent, a law to himself.

Men may act according to their strongest principle, and yet violate
their nature, as when a man, urged by present gratification, incurs
certain ruin. The violation of nature, in this instance, may be
expressed as _disproportion_.

There is thus a difference in _kind_ between passions; self-love is
superior to temporary appetite.

Passion or Appetite means a tendency towards certain objects with no
regard to any other objects. Reflection or Conscience steps in to
protect the interests that these would lead us to sacrifice. Surely,
therefore, this would be enough to constitute superiority. Any other
passion taking the lead is a case of usurpation.

We can hardly form a notion of Conscience without this idea of
superiority. Had it might, as it has right, it would govern the world.

Were there no such supremacy, all actions would be on an equal footing.
Impiety, profaneness, and blasphemy would be as suitable as reverence;
parricide would justify itself by the right of the strongest.

Hence human nature is made up of a number of propensities in union with
this ruling principle; and as, in civil government, the constitution is
infringed by strength prevailing over authority, so the nature of man
is violated when the lower faculties triumph over conscience. Man has a
rule of right within, if he will honestly attend to it. Out of this
arrangement, also, springs Obligation; the law of conscience is the law
of our nature. It carries its authority with it; it is the guide
assigned by the Author of our nature.

He then replies to the question, 'Why should we be concerned about
anything out of or beyond ourselves?' Supposing we do possess in our
nature a regard to the well-being of others, why may we not set that
aside as being in our way to our own good.

The answer is, We cannot obtain our own good without having regard to
others, and undergoing the restraints prescribed by morality. There is
seldom any inconsistency between our duty and our interest. Self-love,
in the present world, coincides with virtue. If there are any
exceptions, all will be set right in the final distribution of things.
Conscience and self-love, if we understand our true happiness, always
lead us the same way.

Such is a brief outline of the celebrated 'Three Sermons on Human
Nature.' The radical defect of the whole scheme lies in its
Psychological basis. Because we have, as mature human beings, in
civilized society, a principle of action called Conscience, which we
recognize as distinct from Self-love and Benevolence, as well as from
the Appetites and Passions, Butler would make us believe that this is,
from the first, a distinct principle of our nature. The proper reply is
to analyze Conscience; showing at the same time, from its very great
discrepancies in different minds, that it is a growth, or product,
corresponding to the education and the circumstances of each, although
of course involving the common elements of the mind.

In his Sermons on Compassion (V., VI.), he treats this as one of the
Affections in his second group of the Feelings (Appetites, Passions,
and Affections); vindicates its existence against Hobbes, who treated
it as an indirect mode of self-regard; and shows its importance in
human life, as an adjunct to Rational Benevolence and Conscience.

In discussing Benevolence (Sermon XII.) Butler's object is to show that
it is not ultimately at variance with Self-love. In the introductory
observations, he adverts to the historical fact, that vice and folly
take different turns in different ages, and that the peculiarity of his
own age is 'to profess a contracted spirit, and greater regards to
self-interest' than formerly. He accommodates his preaching of virtue
to this characteristic of his time, and promises that _there shall be
all possible concessions made to the favourite passion_.

His mode of arguing is still the same as in the sermons on Human
Nature. Self-love does not comprehend our whole being; it is only one
principle among many. It is characterized by a _subjective_ end, the
_feeling_ of happiness; but we have other ends of the objective kind,
the ends of our appetites, passions, and affections--food, injury to
another, good to another, &c. The total happiness of our being includes
all our ends. Self-love attends only to one interest, and if we are too
engrossed with that, we may sacrifice other interests, and narrow the
sphere of our happiness. A certain disengagement of mind is necessary
to enjoyment, and the intensity of pursuit interferes with this. [This
is a true remark, but misapplied; external pursuit may be so intense as
nearly to do away with subjective consciousness, and therefore with
pleasure; but this applies more to _objective_ ends,--wealth, the
interest of others--than to self-love, which is in its nature

Now, what applies to the Appetites and Affections applies to
Benevolence; it is a distinct motive or urgency, and should have its
scope like every other propensity, in order to happiness.

Such is his reasoning, grounded on his peculiar Psychology. He then
adduces the ordinary arguments to show, that seeking the good of others
is a positive gratification in itself, and fraught with pleasure in its

In summary, Butler's views stand thus:--

I.--His Standard of Right and Wrong is the subjective Faculty, called
by him Reflection, or Conscience. He assumes such an amount of
uniformity in human beings, in regard to this Faculty, as to settle all
questions that arise.

II.--His Psychological scheme is the threefold division of the mind
already brought out; Conscience being one division, and a distinct and
primitive element of our constitution.

He has no Psychology of the Will; nor does he anywhere inquire into the
problem of Liberty and Necessity.

He maintains the existence of Disinterested Benevolence, by saying that
Disinterested action, as opposed to direct self-regard, is a much wider
fact of our mental system, than the regard to the welfare of others. We
have seen that this is a mere stroke of ingenuity, and owes its
plausible appearance to his making our associated ends the primary ends
of our being.

III.--With regard to the Summum Bonum, or the theory of Happiness, he
holds that men cannot be happy by the pursuit of mere self; but must
give way to their benevolent impulses as well, all under the guidance
of conscience. In short, virtue is happiness, even in this world; and,
if there be any exception to the rule, it will be rectified in another
world. This is in fact the Platonic view. Men are not to pursue
happiness; that would be to fall into the narrow rut of self-love, and
would be a failure; they are to pursue virtue, including the good of
others, and the greatest happiness will ensue to each.

It is a remarkable indication of the spirit of Butler's age, or of his
estimate of it, that he would never venture to require of any one a
single act of uncompensated self-sacrifice.

IV.--The substance of the Moral Code of Butler is in no respect
peculiar to him. He gives no classification of our duties. His means
and inducements to virtue have just been remarked upon.

V.--The relationship of Ethics to Politics and to Theology needs no


Hutcheson's views are to be found in his 'Inquiry into the Ideas of
Beauty and Virtue,' his 'Treatise on the Passions,' and his posthumous
work, 'A System of Moral Philosophy.' The last-mentioned, as the
completest exposition of his Ethics, Speculative and Practical, is
followed here.

There are three books; the first treating of Human Nature and
Happiness; the second, of Laws of Nature and Duties, previous to Civil
Government and other adventitious states; the third, of Civil Polity.

In Book I., Chap. I., Hutcheson states that the aim of Moral Philosophy
is to point out the course of action that will best promote the highest
happiness and perfection of men, by the light of human nature and to
the exclusion of revelation; thus to indicate the rules of conduct that
make up the Law of Nature. Happiness, the end of this art, being the
state of the mind arising from its several grateful perceptions or
modifications, the natural course of the inquiry is to consider the
various human powers, perceptions, and actions, and then to compare
them so as to find what really constitutes happiness, and how it may be
attained. The principles that first display themselves in childhood are
the external senses, with some small powers of spontaneous motion,
introducing to the mind perceptions of pleasure and pain, which
becoming forthwith the object of desire and aversion, are our first
notions of natural good and evil. Next to Ideas of Sensation, we
acquire Concomitant ideas of Sensation from two or more senses
together--number, extension, &c. Ideas of consciousness or reflection,
which is another natural power of perception, complete the list of the
materials of knowledge; to which, when the powers of judging and
reasoning are added, all the main acts of the understanding are given.
There are still, however, some finer perceptions, that may be left over
until the will is disposed of.

Under the head of Will, he notes first the facts of Desire and
Aversion, being new motions of the soul, distinct from, though arising
out of, sensations, perceptions, and judgments. To these it is common
to add Joy and Sorrow, arising in connexion with desire, though they
partake more of sensations than of volitions. Acts of the will are
_selfish_ or _benevolent_, according as one's own good, or (as often
really in fact happens) the good of others is pursued. Two _calm_
natural determinations of the will are to be conceded; the one an
invariable constant impulse towards one's own highest perfection and
happiness; the other towards the universal happiness of others, when
the whole system of beings is regarded without prejudice, and in the
absence of the notion that their happiness interferes with our own.
There are also _turbulent_ passions and appetites, whose end is their
simple gratification; whereupon the violence and uneasiness cease. Some
are selfish--hunger, lust, power, fame; some benevolent--pity,
gratitude, parental affection, &c.; others may be of either
kind--anger, envy, &c. In none of them is there any reference in the
mind to the greatest happiness of self or others; and that they stand
so often in real opposition to the calm motions, is sufficient proof of
their distinct character, _e.g._, the opposition of lust and calm
regard for one's highest interest.

In Chapter II., he takes up some finer powers of perception, and some
other natural determinations of the will. Bound up with seeing and
hearing are certain other powers of perception or senses--Beauty,
Imitation, Harmony, Design, summed up by Addison under the name of
Imagination, and all natural sources of pleasure. The two grateful
perceptions of Novelty and Grandeur may be added to the list of natural
determinations or senses of pleasure. To attempt to reduce the natural
sense of Beauty to the discernment of real or apparent usefulness is
hopeless. The next sense of the soul noted is the Sympathetic, in its
two Phases of Pity or Compassion and Congratulation. This is
fellow-feeling on apprehending the state of others, and proneness to
relieve, without any thought of our own advantage, as seen in children.
Pity is stronger than congratulation, because, whether for ourselves or
others, the desire to repel evil is stronger than to pursue good.
Sympathy extends to all the affections and passions; it greatly
subserves the grand determination of the soul towards universal

Other finer senses have actions of men for their objects, there being a
general determination of the soul to exercise all its active powers,--a
universal impulse to action, bodily and intellectual. In all such
action there is real pleasure, but the grand source of human happiness
is the power of perceiving the _moral_ notions of actions and
characters. This, the _Moral Sense_, falls to be fully discussed later.
Distinct from our moral sense is the _Sense of Honour or Shame_, when
we are praised or condemned by others. The _Sense of Decency or
Dignity_, when the mind perceives excellence of bodily and mental
powers in ourselves or others, is also natural, and distinct from the
moral sense. Some would allow a natural Sense of the Ridiculous in
objects or events. There follow some remarks on the tendency to
associate perceptions. In addition also to the natural propensity
towards action, there is a tendency in repeated action to become Habit,
whereby our powers are greatly increased. Habit and Customs can raise,
however, no new ideas beyond the sentiments naturally excited by the
original actions.

_Sexual_ desire, wisely postponed by nature beyond the earliest years,
does not, in man, end in mere sensual pleasure, but involves a natural
liking of beauty as an indication of temper and manners, whereupon grow
up esteem and love. Mankind have a universal desire of _offspring_, and
love for their young; also an affection, though weaker, for all
blood-relations. They have, further, a natural impulse to _society_
with their fellows, as an immediate principle, and are not driven to
associate only by indigence. All the other principles already
mentioned, having little or no exercise in solitude, would bring them
together, even without family ties. Patriotism and love of country are
acquired in the midst of social order.

_Natural Religion_ inevitably springs up in the best minds at sight of
the benevolent order of the world, and is soon diffused among all. The
principles now enumerated will be found, though in varying proportions,
among all men not plainly monstrous by accident, &c.

Chapter III. treats of the Ultimate Determinations of the Will and
Benevolent Affections. The question now is to find some order and
subordination among the powers that have been cited, and to discover
the ultimate ends of action, about which there is no reasoning. He
notices various systems that make calm self-love the one leading
principle of action, and specially the system that, allowing the
existence of particular disinterested affections, puts the
self-satisfaction felt in yielding to the generous sentiments above all
other kinds of enjoyments. But, he asks, is there not also a _calm
determination_ towards the good of others, without reference to private
interest of any kind? In the case of particular desires, which all
necessarily involve an uneasy sensation until they are gratified, it is
no proof of their being selfish that their gratification gives the joy
of success and stops uneasiness. On the other hand, to desire the
welfare of others in the interest of ourselves is not benevolence nor
virtue. What we have to seek are benevolent affections terminating
ultimately in the good of others, and constituted by nature (either
alone, or mayhap corroborated by some views of interest) 'the immediate
cause of moral approbation.' Now, anything to be had from men could not
raise within us such affections, or make us careful about anything
beyond external deportment. Nor could rewards from God, or the wish for
self-approbation, create such affections, although, on the supposition
of their existence, these may well help to foster them. It is
benevolent _dispositions_ that we morally approve; but dispositions are
not to be raised by will. Moreover, they are often found where there
has been least thought of cultivating them; and, sometimes, in the form
of parental affection, gratitude, &c., they are followed so little for
the sake of honour and reward, that though their absence is condemned,
they are themselves hardly accounted virtuous at all. He then rebuts
the idea that generous affections are selfish, because by _sympathy_ we
make the pleasures and pains of others our own. Sympathy is a real
fact, but has regard only to the distress or suffering beheld or
imagined in others, whereas generous affection is varied toward
different characters. Sympathy can never explain the immediate ardour
of our good-will towards the morally excellent character, or the
eagerness of a dying man for the prosperity of his children and
friends. Having thus accepted the existence of purely disinterested
affections, and divided them as before into calm and turbulent, he puts
the question, Whether is the selfish or benevolent principle to yield
in case of opposition? And although it appears that, as a fact, the
universal happiness is preferred to the individual in the order of the
world by the Deity, this is nothing, unless by some determination of
the soul we are made to comply with the Divine intentions. If by the
desire of reward, it is selfishness still; if by the desire, following
upon the sight, of moral excellence, then there must necessarily exist
as its object some determination of the will involving supreme moral
excellence, otherwise there will be no way of deciding between
particular affections. This leads on to the consideration of the Moral

But, in the beginning of Chapter IV., he first rejects one by one these
various accounts of the reason of our approbation of moral
conduct:--pleasure by sympathy; pleasure through the moral sense;
notion of advantage to the agent, or to the approver, and this direct
or imagined; tendency to procure honour; conformity to law, to truth,
fitness, congruity, &c.; also education, association, &c. He then
asserts a natural and immediate determination in man to approve certain
affections and actions consequent on them; or a natural sense of
immediate excellence in them, not referred to any other quality
perceivable by our other senses, or by reasoning. It is a sense not
dependent on bodily organs, but a settled determination of the soul. It
is a sense, in like manner as, with every one of our powers--voice,
designing, motion, reasoning, there is bound up a taste, sense, or
relish, discerning and recommending their proper exercise; but superior
to all these, because the power of moral action is superior. It can be
trained like any other sense--hearing, harmony, &c.--so as to be
brought to approve finer objects, for instance the general happiness
rather than mere motions of pity. That it is meant to control and
regulate all the other powers is matter of immediate consciousness; we
must ever prefer moral good to the good apprehended by the other
perceptive powers. For while every other good is lessened by the
sacrifices made to gain it, moral good is thereby increased and
relished the more. The _objects_ of moral approbation are primarily
affections of the will, but, all experience shows, only such as tend to
the happiness of others, and the moral perfection of the mind
possessing them. There are, however, many degrees of approbation; and,
when we put aside qualities that approve themselves merely to the sense
of decency or dignity, and also the calm desire of private good, which
is indifferent, being neither virtuous nor vicious, the gradation of
qualities morally approved may be given thus: (1) Dignified abilities
(pursuit of sciences, &c.), showing a taste above sensuality and
selfishness. (2) Qualities immediately connected with virtuous
affections--candour, veracity, fortitude, sense of honour. (3) The kind
affections themselves, and the more as they are fixed rather than
passionate, and extensive rather than narrow; highest of all in the
form of universal good-will to all. (4) The disposition to desire and
love moral excellence, whether observed in ourselves or others--in
short, true piety towards God. He goes on to give a similar scale of
moral turpitude. Again, putting aside the indifferent qualities, and
also those that merely make people despicable and prove them
insensible, he cites--(1) the gratification of a narrow kind of
affection when the public good might have been served. (2) Acts
detrimental to the public, done under fear of personal ill, or great
temptation. (3) Sudden angry passions (especially when grown into
habits) causing injury. (4) Injury caused by selfish and sensual
passions. (5) Deliberate injury springing from calm selfishness. (6)
Impiety towards the Deity, as known to be good. The worst conceivable
disposition, a fixed, unprovoked original malice is hardly found among
men. In the end of the chapter, he re-asserts the supremacy of the
moral faculty, and of the principle of pure benevolence that it
involves. The inconsistency of the principles of self-love and
benevolence when it arises, is reduced in favour of the second by the
intervention of the moral sense, which does not hold out future rewards
and pleasures of self-approbation, but decides for the generous part by
'an immediate undefinable perception.' So at least, if human nature
were properly cultivated, although it is true that in common life men
are wont to follow their particular affections, generous and selfish,
without thought of extensive benevolence or calm self-love; and it is
found necessary to counterbalance the advantage that the selfish
principles gain in early life, by propping up the moral faculty with
considerations of the surest mode of attaining the highest private
happiness, and with views of the moral administration of the world by
the Deity.

But before passing to these subjects, he devotes Chapter V. to the
confirmation of the doctrine of the Moral Sense, and first from the
Sense of Honour. This, the grateful sensation when we are morally
approved and praised, with the reverse when we are censured, he argues
in his usual manner, involves no thought of private interest. However
the facts may stand, it is always under the impression of actions being
moral or immoral, that the sense of honour works. In defence of the
doctrine of a moral sense, against the argument from the varying
morality of different nations, he says it would only prove the sense
not uniform, as the palate is not uniform in all men. But the moral
sense is really more uniform. For, in every nation, it is the
benevolent actions and affections that are approved, and wherever there
is an error of fact, it is the reason, not the moral sense, that is at
fault. There are no cases of nations where moral approval is restricted
to the pursuit of private interest. The chief causes of variety of
moral approbation are three: (1) Different notions of happiness and the
means of promoting it, whereby much that is peculiar in national
customs, &c., is explained, without reflecting upon the moral sense.
(2) The larger or more confined field on which men consider the
tendencies of their actions--sect, party, country, &c. (3) Different
opinions about the divine commands, which are allowed to over-ride the
moral sense. The moral sense does not imply innate complex ideas of the
several actions and their tendencies, which must be discovered by
observation and reasoning; it is concerned only about inward affections
and dispositions, of which the effects may be very various. In closing
this part of his subject, he considers that all that is needed for the
formation of morals, has been given, because from the moral faculty and
benevolent affection all the special laws of nature can be deduced. But
because the moral faculty and benevolence have difficulty in making way
against the selfish principles so early rooted in man, it is needful to
strengthen these foundations of morality by the consideration of the
nature of the highest happiness.

With Chapter VI. accordingly he enters on the discussion of Happiness,
forming the second half of his first book. The supreme happiness of any
being is the full enjoyment of all the gratifications its nature
desires or is capable of; but, in case of their being inconsistent, the
constant gratification of the higher, intenser, and more durable
pleasures is to be preferred.

In Chapter VII., he therefore directly compares the various kinds of
enjoyment and misery, in order to know what of the first must be
surrendered, and what of the second endured, in aiming at highest
attainable happiness. Pleasures the same in kind are preferable,
according as they are more intense and enduring; of a different kind,
as they are more enduring and dignified, a fact decided at once by our
immediate sense of dignity or worth. In the great diversity of tastes
regarding pleasures, he supposes the ultimate decision as to the value
of pleasures to rest with the possessors of finer perceptive powers,
but adds, that good men are the best judges, because possessed of
fuller experience than the vicious, whose tastes, senses, and appetites
have lost their natural vigour through one-sided indulgence. He then
goes through the various pleasures, depreciating the pleasures of the
palate on the positive side, and sexual pleasure as transitory and
enslaving when pursued for itself; the sensual enjoyments are,
notwithstanding, quite proper within due limits, and then, perhaps, are
at their highest. The pleasures of the _imagination_, knowledge, &c.,
differ from the last in not being preceded by an uneasy sensation to be
removed, and are clearly more dignified and endurable, being the proper
exercise of the soul when it is not moved by the affections of social
virtue, or the offices of rational piety. The _sympathetic_ pleasures
are very extensive, very intense, and may be of very long duration;
they are superior to all the foregoing, if there is a hearty affection,
and are at their height along with the feeling of universal good will.
_Moral_ Enjoyments, from the consciousness of good affections and
actions, when by close reflexion we have attained just notions of
virtue and merit, rank highest of all, as well in dignity as in
duration. The pleasures of _honour_, when our conduct is approved, are
also among the highest, and when, as commonly happens, they are
conjoined with the last two classes, it is the height of human bliss.
The pleasures of _mirth_, such as they are, fall in best with virtue,
and so, too, the pleasures of _wealth_ and _power_, in themselves
unsatisfying. Anger, malice, revenge, &c., are not without their uses,
and give momentary pleasure as removing an uneasiness from the subject
of them; but they are not to be compared with the sympathetic feelings,
because their effects cannot long be regarded with satisfaction. His
general conclusion is, that as the highest personal satisfaction is had
in the most benevolent dispositions, the same course of conduct is
recommended alike by the two great determinations of our nature,
towards our own good and the good of others. He then compares the
several sorts of pain, which, he says, are not necessarily in the
proportion of the corresponding pleasures. Allowing the great misery of
bodily pain, he yet argues that, at the worst, it is not to be compared
for a moment to the pain of the worst wrong-doing. The imagination,
great as are its pleasures, cannot cause much pain. The sympathetic and
moral pains of remorse and infamy are the worst of all.

In Chapter VIII. the various Tempers and Characters are compared in
point of happiness or misery. Even the private affections, in due
moderation, promote the general good; but that system is the best
possible where, along with this, the generous affections also promote
private good. No natural affection is absolutely evil; the evil of
excess in narrow generous affection lies in the want of proportion; in
calm extensive good-will there can be no excess. The social and moral
enjoyments, and those of honour, being the highest, the affections and
actions that procure them are the chief means of happiness; amid human
mischances, however, they need support from a trust in Providence. The
unkind affections and passions (anger, &c.) are uneasy even when
innocent, and never were intended to become permanent dispositions. The
narrow kind of affections are all that can be expected from the
majority of men, and are very good, if only they are not the occasion
of unjust partiality to some, or, worse, ill-grounded aversion to
others. The rest of the chapter is taken up in painting the misery of
the selfish passions when in excess--love of life, sensual pleasure,
desire of power, glory, and ease. He has still one 'object of affection
to every rational mind' that he must deal with before he is done with
considering the question of highest happiness. This is the Deity, or
the Mind that presides in the Universe.

Chapter IX., at great length, discusses the first part of the
subject--the framing of primary ideas regarding the Divine Nature. He
proves the existence of an original mind from design, &c., in the
world; he then finds this mind to be benevolent, on occasion of which
he has to deal with the great question of Evil, giving reasons for its
existence, discovering its uses, narrowing its range as compared with
good, and finally reducing it by the consideration and proof of
immortality; he ends by setting forth the other attributes of
God--providence, holiness, justice, &c.

In Chapter X., he considers the Affections, Duty, and Worship to be
exercised towards God. The moral sense quite specially enjoins worship
of the Deity, internal and external; internal by love and trust and
gratitude, &c., external by prayer, praise, &c. [He seems to ascribe to
prayer nothing beyond a subjective efficacy.] In the acknowledgment of
God is highest happiness, and the highest exercise of the moral

In Chapter XI., he closes the whole book with remarks on the Supreme
Happiness of our Nature, which he makes to consist in the perfect
exercise of the nobler virtues, especially love and resignation to God,
and of all the inferior virtues consistent with the superior; also in
external prosperity, so far as virtue allows. The moral sense, and the
truest regard for our own interest, thus recommend the same course as
the calm, generous determination; and this makes up the supreme
cardinal virtue of Justice, which includes even our duties to God.
Temperance in regard to sensual enjoyments, Fortitude as against evils,
and Prudence, or Consideration, in regard to everything that solicits
our desires, are the other virtues; all subservient to Justice. In no
station of life are men shut out from the enjoyment of the supreme

Book II. is a deduction of the more special laws of nature and duties
of life, so far as they follow from the course of life shown above to
be recommended by God and nature as most lovely and most advantageous;
all adventitious states or relations among men aside. The three first
chapters are of a general nature.

In Chapter I., he reviews the circumstances that increase the moral
good or evil of actions. Virtue being primarily an affair of the will
or affections, there can be no imputation of virtue or vice in action,
unless a man is free and able to act; the necessity and impossibility,
as grounds of non-imputation, must, however, have been in no way
brought about by the agent himself. In like manner, he considers what
effects and consequents of his actions are imputable to the agent;
remarking, by the way, that the want of a proper degree of good
affections and of solicitude for the public good is morally evil. He
then discusses the bearing of ignorance and error, vincible and
invincible, and specially the case wherein an erroneous conscience
extenuates. The difficulty of such cases, he says, are due to
ambiguity, wherefore he distinguishes three meanings of Conscience that
are found, (1) the moral faculty, (2) the judgment of the understanding
about the springs and effects of actions, upon which the moral sense
approves or condemns them, (3) our judgments concerning actions
compared with the _law_ (moral maxims, divine laws, &c.).

In Chapter II., he lays down general rules of judging about the
morality of actions from the affections exciting to them or opposing
them; and first as to the degree of virtue or vice when the ability
varies; in other words, morality as dependent on the _strength_ of the
affections. Next, and at greater length, morality as dependent on the
_kind_ of the affections.

Here he attempts to fix, in the first place, the degree of benevolence,
as opposed to private interest, that is necessary to render men
virtuous, or even innocent, in accordance with his principle that there
is implanted in us a very high standard of necessary goodness,
requiring us to do a public benefit, when clear, however burdensome or
hurtful the act may be to ourselves; in the second place, the
proportion that should be kept between the narrower and the more
extensive generous affections, where he does not forget to allow that,
in general, a great part of human virtue must necessarily lie within
the narrow range. Then he gives a number of special rules for
appreciating conduct, advising, _for the very sake of the good to
others that will result therefrom_, that men should foster their
benevolence by the thought of the advantage accruing to themselves here
and hereafter from their virtuous actions; and closes with the
consideration of the cases wherein actions can be imputed to other than
the agents.

In Chapter III., he enters into the general notion of Rights and Laws,
and their divisions. From _right_ use of such affection or actions as
are approved by the moral faculty from their relation to the general
good, or the good of particular persons consistently with the general
good, he distinguishes the _right_ of a man to do, possess, demand,
&c., which exists when his doing, possessing, &c. tend to the good of
society, or to his own, consistent with the rights of others and the
general good, and when obstructing him would have the contrary
tendency. He proceeds to argue, on utilitarian principles, that the
rights that seem to attend every natural desire are perfectly valid
when not against the public interest, but never valid when they are
against it.

Chapter IV. contains a discussion upon the state of Nature, maintaining
that it is not a state of anarchy or war, but full of rights and
obligations. He points out that independent states in their relation to
one another are subject to no common authority, and so are in a state
of nature. Rights belong (1) to individuals, (2) to societies, (3) to
mankind at large. They are also natural, or adventitious, and again
perfect or imperfect.

Chapter V. Natural rights are antecedent to society, such as the right
to life, to liberty, to private judgment, to marriage, &c. They are of
two kinds--perfect and imperfect.

Chapter VI. Adventitious rights are divided into Real and Personal (a
distinction chiefly of legal value.) He also examines into the nature
and foundation of private property.

Chapter VII. treats of the Acquisition of property, Hutcheson, as is
usual with moralists, taking the _occupatio_ of the Roman Law as a
basis of ownership. Property involves the right of (1) use, (2)
exclusive use, (3) alienation.

Chapter VIII. Rights drawn from property are such as mortgages,
servitudes, &c., being rights of what may be called partial or
imperfect ownership.

Chapter IX. discusses the subject of contracts, with the general
conditions required for a valid contract.

Chapter X. Of Veracity. Like most writers on morals, Hutcheson breaks
in upon the strict rule of veracity by various necessary, but
ill-defined, exceptions. Expressions of courtesy and etiquette are
exempted, so also artifices in war, answers extorted by unjust
violence, and some cases of peculiar necessity, as when a man tells a
lie to save thousands of lives.

Chapter XI. Oaths and Vows.

Chapter XII. belongs rather to Political Economy. Its subject is the
values of goods in commerce, and the nature of coin.

Chapter XIII. enumerates the various classes of contracts, following
the Roman Law, taking up _Mandatum, Depositum_, Letting to Hire, Sale,

Chapter XIV. adds the Roman _quasi-contracts_.

Chapter XV. Rights arising from injuries or wrongs _(torts)_. He
condemns duelling, but admits that, where it is established, a man may,
in some cases, be justified in sending or accepting a challenge.

Chapter XVI. Rights belonging to society as against the individual. The
perfect rights of society are such as the following:--(1) To prevent
suicide; (2) To require the producing and rearing of offspring, at
least so far as to tax and discourage bachelors; (3) To compel men,
though not without compensation, to divulge useful inventions; (4) To
compel to some industry, &c.

Chapter XVII. takes up some cases where the ordinary rights of property
or person are set aside by some overbearing necessity.

Chapter XVIII. The way of deciding controversies in a state of nature
by arbitration.

Book III.--Civil Polity, embracing Domestic and Civil Rights.

Chapter I. _Marriage_. Hutcheson considers that Marriage should be a
perpetual union upon equal terms, 'and not such a one wherein the one
party stipulates to himself a right of governing in all domestic
affairs, and the other promises subjection.' He would allow divorce for
adultery, desertion, or implacable enmity on either side. Upon defect
of children, some sort of concubinage would be preferable to divorce,
but leaving to the woman the option of divorce with compensation. He
notices the misrepresentations regarding Plato's scheme of a community
of wives; 'Never was there in any plan less provision made for sensual

Chapter II. The Rights and Duties of Parents and Children.

Chapter III. The Rights and Duties of Masters and Servants.

Chapter IV. discusses the Motives to constitute Civil Government. If
men were perfectly wise and upright, there would be no need for
government. Man is naturally sociable and political [Greek: xon

Chapter V. shows that the natural method of constituting civil
government is by consent or social compact.

Chapter VI. The Forms of Government, with their respective advantages
and disadvantages.

Chapter VII. How far the Rights of Governors extend. Their lives are
more sacred than the lives of private persons; but they may
nevertheless be lawfully resisted, and, in certain cases, put to death.

Chapter VIII. The ways of acquiring supreme Power. That government has
most divine right that is best adapted to the public good: a divine
right of succession to civil offices is ridiculous.

Chapter IX. takes up the sphere of civil law. (1) To enforce the laws
of nature; (2) To appoint the form &c., of contracts and dispositions,
with a view to prevent fraud; (3) To require men to follow the most
prudent methods of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce; (4) To
prescribe rules in matters morally indifferent, where uniformity is
advantageous. Opinions should be tolerated; all except Atheism, and the
denial of moral obligation.

Chapter X. The Laws of Peace and War, belonging now to the subject of
International Law.

Chapter XI. (concluding the work) discusses some cases connected with
the duration of the 'Politick Union.'

This bare indication of topics will suffice to give an idea of the
working out of Hutcheson's system. For summary:--I.--The Standard,
according to Hutcheson, is identical with the Moral Faculty. It is the
Sense of unique excellence in certain affections and in the actions
consequent upon them. The object of approval is, in the main,

II.--His division of the feelings is into calm and turbulent, each of
these being again divided into self-regarding and benevolent. He
affirms the existence of pure Disinterestedness, a _calm_ regard for
the most extended well-being. There are also _turbulent_ passions of a
benevolent kind, whose end is their simple gratification. Hutcheson has
thus a higher and lower grade of Benevolence; the higher would
correspond to the disinterestedness that arises from the operation of
_fixed ideas_, the lower to those affections that are generated in us
by pleasing objects.

He has no discussion on the freedom of the will, contenting himself
with mere voluntariness as an element in moral approbation or censure.

III.--The Summum Bonum is fully discussed. He places the pleasures of
sympathy and moral goodness (also of piety) in the highest rank, the
passive sensations in the lowest. Instead of making morality, like
health, a neutral state (though an indispensable condition of
happiness), he ascribes to it the highest positive gratification.

IV.--In proceeding upon Rights, instead of Duties, as a basis of
classification, Hutcheson is following in the wake of the
jurisconsults, rather than of the moralists. When he enters into the
details of moral duties, he throws aside his 'moral sense,' and draws
his rules, most of them from Roman Law, the rest chiefly from manifest

V. and VI.--Hutcheson's relation to Politics and Theology requires no


MANDEVILLE was author of 'The Fable of the Bees; or, Private Vices,
Public Benefits' (1714). This work is a satire upon artificial society,
having for its chief aim to expose the hollowness of the so-called
dignity of human nature. Dugald Stewart considered it a recommendation
to any theory of the mind that it exalted our conceptions of human
nature. Shaftesbury's views were entitled to this advantage; but,
observes Mandeville, 'the ideas he had formed of the goodness and
excellency of our nature, were as romantic and chimerical, as they are
beautiful and amiable.' Mandeville examined not what human nature
_ought to be_, but what it really _is_. In contrast, therefore, to the
moralists that distinguish between a higher and a lower in our nature,
attributing to the higher everything good and noble, while the lower
ought to be persecuted and despised, Mandeville declares the fancied
higher parts to be the region of vanity and imposture, while the
renowned deeds of men, and the greatness of kingdoms, really arise from
the passions usually reckoned base and sensual. As his views are
scattered through numerous dissertations, it will be best to summarize
them under a few heads.

1. _Virtue and Vice_. Morality is not natural to man; it is the
invention of wise men, who have endeavoured to infuse the belief, that
it is best for everybody to prefer the public interest to their own.
As, however, they could bestow no _real_ recompense for the thwarting
of self-interest, they contrived an _imaginary_ one--honour. Upon this
they proceeded to divide men into two classes, the one abject and base,
incapable of self-denial; the other noble, because they suppressed
their passions, and acted for the public welfare. Man was thus won to
virtue, not by force, but by flattery.

In regard to praiseworthiness, Shaftesbury, according to Mandeville,
was the first to affirm that virtue could exist without self-denial.
This was opposed to the prevailing opinion, and to the view taken up
and criticised by Mandeville. His own belief was different. 'It is not
in feeling the passions, or in being affected with the frailties of
nature, that vice consists; but in indulging and obeying the call of
them, contrary to the dictates of reason.'

2. _Self-love_. 'It is an admirable saying of a worthy divine, that
though many discoveries have been made in the world of self-love, there
is yet abundance of _terra incognita_ left behind.' There is nothing so
sincere upon earth as the love that creatures bear to themselves. 'Man
centres everything in himself, and neither loves nor hates, but for his
own sake.' Nay, more, we are naturally regardless of the effect of our
conduct upon others; we have no innate love for our fellows. The
highest virtue is not without reward; it has a satisfaction of its own,
the pleasure of contemplating one's own worth. But is there no genuine
self-denial? Mandeville answers by a distinction: mortifying one
passion to gratify another is very common, but this not self-denial;
self-inflicted pain without any recompense--where is that to be found?

'Charity is that virtue by which part of that sincere love we have for
ourselves is transferred pure and unmixed to others (not friends or
relatives), whom we have no obligation to, nor hope or expect
anything-from.' The counterfeit of true charity is _pity_ or
_compassion_, which is a fellow-feeling for the sufferings of others.
Pity is as much a frailty of our nature as anger, pride, or fear. The
weakest minds (_e.g._, women and children) have generally the greatest
share of it. It is excited through the eye or the ear; when the
suffering does not strike our senses, the feeling is weak, and hardly
more than an imitation of pity. Pity, since it seeks rather our own
relief from a painful sight, than the good of others, must be curbed
and controlled in order to produce any benefit to society.

Mandeville draws a nice distinction between self-love, and, what he
calls, _self-liking_. 'To increase the care in creatures to preserve
themselves, Mature has given them an instinct, by which _every
individual values itself above its real worth_.' The more mettlesome
and spirited animals (_e.g._, horses) are endowed with this instinct.
In us, it is accompanied with an apprehension that we do overvalue
ourselves; hence our susceptibility to the confirmatory good opinion of
others. But if each were to display openly his own feeling of
superiority, quarrels would inevitably arise. The grand discovery
whereby the ill consequences of this passion are avoided is
_politeness_. 'Good manners consists in flattering the pride of others,
and concealing our own.' The first step is to conceal our good opinion
of ourselves; the next is more impudent, namely, to pretend that we
value others more highly than ourselves. But it takes a long time to
come to that pitch; the Romans were almost masters of the world before
they learned politeness.

3. _Pride, Vanity, Honour_. Pride is of great consequence in
Mandeville's system. 'The moral virtues are the political offspring
which flattery begot upon pride.' Man is naturally innocent, timid, and
stupid; destitute of strong passions or appetites, he would remain in
his primitive barbarism were it not for pride. Yet all moralists
condemn pride, as a vain notion of our own superiority. It is a subtle
passion, not easy to trace. It is often seen in the humility of the
humble, and the shamelessness of the shameless. It simulates charity;
'pride and vanity have built more hospitals than all the virtues
together.' It is the chief ingredient in the chastity of women, and in
the courage of men. Less cynical moralists than Mandeville have looked
with suspicion on posthumous fame; 'so silly a creature is man, as
that, intoxicated with the fumes of vanity, he can feast on the thought
of the praises that shall be paid his memory in future ages, with so
much ecstasy as to neglect his present life, nay court and covet death,
if he but imagines that it will add to the glory he had acquired
before.' But the most notable institution of pride is the love of
honour. Honour is a 'chimera,' having no reality in nature, but a mere
invention of moralists and politicians, to keep men close to their
engagements, whatever they be. In some families it is hereditary, like
the gout; but, luckily, the vulgar are destitute of it. In the time of
chivalry, honour was a very troublesome affair; but in the beginning of
the 17th century, it was melted over again, and brought to a new
standard; 'they put in the same weight of courage, half the quantity of
honesty, and a very little justice, but not a scrap of any other
virtue.' The worst thing about it is duelling; but there are more
suicides than duels, so that at any rate men do not hate others more
than themselves. After a half-satirical apology for duelling, he
concludes with one insurmountable objection; duelling is wholly
repugnant to religion, adding with the muffled scepticism
characteristic of the 18th century, 'how to reconcile them must be left
to wiser heads than mine.'

4. _Private vices, public benefits_. Mandeville ventures to compare
society to a bowl of punch. Avarice is the souring, and prodigality the
sweetening of it. The water is the ignorance and folly of the insipid
multitude, while honour and the noble qualities of man represent the
brandy. To each of these ingredients we may object in turn, but
experience teaches that, when judiciously mixed, they make an excellent
liquor. It is not the good, but the evil qualities of men, that lead to
worldly greatness. Without luxury we should have no trade. This
doctrine is illustrated at great length, and has been better remembered
than anything else in the book; but it may be dismissed with two
remarks. (1) It embodies an error in political economy, namely, that it
is spending and not saving that gives employment to the poor. If
Mandeville's aim had been less critical, and had he been less delighted
with his famous paradox, we may infer from the acuteness of his
reasoning on the subject, that he would have anticipated the true
doctrine of political economy, as he saw through the fallacy of the
mercantile theory. (2) He employs the term, luxury, with great
latitude, as including whatever is not a bare necessary of existence.
According to the fashionable doctrine of his day, all luxury was called
an evil and a vice; and in this sense, doubtless, vice is essential to
the existence of a great nation.

5. _The origin of society_. Mandeville's remarks on this subject are
the best he has written, and come nearest to the accredited views of
the present day. He denies that we have any natural affection for one
another, or any natural aversion or hatred. Each seeks his own
happiness, and conflict arises from the opposition of men's desires. To
make a society out of the raw material of uncivilized men, is a work of
great difficulty, requiring the concurrence of many favourable
accidents, and a long period of time. For the qualities developed among
civilized men no more belong to them in a savage state, than the
properties of wine exist in the grape. Society begins with _families_.
In the beginning, the old savage has a great wish to rule his children,
but has no capacity for government. He is inconstant and violent in his
desires, and incapable of any steady conduct. What at first keeps men
together is not so much reverence for the father, as the common danger
from wild beasts. The traditions of antiquity are full of the prowess
of heroes in killing dragons and monsters. The second step to society
is the danger men are in from one another. To protect themselves,
several families would be compelled to accept the leadership of the
strongest. The leaders, seeing the mischiefs of dissension, would
employ all their art to extirpate that evil. Thus they would forbid
killing one another, stealing one another's wives, &c. The third and
last step is the invention of letters; this is essential to the growth
of society, and to the corresponding, expansion of law.[22]

I.--Mandeville's object being chiefly _negative_ and _dialectical_, he
has left little of positive ethical theory. Virtue he regards as _de
facto_ an arbitrary institution of society; what it ought to be, he
hardly says, but the tendency of his writings is to make the good of
the whole to be preferred to private interest.

II.--He denies the existence of a moral sense and of disinterestedness.
The motive to observe moral rules is pride and vanity fomented by
politicians. He does not regard virtue as an independent end, even by
association, but considers that pride in its naked form is the ever
present incentive to good conduct.

V.--The connexion of virtue with society is already fully indicated.

In France, the name of HELVETIUS (author of _De l'esprit, De l'homme_,
&c., 1715-71) is identified with a serious (in contrast to Mandeville),
and perfectly consistent, attempt to reduce all morality to direct
Self-interest. Though he adopted this ultimate interpretation of the
facts, Helvetius was by no means the 'low and loose moralist' that he
has been described to be; and, in particular, his own practice
displayed a rare benevolence.

DAVID HUME. [1711-1776.]

The Ethical views of Hume are contained in '_An Enquiry concerning the
Principles of Morals_.'

In an Introductory Section (I.) he treats of the GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF

After describing those that profess to deny the reality of the
distinction of Right and Wrong, as disingenuous disputants, useless to
reason with,--he states the great problem of Morals to be, whether the
foundation is REASON or SENTIMENT; whether our knowledge of moral
distinctions is attained by a chain of argument and induction, or by an
immediate feeling or finer internal sense.

Specious arguments may be urged on both sides. On the side of Reason,
it may be contended, that the justice and injustice of actions are
often a subject of argument and controversy like the sciences; whereas
if they appealed at once to a sense, they would be as unsusceptible of
truth or falsehood as the harmony of verse, the tenderness of passion,
or the brilliancy of wit.

In reply, the supporters of Sentiment may urge that the character of
virtue is to be _amiable_, and of vice to be _odious_, which are not
intellectual distinctions. The end of moral distinctions is to
influence the feelings and determine the will, which no mere assent of
the understanding can do. Extinguish our _feelings_ towards virtue and
vice, and morality would cease to have any influence on our lives.

The arguments on both sides have so much force in them, that we may
reasonably suspect that Reason and Sentiment both concur in our moral
determinations. The final sentence upon actions, whereby we pronounce
them praiseworthy or blameable, may depend on the feelings; while a
process of the understanding may be requisite to make nice
distinctions, examine complicated relations, and ascertain matters of

It is not the author's intention, however, to pursue the subject in the
form of adjudicating between these two principles, but to follow what
he deems a simpler method--to analyze that complication of mental
qualities, called PERSONAL MERIT: to ascertain the attributes or
qualities that render a man an object of esteem and affection, or of
hatred and contempt. This is a question of fact, and not of abstract
science; and should be determined, as similar questions are, in the
modern physics, by following the experimental method, and drawing
general maxims from a comparison of particular instances.


His first remark on Benevolence is, that it is identified in all
countries with the highest merits that human nature is capable of
attaining to.

This prepares the way for the farther observation, that in setting
forth the praises of a humane, beneficent man, the one circumstance
that never fails to be insisted on is the happiness to society arising
through his good offices. Like the sun, an inferior minister of
providence, he cheers, invigorates, and sustains the surrounding world.
May we not therefore conclude that the UTILITY resulting from social
virtues, forms, at least, a _part_ of their merit, and is one source of
the approbation paid to them. He illustrates this by a number of
interesting examples, and defers the enquiry--_how large_ a part of the
social virtues depend on utility, and for what reason we are so much
affected by it.

Section III. is on JUSTICE. That Justice is useful to society, and
thence derives _part_ of its merit, would be superfluous to prove. That
public utility is the _sole_ origin of Justice, and that the beneficial
consequences are the _sole_ foundation of its merit, may seem more
questionable, but can in the author's opinion be maintained.

He puts the supposition, that the human race were provided with such
abundance of all external things, that without industry, care, or
anxiety, every person found every want fully satisfied; and remarks,
that while every other social virtue (the affections, &c.) might
flourish, yet, as property would be absent, mine and thine unknown,
Justice would be useless, an idle ceremonial, and could never come into
the catalogue of the virtues. In point of fact, where any agent, as
air, water, or land, is so abundant as to supply everybody, questions
of justice do not arise on that particular subject.

Suppose again that in our present necessitous condition, the mind of
every man were so enlarged and so replete with generosity that each
should feel as much for his fellows as for himself--the _beau idéal_ of
communism--in this case Justice would be in abeyance, and its ends
answered by Benevolence. This state is actually realized in
well-cultivated families; and communism has been attempted and
maintained for a time in the ardour of new enthusiasms.

Reverse the above suppositions, and imagine a society in such want
that the utmost care is unable to prevent the greater number from
perishing, and all from the extremes of misery, as in a shipwreck
of a siege; in such circumstances, justice is suspended in favour of
self-preservation; the possibility of good order is at an end, and
Justice, the means, is discarded as useless. Or, again, suppose a
virtuous man to fall into a society of ruffians on the road to swift
destruction; his sense of justice would be of no avail, and
consequently he would arm himself with the first weapon he could seize,
consulting self-preservation alone. The ordinary punishment of
criminals is, as regards them, a suspension of justice for the benefit
of society. A state of war is the remission of justice between the
parties as of no use or application. A civilized nation at war with
barbarians must discard even the small relics of justice retained in
war with other civilized nations. Thus the rules of equity and justice
depend on the condition that men are placed in, and are limited by
their UTILITY in each separate state of things. The common state of
society is a medium between the extreme suppositions now made: we have
our self-partialities, but have learnt the value of equity; we have few
enjoyments by nature, but a considerable number by industry. Hence we
have the ideas of Property; to these Justice is essential, and it thus
derives its moral obligation.

The poetic fictions of the Golden Age, and the philosophic fictions of
a State of Nature, equally adopt the same fundamental assumption; in
the one, justice was unnecessary, in the other, it was inadmissible.
So, if there were a race of creatures so completely servile as never to
contest any privilege with us, nor resent any infliction, which is very
much our position with the lower animals, justice would have no place
in our dealings with them. Or, suppose once more, that each person
possessed within himself every faculty for existence, and were isolated
from every other; so solitary a being would be as incapable of justice
as of speech. The sphere of this duty begins with society; and extends
as society extends, and as it contributes to the well-being of the
individual members of society.

The author next examines the _particular laws_ embodying justice and
determining property. He supposes a creature, having reason, but
unskilled in human nature, to deliberate with himself how to distribute
property. His most obvious thought would be to give the largest
possessions to the most virtuous, so as to give the power of doing good
where there was the most inclination. But so unpracticable is this
design, that although sometimes conceived, it is never executed; the
civil magistrate knows that it would be utterly destructive of human
society; sublime as may be the ideal justice that it supposes, he sets
it aside on the calculation of its bad consequences.

Seeing also that, with nature's liberality, were all her gifts equally
distributed, every one would have so good a share that no one would
have a title to complain; and seeing, farther, that this is the only
type of perfect equality or ideal justice--there is no good ground for
falling short of it but the knowledge that the attempt would be
pernicious to society. The writers on the Law of Nature, whatever
principles they begin with, must assign as the ultimate reason of law
the necessities and convenience of mankind. Uninstructed nature could
never make the distinction between _mine_ and _yours_; it is a purely
artificial product of society. Even when this distinction is
established, and justice requires it to be adhered to, yet we do not
scruple in extraordinary cases to violate justice in an individual case
for the safety of the people at large.

When the interests of society require a rule of justice, but do not
indicate any rule in particular, the resort is to some _analogy_ with a
rule already established on grounds of the general interest.

For determining what is a man's property, there may be many statutes,
customs, precedents, analogies, some constant and inflexible, some
variable and arbitrary, but all professedly terminating in the
interests of human society. But for this, the laws of property would be
undistinguishable from the wildest superstitions.

Such a reference, instead of weakening the obligations of justice,
strengthens them. What stronger foundations can there be for any duty
than that, without it, human nature could not subsist; and that,
according as it is observed, the degrees of human happiness go on

Either Justice is evidently founded on Utility, or our regard for it is
a simple instinct like hunger, resentment, or self-preservation. But on
this last supposition, property, the subject-matter, must be also
discerned by an instinct; no such instinct, however, can be affirmed.
Indeed, no single instinct would suffice for the number of
considerations entering into a fact so complex. To define Inheritance
and Contract, a hundred volumes of laws are not enough; how then can
nature embrace such complications in the simplicity of an instinct. For
it is not laws alone that we must have, but authorized interpreters.
Have we original ideas of prætors, and chancellors, and juries?

Instincts are uniform in their operation; birds of a species build
their nests alike. The laws of states are uniform to about the same
extent as houses, which must have a roof and walls, windows and
chimneys, because the end in view demands certain essentials; but
beyond these, there is every conceivable diversity.

It is true that, by education and custom, we blame injustice without
thinking of its ultimate consequences. So universal are the rules of
justice, from the universality of its end, that we approve of it
mechanically. Still, we have often to recur to the final end, and to
ask, What must become of the world if such practices prevail? How could
society subsist under such disorders?

Thus, then, Hume considers that, by an inductive determination, on the
strict Newtonian basis, he has proved that the SOLE foundation of our
regard to justice is the support and welfare of society: and since no
moral excellence is more esteemed, we must have some strong disposition
in favour of general usefulness. Such a disposition must be a part of
the humane virtues, as it is the SOLE source of the moral approbation
of fidelity, justice, veracity, and integrity.

Section IV. relates to POLITICAL SOCIETY, and is intended to show that
Government, Allegiance, and the Laws of each State, are justified
solely by Utility.

If men had _sagacity_ to perceive, and _strength of mind_ to follow
out, distant and general interests, there had been no such thing as
government. In other words, if government were totally useless, it
would not be. The duty of Allegiance would be no duty, but for the
advantage of it, in preserving peace and order among mankind.

[Hume is here supposing that men enter into society on equal terms; he
makes no allowance for the exercise of the right of the stronger in
making compulsory social unions. This, however, does not affect his
reasoning as to the source of our approbation of social duty, which is
not usually extended to tyranny.]

When political societies hold intercourse with one another, certain
regulations are made, termed Laws of Nations, which have no other end
than the advantage of those concerned.

The virtue of Chastity is subservient to the utility of rearing the
young, which requires the combination of both parents; and that
combination reposes on marital fidelity. Without such a utility, the
virtue would never have been thought of. The reason why chastity is
extended to cases where child-bearing does not enter, is that _general
rules_ are often carried beyond their original occasion, especially in
matters of taste and sentiment.

The prohibition of marriage between near relations, and the turpitude
of incest, have in view the preserving of purity of manners among
persons much together.

The laws of good manners are a kind of lesser morality, for the better
securing of our pleasures in society.

Even robbers and pirates must have their laws. Immoral gallantries,
where authorized, are governed by a set of rules. Societies for play
have laws for the conduct of the game. War has its laws as well as
peace. The fights of boxers, wrestlers, and such like, are subject to
rules. For all such cases, the common interest and utility begets a
standard of right and wrong in those concerned.

Section V. proceeds to argue WHY UTILITY PLEASES. However powerful
education may be in forming men's sentiments, there must, in such a
matter as morality, be some deep natural distinction to work upon. Now,
there are only two natural sentiments that Utility can appeal to: (1)
Self-Interest, and (2) Generosity, or the interests of others.

The deduction of morals from Self-Love is obvious, and no doubt
explains much. An appeal to experience, however, shows its defects. We
praise virtuous actions in remote ages and countries, where our own
interests are out of the question. Even when we have a private interest
in some virtuous action, our praise avoids that part of it, and prefers
to fasten on what we are not interested in. When we hear of the details
of a generous action, we are moved by it, before we know when or where
it took place. Nor will the force of imagination account for the
feeling in those cases; if we have an eye solely to our own _real_
interest, it is not conceivable how we can be moved by a mere imaginary

But another view may be taken. Some have maintained that the public
interest is our own interest, and is therefore promoted by our
self-love. The reply is that the two are often opposed to each other,
and still we approve of the preference of the public interest. We are,
therefore, driven to adopt a more public affection, and to admit that
the interests of society, _on their own, account_, are not indifferent
to us.

Have we any difficulty to comprehend the force of humanity or
benevolence? Or to conceive that the very aspect of happiness, joy,
prosperity, gives pleasure; while pain, suffering, sorrow, communicate
uneasiness? Here we have an unmistakeable, powerful, universal
sentiment of human nature to build upon.

The author gives an expanded illustration of the workings of
Benevolence or Sympathy, which well deserves to be read for its merits
of execution. We must here content ourselves with stating that it is on
this principle of disinterested action, belonging to our nature, that
he founds the chief part of our sentiment of Moral Approbation.

Section VI. takes into the account QUALITIES USEFUL TO OURSELVES. We
praise in individuals the qualities useful to themselves, and are
pleased with the happiness flowing to individuals by their own conduct.
This can be no selfish motive on our part. For example, DISCRETION, so
necessary to the accomplishing of any useful enterprise, is commended;
that measured union of enterprise and caution found in great
commanders, is a subject of highest admiration; and why? For the
usefulness, or the success that it brings. What need is there to
display the praises of INDUSTRY, or of FRUGALITY, virtues useful to the
possessor in the first instance? Then the qualities of HONESTY,
FIDELITY, and TRUTH, are praised, in the first place, for their
tendency to the good of society; and, being established on that
foundation, they are also approved as advantageous to the individual's
own self. A part of our blame of UNCHASTITY in a woman is attached to
its imprudence with reference to the opinion regarding it. STRENGTH OF
MIND being to resist present care, and to maintain the search of
distant profit and enjoyment, is another quality of great value to the
possessor. The distinction between the _Fool_ and the _Wise_ man
illustrates the same position. In our approbation of all such
qualities, it is evident that the happiness and misery of others are
not indifferent spectacles to us: the one, like sunshine, or the
prospect of well-cultivated plains, imparts joy and satisfaction; the
other, like a lowering cloud or a barren landscape, throws a damp over
the spirits.

He next considers the influence of bodily endowments and the goods of
fortune as bearing upon the general question.

Even in animals, one great source of _beauty_ is the suitability of
their structure to their manner of life. In times when bodily strength
in men was more essential to a warrior than now, it was held in so much
more esteem. Impotence in both sexes, and barrenness in women, are
generally contemned, for the loss of human pleasure attending them.

As regards fortune, how can we account for the regard paid to the rich
and powerful, but from the reflexion to the mind of prosperity,
happiness, ease, plenty, authority, and the gratification of every
appetite. Rank and family, although they may be detached from wealth
and power, had originally a reference to these.

OURSELVES. Under this head, he dilates on the influence of
CHEERFULNESS, as a social quality: on GREATNESS OF MIND, or Dignity of
Character; on COURAGE; on TRANQUILLITY, or equanimity of mind, in the
midst of pain, sorrow, and adverse fortune; on BENEVOLENCE in the
aspect of an agreeable spectacle; and lastly, on DELICACY of Taste, as
a merit. As manifested to a beholder, all these qualities are engaging
and admirable, on account of the immediate pleasure that they
communicate to the person possessed of them. They are farther
testimonies to the existence of social sympathy, and to the connexion
of that with our sentiment of approbation towards actions or persons.

enlivens social intercourse; MODESTY, as opposed to impudence,
arrogance, and vanity; CLEANLINESS, and GRACEFUL MANNER; all which are
obviously valued for the pleasures they communicate to people
generally. Section IX. is the CONCLUSION. Whatever may have been
maintained in systems of philosophy, he contends that in common life
the habitual motives of panegyric or censure are of the kind described
by him. He will not enter into the question as to the relative shares
of benevolence and self-love in the human constitution. Let the
generous sentiments be ever so weak, they still direct a preference of
what is serviceable to what is pernicious; and on these preferences a
moral distinction is founded. In the notion of morals, two things are
implied; a sentiment common to all mankind, and a sentiment whose
objects comprehend all mankind; and these two requisites belong to the
sentiment of humanity or benevolence.

Another spring of our constitution, that brings a great addition of
force to moral sentiment, is Love of Fame. The pursuit of a character,
name, and reputation in the world, leads to a habit of surveying our
own actions, begets a reverence for self as well as others, and is thus
the guardian of every virtue. Humanity and Love of Reputation combine
to form the highest type of morality yet conceived.

The nature of moral _approbation_ being thus solved, there remains the
nature of _obligation_; by which the author means to enquire, if a man
having a view to his own welfare, will not find his best account in the
practice of every moral virtue. He dwells upon the many advantages of
social virtue, of benevolence and friendship, humanity and kindness, of
truth and honesty; but confesses that the rule that 'honesty is the
best policy' is liable to many exceptions. He makes us acquainted with
his own theory of Happiness. How little is requisite to supply the
_necessities_ of nature? and what comparison is there between, on the
one hand, the cheap pleasures of conversation, society, study, even
health, and, on the other, the common beauties of nature, with
self-approbation; and the feverish, empty amusements of luxury and

Thus ends the main treatise; but the author adds, in an Appendix, four
additional dissertations.

The first takes up the question started at the outset, but postponed,
how far our moral approbation is a matter of _reason_, and how far of
_sentiment_. His handling of this topic is luminous and decisive.

If the utility of actions be a foundation of our approval of them,
_reason_ must have a share, for no other faculty can trace the results
of actions in their bearings upon human happiness. In Justice
especially, there are often numerous and complicated considerations;
such as to occupy the deliberations of politicians and the debates of

On the other hand, reason is insufficient of itself to constitute the
feeling of moral approbation or disapprobation. Reason shows the means
to an end; but if we are otherwise indifferent to the end, the
reasonings fall inoperative on the mind. Here then a _sentiment_ must
display itself, a delight in the happiness of men, and a repugnance to
what causes them misery. Reason teaches the consequences of actions;
Humanity or Benevolence is roused to make a distinction in favour of
such as are beneficial.

He adduces a number of illustrations to show that reason alone is
insufficient to make a moral sentiment. He bids us examine Ingratitude,
for instance; good offices bestowed on one side, ill-will on the other.
Reason might say, whether a certain action, say the gift of money, or
an act of patronage, was for the good of the party receiving it, and
whether the circumstances of the gift indicated a good intention on the
part of the giver; it might also say, whether the actions of the person
obliged were intentionally or consciously hurtful or wanting in esteem
to the person obliging. But when all this is made out by reason, there
remains the sentiment of abhorrence, whose foundations must be in the
emotional part of our nature, in our delight in manifested goodness,
and our abhorrence of the opposite.

He refers to Beauty or Taste as a parallel case, where there may be an
operation of the intellect to compute proportions, but where the
elegance or beauty must arise in the region of feeling. Thus, while
_reason_ conveys the knowledge of truth and falsehood, _sentiment_ or
emotion must give beauty and deformity, vice and virtue.

Appendix No. II. is a discussion of SELF-LOVE. The author adverts first
to the position that benevolence is a mere pretence, a cheat, a gloss
of self-love, and dismisses it with a burst of indignation. He next
considers the less offensive view, that all benevolence and generosity
are resolvable in the last resort into self-love. He does not attribute
to the holders of this opinion any laxity in their own practice of
virtue, as compared with other men. Epicurus and his followers were no
strangers to probity; Atticus and Horace were men of generous
dispositions; Hobbes and Locke were irreproachable in their lives.
These men all allowed that friendship exists without hypocrisy; but
considered that, by a sort of mental chemistry, it might be made out
self-love, twisted and moulded by a particular turn of the imagination.
But, says Hume, as some men have not the turn of imagination, and
others have, this alone is quite enough to make the widest difference
of human characters, and to stamp one man as virtuous and humane, and
another vicious and meanly interested. The analysis in no way sets
aside the reality of moral distinctions. The question is, therefore,
purely speculative.

As a speculation, it is open to these objections. (1) Being contrary to
the unprejudiced notions of mankind, it demands some very powerful aid
from philosophy. On the face of things, the selfish passions and the
benevolent passions are widely distinguished, and no hypothesis has
ever yet so far overcome the disparity as to show that the one could
grow out of the other; we may discern in the attempts that love of
_simplicity_, which has done so much harm to philosophy.

The Animals are susceptible of kindness; shall we then attribute to
them, too, a refinement of self-interest? Again, what interest can a
fond mother have in view who loses her health in attendance on a sick
child, and languishes and dies of grief when relieved from the slavery
of that attendance?

(2) But farther, the real simplicity lies on the side of independent
and disinterested benevolence. There are bodily appetites that carry us
to their objects before sensual enjoyment; hunger and thirst have
eating and drinking for their end; the gratification follows, and
becomes a secondary desire. [A very questionable analysis.] So there
are mental passions, as fame, power, vengeance, that urge us to act, in
the first instance; and when the end is attained, the pleasure follows.
Now, as vengeance may be so pursued as to make us neglect ease,
interest, and safety, why may we not allow to humanity and friendship
the same privileges? [This is Butler, improved in the statement.]

Appendix III. gives some farther considerations with regard to JUSTICE.
The point of the discussion is to show that Justice differs from
Generosity or Beneficence in a regard to distant consequences, and to
General Rules. The theme is handled in the author's usual happy style,
but contains nothing special to him. He omits to state what is also a
prime attribute of Justice, its being indispensable to the very
existence of society, which cannot be said of generosity apart from its
contributing to justice.

Appendix IV. is on some VERBAL DISPUTES. He remarks that, neither in
English nor in any other modern tongue, is the boundary fixed between
virtues and talents, vices and defects; that praise is given to natural
endowments, as well as to voluntary exertions. The epithets
_intellectual_ and _moral_ do not precisely divide the virtues; neither
does the contrast of _head_ and _heart_; many virtuous qualities
partake of both ingredients. So the sentiment of _conscious worth_, or
of its opposite, is affected by what is not in our power, as well as by
what is; by the goodness or badness of our memory, as well as by
continence or dissoluteness of conduct. Without endowments of the
understanding, the best intentions will not procure esteem.

The ancient moralists included in the virtues what are obviously
natural endowments. Prudence, according to Cicero, involved sagacity or
powers of judgment. In Aristotle, we find, among the virtues, Courage,
Temperance, Magnanimity, Modesty, Prudence, and manly Openness, as well
as Justice and Friendship. Epictetus puts people on their guard against
humanity and compassion. In general, the difference of voluntary and
involuntary was little regarded in ancient ethics. This is changed in
modern times, by the alliance of Ethics with Theology. The divine has
put all morality on the footing of the civil law, and guarded it by the
same sanctions of reward and punishment; and consequently must make the
distinction of voluntary and involuntary fundamental.

Hume also composed a dialogue, to illustrate, in his light and easy
style, the great variety, amounting almost to opposition, of men's
moral sentiments in different ages. This may seem adverse to his
principle of Utility, as it is to the doctrine of an Intuitive Sense of
Right and Wrong. He allows, however, for the different ways that people
may view Utility, seeing that the consequences of acting are often
difficult to estimate, and people may agree in an end without agreeing
in the means. Still, he pays too little attention to the sentimental
likings and dislikings that frequently overbear the sense of Utility;
scarcely recognizing it, except in one passage, where he dwells on the
superstitions that mingle with a regard to the consequences of actions
in determining right.

We shall now repeat the leading points of Hume's system, in the usual

I.--The Standard of Right and Wrong is Utility, or a reference to the
Happiness of mankind. This is the ground, as wall as the motive, of
moral approbation.

II.--As to the nature of the Moral Faculty, he contends that it is a
compound of Reason, and Humane or Generous Sentiment.

He does not introduce the subject of Free-will into Morals.

He contends strongly for the existence of Disinterested Sentiment, or
Benevolence; but scarcely recognizes it as leading to absolute and
uncompensated self-sacrifice. He does not seem to see that as far as
the approbation of benevolent actions is concerned, we are anything but
disinterested parties. The good done by one man is done to some others;
and the recipients are moved by their self-love to encourage
beneficence. The regard to our own benefactor makes all benefactors

III.--He says little directly bearing on the constituents of Human
Happiness; but that little is all in favour of simplicity of life and
cheap pleasures. He does not reflect that the pleasures singled out by
him are far from cheap; 'agreeable conversation, society, study,
health, and the beauties of nature,' although not demanding
extraordinary wealth, cannot be secured without a larger share of
worldly means than has ever fallen to the mass of men in any community.

IV.--As to the substance of the Moral Code, he makes no innovations. He
talks somewhat more lightly of the evils of Unchastity than is
customary; but regards the prevailing restraints as borne out by

The inducements to virtue are, in his view, our humane sentiments, on
the one hand, and our self-love, or prudence, on the other; the two
classes of motives conspiring to promote both our own good and the good
of mankind.

V.--The connexion of Ethics with Politics is not specially brought out.
The political virtues are moral virtues. He does not dwell upon the
sanctions of morality, so as to distinguish the legal sanction from the
popular sanction. He draws no line between Duty and Merit.

VI.--He recognizes no relationship between Ethics and Theology. The
principle of Benevolence in the human mind is, he thinks, an adequate
source of moral approbation and disapprobation; and he takes no note of
what even sceptics (Gibbon, for example) often dwell upon, the aid of
the Theological sanction in enforcing duties imperfectly felt by the
natural and unprompted sentiments of the mind.

RICHARD PRICE. (1723-1791.)

Price's work is entitled, 'A Review of the principal questions in
Morals; particularly those respecting the Origin of our Ideas of
Virtue, its Nature, Relation to the Deity, Obligation, Subject-matter,
and Sanctions.' In the third edition, he added an Appendix on 'the
Being and Attributes of the Deity.'

The book is divided into ten chapters.

Chapter I. is on the origin of our Ideas of Right and Wrong. The
actions of moral agents, he says, give rise in us to three different
perceptions: 1st, Right and Wrong; 2nd, Beauty and Deformity; 3rd, Good
or Ill Desert. It is the first of these perceptions that he proposes
mainly to consider.

He commences by quoting Hutcheson's doctrine of a Moral Sense, which he
describes as an _implanted_ and _arbitrary_ principle, imparting a
relish or disrelish for actions, like the sensibilities of the various
senses. On this doctrine, he remarks, the Creator might have annexed
the same sentiments to the opposite actions. Other schemes of morality,
such as Self-love, Positive Laws and Compacts, the Will of the Deity,
he dismisses as not meeting the true question.

The question, as conceived by him, is, 'What is the power within us
that perceives the distinctions of Right and Wrong?' The answer is, The

To establish this position, he enters into an enquiry into the distinct
provinces of Sense and of Understanding in the origin of our ideas. It
is plain, he says, that what judges concerning the perceptions of the
senses, and contradicts their decisions, cannot itself be sense, but
must be some nobler faculty. Likewise, the power that views and
compares the objects of all the senses cannot be sense. Sense is a mere
capacity of being passively impressed; it presents _particular_ forms
to the mind, and is incapable of discovering general truths. It is the
understanding that perceives order or proportion; variety and
regularity; design, connexion, art, and power; aptitudes, dependence,
correspondence, and adjustment of parts to a whole or to an end. He
goes over our leading ideas in detail, to show that mere sense cannot
furnish them. Thus, Solidity, or Impenetrability, needs an exertion of
reason; we must compare instances to know that two atoms of matter
cannot occupy the same space. _Vis Inerticæ_ is a perception of the
reason. So Substance, Duration, Space, Necessary Existence, Power, and
Causation involve the understanding. Likewise, that all Abstract Ideas
whatsoever require the understanding is superfluously proved. The
author wonders, therefore, that his position in this matter should not
have been sooner arrived at.

The tracing of Agreement and of Disagreement, which are functions of
the Understanding, is really the source of simple ideas. Thus, Equality
is a simple idea originating in this source; so are Proportion,
Identity and Diversity, Existence, Cause and Effect, Power, Possibility
and Impossibility; and (as he means ultimately to show) Right and

Although the author's exposition is not very lucid, his main conclusion
is a sound one. Sense, in its narrowest acceptation, gives particular
impressions and experiences of Colour, Sound, Touch, Taste, Odour, &c.
The Intellectual functions of Discrimination and Agreement are
necessary as a supplement to Sense, to recognize these impressions as
differing and agreeing, as Equal or Unequal; Proportionate or
Disproportionate; Harmonious or Discordant. And farther, every abstract
or general notion,--colours in the abstract, sweetness, pungency,
&c.--supposes these, powers of the understanding in addition to the
recipiency of the senses.

To apply this to Right and Wrong, the author begins by affirming [what
goes a good way towards begging the question] that right and wrong are
simple ideas, and therefore the result of an _immediate_ power of
perception in the human mind. Beneficence and Cruelty are indefinable,
and therefore ultimate. There must be some actions that are in the last
resort an end in themselves. This being assumed, the author contends
that the power of immediately perceiving these ultimate ideas is the
Understanding. Shaftesbury had contended that, because the perception
of right and wrong was immediate, therefore it must reside in a special
Sense. The conclusion, thinks Price, was, to say the least of it,
hasty; for it does not follow that every immediate perception should
reside in a special sensibility or sense. He puts it to each one's
experience whether, in conceiving Gratitude or Beneficence to be right,
one feels a sensation merely, or performs an act of understanding.
'Would not a Being purely intelligent, having happiness within his
reach, approve of securing it for himself? Would he not think this
right; and would it not be right? When we contemplate the happiness of
a species, or of a world, and pronounce on the actions of reasonable
beings which promote it, that they are _right_, is this judging
erroneously? Or is it no determination of the judgment at all, but a
species of mental taste [as Shaftesbury and Hutcheson supposed]? [As
against a moral sense, this reasoning may be effective; but it
obviously assumes an end of desire,--happiness for self, or for
others--and yet does not allow to that end any share in making up the
sense of right and wrong.] Every one, the author goes on to say, must
desire happiness for himself; and our rational nature thenceforth must
approve of the actions for promoting happiness, and disapprove of the
contrary actions. Surely the understanding has some share in the
revulsion that we feel when any one brings upon himself, or upon
others, calamity and ruin. A being flattered with hopes of bliss and
then plunged into torments would complain _justly_; he would consider
that violence had been done to a perception of the human

He next brings out a metaphysical difficulty in applying right and
wrong to actions, on the supposition that they are mere effects of
sensation. All sensations, as such, are modes of consciousness, or
feelings, of a sentient being, and must be of a nature different from
their causes. Colour is in the mind, not an attribute of the object;
but right and wrong are qualities of actions, of objects, and therefore
must be ideas, not sensations. Then, again, there can be nothing true
or untrue in a sensation; all sensations are alike just; while the
moral rectitude of an action is something absolute and unvarying.
Lastly, all actions have a nature, or character; something truly
belonging to them, and truly affirmable of them. If actions have no
character, then they are all indifferent; but this no one can affirm;
we all strongly believe the contrary. Actions are not indifferent. They
are good or bad, better or worse. And if so, they are declared such by
an act of _judgment_, a function of the understanding.

The author, considering his thesis established, deduces from it the
corollary, that morality is _eternal and immutable_. As an object of
the Understanding, it has an invariable essence. No will, not even
Omnipotence, can make _things_ other than they are. Right and wrong, as
far as they express the real characters of actions, must immutably and
necessarily belong to the actions. By action, is of course understood
not a bare external effect, but an effect taken along with its
principle or rule, the motives or reasons of the being that performs
it. The matter of an action being the same, its morality reposes upon
the end or motive of the agent. Nothing can be obligatory in us that
was not so from eternity. The will of God could not make a thing right
that was not right in its own nature.

The author closes his first chapter with a criticism of the doctrine of
Protagoras--that man is the measure of all things--interpreting it as
another phase of the view that he is combating.

Although this chapter is but a small part of the work, it completes the
author's demonstration of his ethical theory.

Chapter II. is on 'our Ideas of the Beauty and Deformity of Actions.'
By these are meant our pleasurable and painful sentiments, arising from
the consideration of moral right and wrong, expressed by calling some
actions amiable, and others odious, shocking, vile. Although, in this
aspect of actions, it would seem that the reference to a sense is the
suitable explanation, he still contends for the intervention of the
Understanding. The character of the Deity must appear more amiable the
better it is _known_ and _understood_. A reasonable being, without any
special sensibilities, but knowing what order and happiness are, would
receive pleasure from the contemplation of a universe where order
prevailed, and pain from a prospect of the contrary. To _behold_ virtue
is to admire her; to _perceive_ vice is to be moved to condemnation.
There must always be a consideration of the circumstances of an action,
and this involves intellectual discernment.

The author now qualifies his doctrine by the remark, that to some
superior beings the intellectual discernment may explain the whole of
the appearances, but inferior natures, such as the human, are aided by
_instinctive determinations_. Our appetites and passions are too strong
for reason by itself, especially in early years. Hence he is disposed
to conclude that 'in contemplating the actions of moral agents, we have
both _a perception of the understanding_ and _a feeling of the heart;'_
but that this feeling of the heart, while partly instinctive, is mainly
a sense of congruity and incongruity in actions. The author therefore
allows something to innate sense, but differs from Shaftesbury, who
makes the whole a matter of intuitive determination.

Chapter III. relates to the origin of our Desires and Affections, by
which he means more especially Self-love and Benevolence. His position
here is that Self-love is the essence of a Sensible being, Benevolence
the essential of an Intelligent being. By the very nature of our
sensitive constitution, we cannot but choose happiness for self; and it
is only an act of intellectual consistency to extend the same measure
to others. The same qualification, however, is made as to the
insufficiency of a mere intellectual impulse in this matter, without
constitutional tendencies. These constitutional tendencies the author
considers as made up of our Appetites and Passions, while our
Affections are founded on our rational nature. Then follow a few
observations in confirmation of Butler's views as to the disinterested
nature of our affections.

Chapter IV. is on our Ideas of good and ill Desert. These are only a
variety of our ideas of right and wrong, being the feelings excited
towards the moral Agent. Our reason determines, with regard to a
virtuous agent, that he ought to be the better for his virtue. The
ground of such determination, however, is not solely that virtuous
conduct promotes the happiness of mankind, and vice detracts from it;
this counts for much, but not for all. Virtue is in itself rewardable;
vice is of essential demerit. Our understanding recognizes the absolute
and eternal rectitude, the intrinsic fitness of the procedure in both

Chapter V. is entitled 'Of the Reference of Morality to the Divine
Nature; the Rectitude of our Faculties; and the Grounds of Belief.' The
author means to reply to the objection that his system, in setting up a
criterion independent of God, is derogatory to the Divine nature. He
urges that there must be attributes of the Deity, independent of his
will; as his Existence, Immensity, Power, Wisdom; that Mind supposes
Truth apart from itself; that without moral distinctions there could be
no Moral Attributes in the Deity. Certain things are inherent in his
Nature, and not dependent on his will. There is a limit to the universe
itself; two infinities of space or of duration are not possible. The
necessary goodness of the divine nature is a part of necessary truth.
Thus, morality, although not asserted to depend on the will of the
Deity, is still resolvable into his nature. In all this, Price avowedly
follows Cudworth.

He then starts another difficulty. May not our faculties be mistaken,
or be so constituted as to deceive us? To which he gives the reply,
made familiar to us by Hamilton, that the doubt is suicidal; the
faculty that doubts being itself under the same imputation. Nay, more,
a being cannot be made such as to be imposed on by falsehood; what is
false is nothing. As to the cases of actual mistake, these refer to
matters attended with some difficulty; and it does not follow that we
must be mistaken in cases that are clear.

He concludes with a statement of the ultimate grounds of our belief.
These are, (1) Consciousness or Feeling, as in regard to our own
existence, our sensations, passions, &c.; (2) Intuition, comprising
self-evident truths; and (3) Deduction, or Argumentation. He discusses
under these the existence of a material world, and affirms that we have
an Intuition that it is _possible_.

Chapter VI. considers Fitness and Moral Obligation, and other
prevailing forms of expression regarding morality. Fitness and
Unfitness denote Congruity or Incongruity, and are necessarily a
perception of the Understanding.

The term Obligation is more perplexing. Still, it is but another name
for _Rightness_. What is Right is, by that very fact, obligatory.
Obligation, therefore, cannot be the creature of law, for law may
command what is morally wrong. The will of God enforced by rewards and
punishments cannot make right; it would only determine what is
_prudent_. Rewards and punishments do not make obligation, but suppose
it. Rectitude is a LAW, the authoritative guide of a rational being. It
is Supreme, universal, unalterable, and indispensable. Self-valid and
self-originated, it stands on immovable foundations. Being the one
authority in nature, it is, in short, the Divine authority. Even the
obligations of religion are but branches of universal rectitude. The
Sovereign Authority is not the mere result of his Almighty Power, but
of this conjoined with his necessary perfections and infinite

He does not admit that obligation implies an obliger.

He takes notice of the objection that certain actions may be right, and
yet we are not bound to perform them; such are acts of generosity and
kindness. But his answer throws no farther light on his main doctrine.

In noticing the theories of other writers in the same vein, as
Wollaston, he takes occasion to remark that, together with the
perception of conformity or fitness, there is a simple immediate
perception urging us to act according to that fitness, for which no
farther reason can be assigned. When we compare innocence and eternal
misery, we are struck with the idea of unsuitableness, and are inspired
in consequence with intense repugnance.

Chapter VII. discusses the Heads or Divisions of Virtue; under which he
enquires first what are virtuous actions; secondly, what is the true
principle or motive of a virtuous agent; and thirdly, the estimate of
the degrees of virtue.

He first quotes Butler to show that all virtue is not summed up in
Benevolence; repeating that there is an intrinsic rectitude in keeping
faith; and giving the usual arguments against Utility, grounded on the
supposed crimes that might be committed on this plea. He is equally
opposed to those that would deny disinterested benevolence, or would
resolve beneficence into veracity. He urges against Hutcheson, that,
these being independent and distinct virtues, a distinct sense would be
necessary to each; in other words, we should, for the whole of virtue,
need a plurality of moral senses.

His classification of Virtue comprehends (1) Duty to God, which he
dilates upon at some length. (2) Duty to Ourselves, wherein he
maintains that our sense of self-interest is not enough for us. (3)
Beneficence, the Good of others. (4) Gratitude. (5) Veracity, which he
inculcates with great earnestness, adverting especially to impartiality
and honesty in our enquiries after truth. (6) Justice, which he treats
in its application to the Rights of Property. He considers that the
difficulties in practice arise partly from the conflict of the
different heads, and partly from the different modes of applying the
same principles; which he gives as an answer to the objection from the
great differences of men's moral sentiments and practices. He allows,
besides, that custom, education, and example, may blind and deprave our
intellectual and moral powers; but denies that the whole of our notions
and sentiments could result from education. No amount of depravity is
able utterly to destroy our moral discernment.

Chapter VIII. treats of Intention as an element in virtuous action. He
makes a distinction between Virtue in the Abstract and Virtue in
Practice, or with reference to all the circumstances of the agent. A
man may do abstract wrong, through mistake, while as he acts with his
best judgment and with upright intentions, he is practically right. He
grounds on this a powerful appeal against every attempt at dominion
over conscience. The requisites of Practical Morality are (1) Liberty,
or Free-will, on which he takes the side of free-agency. (2)
Intelligence, without which there can be no perception of good and
evil, and no moral agency. (3) The Consciousness of Rectitude, or
Righteous Intention. On this he dwells at some length. No action is
properly the action of a moral agent unless designed by him. A virtuous
motive is essential to virtue. On the question--Is Benevolence a
virtuous motive? he replies: Not the Instinctive benevolence of the
parent, but only Rational benevolence; which he allows to coincide with
rectitude. Reason presiding over Self-love renders it a virtuous
principle likewise. The presence of Reason in greater or less degree is
the criterion of the greater or less virtue of any action.

Chapter IX. is on the different Degrees of Virtue and Vice, and the
modes of estimating them; the Difficulties attending the Practice of
Virtue; the use of Trials, and the essentials of a good or a bad
Character. The considerations adduced are a number of perfectly
well-known maxims on the practice of morality, and scarcely add
anything to the elucidation of the author's Moral Theory. The
concluding chapter, on Natural Religion, contains nothing original.

To sum up the views of Price:--

I.--As regards the Moral Standard, he asserts that a perception of the
Reason or the Understanding,--a sense of fitness or congruity between
actions and the agents, and all the circumstances attending them,--is
what determines Right and Wrong.

He finds it impracticable to maintain his position without sundry
qualifications, as we have seen. Virtue is naturally adapted to
_please_ every observing mind; vice the contrary. Right actions must be
_grateful_, wrong ungrateful to us. To _behold_ virtue is to _admire_
her. In contemplating the actions of moral agents, we have _both_ a
perception of the understanding and a feeling of the heart. He thus
re-admits an element of feeling, along with the intellect, in some
undefined degree; contending only that _all morality_ is not to be
resolved into feeling or instinct. We have also noticed another
singular admission, to the effect that only superior natures can
discover virtue by the understanding. Reason alone, did we possess it
in a high degree, would answer all the ends of the passions. Parental
affection would be unnecessary, if parents were sufficiently alive to
the reasons of supporting the young, and were virtuous enough to be
always determined by them.

Utility, although not the _sole_ ground of Justice, is yet admitted to
be _one_ important reason or ground of many of its maxims.

II.--The nature of the Moral Faculty, in Price's theory, is not a
separate question from the standard, but the same question. His
discussion takes the form of an enquiry into the Faculty:--'What is the
power within us that perceives the distinctions of Right and Wrong?'
The two questions are mixed up throughout, to the detriment of
precision in the reasoning.

With his usual facility of making concessions to other principles, he
says it is not easy to determine how far our natural sentiments may be
altered by custom, education, and example: while it would be
unreasonable to conclude that all is derived from these sources. That
part of our moral constitution depending on instinct is liable to be
corrupted by custom and education to almost any length; but the most
depraved can never sink so low as to lose all moral discernment, all
ideas of just and unjust; of which he offers the singular proof that
men are never wanting in resentment when they are _themselves_ the
objects of ill-treatment.

As regards the Psychology of Disinterested Action, he provides nothing
but a repetition of Butler (Chapter III.) and a vague assertion of the
absurdity of denying disinterested benevolence.

III.--On Human Happiness, he has only a few general remarks. Happiness
is an object of essential and eternal value. Happiness is the _end_,
and the _only_ end, conceivable by us, of God's providence and
government; but He pursues this end in subordination to rectitude.
Virtue tends to happiness, but does not always secure it. A person that
sacrifices his life rather than violate his conscience, or betray his
country, gives up all possibility of any present reward, and loses the
more in proportion as his virtue is more glorious.

Neither on the Moral Code, nor in the relations of Ethics to Politics
and to Theology, are any further remarks on Price called for.

ADAM SMITH. [1723-90.]

The 'Theory of the Moral Sentiments' is a work of great extent and
elaboration. It is divided into five Parts; each part being again
divided into Sections, and these subdivided into Chapters.

PART I. is entitled, OF THE PROPRIETY OF ACTION. _Section I._ is, _'Of
the Sense of Propriety.'_ Propriety is his word for Rectitude or Right.

Chapter I., entitled, 'Of Sympathy,' is a felicitous illustration of
the general nature and workings of Sympathy. He calls in the experience
of all mankind to attest the existence of our sympathetic impulses. He
shows through what medium sympathy operates; namely, by our placing
ourselves in the situation of the other party, and imagining what we
should feel in that case. He produces the most notable examples of the
impressions made on us by our witnessing the actions, the pleasurable
and the painful expression of others; effects extending even to
fictitious representations. He then remarks that, although on some
occasions, we take on simply and purely the feelings manifested in our
presence,--the grief or joy of another man, yet this is far from the
universal case: a display of angry passion may produce in us hostility
and disgust; but this very result may be owing to our sympathy for the
person likely to suffer from the anger. So our sympathy for grief or
for joy is imperfect until we know the cause, and may be entirely
suppressed. We take the whole situation into view, as well as the
expression of the feeling. Hence we often feel for another person what
that person does not feel for himself; we act out our own view of the
situation, not his. We feel for the insane what they do not feel; we
sympathize even with the dead.

Chapter II. is 'Of the Pleasure of Mutual Sympathy.' It contains
illustrations of the delight that we experience in the sympathy of
others; we being thereby strengthened in our pleasures and relieved in
our miseries. He observes that we demand this sympathy more urgently
for our painful emotions than for such as are pleasurable; we are
especially intolerant of the omission of our friends to join in our
resentments. On the other hand, we feel pleasure in the act of
sympathizing, and find in that a compensation for the pain that the
sight of pain gives us. Still, this pleasure may be marred if the other
party's own expression of grief or of joy is beyond what we think
suitable to the situation.

Chapter III. considers 'the manner of our judging of the propriety of
other men's affections by their consonance with our own,' The author
illustrates the obvious remark, that we approve of the passions of
another, if they are such as we ourselves should feel in the same
situation. We require that a man's expression and conduct should be
suitable to the occasion, according to our own standard of judging,
namely, our own procedure in such cases.

Chapter IV. continues the subject, and draws a distinction between two
cases; the case where the objects of a feeling do not concern either
ourselves or the person himself, and the case where they do concern one
or other. The first case is shown in matters of taste and science,
where we derive pleasure from sympathy, but yet can tolerate
difference. The other case is exemplified in our personal fortunes; in
these, we cannot endure any one refusing us their sympathy. Still, it
is to be noted that the sympathizer does not fully attain the level of
the sufferer; hence the sufferer, aware of this, and desiring the
satisfaction of a full accord with his friend, tones down his own
vehemence till it can be fully met by the other; which very
circumstance is eventually for his own good, and adds to, rather than
detracts from, the tranquillizing influence of a friendly presence. We
sober down our feelings still more before casual acquaintance and
strangers; and hence the greater equality of temper in the man of the
world than in the recluse.

Chapter V. makes an application of these remarks to explain the
difference between the Amiable and the Respectable Virtues. The soft,
the gentle, and the amiable qualities are manifested when, as
sympathizers, we enter fully into the expressed sentiments of another;
the great, the awful and respectable virtues of self-denial, are shown
when the principal person concerned brings down his own case to the
level that the most ordinary sympathy can easily attain to. The one is
the virtue of giving much, the other of expecting little.

_Section II._ is '_Of the Degrees of the different passions which are
consistent with propriety_.' Under this head he reviews the leading
passions, remarks how far, and why, we can sympathize with each.

Chapter I. is on the Passions having their origin in the body. We can
sympathize with hunger to a certain limited extent, and in certain
circumstances; but we can rarely tolerate any very prominent expression
of it. The same limitations apply to the passion of the sexes. We
partly sympathize with bodily pain, but not with the violent expression
of it. These feelings are in marked contrast to the passions seated in
the imagination: wherein our appetite for sympathy is complete;
disappointed love or ambition, loss of friends or of dignity, are
suitable to representation in art. On the same principle, we can
sympathize with danger; as regards our power of conceiving, we are on a
level with the sufferer. From our inability to enter into bodily pain,
we the more admire the man that can bear it with firmness.

Chapter II. is on certain Passions depending on a peculiar turn of the
Imagination. Under this he exemplifies chiefly the situation of two
lovers, with whose passion, in its intensity, a third person cannot
sympathize, although one may enter into the hopes of happiness, and
into the dangers and calamities often flowing from it.

Chapter III. is on the Unsocial Passions. These necessarily divide our
sympathy between him that feels them and him that is their object.
Resentment is especially hard to sympathize with. We may ourselves
resent wrong done to another, but the less so that the sufferer
strongly resents it. Moreover, there is in the passion itself an
element of the disagreeable and repulsive; its manifestation is
naturally distasteful. It may be useful and even necessary, but so is a
prison, which is not on that account a pleasant object. In order to
make its gratification agreeable, there must be many well known
conditions and qualifications attending it.

Chapter IV. gives the contrast of the Social Passions. It is with the
humane, the benevolent sentiments, that our sympathy is unrestricted
and complete. Even in their excess, they never inspire aversion.

Chapter V. is on the Selfish Passions. He supposes these, in regard to
sympathy, to hold a middle place between the social and the unsocial.
We sympathize with small joys and with great sorrows; and not with
great joys (which dispense with our aid, if they do not excite our
envy) or with small troubles.

_Section III_. considers _the effects of prosperity and adversity upon
the judgments of mankind regarding propriety of action_.

Chapter I. puts forward the proposition that our sympathy with sorrow,
although more lively than our sympathy with joy, falls short of the
intensity of feeling in the person concerned. It is agreeable to
sympathize with joy, and we do so with the heart; the painfulness of
entering into grief and misery holds us back. Hence, as he remarked
before, the magnanimity and nobleness of the man that represses his
woes, and does not exact our compassionate participation.

Chapter II. inquires into the origin of Ambition, and of the
distinction of Ranks. Proceeding upon the principle just enounced, that
mankind sympathize with joy rather than with sorrow, the author
composes an exceedingly eloquent homily on the worship paid to rank and

Chapter III., in continuation of the same theme, illustrates the
corruption of our moral sentiments, arising from this worship of the
great. 'We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more
strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise
and the virtuous.' 'The external graces, the frivolous accomplishments
of that impertinent and foolish thing called a man of fashion, are
commonly more admired than the solid and masculine virtues of a
warrior, a statesman, a philosopher, or a legislator.'

PUNISHMENT. It consists of three Sections.

_Section I_. is, _Of the Sense of Merit and Demerit_.

Chapter I. maintains that whatever appears to be the proper object of
gratitude, appears to deserve reward; and that whatever appears to be
the proper object of resentment, appears to deserve punishment. The
author distinguishes between gratitude and mere love or liking; and,
obversely, between resentment and hatred. Love makes us pleased to see
any one promoted; but gratitude urges us to be ourselves the instrument
of their promotion.

Chapter II. determines the proper objects of Gratitude and Resentment,
these being also the proper objects of Reward and Punishment
respectively. 'These, as well as all the other passions of human
nature, seem proper, and are approved of, _when the heart of every
impartial spectator entirely sympathizes with them_, when every
indifferent by-stander entirely enters into, and goes along with them.'
In short, a good moral decision is obtained by the unanimous vote of
all impartial persons.

This view is in accordance with the course taken by the mind in the two
contrasting situations. In sympathizing with the joy of a prosperous
person, we approve of his complacent and grateful sentiment towards the
author of his prosperity; we make his gratitude our own: in
sympathizing with sorrow, we enter into, and approve of, the natural
resentment towards the agent causing it.

Chapter III. remarks that where we do not approve of the conduct of the
person conferring the benefit, we have little sympathy with the
gratitude of the receiver; we do not care to enter into the gratitude
of the favourites of profligate monarchs.

Chapter IV. supposes the case of our approving strongly the conduct and
the motives of a benefactor, in which case we sympathize to a
corresponding degree with the gratitude of the receiver.

Chapter V. sums up the analysis of the Sense of Merit and of Demerit
thus:--The sense of Merit is a compound sentiment, made up of two
distinct emotions; a direct sympathy with the sentiments of the agent
(constituting the propriety of the action), and an indirect sympathy
with the gratitude of the recipient. The sense of Demerit includes a
direct antipathy to the sentiments of the agent, and an indirect
sympathy with the resentment of the sufferer.

_Section II_. is _Of Justice and Beneficence_.

Chapter I. compares the two virtues. Actions of a beneficent tendency,
from proper motives, seem alone to require a reward; actions of a
hurtful tendency, from improper motives, seem alone to deserve
punishment. It is the nature of Beneficence to be free; the mere
absence of it does not expose to punishment. Of all the duties of
beneficence, the one most allied to perfect obligation is gratitude;
but although we talk of the debt of gratitude (we do not say the debt
of _charity_), we do not punish ingratitude.

Resentment, the source of punishment, is given for defence against
positive evil; we employ it not to extort benefits, but to repel
injuries. Now, the injury is the violation of Justice. The sense of
mankind goes along with the employment of violence to avenge the hurt
done by injustice, to prevent the injury, and to restrain the offender.
Beneficence, then, is the subject of reward; and the want of it is not
the subject of punishment. There may be cases where a beneficent act is
compelled by punishment, as in obliging a father to support his family,
or in punishing a man for not interfering when another is in danger;
but these cases are immaterial exceptions to the broad definition. He
might have added, that in cases where justice is performed under
unusual difficulties, and with unusual fidelity, our disposition would
be not merely to exempt from punishment, but to reward.

Chapter II. considers the sense of Justice, Remorse, and the feeling of

Every man is recommended by nature to his own care, being fitter to
take care of himself than of another person. We approve, therefore, of
each one seeking their own good; but then it must not be to the hurt of
any other being. The primary feeling of self-preservation would not of
itself, however, be shocked at causing injury to our fellows. It is
when we pass out of this point of view, and enter into the mental state
of the spectator of our actions, that we feel the sense of injustice
and the sting of Remorse. Though it may be true that every individual
in his own breast prefers himself to mankind, yet he dares not look
mankind in the face, and avow that he acts on this principle. A man is
approved when he outstrips his fellows in a fair race; he is condemned
when he jostles or trips up a competitor unfairly. The actor takes home
to himself this feeling; a feeling known as Shame, Dread of Punishment,
and Remorse.

So with the obverse. He that performs a generous action can realize the
sentiments of the by-stander, and applaud himself by sympathy with the
approbation of the supposed impartial judge. This is the sense of

Chapter III. gives reflections upon the utility of this constitution of
our nature. Human beings are dependent upon one another for mutual
assistance, and are exposed to mutual injuries. Society might exist
without love or beneficence, but not without mutual abstinence from
injury. Beneficence is the ornament that embellishes the building;
Justice the main pillar that supports it. It is for the observance of
Justice that we need that consciousness of ill-desert, and those
terrors of mental punishment, growing out of our sympathy with the
disapprobation of our fellows. Justice is necessary to the existence of
society, and we often defend its dictates on that ground; but, without
looking to such a remote and comprehensive end, we are plunged into
remorse for its violation by the shorter process of referring to the
censure of a supposed spectator [in other words, to the sanction of
public opinion].

_Section III.--Of the influence of Fortune upon the sentiments of
mankind, with regard to the Merit and the Demerit of actions_.

Every voluntary action consists of three parts:--(1) the Intention or
motive, (2) the Mechanism, as when we lift the hand, and give a blow,
and (3) the Consequences. It is, in principle, admitted by all, that
only the first, the Intention, can be the subject of blame. The
Mechanism is in itself indifferent. So the Consequences cannot be
properly imputed to the agent, unless intended by him. On this last
point, however, mankind do not always adhere to their general maxim;
when they come to particular cases, they are influenced, in their
estimate of merit and demerit, by the actual consequences of the

Chapter I. considers the causes of this influence of Fortune. Gratitude
requires, in the first instance, that some pleasure should have been
conferred; Resentment pre-supposes pain. These passions require farther
that the object of them should itself be susceptible of pleasure and
pain; they should be human beings or animals. Thirdly, It is requisite
that they should have produced the effects from a design to do so. Now,
the absence of the pleasurable consequences intended by a beneficent
agent leaves out one of the exciting causes of gratitude, although
including another; the absence of the painful consequences of a
maleficent act leaves out one of the exciting causes of resentment;
hence less gratitude seems due in the one, and less resentment in the

Chapter II. treats of the extent of this influence of Fortune. The
effects of it are, first, to diminish, in our eyes, the merit of
laudable, and the demerit of blameable, actions, when they fail of
their intended effects; and, secondly, to increase the feelings of
merit and of demerit beyond what is due to the motives, when the
actions chance to be followed by extraordinary pleasure or pain.
Success enhances our estimate of all great enterprises; failure takes
off the edge of our resentment of great crimes.

The author thinks (Chapter III.) that final causes can be assigned for
this irregularity of Sentiments. In the first place, it would be highly
dangerous to seek out and to resent mere bad intentions. In the next
place, it is desirable that beneficent wishes should be put to the
proof by results. And, lastly, as regards the tendency to resent evil,
although unintended, it is good to a certain extent that men should be
taught intense circumspection on the point of infringing one another's


Chapter I. is 'Of the Principle of Self-approbation and of
Self-disapprobation.' Having previously assigned the origin of our
judgments respecting others, the author now proceeds to trace out our
judgments respecting ourselves. The explanation is still the same. We
approve or disapprove of our own conduct, according as we feel that the
impartial spectator would approve or disapprove of it.

To a solitary human being, moral judgments would never exist. A man
would no more think of the merit and demerit of his sentiments than of
the beauty or deformity of his own face. Such criticism is exercised
first upon other beings; but the critic cannot help seeing that he in
his turn is criticised, and he is thereby led to apply the common
standard to his own actions; to divide himself as it were into two
persons--the examiner or judge, and person examined into, or judged of.
He knows what conduct of his will be approved of by others, and what
condemned, according to the standard he himself employs upon others;
his concurrence in this approbation or disapprobation is
self-approbation or self-disapprobation. The happy consciousness of
virtue is the consciousness of the favourable regards of other men.

Chapter II. is 'Of the love of Praise, and of Praise-worthiness; the
dread of Blame, and of Blame-worthiness;' a long and important chapter.
The author endeavours to trace, according to his principle of sympathy,
the desire of Praise-worthiness, as well as of Praise. We approve
certain conduct in others, and are thus disposed to approve the same
conduct in ourselves: what we praise as judges of our fellow-men, we
deem praise-worthy, and aspire to realize in our own conduct. Some men
may differ from us, and may withhold that praise; we may be pained at
the circumstance, but we adhere to our love of the praise-worthy, even
when it does not bring the praise. When we obtain the praise we are
pleased, and strengthened in our estimate; the approbation that we
receive confirms our self-approbation, but does not give birth to it.
In short, there are two principles at work within us. We are pleased
with approbation, and pained by reproach: we are farther pleased if the
approbation coincides with what we approve when we are ourselves acting
as judges of other men. The two dispositions vary in their strength in
individuals, confirming each other when in concert, thwarting each
other when opposed. The author has painted a number of striking
situations arising out of their conflict. He enquires why we are more
pained by unmerited reproach, than lifted up by unmerited approbation;
and assigns as the reason that the painful state is more pungent than
the corresponding pleasurable state. He shows how those men whose
productions are of uncertain merit, as poets, are more the slaves of
approbation, than the authors of unmistakeable discoveries in science.
In the extreme cases of unmerited reproach, he points out the appeal to
the all-seeing Judge of the world, and to a future state rightly
conceived; protesting, however, against the view that would reserve the
celestial regions for monks and friars, and condemn to the infernal,
all the heroes, statesmen, poets, and philosophers of former ages; all
the inventors of the useful arts; the protectors, instructors, and
benefactors of mankind; and all those to whom our natural sense of
praise-worthiness forces us to ascribe the highest merit and most
exalted virtue.

Chapter III. is 'On the influence and authority of Conscience;' another
long chapter, occupied more with moral reflections of a practical kind
than with the following out of the analysis of our moral sentiment.
Conceding that the testimony of the supposed impartial spectator does
not of itself always support a man, he yet asserts its influence to be
great, and that by it alone we can see what relates to ourselves in the
proper shape and dimensions. It is only in this way that we can prefer
the interest of many to the interest of one; the interest of others to
our own. To fortify us in this hard lesson two different schemes have
been proposed; one to increase our feelings for others, the other to
diminish our feelings for ourselves. The first is prescribed by the
whining and melancholy moralists, who will never allow us to be happy,
because at every moment many of our fellow-beings are in misery. The
second is the doctrine of the Stoics, who annihilate self-interest in
favour of the vast commonwealth of nature; on that the author bestows a
lengthened comment and correction, founded on his theory of regulating
the manifestations of joy or grief by the light of the impartial judge.
He gives his own panacea for human misery, namely, the power of nature
to accommodate men to their permanent situation, and to restore
tranquillity, which is the one secret of happiness.

Chapter IV. handles Self-Deceit, and the Origin and Use of General
Rules. The interference of our passions is the great obstacle to our
holding towards ourselves the position of an impartial spectator. Prom
this notorious fact the author deduces an argument against a special
moral faculty, or moral sense; he says that if we had such a faculty,
it would surely judge our own passions, which are the most clearly laid
open to it, more correctly than the passions of others.

To correct our self-partiality and self-deceit is the use of general
rules. Our repeated observations on the tendency of particular acts,
teach us what is fit to be done generally; and our conviction of the
propriety of the general rules is a powerful motive for applying them
to our own case. It is a mistake to suppose, as some have done, that
rules precede experience; on the contrary, they are formed by finding
from experience that all actions of a certain kind, in certain
circumstances, are approved of. When established, we appeal to them as
standards of judgment in right and wrong, but they are not the original
judgments of mankind, nor the ultimate foundations of moral sentiment.

Chapter V. continues the subject of the authority and influence of
General Rules, maintaining that they are justly regarded as laws of the
Deity. The grand advantage of general rules is to give steadiness to
human conduct, and to enable us to resist our temporary varieties of
temper and disposition. They are thus a grand security for human
duties. That the important rules of morality should be accounted laws
of the Deity is a natural sentiment. Men have always ascribed to their
deities their own sentiments and passions; the deities held by them in
special reverence, they have endowed with their highest ideal of
excellence, the love of virtue and beneficence, and the abhorrence of
vice and injustice. The researches of philosophical inquiry confirmed
mankind in the supposition that the moral faculties carry the badge of
authority, that they were intended as the governing principles of our
nature, acting as the vicegerents of the Deity. This inference is
confirmed by the view that the happiness of men, and of other rational
creatures, is the original design of the Author of nature, the only
purpose reconcilable with the perfections we ascribe to him.

Chapter VI. is on the cases where the Sense of Duty should be the sole
motive of conduct; and on those where it ought to join with other
motives. Allowing the importance of religion among human motives, he
does not concur with the view that would make religious considerations
the sole laudable motives of action. The sense of duty is not the only
principle of our conduct; it is the ruling or governing one. It may be
a question, however, on what occasions we are to proceed strictly by
the sense of duty, and on what occasions give way to some other
sentiment or affection. The author answers that in the actions prompted
by benevolent affections, we are to follow out our sentiments as much
as our sense of duty; and the contrary with the malevolent passions. As
to the selfish passions, we are to follow duty in small matters, and
self-interest in great. But the rules of duty predominate most in cases
where they are determined with exactness, that is, in the virtue of


Chapter I. is on the Beauty arising out of Utility. It is here that the
author sets forth the dismal career of 'the poor man's son, whom heaven
in the hour of her anger has curst with ambition,' and enforces his
favourite moral lesson of contentment and tranquillity.

Chapter II. is the connexion of Utility with Moral Approbation. There
are many actions possessing the kind of beauty or charm arising from
utility; and hence, it may be maintained (as was done by Hume) that our
whole approbation of virtue may be explained on this principle. And it
may be granted that there is a coincidence between our sentiments of
approbation or disapprobation, and the useful or hurtful qualities of
actions. Still, the author holds that this utility or hurtfulness is
not the foremost or principal source of our approbation. In the first
place, he thinks it incongruous that we should have no other reason,
for praising a man than for praising a chest of drawers. In the next
place, he contends at length that the usefulness of a disposition of
mind is seldom the first ground of our approbation. Take, for example,
the qualities useful to ourselves--reason and self-command; we approve
the first as just and accurate, before we are aware of its being
useful; and as to self-command, we approve it quite as much for its
propriety as for its utility; it is the coincidence of our opinion with
the opinion of the spectator, and not an estimate of the comparative
utility, that affects us. Regarding the qualities useful to
others--humanity, generosity, public spirit and justice--he merely
repeats his own theory that they are approved by our entering into the
view of the impartial spectator. The examples cited only show that
these virtues are not approved from self-interest; as when the soldier
throws away his life to gain something for his sovereign. He also puts
the case of a solitary human being, who might see fitness in actions,
but could not feel moral approbation.


The first chapter is a pleasing essay on the influence of custom and
fashion on manners, dress, and in Fine Art generally. The second
chapter makes the application to our moral sentiments. Although custom
will never reconcile us to the conduct of a Nero or a Claudius, it will
heighten or blunt the delicacy of our sentiments on right and wrong.
The fashion of the times of Charles II. made dissoluteness reputable,
and discountenanced regularity of conduct. There is a customary
behaviour that we expect in the old and in the young, in the clergyman
and in the military man. The situations of different ages and countries
develop characteristic qualities--endurance in the savage, humanity and
softness in the civilized community. But these are not the extreme
instances of the principle. We find particular usages, where custom has
rendered lawful and blameless actions, that shock the plainest
principles of right and wrong; the most notorious and universal is


_Section I_. is on _Prudence_, and is an elegant essay on the _beau
idéal_ of the prudential character. _Section II_. considers _character
as affecting other people_. Chapter I. is a disquisition on the
comparative priority of the objects of our regard. After self, which
must ever have the first place, the members of our own family are
recommended to our consideration. Remoter connexions of blood are more
or less regarded according to the customs of the country; in pastoral
countries clanship is manifested; in commercial countries distant
relationship becomes indifferent. Official and business connexions, and
the association of neighbourhood, determine friendships. Special
estimation is a still preferable tie. Favours received determine and
require favours in return. The distinction of ranks is so far founded
in nature as to deserve our respect. Lastly, the miserable are
recommended to our compassion. Next, as regards societies (Chap. II.),
since our own country stands first in our regard, the author dilates on
the virtues of a good citizen. Finally, although our effectual good
offices may not extend beyond our country, our good-will may embrace
the whole universe. This universal benevolence, however, the author
thinks must repose on the belief in a benevolent and all-wise governor
of the world, as realized, for example, in the meditations of Marcus

_Section III. Of Self-command_. On this topic the author produces a
splendid moral essay, in which he describes the various modes of our
self-estimation, and draws a contrast between pride and vanity. In so
far as concerns his Ethical theory, he has still the same criterion of
the virtue, the degree and mode commended by the impartial spectator.


On this we need only to remark that it is an interesting and valuable
contribution to the history and the criticism of the Ethical

The Ethical theory of Adam Smith may be thus summed up:--

I.--The Ethical Standard is the judgment of an impartial spectator or
critic; and our own judgments are derived by reference to what this
spectator would approve or disapprove.

Probably to no one has this ever appeared a sufficient account of Right
and Wrong. It provides against one defect, the self-partiality of the
agent; but gives no account whatever of the grounds of the critic's own
judgment, and makes no provision against his fallibility. It may be
very well on points where men's moral sentiments are tolerably
unanimous, but it is valueless in all questions where there are
fundamental differences of view.

II.--In the Psychology of Ethics, Smith would consider the moral
Faculty as identical with the power of Sympathy, which he treats as the
foundation of Benevolence. A man is a moral being in proportion as he
can enter into, and realize, the feelings, sentiments, and opinions of

Now, as morality would never have existed but for the necessity of
protecting one human being against another, the power of the mind that
adopts other people's interests and views must always be of vital
moment as a spring of moral conduct; and Adam Smith has done great
service in developing the workings of the sympathetic impulse.

He does not discuss Free-will. On the question of Disinterested
Conduct, he gives no clear opinion. While denying that our sympathetic
impulses are a refinement of self-love, he would seem to admit that
they bring their own pleasure with them; so that, after all, they do
not detract from our happiness. In other places, he recognizes
self-sacrifice, but gives no analysis of the motives that lead to it;
and seems to think, with many other moralists, that it requires a
compensation in the next world.

III.--His theory of the constituents of Happiness is simple, primitive,
and crude, but is given with earnest conviction. Ambition he laughs to
scorn. 'What, he asks, can be added to the happiness of the man who is
in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?' Again, 'the chief
part of happiness consists in the consciousness of being beloved,
hence, sudden changes of fortune seldom contribute to happiness.' But
what he dwells upon most persistently, as the prime condition of
happiness, is Contentment, and Tranquillity.

IV.--On the Moral Code, he has nothing peculiar. As to the means and
inducements to morality, he does not avail himself of the fertility of
his own principle of Sympathy. Appeals to sympathy, and the cultivation
of the power of entering into the feelings of others, could easily be
shown to play a high part in efficacious moral suasion.

V.--He affords little or no grounds for remarking on the connexion of
Morality with Politics. Our duties as citizens are a part of Morality,
and that is all.

VI.--He gives his views on the alliance of Ethics with Religion. He
does not admit that we should refer to the Religious sanction on all
occasions. He assumes a benevolent and all-wise Governor of the world,
who will ultimately redress all inequalities, and remedy all
outstanding injustice. What this Being approves, however, is to be
inferred solely from the principles of benevolence. Our regard for him
is to be shown, not by frivolous observances, sacrifices, ceremonies,
and vain supplications, but by just and beneficent actions. The author
studiously ignores a revelation, and constructs for himself a Natural
Religion, grounded on a benevolent and just administration of the

In Smith's Essay, the purely scientific enquiry is overlaid by
practical and hortatory dissertations, and by eloquent delineations of
character and of beau-ideals of virtuous conduct. His style being thus
pitched to the popular key, he never pushes home a metaphysical
analysis; so that even his favourite theme, Sympathy, is not
philosophically sifted to the bottom.

DAVID HARTLEY. [1705-1757.]

The 'Observations on Man' (1749) is the first systematic effort to
explain the phenomena of mind by the Law of Association. It contains
also a philosophical hypothesis, that mental states are produced by the
_vibration_ of infinitesimal particles of the nerves. This analogy,
borrowed from the undulations of the hypothetical substance æther, has
been censured as crude, and has been entirely superseded. But, although
an imperfect analogy, it nevertheless kept constantly before the mind
of Hartley the double aspect of all mental phenomena, thus preventing
erroneous explanations, and often suggesting correct ones. In this
respect, Aristotle and Hobbes are the only persons that can be named as
equally fortunate.

The ethical remarks contained in the 'Observations,' relate only to the
second head of summary, the Psychology of Ethics. We shall take, first,
the account of disinterestedness, and, next, of the moral sense.

1. _Disinterestedness_. Under the name _Sympathy_, Hartley includes
four kinds of feelings:--(1) Rejoicing at the happiness of
others--Sociality, Good-will, Generosity, Gratitude; (2) Grieving for
the misery of others--Compassion, Mercy; (3) Rejoicing at the misery of
others--Anger, Jealousy, Cruelty, Malice; and (4) Grieving for the
happiness of others--Emulation, Envy. All these feelings may be shown
to originate in association. We select as examples of Hartley's method,
Benevolence and Compassion. Benevolence is the pleasing affection that
prompts us to act for the benefit of others. It is not a primitive
feeling; but grows out of such circumstances as the following. Almost
all the pleasures, and few, in comparison, of the pains, of children,
are caused by others; who are thus, in the course of time, regarded
with pleasure, independently of their usefulness to us. Many of our
pleasures are enjoyed along with, and are enhanced by, the presence of
others. This tends to make us more sociable. Moreover, we are taught
and required to put on the appearance of good-will, and to do kindly
actions, and this may beget in us the proper feelings. Finally, we must
take into account the praise and rewards of benevolence, together with
the reciprocity of benefits that we may justly expect. All those
elements may be so mixed and blended as to produce a feeling that shall
teach us to do good to others without any expectation of reward, even
that most refined recompense--the pleasure arising from a beneficent
act. Thus Hartley conceives that he both proves the existence of
disinterested feeling, and explains the manner of its developement.

His account of _Compassion_ is similar. In the young, the signs and
appearances of distress excite a painful feeling, by recalling their
own experience of misery. In the old, the connexion between a feeling
and its adjuncts has been weakened by experience. Also, when children
are brought up together, they are often annoyed by the same things, and
this tends powerfully to create a fellow-feeling. Again, when their
parents are ill, they are taught to cultivate pity, and are also
subjected to unusual restraints. All those things conspire to make
children desire to remove the sufferings of others. Various
circumstances increase the feeling of pity, as when the sufferers are
beloved by us, or are morally good. It is confirmatory of this view,
that the most compassionate are those whose nerves are easily
irritable, or whose experience of affliction has been considerable.

2.--_The Moral Sense_. Hartley denies the existence of any moral
instinct, or any moral judgments, proceeding upon the eternal relations
of things. If there be such, let instances of them be produced prior to
the influence of associations. Still, our moral approbation or
disapprobation is disinterested, and has a factitious independence. (1)
Children are taught what is right and wrong, and thus the associations
connected with the idea of praise and blame are transferred to the
virtues inculcated and the vices condemned. (2) Many vices and virtues,
such as sensuality, intemperance, malice, and the opposites, produce
_immediate_ consequences of evil and good respectively. (3) The
benefits, immediate or (at least) obvious, flowing from the virtues of
others, kindle love towards them, and thereafter to the virtues they
exhibit. (4) Another consideration is the _loveliness of virtue_,
arising from the suitableness of the virtues to each other, and to the
beauty, order, and perfection of the world. (5) The hopes and fears
connected with a future life, strengthen the feelings connected with
virtue. (6) Meditation upon God and prayer have a like effect. 'All the
pleasures and pains of sensation, imagination, ambition (pride and
vanity), self-interest, sympathy, and theopathy (affection towards
God), as far as they are consistent with one another, with the frame of
our natures, and with the course of the world, beget in us a moral
sense, and lead us to the love and approbation of virtue, and to the
fear, hatred, and abhorrence of vice. This moral sense, therefore,
carries its own authority with it, inasmuch as it is the sum total of
all the rest, and the ultimate result from them; and employs the whole
force and authority of the whole nature of man against any particular
part of it that rebels against the determinations and commands of the
conscience or moral judgment.'

Hartley's analysis of the moral sense is a great advance upon Hobbes
and Mandeville, who make self-love the immediate constituent, instead
of a remote cause, of conscience. Our moral consciousness may thus be
treated as peculiar and distinguishable from other mental states, while
at the same time it is denied to be unique and irresolvable.

THOMAS REID.[24] [1710-96.]

Reid's Ethical views are given in his Essays on the Active Powers of
the Mind.

ESSAY III., entitled THE PRINCIPLES OF ACTION, contains (Part III.) a
disquisition on the _Rational Principles of Action_ as opposed to what
Reid calls respectively _Mechanical_ Principles (Instinct, Habit), and
_Animal_ Principles (Appetites, Desires, Affections).

The Rational Principles of Action are Prudence, or regard to our own
good on the whole, and Duty, which, however, he does not define by the
antithetical circumstance--the 'good of others.' The notion of Duty, he
says, is too simple for logical definition, and can only be explained
by synonymes--_what we ought_ to do; what is fair and honest; what is
approvable; the professed rule of men's conduct; what all men praise;
the laudable in itself, though no man praise it.

Duty, he says, cannot be resolved into Interest. The language of
mankind makes the two distinct. Disregard of our interest is folly; of
honour, baseness. Honour is more than mere reputation, for it keeps us
right when we are not seen. This principle of Honour (so-called by men
of rank) is, in vulgar phrase, honesty, probity, virtue, conscience; in
philosophical language, the moral sense, the moral faculty, rectitude.

The principle is universal in men grown up to years of understanding.
Such a testimony as Hume's may be held decisive on the reality of moral
distinctions. The ancient world recognized it in the leading terms,
_honestum_ and _utile_, &c.

The abstract notion of Duty is a relation between the action and the
agent. It must be voluntary, and within the power of the agent. The
opinion (or intention) of the agent gives the act its moral quality.

As to the Sense of Duty, Reid pronounces at once, without hesitation,
and with very little examination, in favour of an original power or
faculty, in other words, a Moral Sense. Intellectual judgments are
judgments of the external senses; moral judgments result from an
internal moral sense. The external senses give us our intellectual
first principles; the moral sense our moral first principles. He is at
pains to exemplify the deductive process in morals. It is a question of
moral reasoning, Ought a man to have only one wife? The reasons are,
the greater good of the family, and of society in general; but no
reason can be given why we should prefer greater good; it is an
intuition of the moral sense.

He sums up the chapter thus:--'That, by an original power of the mind,
which we call _conscience_, or the _moral faculty_, we have the
conceptions of right and wrong in human conduct, of merit and demerit,
of duty and moral obligation, and our other moral conceptions; and
that, by the same faculty, we perceive some things in human conduct to
be right, and others to be wrong; that the first principles of morals
are the dictates of this faculty; and that we have the same reason to
rely upon those dictates, as upon the determinations of our senses, or
of our other natural faculties.' Hamilton remarks that this theory
virtually founds morality on intelligence.

Moral Approbation is the affection and esteem accompanying our judgment
of a right moral act. This is in all cases pleasurable, but most so,
when the act is our own. So, obversely, for Moral Disapprobation.

Regarding Conscience, Reid remarks, first, that like all other powers
it comes to maturity by insensible degrees, and may be a subject of
culture or education. He takes no note of the difficulty of determining
what is primitive and what is acquired. Secondly, Conscience is
peculiar to man; it is wanting in the brutes. Thirdly, it is evidently
intended to be the director of our conduct; and fourthly, it is an
Active power and an Intellectual power combined.

ESSAY IV. is OF THE LIBERTY OF MORAL AGENTS, which we pass by, having
noticed it elsewhere. ESSAY V. is OF MORALS.

Chapter I. professes to enumerate the axiomatic first principles of
Morals. Some of these relate (A) to virtue in general: as (1) There are
actions deserving of praise, and others deserving blame; (2) the
involuntary is not an object of praise or blame; (3) the unavoidable is
not an object of praise or blame; (4) omission may be culpable; (5) we
ought to inform ourselves as to duty; (6) we should fortify ourselves
against temptation. Other principles relate (B) to particular virtues:
(1) We should prefer a greater good to a less; (2) we should comply
with the intention of nature, apparent in our constitution; (3) no man
is born for himself alone; (4) we should judge according to the rule,
'Do to others,' &c.; (5) if we believe in God, we should venerate and
submit to him. A third class of principles (C) settle the preference
among opposing virtues. Thus, unmerited generosity should yield to
gratitude, and both to justice.

Chapter II. remarks upon the growth and peculiar advantages of Systems
of Morals. Chapter III. is on Systems of Natural Jurisprudence. The
four subsequent chapters of the Essay he states to have been composed
in answer to the Ethical doctrines of Hume.

Chapter IV. enquires whether a moral action must proceed from a moral
purpose in the agent. He decides in the affirmative, replying to
certain objections, and more especially to the allegation of Hume, that
justice is not a natural, but an artificial virtue. This last question
is pursued at great length in Chapter V., and the author takes occasion
to review the theory of Utility or Benevolence, set up by Hume as the
basis of morals. He gives Hume the credit of having made an important
step in advance of the Epicurean, or Selfish, system, by including the
good of others, as well as our own good, in moral acts. Still, he
demands why, if Utility and Virtue are identical, the same name should
not express both. It is true, that virtue is both agreeable and useful
in the highest degree; but that circumstance does not prevent it from
having a quality of its own, not arising from its being useful and
agreeable, but arising from its being virtue. The common good of
society, though a pleasing object to all men, hardly ever enters into
the thoughts of the great majority; and, if a regard to it were the
sole motive of justice, only a select number would ever be possessed of
the virtue. The notion of justice carries inseparably along with it a
notion of moral obligation; and no act can be called an act of justice
unless prompted by the motive of justice.

Then, again, good music and good cookery have the merit of utility, in
procuring what is agreeable both to ourselves and to society, but they
have never been denominated moral virtues; so that, if Hume's system be
true, they have been very unfairly treated.

Reid illustrates his positions against Hume to a length unnecessary to
follow. The objections are exclusively and effectively aimed at the two
unguarded points of the Utility system as propounded by Hume; namely,
first, the not recognizing moral rules as established and enforced
among men by the dictation of authority, which does not leave to
individuals the power of reference to ultimate ends; and, secondly, the
not distinguishing between obligatory, and non-obligatory, useful acts.

Reid continues the controversy, with reference to Justice, in Chapter
VI., on the Nature and Obligation of a Contract; and in Chapter VII.
maintains, in opposition to Hume, that Moral approbation implies a
Judgment of the intellect, and is not a mere feeling, as Hume seems to
think. He allows the propriety of the phrase 'Moral Sentiment,' because
'Sentiment' in English means judgment accompanied with feeling.
[Hamilton dissents, and thinks that sentiment means the higher
feelings.] He says, if a moral judgment be no real judgment, but only a
feeling, morals have no foundation but the arbitrary structure of the
mind; there are no immutable moral distinctions; and no evidence for
the moral character of the Deity.

We shall find the views of Reid substantially adopted, and a little
more closely and concisely argued, by Stewart.

DUGALD STEWART. [1753-1828.]

In his 'Essays on the Active Powers of the Mind,' Stewart introduces
the Moral Faculty in the same way as Reid. BOOK SECOND is entitled OUR
Self-love, is unimportant for our present purpose, consisting of some
desultory remarks on the connexion of happiness with steadiness of
purpose, and on the meanings of the words 'self-love' and

Chapter II. is on the Moral Faculty, and is intended to show that it is
an original principle of the mind. He first replies to the theory that
identifies Morality with Prudence, or Self-love. His first argument is
the existence in all languages of different words for _duty_ and for
_interest_. Secondly, The emotions arising from, the contemplation of
right and wrong are different from those produced by a regard to our
own happiness. Thirdly, although in most instances a sense of duty, and
an enlightened regard to our own happiness, would suggest to us the
same line of conduct, yet this truth is not obvious to mankind
generally, who are incapable of appreciating enlarged views and remote
consequences. He repeats the common remark, that we secure our
happiness best by not looking to it as tho one primary end. Fourthly,
moral judgments appear in children, long before they can form the
general notion of happiness. His examples of this position, however,
have exclusive reference to the sentiment of pity, which all moralists
regard as a primitive feeling, while few admit it to be the same as the
moral sense.

He then takes notice of the Association Theory of Hartley, Paley, and
others, which he admits to be a great refinement of the old selfish
system, and an answer to one of his arguments. He maintains,
nevertheless, that the others are untouched by it, and more especially
the third, referring to the amount of experience and reflection
necessary to discover the tendency of virtue to promote our happiness,
which is inconsistent with the early period when our moral judgments
appear. [It is singular that he should not have remarked that the moral
judgments of that early age, if we except what springs from the
impulses of pity, are wholly communicated by others.] He quotes Paley's
reasoning against the Moral Sense, and declares that he has as
completely mis-stated the issue, as if one were to contend that because
we are not born with the knowledge of light and colours, therefore the
sense of seeing is not an original part of the frame. [It would be easy
to retort that all that Paley's case demanded was the same power of
_discrimination_ in moral judgments, as the power of discriminating
light and dark belonging to our sense of sight.]

Chapter III. continues the subject, and examines objections. The first
objection taken up is that derived from the influence of education,
with which he combines the farther objection (of Locke and his
followers) arising from the diversity of men's moral judgments in
various nations. With regard to education, he contends that there are
limits to its influence, and that however it may modify, it cannot
create our judgments of right and wrong, any more than our notions of
beauty and deformity. As to the historical facts relating to the
diversity of moral judgments, he considers it necessary to make full
allowance for three circumstances--I.--Difference of situation with
regard to climate and civilization. II.--Diversity of speculative
opinions, arising from difference of intellectual capacity; and,
III.--The different moral import of the same action under different
systems of behaviour. On the first head he explains the indifference to
theft from there being little or no fixed property; he adduces the
variety of sentiments respecting Usury, as having reference, to
circumstances; and alludes to the differences of men's views as to
political assassination. On the second head he remarks, that men may
agree on _ends_, but may take different views as to means; they may
agree in recognizing obedience to the Deity, but differ in their
interpretations of his will. On the third point, as regards the
different moral import of the same action, he suggests that Locke's
instance of the killing of aged parents is merely the recognized mode
of filial affection; he also quotes the exceeding variety of ceremonial

Chapter IV. comments farther on the objections to the reality and
immutability of moral distinctions and to the universal diffusion of
the moral faculty. The reference is, in the first instance, to Locke,
and then to what he terms, after Adam Smith, the licentious
moralists--La Rochefoucauld and Mandeville. The replies to these
writers contain nothing special to Stewart.

Chapter V. is the Analysis of our Moral Perceptions and Emotions. This
is a somewhat singular phrase in an author recognizing a separate
inborn faculty of Right. His analysis consists in a separation of the
entire fact into three parts:--the perception of an action as right or
wrong; (2) an emotion of pleasure or pain, varying according to the
moral sensibility: (3) a perception of the merit or demerit of the
agent. The first is of course the main question; and the author gives a
long review of the history of Ethical doctrines from Hobbes downwards,
interspersing reflections and criticisms, all in favour of the
intuitive origin of the sense. As illustrative parallels, he adduces
Personal Identity, Causation, and Equality; all which he considers to
be judgments involving simple ideas, and traceable only to some
primitive power of the mind. He could as easily conceive a rational
being formed to believe the three angles of a triangle to be equal to
one right angle, as to believe that there would be no injustice in
depriving a man of the fruits of his labours.

On the second point--the pleasure and pain accompanying right and
wrong, he remarks on the one-sidedness of systems that treat the sense
of right and wrong as an intellectual judgment purely (Clarke, &c.), or
those that treat it as a feeling purely (Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, and
Hume). His remarks on the sense of Merit and Demerit in the agent are
trivial or commonplace.

Chapter VI. is 'Of Moral Obligation.' It is needless to follow him on
this subject, as his views are substantially a repetition of Butler's
Supremacy of Conscience. At the same time, it may be doubted whether
Butler entirely and unequivocally detached this supremacy from the
command of the Deity, a point peculiarly insisted on by Stewart. His
words are these:--

'According to some systems, moral obligation is founded entirely on our
belief that virtue is enjoined by the command of God. But how; it may
be asked, does this belief impose an obligation? Only one of two
answers can be given. Either that there is a moral fitness that we
should conform our will to that of the Author and the Governor of the
universe; or that a rational self-love should induce us, from motives
of prudence, to study every means of rendering ourselves acceptable to
the Almighty Arbiter of happiness and misery. On the first supposition
We reason in a circle. We resolve our sense of moral obligation into
our sense of religion, and the sense of religion into that of moral

'The other system, which makes virtue a mere matter of prudence,
although not so obviously unsatisfactory, leads to consequences which
sufficiently invalidate every argument in its favour. Among others it
leads us to conclude, 1. That the disbelief of a future state absolves
from all moral obligation, excepting in so far as we find virtue to be
conducive to our present interest: 2. That a being independently and
completely happy cannot have any moral perceptions or any moral

'But farther, the notions of reward and punishment presuppose the
notions of right and wrong. They are sanctions of virtue, or additional
motives to the practice of it, but they suppose the existence of some
previous obligation.

'In the last place, if moral obligation be constituted by a regard to
our situation in another life, how shall the existence of a future
state be proved, or even rendered probable by the light of nature? or
how shall we discover what conduct is acceptable to the Deity? The
truth is, that the strongest presumption for such a state is deduced
from our natural notions of right and wrong; of merit and demerit; and
from a comparison between, these and the general course of human

In a chapter (VII.) entitled 'certain principles co-operating with our
moral powers,' he discusses (1) a regard to character, (2) Sympathy,
(3) the Sense of the Ridiculous, (4) Taste. The important topic is the
second, Sympathy; which, psychologically, he would appear to regard as
determined by the pleasure that it gives. Under this head he introduces
a criticism of the Ethical theory of Adam Smith; and, adverting to the
inadequacy of the theory to distinguish the _right_ from the _actual_
judgments of mankind, he remarks on Smith's ingenious fiction 'of _an
abstract man_ within the breast;' and states that Smith laid much
greater stress on this fiction in the last edition of the Moral
Sentiments published before his death. It is not without reason that
Stewart warns against grounding theories on metaphorical expressions,
such as this of Smith, or the Platonic Commonwealth of the Soul.

In Book IV. of the Active Powers, Stewart discusses our Duties to
Men,--both our fellow-creatures and ourselves. Our duties to our
fellows are summed up in Benevolence, Justice, and Veracity. He devotes
a chapter to each. In Chapter I., on Benevolence, he re-opens the
consideration of the Ethical systems founded on Benevolence or Utility,
and argues against them; but merely repeats the common-place
objections--the incompetency of individuals to judge of remote
tendencies, the pretext that would be afforded for the worst conduct,
and each one's consciousness that a sense of _duty_ is different from
enlightened benevolence.

Chapter II. is on Justice; defined as the disposition that leads a man,
where his own interests or passions are concerned, to act according to
the judgment he would form of another man's duty in his situation. He
introduces a criticism on Adam Smith, and re-asserts the doctrine of an
innate faculty, explained as the _power of forming_ moral ideas, and
not as the innate possession of ideas. For the most part, his
exposition is didactic and desultory, with occasional discussions of a
critical and scientific nature; as, for example, some remarks on Hume's
theory that Justice is an artificial virtue, an account of the basis of
Jurisprudence, and a few observations on the Right of Property.

In Chapter III., on Veracity, he contends that considerations of
utility do not account for the whole force of our approbation of this
virtue. [So might any one say that considerations of what money can
purchase do not account for the whole strength of avarice].

In Chapter IV. he deals with Duties to ourselves, and occupies the
chapter with a dissertation on Happiness. He first gives an account of
the theories of the Stoics and the Epicureans, which connect themselves
most closely with the problem of Happiness; and next advances some
observations of his own on the subject.

His first remark is on the influence of the Temper, by which he means
the Resentful or Irascible passion, on Happiness. As against a
censorious disposition, he sets up the pleasure of the benevolent
sentiments; he enjoins candour with respect to the motives of others,
and a devoted attachment to truth and virtue for their intrinsic
excellence; and warns us, that the causes that alienate our affections
from our fellow-creatures, suggest gloomy and Hamlet-like conceptions
of the order of the universe.

He next adverts to the influence of the Imagination on Happiness. On
this, he has in view the addition made to our enjoyments or our
sufferings by the respective predominance of hope or of fear in the
mind. Allowing for constitutional bias, he recognizes, as the two great
sources of a desponding imagination, Superstition and Scepticism, whose
evils he descants upon at length. He also dwells on the influence of
casual associations on happiness, and commends this subject to the care
of educators; giving, as an example, the tendency of associations with
Greece and Rome to add to the courage of the classically educated

His third position is the Influence of our Opinions on Happiness. He
here quotes, from Ferguson, examples of opinions unfavourable to
Happiness; such as these: 'that happiness consists in having nothing to
do,' 'that anything is preferable to happiness,' 'that anything can
amuse us better than our duties.' He also puts forward as a happy
opinion the Stoical view, 'I am in the station that God has assigned
me.' [It must be confessed, however, that these prescriptions savour of
the Platonic device of inculcating opinions, not because of their
truth, but because of their supposed good consequences otherwise: a
proceeding scarcely compatible with an Ethical system that proclaims
veracity as superior to utility. On such a system, we are prohibited
from looking to anything in an opinion but its truth; we are to suffer
for truth, and not to cultivate opinions because of their happy

Stewart remarks finally on the influence of the Habits, on which he
notices the power of the mind to accommodate itself to circumstances,
and copies Paley's observations on the _setting_ of the habits.

In continuation of the subject of Happiness, he presents a
classification of our most important pleasures. We give the heads,
there being little to detain us in the author's brief illustration of
them. I.--The pleasures of Activity and Repose; II.--The pleasures of
Sense; III.--The pleasures of the Imagination; IV.--The pleasures of
the Understanding; and V.--The pleasures of the Heart, or of the
various benevolent affections. He would have added Taste, or Fine Art,
but this is confined to a select few.

In a concluding chapter (V.), he sums up the general result of the
Ethical enquiry, under the title, 'the Nature and Essence of Virtue.'
No observation of any novelty occurs in this chapter. Virtue is doing
our duty; the intentions of the agent are to be looked to; the
enlightened discharge of our duty often demands an exercise of the
Reason to adjudge between conflicting claims; there is a close
relationship, not defined, between Ethics and Politics.

The views of Stewart represent, in the chief points, although not in
all, the Ethical theory that has found the greatest number of

I.--The Standard is internal, or intuitive--the judgments of a Faculty,
called the Moral Faculty. He does not approve of the phrase 'Moral
Sense,' thinking the analogy of the senses incorrect.

II.--As regards Ethical Psychology, the first question is determined by
the remarks on the Standard.

On the second question, Free-will, Stewart maintains Liberty.

On the third question, he gives, like many others, an uncertain sound.
In his account of Pity, he recognizes three things, (1) a painful
feeling, (2) a selfish desire to remove the cause of the uneasiness,
(3) a disposition grounded on benevolent concern about the sufferer.
This is at best vague. Equally so is what he states respecting the
pleasures of sympathy and benevolence (Book II., Chapter VII.). There
is, he says, a pleasure attached to fellow-feeling, a disposition to
accommodate our minds to others, wherever there is a benevolent
affection; and, in all probability, the pleasure of sympathy is the
pleasure of loving and of being beloved. No definite proposition can be
gathered from such loose allegations.

III.--We have already abstracted his chapter on Happiness.

IV.--On the Moral Code, he has nothing peculiar.

V.--On the connexion with Religion, we have seen that he is strenuous
in his antagonism to the doctrine of the dependence of morality on the
will of God. But, like other moralists of the same class, he is careful
to add:--'Although religion can with no propriety be considered as the
sole foundation of morality, yet when we are convinced that God is
infinitely good, and that he is the friend and protector of virtue,
this belief affords the most powerful inducements to the practice of
every branch of our duty.' He has (Book III.) elaborately discussed the
principles of Natural Religion, but, like Adam Smith, makes no
reference to the Bible, or to Christianity. He is disposed to assume
the benevolence of the Deity, but considers that to affirm it
positively is to go beyond our depth.

THOMAS BROWN. [1778-1820.]

Brown's Ethical discussion commences in the 73rd of his _Lectures_. He
first criticises the multiplicity of expressions used in the statement
of the fundamental question of morals--'What is it that constitutes the
action _virtuous_?' 'What constitutes the _moral obligation_ to perform
certain actions?' 'What constitutes the _merit_ of the agent?'--These
have been considered questions essentially distinct, whereas they are
the very same question. There is at bottom but one emotion in the case,
the emotion of approbation, or of disapprobation, of an agent acting in
a certain way.

In answer then to the question as thus simplified, 'What is the ground
of moral approbation and disapprobation?' Brown answers--a simple
emotion of the mind, of which no farther explanation can be given than
that we are so constituted. Thus, without using the same term, he sides
with the doctrine of the Innate Moral Sense. He illustrates it by
another elementary fact of the mind, involved in the conception of
cause and effect on his theory of that relation--the belief that the
future will resemble the past. Excepting a teleogical reference to the
Supreme Benevolence of the Deity, he admits no farther search into the
nature of the moral sentiment.

He adduces, as another illustration, what he deems the kindred emotion
of Beauty. Our feeling of beauty is not the mere perception of forms
and colours, or the discovery of the uses of certain combinations of
forms; it is an emotion arising from these, indeed, bat distinct from
them. Our feeling of moral excellence, in like manner, is not the mere
perception of different actions, or the discovery of the physical good
that these may produce; it is an emotion _sui generis_, superadded to

He adverts, in a strain of eloquent indignation, to the objection
grounded on differences of men's moral judgment. There are
philosophers, he exclaims, 'that can turn away from the conspiring
chorus of the millions of mankind, in favour of the great truths of
morals, to seek in some savage island, a few indistinct murmurs that
may seem to be discordant with the total harmony of mankind.' He goes
on to remark, however, that in our zeal for the immutability of moral
distinctions, we may weaken the case by contending for too much; and
proposes to consider the species of accordance that may be safely
argued for.

He begins by purging away the realistic notion of Virtue, considered as
a self-existing entity. He defines it--a term expressing the relation
of certain actions to certain emotions in the minds contemplating them;
its universality is merely co-extensive with these minds. He then
concedes that all mankind do not, at every moment, feel precisely the
same emotions in contemplating the same actions, and sets forth the
limitations as follows;--

First, In moments of violent passion, the mind is incapacitated for
perceiving moral differences; we must, in such cases appeal, as it
were, from Philip drunk to Philip sober.

Secondly, Still more important is the limitation arising from the
complexity of many actions. Where good and evil results are so blended
that we cannot easily assign the preponderance, different men may form
different conclusions. Partiality of views may arise from this cause,
not merely in individuals, but in whole nations. The legal permission
of theft in Sparta is a case in point. Theft, as theft, and without
relation to the political object of inuring a warlike people, would
have been condemned in Sparta, as well as with us. [The retort of Locke
is not out of place here; an innate moral sentiment that permits a
fundamental virtue to be set aside on the ground of mere state
convenience, is of very little value.] He then goes on to ask whether
men, in approving these exceptions to morality, approve them because
they are immoral? [The opponents of a moral sense do not contend for an
_immoral_ sense.] Suicide is not commended because it deprives society
of useful members, and gives sorrow to relations and friends; the
exposure of infants is not justified on the plea of adding to human

Again, the differences of cookery among nations are much wider than the
differences of moral sentiment; and yet no one denies a fundamental
susceptibility to sweet and bitter. It is not contended that we come
into the world with a knowledge of actions, but that we have certain
susceptibilities of emotion, in consequence of which, it is impossible
for us, in after life, unless from counteracting circumstances, to be
pleased with the contemplation of certain actions, and disgusted with
certain other actions. When the doctrine is thus stated, Paley's
objection, that we should also receive from nature the notions of the
actions themselves, falls to the ground. As well might we require an
instinctive notion of all possible numbers, to bear out our instinctive
sense of proportion.

A third limitation must be added, the influence of the principle of
Association. One way that this operates is to transfer, to a whole
class of actions, the feelings peculiar to certain marked individuals.
Thus, in a civilized country, where property is largely possessed, and
under complicated tenures, we become very sensitive to its violation,
and acquire a proportionably intense sentiment of Justice. Again,
association operates in modifying our approval and disapproval of
actions according to their attendant circumstances; as when we
extenuate misconduct in a beloved person.

The author contends that, notwithstanding these limitations, we still
leave unimpaired the approbation of unmixed good as good, and the
disapprobation of unmixed evil as evil. His further remarks, however,
are mainly eloquent declamation on the universality of moral

He proceeds to criticise the moral systems from Hobbes downwards. His
remarks (Lecture 76) on the province of Reason in Morality, with
reference to the systems of Clarke and Wollaston, contain the gist of
the matter well expressed.

He next considers the theory of Utility. That Utility bears a certain
relation to Virtue is unquestionable. Benevolence means good to others,
and virtue is of course made up, in great part, of this. But then, if
Utility is held to be the _measure_ of virtue, standing in exact
proportion to it, the proposition is very far from true; it is only a
small portion of virtuous actions wherein the measure holds.

He does not doubt that virtuous actions do all tend, in a greater or
less degree, to the advantage of the world. But he considers the
question to be, whether what we have _alone in view_, in approving
certain actions, be the amount of utility that they bring; whether we
have no other reason for commending a man than for praising a chest of

Consider this question first from the point of view of the agent. Does
the mother, in watching her sick infant, think of the good of mankind
at that moment? Is the pity called forth by misery a sentiment of the
general good? Look at it again from the point of view of the spectator.
Is his admiration of a steam-engine, and of an heroic human action, the
same sentiment? Why do we not worship the earth, the source of all our
utilities? The ancient worshippers of nature always gave it a soul in
the first instance.

When the supporter of Utility arbitrarily confines his principles to
the actions of living beings, he concedes the point in dispute; he
admits an approvableness peculiar to _living and voluntary agents_, a
capacity of exciting moral emotions not commensurate with any utility.
Hume says, that the sentiments of utility connected with human beings
are mixed with affection, esteem, and approbation, which do not attach
to the utility of inanimate things. Brown replies, that these are the
very sentiments to be accounted for, the moral part of the case.

But another contrast may be made; namely, between the utility of virtue
and the utility of talent or genius, which we view with very different
and unequal sentiments; the inventors of the printing press do not
rouse the same emotions as the charities of the Man of Ross.

Still, he contends, like the other supporters of innate moral
distinctions, for a pre-established harmony between the two attributes.
Utility and virtue are so intimately related, that there is perhaps no
action generally felt by us as virtuous, but what is generally
beneficial. But this is only discovered by reflecting men; it never
enters the mind of the unthinking multitude. Nay, more, it is only the
Divine Being that can fully master this relationship, or so prescribe
our duties that they shall ultimately coincide with the general

He allows that the immediate object of the _legislator_ is the general
good; but then his relationship is to the community as a whole, and not
to any particular individual.

He admits, farther, that the good of the world at large, if not the
_only_ moral object, _is_ a moral object, in common with the good of
parents, friends, and others related to us in private life. Farther, it
may be requisite for the moralist to correct our moral sentiments by
requiring greater attention to public, and less to private, good; but
this does not alter the nature of our moral feelings; it merely
presents new objects to our _moral discrimination_. It gives an
exercise to our reason in disentangling the complicated results of our

He makes it also an objection to Utility, that it does not explain
_why_ we feel approbation of the useful, and disapprobation of the
hurtful; forgetting that Benevolence is an admitted fact of our
constitution, and may fairly be assigned by the moralist as the source
of the moral sentiment.

His next remarks are on the Selfish Systems, his reply to which is the
assertion of disinterested Affections. He distinguishes two modes of
assigning self-interest as the sole motive of virtuous conduct. First,
it may be said that in every so-called virtuous action, we see some
good to self, near or remote. Secondly, it may be maintained that we
become at last disinterested by the associations of our own interest.

He calls in question this alleged process of association. Because a
man's own cane is interesting to him, it does not follow that every
other man's cane is interesting. [He here commits a mistake of fact;
other men's walking canes are interesting to the interested owner of a
cane. It may not follow that this interest is enough to determine

It will be inferred that Brown contends warmly for the existence of
Disinterested Affection, not merely as a present, but as a primitive,
fact of our constitution. He does not always keep this distinct from
the Moral Sentiment; he, in fact, mixes the two sentiments together in
his language, a thing almost inevitable, but yet inconsistent with the
advocacy of a distinct moral sentiment.

He includes among the Selfish Systems the Ethical Theory of Paley,
which he reprobates in both its leading points--everlasting happiness
as the motive, and the will of God as the rule. On the one point, this
theory is liable to all the objections against a purely selfish system;
and, on the other point, he makes the usual replies to the founding of
morality on the absolute will of the Deity.

Brown next criticises the system of Adam Smith. Admitting that we have
the sympathetic feeling that Smith proceeds upon, he questions its
adequacy to constitute the moral sentiment, on the ground that it is
not a perpetual accompaniment of our actions. There must be a certain
_vividness_ of feeling or of the display of feeling, or at least a
sufficient cause of vivid feeling, to call the sympathy into action. In
the numerous petty actions of life, there is an absence of any marked

But the essential error of Smith's system is, that it assumes the very
moral feelings that it is meant to explain. If there were no antecedent
moral feelings, sympathy could not afford them; it is only a mirror to
reflect what is already in existence. The feelings that we sympathize
with, are themselves moral feelings already; if it were not so, the
reflexion of them from a thousand breasts would not give them a moral

Brown thinks that Adam Smith was to some extent misled by an ambiguity
in the word sympathy; a word applied not merely to the participation of
other men's feelings, but to the further and distinct fact of the
_approbation_ of those feeling's.

Although siding in the main with Shaftesbury and Hutcheson, Brown
objects to their designation Moral Sense, as expressing the innate
power of moral approbation. If 'Sense' be interpreted merely as
susceptibility, he has nothing to say, but if it mean a primary medium
of perception, like the eye or the ear, he considers it a mistake. It
is, in his view, an _emotion_, like hope, jealousy, or resentment,
rising up on the presentation of a certain class of objects. He farther
objects to the phrase 'moral ideas,' also used by Hutcheson. The moral
emotions are more akin to love and hate, than to perception or

Brown gives an exposition of Practical Ethics under the usual heads:
Duties to Others, to God, to Ourselves. Duties to others he classifies
thus:--I.--_Negative_, or abstinence from injuring others in Person,
Property, Affections, Character or Reputation, Knowledge (veracity),
Virtue, and Tranquillity; II. _Positive_, or Benevolence; and
III.--Duties growing out of our _peculiar ties_--Affinity, Friendship,
Good offices received, Contract, and Citizenship.

To sum up

I.--As regards the Standard, Brown contends for an Innate Sentiment.

II.--The Faculty being thus determined, along with the Standard, we
have only to resume his views as to Disinterested action. For a full
account of these, we have to go beyond the strictly Ethical lectures,
to his analysis of the Emotions. Speaking of love, he says that it
includes a desire of doing good to the person loved; that it is
necessarily pleasurable because there must be some quality in the
object that gives pleasure; but it is not the mere pleasure of loving
that makes us love. The qualities are delightful to love, and yet
impossible not to love. He is more explicit when he comes to the
consideration of Pity, recognizing the existence of sympathy, not only
without liking for the object, but with positive dislike. In another
place, he remarks that we desire the happiness of our fellows simply as
human beings. He is opposed to the theory that would trace our
disinterested affections to a selfish origin. He makes some attempt to
refer to the laws of Association, the taking in of other men's
emotions, but thinks that there is a reflex process besides.

Although recognizing in a vague way the existence of genuine
disinterested impulses, he dilates eloquently, and often, on the
deliciousness of benevolence, and of all virtuous feelings and conduct.

WILLIAM PALEY. [1743-1805].

The First Book of Paley's 'Moral and Political Philosophy' is entitled
'PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS' it is in fact an unmethodical account of
various fundamental points of the subject. He begins by defining Moral
Philosophy as '_that science which teaches men their duty, and the
reasons of it_. The ordinary rules are defective and may mislead,
unless aided by a scientific investigation. These ordinary rules are
the Law of Honour, the Law of the Land, and the Scriptures.

He commences with the Law of Honour, which he views in its narrow
sense, as applied to people of rank and fashion. This is of course a
very limited code.

The Law of the Land also must omit many duties, properly compulsory, as
piety, benevolence, &c. It must also leave unpunished many vices, as
luxury, prodigality, partiality. It must confine itself to offences
strictly definable.

The Scriptures lay down general rules, which have to be applied by the
exercise of reason and judgment. Moreover, they pre-suppose the
principles of natural justice, and supply new sanctions and greater
certainty. Accordingly, they do not dispense with a scientific view of

[The correct arrangement of the common rules would have been (1) the
Law of the Land, (2) the Laws of Society generally, and (3) the
Scriptures. The Law of Honour is merely one application of the
comprehensive agency of society in punishing men, by excommunication,
for what it prohibits.]

Then follows his famous chapter on the MORAL SENSE.

It is by way of giving an effective statement of the point in dispute
that he quotes the anecdote of Caius Toranius, as an extreme instance
of filial ingratitude, and supposes it to be put to the wild boy caught
in the woods of Hanover, with the view of ascertaining whether he would
feel the sentiment of disapprobation as we do. Those that affirm an
innate moral sense, must answer in the affirmative; those that deny it,
in the negative.

He then recites the arguments on both sides.

For the moral sense, it is contended, that we approve examples of
generosity, gratitude, fidelity, &c., on the instant, without
deliberation and without being conscious of any assignable reason; and
that this approbation is uniform and universal, the same sorts of
conduct being approved or disapproved in all ages and countries; which
circumstances point to the operation of an instinct, or a moral sense.

The answers to these allegations are--

First, The _Uniformity_ spoken of is not admitted as a fact. According
to the authentic accounts of historians and travellers, there is
scarcely a single vice that, in some age or country of the world, has
not been countenanced by public opinion. The murder of aged parents,
theft, suicide, promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, and unmentionable
crimes have been tolerated and approved. Among ourselves, Duelling is
viewed with the most opposite sentiments; forgiveness of injuries is
accounted by some people magnanimity, and by others meanness. In these,
and in many other instances, moral approbation follows the fashions and
institutions of the country, which institutions have themselves grown
out of local circumstances, the arbitrary authority of some chieftain,
or the caprice of the multitude.

Secondly, That, although, after allowing for these exceptions, it is
admitted that some sorts of actions are more approved than others, the
approbation being general, although not universal, yet this may be
accounted for, without supposing a moral sense, thus:--

Having experienced a particular line of conduct as beneficial to
ourselves, for example, telling the truth, a sentiment of approbation
grows up in consequence, and this sentiment thereupon arises whenever
the action is mentioned, and without our thinking of the consequences
in each instance. The process is illustrated by the love of money,
which is strongest in the old, who least of all think of applying it to
its uses. By such means, the approval of certain actions is commenced;
and being once commenced, the continuance of the feeling is accounted
for by authority, by imitation, and by all the usages of good society.
As soon as an entire society is possessed of an ethical view, the
initiation of the new members is sure and irresistible. The efficacy of
Imitation is shown in cases where there is no authority or express
training employed, as in the likings and dislikings, or tastes and
antipathies, in mere matters of indifference.

So much in reply to the alleged uniformity. Next come the positive
objections to a Moral Instinct.

In the first place, moral rules are not absolutely and universally
true; they bend to circumstances. Veracity, which is a natural duty, if
there be any such, is dispensed with in case of an enemy, a thief, or a
madman. The obligation of promises is released under certain

In the next place, the Instinct must bear with it the _idea_ of the
actions to be approved or disapproved; but we are not born with any
such ideas.

On the whole, either there exist no moral instincts, or they are
undistinguishable from prejudices and habits, and are not to be trusted
in moral reasonings. Aristotle held it as self-evident that barbarians
are meant to be slaves; so do our modern slave-traders. This instance
is one of many to show that the convenience of the parties has much to
do with the rise of a moral sentiment. And every system built upon
instincts is more likely to find excuses for existing opinions and
practices than to reform either.

Again: supposing these Instincts to exist, what is their authority or
power to punish? Is it the infliction of remorse? That may be borne
with for the pleasures and profits of wickedness. If they are to be
held as indications of the will of God, and therefore as presages of
his intentions, that result may be arrived at by a surer road.

The next preliminary topic is HUMAN HAPPINESS.

Happiness is defined as the excess of pleasure over pain. Pleasures are
to be held as differing only in _continuance_, and in _intensity_. A
computation made in respect of these two properties, confirmed by the
degrees of cheerfulness, tranquillity, and contentment observable among
men, is to decide all questions as to human happiness.

I.--What Human Happiness does not consist in.

Not in the pleasures of Sense, in whatever profusion or variety
enjoyed; in which are included sensual pleasures, active sports, and
Fine Art.

1st, Because they last for a short time. [Surely they are good for the
time they do last.] 2ndly, By repetition, they lose their relish.
[Intermission and variety, however, are to be supposed.] 3rdly, The
eagerness for high and intense delights takes away the relish from all

Paley professes to have observed in the votaries of pleasure a restless
craving for variety, languor under enjoyment, and misery in the want of
it. After all, however, these pleasures have their value, and may be
too much despised as well as too much followed.

Next, happiness does not consist in the exemption from pain (?), from
labour, care, business, and outward evils; such exemption leaving one a
prey to morbid depression, anxiety, and hypochondria. Even a pain in
moderation may be a refreshment, from giving a stimulus to pursuit.

Nor does it consist in greatness, rank, or station. The reason here is
derived, as usual, from the doctrine of Relativity or Comparison,
pushed beyond all just limits. The illustration of the dependence of
the pleasure of superiority on comparison is in Paley's happiest style.

II.--What happiness does consist in. Allowing for the great
difficulties of this vital determination, he proposes to be governed by
a reference to the conditions of life where men appear most cheerful
and contented.

It consists, 1st, In the exercise of the social affections. 2ndly, The
exercise of our faculties, either of body or of mind, in the pursuit of
some engaging end. [This includes the two items of occupation and
plot-interest.] 3rdly, Upon the prudent constitution of the habits; the
prudent constitution being chiefly in moderation and simplicity of
life, or in demanding few stimulants; and 4thly, In Health, whose
importance he values highly, but not too highly.

The consideration of these negative and positive conditions, he thinks,
justifies the two conclusions: (1) That happiness is pretty equally
distributed amongst the different orders of society; and (2) That in
respect of this world's happiness, vice has no advantage over virtue.

The last subject of the First Book is VIRTUE. The definition of virtue
is '_the doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of God, and
for the sake of everlasting happiness_.'

If this were strictly interpreted according to its form, it would mean
that three things go to constitute virtue, any one of which being
absent, we should not have virtue. Doing good to mankind alone is not
virtue, unless coupled with a divine requirement; and this addition
would not suffice, without the farther circumstance of everlasting
happiness as the reward. But such is not his meaning, nor is it easy to
fix the meaning. He unites the two conditions--Human Happiness and the
Will of the Deity--and holds them to coincide and to explain one
another. Either of the two would be a sufficient definition of virtue;
and he would add, as an explanatory proposition and a guide to
practice, that the one may be taken as a clue to the other. In a double
criterion like this, everything depends upon the manner of working it.
By running from one of the tests to another at discretion, we may evade
whatever is disagreeable to us in both.

Book II., entitled MORAL OBLIGATION, is the full development of his
views. Reciting various theories of moral right and wrong, he remarks,
first, that they all ultimately coincide; in other words, all the
theorists agree upon the same rules of duty--a remark to be received
with allowances; and next, that they all leave the matter short; none
provide an adequate _motive_ or inducement. [He omits to mention the
theory of the Divine Will, which is partly his own theory].

In proceeding to supply this want, he asks first 'what is meant by
being obliged to do a thing;' and answers, '_a violent motive resulting
from the command of another_.' The motive must be violent, or have some
degree of force to overcome reluctance or opposing tendencies. It must
also result from the _command_ of another; not the mere offer of a
gratuity by way of inducement. Such is the nature of Law; we should not
obey the magistrate, unless rewards or punishments depended on our
obedience; so neither should we, without the same reason, do what is
right, or obey God.

He then resumes the general question, under a concrete case, 'Why am I
obliged to keep my word?' The answer accords with the above
explanation;--Because I am urged to do so by a violent motive (namely,
the rewards and punishments of a future life), resulting from the
command of God. Private happiness is the motive, the will of God the
rule. [Although not brought out in the present connexion, it is implied
that the will of God intends the happiness of mankind, and is to be
interpreted accordingly.]

Previously, when reasoning on the means of human happiness, he declared
it to be an established conclusion, that virtue leads to happiness,
even in this life; now he bases his own theory on the uncertainty of
that conclusion. His words are, 'They who would establish a system of
morality, independent of a future state, must look out for some other
idea of moral obligation, _unless they can show_ that virtue conducts
the possessor to certain happiness in this life, or to a much greater
share of it than he could attain by a different behaviour.' He does not
make the obvious remark that _human_ authority, as far as it goes, is
also a source of obligation; it works by the very same class of means
as the divine authority.

He next proceeds to enquire into the means of determining the WILL OF
GOD. There are two sources--the express declarations of Scripture, when
they are to be had; and the design impressed on the world, in other
words, the light of nature. This last source requires him, on his
system, to establish the Divine Benevolence; and he arrives at the
conclusion that God wills and wishes the happiness of his creatures,
and accordingly, that the method of coming at his will concerning any
action is to enquire into the tendency of that action to promote or to
diminish the general happiness.

He then discusses UTILITY, with a view of answering the objection that
actions may be useful, and yet such as no man will allow to be right.
This leads him to distinguish between the _particular_ and the
_general_ consequences of actions, and to enforce the necessity of
GENERAL RULES. An assassin, by knocking a rich villain on the head, may
do immediate and particular good; but the liberty granted to
individuals to kill whoever they should deem injurious to society,
would render human life unsafe, and induce universal terror. 'Whatever
is expedient is right,' but then it must be expedient on the whole, in
the long run, in all its effects collateral and remote, as well as
immediate and direct. When the _honestum_ is opposed to the _utile_,
the _honestum_ means the general and remote consequences, the _utile_
the particular and the near.

The concluding sections of Book II. are occupied with the consideration
of RIGHT and RIGHTS. A Right is of course correlative with an
Obligation. Rights are Natural or Adventitious; Alienable or
Inalienable; Perfect or Imperfect. The only one of these distinctions
having any Ethical application is Perfect and Imperfect. The Perfect
Rights are, the Imperfect are not, enforced by Law.

Under the 'general Rights of mankind,' he has a discussion as to our
right to the flesh of animals, and contends that it would be difficult
to defend this right by any arguments drawn from the light of nature,
and that it reposes on the text of Genesis ix. 1, 2, 3.

As regards the chief bulk of Paley's-work, it is necessary only to
indicate his scheme of the Duties, and his manner of treating them.

Book III. considers RELATIVE DUTIES. There are three classes of these.
First, Relative Duties that are _Determinate_, meaning all those that
are strictly defined and enforced; those growing out of Promises,
Contracts, Oaths, and Subscriptions to Articles of Religion. Secondly,
Relative Duties that are _Indeterminate_, as Charity, in its various
aspects of treatment of dependents, assistance to the needy, &c.; the
checks on Anger and Revenge; Gratitude, &c. Thirdly, the Relative
Duties growing _out of the Sexes_.

Book IV. is DUTIES TO OURSELVES, and treats of Self-defence,
Drunkenness, and Suicide.

Book V. comprises DUTIES TOWARDS GOD.

Book VI. is occupied with Politics and Political Economy. It discusses
the Origin of Civil Government, the Duty of Submission to Government,
Liberty, the Forms of Government, the British Constitution, the
Administration of Justice, &c.

The Ethical Theory of Paley may be briefly resumed thus:--

I.--The Ethical Standard with him is the conjoined reference to the
Will of the Deity, and to Utility, or Human Happiness. He is unable to
construct a scheme applicable to mankind generally, until they are
first converted to a belief in Revelation.

II.--The Psychology implied in his system involves his most
characteristic features.

1. He is unmistakeable in repudiating Innate Moral Distinctions, and on
this point, and on this only, is he thoroughly at one with the
Utilitarians of the present day.

2. On the Theory of Will he has no remarks. He has an utter distaste
for anything metaphysical.

3. He does not discuss Disinterested Sentiment; by implication, he
denies it. 'Without the expectation of a future existence,' he says,
'all reasoning upon moral questions is vain.' He cannot, of course,
leave out all reference to generosity. Under 'Pecuniary Bounty' he
makes this remark--'They who rank pity amongst the original impulses of
our nature, rightly contend, that when this principle prompts us to the
relief of human misery, it indicates the Divine intention and our duty.
Whether it be an instinct or a habit (?), it is, in fact, a property of
our nature, which God appointed, &c.' This is his first argument for
charity; the second is derived from the original title of mankind,
granted by the Deity, to hold the earth in common; and the third is the
strong injunctions of Scripture on this head. He cannot, it seems,
trust human nature with a single charitable act apart from the
intervention of the Deity.

III.--He has an explicit scheme of Happiness.

IV.--The Substance of his Moral Code is distinguished from, the current
opinions chiefly by his well-known views on Subscription to Articles.
He cannot conceive how, looking to the incurable diversity of human
opinion on all matters short of demonstration, the legislature could
expect the perpetual consent of a body of ten thousand men, not to one
controverted proposition, but to many hundreds.

His inducements to the performance of duty are, as we should expect, a
mixed reference to Public Utility and to Scripture.

In the Indeterminate Duties, where men are urged by moral
considerations, to the exclusion of legal compulsion, he sometimes
appeals directly to our generous sympathies, as well as to
self-interest, but usually ends with the Scripture authority.

V.--The relation of Ethics to Politics is not a prominent feature in
Paley. He makes moral rules repose finally, not upon human, but upon
Divine Law. Hence (VI.) the connexion of his system with Theology is

JEREMY BENTHAM. [1748-1832.]

The Ethical System of Jeremy Bentham is given in his work, entitled 'An
Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation,' first
published in 1789. In a posthumous work, entitled Deontology, his
principles were farther illustrated, chiefly with reference to the
minor morals and amiable virtues.

It is the first-named work that we shall here chiefly notice. In it,
the author has principally in view Legislation; but the same common
basis, Utility, serves, in his judgment, for Ethics, or Morals.

The first chapter, entitled 'THE PRINCIPLE OF UTILITY,' begins
thus:--'Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign
masters, _pain_ and _pleasure_. It is for them alone to point out what
we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one
hand, the standard of right and wrong; on the other, the chain of
causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all
we do, in all we say, in all we think; every effort we can make to
throw off our subjection will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it.
In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire, but in reality he
will remain subject to it all the while. The _principle of utility_
recognizes this subjection, and assumes it for the foundation of that
system, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the
hand of reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal
in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness
instead of light.'

He defines Utility in various phrases, all coming to the same
thing:--the tendency of actions to promote the happiness, and to
prevent the misery, of the party under consideration, which party is
usually the community where one's lot is cast. Of this principle no
proof can be offered; it is the final axiom, on which alone we can
found all arguments of a moral kind. He that attempts to combat it,
usually assumes it, unawares. An opponent is challenged, to say--(1) if
he discards it wholly; (2) if he will act without any principle, or if
there is any other that he would judge by; (3) if that other be really
and distinctly separate from utility; (4) if he is inclined to set up
his own approbation or disapprobation as the rule; and if so, whether
he will force that upon others, or allow each person to do the same;
(5) in the first case, if his principle is not despotical; (6) in the
second case, whether it is not anarchical; (7) supposing him to add the
plea of reflection, let him say if the basis of his reflections
excludes utility; (8) if he means to compound the matter, and take
utility for part; and if so, for what part; (9) why he goes so far,
with Utility, and no farther; (10) on what other principle a meaning
can be attached to the words '_motive_ and _right_.

In Chapter II., Bentham discusses the PRINCIPLES ADVERSE TO UTILITY. He
conceives two opposing grounds. The first mode of opposition is direct
and constant, as exemplified in _Asceticism_. A second mode may be only
occasional, as in what he terms the principle of _Sympathy and
Antipathy_ (Liking and Disliking).

The principle of Asceticism means the approval of an action according
to its tendency to diminish happiness, or obversely. Any one
reprobating in any shape, pleasure as such, is a partisan of this
principle. Asceticism has been adopted, on the one hand, by certain
moralists, from the spur of philosophic pride; and on the other hand,
by certain religionists, under the impulse of fear. It has been much
less admitted into Legislation than into Morals. It may have
originated, in the first instance, with hasty speculators, looking at
the pains attending certain pleasures in the long run, and pushing the
abstinence from such pleasures (justified to a certain length on
prudential grounds) so far as to fall in love with pain.

The other principle, Sympathy and Antipathy, means the unreasoning
approbation or disapprobation of the individual mind, where fancy,
caprice, accidental liking or disliking, may mix with a regard to human
happiness. This is properly the negation of a principle. What we expect
to find in a principle is some _external_ consideration, warranting and
guiding our sentiments of approbation and disapprobation; a basis that
all are agreed upon.

It is under this head that Bentham rapidly surveys and dismisses all
the current theories of Right and Wrong. They consist all of them, he
says, in so many contrivances for avoiding an appeal to any external
standard, and for requiring us to accept the author's sentiment or
opinion as a reason for itself. The dictates of this principle,
however, will often unintentionally coincide with utility; for what
more natural ground of hatred to a practice can there be than its
mischievous tendency? The things that men suffer by, they will be
disposed to hate. Still, it is not constant in its operation; for
people may ascribe the suffering to the wrong cause. The principle is
most liable to err on the side of severity; differences of taste and of
opinion are sufficient grounds for quarrel and resentment. It will err
on the side of lenity, when a mischief is remote and imperceptible.

The author reserves a distinct handling for the Theological principle;
alleging that it falls under one or other of the three foregoing. The
Will of God must mean his will as revealed in the sacred writings,
which, as the labours of divines testify, themselves stand in need of
interpretation. What is meant, in fact, is the _presumptive_ will of
God; that is, what is presumed to be his will on account of its
conformity with another principle. We are pretty sure that what is
right is conformable to his will, but then this requires us first to
know what is right. The usual mode of knowing God's pleasure (he
remarks) is to observe what is our own pleasure, and pronounce that to
be his.

men are stimulated to act right; they are termed, _physical, political,
moral_, and _religious_. These are the Sanctions of Right.

The _physical_ sanction includes the pleasures and pains arising in the
ordinary course of nature, unmodified by the will of any human being,
or of any supernatural being.

The _political_ sanction is what emanates from the sovereign or supreme
ruling power of the state. The punishments of the Law come under this

The _moral_ or _popular_ sanction results from the action of the
community, or of the individuals that each person comes in contact
with, acting without any settled or concerted rule. It corresponds to
public opinion, and extends in its operation beyond the sphere of the

The _religious_ sanction proceeds from the immediate hand of a superior
invisible being, either in the present, or in a future life.

The name Punishment is applicable only to the three last. The suffering
that befalls a man in the course of nature is termed a _calamity_; if
it happen through imprudence on his part, it may be styled a punishment
issuing from the physical sanction.

MEASURED. A pleasure or a pain is determined to be greater or less
according to (1) its _intensity_, (2) its _duration_, (3) its
_certainty_ or _uncertainty_, (4) its _propinquity_ or _remoteness_;
all which are obvious distinctions. To these are to be added (5) its
_fecundity_, or the chance it has of being followed by other sensations
of its own kind; that is pleasures if it be pleasure, pains if it be
pain. Finally (6) its _purity_, or the chance of its being unmixed with
the opposite kind; a pure pleasure has no mixture of pain. All the six
properties apply to the case of an individual person; where a plurality
are concerned, a new item is present, (7) the _extent_, or the number
of persons affected. These properties exhaust the meaning of the terms
expressing good and evil; on the one side, happiness, convenience,
advantage, benefit, emolument, profit, &c.; and, on the other,
unhappiness, inconvenience, disadvantage, loss, mischief, and the like.

Next follows, in Chapter V., a classified enumeration of PLEASURES AND
PAINS. In a system undertaking to base all Moral and Political action
on the production of happiness, such a classification is obviously
required. The author professes to have grounded it on an analysis of
human nature, which analysis itself, however, as being too
metaphysical, he withholds.

The simple pleasures are:--1. The pleasures of sense. 2. The pleasures
of wealth. 3. The pleasures of skill. 4. The pleasures of amity. 5. The
pleasures of a good name. 6. The pleasures of power. 7. The pleasures
of piety. 8. The pleasures of benevolence. 9. The pleasures of
malevolence. 10. The pleasures of memory. 11. The pleasures of
imagination. 12. The pleasures of expectation. 13. The pleasures
dependent on association. 14. The pleasures of relief.

The simple pains are:--1. The pains of privation. 2. The pains of the
senses. 3. The pains of awkwardness. 4. The pains of enmity. 5. The
pains of an ill name. 6. The pains of piety. 7. The pains of
benevolence. 8. The pains of malevolence. 9. The pains of the memory.
10. The pains of the imagination. 11. The pains of expectation. 12. The
pains dependent on association.

We need not quote his detailed subdivision and illustration of these.
At the close, he marks the important difference between
_self-regarding_ and _extra-regarding_; the last being those of
benevolence and of malevolence.

In a long chapter (VI.), he dwells on CIRCUMSTANCES INFLUENCING
SENSIBILITY. They are such as the following:--1. Health. 2. Strength.
3. Hardiness. 4. Bodily imperfection. 5. Quantity and Quality of
knowledge. 6. Strength of intellectual powers. 7. Firmness of mind. 8.
Steadiness of mind. 9. Bent of inclination. 10. Moral sensibility. 11.
Moral biases. 12. Religious Sensibility. 13. Religious biases. 14.
Sympathetic Sensibility. 15. Sympathetic biases. 16. Antipathetic
sensibility. 17. Antipathetic biases. 18. Insanity. 19. Habitual
occupations. 20. Pecuniary circumstances. 21. Connexions in the way of
sympathy. 22. Connexions in the way of antipathy. 23. Radical frame of
body. 24. Radical frame of mind. 25. Sex. 26. Age. 27. Rank. 28.
Education. 29. Climate. 30. Lineage. 31. Government. 32. Religious

Chapter VII. proceeds to consider HUMAN ACTIONS IN GENERAL. Right and
wrong, good and evil, merit and demerit belong to actions. These have
to be divided and classified with a view to the ends of the moralist
and the legislator. Throughout this, and two other long chapters, he
discusses, as necessary in apportioning punishment, the _act_ itself,
the _circumstances_, the _intention_, and the _consciousness_--or the
knowledge of the tendencies of the act. He introduces many subdivisions
under each head, and makes a number of remarks of importance as regards
penal legislation.

In Chapter X., he regards pleasures and pains in the aspect of MOTIVES.
Since every pleasure and every pain, as a part of their nature, induce
actions, they are often designated with reference to that circumstance.
Hunger, thirst, lust, avarice, curiosity, ambition, &c., are names of
this class. There is not a complete set of such designations; hence the
use of the circumlocutions, _appetite for, love of, desire of_--sweet
odours, sounds, sights, ease, reputation, &c.

Of great importance is the _Order of pre-eminence among motives_. Of
all the varieties of motives, Good-will, or Benevolence, taken in a
general view, is that whose dictates are surest to coincide with
Utility. In this, however, it is taken for granted that the benevolence
is not so confined in its sphere, as to be contradicted by a more
extensive, or enlarged, benevolence.

After good-will, the motive that has the best chance of coinciding with
Utility is Love of Reputation. The coincidence would be perfect, if
men's likings and dislikings were governed exclusively by the principle
of Utility, and not, as they often are, by the hostile principles of
Asceticism, and of Sympathy and Antipathy. Love of reputation is
inferior as a motive to Good-will, in not governing the secret actions.
These last are affected, only as they have a chance of becoming public,
or as men contract a habit of looking to public approbation in all they

The desire of Amity, or of close personal affections, is placed next in
order, as a motive. According as we extend the number of persons whose
amity we desire, this prompting approximates to the love of reputation.

After these three motives, Bentham places the Dictates of Religion,
which, however, are so various in their suggestions, that he can hardly
speak of them in common. Were the Being, who is the object of religion,
universally supposed to be as benevolent as he is supposed to be wise
and powerful, and were the notions of his benevolence as correct as the
notions of his wisdom and power, the dictates of religion would
correspond, in all cases, with Utility. But while men call him
benevolent in words, they seldom mean that he is so in reality. They do
not mean that he is benevolent as man is conceived to be benevolent;
they do not mean that he is benevolent in the only sense that
benevolence has a meaning. The dictates of religion are in all
countries intermixed, more or less, with dictates unconformable to
utility, deduced from texts, well or ill interpreted, of the writings
held for sacred by each sect. These dictates, however, gradually
approach nearer to utility, because the dictates of the moral sanction
do so.

Such are the four Social or Tutelary Motives, the antagonists of the
Dissocial and Self-regarding motives, which include the remainder of
the catalogue.

Chapter XI. is on DISPOSITIONS. A man is said to be of a mischievous
disposition, when he is presumed to be apt to engage rather in actions
of an _apparently_ pernicious tendency, than in such as are apparently
beneficial. The author lays down certain Rules for indicating
Disposition. Thus, 'The strength of the temptation being given, the
mischievousness of the disposition manifested by the enterprise, is as
the apparent mischievousness of the act,' and others to a like effect.

concluding link of the whole previous chain of causes and effects. He
defines the shapes that bad consequences may assume. The mischief may
be _primary_, as when sustained by a definite number of individuals; or
_secondary_, by extending over a multitude of unassignable individuals.
The evil in this last case may be either actual pain, or danger, which
is the chance of pain. Thus, a successful robbery affects, primarily, a
number of assignable persons, and secondarily, all persons in a like
situation of risk.

He then proceeds to the theory of PUNISHMENT (XIII., XIV., XV.), to the
classification of OFFENCES (XVI.), and to the Limits of the Penal
Branch of Jurisprudence (XVII.). The two first subjects--Punishments
and Offences--are interesting chiefly in regard to Legislation. They
have also a bearing on Morals; inasmuch as society, in its private
administration of punishments, ought, no less than the Legislator, to
be guided by sound scientific principles.

As respects Punishment, he marks off (1) cases where it is
_groundless_; (2) where it is _inefficacious_, as in Infancy, Insanity,
Intoxication, &c.; (3) cases where it is _unprofitable_; and (4) cases
where it is _needless_. It is under this last herd that he excludes
from punishment the dissemination of what may be deemed pernicious
principles. Punishment is needless here, because the end can be served
by reply and exposure.

The first part of Chapter XVII. is entitled the 'Limits between Private
Ethics and the Art of Legislation;' and a short account of it will
complete the view of the author's Ethical Theory.

Ethics at large, is defined the art of directing men's actions to the
production of the greatest possible quantity of happiness, on the part
of those whose interest is in view, Now, these actions may be a man's
own actions, in which case they are styled the _art of self-government_,
or _private ethics_. Or they may be the actions of other agents, namely,
(1) Other human beings, and (2) Other Animals, whose interests Bentham
considers to have been disgracefully overlooked by jurists as well as
by mankind generally.

In so far as a man's happiness depends on his own conduct, he may be
said to _owe a duty to himself_; the quality manifested in discharge of
this branch of duty (if duty it is to be called) is PRUDENCE. In so far
as he affects by his conduct the interests of those about him, he is
under _a duty to others_. The happiness of others may be consulted in
two ways. First, negatively, by forbearing to diminish it; this is
called PROBITY. Secondly, in a positive way, by studying to increase
it; which is expressed by BENEFICENCE.

But now the question occurs, how is it that under Private Ethics (or
apart from legislation and religion) a man can be tinder a motive to
consult other people's happiness? By what obligations can he be bound
to _probity_ and _beneficence_? A man can have no _adequate_ motives
for consulting any interests but his own. Still there are motives for
making us consult the happiness of others, namely, the purely social
motive of Sympathy or Benevolence, and the semi-social motives of Love
of Amity and Love of Reputation. [He does not say here whether Sympathy
is a motive grounded on the pleasure it brings, or a motive
irrespective of the pleasure; although from other places we may infer
that he inclines to the first view.]

Private Ethics and Legislation can have but the same end, happiness.
Their means, the actions prompted, must be nearly the same. Still they
are different. There is no case where a man ought not to be guided by
his own, or his fellow-creatures', happiness; but there are many cases
where the legislature should not compel a man to perform such actions.
The reason is that the Legislature works solely by Punishment (reward
is seldom applied, and is not properly an act of legislation). Now,
there are cases where the punishment of the political sanction ought
not to be used; and if, in any of these cases, there is a propriety of
using the punishments of private ethics (the moral or social sanction),
this circumstance would indicate the line of division.

First, then, as to the cases where punishment would be _groundless_. In
such cases, neither legislation nor private ethics should interfere.

Secondly. As to cases where it would be _inefficacious_, where
punishment has no deterring motive power,--as in Infancy, Insanity,
overwhelming danger, &c.,--the public and the private sanctions are
also alike excluded.

Thirdly. It is in the cases where Legislative punishment would be
_unprofitable_, that we have the great field of Private Ethics.
Punishment is unprofitable in two ways. First, when the danger of
detection is so small, that nothing but enormous severity, on
detection, would be of avail, as in the illicit commerce of the sexes,
which has generally gone unpunished by law. Secondly, when there is
danger of involving the innocent with the guilty, from inability to
define the crime in precise language. Hence it is that rude behaviour,
treachery, and ingratitude are not punished by law; and that in
countries where the voice of the people controls the hand of the
legislature, there is a great dread of making _defamation_, especially
of the government, an offence at law.

Private Ethics is not liable to the same difficulties as Legislation in
dealing with such offences.

Of the three departments of Moral Duty--Prudence, Probity, and
Beneficence--the one that least requires and admits of being enforced
by legislative punishment is the first--_Prudence_. It can only be
through some defect of the understanding, if people are wanting in duty
to themselves. Now, although a man may know little of himself, is it
certain the legislator knows more? Would it be possible to extirpate
drunkenness or fornication by legal punishment? All that can be done in
this field is to subject the offences, in cases of notoriety, to a
slight censure, so as to cover them with a slight shade of artificial
disrepute, and thus give strength and influence to the moral sanction.

Legislators have, in general, carried their interference too far in
this class of duties; and the mischief has been most conspicuous in
religion. Men, it is supposed, are liable to errors of judgment; and
for these it is the determination of a Being of infinite benevolence to
punish them with an infinity of torments. The legislator, having by his
side men perfectly enlightened, unfettered, and unbiassed, presumes
that he has attained by their means the exact truth; and so, when he
sees his people ready to plunge headlong into an abyss of fire, shall
he not stretch forth his hand to save them?

The second class of duties--the rules of _Probity_, stand most in need
of the assistance of the legislator. There are few cases where it
_would_ be expedient to punish a man for hurting himself, and few where
it _would not_ be expedient to punish a man for hurting his neighbour.
As regards offences against property, private ethics presupposes
legislation, which alone can determine what things are to be regarded
as each man's property. If private ethics takes a different view from
the legislature, it must of course act on its own views.

The third class of duties--_Beneficence_--must be abandoned to the
jurisdiction of private ethics. In many cases the beneficial quality of
an act depends upon the disposition of the agent, or the possession by
him of the extra-regarding motives--sympathy, amity, and reputation;
whereas political action can work only through the self-regarding
motives. In a word these duties must be _free_ or _voluntary_. Still,
the limits of law on this head might be somewhat extended; in
particular, where a man's person is in danger, it might be made the
duty of every one to save him from mischief, no less than to abstain
from bringing it on him.

To resume the Ethics of Bentham. I.--The Standard or End of Morality is
the production of Happiness, or Utility.

Bentham is thus at one in his first principle with Hume and with Paley;
his peculiarity is to make it fruitful in numerous applications both to
legislation and to morals. He carries out the principle with an
unflinching rigour, and a logical force peculiarly his own.

II.--His Psychological Analysis is also studied and thorough-going.

He is the first person to provide a classification of pleasures and
pains, as an indispensable preliminary alike to morals and to
legislation. The ethical applications of these are of less importance
than the legislative; they have a direct and practical bearing upon the
theory of Punishment.

He lays down, as the constituents of the Moral Faculty, Good-will or
Benevolence, the love of Amity, the love of Reputation, and the
dictates of Religion--with a view to the Happiness of others; and
Prudence--with a view to our own happiness. He gives no special account
of the acquired sentiment of Obligation or Authority--the
characteristic of Conscience, as distinguished from other impulses
having a tendency to the good of others or of self. And yet it is the
peculiarity of his system to identify morality with law; so that there
is only one step to connecting conscience with our education under the
different sanctions--legal and ethical.

He would of course give a large place to the Intellect or Reason in
making up the Moral Faculty, seeing that the consequences of actions
have to be estimated or judged; but he would regard this as merely
co-operating with our sensibilities to pleasure and pain.

The Disinterested Sentiment is not regarded by Bentham. as arising from
any disposition to pure self-sacrifice. He recognizes _Pleasures_ of
Benevolence and _Pains_ of Benevolence; thus constituting a purely
interested motive for doing good to others. He describes certain
pleasures of Imagination or Sympathy arising through Association--the
idea of plenty, the idea of the happiness of animals, the idea of
health, the idea of gratitude. Under the head of Circumstances
influencing Sensibility, he adverts to Sympathetic Sensibility, as
being the propensity to derive _pleasure from the happiness, and pain
from the unhappiness, of other sensitive beings_. It cannot but be
admitted, he says, that the only interest that a man at all times, and
on all occasions, is sure to find _adequate_ motives for consulting, is
his own. He has no metaphysics of the Will. He uses the terms _free_
and _voluntary_ only with reference to spontaneous beneficence, as
opposed to the compulsion of the law.

III.--As regards Happiness, or the Summum Bonum, he presents his
scientific classification of Pleasures and Pains, without, however,
indicating any plan of life, for attaining the one and avoiding the
other in the best manner. He makes no distinction among pleasures and
pains excepting what strictly concerns their value as such--intensity,
duration, certainty, and nearness. He makes happiness to mean only the
presence of pleasure and the absence of pain. The renunciation of
pleasure for any other motive than to procure a greater pleasure, or
avoid a greater pain, he, disapprovingly, terms asceticism.

IV.--It being the essence of his system to consider Ethics as a Code of
Laws directed by Utility, and he being himself a law reformer on the
greatest scale, we might expect from him suggestions for the
improvement of Ethics, as well as for Legislation and Jurisprudence.
His inclusion of the interests of the lower animals has been mentioned.
He also contends for the partly legislative and partly ethical
innovation of Freedom of Divorce.

The inducements to morality are the motives assigned as working in its

V.--The connexions of Ethics with Politics, the points of agreement and
the points of difference of the two departments, are signified with
unprecedented care and precision (Chap. XVII.)

VI.--As regards the connexions with Theology, he gives no uncertain
sound. It is on this point that he stands in marked contrast to Paley,
who also professes Utility as his ethical foundation.

He recognizes religion as furnishing one of the Sanctions of morality,
although often perverted into the enemy of utility. He considers that
the state may regard as offences any acts that tend to diminish or
misapply the influence of religion as a motive to civil obedience.

While Paley makes a conjoined reference to Scripture and to Utility in
ascertaining moral rules, Bentham insists on Utility alone as the final
appeal. He does not doubt that if we had a clear unambiguous statement
of the divine will, we should have a revelation of what is for human
happiness; but he distrusts all interpretations of scripture, unless
they coincide with a perfectly independent scientific investigation of
the consequences of actions.


In the 'Dissertation on the progress of Ethical Philosophy chiefly
during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,' Mackintosh advocates
a distinct Ethical theory. His views and arguments occur partly in the
course of his criticism of the other moralists, and partly in his
concluding General Remarks (Section VII.).

In Section I., entitled PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS, he remarks on the
universality of the distinction between Right and Wrong. On no subject
do men, in all ages, coincide on so many points as on the general rules
of conduct, and the estimable qualities of character. Even the grossest
deviations may be explained by ignorance of facts, by errors with
respect to the consequences of actions, or by inconsistency with
admitted principles. In tribes where new-born infants are exposed, the
abandonment of parents is condemned; the betrayal and murder of
strangers is condemned by the very rules of faith and humanity,
acknowledged in the case of countrymen.

He complains that, in the enquiry as to the foundation of morals, the
two distinct questions--as to the Standard and the Faculty--have seldom
been fully discriminated. Thus, Paley opposes Utility to a Moral Sense,
not perceiving that the two terms relate to different subjects; and
Bentham repeats the mistake. It is possible to represent Utility as the
_criterion_ of Right, and a Moral Sense as the _faculty_. In another
place, he remarks that the schoolmen failed to draw the distinction.

In Section V., entitled 'Controversies concerning the Moral Faculty and
the Social Affections,' and including the Ethical theories coming
between Hobbes and Butler, namely, Cumberland, Cudworth, Clarke, &c.,
he gives his objections to the scheme that founds moral distinctions
solely on the Reason. Reason, as such, can never be a motive to action;
an argument to dissuade a man from drunkenness must appeal to the pains
of ill-health, poverty, and infamy, that is, to Feelings. The influence
of Reason is indirect; it is merely a channel whereby the objects of
desire are brought into view, so as to operate on the Will.

The abused extension of the term Reason to the moral faculties, he
ascribes to the obvious importance of Reason in choosing the means of
action, as well as in balancing the ends, during which operation the
feelings are suspended, delayed, and poised in a way favourable to our
lasting interests. Hence the antithesis of Reason and Passion.

In remarking upon Leibnitz's view of Disinterested Sentiment, and the
coincidence of Virtue with Happiness, he sketches his own opinion,
which is that although every virtuous _act_ may not lead to the greater
happiness of the agent, yet the _disposition_ to virtuous acts, in its
intrinsic pleasures, far outweighs all the pains of self-sacrifice that
it can ever occasion. 'The whole sagacity and ingenuity of the world
may be fairly challenged to point out a case in which virtuous
dispositions, habits, and feelings are not conducive in the highest
degree to the happiness of the individual; or to maintain that he is
not the happiest, whose moral sentiments and affections are such as to
prevent the possibility of any unlawful advantage being presented to
his mind.'

Section VI. is entitled 'Foundations of a more Just Theory of Ethics,'
and embraces a review of all the Ethical writers, from Butler
downwards. The most palpable defect in Butler's scheme, is that it
affords no answer to the question, 'What is the distinguishing quality
of right actions?' in other words, What is the Standard? There is a
vicious circle in answering that they are commanded by Conscience, for
Conscience itself can be no otherwise defined than as the faculty that
approves and commands right actions. Still, he gives warm commendation
to Butler generally; in connexion with him he takes occasion to give
some farther hints as to his own opinions. Two positions are here
advanced: 1st, The moral sentiments, in their mature state, are a class
of feelings with no other objects than _the dispositions to voluntary
actions_, and _the actions flowing from these dispositions_. We approve
some dispositions and actions, and disapprove others; we desire to
cultivate them, and we aim at them for _something in themselves_. This
position receives light from the doctrine above quoted as to the
supreme happiness of virtuous dispositions. His second position is that
Conscience _is an acquired principle_; which he repeats and unfolds in
subsequent places.

He finds fault with Hume for ascribing Virtue to qualities of the
Understanding, and considers that this is to confound admiration with
moral approbation. Hume's general Ethical doctrine, that Utility is a
uniform ground of moral distinction, he says can never be impugned
until some example be produced of a virtue generally pernicious, or a
vice generally beneficial. But as to the theory of moral approbation,
or the nature of the Faculty, he considers that Hume's doctrine of
Benevolence (or, still better, Sympathy) does not account for our
approbation of temperance and fortitude, nor for the _supremacy_ of the
Moral Faculty over all other motives.

He objects to the theory of Adam Smith, that no allowance is made in it
for the transfer of our feelings, and the disappearing of the original
reference from the view. Granting that our approbation began in
sympathy, as Smith says, certain it is, that the adult man approves
actions and dispositions as right, while he is distinctly aware that no
process of sympathy intervenes between the approval and its object. He
repeats, against Smith, the criticism on Hume, that the sympathies have
no _imperative_ character of supremacy. He further remarks that the
reference, in our actions, to the point of view of the spectator, is
rather an expedient for preserving our impartiality than a fundamental
principle of Ethics. It nearly coincides with the Christian precept of
doing unto others as we would they should do unto us,--an admirable
practical maxim, but, as Leibnitz has said truly, intended only as a
correction of self-partiality. Lastly, he objects to Smith, that his
system renders all morality relative to the pleasure of our coinciding
in feeling with others, which is merely to decide on the Faculty,
without considering the Standard. Smith shrinks from Utility as a
standard, or ascribes its power over our feelings to our sense of the
adaptation of means to ends.

He commends Smith for grounding Benevolence on Sympathy, whereas
Butler, Hutcheson, and Hume had grounded Sympathy on Benevolence.

It is in reviewing Hartley, whose distinction it was to open up the
wide capabilities of the principle of Association, that Mackintosh
develops at greatest length his theory of the derived nature of

Adverting to the usual example of the love of money, he remarks that
the benevolent man might begin with an interested affection, but might
end with a disinterested delight in doing good. Self-love, or the
principle of permanent well-being, is gradually formed from the
separate appetites, and is at last pursued without having them
specially in view. So Sympathy may perhaps be the transfer, first, of
our own personal feelings to other beings, and next, of their feelings
to ourselves, thereby engendering the social affections. It is an
ancient and obstinate error of philosophers to regard these two
principles--Self-love and Sympathy--as the _source_ of the impelling
passions and affections, instead of being the last results of them.

The chief elementary feelings that go to constitute the moral
sentiments appear to be Gratitude, Pity, Resentment, and Shame. To take
the example of Gratitude. Acts of beneficence to ourselves give us
pleasure; we associate this pleasure with the benefactor, so as to
regard him with a feeling of complacency; and when we view other
beneficent beings and acts there is awakened within us our own
agreeable experience. The process is seen in the child, who contracts
towards the nurse or mother all the feelings of complacency arising
from repeated pleasures, and extends these by similarity to other
resembling persons. As soon as complacency takes the form of _action_,
it becomes (according to the author's theory, connecting conscience
with will), a part of the Conscience. So much for the development of
Gratitude. Next as to Pity. The likeness of the outward signs of
emotion makes us transfer to others our own feelings, and thereby
becomes, even more than gratitude, a source of benevolence; being one
of the first motives to impart the benefits connected with affection.
In our sympathy with the sufferer, we cannot but approve the actions
that relieve suffering, and the dispositions that prompt them. We also
enter into his Resentment, or anger towards the causes of pain, and the
actions and dispositions corresponding; and this sympathetic anger is
at length detached from special cases and extended to all wrong-doers;
and is the root of the most indispensable compound of our moral
faculties, the 'Sense of Justice.'

To these internal growths, from Gratitude, Pity, and Resentment, must
be added the education by means of well-framed penal laws, which are
the lasting declaration of the moral indignation of mankind. These laws
may be obeyed as mere compulsory duties; but with the generous
sentiments concurring, men may rise above duty to _virtue_, and may
contract that excellence of nature whence acts of beneficence flow of
their own accord.

He next explains the growth of Remorse, as another element of the Moral
Sense. The abhorrence that we feel for bad actions is extended to the
agent; and, in spite of certain obstacles to its full manifestation,
that abhorrence is prompted when the agent is self.

The theory of derivation is bound to account for the fact, recognized
in the language of mankind, that the Moral Faculty is ONE. The
principle of association would account for the fusion of many different
sentiments into one product, wherein the component parts would cease to
be discerned; but this is not enough. Why do these particular
sentiments and no others coalesce in the total--Conscience. The answer
is what was formerly given with reference to Butler; namely, while all
other feelings relate to outward objects, the feelings brought together
in conscience, contemplate exclusively _the dispositions and actions of
voluntary agents_. Conscience is thus an acquired faculty, but one that
is _universally and necessarily_ acquired.

The derivation is farther exemplified by a comparison with the feelings
of Taste. These may have an original reference to fitness--as in the
beauty of a horse--but they do not attain their proper character until
the consideration of fitness disappears. So far they resemble the moral
faculty. They differ from it, however, in this, that taste ends in
passive contemplation or quiescent delight; conscience looks solely to
the acts and dispositions of voluntary agents. This is the author's
favourite way of expressing what is otherwise called the authority and
supremacy of conscience.

To sum up:--the principal constituents of the moral sense are
Gratitude, Sympathy (or Pity), Resentment, and Shame; the secondary and
auxiliary causes are Education, Imitation, General Opinion, Laws and

In criticising Paley, he illustrates forcibly the position, that
Religion must pre-suppose morality.

His criticism of Bentham gives him an opportunity of remarking on the
modes of carrying into effect the principle of Utility as the Standard.
He repeats his favourite doctrine of the inherent pleasures of a
virtuous disposition, as the grand circumstance rendering virtue
profitable and vice unprofitable. He even uses the Platonic figure, and
compares vice to mental distemper. It is his complaint against Bentham
and the later supporters of Utility, that they have _misplaced_ the
application of the principle, and have encouraged the too frequent
appeal to calculation in the details of conduct. Hence arise
sophistical evasions of moral rules; men will slide from general to
particular consequences; apply the test of utility to actions and not
to _dispositions_; and, in short, take too much upon themselves in
settling questions of moral right and wrong. [He might have remarked
that the power of perverting the standard to individual interests is
not confined to the followers of Utility.] He introduces the saying
attributed to Andrew Fletcher, 'that he would lose his life to _serve_
his country, but would not do a base thing to _save_ it.'

He farther remarks on the tendency of Bentham and his followers to
treat Ethics too _juridically_. He would probably admit that Ethics is
strictly speaking a code of laws, but draws the line between it and the
juridical code, by the distinction of dispositions and actions. We may
have to approve the author of an injurious action, because it is
well-meant; the law must nevertheless punish it. Herein Ethics has its
alliance with Religion, which looks at the disposition or the heart.

He is disappointed at finding that Dugald Stewart, who made
applications of the law of association and appreciated its powers, held
back from, and discountenanced, the attempt of Hartley to resolve the
Moral Sense, styling it 'an ingenious refinement on the Selfish
system,' and representing those opposed to himself in Ethics as
deriving the affections from 'self-love.' He repeats that the
derivation theory affirms the disinterestedness of human actions as
strongly as Butler himself; while it gets over the objection from the
multiplication of original principles; and ascribes the result to the
operation of a real agent.

In replying to Brown's refusal to accept the derivation of Conscience,
on the ground that the process belongs to a time beyond remembrance, he
affirms it to be a sufficient theory, if the supposed action
_resembles_ what we know to be the operation of the principle where we
have direct experience of it.

His concluding Section, VII., entitled General Remarks, gives some
farther explanations of his characteristic views. He takes up the
principle of Utility, at the point where Brown bogled at it; quoting
Brown's concession, that Utility and virtue are so related, that there
is _perhaps_ no action generally felt to be virtuous that is not
beneficial, and that every case of benefit willingly done excites
approbation. He strikes out Brown's word 'perhaps,' as making the
affirmation either conjectural or useless; and contends that the two
facts,--morality and the general benefit,--being co-extensive, should
be reciprocally tests of each other. He qualifies, as usual, by not
allowing utility to be, on all occasions, the immediate incentive of
actions. He holds, however, that the main doctrine is an essential
corollary from the Divine Benevolence.

He then replies specifically to the question, 'Why is utility not to be
the sole end present to the mind of the virtuous agent?' The answer is
found in the limits of man's faculties. Every man is not always able,
on the spur of the moment, to calculate all the consequences of our
actions. But it is not to be concluded from this, that the calculation
of consequences is impracticable in moral subjects. To calculate the
general tendency of every sort of human action is, he contends, a
possible, easy, and common operation. The general good effects of
temperance, prudence, fortitude, justice, benevolence, gratitude,
veracity, fidelity, domestic and patriotic affections, may be
pronounced with as little error, as the best founded maxims of the
ordinary business of life.

He vindicates the rules of sexual morality on the grounds of

He then discusses the question, (on which he had charged Hume with
mistake), 'Why is approbation confined to voluntary acts?' He thinks it
but a partial solution to say that approbation and disapprobation are
wasted on what is not in the power of the will. The full solution he
considers to be found in the mode of derivation of the moral sentiment;
which, accordingly, he re-discusses at some length. He produces the
analogies of chemistry to show that compounds may be totally different
from their elements. He insists on the fact that a derived pleasure is
not the less a pleasure; it may even survive the primary pleasure.
Self-love (improperly so called) is intelligible if its origin be
referred to Association, but not if it be considered as prior to the
appetites and passions that furnish its materials. And as the pleasure
derived from low objects may be transferred to the most pure, so
Disinterestedness may originate with self, and yet become as entirely
detached from that origin as if the two had never been connected.

He then repeats his doctrine, that these social or disinterested
sentiments prompt the will as the means of their gratification. Hence,
by a farther transfer of association, the voluntary acts share in the
delight felt in the affections that determine them. We then desire to
experience _beneficent volitions_, and to cultivate the dispositions to
these. Such dispositions are at last desired for their own sake; and,
when so desired, constitute the Moral Sense, Conscience, or the Moral
Sentiment, in its consummated form. Thus, by a fourth or fifth stage of
derivation from the original pleasures and pains of our constitution,
we arrive at this highly complex product, called our moral nature.

Nor is this all. We must not look at the side of indignation to the
wrong-doer. We are angry at those who disappoint our wish for the
happiness of others; we make their resentment our own. We hence approve
of the actions and dispositions for punishing such offenders; while we
so far sympathize with the culprit as to disapprove of excess of
punishment. Such moderated anger is the sense of Justice, and is a new
element of Conscience. Of all the virtues, this is the one most
_directly_ aided by a conviction of general interest or utility. All
laws profess it as their end. Hence the importance of good criminal
laws to the moral education of mankind.

Among contributary streams to the moral faculty, he enumerates courage,
energy, and decision, properly directed.

He recognizes 'duties to ourselves,' although condemning the expression
as absurd. Intemperance, improvidence, timidity are morally wrong.
Still, as in other cases, a man is not truly virtuous on such points,
till he loves them for their own sake, and even performs them without
an effort. These prudential qualities having an influence on the will,
resemble in that the other constituents of Conscience. As a final
result, all those sentiments whose object is a state of the will become
intimately and inseparably blended in the unity of Conscience, the
arbiter and judge of human actions, the lawful authority over every
motive to conduct.

In this grand coalition of the public and the private feelings, he sees
a decisive illustration of the reference of moral sentiments to the
Will. He farther recognizes in it a solution of the great problem of
the relation of virtue to private interest. Qualities useful to
ourselves are raised to the rank of virtues; and qualities useful to
others are converted into pleasures. In moral reasonings, we are
enabled to bring home virtuous inducements by the medium of
self-interest; we can assure a man that by cultivating the disposition
towards other men's happiness he gains a source of happiness to

The question, Why we do not morally approve involuntary actions, is now
answered. Conscience is associated exclusively with the dispositions
and actions of voluntary agents. Conscience and Will are co-extensive.

A difficulty remains. 'If moral approbation involve no perception of
beneficial tendency, how do we make out the coincidence of the two?' It
might seem that the foundation of morals is thus made to rest on a
coincidence that is mysterious and fantastic. According to the author,
the conclusive answer is this. Although Conscience rarely contemplates
anything so distant as the welfare of all sentient beings, yet in
detail it obviously points to the production of happiness. The social
affections all promote happiness. Every one must observe the tendency
of justice to the welfare of society. The angry passions, as ministers
of morality, remove hindrances to human welfare. The private desires
have respect to our own happiness. Every element of conscience has thus
some portion of happiness for its object. All the affections contribute
to the general well-being, although it is not necessary, nor would it
be fit, that the agent should be distracted by the contemplation of
that vast and remote object.

To sum up Mackintosh:--

I.--On the Standard, he pronounces for Utility, with certain
modifications and explanations. The Utility is the remote and final
justification of all actions accounted right, but not the immediate
motive in the mind of the agent. [It may justly be feared, that, by
placing so much stress on the delights attendant on virtuous action, he
gives an opening for the admission of _sentiment_ into the
consideration of Utility.]

II.--In the Psychology of Ethics, he regards the Conscience as a
derived or generated faculty, the result of a series of associations.
He assigns the primary feelings that enter into it, and traces the
different stages of the growth. The distinctive feature of Conscience
is its close relation to the Will.

He does not consider the problem of Liberty and Necessity.

He makes Disinterested Sentiment a secondary or derived feeling--a
stage on the road to Conscience. While maintaining strongly the
disinterested character of the sentiment, he considers that it may be
fully accounted for by derivation from our primitive self-regarding
feelings, and denies, as against Stewart and Brown, that this gives it
a selfish character.

He carries the process of associative growth a step farther, and
maintains that we re-convert disinterestedness into a lofty
delight--the delight in goodness for its own sake; to attain this
characteristic is the highest mark of a virtuous character.

III.---His Summum Bonum, or Theory of Happiness, is contained in his
much iterated doctrine of the deliciousness of virtuous conduct, by
which he proposes to effect the reconciliation of our own good with the
good of others--prudence with virtue. Virtue is 'an inward fountain of
pure delight;' the pleasure of benevolence, 'if it could become lasting
and intense, would convert the heart into a heaven;' they alone are
happy, or truly virtuous, that do not need the motive of a regard to
outward consequences.

His chief Ethical precursor in this vein is Shaftesbury; but he is
easily able to produce from Theologians abundant iterations of it.

IV.--He has no special views as to the Moral Code. With reference to
the inducements to virtue, he thinks he has a powerful lever in the
delights that the virtuous disposition confers on its owner.

V.--His theory of the connexion of Ethics and Politics is stated in his
account of Bentham, whom he charges with making morality too judicial.

VI.--The relations of Morality to Religion are a matter of frequent and
special consideration in Mackintosh.

JAMES MILL. [1783-1836.]

The work of James Mill, entitled the 'Analysis of the Human Mind,' is
distinguished, in the first glace, by the studied precision of its
definitions of all leading terms, giving it a permanent value as a
logical discipline; and in the second place, by the successful carrying
out of the principle of Association in explaining the powers of the
mind. The author endeavours to show that the moral feelings are a
complex product or growth, of which the ultimate constituents are our
pleasurable and painful sensations. We shall present a brief abstract
of the course of his exposition, as given in Chapters XVII.--XXIII. of
the Analysis.

The pleasurable and painful sensations being assumed, it is important
to take notice of their Causes, both immediate and remote, by whose
means they can be secured or avoided. We contract a habit of passing
rapidly from every sensation to its procuring cause; and, as in the
typical case of money, these causes are apt to rank higher in
importance, to take a greater hold on the mind, than the sensations
themselves. The mind is not much interested in attending to the
sensation; that can provide for itself. The mind is deeply interested
in attending to the cause.

The author next (XIX.) considers the Ideas of the pleasurable
sensations, and of the causes of them. The Idea of a pain is not the
same as the pain; it is a complex state, containing, no doubt, an
element of pain; and the name for it is Aversion. So the name for an
idea of pleasure is Desire. Now, these states extend to the causes of
pains and pleasures, though in other respects indifferent; we have an
aversion for a certain drug, but there is in this a transition highly
illustrative of the force of the associating principle; our real
aversion being to a bitter sensation, and not to the visible appearance
of the drug.

Alluding (XX.) to the important difference between past and future time
in our ideas of pleasure and pain, he defines Hope and Fear as the
contemplation of a pleasurable or of a painful sensation, as future,
but not certain.

When the immediate causes of pleasurable and painful sensations are
viewed as past or future, we have a new series of states. In the past,
they are called Love and Hatred, or Aversion; in the future, the idea
of a pleasure, as certain in its arrival, is Joy--as probable, Hope;
the idea of future pain (certain) is not marked otherwise than by the
names Hatred, Aversion, Horror; the idea of the pain as probable is
some form of dread.

The _remote_ causes of our pleasures and pains are more interesting
than the immediate causes. The reason is their wide command. Thus,
Wealth, Power, and Dignity are causes cf a great range of pleasures:
Poverty, Impotence, and Contemptibility, of a wide range of pains. For
one thing, the first are the means of procuring the services of our
fellow-creatures; this fact is of the highest consequence in morals, as
showing how deeply our happiness is entwined with the actions of other
beings. The author illustrates at length the influence of these remote
and comprehensive agencies; and as it is an influence entirely the
result of association, it attests the magnitude of that power of the

But our fellow-creatures are the subjects of affections, not merely as
the instrumentality set in motion by Wealth, Power, and Dignity, but in
their proper personality. This leads the author to the consideration of
the pleasurable affections of Friendship, Kindness, Family, Country,
Party, Mankind. He resolves them all into associations with our
primitive pleasures. Thus, to take the example of Kindness, which will
show how he deals with the disinterested affection;--The idea of a man
enjoying a train of pleasures, or happiness, is felt by everybody to be
a pleasurable idea; this can arise from nothing but the association of
our own pleasures with the idea of his pleasures. The pleasurable
association composed of the ideas of a man and of his pleasures, and
the painful association composed of the idea of a man and of his pains,
are both Affections included under one name Kindness; although in the
second case it has the more specific name Compassion.

Under the other heads, the author's elucidation is fuller, but his
principle is the same.

He next goes on (XXII.) to MOTIVES. When the idea of a Pleasure is
associated with an action of our own as the cause, that peculiar state
of mind is generated, called a motive. The idea of the pleasure,
without the idea of an action for gaining it, does not amount to a
motive. Every pleasure may become a motive, but every motive does not
end in action, because there may be counter-motives; and the strength
attained by motives depends greatly on education. The facility of being
acted on by motives of a particular kind is a DISPOSITION. We have, in
connexion with all our leading pleasures and pains, names indicating
their motive efficacy. Gluttony is both motive and disposition; so Lust
and Drunkenness; with the added sense of reprobation in all the three.
Friendship is a name for Affection, Motive, and Disposition.

In Chapter XXIII., the author makes the application of his principles
to Ethics. The actions emanating from ourselves, combined with those
emanating from our fellow-creatures, exceed all other Causes of our
Pleasures and Pains. Consequently such actions are objects of intense
affections or regards.

The actions whence advantages accrue are classed under the four titles,
Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, Benevolence. The two first--Prudence and
Fortitude [in fact, Prudence]--express acts useful to ourselves in the
first instance, to others in the second instance. Justice and
Benevolence express acts useful to others in the first instance, to
ourselves in the second instance. We have two sets of association with
all these acts, one set with them as our own, another set with them as
other people's. With Prudence (and Fortitude) as our own acts, we
associate good to ourselves, either in the shape of positive pleasure,
or as warding off pain. Thus Labour is raised to importance by numerous
associations of both classes. Farther, Prudence, involving the
foresight of a train of consequences, requires a large measure of
knowledge of things animate and inanimate. Courage is defined by the
author, incurring the chance of Evil, that is danger, for the sake of a
preponderant good; which, too, stands in need of knowledge. Now, when
the ideas of acts of Prudence and acts of Courage have been associated
sufficiently often with beneficial consequences, they become
pleasurable ideas, or Affections, and they have also, from the nature
of the case, the character of Motives. In short, there is nothing in
prudential conduct that may not be explained by a series of
associations, grounded on our pleasurable and painful sensations, on
the ideas of them, and on the ideas of their causes.

The real difficulty attaches to Justice and to Beneficence.

As to Justice. Men, in society, have found it essential for mutual
benefit, that the powers of Individuals over the general causes of good
should be fixed by certain rules, that is, Laws. Acts done in
accordance with these rules are Just Acts; although, when duly
considered, they are seen to include the main fact of beneficence, the
good of others. To the performance of a certain class of just acts, our
Fellow-creatures annex penalties; these, therefore, are determined
partly by Prudence; others remain to be performed voluntarily, and for
them the motive is Beneficence.

What then is the source of the motives towards Beneficence? How do the
ideas of acts, having the good of our fellows for their end, become
Affections and Motives? In the first place, we have associations of
pleasure with all the pleasurable feelings of fellow-creatures, and
hence, with such acts of ours as yield them pleasure. In the second
place, those are the acts for procuring to ourselves the favourable
Disposition of our Fellow-men, so that we have farther associations of
the pleasures flowing from such favourable dispositions. Thus, by the
union of two sets of influences--two streams of association--the Idea
of our beneficent acts becomes a pleasurable idea, that is, an
Affection, and, being connected with actions of ours, is also a Motive.
Such is the genesis of Beneficent or Disinterested impulses.

We have next a class of associations with other men's performance of
the several virtues. The Prudence and the Fortitude of others are
directly beneficial to them, and indirectly beneficial to us; and with
both these consequences we have necessarily agreeable associations. The
Justice and the Beneficence of other men are so directly beneficial to
the objects of them, that it is impossible for us not to have
pleasurable associations with acts of Justice and Beneficence, first as
concerns ourselves in particular, and next as concerns the acts
generally. Hence, therefore, the rise of Affections and Motives in
favour of these two virtues. As there is nothing so deeply interesting
to me as that the acts of men, regarding myself immediately, should be
acts of Justice and Beneficence, and the acts regarding themselves
immediately, acts of Prudence and Fortitude; it follows that I have an
interest in all such acts of my own as operate to cause those acts in
others. By similar acts of our own, by the manifestation of
dispositions to perform those acts, we obtain their reciprocal
performance by others. There is thus a highly complex, concurring
stimulus to acts of virtue,--a large aggregate of influences of
association, the power at bottom being still our own pleasurable and
painful sensations. We must add the ascription of Praise, an influence
remarkable for its wide propagation and great efficacy over men's
minds, and no less remarkable as a proof of the range of the
associating principle, especially in its character of Fame, which, in
the case of future fame, is a purely ideal or associated delight.
Equally, if not more, striking are the illustrations from Dispraise.
The associations of Disgrace, even when not sufficient to restrain the
performance of acts abhorred by mankind, are able to produce the
horrors of Remorse, the most intense of human sufferings. The love of
praise leads by one step to the love of Praiseworthiness; the dread of
blame, to the dread of Blameworthiness.

Of these various Motives, the most constant in operation, and the most
in use in moral training, are Praise and Blame. It is the sensibility
to Praise and Blame--the joyful feelings associated with the one, and
the dread associated with the other--that gives effect to POPULAR
OPINION, or the POPULAR SANCTION, and, with reference to men generally,

The other motives to virtue, namely, the association of our own acts of
Justice and Beneficence, as cause, with other men's as effects, are
subject to strong counteraction, for we can rarely perform such acts
without sacrifice to ourselves. Still, there is in all men a certain
surplus of motive from this cause, just as there is a surplus from the
association of acts of ours, hostile to other men, with a return of
hostility on their part.

The best names for the aggregate Affection, Motive, and Disposition in
this important region of conduct, are _Moral Approbation_ and
_Disapprobation_. The terms Moral Sense, Sense of Right and Wrong, Love
of Virtue and Hatred of Vice, are not equally appropriate. Virtue and
Morality are other synonyms.

In the work entitled, 'A Fragment on Mackintosh,' there are afforded
farther illustrations of the author's derivation of the Moral
Sentiment, together with an exposition and defence of Utility as the
standard, in which his views are substantially at one with Bentham. Two
or three references will be sufficient.

In the statement of the questions in dispute in Morals, he objects to
the words 'test' and 'criterion,' as expressing the standard. He
considers it a mistake to designate as a 'test' what is the thing
itself; the test of Morality is Morality. Properly, the thing testing
is one thing; the thing tested another thing. The same objection would
apply to the use of the word Standard; so that the only form of the
first question of Ethics would be, What _is_ morality? What does it
consist in? [The remark is just, but somewhat hypercritical. The
illustration from Chemical testing is not true in fact; the test of
gold is some essential attribute of gold, as its weight. And when we
wish to determine as to a certain act, whether it is a moral act, we
compare it with what we deem the essential quality of moral
acts--Utility, our Moral Instinct, &c.--and the operation is not
improperly called testing the act. Since, therefore, whatever we agree
upon as the essence of morality, must be practically used by us as a
test, criterion, or standard, there cannot be much harm in calling this
essential quality the standard, although the designation is to a
certain extent figurative.]

The author has some additional remarks on the derivation of our
Disinterested feelings: he reiterates the position expressed in the
'Analysis,' that although we have feelings directly tending to the good
of others, they are nevertheless the growth of feelings that are rooted
in self. That feelings should be detached from their original root is a
well known phenomenon of the mind.

His illustrations of Utility are a valuable contribution to the defence
of that doctrine. He replies to most of the common objections.
Mackintosh had urged that the reference to Utility would be made a
dangerous pretext for allowing exceptions to common rules. Mill
expounds at length (p. 246) the formation of moral rules, and retorts
that there are rules expressly formed to make exceptions to other
rules, as justice before generosity, charity begins at home, &c.

He animadverts with great severity on Mackintosh's doctrines, as to the
delight of virtue for its own sake, and the special contact of moral
feelings with the will. Allowance being made for the great difference
in the way that the two writers express themselves, they are at one in
maintaining Utility to be the ultimate standard, and in regarding
Conscience as a derived faculty of the mind.

The author's handling of Ethics does not extend beyond the first and
second topics--the STANDARD and the FACULTY. His Standard is Utility.
The Faculty is based on our Pleasures and Pains, with which there are
multiplied associations. Disinterested Sentiment is a real fact, but
has its origin in our own proper pleasures and pains.

Mill considers that the existing moral rules are all based on our
estimate, correct or incorrect, of Utility.

JOHN AUSTIN. [1790-1859.]

Austin, in his Lectures on 'The Province of Jurisprudence determined,'
has discussed the leading questions of Ethics. We give an abstract of
the Ethical part.

LECTURE I. Law, in its largest meaning, and omitting metaphorical
applications, embraces Laws set by God to his creatures, and Laws set
by man to man. Of the laws set by man to man, some are established by
_political_ superiors, or by persons exercising government in nations
or political societies. This is law in the usual sense of the word,
forming the subject of Jurisprudence. The author terms it _Positive
Law_. There is another class of laws not set by political superiors in
that capacity. Yet some of these are properly termed laws, although
others are only so by a close Analogy. There is no name for the laws
proper, but to the others are applied such names as '_moral_ rules,'
'the _moral_ law,' '_general_ or _public opinion_,' 'the law of
_honour_ or of _fashion_.' The author proposes for these laws the name
_positive morality_. The laws now enumerated differ in many important
respects, but agree in this--that all of them are set _by_ intelligent
and rational beings _to_ intelligent and rational beings. There is a
figurative application of the word 'law,' to the uniformities of the
natural world, through which, the field of jurisprudence and morals has
been deluged with muddy speculation.

Laws properly so called are _commands_. A command is the signification
of a desire or wish, accompanied with the power and the purpose to
inflict evil if that desire is not complied with. The person so desired
is _bound_ or _obliged_, or placed under a _duty_, to obey. Refusal is
disobedience, or violation of duty. The evil to be inflicted is called
a _sanction_, or an _enforcement of obedience_; the term _punishment_
expresses one class of sanctions.

The term sanction is improperly applied to a Reward. We cannot say that
an action is _commanded_, or that obedience is _constrained_ or
_enforced_ by the offer of a reward. Again, when a reward is offered, a
_right_ and not an obligation is created: the imperative function
passes to the party receiving the reward. In short, it is only by
conditional _evil_, that duties are _sanctioned_ or _enforced_.

The correct meaning of _superior_ and _inferior_ is determined by
command and obedience.

LECTURE II. The _Divine Laws_ are the known commands of the Deity,
enforced by the evils that we may suffer here or hereafter for breaking
them. Some of these laws are _revealed_, others _unrevealed_. Paley and
others have proved that it was not the purpose of Revelation to
disclose the whole of our duties; the Light of Nature is an additional
source. But how are we to interpret this Light of Nature?

The various hypotheses for resolving this question may be reduced to
two: (1) an Innate Sentiment, called a Moral Sense, Common Sense,
Practical Reason, &c.; and (2) the Theory of Utility.

The author avows his adherence to the theory of Utility, which he
connects with the Divine Benevolence in the manner of Bentham. God
designs the happiness of sentient beings. Some actions forward that
purpose, others frustrate it. The first, God has enjoined; the second,
He has forbidden. Knowing, therefore, the tendency of any action, we
know the Divine command with respect to it.

The tendency of an action is all its consequences near and remote,
certain and probable, direct and collateral. A petty theft, or the
evasion of a trifling tax, may be insignificant, or even good, in the
direct and immediate consequences; but before the full tendency can be
weighed, we must resolve the question:--What would be the probable
effect on the general happiness or good, if _similar_ acts, or
omissions, were general or frequent?

When the theory of Utility is correctly stated, the current objections
are easily refuted. As viewed by the author, Utility is not the
_fountain_ or _source_ of our duties; this must be commands and
sanctions. But it is the _index_ of the will of the law-giver, who is
presumed to have for his chief end the happiness or good of mankind.

The most specious objection to Utility is the supposed necessity of
going through a calculation of the consequences of every act that we
have to perform, an operation often beyond our power, and likely to be
abused to forward our private wishes. To this, the author replies
first, that supposing utility our only index, we must make the best of
it. Of course, if we were endowed with a moral sense, a special organ
for ascertaining our duties, the attempt to displace that invincible
consciousness, and to thrust the principle of utility into the vacant
seat, would be impossible and absurd.

According to the theory of Utility, our conduct would conform to
_rules_ inferred from the tendencies of actions, but would not be
determined by a direct resort to the principle of general utility.
Utility would be the ultimate, not the immediate test. To preface each
act or forbearance by a conjecture and comparison of consequences were
both superfluous and mischievous:--superfluous, inasmuch as the result
is already embodied in a known rule; and mischievous, inasmuch as the
process, if performed on the spur of the occasion, would probably be

With the rules are associated _sentiments_, the result of the Divine,
or other, command to obey the rules. It is a gross and flagrant error
to talk of _substituting_ calculation for sentiment; this is to oppose
the rudder to the sail. Sentiment without calculation were capricious;
calculation without sentiment is inert.

There are cases where the _specific_ consequences of an action are so
momentous as to overbear the rule; for example, resistance to a bad
government, which the author calls an _anomalous_ question, to be tried
not by the rule, but by a direct resort to the ultimate or
presiding-principle, and by a separate calculation of good and evil.
Such was the political emergency of the Commonwealth, and the American
revolution. It would have been well, the author thinks, if utility had
been the sole guide in both cases.

There is a second objection to Utility, more perplexing to deal with.
How can we know fully and correctly all the consequences of actions?
The answer is that Ethics, as a science of observation and induction,
has been formed, through a long succession of ages, by many and
separate contributions from many and separate discoverers. Like all
other sciences, it is progressive, although unfortunately, subject to
special drawbacks. The men that have enquired, or affected to enquire,
into Ethics, have rarely been impartial; they have laboured under
prejudices or sinister interests; and have been the advocates of
foregone conclusions. There is not on this subject _a concurrence or
agreement of numerous and impartial enquirers_. Indeed, many of the
legal and moral rules of the most civilized communities arose in the
infancy of the human mind, partly from caprices of the fancy (nearly
omnipotent with barbarians), and partly from an imperfect apprehension
of general utility, the result of a narrow experience. Thus the
diffusion and the advancement of ethical truth encounter great and
peculiar obstacles, only to be removed by a better general education
extended to the mass of the people. It is desirable that the community
should be indoctrinated with sound views of property, and with the
dependence of wealth, upon the true principle of population, discovered
by Malthus, all which they are competent to understand.

The author refers to Paley's Moral Philosophy as an example of the
perverting tendency of narrow and domineering interests in the domain
of ethics. With many commendable points, there is, in that work, much
ignoble truckling to the dominant and influential few, and a deal of
shabby sophistry in defending abuses that the few were interested in

As a farther answer to the second objection, he remarks, that it
applies to every theory of ethics that supposes our duties to be set by
the Deity. Christianity itself is defective, considered as a system of
rules for tho guidance of human conduct.

He then turns to the alternative of a Moral Sense. This involves two

First, Certain sentiments, or feelings of approbation or
disapprobation, accompany our conceptions of certain human actions.
These feelings are neither the result of our reflection on the
tendencies of actions, nor the result of education; the sentiments
would follow the conception, although we had neither adverted to the
good or evil tendency of the actions, nor become aware of the opinions
of others regarding them. This theory denies that the sentiments known
to exist can be produced by education. We approve and disapprove of
actions _we know not why_.

The author adapts Paley's supposition of the savage, in order to
express strongly what the moral sense implies. But we will confine
ourselves to his reasonings. Is there, he asks, any evidence of our
being gifted with such feelings? The very putting of such a question
would seem a sufficient proof that we are not so endowed. There ought
to be no more doubt about them, than about hunger or thirst.

It is alleged in their favour that our judgments of rectitude and
depravity are immediate and voluntary. The reply is that sentiments
begotten by association are no less prompt and involuntary than our
instincts. Our response to a money gain, or a money loss, is as prompt
as our compliance with the primitive appetites of the system. We begin
by loving knowledge as a means to ends; but, in time, the end is
inseparably associated with the instrument. So a moral sentiment
dictated by utility, if often exercised, would be rapid and direct in
its operation.

It is farther alleged, as a proof of the innate character of the moral
judgments, that the moral sentiments of all men are precisely alike.
The argument may be put thus:--No opinion or sentiment resulting from
observation and induction is held or felt by all mankind: Observation
and induction, as applied to the same subject, lead different men to
different conclusions. Now, the judgments passed internally on the
rectitude or pravity of actions, or the moral sentiments, are precisely
alike with all men. Therefore, our moral sentiments are not the result
of our inductions of the tendencies of actions; nor were they derived
from others, and impressed by authority and example. Consequently, the
moral sentiments are instinctive, or ultimate and inscrutable facts.

To refute such an argument is superfluous; it is based on a groundless
assertion. The moral sentiments of men have differed to infinity. With
regard to a few classes of actions, the moral judgments of most, though
not of all, men have been alike. With regard to others, they have
differed, through every shade or degree, from slight diversity to
direct opposition.

But this is exactly what we should expect on the principle of utility.
With regard to some actions, the dictates of utility are the same at
all times and places, and are so obvious as hardly to admit of mistake
or doubt. On the other hand, men's positions in different ages and
nations are in many respects widely different; so that what was useful
there and then is useless or pernicious here and now. Moreover, since
human tastes are various, and human reason is fallible, men's moral
sentiments often widely differ in the same positions.

He next alludes to some prevailing misconceptions in regard to utility.
One is the confusion of the _test_ with the _motive_. The general good
is the test, or rather the index to the ultimate measure or test, the
Divine commands; but it is not in all, or even in most cases, the
motive or inducement.

The principle of utility does not demand that we shall always or
habitually attend to the general good; although it does demand that we
shall not pursue our own particular good by means that are inconsistent
with that paramount object. It permits the pursuit of our own pleasures
as pleasure. Even as regards the good of others, it commonly requires
us to be governed by partial, rather than by general benevolence; by
the narrower circle of family and friends rather than by the larger
humanity that embraces mankind. It requires us to act where we act
_with the utmost effect_; that is, within the sphere best known to us.
The limitations to this principle, the adjustment of the selfish to the
social motives, of partial sympathy to general benevolence, belong to
the detail of ethics.

The second misconception of Utility is to confound it with a particular
hypothesis concerning the Origin of Benevolence, commonly styled the
_selfish system_. Hartley and some others having affirmed that
benevolence is not an ultimate fact, but an emanation from self-love,
through the association of ideas, it has been fancied that these
writers dispute the _existence_ of disinterested benevolence or
sympathy. Now, the selfish system, in its literal import, is flatly
inconsistent with obvious facts, but this is not the system contended
for by the writers in question. Still, this distortion has been laid
hold of by the opponents of utility, and maintained to be a necessary
part of that system; hence the supporters of utility are styled
'selfish, sordid, and cold-blooded calculators.' But, as already said,
the theory of utility is not a theory of _motives_; it holds equally
good whether benevolence be what it is called, or merely a provident
regard to self: whether it be a simple fact, or engendered by
association on self-regard. Paley mixed up Utility with self-regarding
_motives_; but his theory of these is miserably shallow and defective,
and amounted to a denial of genuine benevolence or sympathy.

Austin's Fifth LECTURE is devoted to a full elucidation of the meanings
of Law. He had, at the outset, made the distinction between Laws
properly so called, and Laws improperly so called. Of the second class,
some are closely allied to Laws proper, possessing in fact their main
or essential attributes; others are laws only by metaphor. Laws proper,
and those closely allied to them among laws proper, are divisible into
three classes. The first are the _Divine Law_ or Laws. The second is
named _Positive Law_ or Positive Laws; and corresponds with
Legislation. The third he calls _Positive Morality_, or positive moral
rules; it is the same as Morals or Ethics.

Reverting to the definition of Law, he gives the following three
essentials:--1. Every law is a _command_, and emanates from a
_determinate_ source or another. 2. Every sanction is an eventual evil
_annexed to a command_. 3. Every duty supposes a _command_ whereby it
is created. Now, tried by these tests, the laws of God are laws proper;
so are positive laws, by which are meant laws established by monarchs
as supreme political superiors, by subordinate political superiors, and
by subjects, as private persons, in pursuance of legal rights.

But as regards Positive Morality, or moral rules, some have so far the
essentials of an _imperative_ law or rule, that they are rules set by
men to men. But they are not set by men as political superiors, nor by
men as private persons, in pursuance of legal rights; in this respect
they differ from positive laws, they are not clothed with legal

The most important department of positive morality includes _the laws
set or imposed by general opinion_, as for example the laws of honour,
and of fashion. Now these are not laws in the strict meaning of the
word, because the authors are an _indeterminate_ or uncertain aggregate
of persons. Still, they have the closest alliance with Laws proper,
seeing that being armed with a sanction, they impose a duty. The
persons obnoxious to the sanction generally do or forbear the acts
enjoined or forbidden; which is all that can happen under the highest
type of law.

The author then refers to Locke's division of law, which, although
faulty in the analysis, and inaptly expressed, tallies in the main with
what he has laid down.

Of Metaphorical or figurative laws, the most usual is that suggested by
the fact of _uniformity_, which is one of the ordinary consequences of
a law proper. Such are the laws of nature, or the uniformities of
co-existence and succession in natural phenomena.

Another metaphorical extension is to a model or pattern, because a law
presents something as a guide to human conduct. In this sense, a man
may set a law to himself, meaning a plan or model, and not a law in the
proper sense of a command. So a _rule_ of art is devoid of a sanction,
and therefore of the idea of duty.

A confusion of ideas also exists as to the meaning of a sanction.
Bentham styles the evils arising in the course of nature _physical_
sanctions, as if the omission to guard against fire were a sin or an
immorality, punished by the destruction of one's house. But although
this is an evil happening to a rational being, and brought on by a
voluntary act or omission, it is not the result of a law in the proper
sense of the term. What is produced _naturally_, says Locke, is
produced _without the intervention of a law_.

Austin is thus seen to be one of the most strenuous advocates of
Utility as the Standard, and is distinguished for the lucidity of his
exposition, and the force of his replies to the objections made against

He is also the best expounder of the relationship of Morality to Law.

WILLIAM WHEWELL. [1794-1866.]

Dr. Whewell's chief Ethical works are, 'Elements of Morality, including
Polity,' and 'Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy in England.'

We may refer for his views to either work. The following abstract is
taken from the latest (4th) edition of his Elements (1864).

In the Preface he indicates the general scope of the work. Morality has
its root in the Common Nature of Man; a scheme of Morality must conform
to the _Common Sense_ of mankind, in so far as that is consistent with
itself. Now, this Common Sense of Mankind has in every age led to two
seemingly opposite schemes of Morality, the one making _Virtue_, and
the other making _Pleasure_, the rule of action. On the one side, men
urge the claims of Rectitude, Duty, Conscience, the Moral Faculty; on
the other, they declare Utility, Expediency, Interest, Enjoyment, to be
the proper guides.

Both systems are liable to objections. Against the scheme of Pleasure,
it is urged that we never, in fact, identify virtue as merely useful.
Against the scheme of Virtue, it is maintained that virtue is a matter
of opinion, and that Conscience varies in different ages, countries,
and persons. It is necessary that a scheme of Morality should surmount
both classes of objections; and the author therefore attempts a
reconciliation of the two opposing theories.

He prepares the way by asking, whether there are any actions, or
qualities of actions, universally approved; and whether there are any
moral rules accepted by the Common Sense of mankind as universally
valid? The reply is that there are such, as, for example, the virtues
termed Veracity, Justice, Benevolence. He does not enquire _why_ these
are approved; he accepts the fact of the approval, and considers that
here we have the basis of a Moral System, not liable to either of the
opposing objections above recited.

He supposes, however, that the alleged agreement may be challenged,
_first_, as not existing; and _next_, as insufficient to reason from.

1. It may be maintained that the excellence of the three virtues named
is not universally assented to; departures from them being allowed both
in practice and in theory. The answer is, that the principles may be
admitted, although the interpretation varies. Men allow Fidelity and
Kindness to be virtues, although in an early stage of moral progress
they do not make the application beyond their own friends; it is only
at an advanced stage that they include enemies. The Romans at first
held stranger and enemy to be synonymous; but afterwards they applauded
the sentiment of the poet, _homo sum_, &c. Moral principles must be
what we approve of, when we speak in the name of the whole human

2. It may be said that such principles are too vague and loose to
reason from. A verbal agreement in employing the terms _truthful, just,
humane_, does not prove a real agreement as to the actions; and the
particulars must be held as explaining the generalities.

The author holds this objection to be erroneous; and the scheme of his
work is intended to meet it. He proceeds as follows:--

He allows that we must fix what is meant by _right_, which carries with
it the meaning of Virtue and of Duty. Now, in saying an action is
right, there is this idea conveyed, namely, that we render such a
_reason_ for it, as shall be _paramount_ to all other considerations.
Right must be the _Supreme_ Rule. How then are we to arrive at this

The supreme rule is the authority over _all_ the faculties and
impulses; and is made up of the partial rules according to the separate
faculties, powers, and impulses. We are to look, in the first instance,
to the several faculties or departments of the mind; for, in connexion
with each of these, we shall find an irresistible propriety inherent in
the very nature of the faculty.

For example, man lives in the society of fellow-men; his actions derive
their meaning from this position. He has the faculty of Speech, whereby
his actions are connected with other men. Now, as man is under a
supreme moral rule, [this the author appears to assume in the very act
of proving it], there must be a rule of right as regards the use of
Speech; which rule can be no other than truth and falsehood. In other
words, veracity is a virtue.

Again, man, as a social being, has to divide with others the possession
of the world, in other words, to possess Property; whence there must be
a rule of Property, that is, each man is to have his own. Whence
Justice is seen to be a virtue.

The author thinks himself at one with the common notions of mankind in
pronouncing that the Faculty of Speech, the Desire of Possessions, and
the Affections, are properly regulated, not by any extraneous purposes
or ends to be served by them, but by Veracity, Justice, and Humanity,

He explains his position farther, by professing to follow Butler in the
doctrine that, through the mere contemplation of our human faculties
and springs of action, we can discern certain relations which must
exist among them by the necessity of man's moral being. Butler
maintains that, by merely comparing appetite with conscience as springs
of action, we see conscience is superior and ought to rule; and Whewell
conceives this to be self-evident, and expresses it by stating that
_the Lower parts of our nature are to be governed by the Higher_. Men
being considered as social beings, capable of mutual understanding
through speech, it is self-evident that their rule must include
veracity. In like manner, it is self-evident from the same
consideration of social relationship, that each man should abstain from
violence and anger towards others, that is, _love his fellow men_.

Remarking on the plea of the utilitarian, that truth may be justified
by the intolerable consequences of its habitual violation, he urges
that this is no reason against its being intuitively perceived; just as
the axioms of geometry, although intuitively felt, are confirmed by
showing the incongruities following on their denial. He repeats the
common allegation in favour of _à priori_ principles generally, that no
consideration of evil consequences would give the sense of
_universality_ of obligation attaching to the fundamental moral maxims;
and endeavours to show that his favourite antithesis of _Idea_ and
_Fact_ conciliates the internal essence and the external conditions of
morality. The Idea is invariable and universal; the Fact, or outward
circumstances, may vary historically and geographically. Morality must
in some measure be dependent on Law, but yet there is an Idea of
Justice above law.

It very naturally occurred to many readers of Whewell's scheme, that in
so far as he endeavours to give any reason for the foundations of
morality, he runs in a vicious circle. He proposes to establish his
supreme universal rule, by showing it to be only a summing up of
certain rules swaying the several portions or departments of our
nature--Veracity, Justice, &c., while, in considering the obligation of
these rules, he assumes that man is a moral being, which is another way
of saying that he is to be under a supreme moral rule. In his latest
edition, the author has replied to this charge, but so briefly as to
cast no new light on his position. He only repeats that the Supreme
rule of Human Action is given by the constitution and conditions of
human nature. His ethical principle may be not unfairly expressed by
saying, that he recognizes a certain intrinsic fitness in exercising
the organ of speech according to its social uses, that is, in promoting
a right understanding among men; and so with Justice, as the fitness of
property, and Humanity, as the fitness of the Affections. This fitness
is intuitively felt. Human happiness is admitted to be a consequence of
these rules; but happiness is not a sufficient end in itself; morality
is also an end in itself. Human happiness is not to be conceived or
admitted, except as containing a moral element; in addition to the
direct gratifications of human life, we must include the delight of
virtue. [How men can be compelled to postpone their pleasurable sense
of the good things of life, till they have contracted a delight in
virtue for its own sake, the author does not say. It has been the great
object of moralists in all ages, to impart by _education_ such a state
of mind as to spoil the common gratifications, if they are viciously
procured; the comparatively little success of the endeavour, shows that
nature has done little to favour it.]

The foregoing is an abstract of the Introduction to the 4th Edition of
the Elements of Morality. We shall present the author's views
respecting the other questions of Morality in the form of the usual

I.--As regards the Standard, enough has been already indicated.

II.--The Psychology of the Moral Faculty is given by Whewell as part of
a classification of our Active Powers, or, as he calls them, Springs of
Action. These are: I.--The _Appetites_ or Bodily Desires, as Hunger and
Thirst, and the desires of whatever things have been found to gratify
the senses. II.--The _Affections_, which are directed to persons; they
fall under the two heads Love and Anger. III.--The _Mental Desires_,
having for their objects certain abstractions. They are the desire of
Safety, including Security and Liberty; the desire of Having, or
Property; the desire of Society in all its forms--Family Society and
Civil Society, under which is included the need of Mutual
Understanding; the desire of Superiority; and the Desire of Knowledge.
IV.--The _Moral Sentiments_. Our judgment of actions as right or wrong
is accompanied by certain Affections or Sentiments, named Approbation
and Disapprobation, Indignation and Esteem; these are the Moral
Sentiments. V.--The _Reflex Sentiments_, namely, the desires of being
Loved, of Esteem or Admiration, of our own Approval; and generally all
springs of action designated by the word _self_--for example,

With regard to the Moral Sentiment, or Conscience, in particular, the
author's resolution of Morality into Moral Rules, necessarily supposes
an exercise of the Reason, together with the Affections above
described. He expressly mentions 'the _Practical_ Reason, which guides
us in applying Rules to our actions, and in discerning the consequences
of actions.' He does not allow Individual Conscience as an ultimate or
supreme authority, but requires it to be conformed to the Supreme Moral
Rules, arrived at in the manner above described.

On the subject of Disinterestedness, he maintains a modification of
Paley's selfish theory. He allows that some persons are so far
disinterested as to be capable of benevolence and self-sacrifice,
without any motive of reward or punishment; but 'to require that all
persons should be such, would be not only to require what we certainly
shall not find, but to put the requirements of our Morality in a shape
in which it cannot convince men.' Accordingly, like Paley, he places
the doctrine that 'to promote the happiness of others will lead to our
own happiness,' exclusively on the ground of Religion. He honours the
principle that 'virtue _is_ happiness,' but prefers for mankind
generally the form, 'virtue _is the way_ to happiness.' In short, he
places no reliance on the purely Disinterested impulses of mankind,
although he admits the existence of such.

III.--He discusses the Summum Bonum, or Happiness, only with reference
to his Ethical theory. The attaining of the objects of our desires
yields Enjoyment or Pleasure, which cannot be the supreme end of life,
being distinguished from, and opposed to, Duty. Happiness is Pleasure
and Duty combined and harmonized by Wisdom. 'As moral beings, our
Happiness must be found in our Moral Progress, and in the consequences
of our Moral Progress; we must be happy by being virtuous.'

He complains of the moralists that reduce virtue to Happiness (in the
sense of human pleasure), that they fail to provide a measure of
happiness, or to resolve it into definite elements; and again urges the
impossibility of calculating the whole consequences of an action upon
human happiness.

_IV_.--With respect to the Moral Code, Whewell's arrangement is
interwoven with his derivation of moral rules. He enumerates five
Cardinal Virtues as the substance of morality:--BENEVOLENCE, which
gives expansion to our _Love_; JUSTICE, as prescribing the measure of
our _Mental Desires_; TRUTH, the law of _Speech_ in connexion with its
purpose; PURITY, the control of the _Bodily Appetites_; and ORDER
(obedience to the Laws), which engages the _Reason_ in the
consideration of Rules and Laws for defining Virtue and Vice. Thus the
five leading branches of virtue have a certain parallelism to the five
chief classes of motives--Bodily Appetites, Mental Desires, Love and
its opposite, the need of a Mutual Understanding, and Reason.

As already seen, he considers it possible to derive every one of these
virtues from the consideration of man's situation with reference to
each:--_Benevolence_, or Humanity, from our social relationship;
_Justice_, from the nature of Property; _Truth_, from, the employment
of Language for mutual Understanding; _Purity_, from considering the
lower parts of our nature (the Appetites) as governed by the higher;
and _Order_, from the relation of Governor and Governed. By a
self-evident, intuitive, irresistible consideration of the
circumstances of the case, we are led to these several virtues in the
detail, and their sum is the Supreme Rule of Life.

Not content with these five express moral principles, he considers that
the Supreme Law requires, as adjuncts, two other virtues; to these he
gives the names EARNESTNESS, or Zeal, and MORAL PURPOSE, meaning that
everything whatsoever should be done for _moral ends_.

V.--The relation of Ethics to Politics in Whewell's system is one of
intimacy, and yet of independence. The Laws of States supply the
materials of human action, by defining property, &c., for the time
being; to which definitions morality must correspond. On the other
hand, morality supplies the Idea, or ideal, of Justice, to which the
Laws of Society should progressively conform themselves. The Legislator
and the Jurist must adapt their legislation to the point of view of the
Moralist; and the moralist, while enjoining obedience to their
dictates, should endeavour to correct the inequalities produced by
laws, and should urge the improvement of Law, to make it conformable to
morality. The Moral is in this way contrasted with the _Jural_, a
useful word of the author's coining. He devotes a separate Book,
entitled 'Rights and Obligations,' to the foundations of Jurisprudence.
He makes a five-fold division of Rights, grounded on his classification
of the Springs of Human Action; Rights of _Personal Security, Property,
Contract, Marriage, Government_; and justifies this division as against
others proposed by jurists.

VI.--He introduces the Morality of Religion as a supplement to the
Morality of Reason. The separation of the two, he remarks, 'enables us
to trace the results of the moral guidance of human Reason consistently
and continuously, while we still retain a due sense of the superior
authority of Religion.' As regards the foundations of Natural and
Revealed Religion, he adopts the line of argument most usual with
English Theologians.


In his 'Lectures on Greek Philosophy' (Remains, Vol. I.), Ferrier has
indicated his views on the leading Ethical controversies.

These will appear, if we select his conclusions, on the three following
points:--The Moral Sense, the nature of Sympathy, and the Summum Bonum.

1. He considers that the Sophists first distinctly broached the
question--What is man by nature, and what is he by convention or

'This prime question of moral philosophy, as I have called it, is no
easy one to answer, for it is no easy matter to effect the
discrimination out of which the answer must proceed. It is a question,
perhaps, to which no complete, but only an approximate, answer can be
returned. One common mistake is to ascribe more to the natural man than
properly belongs to him, to ascribe to him attributes and endowments
which belong only to the social and artificial man. Some
writers--Hutcheson, for example, and he is followed by many others--are
of opinion that man naturally has a conscience or moral sense which
discriminates between right and wrong, just as he has naturally a sense
of taste, which distinguishes between sweet and bitter, and a sense of
sight, which discriminates between red and blue, or a sentient
organism, which distinguishes between pleasure and pain. That man has
by nature, and from the first, the possibility of attaining to a
conscience is not to be denied. That lie has within him by birthright
something out of which conscience is developed, I firmly believe; and
what this is I shall endeavour by-and-by to show when I come to speak
of Sokrates and his philosophy as opposed to the doctrines of the
Sophists. But that the man is furnished by nature with a conscience
ready-made, just as he is furnished with a ready-made sensational
apparatus, this is a doctrine in which I have no faith, and which I
regard as altogether erroneous. It arises out of the disposition to
attribute more to the natural man than properly belongs to him. The
other error into which inquirers are apt to fall in making a
discrimination between what man is by nature, and what he is by
convention, is the opposite of the one just mentioned. They sometimes
attribute to the natural man less than properly belongs to him. And
this, I think, was the error into which the Sophists were betrayed.
They fall into it inadvertently, and not with any design of embracing
or promulgating erroneous opinions.'

2. With reference to SYMPATHY, he differs from Adam Smith's view, that
it is a native and original affection of the heart, like hunger and
thirst. Mere feeling, he contends, can never take a man out of self.
It is thought that overleaps this boundary; not the _feeling_ of
sensation, but the _thought_ of one's self and one's sensations,
gives the ground and the condition of sympathy. Sympathy has
self-consciousness for its foundation. Very young children have little
sympathy, because in them the idea of self is but feebly developed.

3. In his chapter on the Cynic and Cyrenaic schools, he discusses at
length the summum bonum, or Happiness, and, by implication, the Ethical
end, or Standard. He considers that men have to keep in view _two_
ends; the one the maintenance of their own nature, as rational and
thinking beings; the other their happiness or pleasure. He will not
allow that we are to do right at all hazards, irrespective of utility;
yet he considers that there is something defective in the scheme that
sets aside virtue as the good, and enthrones happiness in its place. He
sums up as follows:--

'We thus see that a complete body of ethics should embrace two codes,
two systems of rules, the one of which we may call the fundamental or
antecedent, or under-ground ethics, as underlying the other; and the
other of which we may call the upper or subsequent, or above-ground
ethics, as resting on, and modified by the former. The under-ground
ethics would inculcate on man the necessity of being what he truly is,
namely, a creature of reason and of thought; in short, the necessity of
being a man, and of preserving to himself this status. Here the end is
virtue, that is, the life and health of the soul, and nothing but this.
The above-ground ethics would inculcate on man the necessity of being a
_happy_ man.

It is not enough for man _to be_; he must, moreover, if possible, _be
happy_. The fundamental ethics look merely to his being, _i.e._, his
being rational; the upper ethics look principally to his being happy,
but they are bound to take care that in all his happiness he does
nothing to violate his rationality, the health and virtue of the soul.'


Mr. Mansel, in his 'Metaphysics,' has examined the question of a moral
standard, and the nature of the moral faculty, accepting, with slight
and unimportant modifications, the current theory of a moral sense.

1. _The Moral Faculty_. That the conceptions of right and wrong are
_sui generis_, is proved (1) by the fact that in all languages there
are distinct terms for 'right' and 'agreeable;' (2) by the testimony of
consciousness; and (3) by the mutual inconsistencies of the antagonists
of a moral sense. The moral faculty is not identical with Reason; for
the understanding contributes to truth only one of its elements,
namely, the concept; in addition, the concept must agree with the fact
as presented in intuition. The moral sense is usually supposed to
involve the perception of qualities only in so far as they are
_pleasing_ or _displeasing_. To this representation Mr. Mansel objects.
In an act of moral consciousness two things are involved: a perception
or judgment, and a sentiment or feeling. But the judgment itself may be
farther divided into two parts: 'the one, an individual fact, presented
now and here; the other, a general law, valid always and everywhere.'
This is the distinction between _presentative_ and _representative_
Knowledge. In every act of consciousness there is some individual fact
presented, and an operation of the understanding. 'A conscious act of
pure moral sense, like a conscious act of pure physical sense, if it
ever takes place at all, takes place at a time of which we have no
remembrance, and of which we can give no account.' The intuitive
element may be called _conscience_; the representing element is the
_understanding_. On another point he differs from the ordinary theory.
It is commonly said that we immediately perceive the moral character of
acts, whether by ourselves or by others. But this would implicate two
facts, neither of which we can be conscious of: (1) a law binding on a
certain person, and (2) his conduct as agreeing or disagreeing with
that law. Now, I can infer the existence of such a law only by
_representing_ his mind as constituted like my own. We can, in fact,
immediately perceive moral qualities only in our own actions.

2. _The Moral Standard_. This is treated as a branch of Ontology, and
designated the 'Real in morality,' He declares that Kant's notion of an
absolute moral law, binding by its inherent power over the mind, is a
mere fiction. The difference between inclination and the moral
imperative is merely a difference between lower and higher pleasure.
The moral law can have no authority unless imposed by a superior, as a
law emanating from a lawgiver. If man is not accountable to some higher
being, there is no distinction between duty and pleasure. The standard
of right and wrong is the moral _nature_ (not the arbitrary _will_) of
God.[25] Now, as we cannot know God--an infinite being,--so we have but
a relative conception of morality. We may have lower and higher ideas
of duty. Morality therefore admits of progress. But no advance in
morality contradicts the _principles_ previously acknowledged, however
it may vary the acts whereby those principles are carried out. And each
advance takes its place in the mind, not as a question to be supported
by argument, but as an axiom to be intuitively admitted. Each principle
appears true and irreversible so far as it goes, but it is liable to be
merged in a more comprehensive formula. It is an error of philosophers
to imagine that they have an absolute standard of morals, and thereupon
to set out _à priori_ the criterion of a possibly true revelation. Kant
said that the revealed commands of God could have no religious value,
unless approved by the moral reason; and Fichte held that no true
revelation could contain any intimation of future rewards and
punishments, or any moral rule not deducible from the principles of the
practical reason. But revelation has enlightened the practical reason,
as by the maxim--to love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as
thyself--a maxim, says Mr. Mansel, that philosophy in vain toiled
after, and subsequently borrowed without acknowledgment.


Mr. J.S. Mill examines the basis of Ethics in a small work entitled

After a chapter of General Remarks, he proposes (Chapter II.) to
enquire, What Utilitarianism is? This creed holds that actions are
right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they
tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended
pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the
privation of pleasure. The things included under pleasure and pain may
require farther explanation; but this does not affect the general
theory. To the accusation that pleasure is a mean and grovelling object
of pursuit, the answer is, that human beings are capable of pleasures
that are not grovelling. It is compatible with utility to recognize
some _kinds_ of pleasure as more valuable than others. There are
pleasures that, irrespective of amount, are held by all persons that
have experienced them to be preferable to others. Few human beings
would consent to become beasts, or fools, or base, in consideration of
a greater allowance of pleasure. Inseparable from the estimate of
pleasure is a _sense of dignity_, which determines a preference among

But this distinction in kind is not essential to the justification of
the standard of Utility. That standard is not the agent's own greatest
happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether. However
little the higher virtues might contribute to one's own happiness,
there can be no doubt that the world in general gains by them.

Another objection to the doctrine is, that happiness is a thing
unattainable, and that no one has a _right_ to it. Not only can men do
without happiness, but renunciation is the first condition of all
nobleness of character.

In reply, the author remarks that, supposing happiness impossible, the
prevention of unhappiness might still be an object, which is a mode of
Utility. But the alleged impossibility of happiness is either a verbal
quibble or an exaggeration. No one contends for a life of sustained
rapture; occasional moments of such, in an existence of few and
transitory pains, many and various pleasures, with a predominance of
the active over the passive, and moderate expectations on the whole,
constitute a life worthy to be called happiness. Numbers of mankind
have been satisfied with much less. There are two great factors of
enjoyment--tranquillity and excitement. With the one, little pleasure
will suffice; with the other, considerable pain can be endured. It does
not appear impossible to secure both in alternation. The principal
defect in persons of fortunate lot is to care for nobody but
themselves; this curtails the excitements of life, and makes everything
dwindle as the end approaches. Another circumstance rendering life
unsatisfactory is the want of mental cultivation, by which men are
deprived of the inexhaustible pleasures of knowledge, not merely in the
shape of science, but as practice and fine art. It is not at all
difficult to indicate sources of happiness; the main stress of the
problem lies in the contest with the positive evils of life, the great
sources of physical and of mental suffering--indigence, disease, and
the unkindness, worthlessness, or premature loss of objects of
affection. Poverty and Disease may be contracted in dimensions; and
even vicissitudes of fortune are not wholly beyond control.

It is unquestionably possible to do without happiness. This is the lot
of the greater part of mankind, and is often voluntarily chosen by the
hero or the martyr. But self-sacrifice is not its own end; it must be
made to earn for others immunity from sacrifice. It must be a very
imperfect state of the world's arrangements that requires any one to
serve the happiness of others by the absolute sacrifice of their own;
yet undoubtedly while the world is in that imperfect state, the
readiness to make such a sacrifice is the highest virtue that can be
found in man. Nay, farther, the conscious ability to do without
happiness, in such a condition of the world, is the best prospect of
realizing such happiness as is attainable. Meanwhile, self-devotion
belongs as much to the Utilitarian as to the Stoic or the
Transcendentalist; with the reservation that a sacrifice not tending to
increase the sum of happiness is to be held as wasted. The golden rule,
do as you would be done by, is the ideal perfection of utilitarian
morality. The means of approaching this ideal are, first, that laws and
society should endeavour to place the interest of the individual in
harmony with the interest of the whole; and, secondly, that education
and opinion should establish in the mind of each individual an
indissoluble association between his own good and the good of the

The system of Utility is objected to, on another side, as being too
high for humanity; men cannot be perpetually acting with a view to the
general interests of society. But this is to mistake the meaning of a
standard, and to confound the rule of action with the motive. Ethics
tells us what are our duties, or by what test we are to know them; but
no system of ethics requires that the motive of every action should be
a feeling of duty; our actions are rightly done provided only duty does
not condemn them. The great majority of actions have nothing to do with
the good of the world--they end with the individual; it happens to few
persons, and that rarely, to be public benefactors. Private utility is
in the mass of cases all that we have to attend to. As regards
abstinences, indeed, it would be unworthy of an intelligent agent not
to be aware that the action is one that, if practised generally, would
be generally injurious, and to not feel a sense of obligation on that
ground; but such an amount of regard for the general interest is
required under every system of morals.

It is farther alleged against Utility, that it renders men cold and
unsympathizing, chills the moral feelings towards individuals, and
regards only the dry consequences of actions, without reference to the
moral qualities of the agent. The author replies that Utility, like any
other system, admits that a right action does not necessarily indicate
a virtuous character. Still, he contends, in the long run, the best
proof of a good character is good actions. If the objection means that
utilitarians do not lay sufficient stress on the beauties of character,
he replies that this is the accident of persons cultivating their moral
feelings more than their sympathies and artistic perceptions, and may
occur under every view of the foundation of morals.

The next objection considered is that Utility is a _godless_ doctrine.
The answer is, that whoever believes in the perfect goodness and wisdom
of God, necessarily believes that whatever he has thought fit to reveal
on the subject of morals must fulfil the requirements of utility in a
supreme degree.

Again, Utility is stigmatized as an immoral doctrine, by carrying out
Expediency in opposition to Principle. But the Expedient in this sense
means what is expedient for the agent himself, and, instead of being
the same thing with the useful, is a branch of the hurtful. It would
often be expedient to tell a lie, but so momentous and so widely
extended are the utilities of truth, that veracity is a rule of
transcendent expediency. Yet all moralists admit exceptions to it,
solely on account of the manifest inexpediency of observing it on
certain occasions.

The author does not omit to notice the usual charge that it is
impossible to make a calculation of consequences previous to every
action, which is as much as to say that no one can be under the
guidance of Christianity, because there is not time, on the occasion of
doing anything, to read through the Old and New Testaments. The real
answer is (substantially the same as Austin's) that there has been
ample time during the past duration of the species. Mankind have all
that time been learning by experience the consequences of actions; on
that experience they have founded both their prudence and their
morality. It is an inference from the principle of utility, which
regards morals as a practical art, that moral rules are improvable; but
there exists under the ultimate principle a number of intermediate
generalizations, applicable at once to the emergencies of human
conduct. Nobody argues that navigation is not founded on astronomy,
because sailors cannot wait to calculate the Nautical Almanack.

As to the stock argument, that people will pervert utility for their
private ends, Mr. Mill challenges the production of any ethical creed
where this may not happen. The fault is due, not to the origin of the
rules, but to the complicated nature of human affairs, and the
necessity of allowing a certain latitude, under the moral
responsibility of the agent, for accommodation to circumstances. And in
cases of conflict, utility is a better guide than anything found in
systems whose moral laws claim independent authority.


It is a proper question with regard to a supposed moral standard,--What
is its sanction? what is the source of its obligation? wherein lies its
binding force? The customary morality is consecrated by education and
opinion, and seems to be obligatory _in itself_; but to present, as the
source of obligation, some general principle, not surrounded by the
halo of consecration, seems a paradox; the superstructure seems to
stand better without such a foundation. This difficulty belongs to
every attempt to reduce morality to first principles, unless it should
happen that the principle chosen has as much sacredness as any of its

Utility has, or might have, all the sanctions attaching to any other
system of morals. Those sanctions are either External or Internal. The
External are the hope of favour and the fear of displeasure (1) from
our fellow-creatures, or (2) from the Ruler of the Universe, along with
any sympathy or affection for them, or love and awe of Him, inclining
us apart from selfish motives. There is no reason why these motives
should not attach themselves to utilitarian morality.

The Internal Sanction, under every standard of duty, is of one uniform
character--a feeling in our own mind; a pain, more or less intense,
attendant on violation of duty, which in properly cultivated moral
natures rises, in the more serious cases, into shrinking from it as an
impossibility. This feeling, when disinterested, and connecting itself
with the pure idea of duty, is _the essence of Conscience_; a complex
phenomenon, involving associations from sympathy, from love, and still
more from fear; from the recollections of childhood, and of all our
past life; from self-esteem, desire of the esteem of others, and
occasionally even self-abasement. This extreme complication is an
obstacle to our supposing that it can attach to other objects than what
are found at present to excite it. The binding force, however, is _the
mass of feeling to be broken through_ in order to violate our standard
of right, and which, if we do violate that standard, will have to be
afterwards encountered as remorse.

Thus, apart from external sanctions, the ultimate sanction, under
Utility, is the same as for other standards, namely, the conscientious
feelings of mankind. If there be anything innate in conscience, there
is nothing more likely than that it should be a regard to the pleasures
and pains of others. If so, the intuitive ethics would be the same as
the utilitarian; and it is admitted on all hands that a _large_
portion of morality turns upon what is due to the interests of

On the other hand, if, as the author believes, the moral feelings are
not innate, they are not for that reason less natural. It is natural to
man to speak, to reason, to cultivate the ground, to build cities,
though these are acquired faculties. So the moral faculty, if not a
part of our nature, is a natural outgrowth of it; capable, in a certain
small degree, of springing up spontaneously, and of being brought to a
high pitch by means of cultivation. It is also susceptible, by the use
of the external sanctions and the force of early impressions, of being
cultivated in almost any direction, and of being perverted to absurdity
and mischief.

The basis of natural sentiment capable of supporting the utilitarian
morality is to be found in the _social feelings of mankind_. The social
state is so natural, so necessary, and so habitual to man, that he can
hardly conceive himself otherwise than as a member of society; and as
civilization advances, this association becomes more firmly riveted.
All strengthening of social ties, and all healthy growth of society,
give to each individual a stronger personal interest in consulting the
welfare of others. Each comes, as though instinctively, to be conscious
of himself as a being that _of course_ pays regard to others. There is
the strongest motive in each person to manifest this sentiment, and,
even if he should not feel it strongly himself, to cherish it in
everybody else. The smallest germs of the feeling are thus laid hold
of, and nourished by the contagion of sympathy and the influences of
education; and by the powerful agency of the external sanctions there
is woven around it a complete web of corroborative association. In an
improving state of society, the influences are on the increase that
generate in each individual a feeling of unity with all the rest;
which, if perfect, would make him never think of anything for self, if
they also were not included. Suppose, now, that this feeling of unity
were taught as a religion, and that the whole force of education, of
institutions, and of opinion, were directed to make every person grow
up surrounded with the profession and the practice of it; can there be
any doubt as to the sufficiency of the ultimate sanction for the
Happiness morality?

Even in our present low state of advancement, the deeply-rooted
conception that each individual has of himself as a social being tends
to make him wish to be in harmony with his fellow-creatures. The
feeling may be, in most persons, inferior in strength to the selfish
feelings, and may be altogether wanting; but to such as possess it, it
has all the characters of a natural feeling, and one that they would
not desire to be without.

susceptible. Questions about ends are questions as to what things are
desirable. According to the theory of Utility, happiness is desirable
as an end; all other things are desirable as means. What is the proof
of this doctrine?

As the proof, that the sun is visible, is that people actually see it,
so the proof that happiness is desirable, is that people do actually
desire it. No reason can be given why the general happiness is
desirable, beyond the fact that each one desires their own happiness.

But granting that people desire happiness as _one_ of their ends of
conduct, do they never desire anything else? To all appearance they do;
they desire virtue, and the absence of vice, no less surely than
pleasure and the absence of pain. Hence the opponents of utility
consider themselves entitled to infer that happiness is not the
standard of moral approbation and disapprobation.

But the utilitarians do not deny that virtue is a thing to be desired.
The very reverse. They maintain that it is to be desired, and that _for
itself_. Although considering that what makes virtue is the tendency to
promote happiness, yet they hold that the mind is not in a right state,
not in a state conformable to Utility, not in the state conducive to
the general happiness, unless it has adopted this essential
instrumentality so warmly as to love it for its own sake. It is
necessary to the carrying out of utility that certain things,
originally of the nature of means, should come by association to be a
part of the final end. Thus health is but a means, and yet we cherish
it as strongly as we do any of the ultimate pleasures and pains. So
virtue is not originally an end, but it is capable of becoming so; it
is to be desired and cherished not solely as a means to happiness, but
as a part of happiness.

The notorious instance of money exemplifies this operation. The same
may be said of power and fame; although these are ends as well as
means. We should be but ill provided with happiness, were it not for
this provision of nature, whereby, things, originally indifferent, but
conducive to the satisfaction of our primitive desires, become in
themselves sources of pleasure, of even greater value than the
primitive pleasures, both in permanency and in the extent of their
occupation of our life. Virtue is originally valuable as bringing
pleasure and avoiding pain; but by association it may be felt as a good
in itself, and be desired as intensely as any other good; with this
superiority over money, power, or fame, that it makes the individual a
blessing to society, while these others may make him a curse.

With the allowance thus made for the effect of association, the author
considers it proved that there is in reality nothing desired except
happiness. Whatever is desired otherwise than as a means to some end
beyond itself, and ultimately to happiness, is not desired for itself
till it has become such. Human nature is so constituted, he thinks,
that we desire nothing but what is either a part of happiness or a
means of happiness; and no other proof is required that these are the
only things desirable. Whether this psychological assertion be correct,
must be determined by the self-consciousness and observation of the
most practised observers of human nature.

It may be alleged that, although desire always tends to happiness, yet
Will, as shown by actual conduct, is different from desire. We persist
in a course of action long after the original desire has faded. But
this is merely an instance of that familiar fact, the power of habit,
and is nowise confined to the virtuous actions. Will is amenable to
habit; we may will from habit what we no longer desire for itself, or
desire only because we will it. But the will is the child of desire,
and passes out of the dominion of its parent only to come under the
sway of habit. What is the result of habit may not be intrinsically
good; we might think it better for virtue that habit did not come in,
were it not that the other influences are not sufficiently to be
depended on for unerring constancy, until they have acquired this
farther support.


The strongest obstacle to the doctrine of Utility has been drawn from
the Idea of Justice. The rapid perception and the powerful sentiment
connected with the Just, seem to show it as generically distinct from
every variety of the Expedient.

To see whether the sense of justice can be explained on grounds of
Utility, the author begins by surveying in the concrete the things
usually denominated just. In the first place, it is commonly considered
unjust to deprive any one of their personal liberty, or property, or
anything secured to them by law: in other words, it is unjust to
violate any one's legal rights. Secondly, The legal rights of a man may
be such as _ought_ not to have belonged to him; that is, the law
conferring those rights may be a bad law. When a law is bad, opinions
will differ as to the justice or injustice of infringing it; some think
that no law should be disobeyed by the individual citizen; others hold
that it is just to resist unjust laws. It is thus admitted by all that
there is such a thing as _moral right_, the refusal of which is
injustice. Thirdly, it is considered just that each person should
receive what he _deserves_ (whether good or evil). And a person is
understood to deserve good if he does right, evil if he does wrong; and
in particular to deserve good in return for good, and evil in return
for evil. Fourthly, it is unjust to _break faith_, to violate an
engagement, or disappoint expectations knowingly and voluntarily
raised. Like other obligations, this is not absolute, but may be
overruled by some still stronger demand of justice on the other side.
Fifthly, it is inconsistent with justice to be _partial_; to show
favour or preference in matters where favour does not apply. We are
expected in certain cases to prefer our friends to strangers; but a
tribunal is bound to the strictest impartiality; rewards and
punishments should be administered impartially; so likewise the
patronage of important public offices. Nearly allied to impartiality is
the idea of _equality_. The justice of giving equal protection to the
rights of all is maintained even when the rights themselves are very
unequal, as in slavery and in the system of ranks or castes. There are
the greatest differences as to what is equality in the distribution of
the produce of labour; some thinking that all should receive alike;
others that the neediest should receive most; others that the
distribution should be according to labour or services.

To get a clue to the common idea running through all these meanings,
the author refers to the etymology of the word, which, in most
languages, points to something ordained by _law_. Even although there
be many things considered just, that we do not usually enforce by law,
yet in these cases it would give us pleasure if law could be brought to
bear upon offenders. When we think a person bound in justice to do a
thing, we should like to see him punished for not doing it; we lament
the obstacles that may be in the way, and strive to make amends by a
strong expression of our own opinion. The idea of legal constraint is
thus the generating idea of justice throughout all its transformations.

The real turning point between morality and simple expediency is
contained in the penal sanction. Duty is what we may _exact_ of a
person; there may be reasons why we do not exact it, but the person
himself would not be entitled to complain if we did so. Expediency, on
the other hand, points to things that we may wish people to do, may
praise them for doing, and despise them for not doing, while we do not
consider it proper to bring in the aid of punishment.

There enters farther into the idea of Justice what has been expressed
by the ill-chosen phrase, 'perfect obligation,' meaning that the duty
involves a moral right on the part of some definite person, as in the
case of a debt; an imperfect obligation is exemplified by charity,
which gives no legal claim to any one recipient. Every such right is a
case of Justice, and not of Beneficence.

The Idea of Justice is thus shown to be grounded in Law; and the next
question is, does the strong feeling or sentiment of Justice grow out
of considerations of utility? Mr. Mill conceives that though the notion
of expediency or utility does not give birth to the sentiment, it gives
birth to what is _moral_ in it.

The two essentials of justice are (1) the desire to punish some one,
and (2) the notion or belief that harm has been done to some definite
individual or individuals. Now, it appears to the author that the
desire to punish is a spontaneous outgrowth of two sentiments, both
natural, and, it may be, instinctive; the impulse of _self-defence_,
and the feeling of _sympathy_. We naturally resent, repel, and
retaliate, any harm done to ourselves and to any one that engages our
sympathies. There is nothing moral in mere resentment; the moral part
is the subordination of it to our social regards. We are moral beings,
in proportion as we restrain our private resentment whenever it
conflicts with the interests of society. All moralists agree with Kant
in saying that no act is right that could not be adopted as a law by
all rational beings (that is, consistently with the well-being of

There is in Justice a rule of conduct, and a right on the part of some
one, which right ought to be enforced by society. If it is asked why
society _ought_ to enforce the right, there is no answer but the
general utility. If that expression seem feeble and inadequate to
account for the energy of retaliation inspired by injustice, the author
asks us to advert to the extraordinarily important and impressive kind
of utility that is concerned. The interest involved is _security_, to
every one's feelings the most vital of all interests. All other earthly
benefits needed by one person are not needed by another; and many of
them can, if necessary, be cheerfully foregone, or replaced by
something else; but security no human being can possibly do without; on
it we depend for all our immunity from evil, and for the whole value of
all and every good, beyond the passing moment. Now, this most
indispensable of all necessaries, after physical nutriment, cannot be
had unless the machinery for providing it is kept unintermittedly in
active play. Our notion, therefore, of the claim we have on our
fellow-creatures to join in making safe for us the very groundwork of
our existence, gathers feelings around it so much more intense than
those concerned in any of the more common cases of utility, that the
difference in degree (as is often the case in psychology) becomes a
real difference in kind. The claim assumes that character of
absoluteness, that apparent infinity, and incommensurability with all
other considerations, which constitute the distinction between the
feeling of right and wrong, and that of ordinary expediency and

Having presented his own analysis of the sentiment of Justice, the
author proceeds to examine the _intuitive_ theory. The charge is
constantly brought against Utility, that it is an uncertain standard,
differently interpreted by each person. The only safety, it is
pretended, is found in the immutable, ineffaceable, and unmistakeable
dictates of Justice, carrying their evidence in themselves, and
independent of the fluctuations of opinions. But so far is this from
being the fact, that there is as much difference of opinion, and as
much discussion, about what is just, as about what is useful to

To take a few instances. On the question of Punishment, some hold it
unjust to punish any one by way of example, or for any end but the good
of the sufferer. Others maintain that the good of the society is the
only admissible end of punishment. Robert Owen affirms that punishment
altogether is unjust, and that we should deal with crime only through
education. Now, without an appeal to expediency, it is impossible to
arbitrate among these conflicting views; each one has a maxim of
justice on its side. Then as to the apportioning of punishments to
offences. The rule that recommends itself to the primitive sentiment of
justice is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; a rule formally
abandoned in European countries, although not without its hold upon the
popular mind. With many, the test of justice, in penal infliction, is
that it should be proportioned to the offence; while others maintain
that it is just to inflict only such an amount of punishment as will
deter from the commission of the offence.

Besides the differences of opinion already alluded to, as to the
payment of labour, how many, and irreconcileable, are the standards of
justice appealed to on the matter of taxation? One opinion is, that
taxes should be in proportion to pecuniary means; others think the
wealthy should pay a higher proportion. In point of natural justice, a
case might be made out for disregarding means, and taking the same sum
from each, as the privileges are equally bestowed: yet from feelings of
humanity and social expediency no one advocates that view. So that
there is no mode of extricating the question but the utilitarian.

To sum up. The great distinction between, the Just and the Expedient is
the distinction between the essentials of well-being--the moral rules
forbidding mankind to hurt one another--and the rules that only point
out the best mode of managing some department of human affairs. It is
in the higher moralities of protection from harm that each individual
has the greatest stake; and they are the moralities that compose the
obligations of justice. It is on account of these that punishment, or
retribution of evil for evil, is universally included in the idea. For
the carrying out of the process of retaliation, certain maxims are
necessary as instruments or as checks to abuse; as that involuntary
acts are not punishable; that no one shall be condemned unheard; that
punishment should be proportioned to the offence. Impartiality, the
first of judicial virtues, is necessary to the fulfilment of the other
conditions of justice: while from the highest form of doing to each
according to their deserts, it is the abstract standard of social and
distributive justice; and is in this sense a direct emanation from the
first principle of morals, the principle of the greatest Happiness. All
social inequalities that have ceased to be considered as expedient,
assume the character, not of simple inexpediency, but of injustice.

Besides the 'Utilitarianism,' Mr. Mill's chief Ethical dissertations
are his review of Whewell's Moral Treatises (_Dissertations and
Discussions_, Vol. II.), and parts of his Essay on _Liberty_. By
collecting his views generally under the usual heads, we shall find a
place for some points additional to what are given in the foregoing

I.--Enough has been stated as to his Ethical Standard, the Principle of

II.--We have seen his Psychological explanation of the Moral Faculty,
as a growth from certain elementary feelings of the mind.

He has also discussed extensively the Freedom of the Will, maintaining
the strict causation of human actions, and refuting the supposed
fatalistic tendency of the doctrine.

He believes, as we have seen, in Disinterested impulses, but traces
them to a purely self-regarding origin.

III.--He does not give any formal dissertation on Human Happiness, but
indicates many of its important conditions, as in the remarks cited
above, p. 702. In the chapter of the work on 'Liberty,' entitled
Individuality, he illustrates the great importance of special tastes,
and urges the full right of each person to the indulgence of these in
every case where they do not directly injure others. He reclaims
against the social tyranny prevailing on such points as dress, personal
habits, and eccentricities.

IV.--As regards the Moral Code, he would repeal the legal and moral
rule that makes marriage irrevocable. He would also abolish all
restraints on freedom of thought, and on Individuality of conduct,
qualified as above stated.

He would impose two new moral restraints. He considers that every
parent should be bound to provide a suitable education for his own
children. Farther, for any one to bring into the world human beings
without the means of supporting them, or, in an over-peopled country,
to produce children in such number as to depress the reward of labour
by competition, he regards as serious offences.


Mr. Samuel Bailey devotes the last four in his Third Series of 'Letters
on the Philosophy of the Human Mind,' to the subject of the Moral
Sentiments, or the feelings inspired in us by human conduct. He first
sets down five facts in the human constitution, in which moral
phenomena originate--

1. Man is susceptible of pleasure and pain of various kinds and

2. He likes and dislikes respectively the causes of them.

3. He desires to reciprocate pleasure and pain received, when
intentionally given by other sentient beings.

4. He himself expects such reciprocation from his fellows, coveting it
in the one case, and shunning it in the other.

5. He feels, under certain circumstances, more or less sympathy with
the pleasures and pains given to others, accompanied by a proportionate
desire that those affections should be reciprocated to the givers.

These rudimentary affections, states and operations of consciousness
[he is careful to note that, besides feelings, intellectual conditions
and processes are involved in them] are found more or less developed in
all, or nearly all the human race. In support of the limitation now
made, he adduces what are given as authentic accounts of savages devoid
of all gratitude and fellow-feeling; and then goes on to trace the
nature and development of moral sentiment from the rudimentary powers
and susceptibilities mentioned, in those that do possess them. In doing
so, he follows the convenient mode of speech that takes actions for the
objects that excite the susceptibilities, although, in reality, the
objects are no other than human beings acting in particular ways.

The feelings he supposes to be modified in manner or degree, according
as actions are (1) done by ourselves to others, or (2) done to others
by others, or (3) done to others by ourselves; _i.e._, according as we
ourselves are the subjects, the spectators, or doers of them.

First, then, he considers our feelings in regard to actions done to us
by others, and the more carefully, because these lie at the foundation
of the rest. When a fellow-creature intentionally contributes to our
pleasure, we feel the pleasure; we feel a liking to the person
intentionally conferring it, and we feel an inclination to give him
pleasure in return. The two last feelings--liking and inclination to
reciprocate, constitute the simplest form of moral approbation; in the
contrary case, dislike and resentment give the rudimentary form of
moral disapprobation. It is enough to excite the feelings, that the
actions are merely _thought_ to be done by the person. They are moral
sentiments, even although it could be supposed that there were no other
kinds of actions in the world except actions done to ourselves; but
they are moral sentiments in the purely selfish form. That, for moral
sentiment, mere liking and disliking must be combined with the desire
to reciprocate good and evil, appears on a comparison of our different
feelings towards animate and inanimate causes of pleasure and pain;
there being towards inanimate objects no desire of reciprocation. To a
first objection, that the violent sentiments, arising upon actions done
to ourselves, should not get the temperate designation of moral
approbation and disapprobation, he replies, that such extremes as the
passions of gratitude and resentment must yet be identified in their
origin with our cooler feelings, when we are mere spectators or actors.
A second objection, that the epithet _moral_ is inapplicable to
sentiments involving purely personal feeling, and destitute of
sympathy, he answers, by remarking that the word _moral_, in
philosophy, should not eulogistically be opposed to _immoral_, but
should be held as neutral, and to mean 'relating to conduct, whatever
that conduct may be.' He closes the first head with the observation,
that in savage life the violent desire of reciprocation is best seen;
generally, however, as he gives instances to show, in the form of
revenge and reciprocation of evil.

In the second place, he considers our feelings when we are spectators
of actions done to others by others. These form the largest class of
actions, but to us they have a meaning, for the most part at least,
only as they have an analogy to actions done to ourselves. The variety
of the resulting feelings, generally less intense than when we are the
subjects of the actions, is illustrated first by supposing the persons
affected to be those we love; in this case, the feelings are analogous
to those already mentioned, and they may be even more intense than when
we ourselves are personally affected. If those affected are indifferent
to us, our feelings are less intense, but we are still led to feel as
before, from a natural sympathy with other men's pains and
pleasures--always supposing the sympathy is not (as often happens)
otherwise counteracted or superseded; and also from the influence of
association, if that, too, happen not to be countervailed. Of sympathy
for human beings in general, he remarks that a certain measure of
civilization seems required to bring it properly out, and he cites
instances to prove how much it is wanting in savages. In a third case,
where the persons affected are supposed to be those we hate, we are
displeased when they are made to rejoice, and pleased when they suffer,
unless we are overcome by our habitual associations with good and evil
actions. Such associations weigh least with rude and savage peoples,
but even the most civilized nations disregard them in times of war.

He takes up, in the third place, actions done by ourselves to others.
Here, when the action is beneficent, the peculiarity is that an
expectation of receiving good in return from our neighbours takes the
place of a desire to reciprocate; we consider ourselves the proper
object of grateful thoughts, &c., on the part both of receiver and of
spectators. We are affected with the gratification of a benevolent
desire, with self-complacency, and with undefined hopes. When we have
inflicted injury, there is the expectation of evil, and a combination
of feelings summed up in the word Remorse. But Remorse, like other
sentiments, may fail in the absence of cultivation of mind or under
special circumstances.

Having considered the three different kinds of actions separately, he
next remarks that the sentiment prevailing in each case must be liable
to a reflex influence from the other cases, whereby it will be
strengthened or intensified; thus we come to associate certain
intensities of moral sentiment with certain kinds of action, by
whomsoever or to whomsoever performed. He also notes, that in the first
and third cases, as well as in the second, there is a variation of the
sentiment, according as the parties affected are friends, neutrals, or
enemies. Finally, a peculiar and important modification of the
sentiments results from the outward manifestations of them called forth
from the persons directly or indirectly affected by actions. Such are
looks, gestures, tones, words, or actions, being all efforts to gratify
the natural desire of reciprocating pleasure or pain. Of these the most
notable are the verbal manifestations, as they are mostly
irrepressible, and can alone always be resorted to. While relieving the
feelings, they can also become a most powerful, as they are often the
only, instrument of reward and punishment. Their power of giving to
moral sentiments greater precision, and of acting upon conduct like
authoritative precepts, is seen in greatest force when they proceed
from, bodies of men, whether they are regarded as signs of material
consequences or not. He ends this part of the subject by defending,
with Butler, the place of resentment in the moral constitution.

He proceeds to inquire how it is that not only the perfection of moral
sentiment that would apportion more approbation and disapprobation
according to the real tendencies of actions, is not attained, but men's
moral feelings are not seldom in extreme contrariety with the real
effects of human conduct. First, he finds that men, from partial views,
or momentarily, or from caprice, may bestow their sentiments altogether
at variance with the real consequences of actions. Next there is the
difficulty, or even impossibility, of calculating all the consequences
far and near; whence human conduct is liable to be appreciated on
whimsical grounds or on no discernible grounds at all, and errors in
moral sentiment arise, which it takes increased knowledge to get rid
of. In the third place, it is a fact that our moral sentiments are to a
very great extent derived from tradition, while the approbation and
disapprobation may have originally been wrongly applied. The force of
tradition he illustrates by supposing the case of a patriarchal family,
and he cannot too strongly represent its strength in overcoming or at
least struggling against natural feeling. The authoritative precept of
a superior may also make actions be approved or disapproved, not
because they are directly perceived or even traditionally held to be
beneficial or injurious, but solely because they are commanded or
prohibited. Lastly, he dwells upon the influence of superstition in
perverting moral sentiment, finding, however, that it operates most
strongly in the way of creating false virtues and false vices and

These circumstances, explaining the want of conformity in our moral
sentiments to the real tendencies of actions, he next employs to
account for discrepancies in moral sentiment between different
communities. Having given examples of such discrepancies, he supposes
the case of two families, endowed with the rudimentary qualities
mentioned at the beginning, but placed in different circumstances.
Under the influence of dissimilar physical conditions, and owing to the
dissimilar personal idiosyncracies of the families, and especially of
their chiefs, there will be left few points of complete analogy between
them in the first generation, and in course of time they will become
two races exceedingly unlike in moral sentiment, as in other respects.
He warns strongly against making moral generalizations except under
analogous circumstances of knowledge and civilization. Most men have
the rudimentary feelings, but there is no end to the variety of their
intensity and direction. As a highest instance of discrepant moral
sentiment, he cites the fact that, in our own country, a moral stigma
is still attached to intellectual error by many people, and even by men
of cultivation.

He now comes to the important question of the test or criterion that is
to determine which of these diverse sentiments are right and which
wrong, since they cannot all be right from the mere fact of their
existence, or because they are felt by the subjects of them to be
right, or believed to be in consonance with the injunctions of
superiors, or to be held also by other people. The foregoing review of
the _genesis_ of moral sentiments suggests a direct and simple answer.
As they arise from likings and dislikings of actions that cause, or
tend to cause, pleasure and pain, the first thing is to see that the
likings and dislikings are well founded. Where this does not at once
appear, examination of the real effects of actions must be resorted to;
and, in dubious cases, men in general, when unprejudiced, allow this to
be the natural test for applying moral approbation and disapprobation.
If, indeed, the end of moral sentiment is to promote or to prevent the
actions, there can be no better way of attaining that end. And, as a
fact, almost all moralists virtually adopt it on occasion, though often
unconsciously; the greatest happiness--principle is denounced by its
opponents as a _mischievous_ doctrine.

The objection that the criterion of consequences is difficult of
application, and thus devoid of practical utility, he rebuts by
asserting that the difficulty is not greater than in other cases. We
have simply to follow effects as far as we can; and it is by its
ascertainable, not by its unascertainable, consequences, that we
pronounce an action, as we pronounce an article of food or a statute,
to be good or bad. The main effects of most actions are already very
well ascertained, and the consequences to human happiness, when
unascertainable, are of no value. If the test were honestly applied,
ethical discrepancies would tend gradually to disappear.

He starts another objection:--The happiness-test is good as far as it
goes, but we also approve and disapprove of actions as they are just or
generous, or the contrary, and with no reference to happiness or
unhappiness. In answering this argument, he confines himself to the
case of Justice. To be morally approved, a just action must in itself
be peculiarly pleasant or agreeable, irrespective of its other effects,
which are left out: for on no theory can pleasantness or agreeableness
be dissociated from moral approbation. Now, as Happiness is but a
general appellation for all the agreeable affections of our nature, and
unable to exist except in the shape of some agreeable emotion or
combinations of agreeable emotions; the just action that is morally
commendable, as giving naturally and directly a peculiar kind of
pleasure independent of any other consequences, only produces one
species of those pleasant states of mind that are ranged under the
genus happiness. The test of justice therefore coincides with the
happiness-test. But he does not mean that we are actually affected
thus, in doing just actions, nor refuse to accept justice as a
criterion of actions; only in the one case he maintains that, whatever
association may have effected, the just act must originally have been
approved for the sake of its consequences, and, in the other, that
justice is a criterion, because proved over and over again to be a most
beneficial principle.

After remarking that the Moral Sentiments of praise and blame may enter
into accidental connection with, other feelings of a distinct
character, like pity, wonder, &c., he criticises the use of the word
_Utility_ in Morals. He avoids the term as objectionable, because the
_useful_ in common language does not mean what is directly productive
of happiness, but only what is instrumental in its production, and in
most cases customarily or recurrently instrumental. A blanket is of
continual utility to a poor wretch through a severe winter, but the
benevolent act of the donor is not termed useful, because it confers
the benefit and ceases. Utility is too narrow to comprehend all the
actions that deserve approbation. We want an uncompounded substantive
expressing the two attributes of _conferring_ and _conducing to_
happiness; as a descriptive phrase, _producing_ happiness is as
succinct as any. The term useful is, besides, associated with the
notion of what is serviceable in the affairs and objects of common
life, whence the philosophical doctrine that erects utility as its
banner is apt to be deemed, by the unthinking, low, mean, and
derogatory to human nature and aspirations, although its real import is
wholly free from such a reproach. Notwithstanding, therefore, the
convenience of the term, and because the associations connected with it
are not easily eradicated, whilst most of the trite objections to the
true doctrine of morals turn upon its narrow meanings, he thinks it
should be as much as possible disused.

Mr. Bailey ends by remarking of the common question, whether our moral
sentiments have their origin in Reason, or in a separate power called
the Moral Sense, that in his view of man's sensitive and intellectual
nature it is easily settled. He recognizes the feelings that have been
enumerated, and, in connexion with them, intellectual processes of
discerning and inferring; for which, if the Moral Sense and Reason are
meant as anything more than unnecessary general expressions, they are
merely fictitious entities. So, too, Conscience, whether as identified
with the moral sense, or put for sensibility in regard to the moral
qualities of one's own mind, is a mere personification of certain
mental states. The summary of Bailey's doctrine falls within the two
first heads.

I.--The Standard is the production of Happiness. [It should be
remarked, however, that happiness is a wider aim than morality;
although all virtue tends to produce happiness, very much that produces
happiness is not virtue.]

II.--The Moral Faculty, while involving processes of discernment and
inference, is mainly composed of certain sentiments, the chief being
Reciprocity and Sympathy. [These are undoubtedly the largest
ingredients in a mature, self-acting conscience; and the way that they
contribute to the production of moral sentiment deserved to be, as it
has been, well handled. The great omission in Mr. Bailey's account is
the absence of the element of _authority_, which is the main instrument
in imparting to us the sense of obligation.]


Mr. Spencer's ethical doctrines are, as yet, nowhere fully expressed.
They form part of the more general doctrine of Evolution which he is
engaged in working out; and they are at present to be gathered only
from scattered passages. It is true that, in his first work, _Social
Statics_ he presented what he then regarded as a tolerably complete
view of one division of Morals. But without abandoning this view, he
now regards it as inadequate--more especially in respect of its basis.

Mr. Spencer's conception of Morality as a science, is conveyed in the
following passages in a letter written by him to Mr. Mill; repudiating
the title anti-utilitarian, which Mr. Mill had applied to him:--

'The note in question greatly startled me by implicitly classing me
with Anti-utilitarians. I have never regarded myself as an
Anti-utilitarian. My dissent from the doctrine of Utility as commonly
understood, concerns not the object to be reached by men, but the
method of reaching it. While I admit that happiness is the ultimate end
to be contemplated, I do not admit that it should be the proximate end.
The Expediency-Philosophy having concluded that happiness is a thing to
be achieved, assumes that Morality has no other business than
empirically to generalize the results of conduct, and to supply for the
guidance of conduct nothing more than its empirical generalizations.

But the view for which I contend is, that Morality properly so
called--the science of right conduct--has for its object to determine
_how_ and _why_ certain modes of conduct are detrimental, and certain
other modes beneficial. These good and bad results cannot be
accidental, but must be necessary consequences of the constitution of
things; and I conceive it to be the business of Moral Science to
deduce, from the laws of life and the conditions of existence, what
kinds of action necessarily tend to produce happiness, and what kinds
to produce unhappiness. Having done this, its deductions are to be
recognized as laws of conduct; and are to be conformed to irrespective
of a direct estimation of happiness or misery.

'Perhaps an analogy will most clearly show my meaning. During its early
stages, planetary Astronomy consisted of nothing more than accumulated
observations respecting the positions and motions of the sun and
planets; from which accumulated observations it came by and by to be
empirically predicted, with an approach to truth, that certain of the
heavenly bodies would have certain positions at certain times. But the
modern science of planetary Astronomy consists of deductions from the
law of gravitation--deductions showing why the celestial bodies
_necessarily_ occupy certain places at certain times. Now, the kind of
relation which thus exists between ancient and modern Astronomy, is
analogous to the kind of relation which, I conceive, exists between the
Expediency-Morality, and Moral Science properly so-called. And the
objection which I have to the current Utilitarianism, is, that it
recognizes no more developed form of morality--does not see that it has
reached but the initial stage of Moral Science.

'To make my position fully understood, it seems needful to add that,
corresponding to the fundamental propositions of a developed Moral
Science, there have been, and still are, developing in the race,
certain fundamental moral intuitions; and that, though these moral
intuitions are the results of accumulated experiences of Utility,
gradually organized and inherited, they have come to be quite
independent of conscious experience. Just in the same way that I
believe the intuition of space, possessed by any living individual, to
have arisen from organized and consolidated experiences of all
antecedent individuals who bequeathed to him their slowly-developed
nervous organizations--just as I believe that this intuition, requiring
only to be made definite and complete by personal experiences, has
practically become a form of thought, apparently quite independent of
experience; so do I believe that the experiences of utility organised
and consolidated through all past generations of the human race, have
been producing corresponding nervous modifications, which, by continued
transmission and accumulation, have become in us certain faculties of
moral intuition--certain emotions responding to right and wrong
conduct, which have no apparent basis in the individual experiences of
utility. I also hold that just as the space-intuition responds to the
exact demonstrations of Geometry, and has its rough conclusions
interpreted and verified by them; so will moral intuitions respond to
the demonstrations of Moral Science, and will have their rough
conclusions interpreted and verified by them.'

The relations between the Expediency-Morality, and Moral Science,
conceived by Mr. Spencer to be, the one transitional, and the other
ultimate, are further explained in the following passage from his essay
on 'Prison-Ethics':--

'Progressing civilization, which is of necessity a succession of
compromises between old and new, requires a perpetual re-adjustment of
the compromise between the ideal and the practicable in social
arrangements: to which end both elements of the compromise must be kept
in view. If it is true that pure rectitude prescribes a system of
things far too good for men as they are; it is not less true that mere
expediency does not of itself tend to establish a system of things any
better than that which exists. While absolute morality owes to
expediency the checks which prevent it from rushing into utopian
absurdities; expediency is indebted to absolute morality for all
stimulus to improvement. Granted that we are chiefly interested in
ascertaining what is _relatively right_; it still follows that we must
first consider what is _absolutely right_; since the one conception
presupposes the other. That is to say, though we must ever aim to do
what is best for the present times, yet we must ever bear in mind what
is abstractedly best; so that the changes we make may be _towards_ it,
and not _away_ from it.'

By the word _absolute_ as thus applied, Mr. Spencer does not mean to
imply a right and wrong existing apart from Humanity and its relations.
Agreeing with Utilitarians in the belief that happiness is the end, and
that the conduct called moral is simply the best means of attaining it,
he of course does not assert that there is a morality which is absolute
in the sense of being true out of relation to human existence. By
absolute morality as distinguished from relative, he here means the
mode of conduct which, under the conditions arising from social union,
must be pursued to achieve the greatest welfare of each and all. He
holds, that the laws of Life, physiologically considered, being fixed,
it necessarily follows that when a number of individuals have to live
in social union, which necessarily involves fixity of conditions in the
shape of mutual interferences and limitations, there result certain
fixed principles by which conduct must be restricted, before the
greatest sum of happiness can be achieved. These principles constitute
what Mr. Spencer distinguishes as absolute Morality; and the absolutely
moral man is the man who conforms to these principles, not by external
coercion nor self-coercion, but who acts them out spontaneously.

To be fully understood, this conception must be taken along with the
general theory of Evolution. Mr. Spencer argues that all things
whatever are inevitably tending towards equilibrium; and that
consequently the progress of mankind cannot cease until there is
equilibrium between the human constitution and the conditions of human
existence. Or, as he argues in _First Principles_ (Second Edition, p.
512), 'The adaptation of man's nature to the conditions of his
existence cannot cease until the internal forces which we know as
feelings are in equilibrium with the external forces they encounter.
And the establishment of this equilibrium, is the arrival at a state of
human nature and social organization, such that the individual has no
desires but those which may be satisfied without exceeding his proper
sphere of action, while society maintains no restraints but those which
the individual voluntarily respects. The progressive extension of the
liberty of citizens, and the reciprocal removal of political
restrictions, are the steps by which we advance towards this state. And
the ultimate abolition of all limits to the freedom of each, save those
imposed by the like freedom of all, must, result from the complete
equilibration between man's desires and the conduct necessitated by
surrounding conditions.'

The conduct proper to such a state, which Mr. Spencer thus conceives to
be the subject-matter of Moral Science, truly so-called, he proposes,
in the Prospectus to his _System of Philosophy_, to treat under the
following heads.

PERSONAL MORALS.--The principles of private conduct--physical,
intellectual, moral, and religious--that follow from the conditions to
complete individual life; or, what is the same thing, those modes of
private action which must result from the eventual equilibration of
internal desires and external needs.

JUSTICE.--The mutual limitation of men's actions necessitated by their
co-existence as units of a society--limitations, the perfect observance
of which constitutes that state of equilibrium forming the goal of
political progress.

NEGATIVE BENEFICENCE.--Those secondary limitations, similarly
necessitated, which, though less important and not cognizable by law,
are yet requisite to prevent mutual destruction of happiness in various
indirect ways: in other words--those minor self-restraints dictated by
what may be called passive sympathy.

POSITIVE BENEFICENCE.--Comprehending all modes of conduct, dictated by
active sympathy, which imply pleasure in giving pleasure--modes of
conduct that social adaptation has induced and must render ever more
general; and which, in becoming universal, must fill to the full the
possible measure of human happiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

This completes the long succession of British moralists during the
three last centuries. It has been possible, and even necessary, to
present them thus in an unbroken line, because the insular movement in
ethical philosophy has been hardly, if at all, affected by anything
done abroad. In the earlier part of the modern period, little of any
kind was done in ethics by the great continental thinkers. Descartes
has only a few allusions to the subject; the 'Ethica' of Spinoza is
chiefly a work of speculative philosophy; Leibnitz has no systematic
treatment of moral questions. The case is very different; in the new
German philosophy since the time of Kant; besides Kant himself, Fichte,
Hegel, Schleiermacher, and many later and contemporary thinkers having
devoted a large amount of attention to practical philosophy. But unless
it be Kant--and he not to any great extent--none of these has
influenced the later attempts at ethical speculation amongst ourselves:
nor, again with the exception of Kant, are we as yet in a position
properly to deal with them. One reason, for proceeding to expound the
ethical system of the founder of the later German philosophy, without
regard to his successors, lies in the fact that he stood, on the
practical side, in as definite a relation to the English moralists of
last century, as, in his speculative philosophy, to Locke and Hume.

IMMANUEL, KANT. [1724-1804.]

The ethical writings of Kant, in the order of their appearance,
are--_Foundation for the Metaphysic of Morals_ (1785); _Critique of the
Practical Reason_ (1788); _Metaphysic of Morals_ (1797, in two
parts--(1) _Doctrine of Right_ or Jurisprudence, (2) _Doctrine of
Virtue_ or Ethics proper). The third work contains the details of his
system; the general theory is presented in the two others. Of these we
select for analysis the earlier, containing, as it does, in less
artificial form, an ampler discussion of the fundamental questions of
morals; but towards the end it must be supplemented, in regard to
certain characteristic doctrines, from the second, in some respects
more developed, work.[26]

In the introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals, Kant distinguishes
between the empirical and the rational mode of treating Ethics. He
announces his intention to depart from the common plan of mixing up the
two together, and to attempt for once to set forth the _pure_ moral
philosophy that is implied even in the vulgar ideas of duty and moral
law. Because a moral law means an absolute necessity laid on all
rational beings whatever, its foundation is to be sought, not in human
nature or circumstances, but _à priori_ in the conception of pure
reason. The most universal precept founded on mere experience is only a
practical rule, and never a moral law. A purely rational moral
philosophy, or Metaphysic of Morals, will serve the double end of
meeting a speculative requirement, and of furnishing the only true norm
of practice. It investigates the idea and principles of a potentially
pure Will, instead of the acts and conditions of human volition as
known from psychology. Not a complete Metaphysic of Morals, however,
(which would be a Critique of the pure Practical Reason), but merely a
foundation for such will be given. The supreme principle of morality is
to be established, apart from detailed application. First, common
notions will be analyzed in order to get at this highest principle; and
then, when the principle has been sought out, they will be returned
upon by way of synthesis.

In the first of the three main sections of the work, he makes the
passage from Common Rational Knowledge of Morals to Philosophical.
Nothing in the world, he begins, can without qualification be called
good, except _Will_. Qualities of temperament, like courage, &c., gifts
of fortune, like wealth and power, are good only with reference to a
good will. As to a good will, when it is really such, the circumstance
that it can, or cannot, be executed does not matter; its value is
independent of the utility or fruitlessness of it.

This idea of the absolute worth of mere Will, though it is allowed even
by the vulgar understanding, he seeks to establish beyond dispute, by
an argument from the natural _subjection_ of Will to Reason. In a being
well-organized, if Conservation or Happiness were the grand aim, such
subjection would be a great mistake. When Instinct could do the work
far better and more surely, Reason should have been deprived of all
practical function. Discontent, in fact, rather than happiness comes of
pursuit of mere enjoyment by rational calculation; and to make light of
the part contributed by Reason to happiness, is really to make out that
it exists for a nobler purpose. But now, since Reason _is_ a practical
faculty and governs the will, its function can only be to produce a
Will good in itself. Such a Will, if not the only good, is certainly
the highest; and happiness, unattainable by Reason as a primary aim,
and subject in this life altogether to much limitation, is to be sought
only in the contentment that arises from the attainment by Reason of
its true aim, at the sacrifice often of many a natural inclination.

He proceeds to develop this conception of a Will in itself good and
estimable, by dealing with the commonly received ideas of Duty. Leaving
aside profitable actions that are plain violations of duty, and also
actions conformed to duty, but, while not prompted directly by nature,
done from some special inclination--in which case it is easy to
distinguish whether the action is done from duty or from self-interest;
he considers those more difficult cases where the same action is at
once duty, and prompted by direct natural inclination. In all such,
whether it be duty of self-preservation, of benevolence, of securing
one's own happiness (this last a duty, because discontent and the
pressure of care may easily lead to the transgression of other duties),
he lays it down that the action is not allowed to have true moral
value, unless done in the abeyance or absence of the natural
inclination prompting to it. A second position is, that the moral value
of an action done from duty lies not in the intention of it, but in the
maxim that determines it; not in the object, but in the _principle of
Volition_. That is to say, in action done out of regard to duty, the
will must be determined by its _formal à priori_ principle, not being
determined by any _material à posteriori_ motive. A third position
follows then from the other two; Duty is the necessity of an action out
of respect for Law. Towards an object there may be inclination, and
this inclination may be matter for approval or liking; but it is Law
only--the ground and not the effect of Volition, bearing down
inclination rather than serving it--that can inspire _Respect_. When
inclination and motives are both excluded, nothing remains to determine
Will, except Law objectively; and, subjectively, pure respect for a law
of practice--_i.e._, the maxim to follow such a law, even at the
sacrifice of every inclination. The conception of Law-in-itself alone
determining the will, is, then, the surpassing good that is called
moral, which exists already in a man before his action has any result.
Conformity to Law in general, all special motive to follow any single
law being excluded, remains as the one principle of Volition: I am
never to act otherwise, than so as to be able also to wish that my
maxim (_i.e._, my subjective principle of volition) should become a
universal law. This is what he finds implied in the common notions of

Having illustrated at length this reading, in regard to the duty of
keeping a promise, he contrasts, at the close of the section, the all
but infallibility of common human reason in practice with its
helplessness in speculation. Notwithstanding, it finds itself unable to
settle the contending claims of Reason and Inclination, and so is
driven to devise a practical philosophy, owing to the rise of a
'Natural Dialectic' or tendency to refine upon the strict laws of duty
in order to make them more pleasant. But, as in the speculative region,
the Dialectic cannot be properly got rid of without a complete Critique
of Reason.

In Section II. the passage is made from the popular moral philosophy
thus arising to the metaphysic of morals. He denies that the notion of
duty that has been taken above from common sage is empirical. It is
proved not to be such from the very assertions of philosophers that men
always act from more or less refined self-love; assertions that are
founded upon the difficulty of proving that acts most apparently
conformed to duty are really such. The fact is, no act _can_ be proved
by experience to be absolutely moral, _i.e._, done solely from regard
to duty, to the exclusion of all inclination; and therefore to concede
that morality and duty are ideas to be had from experience, is the
surest way to get rid of them altogether. Duty, and respect for its
law, are not to be preserved at all, unless Reason is allowed to lay
_absolute_ injunctions on the will, whatever experience says of their
non-execution. How, indeed, is experience to disclose a moral law,
that, in applying to all rational beings as well as men, and to men
only as rational, must originate _à priori_ in pure (practical) Reason?
Instead of yielding the principles of morality, empirical examples of
moral conduct have rather to be judged by these.

All supreme principles of morality, that are genuine, must rest on pure
Reason solely; and the mistake of the popular practical philosophies in
vogue, one and all--whether advancing as their principle a special
determination of human nature, or Perfection, or Happiness, or Moral
Feeling, or Fear of God, or a little of this and a little of that--is
that there has been no previous consideration whether the principles of
morality are to be sought for in our empirical knowledge of human
nature at all. Such consideration would have shown them to be
altogether _à priori_, and would have appeared as a _pure_ practical
philosophy or metaphysic of morals (upon the completion of which any
popularizing might have waited), kept free from admixture of
Anthropology, Theology, Physics, Hyperphysics, &c., and setting forth
the conception of Duty as purely rational, without the confusion of
empirical motives. To a metaphysic of this kind, Kant is now to ascend
from the popular philosophy, with its stock-in-trade of single
instances, following out the practical faculty of Reason from the
general rules determining it, to the point where the conception of Duty

While things in nature work according to laws, rational beings alone
can act according to a conceived idea of laws, _i.e._, to principles.
This is to have a Will, or, what is the same, Practical Reason, reason
being required in deducing actions from laws. If the Will follows
Reason exactly and without fail, actions objectively necessary are
necessary also subjectively; if, through subjective conditions
(inclinations, &c.), the Will does not follow Reason inevitably,
objectively necessary actions become subjectively contingent, and
towards the objective laws the attitude of the will is no longer
unfailing choice, but _constraint_. A constraining objective principle
mentally represented, is a _command_; its formula is called
_Imperative_, for which the expression is _Ought_. A will perfectly
good--_i.e._, subjectively determined to follow the objective laws of
good as soon as conceived--knows no Ought. Imperatives are only for an
imperfect, such as is the human, will. _Hypothetical_ Imperatives
represent the practical necessity of an action as a means to an end,
being _problematical_ or _assertory_ principles, according as the end
is possible or real. _Categorical_ Imperatives represent an action as
objectively necessary for itself, and count as _apodeictical_

To the endless number of possible aims of human action correspond as
many Imperatives, directing merely how they are to be attained, without
any question of their value; these are Imperatives of _Fitness_. To one
real aim, existing necessarily for all rational beings, viz.,
Happiness, corresponds the Imperative of _Prudence_ (in the narrow
sense), being assertory while hypothetical. The categorical Imperative,
enjoining a mode of action for itself, and concerned about the form and
principle of it, not its nature and result, is the Imperative of
_Morality_. These various kinds of Imperatives, as influencing the
will, may be distinguished as _Rules_ (of fitness), _Counsels_ (of
prudence), _Commands_ or _Laws_ (of morality); also as _technical,
pragmatical, moral_.

Now, as to the question of the possibility of these different
Imperatives--how they can be supposed able to influence or act upon the
Will--there is in the first case no difficulty; in wishing an end it is
necessarily implied that we wish the indispensable means, when this is
in our power. In like manner, the Imperatives of Prudence are also
_analytical_ in character (_i.e._, given by implication), if only it
were possible to have a definite idea of the end sought, viz.,
happiness. But, in fact, with the elements of happiness to be got from
experience at the same time that the idea requires an absolute whole,
or maximum, of satisfaction now and at every future moment, no finite
being can know precisely what he wants, or what may be the effect of
any of his wishes. Action, on fixed principles, with a view to
happiness, is, therefore, not possible; and one can only follow
empirical directions, about Diet, Frugality, Politeness, &c., seen on
the whole to promote it. Although, however, there is no certainty of
causing happiness, and the Imperatives with reference thereto are mere
counsels, they retain their character of analytical propositions, and
their action on the will is not less possible than in the former case.

To prove the possibility of the Imperative of morality is more
difficult. As categorical, it presupposes nothing else to rest its
necessity upon; while by way of experience, it can never be made out to
be more than a prudential precept--_i.e._, a pragmatic or hypothetic
principle. Its possibility must therefore be established _à priori_.
But the difficulty will then appear no matter of wonder, when it is
remembered (from the Critique of Pure Reason) how hard it is to
establish synthetic propositions _à priori_.

The question of the possibility, however, meanwhile postponed, the mere
conception of a categorical Imperative is found to yield the one
formula that can express it, from its not being dependent, like a
hypothetical Imperative, on any external condition. Besides the Law (or
objective principle of conduct), the only thing implied in the
Imperative being the necessity laid upon the _Maxim_ (or subjective
principle) to conform to the law--a law limited by no condition; there
is nothing for the maxim to be conformed to but the universality of a
law in general, and it is the conformity alone that properly
constitutes the Imperative necessary. The Imperative is thus single,
and runs: _Act according to that maxim only which you can wish at the
same time to become a_ _universal law_. Or, since universality of law
as determining effects is what we understand by nature: _Act as if the
maxim of your action ought by your will to become the universal law of

Taking cases of duties according to the common divisions of duties to
ourselves and to others, perfect and imperfect, he proceeds to show
that they may be all deduced from the single Imperative; the question
of the _reality_ of duty, which is the same as the establishment of the
possibility of the Imperative as a synthetic practical proposition _à
priori_, at present altogether apart. Suppose a man tempted to commit
suicide, with the view of bettering his evil condition; but it is
contradictory that the very principle of self-conservation should lead
to self-destruction, and such a maxim of conduct cannot therefore
become a universal law of nature. Next, the case of a man borrowing
without meaning to repay, has only to be turned into a universal law,
and the thing becomes impossible; nobody would lend. Again, to neglect
a talent that is generally useful for mere ease and self-gratification,
can indeed be supposed a universal practice, but can never be wished to
be. Finally, to refuse help to others universally might not ruin the
race, but can be wished by no one that knows how soon he must himself
need assistance. Now, the rule was, that a maxim of conduct should be
_wished_ to become the universal law. In the last two cases, it cannot
be wished; in the others, the maxim cannot even be conceived in
universal form. Thus, two grades of duty, one admitting of merit, the
other so strict as to be irremissible, are established on the general
principle. The principle is moreover confirmed in the case of
transgression of duty: the transgressor by no means wishes to have his
act turned into a general rule, but only seeks special and temporary
exemption from a law allowed by himself to be universal.

Notwithstanding this force and ease of application, a categorical
Imperative has not yet been proved _à priori_ actually existent; and it
was allowed that it could not be proved empirically, elements of
inclination, interest, &c., being inconsistent with morality. The real
question is this: Is it a necessary law that all rational beings should
act on maxims that they can wish, to become universal laws? If so, this
must be bound up with the very notion of the will of a rational being;
the relation of the will to itself being to be determined _à priori_ by
pure Reason. The Will is considered as a power of self-determination to
act according to certain laws as represented to the mind, existing only
in rational beings. And, if the objective ground of self-determination,
or _End_, is supplied by mere Reason, it must be the same for all
rational beings. _Ends_ may be divided into _Subjective_, resting upon
individual _Impulses_ or subjective grounds of desire; and _Objective_,
depending on _Motives_ or objective grounds of Volition valid for all
rational beings. The principles of action are, in the one case,
_Material_, and, in the other, _Formal, i.e._, abstracted from all
subjective ends. Material ends, as relative, beget only hypothetical
Imperatives. But, supposed some thing, the presence of which in itself
has an absolute value, and which, as End-in-self, can be a ground of
fixed laws; there, and there only, can be the ground of a possible
categorical Imperative, or Law of Practice.

Now, such an End-in-self (not a thing with merely conditional value,--a
means to be used arbitrarily) is Man and every rational being, as
_Person_. There is no other objective end with absolute value that can
supply to the Reason the supreme practical principle requisite for
turning subjective principles of action into objective principles of
volition. Rational Nature as End-in-self is a subjective principle to a
man having this conception of his own being, but becomes objective when
every rational being has the same from the same ground in Reason. Hence
a new form (the second) to the practical Imperative: _Act so as to use
Humanity (Human Nature) as well in your own person, as in the person of
another, ever as end also, and never merely as means_.

To this new formula, the old examples are easily squared. Suicide is
using one's person as a mere means to a tolerable existence; breaking
faith to others is using them as means, not as ends-in-self; neglect of
self-cultivation is the not furthering human nature as end-in-self in
one's own person; withholding help is refusing to further Humanity as
end-in-self through the medium of the aims of others. [In a note he
denies that 'the trivial, Do to others as you would,' &c., is a full
expression of the law of duty: it contains the ground, neither of
duties to self; nor of duties of benevolence to others, for many would
forego receiving good on conditions of not conferring it; nor of the
duty of retribution, for the malefactor could turn it against his
judge, &c.]

The universality of this principle of Human and Rational Nature as
End-in-self, as also its character of objective end limiting merely
subjective ends, prove that its source is in pure Reason. Objectively,
the ground of all practical legislation is Rule and the Form of
Universality that enables rule to be Law (of Nature), according to
principle first (in its double form); subjectively, it is End, the
subject of all ends being every rational being as End-in-self,
according to principle second. Hence follows the third practical
principle of the Will, as supreme condition of its agreement with
universal practical Reason--_the idea of the Will of every rational
being as a Will that legislates universally_. The Will, if subject to
law, has first itself imposed it.

This new idea--of the Will of every rational being as universally
legislative--is what, in the implication of the Categorical Imperative,
specifically marks it off from any Hypothetical: Interest is seen to be
quite incompatible with Duty, if Duty is Volition of this kind. A will
merely subject to laws can be bound to them by interest; not so a will
itself legislating supremely, for that would imply another law to keep
the interest of self-love from trenching upon the validity of the
universal law. Illustration is not needed to prove that a Categorical
Imperative, or law for the will of every rational being, if it exist at
all, cannot exclude Interest and be unconditional, except as enjoining
everything to be done from the maxim of a will that in legislating
universally can have itself for object. This is the point that has been
always missed, that the laws of duty shall be at once self-imposed and
yet universal. Subjection to a law not springing from one's own will
implies interest or constraint, and constitutes a certain necessity of
action, but never makes Duty. Be the interest one's own or another's,
the Imperative is conditional only. Kant's principle is the _Autonomy
of the Will_; every other its _Heteronomy_.

The new point of view opens up the very fruitful conception of an
_Empire_ or _Realm of Ends_. As a Realm is the systematic union of
rational beings by means of common laws, so the ends determined by the
laws may, abstractly viewed, be taken to form a systematic whole.
Rational beings, as subject to a law requiring them to treat themselves
and others as ends and never merely as means, enter into a systematic
union by means of common objective laws, _i.e._ into an (ideal) Empire
or Realm of Ends, from the laws being concerned about the mutual
relations of rational beings as Ends and Means. In this Realm, a
rational being is either Head or Member: Head, if legislating
universally and with complete independence; Member, if also
universally, but at the same time subject to the laws. When now the
maxim of the will does not by nature accord necessarily with the demand
of the objective principle--that the will through its maxim be able to
regard itself at the same time as legislating; universally--a practical
constraint is exerted by the principle, which is _Duty_, lying on every
Member in the Realm of Ends (not on the Head) alike. This necessity of
practice reposes, not on feeling, impulse, or inclination, but on the
relation between rational beings arising from the fact that each, as
End-in-self, legislates universally. The Reason gives a universal
application to every maxim of the Will; not from any motive of
interest, but from the idea of the _Dignity_ of a rational being that
follows no law that it does not itself at the same time give.

Everything in the Realm of Ends has either a _Price_ or a _Dignity_.
Skill, Diligence, &c., bearing on human likings and needs, have a
_Market-price_; Qualities like Wit, Fancy, &c., appealing to Taste or
Emotional Satisfaction, have an _Affection-price_. But Morality, the
only way of being End-in-self, and legislating member in the Realm of
Ends, has an intrinsic _Worth or Dignity_, calculable in nothing else.
Its worth is not in results, but in dispositions of Will; its actions
need neither recommendation from a subjective disposition or taste, nor
prompting from immediate tendency or feeling. Being laid on the Will by
Reason, they make the Will, in the execution, the object of an
immediate _Respect_, testifying to a Dignity beyond all price. The
grounds of these lofty claims in moral goodness and virtue are the
participation by a rational being in the universal legislation, fitness
to be a member in a possible Realm of Ends, subjection only to
self-imposed laws. Nothing having value but as the law confers it, an
unconditional, incomparable worth attaches to the giving of the law,
and _Respect_ is the only word that expresses a rational being's
appreciation of that. Autonomy is thus the foundation of the dignity of
human and of all rational nature.

The three different expressions that have been given to the one general
principle of morality imply each the others, and differ merely in their
mode of presenting one idea of the Reason to the mind. _Universal
application of the Maxim of Conduct, as if it were a law of nature_, is
the formula of the Will as absolutely good; _universal prohibition
against the use of rational beings ever as means only_, has reference
to the fact that a good will in a rational being is an altogether
independent and ultimate End, an End-in-self in all; _universal
legislation of each for all_ recognizes the prerogative or special
dignity of rational beings, that they necessarily take their maxims
from the point of view of all, and must regard themselves, being
Ends-in-self, as members in a Realm of Ends (analogous to the Realm, or
Kingdom of Nature), which, though merely an ideal and possible
conception, none the less really imposes an imperative upon action.
_Morality_, he concludes, is _the relation of actions to the Autonomy
of the Will_, _i.e._, to possible universal legislation through its
maxims. Actions that can co-exist with this autonomy are _allowed_; all
others are not. A will, whose maxims necessarily accord with the laws
of Autonomy, is holy, or absolutely good; the dependence of a will not
thus absolutely good is _Obligation_. The objective necessity of an
action from obligation is _Duty. Subjection to law_ is not the only
element in duty; the fact of the law being self-imposed gives

The Autonomy of the will is its being a law to itself, without respect
to the objects of volition; the principle of autonomy is to choose only
in such a way as that the maxims of choice are conceived at the same
time as a universal law. This rule cannot be proved analytically to be
an Imperative, absolutely binding on every will; as a synthetic
proposition it requires, besides a knowledge of the objects, a critique
of the subject, _i.e._, pure practical Reason, before, in its
apodeictic character, it can be proved completely _à priori_. Still the
mere analysis of moral conceptions has sufficed to prove it the sole
principle of morals, because this principle is seen to be a categorical
Imperative, and a categorical Imperative enjoins neither more nor less
than this Autonomy. If, then, Autonomy of Will is the supreme
principle, Heteronomy is the source of all ungenuine principles, of
Morality. Heteronomy is whenever the Will does not give itself laws,
but some object, in relation to the Will, gives them. There is then
never more than a hypothetical Imperative: I am to do something because
I wish something else.

There follows a division and criticism of the various possible
principles of morality that can be set up on the assumption of
Heteronomy, and that have been put forward by human Reason in default
of the required Critique of its pure use. Such, are either _Empirical_
or _Rational_. The Empirical, embodying the principle of _Happiness_,
are founded on (1) _physical_ or (2) _moral feeling_; the Rational,
embodying the principle of _perfection_, on (1) the rational conception
of it as a possible result, or (2) the conception of an independent
perfection (the Will of God), as the determining cause of the will. The
Empirical principles are altogether to be rejected, because they can
give no universal law for all rational beings; of the Rational
principles, the first, though setting up an empty and indefinite
conception, has the merit of at least making an appeal from sense to
pure reason. But the fatal objection to all four is their implying
Heteronomy; no imperative founded on them can utter moral, _i.e._,
categorical commands.

That the absolutely good Will must be autonomous--_i.e._, without any
kind of motive or interest, lay Commands on itself that are at the same
time fit to be laws for all rational beings, appears, then, from a
deeper consideration of even the popular conceptions of morality. But
now the question can no longer be put off: Is Morality, of which this
is the only conception, a reality or a phantom? All the different
expressions given to the Categorical Imperatives are synthetic
practical propositions _a priori_; they postulate a possible synthetic
use of the pure practical reason. Is there, and how is there, such a
possible synthetic use? This is the question (the same as the other)
that Kant proceeds to answer in the Third Section, by giving, in
default of a complete Critique of the faculty, as much as is necessary
for the purpose. But here, since he afterwards undertook the full
Critique, it is better to stop the analysis of the earlier work, and
summarily draw upon both for the remainder of the argument, and the
rather because some important points have to be added that occur only
in the later treatise. The foregoing is a sufficient example of his
method of treatment.

The synthetic use of the pure practical reason, in the Categorical
Imperative, is legitimized; Autonomy of the Will is explained; Duty is
shown to be no phantom--through the conception of Freedom of Will,
properly understood. Theoretically (speculatively), Freedom is
undemonstrable; being eternally met, in one of the (cosmological)
Antinomies of the Pure Reason, by the counter-assertion that everything
in the universe takes place according to unchanging laws of nature.
Even theoretically, however, Freedom is not inconceivable, and morally
we become certain of it; for we are conscious of the 'ought' of duty,
and with the 'ought' there must go a 'can.' It is not, however, as
Phenomenon or Sensible Ens that a man 'can,' is free, has an absolute
initiative; all phenomena or Sensible Entia, being in space and time,
are subject to the Natural Law of Causality. But man is also Noumenon,
Thing-in-self, Intelligible Ens; and as such, being free from
conditions of time and space, stands outside of the sequence of Nature.
Now, the Noumenon or Ens of the Reason (he assumes) stands higher than,
or has a value above, the Phenomenon or Sensible Ens (as much as Reason
stands higher than Sense and Inclination); accordingly, while it is
only man as Noumenon that 'can,' it is to man as Phenomenon that the
'ought' is properly addressed; it is upon man as Phenomenon that the
law of Duty, prescribed, with perfect freedom from motive, by Man as
Noumenon, is laid.

_Freedom of Will_ in Man as Rational End or Thing-in-self is thus the
great Postulate of the pure Practical Reason; we can be sure of the
fact (although it must always remain speculatively undemonstrable),
because else there could be no explanation of the Categorical
Imperative of Duty. But inasmuch as the Practical Reason, besides
enjoining a law of Duty, must provide also a final end of action in the
idea of an unconditioned Supreme Good, it contains also two other
Postulates: Man being a sentient as well as a rational being, Happiness
as well as Perfect Virtue or Moral Perfection must enter into the
Summum Bonum (not, one of them to the exclusion of the other, as the
Stoics and Epicureans, in different senses, declared). Now, since there
is no such necessary conjunction of the two in nature, it must be
sought otherwise. It is found in postulating _Immortality_ and _God_.

_Immortality_ is required to render possible the attainment of moral
perfection. Virtue out of _respect_ for law, with a constant tendency
to fall away, is all that is attainable in life. The _Holiness_, or
complete accommodation of the will to the Moral Law, implied in the
Summum Bonum, can be attained to only in the course of an infinite
progression; which means personal Immortality. [As in the former case,
the _speculative_ impossibility of proving the immateriality, &c., of
the supernatural soul is not here overcome; but Immortality is
_morally_ certain, being demanded by the Practical Reason.]

Moral perfection thus provided for, _God_ must be postulated in order
to find the ground of the required conjunction of Felicity. Happiness
is the condition of the rational being in whose whole existence
everything goes according to wish and will; and this is not the
condition of man, for in him observance of the moral law is not
conjoined with power of disposal over the laws of nature. But, as
Practical Reason demands the conjunction, it is to be found only in a
being who is the author at once of Nature and of the Moral Law; and
this is God. [The same remark once more applies, that here what is
obtained is a _moral_ certainty of the existence of the Deity: the
negative result of the Critique of the Pure _(speculative)_ Reason
abides what it was.]

We may now attempt to summarize this abstruse Ethical theory of Kant.

I---The STANDARD of morally good action (or rather Will), as expressed
in the different forms of the Categorical Imperative, is the
possibility of its being universally extended as a law for all rational
beings. His meaning comes out still better in the obverse statement:
The action is bad that _cannot be_, or at least _cannot be wished to
lie_, turned unto a universal law.

II.--Kant would expressly demur to being questioned as to his
PSYCHOLOGY of Ethics; since he puts his own theory in express
opposition to every other founded upon any empirical view of the mental
constitution. Nevertheless, we may extract some kind of answers to the
usual queries.

The Faculty is the (pure Practical) Reason. The apprehension of what is
morally right is entirely an affair of Reason; the only element of
Feeling is an added Sentiment of Awe or Respect for the law that Reason
imposes, this being a law, not only for me who impose it on myself, but
at the same time for every rational agent. The Pure Reason, which means
with Kant the Faculty of Principles, is _Speculative_ or _Practical_.
As _Speculative_, it _requires_ us to bring our knowledge (of the
understanding) to certain higher unconditioned unities (Soul, Cosmos,
God); but there is error if these are themselves regarded as facts of
knowledge. As _Practical_, it sets up an unconditional law of Duty in
Action (unconditioned by motives); and in this and in the related
conception of the Summum Bonum is contained a moral certainty of the
Immortality (of the soul), Freedom (in the midst of Natural Necessity),
and of God as existent.

As to the point of Free-will, nothing more need be said.

Disinterested Sentiment, as _sentiment_, is very little regarded:
disinterested _action_ is required with such rigour that every act or
disposition is made to lose its character as moral, according as any
element of interested feeling of any kind enters into it. Kant
obliterates the line between Duty and Virtue, by making a duty of every
virtue; at least he conceives clearly that there is no Virtue in doing
what we are strongly prompted to by inclination--that virtue must
involve self-sacrifice.

III.--His position with respect to Happiness is peculiar. Happiness is
not the end of action: the end of action is rather the self-assertion
of the rational faculty over the lower man.

If the constituents of Happiness could be known--and they cannot
be--there would be no _morality_, but only _prudence_ in the pursuit of
them. To promote our own happiness is indeed a duty, but in order to
keep us from neglecting our other duties.

Nevertheless, he conceives it necessary that there should be an
ultimate equation of Virtue and Happiness; and the need of Happiness he
then expressly connects with the sensuous side of our being.

IV.--His MORAL CODE may here be shortly presented from the second part
of his latest work, where it is fully given. Distinguishing _Moral_
Duties or (as he calls them) '_Virtue-duties,'_ left to be enforced
internally by Conscience, from _Legal_ Duties _(Rechtspflichten)_,
externally enforced, he divides them into two classes--(A) Duties to
_Self_; (B) Duties to _Others_.

(A) Duties to _Self_. These have regard to the one _private_ Aim or End
that a man can make a duty of, viz., his own _Perfection_; for his own
_Happiness_, being provided for by a natural propensity or inclination,
is to himself no duty. They are (a) _perfect_ (negative or restrictive)
as directed to mere Self-Conservation; (b) _imperfect_ (positive or
extensive) as directed to the Advancement or Perfecting of one's being.
The _perfect_ are concerned about Self (a), as an _Animal_ creature,
and then are directed against--(1) _Self-destruction_, (2) _Sexual
Excess_, (3) _Intemperance in Eating and Drinking_; (B) as a _Moral_
creature, and then are directed against--(1) _Lying_, (2) _Avarice_,
(3) _Servility_. The _imperfect_ have reference to (a) _physical_, (B)
_moral_ advancement or perfection (subjectively. _Purity_ or

(B) Duties to _Others_. These have regard to the only Aim or End of
others that a man can make a duty of, viz., their _Happiness_; for
their _Perfection_ can be promoted only by themselves. Duties to others
_as men_ are metaphysically deducible; and application to _special
conditions_ of men is to be made empirically. They include (a) Duties
of LOVE, involving _Merit_ or _Desert (i.e._, return from the objects
of them) in the performance: (1) _Beneficence_, (2) _Gratitude_, (3)
_Fellow-feeling_; (b) Duties of RESPECT, absolutely _due_ to others as
men; the opposites are the _vices_: (1) _Haughtiness_, (2) _Slander_,
(3) _Scornfulness_. In _Friendship_, Love and Respect are combined in
the highest degree. Lastly, he notes _Social_ duties in human
intercourse _(Affability_, &c.)--these being _outworks_ of morality.

He allows no special Duties to God, or Inferior Creatures, beyond what
is contained in Moral Perfection as Duty to Self.

V.--The conception of Law enters largely into Kant's theory of morals,
but in a sense purely transcendental, and not as subjecting or
assimilating morality to positive political institution. The _Legality_
of external _actions_, as well as the _Morality_ of internal
_dispositions_, is determined by reference to the one universal moral
Imperative. The principle underlying all _legal_ or _jural_ (as opposed
to moral or ethical) provisions, is the necessity of uniting in a
universal law of freedom the spontaneity of each with the spontaneity
of all the others: individual freedom and freedom of all must be made
to subsist together in a universal law.

VI.--With Kant, Religion and Morality are very closely connected, or,
in a sense, even identified; but the alliance is not at the expense of
Morality. So far from making this dependent on Religion, he can find
nothing but the moral conviction whereon to establish the religious
doctrines of Immortality and the Existence of God; while, in a special
work, he declares further that Religion consists merely in the practice
of Morality as a system of divine commands, and claims to judge of all
religious institutions and dogmas by the moral consciousness. Besides,
the Postulates themselves, in which the passage to Religion is made,
are not all equally imperative,--Freedom, as the ground of the fact of
Duty, being more urgently demanded than others; and he even goes so far
as to make the allowance, that whoever has sufficient moral strength to
fulfil the Law of Reason without them, is not required to subscribe to

The modern French school, that has arisen in this century under the
combined influence of the Scotch and the German philosophy, has
bestowed some attention on Ethics. We end by noticing under it Cousin
and Jouffroy.

VICTOR COUSIN. [1792-1867.]

The analysis of Cousin's ethical views is made upon his historical
lectures _Sur les Idees du Vrai, du Beau et du Bien_, as delivered in
1817-18. They contain a dogmatic exposition of his own opinions,
beginning at the 20th lecture; the three preceding lectures, in the
section of the whole course devoted to the Good, being taken up with
the preliminary review of other opinions required for his eclectical

He determines to consider, by way of psychological analysis, the ideas
and sentiments of every kind called up by the spectacle of human
actions; and first he notes actions that please and displease the
senses, or in some way affect our interest: those that are agreeable
and useful we naturally choose, avoiding the opposites, and in this we
are _prudent_. But there is another set of actions, having no reference
to our own personal interest, which yet we qualify as good or bad. When
an armed robber kills and spoils a defenceless man, we, though
beholding the sight in safety, are at once stirred up to disinterested
horror and indignation. This is no mere passing sentiment, but includes
a two-fold judgment, pronounced then and ever after; that the action is
in itself bad, and that it ought not to be committed. Still farther,
our anger implies that the object of it is conscious of the evil and
the obligation, and is therefore responsible; wherein again is implied
that he is a free agent. And, finally, demanding as we do that he
should be punished, we pass what has been called a judgment of merit
and demerit, which is built upon an idea in our minds of a supreme law,
joining happiness to virtue and misfortune to crime.

The analysis thus far he claims to be strictly scientific; he now
proceeds to vary the case, taking actions of our own. I am supposed
entrusted by a dying friend with a deposit for another, and a struggle
ensues between interest and probity as to whether I should pay it. If
interest conquers, remorse ensues. He paints the state of remorse, and
analyzes it into the same elements as before, the idea of _good_ and
_evil_, of an _obligatory law_, of _liberty_, of _merit_ and _demerit_;
it thus includes the whole phenomenon of morality. The exactly opposite
state that follows upon the victory of probity, is proved to imply the
same facts.

The Moral Sentiment, so striking in its character, has by some been
supposed the foundation of all morality, but in point of fact it is
itself constituted by these various judgments. Now that they are known
to stand as its elements, he goes on to subject each to a stricter
analysis, taking first the judgment of _good_ and _evil_, which is at
the bottom of all the rest. It lies in the original constitution of
human nature, being simple and indecomposable, like the judgment of the
True and the Beautiful. It is absolute, and cannot be withheld in
presence of certain acts; but it only declares, and does not
constitute, good and evil, these being real and independent qualities
of actions. Applied at first to special cases, the judgment of good
gives birth to general principles that become rules for judging other
actions. Like other sciences, morality has its axioms, justly called
moral truths; if it is good to keep an oath, it is also true, the oath
being made with no other purpose than to be kept. Faithful guarding as
much belongs to the idea of a deposit, as the equality between its
three angles and two right angles to the idea of a triangle. By no
caprice or effort of will can a moral verity be made in the smallest
degree other than it is.

But, he goes on, a moral verity is not simply to be believed; it must
also be practised, and this is _obligation_, the second of the elements
of moral sentiment. Obligation, like moral truth, on which it rests, is
absolute, immutable, universal. Kant even went so far as to make it the
principle of our morality; but this was subjectivizing good, as he had
subjectivized truth. Before there is an obligation to act, there must
be an intrinsic goodness in the action; the real first truth of
morality is justics, _i.e._, the essential distinction of good and
evil. It is justice, therefore, and not duty, that strictly deserves
the name of a principle.

The next element is _liberty_. Obligation implies the faculty of
resisting desire, passion, &c., else there would be a contradiction in
human nature. But the truest proof of liberty is to be sought in the
constant testimony of consciousness, that, in wishing this or that, I
am equally able to will the contrary. He distinguishes between the
power of willing and the power of executing; also between will and
desire, or passion. In the conflict between will and the tyranny of
desire lies liberty; and the aim of the conflict is the fulfilment of
duty. For the will is never so free, never so much itself, as when
yielding to the law of duty. Persons are distinguished from Things in
having responsibility, dignity, intrinsic value. Because there is in me
a being worthy of respect, I am bound in duty to respect myself, and I
have the _right_ to be respected by you. My duty (he means, of course,
what I owe to self) is the exact measure of my right. The character of
being a _person_ is inviolable, is the foundation of property, is
inalienable by self or others, and so forth.

He passes to the last element of the phenomenon of morality, the
judgement of _merit_ and _demerit_. The judgement follows, as the agent
is supposed free, and it is not affected by lapse of time. It depends
also essentially on the idea that the agent knows good from evil. Upon
itself follow the notions of reward and punishment. Merit is the
natural right to be rewarded; demerit, paradox as it may appear, is the
_right_ to be punished. A criminal would claim to be punished, if he
could comprehend the absolute necessity of expiation; and are there not
real cases of such criminals? But as there can be merit without actual
reward, so to be rewarded does not constitute merit.

If good, he continues, is good in itself, and ought to be done without
regard to consequences, it is no less true that the consequences of
good cannot fail to be happy. Virtue without happiness and crime
without misfortune are a contradiction, a disorder; which are hardly
met with in the world, even as it is, or, where in a few cases they are
found, are sure to be righted in the end by eternal justice. The
sacrifice supposed in virtue, if generously accepted and courageously
undergone, has to be recompensed in respect of the amount of happiness

Once more, he takes up the _Sentiment_, which is the general echo of
all the elements of the phenomenon. Its end is to make the mind
sensible of the bond between virtue and happiness; it is the direct and
vivid application of the law of merit. Again, he touches the states of
moral satisfaction and remorse, speaks of our sympathy with the moral
goodness of others and our benevolent feeling that arises towards
them--emotions all, but covering up judgments; and this is the end of
his detailed analysis of the actual facts of the case. But he still
goes on to sum up in exact expressions the foregoing results, and he
claims especially to have overlooked neither the part played by Reason,
nor the function of Sentiment. The rational character of the idea of
good gives morality its firm foundation; the lively sentiment helps to
lighten the often heavy burden of duty, and stirs up to the most heroic
deeds. Self-interest too is not denied its place. In this connexion,
led again to allude to the happiness appointed to virtue here or at
least hereafter, he allows that God may be regarded as the fountain of
morality, but only in the sense that his will is the expression of his
eternal wisdom and justice. Religion crowns morality, but morality is
based upon itself. The rest of the lecture is in praise of Eclecticism,
and advocates consideration of all the facts involved in morality, as
against exclusive theories founded upon only some of the facts.

Lectures 21st and 22nd, compressed into one (Ed. 1846) contain the
application of the foregoing principles, and the answer to the
question, what our duties are. Duty being absolute, truth becomes
obligatory, and absolute truth being known by the reason only, to obey
the law of duty is to obey reason. But what actions are conformable to
reason? The characteristic of reason he takes to be Universality, and
this will appear in the motives of actions, since it is these that
confer on actions their morality. Accordingly, the sign whereby to
discover whether an action is duty, is, if its motive when generalized
appear to the reason to be a maxim of universal legislation for all
free and intelligent beings. This, the norm set up by Kant, as
certainly discovers what is and is not duty, as the syllogism detects
the error and truth of an argument.

To obey reason is, then, the first duty, at the root of all others, and
itself resting directly upon the relation between liberty and reason;
in a sense, to remain reasonable is the sole duty. But it assumes
special forms amid the diversity of human relations. He first considers
the relations wherein we stand to ourselves and the corresponding
duties. That there should be any such duties is at first sight strange,
seeing we belong to ourselves; but this is not the same as having
complete power over ourselves. Possessing liberty, we must not abdicate
it by yielding to passions, and treat ourselves as if there were
nothing in us that merits respect. We are to distinguish between what
is peculiar to each of us, and what we share with humanity. Individual
peculiarities are things indifferent, but the liberty and intelligence
that constitute us persons, rather than individuals, demand to be
respected even by ourselves. There is an obligation of self-respect
imposed upon us as moral persons that was not established, and is not
to be destroyed, by us. As special cases of this respect of the moral
person in us, he cites (1) the duty of _self-control_ against anger or
melancholy, not for their pernicious consequences, but as trenching
upon the moral dignity of liberty and intelligence; (2) the duty of
_prudence_, meaning providence in all things, which regulates courage,
enjoins temperance, is, as the ancients said, the mother of all the
virtues,--in short, the government of liberty by reason; (3)
_veracity_; (4) duty towards the _body_; (5) duty of _perfecting_ (and
not merely keeping intact) the intelligence, liberty, and sensibility
that constitute us moral beings.

But the same liberty and intelligence that constitute me a moral
person, and need thus to be respected even by myself, exist also in
others, conferring rights on them, and imposing new duties of respect
on me relatively to them. To their intelligence I owe _Truth_; their
liberty I am bound to respect, sometimes even to the extent of not
hindering them from making a wrong use of it. I must respect also their
affections (family, &c.) which form part of themselves; their bodies;
their goods, whether acquired by labour or heritage. All these duties
are summed up in the one great duty of _Justice_ or respect for the
rights of others; of which the greatest violation is slavery.

The whole of duty towards others is not however comprehended in
justice. Conscience complains, if we have only not done injustice to
one in suffering. There is a new class of duties--_consolation,
charity, sacrifice_--to which indeed correspond no rights, and which
therefore are not so obligatory as justice, but which cannot be said
not to be obligatory. From their nature, they cannot be reduced to an
exact formula; their beauty lies in liberty. But in charity, he adds,
there is also a danger, from its effacing, to a certain extent, the
moral personality of the object of it. In acting upon others, we risk
interfering with their natural rights; charity is therefore to be
proportioned to the liberty and reason of the person benefited, and is
never to be made the means of usurping power over another.

Justice and Charity are the two elements composing social morality. But
what is social? and on what is Society founded, existing as it does
everywhere, and making man to be what he is? Into the hopeless question
of its origin he refuses to enter; its present state is to be studied
by the light of the knowledge of human nature. Its invariable
foundations are (1) the need we have of each other, and our social
instincts, (2) the lasting and indestructible idea and sentiment of
right and justice. The need and instinct, of which he finds many
proofs, begin society; justice crowns the work. The least consideration
of the relations of man to man, suggest the essential principles of
Society--justice, liberty, equality, government, punishment. Into each
of these he enters. Liberty is made out to be assured and developed in
society, instead of diminished. Equality is established upon the
character of moral personality, which admits of no degree. The need of
some repression upon liberty, where the liberty of others is trenched
upon, conducts to the idea of Government--a disinterested third party
armed with the necessary power to assure and defend the liberty of all.
To government is to be ascribed, first its inseparable function of
protecting the common liberty (without unnecessary repression), and
next, beneficent action, corresponding to the duty of charity. It
requires, for its guidance, a rule superior to itself, i.e., law, the
expression of universal and absolute justice. Here follows the usual
distinction of positive and natural law. The sanction of law is
punishment; the right of punishing, as was seen, depending on the idea
of demerit. Punishment is not mere vengeance, but the expiation by the
criminal of violated justice; it is to be measured therefore chiefly by
the demerit and not by the injury only. Whether, in punishing,
allowance should be made for correction and amelioration, is to put the
same case over again of charity coming in after justice.

Here the philosopher stops on the threshold of the special science of
politics. But already the fixed and invariable principles of society
and government have been given, and, even in the relative sphere of
politics, the rule still holds that all forms and institutions are to
be moulded as far as possible on the eternal principles supplied by
philosophy. The following is a summary of Cousin's views:--

I.--The Standard is the judgment of good or evil in actions. Cousin
holds that good and evil are qualities of actions independent of our
judgment, and having a sort of objective existence.

II.--The Moral Faculty he analyzes into four judgments: (1) good and
evil; (2) obligation; (3) freedom of the will; and (4) merit and
demerit. The moral sentiment is the emotions connected with those
judgments, and chiefly the feeling connected with the idea of merit.
[This analysis is obviously redundant. 'Good' and 'evil' apply to many
things outside ethics, and to be at all appropriate, they must be
qualified as _moral_ (i.e., _obligatory_) good and evil. The connexion
between obligation and demerit has been previously explained.]

III.--In regard to the Summum Bonum, Cousin considers that virtue must
bring happiness here or hereafter, and vice, misery.

IV.--He accepts the criterion of duties set forth by Kant. He argues
for the existence of duties towards ourselves.

V. and VI. require no remark.


In the Second Lecture of his unfinished _Cours de Droit Naturel_,
Jouffroy gives a condensed exposition of the Moral Facts of human
nature from his own point of view.

What distinguishes, he says, one being from another, is its
Organization; and as having a special nature, every creature has a
special end. Its end or destination is its good, or its good consists
in the accomplishment of its end. Further, to have an end implies the
possession of faculties wherewith to attain it; and all this is
applicable also to man. In man, as in other creatures, from the very
first, his nature tends to its end, by means of purely instinctive
movements, which may be called primitive and instinctive tendencies of
human nature; later they are called passions. Along with these
tendencies, and under their influence, the intellectual faculties also
awake and seek to procure for them satisfaction. The faculties work,
however, at first, in an indeterminate fashion, and only by meeting
obstacles are driven to the concentration necessary to attain the ends.
He illustrates this by the case of the intellectual faculty seeking to
satisfy the desire of knowledge, and not succeeding until it
concentrates on a single point its scattered energies. This spontaneous
concentration is the first manifestation of Will, but is proved to be
not natural from the feeling of constraint always experienced, and the
glad rebound, after effort, to tho indeterminate condition. One fact,
too, remains even after every thing possible has been done, viz., that
the satisfaction of the primitive tendencies is never quite complete.

When, however, such satisfaction as may be, has been attained, there
arises pleasure; and pain, when our faculties fail to attain the good
or end they sought. There could be action, successful and unsuccessful,
and so good and evil, without any sensibility, wherefore good and evil
are not to be confounded with pain and pleasure; but constituted as we
are, there is a sensible echo that varies according as the result of
action is attained or not. Pleasure is, then, the consequence, and, as
it were, the sign of the realization of good, and pain of its

He next distinguishes Secondary passions from the great primary
tendencies and passions. These arise _apropos_ of external objects, as
they are found to further or oppose the satisfaction of the fundamental
tendencies. Such objects are then called _useful_ or _pernicious_.
Finally, he completes his account of the infantile or primitive
condition of man, by remarking that some of our natural tendencies,
like Sympathy, are entirely disinterested in seeking the good of
others. The main feature of the whole primitive state is the exclusive
domination of passion. The will already exists, but there is no
liberty; the present passion triumphs over the future, the stronger
over the weaker.

He now passes to consider the double transformation of this original
state, that takes place when reason appears. Reason is the faculty of
_comprehending_, which is different from knowing, and is peculiar to
man. As soon as it awakes in man, it comprehends, and penetrates to the
meaning of, the whole spectacle of human activity. It first forms the
general idea of _Good_ as the resultant of the satisfaction of all the
primary tendencies, and as the true End of man. Then, comprehending the
actual situation of man, it resolves this idea into the idea of the
_greatest possible_ good. All that conduces to the attainment of this
good, it includes under the general idea of the _Useful_; and finally,
it constructs the general idea of _Happiness_ out of all that is common
to the agreeable sensations that follow upon the satisfaction of the
primary tendencies.

But besides forming these three perfectly distinct ideas, and exploring
the secret of what has been passing within, the reason also comprehends
the necessity of subjecting to control the faculties and forces that
are the condition of the greatest satisfaction of human nature. In the
place of the merely mechanical impulsion of passion, which is coupled
with grave disadvantages, it puts forward, as a new principle of
action, the rational calculation of interest. The faculties are brought
into the service of this idea of the reason, by the same process of
concentration as was needful in satisfying the passions; only now
voluntarily instead of spontaneously. Being an idea instead of a
passion, the new principle supplies a real _motive_, under whose
guidance our natural power over our faculties is developed and
strengthened. All partial ends are merged in the one great End of
Interest, to which the means is self-control. The first great change
thus wrought by reason is, that it takes the direction of the human
forces into its own hand, and although, even when by a natural
transformation the new system of conduct acquires all the force of a
passion, it is not able steadily to procure for the idea of interest
the victory over the single passions, the change nevertheless abides.
To the state of Passion has succeeded the state of Egoism.

Reason must, however, he thinks, make another discovery before there is
a truly moral state--must from general ideas rise to ideas that are
universal and absolute. There is no real equation, he holds, between
Good and the satisfaction of the primitive tendencies, which is the
good of egoism. Not till the special ends of all creatures are regarded
as elements of one great End of creation, of Universal Order, do we
obtain an idea whose equivalence to the idea of the Good requires no
proof. The special ends are good, because, through their realization,
the end of creation, which is the absolute Good, is realized; hence
they acquire the sacred character that it has in the eye of reason.

No sooner is the idea of Universal Order present to the reason, than it
is recognized as an absolute law; and, in consequence, the special end
of our being, by participation in its character of goodness and
sacredness, is henceforth pursued as a duty, and its satisfaction
claimed as a right. Also every creature assumes the same position, and
we no longer merely concede that others have tendencies to be
satisfied, and consent from Sympathy or Egoism to promote their good;
but the idea of Universal Order makes it as much our duty to respect
and contribute to the accomplishment of their good as to accomplish our
own. From the idea of good-in-itself, i.e., Order, flow all duty,
right, obligation, morality, and natural legislation.

He carries the idea of Order still farther back to the Deity, making it
the expression of the divine thought, and opening up the religious side
of morality; but he does not mean that its obligatoriness as regards
the reason is thereby increased. He also identifies it, in the last
resort, with the ideas of the Beautiful and the True.

We have now reached the truly moral condition, a state perfectly
distinct from either of the foregoing. Even when the egoistic and the
moral determination prescribe the same conduct, the one only counsels,
while the other obliges. The one, having in view only the greatest
satisfaction of our nature, is personal even when counselling benefits
to others; the other regarding only the law of Order, something
distinct from self, is impersonal, even when prescribing our own good.
Hence there is in the latter case _dévouement_ of self to something
else, and it is exactly the _dévouement_ to a something that is not
self, but is regarded as good, that gets the name of virtue or moral
good. Moral good is voluntary and intelligent obedience to the law that
is the rule of our conduct. As an additional distinction between the
egoistic and the moral determination, he mentions the judgment of merit
or demerit that ensues upon actions when, and only when, they have a
moral character. No remorse follows an act of mere imprudence involving
no violation of universal order.

He denies that there is any real contradiction among the three
different determinations. Nothing is prescribed in the moral law that
is not also in accordance with some primitive tendency, and with
self-interest rightly understood; if it were not so, it would go hard
with virtue. On the other hand, if everything not done from regard to
duty were opposed to moral law and order, society could not only not
subsist, but would never have been formed. When a struggle does ensue
between passion and self-interest, passion is blind; when between
egoism and the moral determination, egoism is at fault. It is in the
true interest of Passion to be sacrificed to Egoism, and of Egoism to
be sacrificed to Order.

He closes the review of the various moral facts by explaining in what
sense the succession of the three states is to be understood. The state
of Passion is historically first, but the Egoistic and the Moral states
are not so sharply defined. As soon as reason dawns it introduces the
moral motive as well as the egoistic, and to this extent the two states
are contemporaneous. Only, so far is the moral law from being at this
stage fully conceived, that, in the majority of men, it is never
conceived in its full clearness at all. Their confused idea of moral
law is the so-called moral _conscience_, which works more like a sense
or an instinct, and is inferior to the clear rational conception in
everything except that it conveys the full force of obligation. In its
grades of guilt human justice rightly makes allowance for different
degrees of intelligence. The Egoistic determination and the Moral
state, such as it is, once developed, passion is not to be supposed
abolished, but henceforth what really takes place in all is a perpetual
alternation of the various states. Yet though no man is able
exclusively to follow the moral determination, and no man will
constantly be under the influence of any one of the motives, there is
one motive commonly uppermost whereby each can be characterized. Thus
men, according to their habitual conduct, are known as passionate,
egoistic, or virtuous.

We now summarize the opinions of Jouffroy:--

I.--The Standard is the Idea of Absolute Good or Universal Order in the
sense explained by the author. Like Cousin, he identifies the 'good'
with the 'true.' What, then, is the criterion that distinguishes moral
from other truths? If _obligation_ be selected as the _differentia_, it
is in effect to give up the attempt to determine what truths are
obligatory. The idea of 'good' is obviously too vague to be a
_differentia_. How far the idea of 'Universal Order' gets us out of the
difficulty may be doubted, especially after the candid admission of the
author, that it is an idea of which the majority of men have never any
very clear notions.

II.--The moral faculty is Reason; Conscience is hardly more than a
confused feeling of obligatoriness.

Sympathy is one of the primitive tendencies of our nature. Jouffroy's
opinion on the subject is open to the objections urged against Butler's

He upholds the freedom of the Will, but embarrasses his argument by
admitting, like Reid, that there is a stage in our existence when we
are ruled by the passions, and are destitute of liberty.

III.--The Summum Bonum is the _end_ of every creature; the passions
ought to be subordinated to self-interest, and self-interest to

In regard to the other points, it is unnecessary to continue the


[Footnote 1: Duties strictly so called, the department of obligatory
morality, enforced by punishment, may be exemplified in the following
classified summary:--

Under the Legal Sanction, are included; (A) Forbearance from
(specified) injuries; as (a) Intentional injury--crimes, (b) Injury not
intentional--wrongs, repaired by Damages or Compensation. (B) The
rendering of services; (a) Fulfilling contracts or agreements; (b)
Reciprocating anterior services rendered, though, not requested, as in
filial duty; (c) Cases of extreme or superior need, as parental duty,
relief of destitution.

Under the Popular Sanction are created duties on such points as the
following:--(1) The Etiquette of small societies or coteries. (2)
Religious orthodoxy; Sabbath observance. (3) Unchastity; violations of
the etiquette of the sexes, Immodesty, and whatever endangers chastity,
especially in women. (4) Duties of parents to children, and of children
to parents, beyond the requirements of the law. (5) Suicide: when only
attempted, the individual is punished, when carried out, the relatives.
(6) Drunkenness, and neglect of the means of self-support. (7) Gross
Inhumanity. In all these cases the sanction, or punishment, is social;
and is either mere disapprobation or dislike, not issuing in overt
acts, or exclusion from fellowship and the good offices consequent

[Footnote 2: Optional Morality, the Morality of Reward, is exemplified
as follows:--

(A) A liberal performance of duties properly so called. (_a_) The
support of aged parents; this, though to a certain extent a legal duty,
is still more a virtue, being stimulated by the approbation of one's
fellows. The performance of the family duties generally is the subject
of commendation. (_b_) The payment of debts that cannot be legally
recovered, as in the case of bankrupts after receiving their discharge.

These examples typify cases (1) where no definite law is laid down, or
where the law is content with a minimum; and (2) where the law is
restrained by its rules of evidence or procedure. Society, in such
cases, steps in and supplies a motive in the shape of reward.

(B) Pure Virtue, or Beneficence; all actions for the benefit of others
without stipulation, and without reward; relief of distress, promotion
of the good of individuals or of society at large. The highest honours
of society are called into exercise by the highest services.

Bentham's principle of the claims of superior need cannot be fully
carried out, (although he conceives it might, in some cases), by either
the legal or the popular sanction. Thus, the act of the good Samaritan,
the rescue of a ship's crew from drowning, could not be exacted; the
law cannot require heroism. It is of importance to remark, that
although Duty and Nobleness, Punishment and Reward, are in their
extremes unmistakably contrasted, yet there may be a margin of doubt or
ambiguity (like the passing of day into night). Thus, expressed
approbation, generally speaking, belongs to Reward; yet, if it has
become a thing of course, the withholding of it operates as a
Punishment or a Penalty.]

[Footnote 3: The conditions that regulate the authoritative enforcement
of actions, are exhaustively given in works on Jurisprudence, but they
do not all concern Ethical Theory. The expedience of imposing a rule
depends on the importance of the object compared with the cost of the
machinery. A certain line of conduct may be highly beneficial, but may
not be a fit case for coercion. For example, the law can enforce only a
_minimum_ of service: now, if the case be such, that a minimum is
useless, as in helping a ship in distress, or in supporting aged
parents, it is much, better to leave the case to voluntary impulses,
seconded by approbation or reward. Again, an offence punished by law
must be, in its nature, definable; which, makes a difficulty in such
cases as insult, and defamation, and many species of fraud. Farther,
the offence must be easy of detection, so that the vast majority of
offenders may not escape. This limits the action of the law in

[Footnote 4: See, on the method of Sokrates, Appendix A.]

[Footnote 5: In setting forth, the Ethical End, the language of
Sokrates was not always consistent. He sometimes stated it, as if it
included an independent reference to the happiness of others; at other
times, he speaks as if the end was the agent's own happiness, to which,
the happiness of others was the greatest and most essential means. The
first view, although not always adhered to, prevails in Xenophon; the
second appears most in Plato.]

[Footnote 6: 'What Plato here calls the Knowledge of Good, or
Reason,--the just discrimination and comparative appreciation, of Ends
and Means--appears in the Politikus and the Euthydêmus, under the title
of the Regal or Political Art, as employing or directing the results of
all other arts, which are considered as subordinate: in the Protagoras,
under the title of art of calculation or mensuration: in the Philêbus,
as measure and proportion: in the Phaedrus (in regard to rhetoric) as
the art of turning to account, for the main purpose of persuasion, all
the special processes, stratagems, decorations, &c., imparted by
professional masters. In the Republic, it is personified in the few
venerable Elders who constitute the Reason of the society, and whose
directions all the rest (Guardians and Producers) arc bound implicitly
to follow: the virtue of the subordinates consisting in this implicit
obedience. In the Leges, it is defined as the complete subjection in
the mind, of pleasures and pains to right Reason, without which, no
special aptitudes are worth, having. In the Xenophontic Memorabilia, it
stands as a Sokratic authority under the title of Sophrosynê or
Temperance: and the Profitable is declared identical with, the Good, as
the directing and limiting principle for all human pursuits and
proceedings.' (Grote's Plato, I., 362.)]

[Footnote 7: 'Indeed there is nothing more remarkable in the Gorgias,
than the manner in which. Sokrates not only condemns the unmeasured,
exorbitant, maleficent desires, but also depreciates and degrades all
the actualities of life--all the recreative and elegant arts, including
music and poetry, tragic as well as dithyrambic--all provision for the
most essential wants, all protection against particular sufferings and
dangers, even all service rendered to another person in the way of
relief or of rescue--all the effective maintenance of public organized
force, such as ships, docks, walls, arms, &c. Immediate satisfaction,
or relief, and those who confer it, are treated with contempt, and
presented as in hostility to the perfection of the mental structure.
And it is in this point of view, that various Platonic commentators
extol in an especial manner the Gorgias: as recognizing an Idea of Good
superhuman and supernatural, radically disparate from pleasures and
pains of any human being, and incommensurable with, them; an Universal
Idea, which, though it is supposed to cast a distant light upon its
particulars, is separated from them by an incalculable space, and is
discernible only by the Platonic telescope.' (Grote, _Gorgias_)]

[Footnote 8: There is some analogy between the above doctrine and the
great law of Self-conservation, as expounded in this volume (p. 75).]

[Footnote 9: Aristotle and the Peripatetics held that there were _tria
genera bonorum_: (1) Those of the mind _(mens sana)_, (2) those of the
body, and (3) external advantages. The Stoics altered this theory by
saying that only the first of the three was _bonum_; the others were
merely _praeposita_ or _sumenda_. The opponents of the Stoics contended
that this was an alteration in words rather than in substance.]

[Footnote 10: This also might truly be said of the Epicureans; though
with them it is not so much _pride_, as a quiet self-satisfaction in
escaping pains and disappointments that they saw others enduring. See
the beginning of Lucretius' second book, and the last epistle of
Epicurus to Idomeneus.]

[Footnote 11: This was a later development of Stoicism: the earlier
theorists laid it down that there were no graduating marks below the
level of wisdom; all shortcomings were on a par. _Good_ was a point,
_Evil_ was a point; there were gradations in the _praeposita_ or
_sumenda_ (none of which were _good_), and in the _rejecta_ or
_rejicienda_ (none of which were _evil_), but there was no _more or
less good_. The idea of advance by steps towards virtue or wisdom, was
probably familiar to Sokrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus; the
Stoic theories, on the other hand, tended to throw it out of sight,
though they insisted strenuously on the necessity of mental training
and meditation.]

[Footnote 12: This theory (taken in its most general sense, and apart
from differences in the estimation of particular pleasures and pains),
had been proclaimed long before the time of Epicurus. It is one of the
various theories of Plato: for in his dialogue called Protagoras
(though in other dialogues he reasons differently) we find it
explicitly set forth and elaborately vindicated by his principal
spokesman, Sokrates, against the Sophist Protagoras. It was also held
by Aristippus (companion of Sokrates along with Plato) and by his
followers after him, called the Cyrenaics. Lastly, it was maintained by
Eudoxus, one of the most estimable philosophers contemporary with
Aristotle. Epicurus was thus in no way the originator of the theory:
but he had his own way of conceiving it--his own body of doctrine
physical, cosmological, and theological, with which it was
implicated--and his own comparative valuation of pleasures and pains.]

[Footnote 13: The soul, according to Epicurus, was a subtle but
energetic compound (of air, vapour, heat, and another nameless
ingredient), with its best parts concentrated in the chest, yet
pervading and sustaining the whole body; still, however, depending for
its support on the body, and incapable of separate or disembodied

[Footnote 14: Aristot. De Coelo. II.a.12, p. 292, 22, 6, _5_. In the
Ethics, Aristotle assigns theorizing contemplation to the gods, as the
only process worthy of their exalted dignity and supreme felicity.]

[Footnote 15: Xenophon Memor. I. 1--10; IV. 3--12.]

[Footnote 16: These exhortations to active friendship were not
unfruitful. We know, even by the admission of witnesses adverse to the
Epicurean doctrines, that the harmony among the members of the sect,
with common veneration for the founder, was more marked and more
enduring than that exhibited by any of the other philosophical sects.
Epicurus himself was a man of amiable personal qualities: his
testament, still remaining, shows an affectionate regard, both for his
surviving friends, and for the permanent attachment of each, to the
others, as well as of all to the school. Diogenes Laertius tells
us--nearly 200 years after Christ, and 450 years after the death of
Epicurus--that the Epicurean sect still continued its numbers and
dignity, having outlasted its contemporaries and rivals. The harmony
among the Epicureans may be explained, not merely from the temper of
the master, but partly from the doctrines and plan of life that he
recommended. Ambition and love of power were discouraged: rivalry among
the members for success, either political or rhetorical, was at any
rate a rare exception: all were taught to confine themselves to that
privacy of life and love of philosophical communion, which alike
required and nourished the mutual sympathies of the brotherhood.]

[Footnote 17: Consistently with this view of happiness, Epicurus
advised, in regard to politics, quiet submission, to established
authority, without active meddling beyond what necessity required.]

[Footnote 18: Locke examines the Innate Principles put forth, by Lord
Herbert in his book _De Veritate_, 1st, There is a supreme governor of
the world; 2nd, Worship is due to him; 3rd, Virtue, joined with Piety,
is the best Worship; 4th, Men must repent of their sins; 5th, There
will be a future life of rewards and punishments. Locke admits these to
be such truths as a rational creature, after due explanation given
them, can hardly avoid attending to; but he will not allow them to be
innate. For, First, There are other propositions with, as good a claim
as these to be of the number imprinted by nature on the mind.

Secondly, The marks assigned are not found in all the propositions.
Many men, and even whole nations, disbelieve some of them.

Then, as to the third principle,--virtue, joined with piety, is the
best worship of God; he cannot see how it can be innate, seeing that it
contains a name, virtue, of the greatest possible uncertainty of
meaning. For, if virtue be taken, as commonly it is, to denote the
actions accounted laudable in particular countries, then the
proposition will be untrue. Or, if it is taken to mean accordance with
God's will, it will then be true, but unmeaning; that God will be
pleased with what he commands is an identical assertion, of no use to
any one.

So the fourth proposition,--men must repent of their sins,--is open to
the same remark. It is not possible that God should engrave on men's
minds principles couched on such uncertain words as Virtue and Sin.
Nay more, as a general word is nothing in itself, but only report as to
particular facts, the knowledge of rules is a knowledge of a sufficient
number of actions to determine the rule. [Innate principles are not
compatible with Nominalism.]

According to Lord Herbert, the standard of virtue is the _common
notions_ in which, all men agree. They are such, as the following,--to
avoid evil, to be temperate, in doubtful cases to choose the safer
course, not to do to others what you would not wish done to yourself,
to be grateful to benefactors, &c. _Conscience_ is what teaches us to
carry out those principles in practice. It excites joy over good
actions, and produces abhorrence and repentance for bad. Upon it, our
repentance of mind and eternal welfare depend. (For an account of Lord
Herbert's common notions, see Appendix B., Lord Herbert of Cherbury.)]

[Footnote 19: In this respect, Butler differs from both Shaftesbury and
Hutcheson. With Shaftesbury, the main function of the moral sense is to
smile approval on benevolent affections, by which an additional
pleasure is thrown into the scale against the selfish affections. The
superiority of the 'natural affections' thus depends on a double
pleasure, their intrinsically pleasureable character, and the
superadded pleasure of reflection. The tendency of Shaftesbury is here
to make benevolence and virtue identical, and at the same time to
impair the disinterested character of benevolence.]

[Footnote 20: With this view, we may compare the psychology of
Shaftesbury, set forth in his 'Characteristics of Men, Manners, and
Times.' The soul has two kinds of affections--(1) _Self-affection_,
leading to the 'good of the private,' such as love of life, revenge,
pleasure or aptitude towards nourishment and the means of generation,
emulation or love of praise, indolence; and (2) _Natural affections_,
leading to the good of the public. The natural or spontaneous
predominance of benevolence is _goodness_; the subjection of the
selfish by effort and training is _virtue_. Virtue consists generally
in the proper exercise of the several affections.]

[Footnote 21: Butler's definition of conscience, and his whole
treatment of it, have created a great puzzle of classification, as to
whether he is to be placed along with the upholders of a 'moral sense.'
Shaftesbury is more explicit:

'No sooner does the eye open upon figures, the ear to sounds, than
straight the Beautiful results, and grace and harmony are known and
acknowledged. No sooner are _actions_ viewed, no sooner the human
affections discerned (and they are, most of them, as soon discerned as
felt), than straight an inward eye distinguishes the _fair_ and
_shapely_, the _amiable_ and _admirable_, apart from the _deformed_,
the _foul_, the _odious_, or the _despicable_' 'In a creature capable
of forming general notions of things, not only the outward beings which
offer themselves to the sense, are the objects of the affections, but
the very actions themselves, and the affections of pity, kindness, and
gratitude, and their contraries, being brought into the mind by
reflection, become objects. So that, by means of this _reflected
sense_, there arises another kind of affection towards these affections
themselves, which have been already felt, and are now become the
subject of a new liking or dislike.' What this 'moral sense' approves
is benevolence, and when its approval has been acted upon, by
subjecting the selfish affections, 'virtue' is attained.]

[Footnote 22: It is instructive to compare Mandeville's _a priori_
guesses with, the results of Mr. Maine's historical investigation into
the condition of early societies. The evidence shows that society
originated in the family system. Mandeville conjectured that solitary
families would never attain to government; but Mr. Maine considers that
there was a complete despotic government in single families. 'They have
neither assemblies for consultation nor _themistes_, but every one
exercises jurisdiction over his wives and children, and they pay no
regard to one another.' The next stage is the rise of _gentes_ and
tribes, which took place probably when a family held together instead
of separating on the death of the patriarch. The features of this state
were chieftainship and _themistes_, that is, government not by laws,
but by _ex post facto_ decisions upon cases as they arose. This
gradually developed into customary law, which was in its turn
superseded, on the invention of writing, by written codes. Maine's
Ancient Law, Chap. V.]

[Footnote 23: It is perhaps worth while to quote a sentence or two,
giving the author's opinion on the theory of the Moral Sense. 'Against
every account of the principle of approbation, which makes it depend
upon a peculiar sentiment, distinct from every other, I would object,
that it is strange that this sentiment, which Providence undoubtedly
intended to be the governing principle of human nature, should,
hitherto have been so little taken notice of, as not to have got a name
in any language. The word Moral Sense is of very late formation, and
cannot yet be considered as making part of the English tongue. The word
approbation has but within these few years been appropriated to denote
peculiarly anything of this kind. In propriety of language we approve
of whatever is entirely to our satisfaction--of the form of a building,
of the contrivance of a machine, of the flavour of a dish of meat. The
word conscience does not immediately denote any moral faculty by which
we approve or disapprove. Conscience supposes, indeed, the existence of
some such faculty, and properly signifies our consciousness of having
acted agreeably or contrary to its directions. When love, hatred, joy,
sorrow, gratitude, resentment, with so many other passions which are
all supposed to be the subjects of this principle, have made themselves
considerable enough to get titles to know them by, is it not surprising
that the sovereign of them all should hitherto have been so little
heeded; that, a few philosophers excepted, nobody has yet thought it
worth while to bestow a name upon it?']

[Footnote 24: ADAM FERGUSON (1724-1816), is not of sufficient
importance in purely Ethical theory to demand a full abstract. The
following remark on his views is made by Professor Veitch:--'Ferguson,
while holding-with Reid that the notion of Rightness is not resolvable
into utility, or to be derived from sympathy or a moral sense, goes a
step beyond both. Reid and Stewart in the inquiry which he raises
regarding the definite nature and ground of Rightness itself.' The
following is his definition of Moral Good:--'Moral good is the specific
excellence and felicity of human nature, and moral depravity its
specific defect and wretchedness.' The 'excellence' of human nature
consists in four things, drawn out after the analogy of the cardinal
virtues: (1) _Skill_ (Wisdom); (2) _Benevolence_, the principal
excellence of a creature destined to perform a part in social life
(Justice); (3) _Application of mind_ (Temperance); (4) _Force_, or
energy to overcome obstacles (Fortitude). Regarding the _motives_ to
virtue, either virtue is its own reward, or divine rewards and
punishments constitute a sanction; but, in any case, the motive is our
own happiness. All the virtues enumerated are themselves useful or
pleasant, but, over and above, they give rise to an additional
pleasure, when they are made the subject of reflection.]

[Footnote 25: 'The theory which, places the standard of morality in the
_Divine nature_ must not be confounded with that which, places it in
the arbitrary will of God. God did not create morality by his will; it
is inherent in his nature, and co-eternal with himself; nor can he be
conceived as capable of reversing it.' The distinction here drawn does
not avoid the fatal objection to the simpler theory, namely, that it
takes away the moral character of God. The acts of a sovereign cannot,
with, any propriety, as Austin has shown, be termed either legal or
illegal; in like manner, if God is a moral lawgiver, if 'he is
accountable to no one,' then 'his duty and his pleasure are
undistinguishable from each other,' and he cannot without
self-contradiction be called a moral being. Even upon Mr. Mansel's own
theory, it is hardly correct to say that 'God did not create morality
by his will.' Morality involves two elements--one, rules of conduct,
the other, an obligation to observe them. Now, the authority or
obligatoriness of moral laws has been made to depend upon the will of
God, so that, prior to that will, morality could not exist. Hence the
only part of morality that can be co-eternal with God, is simply the
rules of morality, without their obligatoriness, the salt without its
savour. The closing assertion that God cannot reverse morality, may
mean either that it would be inconsistent with his immutability to
reverse the laws he had himself established, or that he is compelled by
his nature to impose certain rules, and no others. The first
supposition is a truism; the second is not proved. For, since Mr.
Mansel has discarded as a fiction any 'absolute law of duty,' it is
hard to conjecture whence he could derive any compulsory choice of
rules. Why God commands some things in preference to others--whether
from a regard to the happiness of all his creatures, or of some only;
whether with, a view to his own glory, or from conformity with some
abstract notion--has been much disputed, and it is quite _conceivable_
that he may not adopt any of those objects.]

[Footnote 26: For help in understanding Kant's peculiar phraseology and
general point of view, the reader is referred to the short exposition
of his Speculative Philosophy in Appendix B.]

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