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Title: A Review of the Systems of Ethics Founded on the Theory of Evolution
Author: Williams, C. M.
Language: English
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Of the Ethics founded on the theory of Evolution, I have considered only
the independent theories which have been elaborated to systems. I have
omitted consideration of many works which bear on Evolutional Ethics as
practical or exhortative treatises, or compilations of facts, but which
involve no distinctly worked-out theory of morals. On the other hand, I
have ventured to include Professor von Gizycki's "Moralphilosophie"
among the theoretical systems founded upon the theory of Evolution,
since, although the popular form of the work renders the prominence of
the latter theory impracticable, the warp of Evolution is clearly
perceptible throughout it. In analyzing Höffding's work, I have made use
not of the Danish but the German edition of his "Ethics," which was
translated with his coöperation.

It is generally customary for an author to acknowledge, in the preface
of his book, his especial indebtedness to those who have most influenced
the growth of his thought in the line of research treated in the book.
But I find this duty a difficult one to perform. Many of the authors
whose work has aided me are cited in the text. But it is impossible,
with regard to many points, to say to whom one is indebted, or most
indebted, since much that one reads is so assimilated into one's
organized thought, and changed in the process of assimilation, that its
source and original form are no longer remembered. Besides this, much is
always owed to personal influence and argument, and also to indefinite
and minute forces whose workings it is impossible to trace. The growth
of thought is, like any other growth, by imperceptible degrees and
infinitesimal increments, and we breathe in ideas from our mental
atmosphere as we breathe in perfumes or infections from our physical
atmosphere. It is, of course, unnecessary to mention Mr. Spencer's name
in this connection, since it goes without saying, that every one who
writes on Ethics in their relation to the Theory of Evolution must owe
much to him, even where he differs from him. But there is perhaps one
name which it is fitting that I should mention here, since the influence
of its bearer on my work, although one for which I have reason to feel
peculiarly indebted, is not of a nature to determine its mention in
connection with any particular theory. I refer to my first teacher of
Philosophy, Professor M. Stuart Phelps, now deceased, whose life and
labor all those who had the privilege of sharing his instruction and
benefiting by his kindness must ever hold in grateful remembrance.




INTRODUCTORY REMARKS                 1-2

DARWIN                              2-12

WALLACE                            12-23

HAECKEL                            23-28

SPENCER                            28-76

FISKE                              77-82

ROLPH                             82-107

BARRATT                          107-120

STEPHEN                          120-143

CARNERI                          143-175

HÖFFDING                         175-200

GIZYCKI                          200-224

ALEXANDER                        225-263

(REE)                            264-268



    Refutation of _a priori_ objections to Evolutional Ethics, and a
    statement of reasons for supposing that an application of the
    theory of Evolution to Ethics must be of use                    269-276



    Extension of the meaning of Darwinian concepts since
    Darwin--Lewes on the Struggle for Existence as internal--The
    mystery of "Variation" according to Darwin not a metaphysical
    mystery, but one of the incompleteness of scientific
    knowledge--Rolph's criticism of the Darwinian conception of the
    Struggle for Existence criticised--General classification of the
    theories of Evolution--Fechner's theory of the Tendency to
    Stability--Petzoldt on Fechner--Petzoldt's concepts of Tendency
    and Competition--Zöllner and Du Prel--Examination of the concept
    of Absolute Stability, and of a full stability of the universe,
    in the light of the question as to the finite or infinite
    character of the material universe--Periodicity in
    Organisms--Criticism of the concepts of Cause and
    Effect--Criticism of Spencer's definition of Life--The concepts
    of Heredity and Adaptation--The point of dispute with regard to
    Variation--Darwin, Haeckel, and Eimer with regard to the
    inheritance of individual acquirements--Criticisms of
    Weismann--Habit in the life of the individual--Advantage of the
    method pursued by Avenarius in the "Kritik der reinen
    Erfahrung"--Lamarck on the relation of Use and Function--Darwin
    on Habit and Instinct--Function and Tendency to
    Function--Relation of organism and environment--Theory of a
    special vital force--The relation of exercise to strength of
    Tendency--The concepts of Cause and Effect as applied to
    organism and environment--Relation of primary tendency to
    later-evolved function--Form and Function--The mixture of types
    in sexual propagation--Summary of conclusions                   277-306



    The question as to the extent to which Reason is diffused in the
    universe--Darwin and Haeckel on Reason and Instinct--Du Prel on
    Reason as a fundamental property of all matter--Carneri on the
    automatism of animals--The dependence of theories on this
    question on the starting-point assumed in the
    argument--Difficulties of assigning a limit-line to
    Reason--Schneider's criteria--Insectivorous plants--Knight,
    Darwin, etc., on the movements of plants--Race-habits--So-called
    reflex-action in man--From non-analogy no inference
    possible--Arbitrary nature of the assumptions involved in the
    two starting-points of query--Reason = Cause or Effect?--Further
    criticism of the concepts of Cause and Effect--The bias of the
    specialist--Attempted definition of the province of
    reason--Definition of "End"--Unreliability of inference as to
    the nature of ends in other individuals; in other
    species--Possible inferences from the analogy of the nervous
    system--Certain possible limiting assumptions as to the province
    of knowledge in animal species--The Law of the Variation of
    Pain and Pleasure in function--The ultimate
    dilemma--Examinations of Teleological conceptions with respect
    to the Tendency to Stability--Criticism of Wallace on the Origin
    of Life, or of Consciousness--Summary of conclusions            307-340



    Difficulties of definition--The Will and
    Consciousness--"Involuntary" action--Will in passivity--The
    concept of Choice--"Ends" and the Will--The Future and Will--The
    External and Will--Criticism of Barratt's axioms and
    propositions--Discussion of the relation of Thought and Feeling
    to Will--The argument of the Physiologist--The argument of the
    Evolutionist--The argument from social statistics--The argument
    from Psychiatry, Criminology, etc.--The argument from the
    psychological principles on which Evolutional Ethics is
    founded--Definition of Natural Law and Necessity--The positive
    factors of Evolution--The positive and active character of the
    organism as the result of evolution--The equivalence of
    Conditions and Results--The positive character of the organism
    as a part of Nature--The sense of Freedom as the sense of
    Activity--The theory of the Will as determined by Motives--As
    determined by Feeling--As determined by the desirability of the
    end or object--The argument of Concomitance and that of Sequence
    as used by both Materialist and Spiritualist--The endeavor to
    prove (1) the causal character of physiological process; (2) the
    causal character of Consciousness--Inconsistencies of these
    attempts                                                        341-359



    Hume on Reason and Passion--The constant connection of Thought
    with Feeling, and with Feeling as pleasure or pain--The question
    as to whether Thought or Feeling is primary--Application of
    answer to previous considerations on the diffusion of
    Consciousness in Nature--The relation of the concepts of the
    Pleasurable and Painful to the concept of "End"--Will as a
    constant accompaniment of Consciousness--Absurdities to which
    the division of Consciousness into distinct faculties leads--Law
    of the growth of functional tendency and of pleasure in
    function--The New as a disturber of equilibrium--The pleasure
    involved in the overcoming of obstacles--The equilibrium of
    function as Health--Connection of the pleasure of food-taking
    with Health--Criticism of Rolph's principle of the Insatiability
    of Life--Further criticism of Rolph on the Darwinian theory of
    Growth--The coördinate progress of physiological adaptation with
    the advancement of knowledge, and with the variation of Feeling
    and Will--The pleasure of the strongest motive as relative, not
    absolute--The character of the End in view--The pleasure of
    anticipation and the pleasure of the event--Criticism of
    Sidgwick on Hedonism--Criticism of Rolph's theory of Want as
    universal motive--Suicide--Rest--The diminution of pain with
    lapse of time as adaptation--Pleasure in pain as pleasure in
    function--The relation of Health to Happiness--The theory of the
    absolute Freedom of Feeling--The concepts of Cause and Effect as
    applied to the evolution of Thought, Feeling, and
    Will--Application of conclusions to the Teleological Argument   360-382



    Prototypes in other animal species of what we term Egoism and
    Altruism in man; care for the young on the part of the
    parent-animal; mutual aid between the sexes; animal
    societies--Experiments of Lubbock showing the irregularity and
    caprice of action altruistic in form, among the ants--Benno
    Scheitz on maternal care among lower species--Answers to the
    argument of automatism--Dependence of a theory of moral
    Evolution on the definition of Egoism and Altruism--The
    significance of the terms progressive--The possibility of
    differences in the form of the evolution of Altruism, in
    different species--The possibility of the combination of
    different forms in the evolution of a single species--Discussion
    of the question of the first beginning of action prompted by
    altruistic motive--The argument of the illogical nature of a
    supposed development of Altruism from Egoism--The question as to
    whether Health, the Preservation of Species, or Pleasure, is the
    actual final end of action--The question of Heredity in relation
    to that of the moral evolution--Stephen's views--Arguments from
    Ribot, Dugdale's "Jukes," etc.                                  383-422



    The gradual character of the evolution of Altruism--Paul
    Friedmann on the genesis of benevolence--The observable growth
    of Altruism from Egoism in the individual--Human society as
    necessitated by increase of the species--Criticism of Darwin's
    form of statement on this point--The mixed character of the
    motives which lead to advancement--The necessity of evolution,
    primal organisms once having come into existence--General
    features of the moral evolution in the human race--Personal and
    Social Virtues--Racial evolution as subordinate to the evolution
    of the species--Criticism of Stephen--The theory of the
    connection of Intelligence and Morality--Testimony of Maudsley,
    Lombroso, Dugdale--The advantages of conformity to social
    standards--Definition of "advantage"--Arguments from the general
    direction of social advancement--The direction of evolution in
    the race as a whole and in the individual not always the
    same--Conclusion: the connection of Intelligence with Morality
    not invariable--Definition of Morality--Identification of
    Morality with Justice--Special rules of morality--Morality as
    inward--The virtue of Truthfulness--Necessity of individual
    sacrifice--Dependence of Justice on certain general features of
    particular circumstances---Definition of Conscience--The mixed
    character of remorse--The theory of Conscience as a special
    sense--Criticism of Utilitarianism--Criticism of some forms of
    reaction against Utilitarianism--The terms "higher" and "lower"
    as applied to pleasures and "ends"--The idea of a "return to
    Nature"--The objection to Evolutional Ethics on the ground of
    degradation--Struggle as an element of virtue--The evolution of
    social rewards and punishments--Criticism of the objection to
    state-punishment on the ground of Determinism--Morality and the
    question of the Transcendental--Conscience in other species--The
    contempt for "mere habit"--The concepts of Cause and Effect as
    applied to the moral evolution                                  423-465



    The assimilative character of human progress--The character of
    our savage ancestors--Greek civilization--The Greek treatment of
    children--Of old men--Human sacrifices among the
    Greeks--Slaughter of prisoners--Slavery--The Greek attitude
    towards the fundamental virtues of trustworthiness--Athenian
    Democracy--Roman civilization--Treatment of children--Human
    sacrifices--Gladiatorial shows--Slavery--Moral character of the
    Middle Ages--Human sacrifice in England before the Roman
    conquest--Slave laws--State punishment in England: burning,
    hanging, and boiling, quartering and disembowelling--Women under
    the criminal law--Blood-money--The classification of
    crimes--Caste-favor in English criminal
    law--Mutilation--Flaying--Ordeals--Punishment by starvation--The
    press--The rack--"Skevington's Daughter"--Benefit of Clergy--The
    position of the English churl--The worship of rank--Hanging for
    petty theft--The pillory--Brutality of public feeling--Condition
    of the prisons--Jail-breaking, bribery, etc.--More concerning
    women under the law--Favor to rank--The logical consistency of
    human character in its various directions of action--General
    comparison of the past with the present--The evidence of
    literature--Modern philanthropy--Decrease of national
    prejudices--Growth of the democratic spirit--Lack of imagination
    a reason for the failure to realize the evils of the past--The
    Golden Age of Man                                               466-499



    Criticism of Alexander's theory of the right as always absolute
    right and as the expression, on all planes of development, of an
    equal equilibrium--The Moral Evolution as one involving the
    whole of humanity and the whole earth--Gradual relaxation of the
    Struggle for Existence--The final limitation of the increase in
    density of population--The increase of vitality--The habituation
    to progress--The gradual coördination of individual with social
    welfare through (1) Spread and increase of sympathy with the
    individual on the part of society as a whole; (2) Growth of
    individual predilections in the direction of harmony with social
    requirements--Decrease of punishment through (1) Increase in
    general sympathy; (2) Increase of amenability of the individual
    to influence--Increase of pleasure in pleasure--The possible
    egoistic element in sympathy with pain--Criticism of Rolph on
    Want as necessary to induce action--The moral evolution and
    emotion--Criticism of Spencer on Altruism--Criticism of Wundt on
    Evolutional Ethics--The theory that Evolution adds nothing to
    Ethics--Criticism of Stephen on the impossibility of predicting
    the course of Evolution--The Moral Evolution as willed--The
    motives furnished by Evolutional Ethics--The theological
    doctrine of a "change of heart"--The doctrine of the
    Atonement--Divine forgiveness--Theology and social evils--The
    prominence of the idea of self-salvation in Christian
    doctrine--Human sacrifice among the Jews--Biblical authority for
    the killing of witches and heretics--The infliction of death for
    ceremonial offences among the Jews--The visiting of the sins of
    the fathers upon the children--Slave-holding, adultery, murder,
    etc., by God's chosen, bloodshed and cruelty of all sorts by
    God's express command--Animal sacrifice among the Jews--The
    original idea of Jehovah and of Heaven--The autocracy of the
    Jewish priesthood confirmed by Christ--Forced exegesis--The
    asceticism of Christianity--Slavery and the New
    Testament--Predestination, Hell, and the Justification of the
    Elect--The defence of Christianity as being a comforting
    belief                                                          500-528



    Criticism of Stephen's assertion that the ideal cannot be
    determined--The necessity of the choice between evils, under
    present social conditions--The argument for individual
    gratification of "natural desire"--Dangers of
    Utilitarianism--Moral right of the minority and the ethical
    demand for compensation to the minority--The contest between
    Individualist and Socialist--Criticism of Spencer on personal
    vice--Individualistic errors--Socialistic pessimism--The idea of
    a "return to Nature"--The Socialistic glorification of the
    laborer--The agitation against machinery--The agitation against
    luxury--The abolition of luxury and the population question--The
    proposed change of social "environment"--Socialism at the
    present date--Arbitrary character of many Socialistic
    ideas--Criticisms of Bellamy--The idea of a
    Revolution--Conclusions--The education of the child--The right
    of the child to state protection--The advantages of parental
    control--The education of women--The question of
    prostitution--Monogamy or polygamy?--Temporary
    contracts--Divorce--The argument that the freedom of women must
    involve the forfeiture of chivalric feeling in men--The respect
    for age--Desirable changes in criminal law--Criticism of Bellamy
    on Crime--The question of Capital Punishment--Arguments
    for--Arguments against--Conclusions--The conflict between
    justice and mercy--The supreme arbiter--The courage of Moral
    Sincerity--Heroic characters--The final destruction of the human
    species--The loss of belief in personal immortality--The human
    and earthly ideal                                               529-581




In the preface to the latest edition of his "Natürliche
Schöpfungsgeschichte," Haeckel, writing of recent developments of
thought on the subject of evolution, and the change of attitude
observable in our later literature, says: "The vast mass of literature,
yearly increasing in astonishing measure, on the theory of evolution in
its various branches, best illustrates the remarkable change which
public opinion has undergone. Twenty years ago, the greater part of this
literature was in opposition to Darwin; to-day such opposition is not to
be feared from well-informed students of science. On the other hand,
almost the whole literature of biology now gives testimony in Darwin's
favor, for almost all zoölogical, and botanical, anatomic, and
ontogenetic works are founded upon the principles of the development of
species, and derive from Darwin their best and most fruitful ideas."

No science is a better exponent of this radical and important change
than that which has to do with the principles of morals; for by no
science was the theory of evolution assailed, in the beginning, with
more vehemence and indefatigability. Not only did the zealous adherents
of Christian dogma fear to find, in the destruction of all distinct
barriers between the different forms of animal life, a ground for the
denial of God's especial favor to man, and the worshippers of emotional
morals become indignant at the unveiling of the divine Mystic (as if
only ignorance were reverence, and only the Unknown worthy of homage),
but even the less conservative schools of philosophy often showed
themselves unfavorable or hesitant towards the new ideas, dreading their
implications. All this is changed. If England's most popular living
philosopher was among the first to declare himself for Darwin, and to
revise his whole system in accordance with the theory of evolution, so
that this theory early began to find adherents among students of
philosophy in all lands where English is spoken, it was not long before
the newer schools of France and Germany began to follow in their wake.
Now every year, and almost every month, brings with it a fresh supply of
books, pamphlets, and magazine articles on "The Evolution of Morality,"
"L'Evolution de la Morale," "Die Evolution der Sittlichkeit,"
"Sittlichkeit und Darwinismus," etc. So many are the waters which now
pour themselves into this common stream that the current threatens soon
to become too deep and swift for any but the most expert swimmers.

In a short review of Evolutional Ethics, it will be impossible to
consider all the literature that has added to our knowledge on this
subject; we must confine ourselves to the few books that are most
prominent. The first laborer in this line, not only indirectly through
general theory, but also directly through particular theory, is, as
usual, Charles Darwin; and though Darwin was himself no psychologist,
and moreover advances his ideas on the origin and development of morals
only in the tentative manner that necessarily attaches to a first
attempt when made by so conscientious a thinker, he doubtless suggested
to all other writers in this field a very large part of that which was
best in their work. A Review of Evolutional Ethics must, therefore, in
order to start with the proper origin of the science, begin with


In the essay on "Instinct" appended to G. J. Romanes' "Mental Evolution
in Animals,"[1] Darwin says: "The social instinct is indispensable to
some animals, useful to still more, and apparently only pleasant to some
few animals." The social tendency being thus classed as an instinct, it
belongs to our work to examine what are Darwin's theories as to the
origin and nature of instinct.

In the chapter on "Instinct," in "The Origin of Species," Darwin
premises: "I have nothing to do with the origin of the mental powers,
any more than I have with that of life itself."[2] Again: "Frederick
Cuvier and several of the older metaphysicians have compared instinct
with habit. This comparison gives, I think, an accurate notion of the
frame of mind under which an instinctive action is performed, but not
necessarily of its origin.... If we suppose any habitual action to
become inherited--and it can be shown that this does sometimes
happen--then the resemblance between what originally was a habit and an
instinct becomes so close as not to be distinguished.... But it would be
a serious error to suppose that the greater number of instincts have
been acquired by habit in one generation, and then transmitted by
inheritance to succeeding generations. It can be clearly shown that the
most wonderful instincts with which we are acquainted, namely, those of
the hive-bee and of many ants, could not possibly have been acquired by
habit."[3] Of one of the habits of these last-named insects Darwin,
however, writes: "I have not rarely felt that small and trifling
instincts were a greater difficulty on our theory than those which have
so justly excited the wonder of mankind; for an instinct, if really of
no considerable importance in the struggle for life, could not be
modified or formed through natural selection. Perhaps as striking an
instance as can be given is that of the workers of the hive-bee arranged
in files and ventilating, by a peculiar movement of their wings, the
well-closed hive: this ventilation has been artificially imitated, and
as it is carried on even during winter, there can be no doubt that it is
to bring in free air and displace the carbonic acid gas; therefore _it
is in truth indispensable, and we may imagine the stages_--a few bees
first going to the orifice to fan themselves--_by which the instinct
might have been arrived at_."[4] Again: "Glancing at instincts,
marvellous as some are, they offer no greater difficulty than do
corporeal structures on the theory of the natural selection of
successive slight, but profitable modifications. We can thus understand
why nature moves by graduated steps in endowing different animals of
the same class with their several instincts."[5] And again: "As I
believe, the most wonderful of all known instincts, that of the
hive-bee, can be explained by natural selection having taken advantage
of numerous successive, slight modifications of simpler instincts,
natural selection having, by slow degrees, more and more perfectly led
the bees to sweep equal spheres at a given distance from each other in a
double layer, and to build up and excavate the wax along the planes of
intersection; the bees, of course, no more knowing that they swept their
spheres at one particular distance from each other, than they know what
are the several angles of the hexagonal prisms and of the basal rhombic
plates; the motive power of the process of natural selection having been
the construction of cells of due strength and of the proper size and
shape for the larvæ, this being effected with the greatest possible
economy of labor and wax; that individual swarm which thus made the best
cells with least labor, and least waste of honey in the secretion of
wax, having succeeded best, and having transmitted their newly acquired
economical instincts to new swarms, which in their turn will have had
the best chance of succeeding in the struggle for existence."[6] And
further, of instinct in general: "It will be universally admitted that
instincts are as important as corporeal structures for the welfare of
each species, under its present conditions of life. Under changed
conditions of life, it is at least possible that slight modifications of
instinct might be profitable to a species; and if it can be shown that
instincts do vary ever so little, then I can see no difficulty in
natural selection preserving and continually accumulating variations of
instinct to any extent that was profitable. It is thus, as I believe,
that all the most complex and wonderful instincts have originated. As
modifications of corporeal structure arise from, and are increased by,
use or habit, and are diminished or lost by disuse, so I do not doubt it
has been with instincts"; though Darwin adds: "But I believe that the
effects of habit are in many cases of subordinate importance to the
effects of the natural selection of what may be called spontaneous
variations of instincts; that is, of variations produced by the same
unknown causes which produce slight deviations of bodily structure."
However, "No complex instinct can possibly be produced through natural
selection, except by the slow and gradual accumulation of numerous
slight, yet profitable, variations."[7] And of habit as connected with
heredity, Darwin writes: "Changed habits produce an inherited effect, as
in the period of the flowering of plants when transported from one
climate to another. With animals the increased use or disuse of parts
has had a more marked influence.... No breeder doubts how strong is the
tendency to inheritance; that like produces like is his fundamental
belief; doubts have been thrown on this principle only by theoretical
writers.... If strange and rare deviations of structure are really
inherited, less strange and commoner deviations may be freely admitted
to be inheritable. Perhaps the correct way of viewing the whole subject
would be to look at the inheritance of every character whatever as the
rule, and non-inheritance as the anomaly.... If it could be shown that
our domestic varieties manifested a strong tendency to reversion--that
is, to lose their acquired characters whilst kept under the same
conditions, and whilst kept in a considerable body, so that free
intercrossing might check, by blending together, any slight deviations
in their structure, in such case I grant that we could deduce nothing
from domestic varieties in regard to species. But there is not a shadow
of evidence in favor of this view; to assert that we could not breed our
cart and race horses, long and short horned cattle, and poultry of
various breeds, and esculent vegetables, for an unlimited number of
generations, would be opposed to all experience."[8] Darwin recognizes,
in instinct, the possibility for the play of a certain amount of
imitation, as also of intelligence and experience,[9] though denying to
these the range attributed to them by Wallace. And summing up his theory
in the essay given by Romanes, he writes: "It may not be logical, but to
my imagination it is far more satisfactory, to look at the young cuckoo
ejecting his foster brothers, ants making slaves, the larvæ of the
ichneumidæ feeding within the live bodies of their prey, cats playing
with mice, otters and cormorants with living fish, not as instincts
specially given by the Creator, but as very small parts of one general
law leading to the advancement of all organic bodies--Multiply, Vary,
let the strongest Live and the weakest Die."

It will thus be seen that Darwin, while confessing a disability to
account for the origin of _Instinct_,--beginning with some form of
instinct as already existent, just as he begins with life as already
existent,--does advance some perfectly definite views as to the probable
origins of _instincts_,--namely, preservation, in the struggle for
existence, of numerous slight but profitable variations. The assertion
of the inadequacy of habit to account for the origin of more complex
instincts, as in the case of the hive-bees, when compared with the
subsequent explanation, in the same connection, of the rise of these
very instincts partly by habit acquired from experience and imitation,
partly by accidental modifications of simpler instincts, both taken
advantage of by natural selection,--would seem to limit the term
"habit," as here used, to modes of action acquired during the life of
the individual; this interpretation of the word being confirmed by the
additional phrase "in one generation." But here, as everywhere in
Darwin's work, an unknown quantity appears--namely, the cause of
variation; _i.e._ of the differences, or tendency to differ, of
offspring, from the parental type.

In "The Descent of Man," published twelve years later than "The Origin
of Species," and "The Variation of Plants and Animals under
Domestication," which appeared yet three years later, Darwin's views on
instinct and habit are still further elaborated, and a definition of the
relation of these to reason, pleasure, pain, and the moral sense,
attempted. In Vol. I. of the former work, Darwin devotes two chapters to
these subjects. Instinct he calls, pages 116-122, "inherited habit"; and
on page 168 he says: "But as love, sympathy, and self-command became
strengthened by habit, and as the power of reasoning becomes clearer, so
that man can value justly the judgments of his fellows, he will feel
himself impelled, apart from any transitory pleasure or pain, to certain
lines of conduct." Here, I take it, the word "habit" cannot be
interpreted as referring to one generation of men, but to the race as a
whole, a general continuity being thus ascribed to the inheritance of
mental characteristics, and the important concept of progress as
adaptation acquired. In contrasting reason with instinct, Darwin thinks
that instinct and intelligence do not, as Cuvier maintained, stand in
inverse ratio to each other, but that a high degree of intelligence is
compatible with complex instincts--as in the case of the beaver; "yet it
is not improbable that there is a certain amount of interference
between the development of free intelligence and of instinct,--which
latter implies some inherited modification of the brain. Little is known
about the functions of the brain, but we can perceive that, as the
intellectual powers become highly developed, the various parts of the
brain must be connected by very intricate channels of the freest
intercommunication; and as a consequence, each separate part would
perhaps tend to be less well fitted to answer to particular
sensations or associations in a definite and inherited--that is,
instinctive--manner. There seems even to exist some relation between a
low degree of intelligence and a strong tendency to the formation of
fixed, though not inherited habits; for, as a sagacious physician
remarked to me, persons who are slightly imbecile tend to act in
everything by routine or habit; and they are rendered much happier if
this is encouraged."[10] Darwin thinks instinctive action and action
from habit may not be connected with either pleasure or pain, though he
would seem to contradict this view in the latter part of the passage
just quoted, and again where he says: "Although a habit may be blindly
and implicitly followed, independently of any pleasure or pain felt at
the moment, yet if it be forcibly and abruptly checked, a vague sense of
dissatisfaction is generally experienced."[11]

In writing of the social instinct, Darwin begins with it as already
existent, and seems, moreover, to maintain concerning it a theory of
purpose elsewhere denied in his works and, indeed, antagonistic to the
whole principle of the struggle for existence. He says: "It has often
been assumed that animals were in the first place rendered social, and
that they feel, as a consequence, uncomfortable when separated from each
other, and comfortable whilst together; but it is a more probable view
that these sensations were first developed, _in order that_ those
animals which would profit by living in society, _should be induced to
live together_, in the same manner as the sense of hunger and the
pleasure of eating were, no doubt, first acquired, in order to induce
animals to eat."[12] If it were not for the expressions "should be
induced" and "to induce," the words "in order that," taken in connection
with what follows, might be interpreted as referring to mere sequence of
time, as, on page 199, where Darwin refers to the "social faculties"
simply as antecedent to society, they evidently do. For he says: "In
order that primeval man, or the ape-like progenitors of man, should
become social, they must have acquired the same instinctive feelings
which induce other animals to live in a body." The sentences referred to
which follow the first quotation are as follows: "The feeling of
pleasure from society is probably an extension of the parental or filial
affections, since the social instinct seems to be developed by the young
remaining for a long time with their parents; and this extension may be
attributed in part to habit, but chiefly to natural selection. With
those animals which were benefited by living in close association, the
individuals which took the greatest pleasure in society would best
escape various dangers, whilst those that cared least for their
comrades, and lived solitary, would perish in greater numbers. With
respect to the origin of the parental and filial affections, which
apparently lie at the base of the social instincts, we know not the
steps by which they have been gained; but we may infer that it has been
to a large extent through natural selection." The passage may possibly
be consistently explained by the idea of the Survival of the Fittest,
but it is at least very unclear in its wording. At the beginning of
Chapter IV. of the same book, Darwin also gives a synopsis of the
development of the moral sense from the social instincts, through the
pleasure of association and service, remorse being a result of the power
of representation, regard for the approbation and disapprobation of
fellows arising from sympathy with them until resulting habit plays a
very important part in guiding the conduct of the individual. Another
passage, however, again introduces an antagonism between habit,
instinct, and reason, and natural selection: "It is impossible to decide
in many cases whether certain social instincts have been acquired
through natural selection, or are the indirect result of other instincts
and faculties, such as sympathy, reason, experience, and a tendency to
imitation; or again, whether they are simply the result of
long-continued habit." Darwin distinguishes between "the all-important
emotion of sympathy," and that of love. "A mother may passionately love
her sleeping and passive infant, but she can hardly at such times be
said to feel sympathy for it"; but he includes both love and sympathy
under the head of "sympathetic emotions"; and on page 163 he says: "With
mankind, selfishness, experience, and imitation probably add, as Mr.
Bain has shown, to the power of sympathy; for we are led by the hope of
receiving good in return to perform acts of sympathetic kindness to
others; and sympathy is much strengthened by habit." Again, on page 166,
"instinctive love and sympathy" would seem to be contrasted with love
and sympathy as habit, the increase of such feelings in the race through
habit, elsewhere more or less distinctly asserted, being here ignored:
"Although man, as he now exists, has few special instincts, having lost
any which his early progenitors may have possessed, this is no reason
why he should not have retained, from an extremely remote period, some
degree of instinctive love and sympathy for his fellows. We are, indeed,
all conscious that we do possess such sympathetic feelings; but our
consciousness does not tell us whether they are instinctive, having
originated long ago in the same manner as with the lower animals, or
whether they have been acquired by each of us during our early years."
But again, on page 220, sympathy is referred to as an element of the
social instincts:[13] "It should, however, be borne in mind that the
enforcement of public opinion depends on our appreciation of the
approbation and disapprobation of others; and this appreciation is
founded on our sympathy, which it can hardly be doubted was originally
developed through natural selection as one of the most important
elements of the social instincts"; though, on pages 167, 168, the social
instinct is again contrasted with sympathy, since according to Darwin
the desire for the approbation of others and the consequent yielding to
their wishes is the result of sympathy: "Thus the social instincts,
which must have been acquired by man in a very rude state, and probably
even by his early ape-like progenitors, still give the impulse to some
of his best actions; but his actions are in a higher degree determined
by the expressed wishes and judgments of his fellow-men." Again the
social and the maternal instincts and sympathy are identified and
classed as under the dominion of the moral sense, pages 168-170: "It is
evident, in the first place, that with mankind the instinctive impulses
have different degrees of strength; a savage, will risk his own life to
save that of a member of the same community, but will be wholly
indifferent about a stranger; a young and timid mother urged by the
maternal instinct will, without a moment's hesitation, run the greatest
danger for her own infant, but not for a mere fellow-creature.
Nevertheless, many a civilized man, or even boy, who never before risked
his life for another, but full of courage and sympathy, has disregarded
the instinct of self-preservation, and plunged at once into a torrent to
save a drowning man, though a stranger.... Such actions as the above
appear to be the simple result of the greater strength of the social or
maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive; for they
are performed too instantaneously for reflection, or for pleasure or
pain to be felt at the time; though, if prevented by any cause, distress
or even misery might be felt.... I am aware that some persons maintain
that actions performed impulsively, as in the above cases, do not come
under the dominion of the moral sense, and cannot be called moral.... On
the contrary, we all feel that an act cannot be considered as perfect or
as performed in the most noble manner, unless it be done impulsively,
without deliberation or effort, in the same manner as by a man in whom
the requisite qualities are innate." Darwin defines the office of the
moral sense as "telling us what to do,"[14] that of conscience,--which
includes remorse, repentance, regret or shame, fear of the gods and of
the disapprobation of men,--as reproving us if we disobey it;[15]
conscience seems elsewhere to be defined as concerned with resolve to
better future action; and in still another passage, the moral sense and
conscience are identified. But again, in another paragraph, Darwin seems
to ascribe remorse or regret, not to the baulking of an instinct, but to
a _judgment_ of having been baulked: "A man cannot prevent past
impressions often repassing through his mind; he will thus be driven to
make a comparison between the impressions of past hunger, vengeance
satisfied, or danger shunned at other men's cost, with the almost
ever-present instinct of sympathy, and with his early knowledge of what
others consider as praiseworthy or blamable. This knowledge cannot be
banished from his mind, and from instinctive sympathy is esteemed of
great moment. He will then feel as if he had been baulked in following a
present instinct or habit, and this with all animals causes
dissatisfaction, or even misery."[16] But, in spite of all
indefiniteness in the use of terms and uncertainty as to the
interrelations of "the social instincts," sympathy, reason, pleasure,
and the moral sense, it is, after all, comparatively easy to gather,
after a little deeper study, the general and more important features of
Darwin's theory as to the origin of morality. We may state these as
follows: The social instinct led men or their ape-like progenitors to
society,[17] this instinct growing out of the parental or filial
affections through habit and natural selection. Virtue is, at first,
only tribal.[18] The social qualities of sympathy, fidelity, and courage
implied in mutual aid and defence, were no doubt acquired by man through
the same means. "When two tribes of primeval man, living in the same
country, came into competition, if (other circumstances being equal) the
one tribe included a great number of courageous, sympathetic, and
faithful members, who were always ready to warn each other of danger, to
aid and defend each other, this tribe would succeed better and conquer
the other.... Selfish and contentious people will not cohere, and
without coherence nothing can be effected. A tribe rich in the above
qualities would spread and be victorious over other tribes; but in the
course of time it would, judging from all past history, be in its turn
overcome by some other tribe still more highly endowed. Thus the social
and moral qualities would tend slowly to advance and be diffused
throughout the world." Though in a warlike state, where courage is
especially necessary to tribal existence, the bravest men would perish
in larger numbers than other men, and the survival of the unfittest
would seem thus to be secured, the influence of their bravery on others
might excite the latter to imitation and do far more good than the
begetting of offspring who would inherit their bravery. So, also, pity,
though inciting modern society to the preservation of the weak, yet is
useful in that it cultivates sympathy; and so, too, wealth, affording
leisure for intellectual pursuits and a wider choice in marriage, tends,
in the end, to the preservation of the fittest morally, by direct or
indirect means.[19] Altruistic action, followed from selfish motives,
may become habit; habits of benevolence certainly strengthen the feeling
of sympathy; and "habits followed during many generations probably tend
to be inherited." Furthermore, melancholy tends often to suicide, as
violence, and quarrelsomeness to a bloody end, intemperance to the
destruction of individual life, and profligacy to disease and sterility;
so that some elimination of the worst dispositions takes place. These
are some of the probable steps of advancement, though the process is
too complex to be clearly followed out. The approbation of
others--the strengthening of sympathies by habit--example and
imitation--reason--experience and even self-interest--instruction during
youth, and religious feelings--are the causes which lead to the
advancement of morality.[20] In the paragraph just quoted, Darwin says:
"With civilized nations, as far as an advanced standard of morality and
an increased number of fairly good men are concerned, natural selection
apparently effects but little, though the fundamental social instincts
were originally thus gained"; but he later writes: "Judging from all
that we know of man and the lower animals, there has always been
sufficient variability in their intellectual and moral faculties for a
steady advance through natural selection"; and he further says: "No
doubt such advance demands many favorable concurrent circumstances; but
it may well be doubted whether the most favorable would have sufficed,
had not the rate of increase been rapid, and the consequent struggle for
existence extremely severe."[21] The end or aim of morality is the
general good, rather than the general happiness, though "no doubt the
welfare and the happiness of the individual usually coincide; and a
contented, happy tribe will flourish better than one that is
discontented and unhappy.... As all wish for happiness, the 'greatest
happiness principle' will have become a most important secondary guide
and object; the social instinct, however, together with sympathy (which
leads to our regarding the approbation and disapprobation of others),
having served as the primary impulse and guide."[22] And with regard to
the future, Darwin says: "Looking to future generations, there is no
cause to fear that the social instincts will grow weaker, and we may
expect that virtuous habits will grow stronger, becoming perhaps fixed
by inheritance. In this case the struggle between our higher and lower
impulses will be less severe, and virtue will be triumphant."[23]


[1] P. 381. This essay originally formed part of the chapter on
"Instinct" in "The Origin of Species," but was omitted for the sake of

[2] Vol. I. p. 319.

[3] Pp. 320, 321.

[4] Appendix to "Mental Evolution in Animals," pp. 378, 379. The italics
are my own.

[5] "The Origin of Species," II. p. 286.

[6] Ibid. I. pp. 353, 354.

[7] "The Origin of Species," I. pp. 321, 322.

[8] Ibid. I. pp. 12-17.

[9] Appendix to "Mental Evolution in Animals," pp. 370, 383; see also
"The Descent of Man," I. p. 102 _et seq._; and "Nature" for Feb. 13,
1873, introduction to a letter to the editor from William Higginson.

[10] P. 103.

[11] Pp. 160, 161.

[12] P. 161.

[13] See also p. 171. And, p. 172, sympathy is designated as "a
fundamental element of the social instincts."

[14] P. 178.

[15] Pp. 174, 178.

[16] P. 173.

[17] "Descent of Man," I. p. 199, etc.

[18] Ibid. p. 179.

[19] Ibid. pp. 199-209.

[20] Ibid. p. 212.

[21] Ibid. pp. 219, 220.

[22] Ibid. p. 185.

[23] Ibid. p. 192.


"Whatever we may define instinct to be, it is evidently some form of
mental manifestation," says Wallace in his "Contributions to Natural
Selection" (1871). We know little of the senses of animals; some animals
may even possess senses which we have not, and by which stores of
knowledge of the outside world may be opened that are closed to us. We
do not know certainly, for instance, what is the office of the little
stalked balls that are the sole remnants of hind wings in flies, or what
is the office of the third joints of the antennæ in the same insects,
though both these evidently correspond to some sense. How can we pretend
to fathom the profound mystery of the mental nature of animals, and
decide what or how much they can perceive or remember, reason or
reflect? Defining instinct, then, as "the performance by an animal of
complex acts, absolutely without instruction," Wallace refuses to accept
the theory of such action, in any case where all other modes of
explanation have not been exhausted; for "a point which can be proved
should not be assumed, and a totally unknown power should not be brought
in to explain facts, when known powers may be sufficient." He maintains
that there is a possibility, for instance, of the instruction of young
birds by old in the art of nest-building. It is quite likely that birds
remember the form, size, position, and materials of the nest in which
they were hatched, as it is also probable that young birds often pair
with old ones who have experience in nest-building. Man's architecture
is also chiefly imitative. "Birds brought up from the egg in cages do
not make the characteristic nest of their species, even though the
proper materials are supplied them, and often make no nest at all, but
rudely heap together a quantity of materials." "No one has ever yet
obtained the eggs of some bird which builds an elaborate nest, hatched
those eggs by steam or under quite a distinct parent, placed them
afterwards in an extensive aviary or covered garden, where the situation
and the materials of a nest similar to that of the parent-birds may be
found, and then seen what kind of nest these birds would build. If under
these rigorous conditions they choose the same materials, the same
situation, and construct the nest in the same way and as perfectly as
their parents did, instinct would be proved in their case; now it is
only assumed.... So no one has ever carefully taken the pupæ of a hive
of bees out of the comb, removed them from the presence of other bees,
and loosed them in a large conservatory with plenty of flowers and food,
and observed what kind of cells they would construct. But till this is
done no one can say that, with every new swarm there are no bees older
than those of the same year, who may be the teachers in forming the new
comb."[24] "Young birds never have the song peculiar to their species
if they have not heard it, whereas they acquire very easily the song of
almost any other bird with which they are associated." Moreover, there
are failures and imperfections in the nesting of birds that are not
compatible with the theory of instinct, which is supposed to be
infallible, but are quite so with the theory of intelligence and
imitation. Furthermore, in their manner of building, birds adapt
themselves to circumstances and frequently alter and improve. The theory
of instincts in man is likewise in the wrong. The sucking of the child,
which is said to be instinctive, is merely one of those _simple_ acts
dependent on organization, like breathing or muscular motion. "So
walking is evidently dependent on the arrangement of the bones and
joints, and the pleasurable exertion of the muscles, which lead to the
vertical posture becoming gradually the most agreeable one; and there
can be little doubt that an infant would learn of itself to walk, even
if suckled by a wild beast."

The theory of instinct "implies innate ideas[25] of a very definite
kind, and if established, would overthrow Mr. Mill's Sensationalism and
all the modern philosophy of experience."

The reason why natural selection acts so powerfully upon animals, is to
be found mainly in their individual isolation. "A slight injury, a
temporary illness, will often end in death, because it leaves the
individual powerless against its enemies.... There is, as a rule, no
mutual assistance between adults, which enables them to tide over a
period of sickness. Neither is there any division of labor; each must
fulfil _all_ the conditions of its existence, and therefore natural
selection keeps all up to a pretty uniform standard." But in man as we
now behold him, this is different. He is social and sympathetic; and in
society, a division of labor takes place that leaves the physically
defective still something to do by which he may sustain life, and saves
him from the extreme penalty which falls upon animals so defective. By
his skill in constructing for himself tools and clothing and in planting
his own food, man has an immense advantage over the animals, in whom a
change of structure must take place in adaptation to changed conditions.
Moreover, he not only escapes natural selection himself, but "is
actually able to take away some of that power from nature, which, before
his appearance, she universally exercised," establishing so his
supremacy by means of that subtle force we term mind. "We can anticipate
the time when the earth will produce only cultivated plants and domestic
animals, when man's selection shall have supplanted natural selection."

We must, in future geological study, trace back the gradually decreasing
brain of former races to a time when the body as well begins materially
to differ, if we would wish to reach the starting-point of the human
family. Before that time man had not mind enough to preserve his body
from change. From this point, however, we shall probably see that, while
all other forms of animal life changed again and again, man's physical
character became fixed and almost immutable, advance taking place only
in his mental and moral characteristics, with which are united
modifications of the brain, as well as of the head and face, parts that
are immediately connected with the brain and the medium of the most
refined emotions. By man's superior sympathetic and moral feelings, he
becomes fitted for the social state. There is one feature, however, in
which natural selection will still act upon him--namely, the color of
the skin, which, as Mr. Darwin has shown, is correlated with
constitutional peculiarities, liability to certain diseases being often
accompanied by marked external characteristics; so that, in certain
countries, certain tints would be likely to be weeded out, and certain
other tints, with which, again, color and texture of the hair seem to be
associated, would be established by natural selection.

Natural selection has no power "to produce modifications which are in
any degree injurious to their possessor, and Mr. Darwin uses the strong
expression that a single case of this kind would be fatal to his theory.
If, therefore, we find in man any characters which all the evidence we
can obtain goes to show would have been actually injurious to him on
their first appearance, they could not possibly have been produced by
natural selection. Neither could any specially developed organ have been
so produced if it had been merely useless to its possessor, or if its
use were not proportionate to its degree of development. Such cases as
these would prove that some other law, or some other power, than natural
selection, had been at work. But if, further, we could see that these
very modifications, though hurtful or useless at the time when they
first appeared, became in the highest degree useful at a much later
period, and are essential to the full moral and intellectual development
of human nature, we should then infer the action of mind, foreseeing the
future and preparing for it, just as surely as we do when we see the
breeder set himself to work with the determination to produce a definite
improvement in some cultivated plant or domestic animal"; we should
infer a creation by law. Skull-measurement shows that the brain of the
savage was, and is, larger than it needs to be, and "capable, if
cultivated and developed, of performing work of a degree and kind far
beyond what he ever requires it to do." In evidence of this, Wallace
cites the measurements of Esquimaux skulls and the testimony of Paul
Broca to the fine form and capacity of the skulls of Les Eyzies, a race
of cave-dwellers undoubtedly contemporary with the reindeer in Southern
France.[26] He also argues that the loss, by man, of the hairy covering
so long persistent in the mammalia, cannot have taken place on account
of its lack of usefulness, since even the most savage tribes show a need
of it, endeavoring to replace it by artificial coverings, especially on
the back. This naked skin is, however, of importance to civilization,
since it leads to the adoption of both clothing and houses, and
develops, through the former, the sense of modesty. The loss of the
prehensile character of the whole foot, and especially of the pedal
thumb, is a preparation for civilization. So, too, the capacity of the
human voice for music, of little use to savages, since their singing
consists only in a sort of monotonous howling, must be regarded as a
preparation for the civilized man's delight in music, and probably also
for a higher state than that to which we have yet attained.

Nor can the sanctity which attaches to virtue, even among savages, be
explained by utility or natural selection. The "mystic sense of wrong,"
which, although few laws enforce truth, yet attaches to untruth, even
among whole tribes of utter savages, is an example of such sanctity.
Wallace adds, however, in the same breath: "No very severe reprobation
follows untruth. In all ages, falsehood has been thought venial or even
laudable under certain conditions." He asserts that "the utilitarian
doctrine is not sufficient to account for the development of the moral
sense," but seems, nevertheless, to adopt a utilitarian principle as the
basis of the moral sense when he says: "Where free play is allowed to
the relations between man and man, this feeling [_i.e._ of sanctity]
attaches itself to those acts of universal utility or self-sacrifice
which are the products of our affections and sympathies which we term
moral"; and he adds: "while it may be, and often is, perverted to give
the same sanction to acts of narrow and conventional utility which are
really immoral,--as when the Hindoo will tell a lie, but will sooner
starve than eat unclean food; and looks upon the marriage of adult
females as gross immorality." The explanation of this inconsistency is,
according to Wallace, that the strength of the moral feeling, in any
case, will depend on the individual or racial constitution, and on
education and habit; and the acts to which its sanctions are applied
will depend on the extent of modification of the simple feelings and
affections by custom, law, and religion. If a moral sense is an
essential part of our nature, it is easy to see that its sanction may
often be given to acts which are useless or immoral, just as the natural
appetite for drink is perverted by the drunkard into the means of his

These phenomena of the preparation of the human being for civilization
and morality can be explained only on the supposition of a superior
intelligence which has guided man's development in a definite direction,
just as man guides the development of many animal forms. By a superior
intelligence is not necessarily meant the supreme intelligence. The
modern cultivated mind seems incapable of realizing between it and the
Deity other grades of intelligence, which the law of Continuity would,
however, force us to infer: and rejecting first causes for any and every
especial effect in the universe, except in the sense that the action of
any intelligent being is a first cause, we can still conceive that the
development of the essentially human portions of man's structure may
have been, in this sense, "determined by the directing influence of some
higher intelligent beings acting through natural and universal
laws."[27] "It is probable that the true law of this development lies
too deep for our discovery." Wallace quotes, in support of his theory,
some of Professor Tyndall's much-disputed statements,--to the effect
that the chasm between the phenomena of mind and those of brain is
impassable. "To say that mind is a product or function of protoplasm, or
of its molecular changes, is to use words to which we can attach no
clear conception. You cannot have in the whole what does not exist in
any of the parts;[28] and those who argue thus should put forth a
precise definition of matter with clearly enumerated properties, and
show that the necessary result of a certain complex arrangement of the
elements or atoms of that matter will be the production of
self-consciousness. There is no escape from the dilemma,--either all
matter is conscious, or consciousness is[29] something distinct from
matter, and in the latter case its presence in material forms is a proof
of the existence of conscious beings outside of, and independent of,
what we term matter.

"The merest rudiment of sensation or self-consciousness is infinitely
removed from absolutely non-sentient or unconscious matter. We can
conceive of no physical addition to, or modification of, an unconscious
mass which should create consciousness, no step in the series of changes
organized matter may undergo, which should bring sensation where there
was no sensation or power of sensation at the preceding step. It is
because the things are utterly incomparable and incommensurable that we
can only conceive of _sensation_ coming to matter from without, while
_life_ may be conceived as merely a specific modification and
coördination of the matter and the forces that compose the universe, and
with which we are separately acquainted. We may admit with Professor
Huxley, that _protoplasm_ is the 'matter of life' and the cause of
organization; but we cannot admit or conceive that _protoplasm_ is the
primary source of sensation and consciousness, or that it can ever of
itself become _conscious_ in the same way as we may perhaps conceive
that it may become _alive_."

Wallace then reaches, without further preliminary discussion, the
conclusion that "matter is essentially force" (arguing that we may draw
this conclusion from the preceding considerations); that "matter, as
popularly understood, does not exist, and is, in fact, philosophically
inconceivable. When we touch matter, we only really experience
sensations of resistance, implying repulsive force; and no other sense
can give us such apparently solid proofs of the reality of matter as
touch does." Wallace considers it a great step in advance thus "to get
rid of the notion that matter is a thing in itself which can exist _per
se_, and must have been eternal, since it is supposed to be
indestructible and uncreated,--that force, or the forces of nature, are
another thing given or added to matter, or else its necessary
properties,--and that mind is yet another thing, either a product of
this matter and its supposed inherent forces, or distinct from and
co-existent with it"; and to be able to substitute for this theory "the
far simpler and more consistent belief, that matter, as an entity
distinct from force, does not exist; and that FORCE is a product of

"If we are satisfied that force or forces are all that exist in the
material universe, we are next led to inquire what is force." We are
acquainted with two kinds of force--our own will-force, and the forces
of nature. Freedom of the will cannot be disproved, for it cannot be
shown that there is not one-thousandth of a grain's difference between
the force exerted by the body and the force derived from without. "If,
therefore, we have traced one force, however minute, to an origin in our
will, while we have no knowledge of any other primary cause of force, it
does not seem an improbable conclusion that all force may be will-force;
and thus, that the whole universe is not merely dependent on, but
actually _is_ the _will_ of higher intelligences, or of one Supreme

But though Wallace declares "natural selection, as the law of the
strongest, inadequate" to account for man's mental and moral
development, since the finer feelings and capacities could have been of
no use to human beings in the early stages of barbarism, and further
maintains that it is also difficult to understand how "feelings
developed by one set of actions could be transferred to acts of which
the utility was partial, imaginary, or altogether absent," he
nevertheless has other passages like the following: "In proportion as
physical characteristics become of less importance, mental and moral
qualities will have increasing influence on the well-being of the race.
Capacity for acting in concert for protection and for the acquisition of
food and shelter; sympathy, which leads all in turn to assist each
other; the sense of right, which checks depredations upon our fellows;
the smaller development of the combative and destructive propensities,
self-restraint in present appetites; and that intelligent foresight
which prepares for the future, are all qualities that, from their
earliest appearance, must have been for the benefit of each community,
and would, therefore, have become the subjects of natural selection. For
it is evident that such qualities would be for the well-being of man;
would guard him against external enemies, against internal dissensions,
and against the effects of inclement seasons and impending famine, more
surely than could any merely physical modification. Tribes in which such
mental and moral qualities were predominant would therefore have an
advantage over other tribes in which they were less developed, would
live and maintain their numbers, while the others would decrease and
finally succumb." "From the time, therefore, when the social and
sympathetic feelings came into active operation, and the intellectual
and moral faculties became fairly developed, man would cease to be
influenced by natural selection in his physical form and structure. As
an animal, he would remain almost stationary, the changes of the
surrounding universe ceasing to produce in him that powerful modifying
effect which they exercise over other parts of the organic world. But
from the moment that the form of his body became stationary, his mind
would become subject to those very influences from which his body had
escaped; every slight variation in his mental and moral nature which
should enable him better to guard against adverse circumstances, and
combine for mutual comfort and protection would be preserved and
accumulated; the better and higher specimens of our race would therefore
increase and spread, the lower and more brutal would give way and
successively die out, and that rapid advancement of mental organization
would occur which has raised the very lowest races of man so far above
the brutes (although differing so little from some of them in physical
structure) and, in conjunction with scarcely perceptible modifications
of form, has developed the wonderful intellect of the European races."
"When the power that had hitherto modified the body had its action
transferred to the mind, then races would advance and become improved,
merely by the harsh discipline of a sterile soil and inclement seasons;
under their influence a hardier, a more provident, and a more social
race would be developed." And especially: "If my conclusions are just,
it must inevitably follow that the higher--the more intellectual and
moral--must displace the lower and more degraded races; and the power of
natural selection, still acting on his mental organization, must ever
lead to a more perfect adaptation of man's higher faculties to the
conditions of surrounding nature and to the exigencies of the social
state. While his external form will probably ever remain unchanged,
except in the development of that perfect beauty which results from a
healthy and well-organized body, refined and ennobled by the highest
intellectual faculties and sympathetic emotions, his mental constitution
may advance and improve, till the world is again inhabited by a single
nearly homogeneous race, no individual of which will be inferior to the
noblest specimens of existing humanity.

"Our progress towards such a result is very slow, but it still seems to
be a progress."

In "Darwinism" (1889), Wallace advocates Weismann's theory of heredity.
With regard to instinct, he uses arguments similar to those of his
earlier work. He says of the hunting instincts of dogs: "At first sight
it appears as if the acquired habits of our trained dogs--pointers,
retrievers, etc.--are certainly inherited; but this need not be the
case, because there must be some structural or physical peculiarities,
such as modifications in the attachments of muscles, increased delicacy
of smell or sight, or peculiar likes and dislikes, which are inherited;
and from these, peculiar habits follow as a natural consequence, or are
easily acquired." So that he thus defines instinct, by implication, as
he does also in his former book, as inherited habit which has no
correlative in physical organization, and is unconnected with feelings
of liking or disliking. He further says: "Again, much of the perfection
of instinct is due to the extreme severity of the selection, any failure
involving destruction"; and adds that, even if we admit the inheritance
of the effects of the direct action of the environment on the
individual, the effects are so small in comparison with the amount of
spontaneous variation of every part of the organism, that they must be
quite overshadowed by the latter.[30] In his theory of a higher
intelligence guiding human development, Wallace seems, in this book, to
have abandoned all his former arguments except those from the mental and
moral faculties, and it is perhaps due to a perception of the
inconsistencies of his former utterances on the subject of the moral
sense that he barely touches upon it in this book. On the other hand, he
has elaborated his arguments from the mathematical and artistic
faculties, and added an argument from wit and humor, none of which are
found, he urges, among savages, except in their very rudiments, and none
of which could have been developed by natural selection, since none
could have been a cause of man's conquest in his struggles with wild
beasts or with other tribes or nations. In answer to the objection that
the law of Continuity, which he has quoted as favoring the belief in the
existence of grades of supernatural beings between man and the Deity,
tells against the introduction of new causes in man's development,
Wallace maintains that there are certainly two other points in evolution
where such new causes come into play,--namely, at the beginning of life
and at the beginning of consciousness. "Increase of complexity in
chemical compounds, with consequent instability, even if we admit that
it may have produced protoplasm as a chemical compound, could certainly
not have produced living protoplasm,--protoplasm which has the power of
growth and reproduction, and of that continuous process of development
which has resulted in the marvellous variety and complex organization of
the whole vegetable kingdom, or, that is, vitality."[31] "All idea of
mere complication of structure producing" consciousness is "out of the
question." "Because man's physical structure has been developed from an
animal form by natural selection, it does not follow that his mental
nature, even though developed _pari passu_ with it, has been developed
by the same causes only."[32] Yet, in assuming Weismann's theory,
Wallace asserts: "Whatever other causes have been at work, Natural
Selection is supreme, to an extent which even Darwin himself hesitated
to claim for it." "While admitting, as Darwin always admitted, the
coöperation of the fundamental laws of growth and variation, of
correlation and heredity, in determining the direction of lines of
variation, or in the initiation of peculiar organs, we find that
variation and natural selection are ever-present agencies which take
possession, as it were, of every minute change originated by these
fundamental causes, check or favor their further development, or modify
them in countless ways according to the varying needs of the

In the opening portions of this book Wallace introduces a teleological
argument to the effect that the pain which we ordinarily conceive as
connected with the struggle for existence among lower species is mostly
a figment of our imagination. Periods of suffering are comparatively
short, since death speedily and without anticipation puts an end to
those animals in any way incapacitated. Livingstone describes how, when
seized by a lion, a sort of stupor succeeded the first shock, so that he
felt neither fear nor pain; it is probable that terror induces this same
condition in animals seized by beasts of prey, and that their end is
therefore painless after the first shock. Cold is generally severest at
night and tends to produce sleep and painless extinction. Hunger is
scarcely felt during periods of excitement, "and when food is scarce,
the excitement of seeking it is at its greatest." Nor is the gradual
exhaustion and weakness of slow starvation necessarily painful.


[24] For criticism of these arguments, see Romanes, "Mental Evolution in
Animals," p. 225, etc.; also "Animal Intelligence." In his second
edition of this book (1891), Wallace notices a few of the instances
cited by Romanes in objection to his theory: such as the recognition of
the hen's call by a chicken hatched in an incubator, the fear shown, on
the other hand, at the note of a hawk, and the fear exhibited by most
young animals at the voice or presence of their natural enemies. Of
these he says, however: "But in all these cases we have comparatively
simple motions or acts induced by feelings of liking or disliking, and
we can see that they may be due to definite nervous and muscular
coördinations which are essential to the existence of the species. That
a chicken should feel pleasure at the sound of a hen's voice, and pain
or fear at that of a hawk, and should move towards the one and away from
the other, is a fact of the same nature as the liking of an infant for
milk and its dislike of beer, with the motion of the head towards the
one and away from the other when offered to it." Of two authentic cases
of the building of a nest by young birds, without instruction, he says
that, in one case (that of ring-doves), the nest is a very simple one,
and that the birds also received some assistance; and in the other case
the nest was not built with the neatness ordinarily characteristic of
the species. (See "Natural Selection and Tropical Nature," pp. 108-112.)
The most of Romanes' instances and arguments he does not notice or

[25] In his second edition, Wallace writes "not only innate ideas, but
innate knowledge."

[26] In the second edition of this book, Wallace maintains the same
position with regard to skull-measurement as a criterion of mental
capacity. Nor does he notice distinctions in skull-form or the
proportions of different parts of the brain to each other, except in the
one case of the Eyzies.

[27] See Wallace on "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism," "The
Psycho-physiological Sciences and their Assailants," and "The Scientific
Aspect of the Supernatural."

[28] Wallace omits this particular clause in his second edition.

[29] The second edition reads "is, or pertains to."

[30] Pp. 442, 443.

[31] This is contradictory of the passages on the subject of life above
noticed as occurring in the "Contributions to Natural Selection," and
retained in the second edition of that book.

[32] P. 463.

[33] P. 444.


In his "Anthropogenie" (1874), Haeckel says: "The soul, or 'psyche' of
man has evolved, as function of the cerebro-spinal nerve-chord
simultaneously with the latter, and just as, even yet, brain and spinal
column develop from the simple nerve-chord, so the human mind, or the
soul-activity of the whole human race, has evolved, gradually and step
by step, from the lower vertebrate soul. 'Spirit' and 'soul' are only
higher and combined or differentiated powers of the same function which
we designate with the general expression 'force.'"[34] In his essay on
"Cell-souls and Soul-cells" (1878), Haeckel attributes to all animals
the possession of soul, and adds that "we cannot wholly deny a soul to
the plants also." The possession of soul he defines as the "capacity of
sensibility in the organism to excitations of various sorts, and of
reaction upon these excitations with certain movements." "This uniform
character of protoplasm gifted with soul permits us the hypothesis that
the ultimate factors of the soul-life are the plastidules, the
invisible, homogeneous, elemental particles, or molecules, of
protoplasm, which, in limitless multiplicity, compose the unnumbered
cells." The soul connected with the higher developments of brain and
spinal column is likewise a higher development, and differs from the
soul connected with the uncentralized organization of lower species. In
the latest edition of his "Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte" (1889), he
further asserts that all matter is possessed of soul, and that "the
antithesis which we have assumed between living and dead nature does not
exist. When a stone, thrown into the air, falls to the earth according
to fixed laws, or when a crystal is formed in a solution of salts, or
when sulphur and quicksilver combine to form cinnabar, these phenomena
are not more and not less mechanical phenomena of life than the growth
and bloom of the plants, than the propagation and sense-activity of
animals, than the perception and thought-processes of human beings."[35]
And both in this work and in his "Anthropogenie" he quotes the words of
Goethe, that "matter can never exist and act without soul, the soul can
never exist and act without matter." This last statement is, however,
rather a metaphysical one, in distinction from Haeckel's other
statements on this subject, which are properly naturalistic.

In his lecture on "Cell-souls and Soul-cells," Haeckel says of instinct:
"Unbiassed observation, applying its tests without prejudice, shows
conclusively that the so-called 'instinct' of the animals is nothing
else than a sum of psychical functions originally acquired by
adaptation, fixed by habit, and descending from generation to
generation by inheritance. Originally carried out with consciousness and
reflection, many instinctive actions of the animals have become
unconscious, as have, in like manner, the ordinary acts of intelligence
in man. These too, may, with the same justice, be regarded as the
expression of innate instinct, as often is the impulse to
self-preservation, maternal love, and the social impulse. Instinct is
not an exclusive attribute of the animal-brain, nor is reason an
especial endowment of man; there is, on the contrary, for the unbiassed
observer, a long, long scale of gradual improvement and evolution in
psychic life, which may be traced step by step, from the higher to lower
human beings, from the perfect to the imperfect animals, until we reach
those simple worms, whose nerve-ganglia are the beginning of all the
numberless brain-forms of the scale."

In his "Anthropogenie," Haeckel denies Free Will, maintaining that all
phenomena are the result of mechanical causes--_causæ efficientes_, not
_causæ finales_. In an essay on the "Relation of the Theory of Evolution
in its present form to Science in General" (1877), he says of Ethics:
"By far the most important and the most difficult demand which Practical
Philosophy makes upon the theory of Evolution seems to be that of a new
theory of Morals. Certainly in the future, as in the past, the careful
development of moral character and of religious conviction must be the
chief problem of education. But until now the greater number of people
have clung to the conviction that this most important problem could be
solved only in connection with certain ecclesiastical articles of faith.
And since these dogmas, especially as connected with ancient myths of
the Creation, are in direct opposition to the facts of evolution, the
latter have been believed to be, in the highest degree, inimical to
religion and morality.

"This fear we believe to be erroneous. It has its origin in the
continual confusion of the true, reasonable, nature-religion and the
dogmatic, mythological, church-religion. The Comparative History of
Religions, an important branch of Anthropology, teaches us the manifold
nature of outward form in which different peoples and epochs have, in
accordance with their individual character, enveloped religious thought.
It shows us that the dogmatic teachings of the church-religion itself
are subject to a slow, continuous evolution. New churches and sects
arise, old ones disappear; at the best, a particular tenet of faith
lasts but a few thousand years, an inconsiderably short space of time
compared with the æons of the geological periods. Finally, the History
of Civilization shows us to how small an extent true morality has been
associated with any particular ecclesiastical form. The greatest
rudeness and barbarity of custom often goes hand in hand with the
absolute dominion of an all-powerful church; in confirmation of which
assertion one need only remember the Middle Ages. On the other hand, we
behold the highest standard of perfection attained by men who have
severed connection with every creed.

"Independent of every confession of faith, there lives in the breast of
every human being the germ of a pure nature-religion; this is
indissolubly bound up with the noblest sides of human life. Its highest
commandment is love, the restraint of our natural egoism for the benefit
of our fellow-men, and for the good of human society whose members we
are. This natural law of morality is much older than all
church-religion. It has developed out of the social instincts of the
animals. We meet with its rudiments among all animals, especially among
all mammals. Following the laws of association and of division of labor,
many individuals of such species unite to form the higher community of
the swarm, herd, or tribe. The existence of the latter is necessarily
dependent upon the mutual relations of the members of the community and
the sacrifices which these make to the whole society at the cost of
their own egoism. The consciousness of this necessity of self-sacrifice,
the sense of duty, is nothing else than a social instinct. But this
instinct is always a psychical habit, which was originally acquired, but
which, becoming in the course of time hereditary, appears at last as

"In order to convince ourselves of the wonderful power of the sense of
duty among animals, we need only to destroy an ant-hill. Immediately we
see, in the midst of the destruction, thousands of zealous citizens
employed, not in the rescue of their own precious lives, but in the
protection of the beloved community to which they belong. Brave soldiers
of the ant-state prepare to offer strong resistance to our intruding
finger; instructors of youth rescue the so-called ant-eggs, the precious
larvæ, on which the future of the state depends; busy workers
immediately begin with undiminished courage to clear away the ruins and
to prepare new dwellings. But the admirable state of civilization among
these ants, among bees and other social animals, has been developed,
just as has been our own, from the rudest beginnings.

"Even those finest and most beautiful forms of human emotion which we
especially celebrate in poetry are to be found prefigured among the
animals. Have not the tender mother-love of the lioness, the touching
affection between male and female parrots, the self-sacrificing fidelity
of the dog, been long proverbial? The noblest emotions of sympathy and
love, which direct action, are here, as with human beings, nothing else
than ennobled instinct." Beginning with this conception, the Ethics of
Evolution has to seek for no new principle, but, on the contrary, to
trace back the old rules of duty to their scientific basis. Long before
the rise of all church-religion, these natural commandments regulated
the lawful relations of human beings, as of gregarious animals. This
significant fact the church-religions should utilize, instead of
disputing. For the future does not belong to that Theology which
declares war against the triumphant Theory of Evolution, but to that
which makes it its own, acknowledges it, and turns it to advantage.

"Far, therefore, from fearing, from the influence of the Theory of
Evolution, a subversion of all accepted moral law and a destructive
emancipation of Egoism, we, on the contrary, look forward to a system of
Ethics erected upon the indestructible foundation of unchanging natural
law, since at the same time with the clear recognition of our true place
in nature, the study of Anthropogeny opens to us the comprehension of
the necessary character of our old rules of duty. Like theoretical
science, Practical Philosophy and Pedagogy will no longer derive their
most important principles from so-called revelations, but from the
scientific truths of Evolution. This victory of Monism over Dualism
opens to us a most hopeful prospect of an unending continuation of our
moral, as of our intellectual evolution. In this sense, we welcome the
Theory of Evolution in its present form newly stated by Darwin, as a
challenge--the most important challenge of pure and applied science."

As touching on the idea of a nature-religion as conceived by Haeckel,
may be noticed, however, a passage which occurs at the end of chapter
XII. of the "Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte," as well as the passage
before referred to in which it is asserted that we know only _causæ
efficientes_, never _causæ finales_. The passage is as follows: "The
general significance of the degenerated or rudimentary organs in the
most important questions of natural philosophy cannot be over-estimated.
On these may be founded a theory of Disteleology as opposed to the
ancient, usual Teleology."

With especial theories of Heredity advocated by Haeckel we are not
concerned, except in one respect. Even in the first edition of his
"Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte," Haeckel makes a distinction between
conservative and progressive inheritance, and in the edition of 1889 he
still maintains this division against Weismann and others, claiming the
heredity of acquired habit, under certain circumstances, and showing
conclusively that even wounds and blemishes received during the life of
an individual may be, in some instances, inherited by descendants.[36]
The laws of progressive heredity he gives as four: (1) the law of the
inheritance of adaptation; (2) the law of the surer inheritance of
qualities fixed by continual operation of its causes on individual
generations; (3) the law of homochronous inheritance or inheritance at a
corresponding age; (4) the law of homotypous inheritance, which may be
otherwise called the law of inheritance in corresponding parts of the

Having thus glanced at the special theories by which the great original
authorities paved the way for a system of Evolutional Ethics, we may
direct our attention to the more purely philosophical writers who have
turned these theories to advantage and elaborated them. The first on the
list is


[34] P. 703 _et seq._

[35] Erster Vortrag.

[36] P. 194 _et seq._

[37] For illustrations and proofs of these laws, see the "Natürliche
Schöpfungsgeschichte," pp. 193-197.


In treating of Mr. Spencer's work, it is necessary to begin with a book
which made its appearance before the publication of "The Origin of
Species," namely, "Social Statics" (1851), Mr. Spencer's first
noteworthy publication. In this are contained some remarkable
statements, which are of especial worth as showing in what measure the
thought of the time was already tending in the direction of the
revelations of its greatest prophet, and science, in England as in
Germany, was slowly coming to recognize the unity of nature in life and
human progress. An analysis of the first and theoretical part of this
work will be, therefore, of use, and with this we will begin.

Mr. Spencer opens his book with some criticisms of Utilitarianism or the
"Expediency Philosophy." Every rule, in order to be of value, must have
a definite meaning. The rule of "the greatest happiness to the greatest
number" supposes mankind to be unanimous in the definition of the
greatest happiness; the standard of happiness is, however, infinitely
variable, in nations and in individuals. For happiness signifies a
gratified state of all the faculties; and no two individuals are alike
in faculties. In endeavoring to fix a standard, we are met by such
insolvable problems as: What is the ratio between mental and bodily
enjoyments constituting the greatest happiness? Which is most truly an
element in the desired felicity, content or aspiration? The conclusion
we inevitably reach is that a true conception of what human life should
be is possible only to the ideal man,--in whom the component feelings
exist in their normal proportions. The world as yet contains no such
men, and we are left with an insolvable riddle on our hands.

There is the same uncertainty as to the mode of obtaining the greatest

The Expediency Philosophy believes that man's intellect is competent to
observe accurately and to grasp at once the multiplied phenomena of life
and derive therefrom the knowledge which shall enable him to say whether
such or such measures will conduce to the greatest happiness of the
greatest number.

If without knowledge of terrestrial phenomena and their laws, Newton had
attempted a theory of planetary and stellar equilibrium, he might have
cogitated to all eternity without result. Such an attempt, however,
would have been far less absurd than the attempt to find out the
principles of public polity by a direct examination of that wonderfully
intricate combination, Society. In order to understand Society it is
necessary to comprehend Man.

Another mistake of the Expediency Philosophy is that it assumes the
eternity of government, which marks a certain stage of civilization, but
which will by no means necessarily last forever. Time was when the
history of a people was the history of its government. Feudalism,
serfdom, slavery,--all were forms of government. Progress means less
government; constitutional forms, political freedom, democracy, all mean
this. Government is a sign of imperfection, an evil necessary against
knavery; it must exist only so long as this exists. The Expediency
Philosophy is, however, founded on government; takes it into
partnership: but a system of moral philosophy professes to be a code of
correct rules for the best, as well as the worst, members of society,
and applicable to humanity in its highest conceivable perfection. Of the
Expediency Philosophy it must, therefore, be said that it can claim no
scientific character, since:

Its fundamental proposition is not an axiom but a problem to be solved;

It is expressed in terms possessing no fixed acceptation;

It would require omniscience to carry it into practice;

And, moreover, it takes imperfection for its basis.

The existence of society argues a certain fitness and desire of mankind
for it; without this, it would not exist, as eating and drinking, and
the nourishment and protection of offspring would not take place if
there were no corresponding desires, but merely an abstract opinion in
favor of the worth of the two. In the method of nature, there is always
some prompter, called a desire, answering to each of the actions which
it is requisite for us to perform. It is probable, therefore, that we
shall find an instrumentality of this sort prompting us to morality. In
objection to the theory of a moral sense, the want of uniformity in
judgment as to what is right is often advanced. But none deny the
importance of appetite, though all know that it is by no means an
infallible guide in the choice of kind or quantity of food. The same may
be said of parental affection. The foundation of the claim of any man
that he has as great a right to happiness as any other can be found in
the last analysis in feeling only; he feels that it is so.

None but those committed to a preconceived theory can fail to recognize
the workings of such a faculty as the moral sense. It is clear that the
perceptions of propriety or impropriety of conduct do not originate with
the intellect but with the emotional faculties. The intellect,
uninfluenced by desire, would show both miser and spendthrift that their
habits were unwise; whereas the intellect, influenced by desire, makes
each think the other a fool, but does not enable him to see his own

This is a universal law: Every feeling is accompanied by a sense of the
rightness of those actions which give it gratification. From an impulse
to behave in a way we call equitable arises a perception that it is
proper, and a conviction that it is good. There is, however, a
perpetual conflict amongst feelings, from which results an incongruity
of beliefs.

It has been said that codes derived from the moral sense have no
stability since this sense ratifies one principle at one time and place,
another at another. The same objection applies, however, to every other
system of morals, and happily there is an answer to the objection. The
error criticised is one of application, not of doctrine. The decisions
of the Geometric Sense are conflicting; yet there are certain axioms
upon which all agree; and in the same manner there are moral axioms to
be found, upon which all must agree. Disagreement is to be looked for
among imperfect characters. But nature's laws know no exception: Obey or
suffer are the alternatives. A progress from entire unconsciousness of
these laws to the conviction that law is universal and inevitable,
constancy an essential attribute of divine rule, is the substance of the
progress of man. The end of these unbending utterances is universal
good; we have no alternative but to assume the law of constancy to be
the best possible one. As with the physical, so with the ethical; all
religions teach the inevitableness of punishment and reward, with which
deeds are _necessarily_ and _indissolubly_ connected. It is of infinite
importance to recognize and follow the laws of society. To the objection
that one cannot always be guided by abstract principles, that there are
exceptions where prudence must act, it may be replied that there are no
exceptions to the laws of nature; that even if, in a particular
instance, partial good may result, a far greater general evil is
entailed by the opening of the way to future disobediences, and that we
cannot, moreover, be sure that an exceptional disobedience will bring
the anticipated benefits. Moral as well as physical evil is the result
of a want of congruity between the faculties and their sphere of action.
With regard to the results of varying conditions upon man, we have three
alternative theories from which to choose: either man remains entirely
unaltered by his surroundings, or he grows more unfitted for them, or
else he grows more fitted for them. The first two suppositions being
absurd, we are obliged to admit the remaining one. And since all evil
results from non-adaptation, and non-adaptation is being continually
diminished, it follows that evil must be continually diminishing. The
evil in society shows that man is not yet completely adapted to a state
which requires that each individual shall have such desires only as may
be fully satisfied without trenching upon the ability of other
individuals to obtain a like satisfaction. The primitive condition of
man required that he should sacrifice the welfare of other beings to his
own; the old attribute still clings to him in some measure; the belief
in human perfectibility amounts to the belief that man will eventually
become completely suited to his mode of life. Progress is not an
accident but a necessity; and if, instead of proposing it as a rule of
human conduct, Bentham had simply assumed the "greatest happiness" to be
the creative purpose, his position would have been tenable enough. It is
one thing, however, to hold that greatest happiness is the creative
purpose, and quite a different thing to hold that greatest happiness
should be the immediate aim of mankind. Truth has two sides, a divine
and a human; or, it is for man to ascertain the conditions which lead to
the greatest happiness, and to live in conformity with these.

The men who are to realize this greatest sum of happiness must be such
as can obtain complete happiness without diminishing the activity and
happiness of others. The first great condition of the attainment of the
end is, therefore, justice, and, as a supplement to this, negative and
positive beneficence,--abstinence from diminishing the spheres of
activity of others, and further, a positive increase of their pleasure.
For man is sympathetic, and the sympathetic pleasures increase the sum
total of happiness.

The exercise[38] of all the faculties in which happiness consists is not
only man's right but also his duty. For the fact of pain, of punishment,
proves that God intends and wills such exercise. But the exercise of all
the faculties is freedom; all men have, therefore, a right to freedom of
action. This principle, however, implies a limitation of man by men,
whereby we arrive at the general proposition that every man may claim
the fullest liberty to exercise his feelings _compatible with the
possession of a like liberty in every other man_. In the progress of
mankind, or adaptation, the conduct which hurts necessary feelings in
others must inevitably undergo restraint and consequent limitation;
conduct which hurts only their incidental feelings, as those of caste or
prejudice, will not inevitably be restrained, but if it springs from
necessary feelings, will, on the contrary, be continued at the expense
of these incidental feelings and to their final suppression. Morality is
_not_, therefore, to be interpreted as a refraining from the infliction
of any pain whatever, for some sentiment must be wounded; and by much
wounding it is gradually weakened. When men mutually behave in a way
that offends some essential element in the nature of each, and all in
turn have to bear the consequent suffering, there will arise a tendency
to curb the desire that makes them so behave.

Questions of individual morality seem to present a difficulty to this
theory of freedom. Thus, for instance, on the principle above adopted,
the liberty of drunkenness cannot be condemned as long as the drunkard
respects a like liberty in others; and here we fall into the
inconsistency of affirming that a man is at liberty to do something
essentially destructive of happiness. However, if we admit, as we must,
that liberty is the _primary_ law, no desire to get a secondary law
fulfilled can warrant us in breaking this primary one; we must deal with
secondary laws as best we can.

The first principle above stated may also be secondarily derived. The
regulation of conduct is not left to the accident of a philosophical
inquiry; the agent of morality is the Moral Sense.

In all ages, but more especially in recent ones, have there been
affirmations of the equality of all men and their equal right to
happiness. When we find that a belief like this is not only permanent
but daily gaining ground, we have good reason to conclude that it
corresponds to some essential element of our moral constitution; more
especially since we find that its existence is in harmony with that
chief prerequisite to greatest happiness lately dwelt upon; and that its
growth is in harmony with the law of adaptation, by which the greatest
happiness is being wrought out.

To assert, however, that the sense of justice is but the gradually
acquired conviction that benefits spring from some kinds of action, and
evils from other kinds, the sympathies and antipathies contracted
manifesting themselves as a love of justice and a hatred of injustice,
is as absurd as to conclude that hunger springs from a conviction of the
benefit of eating.

The Moral Sense must be regarded as a special faculty, since, otherwise,
there would be nothing during the dormancy of the other faculties, which
must sometimes occur, to prevent an infringement on the freedom
requisite for their future action.

As Adam Smith has shown in his "Theory of Moral Sentiments," the proper
regulation of our conduct to others is secured by means of a faculty
whose function it is to excite in each being the emotions displayed by
the beings about him. The sentiment of justice is nothing but a
sympathetic affection of the instinct of personal rights, a sort of
reflex function of it. Other things being equal, those persons
possessing the strongest sense of personal rights have, also, the
strongest sense of the rights of others. There is no _necessary_
connection between the two; but in the average of cases they bear a
constant ratio.

It may be objected that if the truth that every man has a freedom to do
all that he wills, provided he infringe not upon the equal freedom of
others, be an axiom, it should be recognized by all, as is not the case.
This difficulty seems in part due to the impossibility of making the
perfect law recognize an imperfect state. It may further be answered
that the Bushman knows nothing of the science of mathematics, yet that
arithmetic is a fact; the difference in men's moral perceptions is no
difficulty in our way, but rather illustrates the truth of our theory,
since man is not yet adapted to the social state.

In further confirmation of the doctrine of the free exercise of
function, it may be added that, since non-fulfilment of desire produces
misery, if God is to be regarded as willing such non-fulfilment, he must
be regarded as willing men's misery; which is absurd. If men are not
naturally free, then a doctrine of the divine right of kings is easily
reached, and whoever is king must be regarded as such by divine right,
no matter how he reached the throne.

Spencer then proceeds to apply his first principle or axiom of freedom
to prove the right to life and liberty, to the use of the earth, to
property and free speech; and considers further the rights of women and
of children, and the political rights of individuals; the constitution
and duty of the state; commerce, education, and the poor-laws;
government colonization, sanitary supervision, postal arrangements, etc.
A remarkable feature of this part of "Social Statics" is that Spencer,
while applying his principle with quite an opposite result to all other
property, advocates the nationalization of the land, on the ground that
the freedom of the individual is right only in so far as it does not
hinder a like freedom in others; and that the monopolization of the
privileges of land-ownership by individuals does prevent the enjoyment
of the same privilege by others.


The course of civilization could not possibly have been other than it
has been.

Progress shows us that perfect individuation joined to the greatest
mutual dependence will be reached in the future of the race. There will
be an ultimate identity of personal and social interests, and a
disappearance of evil. Spencer gives, however, a number of arguments to
prove that the interest of society is, at present also, the interest of
the individual.

       *       *       *       *       *

The "Theory of Population" (published in 1852), which is founded on the
theory of an antagonism between the intellectual and the reproductive
powers, and on the ancient theory of a direct relation between
skull-capacity or brain-size and intellectual power, contains this
passage: "From the beginning, pressure of population has been the
proximate cause of progress. It produced the original diffusion of the
race. It compelled men to abandon predatory habits and take to
agriculture. It led to the clearing of the earth's surface. It forced
men into the social state; made social organization inevitable; and has
developed the social sentiments. It has stimulated to progressive
improvements in production, and to increased skill and intelligence. It
is daily pressing us into closer contact and more mutually dependent
relationships. And after having caused, as it ultimately must, the due
peopling of the globe, and the bringing of all its habitable parts into
the highest state of culture,--after having brought all processes for
the satisfaction of human wants to the greatest perfection,--after
having, at the same time, developed the intellect into complete
competency for its work, and the feelings into complete fitness for
social life,--after having done all this, we see the pressure of
population, as it gradually finishes its work, must gradually bring
itself to an end."

In a letter to Mr. Mill, published in Bain's "Mental and Moral Science"
(p. 721, 3d edition), Spencer repudiates the title of Anti-Utilitarian,
which Mr. Mill, in view of the criticisms of Utilitarianism contained in
"Social Statics," had applied to him. He defines his position in respect
to Utilitarianism as follows: "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 the
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 organized and consolidated through all
past generations of the human race, have been producing 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."

In "Recent Discussions in Science, Philosophy, and Morals"[39] (1871),
Spencer, after quoting portions of the above letter as defining his
position, continues with a consideration of the continual readjustment
of the compromise between the ideal and the practicable, the former of
which prescribes a system far too good for men as they are, the latter
of which does not of itself tend to establish a system better than the
existing one; and he reiterates his law of the perfect man as follows:--

"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."
Spencer further expressly repudiates empirical Utilitarianism, and
denies the assertion of Mr. Hutton that he by implication recognizes no
parentage for morals beyond that of the accumulation and organization of
the facts of experience. On this head he says:--

"In the genesis of an idea, the successive experiences, be they of
sounds, colors, touches, tastes, or be they of the special objects that
combine many of these into groups, have so much in common that each,
when it occurs, can be definitely thought of as like those which
preceded it. But in the genesis of an emotion, the successive
experiences so far differ that each of them, when it occurs, suggests
past experiences which are not specifically similar, but have only a
general similarity; and, at the same time, it suggests benefits or evils
in past experience which likewise are various in their special natures,
though they have a certain community of general nature. Hence it results
that the consciousness aroused is a multitudinous confused
consciousness, in which, along with a certain kind of combination among
impressions received from without, there is a vague cloud of ideal
combinations akin to them, and a vague mass of ideal feelings of
pleasure or pain that were associated with them. We have abundant proof
that feelings grow up without reference to recognized causes and
consequences, and without the possessor of them being able to say why
they have grown up, though analysis, nevertheless, shows that they have
been formed out of connected experiences. The experiences of utility I
refer to are those which become registered, not as distinctly recognized
connections between certain kinds of acts and certain kinds of remote
results, but those which become registered in the shape of associations
between groups of feelings that have often recurred together,
though the relation between them has not been consciously
generalized"--associations which though little perceived, nevertheless
serve as incentives or deterrents. Much deeper down than the history of
the human race must we go to find the beginnings of these connections.
The appearances and sounds which excite in the infant a vague dread
indicate danger; and do so because they are the physiological
accompaniments of destructive action.

"What we call the natural language of anger is due to a partial
contraction of those muscles which actual combat would call into play;
and all marks of irritation, down to that passing shade over the brow
which accompanies slight annoyance, are incipient stages of these same
contractions. Conversely with the natural language of pleasure, and of
that state of mind which we call amicable feeling; this, too, has a
physical interpretation."

Of the altruistic sentiments, Spencer says: "The development of these
has gone on only as fast as society has advanced to a state in which the
activities are mainly peaceful. The root of all the altruistic
sentiments is sympathy, and sympathy could become dominant only when the
mode of life, instead of being one that habitually inflicted direct
pain, became one which conferred direct and indirect benefits; the pains
inflicted being mainly incidental and indirect." Sympathy is "the
concomitant of gregariousness; the two having all along increased by
reciprocal aid."

"If we suppose all thought of rewards or punishments, immediate or
remote, to be left out of consideration, it is clear that any one who
hesitates to inflict a pain because of the vivid representation of that
pain which rises in his consciousness, is restrained not by any sense of
obligation or by any formulated doctrine of utility, but by the painful
associations established in him. And it is clear that if, after repeated
experiences of the moral discomfort he has felt from witnessing the
unhappiness indirectly caused by some of his acts, he is led to check
himself when again tempted to those acts, the restraint is of like
nature. Conversely with the pleasure-giving acts, repetitions of kind
deeds and experiences of the sympathetic gratifications that follow tend
continually to make stronger the association between deeds and feelings
of happiness."

Spencer continues: "Eventually these experiences may be consciously
generalized, and there may result a deliberate pursuit of the
sympathetic gratifications. There may also come to be distinctly
recognized the truths that the remoter results are respectively
detrimental and beneficial--that due regard for others is conducive to
ultimate personal welfare, and disregard of others to ultimate personal
disaster; and then there may become current such summations of
experience as 'honesty is the best policy.' But so far from regarding
these intellectual recognitions of utility as preceding and causing the
moral sentiment, I regard the moral sentiment as preceding such
recognitions of utility and making them possible. The pleasures and
pains directly resulting, in experience, from sympathetic and
unsympathetic actions, had first to be slowly associated with such
actions, and the resulting incentives and deterrents frequently obeyed,
before there could arise the perceptions that sympathetic and
unsympathetic actions are remotely beneficial or detrimental to the
actor; and they had to be obeyed still longer and more generally before
there could arise the perceptions that they are socially beneficial and
detrimental. When, however, the remote effects, personal and social,
have gained general recognition, are expressed in current maxims, and
lead to injunctions having the religious sanction, the sentiments that
prompt sympathetic actions and check unsympathetic ones, are immensely
strengthened by their alliances. Approbation and reprobation, divine and
human, come to be associated in thought with the sympathetic and
unsympathetic actions respectively. The commands of a creed, the legal
penalties, and the code of social conduct, mutually enforce them; and
every child, as it grows up, daily has impressed on it, by the words and
faces and voices of those around, the authority of these highest

The altruistic sentiments develop, and altruistic action becomes
habitual, "until at length these altruistic sentiments begin to call in
question the authority of those ego-altruistic sentiments which once
ruled unchallenged."

And Spencer sums up his objections to the interpretation of his theory
of the development of the moral sentiment as follows: "What I have said
will make it clear that two fundamental errors have been made in the
interpretation put upon it. Both Utility and Experience have been
construed in senses much too narrow.

"Utility, convenient a word as it is from its comprehensiveness, has
very inconvenient and misleading implications. It vividly suggests uses
and means and proximate ends, but very faintly suggests the pleasures,
positive or negative, which are the ultimate ends, and which, in the
ethical meaning of the word, are alone considered; and, further, it
implies conscious recognition of means and ends--implies the deliberate
taking of some course to gain a perceived benefit. Experience, too, in
its ordinary acceptation, connotes definite perceptions of causes and
consequences, as standing in observed relations, and is not taken to
include the connections found in consciousness between states that occur
together, when the relation between them, causal or other, is not
perceived. It is in their widest senses, however, that I habitually use
these words, as will be manifest to every one who reads the 'Principles
of Psychology.'"

In his essay on Prison Ethics (1860), Spencer says: "The antagonistic
schools of morals, like many other antagonistic schools, are both right
and both wrong. The _a priori_ school has its truth; the _a posteriori_
school has its truth; and for the proper guidance of conduct there
should be due recognition of both. On the one hand, it is asserted that
there is an absolute standard of rectitude; and respecting certain
classes of actions, it is rightly asserted. From the fundamental laws of
life and the conditions of social existence are deducible certain
imperative limitations to individual action--limitations which are
essential to a perfect life, individual and social; or, in other words,
essential to the greatest possible happiness. And these limitations,
following inevitably as they do from undeniable first principles, deep
as the nature of life itself, constitute what we may distinguish as
absolute morality.

"On the other hand, it is contended, and in a sense rightly contended,
that with men as they are, and society as it is, the dictates of
absolute morality are impracticable. Legal control, which involves the
infliction of pain, alike on those who are restrained and on those who
pay the cost of restraining them, is proved by this fact to be not
absolutely moral, seeing that absolute morality is the regulation of
conduct in such way that pain shall not be inflicted. Wherefore, if it
be admitted that legal control is at present indispensable, it must be
admitted that these _a priori_ rules cannot be immediately carried out.
And hence it follows that we must adapt our laws and actions to the
existing character of mankind--that we must estimate the good or evil
resulting from this or that arrangement, and so reach _a posteriori_ a
code fitted for the time being. In short, we must fall back on
expediency." Spencer then goes on to argue that an advanced penal code
is as impossible to an early stage of civilization as is an advanced
form of government; a bloody penal code is both a natural product of the
time and a needful restraint for the time, and is also the only one
which could be carried out by the existing administration.

The aim of morality is life, of absolute morality complete life; society
is therefore justified in coercing the criminal who breaks through the
conditions of life or constrains us to do so. Coercion is legitimate to
the extent of compelling restitution, and preventing a repetition of
aggressions; no further. Less bloody systems of punishment, wherever
introduced, have borne excellent fruit. It may be deductively shown that
the best of all systems must be that best calculated to reform the
criminal; too severe punishment, instead of awakening a sense of guilt,
prevents the same, begetting a sense of injustice towards the
inflicting power, which causes resentment; so that, even if the
criminal, on reëntering society, commits no further crime, he is
restrained by the lowest of motives--fear. The industrial system applied
in prisons must have the best results--counteracting habits of idleness,
strengthening self-control, and educating the will.

The principle of freedom, which runs through all Spencer's works, is
especially enounced again, in his essay, "The Man versus the State"
(1884), in which he combats "the great political superstition" of
so-called "paternal government." He says: "Reduced to its lowest terms,
every proposal to interfere with citizens' activities further than by
enforcing their mutual limitations, is a proposal to improve life by
breaking through the fundamental conditions of life."[40]

In "The Data of Ethics" (published 1874), Mr. Spencer assumes a somewhat
different standpoint from that of his earlier works bearing on morals.
The course of reasoning contained in this book is as follows:--

The doctrine that correlatives imply one another has, for one of its
common examples, the relation between the conceptions of whole and part.
Beyond the primary truth that no idea of a whole can be framed without a
nascent idea of parts constituting it, and that no idea of a part can be
framed without a nascent idea of some whole to which it belongs, there
is the secondary truth that there can be no correct idea of a part
without a correct idea of the correlative whole. Still less, when part
and whole are dynamically related, and least of all when the whole is
organic, can the part be understood except by comprehension of the whole
to which it belongs. This truth holds not only of material but also of
immaterial aggregates.

Conduct is a whole and, in a sense, an organic whole, and Ethics, of
which it is a part, cannot be understood except through the
understanding of the whole of conduct.

A definition of conduct must exclude purposeless actions,--such, for
instance, as those of an epileptic in a fit. Hence the definition
emerges either: acts adjusted to ends; or, the adjustment of acts to
ends; according as we contemplate the formed body of acts, or think of
the form alone. And conduct, in its full acceptation, must be taken as
comprehending all adjustments of acts to ends, from the simplest to the
most complex, whatever their special natures and whether they are
considered separately or in their totality.

A large part of conduct is non-ethical, indifferent; this passes, by
small degrees and in countless ways, into conduct which is either moral
or immoral.

The acts of all living creatures, as acts adjusted to ends, come within
the definition of conduct; the conduct of the higher animals as compared
with that of man, and of the lower animals as compared with the higher,
differs mainly in that the adjustments of acts to ends is relatively
simple and relatively incomplete. And as in other cases, so in this
case, we must interpret the more developed by the less developed; human
conduct as a part of the whole of the conduct of animate beings. And
further: as, in order to understand the part of human conduct with which
Ethics is concerned, we must study it as a part of human conduct as a
whole, and in order to understand human conduct, we must again study it
as a part of the whole of conduct exhibited in animate beings, so, in
order to comprehend this too, we must regard it as an outcome of former,
less developed conduct, out of which it has arisen. Our first step must
be to study the evolution of conduct.

Morphology deals with physical structure, physiology with the processes
carried on in the body. But we enter on the subject of conduct when we
begin to study such combinations among the actions of sensory and
motor-organs as are externally manifested.

We saw that conduct is distinguished from the totality of actions by the
exclusion of purposeless actions; but during evolution this distinction
arises by degrees. We trace up conduct to the vertebrates and through
the vertebrates to man, and find that here the adjustments of acts to
ends are both more numerous and better than among lower mammals; and we
find the same thing on comparing the doings of higher races of men with
those of lower. These better adjustments favor, not only prolongation,
but also increased amount of life.

And among these adjustments of acts to ends, there are not only such as
further individual life but also, evolving with these, such as favor the
life of the species. Race-maintaining conduct, like self-maintaining
conduct, arises gradually out of that which cannot be called conduct.
The multitudinous creatures of all kinds which fill the earth are
engaged in a continuous struggle for existence, in which the adjustments
of acts to ends, being imperfectly evolved, miss completeness because
they cannot be made by one creature without other creatures being
prevented from making them. This imperfectly evolved conduct introduces
us, by antithesis, to conduct which is perfectly evolved,--such
adjustments that each creature may make them without preventing other
creatures making them also. The conditions of such conduct cannot exist
in predatory savage life; nor can it exist where there remains
antagonism between individuals forming a group, or between groups of
individuals,--two traits of life necessarily associated, since the
nature which prompts international aggression prompts aggression of
individuals on one another also. Hence the limit of evolution can be
reached by conduct only in permanently peaceful societies; can be
approached only as war decreases and dies out.

The principle of beneficence is not derived by Spencer from the
principle of freedom, in "Social Statics"; and here, as in the latter
book, Spencer has difficulty with it. He says: "A gap in this outline
must now be filled up. There remains a further advance not yet even
hinted. For beyond so behaving that each achieves his ends without
preventing others from achieving their ends, the members of a society
may give mutual help in the achievement of ends. And if either
indirectly by industrial coöperation, or directly by volunteered aid,
fellow-citizens can make easier for one another the adjustments of acts
to ends, then their conduct assumes a still higher phase of evolution;
since whatever facilitates the making of adjustments by each increases
the totality of the adjustments made, and serves to render the lives of
all more complete."

Thus, then, says Spencer, "we have been led to see that Ethics has for
its subject-matter that form which universal conduct assumes during the
last stages of its evolution."

By comparing the meanings of a word in different connections, and
observing what they have in common, we learn its essential significance.
Material objects we are accustomed to designate as good or bad according
as they are well or ill adapted to achieve prescribed ends. The good
knife is one which will cut; the good gun is one which will carry far
and true; and so on. So of inanimate actions, and so, also, of living
things and actions. A good jump is a jump which, remoter ends ignored,
well achieves the immediate purpose of a jump; and a stroke at billiards
is called good when the movements are skilfully adjusted to the
requirements. So too our use of the words good and bad with respect to
conduct under its ethical aspects has regard to the efficiency or
non-efficiency of the adjustments of acts to ends. This last truth is,
through the entanglements of social relations, by which men's actions
often simultaneously affect the welfares of self, of offspring, and of
fellow-citizens, somewhat disguised. Nevertheless, when we disentangle
the three orders of ends, and consider each separately, it becomes clear
that the conduct which achieves each kind of end is regarded as
relatively good; and conduct which fails to achieve it is regarded as
relatively bad. The goodness ascribed to a man of business, as such, is
measured by the activity and ability with which he buys and sells to
advantage, and may coexist with a hard treatment of dependents which is
reprobated. The ethical judgments we pass on such self-regarding acts
are ordinarily little emphasized; partly because the promptings of the
self-regarding desires, generally strong enough, do not need moral
enforcement, and partly because the promptings of the other-regarding
desires, less strong, do need moral enforcement. With regard to the
second class of adjustments of acts to ends, which subserve the rearing
of offspring, we no longer find any obscurity in the application of the
words good and bad to them, according as they are efficient or
inefficient. And most emphatic are the application of the words, in this
sense, throughout the third division of conduct comprising the deeds by
which men affect one another. Always, then, acts are good or bad,
according as they are well or ill-adapted to ends. That is, good is the
name we apply to the relatively more evolved conduct; and bad is the
name we apply to that which is relatively less evolved; for we have seen
that "evolution, tending ever towards self-preservation, reaches its
limits when individual life is the greatest, both in length and breadth;
and we now see that, leaving other ends aside, we regard as good the
conduct furthering self-preservation, and as bad the conduct tending to
self-destruction." With increasing power of maintaining individual life
goes increasing power of perpetuating the species by fostering progeny;
and the establishment of an associated state both makes possible and
requires a form of conduct such that life may be completed in each and
in his offspring, not only without preventing completion of it in
others, but with furtherance of it in others; and this is the form of
conduct most emphatically termed good. "Moreover, just as we saw that
evolution becomes the highest possible when the conduct simultaneously
achieves the greatest totality of life in self, in offspring, and in
fellow-men; so here we see that the conduct called good rises to the
conduct conceived as best, when it fulfils all three classes of ends at
the same time."

Has this evolution been a mistake? The pessimist claims so, the optimist
claims not. But there is one postulate in which both pessimists and
optimists agree--namely, that it is evident that life is good or bad,
according as it does, or does not, have a surplus of agreeable feeling;
if a future life is included in the theory of either, the assumption is
still the same, that life is a blessing or a curse according as
existence, now considered in both worlds, contains more of pleasure or
of pain; and the implication is therefore that conduct which conduces to
the preservation of self, the family, and society, is good or bad in the
same measure. "Thus there is no escape from the admission that conduct
is good or bad according as its total effects are pleasurable or
painful." So that if self-mutilation furthered life, and picking a man's
pocket brightened his prospects, we should regard these acts as good.
Approach to such a constitution as effects complete adjustment of acts
to ends of every kind is, however, an approach to perfection, and
therefore means approach to that which secures greater happiness.
"Pleasure somewhere, at some time, to some being or beings, is an
inexpugnable element of the conception" of moral aim.

Here follow criticisms of the religious school of morals, which bases
its system on the will of God, and of the school of "pure
intuitionists," who hold "that men have been divinely endowed with moral
faculties." "It must be either admitted or denied that the acts called
good and the acts called bad naturally conduce, the one to human
well-being and the other to human ill-being. Is it admitted? Then the
admission amounts to an assertion that the conduciveness is shown by
experience; and this involves abandonment of the doctrine that there is
no origin for morals apart from divine injunctions. Is it denied that
acts classed as good and bad differ in their effects? Then it is tacitly
affirmed that human affairs would go on just as well in ignorance of
the distinction; and the alleged need for commandments from God
disappears." To affirm that we know some things to be right and other
things to be wrong, by virtue of a supernaturally given conscience; and
thus tacitly to affirm that we do not otherwise know right from wrong,
is tacitly to deny any natural relations between acts and results. For
if there exist any such relations, then we may ascertain by induction,
or deduction, or both, what these are. And if it be admitted that
because of such natural relations happiness is produced by this kind of
conduct, which is therefore to be approved; while misery is produced by
that kind of conduct, which is therefore to be condemned; then it is
admitted that the rightness or wrongness of actions is determinable, and
must finally be determined, by the goodness or badness of the effects
that flow from them, which is contrary to the hypothesis. Spencer also
repeats and enlarges upon his formerly stated objections to
utilitarianism as superficial: "The utilitarianism which recognizes only
the principles of conduct reached by induction, is but preparatory to
the utilitarianism which deduces these principles from the processes of
life as carried on under established conditions of existence."

Every science begins by accumulating observations, and presently
generalizes these empirically, but only when it reaches the stage at
which its empirical generalizations are included in a rational
generalization, does it become developed science. So with Ethics; a
preparation in the simpler sciences is presupposed. It has a biological
aspect; since it concerns certain effects, inner and outer, individual
and social, of the vital changes going on in the highest type of
animals. It has a psychological aspect; for its subject-matter is an
aggregate of actions that are prompted by feelings and guided by
intelligence. And it has a sociological aspect; for these actions, some
of them directly, and all of them indirectly, affect associated beings.
Belonging under one aspect of each of these sciences,--physical,
biological, psychological, sociological,--it can find its ultimate
interpretations only in those fundamental truths which are common to all
of them, as different aspects of evolving life.


While an aggregate evolves, not only the matter composing it, but also
the motion of that matter, passes from an indefinite, incoherent
homogeneity to a definite, coherent, heterogeneity. It is so with
conduct. The conduct of lowly organized creatures has its successive
portions feebly connected. From these up to man may be observed an
increase in cohesion. Man, even in his lowest state, displays in his
conduct far more coherent combinations of motions; and in civilized man
this trait of developed conduct becomes more conspicuous still. But an
even greater coherence among its component motions broadly distinguishes
the conduct we call moral from the conduct we call immoral. The
application of the word dissolute to the last, and of the word
self-restrained to the first, implies this fact. The sequences of
conduct in the moral man are more easily to be specified, as implied by
the word trustworthy applied to them; while those of the less principled
man cannot be so specified; as is implied by the word untrustworthy.
Indefiniteness accompanies incoherence in conduct that is little
evolved; and throughout the ascending stages of evolving conduct there
is an increasingly definite coördination of the motions constituting it,
until we reach the conscientious man, who is exact in all his
transactions. With this increase of definiteness and coherence goes also
an increase of heterogeneity; the moral man performs more varied duties,
adjustments of acts to ends in more varied relations, than does the
immoral man.

Evolution in conduct is, like all other evolution, towards
equilibrium,--not the equilibrium reached by the individual in death,
but a moving equilibrium. His evolution consists in a continual
adjustment of inner to outer relations, until a state of society shall
be reached in which the individual will find his nature congruous with
the environment.


"The truth that the ideally moral man is one in whom the moving
equilibrium is perfect, or approaches nearest to perfection, becomes,
when translated with physiological language, the truth that he is one in
whom the functions of all kinds are duly fulfilled." Either excess or
defect in the performance of function results in a lowering of life, for
the time being at least. Hence, the performance of every function is, in
a sense, a moral obligation. One test of action is thus given us. An
action must be classed as right or wrong in respect of its immediate
bearings, according as it does or does not tend either to the
maintenance of complete life for the time being or the prolongation of
life to its full extent. This is true even though the remoter bearings
of the action may call for a different classification. The seeming
paradoxy of this statement results from the tendency, so difficult to
avoid, to judge a conclusion which presupposes an ideal humanity, by its
applicability to humanity as now existing. In the ideal state, towards
which evolution tends, any falling short of function implies deviation
from perfectly moral conduct.

"Fit connections between acts and results must establish themselves in
living things, even before consciousness arises; and after the rise of
consciousness these connections can change in no other way than to
become better established. At the very outset, life is maintained by
persistence in acts which conduce to it and desistence from acts which
impede it; and whenever sentience makes its appearance as an
accompaniment, its forms must be such that in the one case the produced
feeling is of a kind that will be sought--pleasure, and in the other
case is of a kind that will be shunned--pain." So, in the case of the
seizure of food, for example, "the pleasurable sensation," everywhere
where it arises, must be itself the stimulus to the contraction by which
the pleasurable sensation is maintained and increased; or must be so
bound up with the stimulus that the two increase together. "And this
relation, which we see is directly established in the case of a
fundamental function, must be indirectly established with all other
functions; since non-establishment of it in any particular case implies,
in so far, unfitness to the conditions of existence." "Sentient
existence can evolve only on condition that pleasure-giving acts are
life-sustaining acts."

It is true that, in mankind as at present constituted, guidance by
present or proximate pleasures and pains fails throughout a wide range
of cases. This arises throughout evolution by changes in the
environment, from which result partial misadjustments of the feelings,
necessitating readjustments. This general cause of derangement has been
operating on human beings in the changes from a primitive to a
civilized condition through the direct opposition and struggle of the
militant and the industrial spirit, in a manner unusually decided,
persistent, and involved.

But there is a still further relation between pleasure and welfare to be
considered. There are connections between pleasure in general, and
physiological exaltation, and between pain in general and physiological
depression. Every pleasure increases vitality, every pain decreases
vitality. Non-recognition of these general truths vitiates moral
speculation at large. "'You have had your gratification--it is past; and
you are as you were before,' says the moralist to one; and to another he
says: 'You have borne the suffering--it is over; and there the matter
ends.' Both statements are false; leaving out of view indirect results,
the direct results are that the one has moved a step away from death,
and the other has moved a step towards death."

However, it is with the indirect results that the moralist is especially
concerned; since remote consequences of action are especially to be
considered in ethical questions. But doubtless a better understanding of
biological truths would be to the benefit of moral theory and society at

Spencer especially combats, in a note at the end of this chapter,
Barratt's theory, stated in "Physical Ethics," that movements of
retraction and withdrawal and movements that secure the continuance of
the impression of any acting force, are the external marks,
respectively, of pain and pleasure. A great part of the vital processes,
even in creatures of developed nervous systems, are carried on by
unconscious reflex action, and there is, therefore, no propriety in
assuming the existence of what we understand by consciousness in
creatures not only devoid of nervous systems but devoid of structures in
general. It is more proper to conceive such feelings as arising
gradually, by the compounding of ultimate elements of consciousness.


"Mind consists of feelings and the relations among feelings.[41] By
compositions of the relations, and ideas of relations, intelligence
arises. By composition of feelings, and ideas of feelings, emotion
arises. And, other things equal, the evolution of either is great in
proportion as the composition is great. One of the necessary
implications is that cognition becomes higher in proportion as it is
remoter from reflex action; while emotion becomes higher in proportion
as it is remoter from sensation."[42]

"The mental process by which, in any case, the adjustment of acts to
ends is effected and which, under its higher forms, becomes the
subject-matter of ethical judgments, is, as above implied, divisible
into the rise of a feeling or feelings constituting the motive, and the
thought or thoughts through which the motive is shaped and finally
issues in action. The first of these elements, originally an excitement,
becomes a simple sensation; then a compound sensation; then a cluster of
partially presentative and partially representative sensations, forming
an incipient emotion; then a cluster of exclusively ideal or
representative sensations forming an emotion proper; then a cluster of
such clusters forming a compound emotion; and eventually becomes a still
more involved emotion composed of the ideal forms of such compound
emotions. The other element, beginning with that immediate passage of a
single stimulus into a single motion, called reflex action, presently
comes to be a set of associated discharges of stimuli producing
associated motions; constituting instinct. Step by step arise more
entangled combinations of stimuli, somewhat variable in their modes of
union, leading to complex motions, similarly variable in their
adjustments; whence occasional hesitations in the sensori-motor
processes. Presently is reached a stage at which the combined clusters
of impressions, not all present together, issue in actions not all
simultaneous, implying representation of results, or thought. Afterwards
follow stages in which various thoughts have time to pass before the
composite motives produce the appropriate actions, until at last arise
those long deliberations during which the probabilities of various
consequences are estimated, and the promptings of the correlative
feelings balanced; constituting calm judgment. That, under either of its
aspects, the later forms of this mental process are the higher,
ethically considered as well as otherwise considered, will be readily

"Observe, then, what follows respecting the relative authorities of
motives. Throughout the ascent from low creatures up to man, and from
the lowest types of man to the highest, self-preservation has been
increased by the subordination of simple excitations to compound
excitations,--the subjection of immediate sensations to the ideas of
sensations to come,--the overruling of presentative feelings by
representative feelings, and of representative feelings by
re-representative feelings. As life has advanced, the accompanying
sentience has become increasingly ideal; and among feelings produced by
the compounding of ideas, the highest, and those which are evolved
latest, are the re-compounded or doubly ideal. Hence it follows that, as
guides, the feelings have authorities proportionate to the degrees in
which they are removed, by their complexity and their ideality, from
simple sensations and appetites. A further implication is made clear by
studying the intellectual sides of these mental processes by which acts
are adjusted to ends. Where they are low and simple, these comprehend
the guiding only of immediate acts by immediate stimuli--the entire
transaction in each case, lasting but a moment, refers only to a
proximate result. But with the development of intelligence and the
growing ideality of the motives, the ends to which the acts are adjusted
cease to be exclusively immediate. The more ideal motives concern ends
that are more distant; and with approach to the highest types, present
ends become increasingly subordinate to those future ends which the
ideal motives have for their objects. Hence there arises a certain
presumption in favor of a motive which refers to a remote good, in
comparison with one which refers to a proximate good."[44]

Out of the three controls of conduct, the political, the religious, and
the social, the first and the last of which are generated in the social
state through the supremacy of individuals in the midst of a control
that is also, in some degree, exerted by the whole community, the moral
consciousness grows; the feeling of moral obligation in general arising
in a manner analogous to that in which abstract ideas are generated, out
of concrete instances. As in such groupings of instances the different
components are mutually cancelled to form the abstract idea, so in
groupings of the emotions, there takes place a mutual cancelling of
diverse components; the common component is made relatively appreciable,
and becomes an abstract feeling. That which the moral feelings--the
feelings that prompt honesty, truthfulness, etc.--have in common, is
complexity and re-representative character. The idea of
authoritativeness has, therefore, come to be connected with feelings
having these traits: the implication being that the lower and simpler
feelings are without authority. Another element--that of
coerciveness--originated from experience of those several forms of
restraint that have established themselves in the course of
civilization--the political, religious, and social. By punishment is
generated the sense of compulsion which the consciousness of duty
includes, and which the word obligation indicates. This sense, however,
becomes indirectly connected with the feelings distinguished as moral;
and slowly fades as these emerge from amidst the political, religious,
and social motives, and become distinct and predominant. The sense of
duty is, therefore, transitory, fading as a motive as pleasure in
right-doing is evolved.


"Not for the human race only, but for every race, there are laws of
right living. Given its environment and its structure, and there is, for
each kind of creature, a set of actions adapted in their kinds, amounts,
and combinations, to secure the highest conservation its nature
permits." Yet in man we find an additional factor in the formula for
life: for man is sociable to a degree not found anywhere else among
animals. The conditions of the associated state have therefore called
for an emphasizing of those restraints on conduct entailed by the
presence of fellow-men. "From the sociological point of view, then,
Ethics becomes nothing else than a definite account of the forms of
conduct that are fitted to the associated state, in such wise that the
lives of each and all may be the greatest possible, alike in length and
breadth." "But here we are met by a fact which forbids us thus to put in
the foreground the welfare of citizens, individually considered, and
requires us to put in the foreground the welfare of the society as a
whole. The life of the social organism must, as an end, rank above the
lives of its units." These two ends are not harmonious at the outset,
since as long as communities are endangered by rival communities, a
sacrifice of private to public claims is necessary. When, however,
antagonism between communities shall cease, there will cease to be any
public claims at variance with private claims; the need for the
subordination of individual lives to the general life will cease, and
the latter, having from the beginning had furtherance of individual
lives as its ultimate purpose, will come to have this as its proximate
purpose. Between the commands of duty towards members of the same
community and towards those of different communities as between the
sentiments answering to these relations, there is, at present, conflict.
In the course of evolution, however, the various forms of subjection
countenanced by a warlike régime--slavery, the subjection of women to
men, and paternal absolutism, become more and more unpopular, and are
done away with. For each kind and degree of social evolution, there is
an appropriate compromise between the moral code of enmity and that of
amity; this is, for the time being, authoritative.[45] But such
compromise belongs to incomplete conduct; the end of evolution is in the
annihilation of enmity between societies as between individuals. Nor is
a mere abstinence from mutual injury enough. Without coöperation for
satisfying wants the social state loses its _raison d'être_. In all
efforts for coöperation equivalence of exchange is a necessary basis;
all failure to fulfil such equivalence causes antagonism and thus a
diminution of social coherence; in the social, as in the animal
organism, waste without repair destroys the equilibrium of the parts;
fulfilment of contract is, therefore, the primary condition of the
welfare of society.

And even mutual punctiliousness in the fulfilment of contract is not
sufficient to the moral ideal. Daily experience proves that every one
would suffer many evils and lose many goods, did none give him unpaid
assistance. The limit of the evolution of conduct is not reached until,
beyond avoidance of direct and indirect injuries to others, there are
spontaneous efforts to further the welfare of others. The form of nature
which thus adds beneficence to justice, is one which adaptation to the
social state produces. "The social man has not reached that
harmonization of constitution with conditions forming the limit of
evolution, so long as there remains space for the growth of faculties
which, by their exercise, bring positive benefit to others and
satisfaction to self. If the presence of fellow-men, while putting
certain limits to each man's sphere of activity, opens certain other
spheres of activity in which feelings, while achieving their
gratifications, do not diminish but add to the gratifications of others,
then such spheres will inevitably be occupied."[46] But of beneficence,
as well as of justice, sympathy is the root.

The assumption that feelings can be arranged in a scale of
desirability, against which Mr. Sidgwick especially argues in his
objections to (empirical) egoistic hedonism, is not necessarily an
element of such hedonism, although Bentham, in naming intensity,
duration, certainty, and proximity as traits entering into an estimation
of the relative value of a pleasure or pain, has committed himself to
it. But if a debtor who cannot pay offers to compound for his debt by
making over to me any one of various objects of property, will I not
endeavor to estimate their relative value, though I may not be able to
do it exactly; and if I choose wrongly is therefore the ground of choice
to be abandoned? Mr. Sidgwick's argument against empirical hedonism must
tell, moreover, in a still greater degree, against his own
utilitarianism, since this is applicable, not to the individual simply,
but to many classes of differing individuals. To this difficulty must be
added, moreover, the future indeterminateness of the means for obtaining
such universal happiness. Mr. Sidgwick's objection contains, however, a
partial truth; for guidance in the pursuit of happiness through the mere
balancing of pleasures and pains is, if partially practicable throughout
a certain range of conduct, futile throughout a much wider range. "It is
quite consistent to assert that happiness is the ultimate aim of action,
and at the same time to deny that it can be reached by making it the
immediate aim. I go with Mr. Sidgwick as far as the conclusion that 'we
must at least admit the desirability of confirming or correcting the
results of such comparisons (of pleasures and pains) by any other method
upon which we may find reason to rely'; and I then go further, and say
that throughout a large part of conduct guidance by such comparisons is
to be entirely set aside and replaced by other guidance."

The fact cited by Mr. Sidgwick as the "fundamental paradox of hedonism,"
that to get the pleasures of pursuit one must "forget" them, is
explained by the fact that the pleasures of pursuit lie greatly in the
consciousness of capability in the efficient use of means, and the sense
of the admiration excited thereby in others. And so the "fundamental
paradox" disappears. Yet the truth of the pleasure derived from means as
distinguished from ends is of significance. Throughout the evolution of
conduct we find a growing complexity of adjustment of acts to ends, the
interposition of more and more complex means, each as a step to the
next, and leading to the final attainment of even remoter ends. Of
these means, each set, with its accompanying satisfaction, developed
with the function, comes at last to be regarded as proximate end, and
constitutes an obligation; and each later and higher order of means
comes to take precedence in time and authoritativeness of each earlier
and lower order of means. In this manner arises the authoritativeness of
moral requirements, as designating the latest and highest order of

Such means are more determinable than the end--happiness--for any
society. What constitutes happiness is more difficult of determination
than what constitutes the means of its attainment. We may now see our
way to reconciling sundry conflicting ethical theories, which generally
embody portions of the truth, and simply require to be combined in
proper order in order to embody the whole truth. The theological theory
contains a part. If for the divine will, supposed to be supernaturally
revealed, we substitute the naturally revealed end towards which the
Power manifested throughout Evolution works; then, since evolution has
been, and is still, working towards the highest life, it follows that
conformity to those principles by which the highest life is achieved, is
furtherance of that end. The doctrine that perfection or excellence of
nature should be the purpose of pursuit, is in one sense true; for it
tacitly recognizes that ideal form of being which the highest life
implies, and to which evolution tends. There is a truth, also, in the
doctrine that virtue must be the aim; for this is another form of the
doctrine that the aim must be to fulfil the conditions to achievement of
the highest life. That the intuitions of a moral faculty should guide
our conduct is a proposition in which a truth is contained; for these
intuitions are the slowly organized results of experiences received by
the race while living in presence of these conditions. And that
happiness is the supreme end is beyond question true; for it is the
concomitant of that highest life which every theory of moral guidance
has, distinctly or vaguely, in view.

Thus, those ethical systems which make virtue, right, obligation, the
cardinal aims, are seen to be complementary to those ethical systems
which make welfare, happiness, pleasure, the cardinal aims.

Spencer follows up this argument with a chapter on the relativity of
pleasures and pains, and then proceeds with an argument against
excessive altruism as, in the end, selfish, since it is destructive to
the power for work and to individual life, diminishes the vigor of
offspring, and finally results in the survival of the less altruistic as
the fittest; this chapter is under the heading "Egoism versus Altruism."
It is followed by a chapter on Altruism versus Egoism, in which is shown
that some individual self-sacrifice, at least to offspring, is found far
down in the scale of being; that altruism is, therefore, "no less
primordial than self-preservation,"[47] and hence no less imperative;
that this altruism, at first unconscious, becomes, in higher stages of
evolution, conscious; and that if often selfish in motive, it may be
without any element of conscious self-regard, although it conduces
greatly to egoistic satisfaction. Indeed, pure egoism defeats itself,
since pleasure palls by over-indulgence, is dulled by maturity, and
almost destroyed by old age. He that can find pleasure in ministering to
that of others has, however, a source of pleasure which may serve in
place of personal pleasure. In the associated state, a certain altruism
is, and must necessarily be, an advantage to each member of the
community. Whatever conduces to the well-being of each is conducive to
the well-being of all.

Here follows a criticism of utilitarianism as one form of pure altruism,
since, according to the utilitarian doctrine, each individual is to
count for one, not more than one, and the individual share of happiness
thus becomes infinitesimal as compared with general happiness. Shall A,
who has, by labor, acquired some material happiness, take the attitude
of a disinterested spectator with regard to their use, as Mr. Mill
recommends? And will he, as such, decide on a division of these means to
happiness with B, C, and D, who have not labored to produce them? From
the conclusion that a really disinterested spectator would not decree
any such division, Spencer seems to draw the conclusion that Mr. Mill's
position is untenable. He further illustrates the untenability of
utilitarianism (as pure altruism) by the figure of a cluster of bodies
generating heat, each of which will have, as long as it generates heat
for itself, a certain amount of proper heat and a certain amount of heat
derived from the others; whereas the whole cluster will become cold as
soon as each ceases to generate heat for itself and depends on the heat
generated by the rest. Utilitarianism involves the further paradox that,
to achieve the greatest sum of happiness, each individual must be more
egoistic than altruistic. "For, speaking generally, sympathetic
pleasures must ever continue less intense than the pleasures with which
there is sympathy." And while the individual must be extremely
unegoistic in that he is willing to yield up the benefit for which he
has labored, he must, at the same time, be extremely egoistic, since he
is so selfish as willingly to let others yield up to him the benefits
they have labored for. "To assume that egoistic pleasures may be
relinquished to any extent is to fall into one of those many errors of
ethical speculation which result from ignoring the laws of biology....
To yield up normal pleasure is to yield up so much life; and there
arises the question:--to what extent may this be done?... Surrender,
carried to a certain point, is extremely mischievous, and to a further
point, fatal."[48] After beginning, however, with this assertion that to
assume that egoistic pleasure may be relinquished to any extent is to
fall, from ignorance of biology, into an error of ethical speculation,
Spencer reaches only the conclusion that, if the individual is to
continue living, he _must_ take "certain amounts" of those pleasures
which go along with the fulfilment of the bodily functions, and that
"the portion of happiness which it is possible for him to yield up for
redistribution is a limited portion." He further argues that "a
perfectly moral law must be one which becomes perfectly practicable as
human nature becomes perfect"; but that the law of utilitarianism does
not so become practicable, since opportunities for practising altruism,
which originate in imperfection in others, will diminish and finally
disappear in the ideal state. There is no addition to happiness by
redistribution, and there is the additional labor and loss of time of
such redistribution. The conclusion must be that "general happiness is
to be achieved mainly through the adequate pursuit of their own
happiness by individuals, while reciprocally, the happiness of
individuals is to be achieved in part by their pursuit of the general
happiness." The chapter on the conciliation of altruism and egoism is
occupied with the development of sympathy, as the militant spirit grows
less. The expression of emotion, as also the power of interpreting such
expression, must become greater as the impelling cause to concealment
found in lack of sympathy, disappears. When conditions require any class
of activities to be relatively great, there will arise a relatively
great pleasure accompanying that class of activities; the scope for
altruistic activities will not exceed the desire for altruistic
satisfaction. Such altruistic satisfaction, though in a transfigured
sense egoistic, will not be pursued egoistically--that is, from egoistic
motives. General altruism will resist too great altruism in the
individual, and as the occasion for self-sacrifice disappears, altruism
will take on the ultimate form of sympathy with the pleasure of others
produced by the successful activities of these. And so there will
disappear the apparently permanent opposition between egoism and

The last two chapters of "The Data of Ethics" deal with Ethics as the
law of the ideal man in an ideal society, and treat of the attainment of
general principles in this science as in other sciences by the neglect
of conflicting factors, and the recognition of fundamental factors, in
the gradually accumulated knowledge of society. On account of the
diversity of men and societies, a code of perfect personal conduct can
never be made definite; only certain general conditions of perfection
can be pointed out. As life is now carried on, the conflict of claims is
continual; and ethical science, here necessarily empirical, can do no
more than aid in making least objectionable compromises. Absolute
Ethics, which supplies the law of perfect right-doing possible only in
an ideal state, does not greatly aid Relative Ethics, yet it aids
somewhat, as keeping before consciousness an ideal conciliation of
claims, and suggesting search for the best form of compromise possible
under the circumstances.

"Justice," which constitutes Part IV. of "The Principles of Ethics," and
to which "The Data of Ethics" belongs as Part I., was published (1891)
in advance of Parts II. and III. The argument of the book runs as

Ethics properly involves a consideration of the conduct of animals as
well as of human beings, for the primary subject-matter of Ethics is
conduct considered as producing good and bad results to self or others,
or both, not, as most people believe, conduct as calling forth
approbation or disapprobation. And even on this latter view, Ethics
includes Animal Ethics, since we feel approbation or disapprobation with
regard to many actions of animals.

Animal Ethics includes, as its two cardinal principles, the opposed
classes of altruistic and egoistic acts. For preservation of the
species, benefits received must be, during immaturity, inversely
proportionate to merit or capacities possessed, merit being measured by
powers of self-sustentation, and after maturity, directly proportionate
to worth as measured by fitness to the conditions of existence.
Furthermore, though the species is made up of individuals, many of these
individuals may disappear and the species still be preserved, whereas
its disappearance as a whole involves absolute failure in achieving the
end, so that, where preservation of individuals conflicts with
preservation of the species, the individuals must be sacrificed.

The principle that among adults benefits must be in proportion to
merits, implies in its biological aspect survival of the fittest. Its
violation involves double harm to the species by sacrifice of the
superior to the inferior, and consequent increase of the inferior.
"Interpreted in ethical terms, it is that each individual ought to be
subject to the effects of its own nature and resulting conduct"; and
throughout sub-human life this rule holds without qualification. The
same principle is displayed in the mutual relations of the parts of
organisms, every part being nourished in proportion to its use or
function, a balancing of the relative powers of the parts being thus
effected, and the organism "fitted as a whole to its existence by having
its parts continuously proportioned to the requirements." In a parallel
manner, the species as a whole is fitted to its environment by the
greater prosperity to self and offspring that comes to those better

But sub-human justice is extremely imperfect, alike in general and in

In general it is imperfect, in that the sustentation of multitudinous
species depends on the wholesale destruction of others; so that, in the
species serving as prey, the relations between conduct and consequence
are so habitually broken that in very few individuals are they long
maintained. It is true the destruction of the species serving as prey is
the result of their natures; "but this violent ending of the immense
majority implies that the species is one in which justice, as above
conceived, is displayed in but small measure." Sub-human justice is also
imperfect in detail, in that the relation between conduct and
consequences is, in such an immense proportion of cases, broken by
accidents,--such as scarcity of food, inclemencies of weather, invasions
by parasites, attacks of enemies,--which fall indiscriminately on the
superior and the inferior. As organization becomes higher, sub-human
justice becomes more decided; as general superiority increases, there
is less dependence on accident, and individual differences become more

With the beginning of gregariousness, we find the new element of
coöperation, passive or active, which is an advantage to the species.
This involves so much restraint of conflicting acts as will leave a
balance of advantage; else survival of the fittest will exterminate the
variety in which association begins. The experience of the evils of not
maintaining such limits to action results in an inherited tendency to
maintain them. The general consciousness of the need for maintaining
them results in punishment of their disregard. Self-subordination among
solitary animals is found only in parenthood; among gregarious animals
there is a further subjection of the individual to his kind, and where
an occasional sacrifice of life furthers the preservation of species,
sub-human justice may rightly have this second limitation.

In order of priority, the law of relation between conduct and
consequence, the principle that each individual ought to receive the
good and evil resulting from his own nature, stands first; it is the
primary law holding of all creatures. The law of the restraint, in
gregarious animals, of interfering acts, is second in time and
authority, and is simply a specification of the form which the primary
law takes under conditions of gregarious life, since, in asserting
restriction of the interactions of conduct and consequence, it tacitly
reasserts that these interactions must be maintained in other
individuals, that is, in all individuals. The third law, of the
occasional sacrifice of individuals to their kind, is later and narrower
in application, and a qualification of the first law. The first law is
absolute for animals in general; the second is absolute for gregarious
animals; but the third "is relative to the existence of enemies of such
kinds that, in contending with them, the species gains more than it
loses by the sacrifice of a few members; and in the absence of such
enemies this qualification imposed by the third law disappears."

As human life is a development of sub-human life, so human justice is a
development of sub-human justice. According to pure justice, the
individual should suffer the consequences of his acts, and that such is
the general opinion is implied in such common expressions as: "He has no
one to blame but himself"; "He has made his own bed, and now he must lie
on it"; "He has got no more than he deserved"; or, "He has fairly earned
his reward."

The truth that, with higher organization, danger from accident becomes
less, longevity is greater, and so differences count for more, showing
their effects for longer periods, and justice therefore becomes greater,
applies also to human beings. The rate of mortality decreases with man,
and according to his civilization.

More clearly in the case of human beings than in that of other animals
is it shown that gregariousness establishes itself because it profits
the variety. Where a variety live on wild food, they associate only in
small groups; game and fruit, widely distributed, can support these
only. "But greater gregariousness arises where agriculture makes
possible the support of a large number on a small area; and where the
accompanying development of industries introduces many and various
coöperations." The advantages of coöperation can be had only by
conformity to the conditions which association imposes--by such
limitation of the pursuits of individuals as to leave a surplus of
advantage to associated life. "This truth is illustrated by the
unprosperous or decaying state of communities in which the trespasses of
individuals on one another are so numerous and great as generally to
prevent them from severally receiving the normal results of their
labors." Mutual restraint being more imperative with human beings than
with animals, there is with them a still more marked habit of

"Through all which sets of facts is manifested the truth, recognized
practically if not theoretically, that each individual, carrying on the
actions which subserve his life, and not prevented from receiving their
normal results, good and bad, shall carry on these actions under such
restraints as are imposed by the carrying on of kindred actions by other
individuals, who have similarly to receive such normal results, good and
bad. And vaguely, if not definitely, this is seen to constitute what is
called justice."

In the highest gregarious creature, the necessity which we found, of an
occasional sacrifice of the individual in defence of species, assumes
large proportions, the defence being not only against enemies of other
kinds, but also against enemies of the same kind. This obligation is
less than that of care for offspring, or mutual restraint. It exists
only as necessary to protect the society against destruction, hence only
for defensive, not for offensive, war. It may be objected that war
peoples the earth with the stronger, but this is not necessarily so,
since the conquered may merely be fewer in number. And further, it is
only during the earlier stages of human progress that the development of
strength, courage, and cunning are of chief importance. But for an
accident, Persia would have conquered Greece; and Tartar hordes once
very nearly overwhelmed European civilization. The races best fitted for
social life do not necessarily conquer, and there are injurious moral
reactions on both conquering and conquered. Only defensive war retains a
quasi-ethical justification. It belongs, however, to a transitional
state, and is not justified by Absolute Ethics.

As the organs of inferior animals are moulded into fitness for the
requirements of life, so, simultaneously, through nervous modifications,
their sensations, instincts, emotions, and intellectual aptitudes are
also moulded to these requirements,--in the gregarious animals to the
conditions of gregarious life. Many evolutionists appear to regard the
variability of man as ceasing with civilized life, but the whole analogy
of nature is against such a theory; we must assume that man, like other
animals, is moulded to suit his requirements, and that moral changes are
among those thus wrought out. Aggressive actions often entail suffering
on the individuals of a group performing them, as well as on the group
as a whole, and on the other hand, harmonious coöperation in a group
profits the average of its members; so that there is a tendency to
survival of groups having such adaptation of nature. And just as a love
of property, formerly gratified by possession of food and shelter, came
later to be extended to the weapons for obtaining these, and, later,
even to the raw materials, the pleasure in ownership becoming more and
more abstract and remote from material satisfaction, so the natural
impatience of animal nature at restraint of its powers becomes in man a
sentiment of egoistic justice, for justice requires the free play of all
forces in order that the results of character may fall upon the
individual. It is more difficult to understand how the altruistic
sentiment of justice comes into being. On one hand, its implication is
that it can be developed only by adaptation to social life; on the
other, it appears that social life is impossible without the maintenance
of those equitable relations which imply a sentiment of justice. These
requirements are fulfilled by a pro-altruistic sentiment of justice,
which takes its place. The first deterrent from aggression, among
animals, is fear of retaliation; a further restraint, with man, is fear
of reprobation or social disgrace. To these are to be added the feelings
arising under political and religious authority--the dread of legal
punishment and the dread of divine vengeance; and these four kinds of
feelings coöperate, forming a body of feeling, which checks the
primitive tendency to pursue the objects of desire without regard to the
interests of fellow-men, and though containing nothing of the altruistic
sentiment of justice, makes social coöperation possible. Creatures which
become gregarious, tend to become sympathetic in degrees proportionate
to their intelligence--by sympathy being meant the arousing of kindred
feeling by the witness of a display of feeling in others, sympathy being
fostered by common enjoyments and sufferings. The altruistic sentiment
of justice is slow in assuming a high form, "partly because its primary
component does not become highly developed until a late phase of
progress, partly because it is relatively complex, and partly because it
implies a stretch of imagination not possible for low intelligences."
As, until pain has been felt, there cannot be sympathy with pain, so the
altruistic sentiment of justice cannot be developed until the egoistic
sentiment has arisen; moreover, the sentiment of justice is concerned,
not only with concrete pains and pleasures, but also with their
conditions, and hence this sentiment demands a development of the power
of mental representation.

There is a close connection between the sentiment of justice and the
social type. Predominant militancy affords no scope for the egoistic
sentiment of justice, and at the same time sympathy is perpetually
seared by militant activities. On the other hand, as fast as voluntary
coöperation, which characterizes the industrial type of society, becomes
more general than compulsory coöperation, which characterizes the
militant type of society, individual activities become less restrained,
and the sentiment which rejoices in the scope for them is encouraged;
while simultaneously, the occasions for repressing the sympathies become
less frequent.

The idea of justice is different from the mere sentiment of justice; the
former gradually arising from the latter, in the course of generations,
by experience of the limits to which action can be carried without
causing resentment from others. But since the kinds of activity are many
and become increasingly various with the development of social life, it
is a long time before the general nature of the limit common to all
cases can be conceived. A further reason for the slowness of development
is, that the arising ideas of justice have been perpetually confused by
the conflicting requirements of internal amity and external enmity.

Two elements, a positive and a negative, constitute the idea of
justice--that of man's recognition of his claims to unimpeded activities
and the results they bring, and that of the limits which the presence of
other men necessitate. The primordial ideal suggested is inequality, for
since the principal is that each should receive the results due to his
own nature, then, since men differ in their powers, unequal benefits are
implied. But mutual limitations suggest a contrary idea, experience
showing that the bounds to which one may pursue his own ends are, on the
average, the same for all, so that the idea of equality arises.
Unbalanced appreciations of these two factors in human justice lead to
divergent moral and social theories.

Among the rudest men the appreciations are no higher than among inferior
gregarious animals. Where war has developed political organization the
idea of inequality predominates, but the idea is one, not of natural,
but of artificial apportionment. And in general, we find that the
primary or brute factor in justice is but little qualified by the human

All movements are rhythmical, social movements included, and after the
idea of justice in which inequality predominates comes a conception in
which the idea of equality unduly predominates--as in Bentham's ethical
theory, where "one person's happiness, supposed equal in degree (with
proper allowance made for kind), is accounted for exactly as much as
another's"; and this is the theory which Communism would reduce to
practice. It is an absolute denial of the principle of inequality, and
must apply alike to the worthy and unworthy, as well as to the superior
and inferior in physical and intellectual capacities, since moral
inequalities are as much inherited as others. Here we have a deliberate
abolition of that cardinal distinction between the ethics of the family
and the ethics of the state emphasized at the outset--"an abolition
which, as we saw, must eventuate in decay and disappearance of the
species or variety in which it takes place."

The true principle shows an amalgamation of these two. "The equality
concerns the mutually limited spheres of action which must be maintained
if associated men are to coöperate harmoniously. The inequality concerns
the results which each may achieve by carrying on his actions within the
implied limits. No incongruity exists when the ideas of equality and
inequality are applied, the one to the bounds and the other to the
benefits. Contrariwise, the two may be, and must be, simultaneously

"Any considerable acceptance of so definite an idea of justice is not to
be expected. It is an idea appropriate to an ultimate state, and can be
but partially entertained during transitional states; for the prevailing
ideas must, on the average, be congruous with existing institutions and
activities." During the thirty, or rather forty years' peace, and
weakening of militant organization, the idea of justice became clearer;
but since then the idea of regimentation has spread. It is predominant
in the conception of socialism with its army of workers with appointed
tasks and apportioned shares of products, and every act of Parliament
which takes money from the individual for public purposes shows a
tendency in the same direction. In the countries where militancy is most
pronounced, socialism is most highly developed. "Sympathy, which, a
generation ago, was taking the shape of justice, is relapsing into
generosity; and the generosity is exercised by inflicting injustice.
Daily legislation betrays little anxiety that each shall have that which
belongs to him, but great anxiety that he shall have that which belongs
to somebody else."

The formula of justice may be expressed thus: "Every man is free to do
that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any
other man."

This is not to be interpreted as meaning that aggression is permissible
as long as retaliation is permitted; for the formula means that
interference with another's life is limited, that life shall not be
impeded in one case further than is necessary to the maintenance of
other lives; it does not countenance a superfluous interference on the
ground that an equal interference may balance it. In earlier stages, the
conception of justice was this erroneous one of a balancing of
injuries--an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. By oscillations
which become gradually less, social equilibrium is approached; and with
this approach to equilibrium comes approach to a definite theory of

In the reigning school of politics and morals, scorn is expressed for
every doctrine which implies restraint of immediate expediency, or what
appears to be such;--contempt for generalizations and abstract
principles, with unlimited faith in political machinery. Strangely
enough, we find this approval of political empiricism and disbelief in
any other guidance, in the world of science also. The accepted
scientific fact that causation holds of the actions of incorporated men
as of other parts of nature, remains a dead letter; there is no attempt
to identify the causation, and ridicule is visited upon those who
endeavor to find a definite expression for the fundamental principle of
harmonious social order.

Peoples with whom confusion is not caused by the conflicting disciplines
of outer war and internal peace, early arrive at the principle of
equity, and accordingly some uncivilized tribes show a stronger sense of
it than is found among civilized peoples. Nevertheless, the conception
of justice has slowly evolved to some extent, and is expressed in such
formulæ as, "Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you"
(too sweeping a statement of the equality of claims, since it implies no
recognition of the inequality necessary in the shares of good
respectively appropriate), or in the Kantian rule, which is an
allotropic form of the Christian rule. Jurists, too, have recognized a
natural law of equity underlying human law. To the reproach that belief
in such a law is an _a priori_ belief, it may be answered that _a
priori_ beliefs are explained by the theory of evolution, as arising
with determination of the nervous system and certain resulting
necessities of thought, and that they differ from _a posteriori_ beliefs
merely in the circumstance "that they are the products of the
experiences of innumerable successive individuals, instead of the
experiences of a single individual." If we ask for the ground of the
greatest happiness principle, we come to an _a priori_ belief also; for
whence is the postulate? If it is an induction, where and by whom has
the induction been drawn; and if it is a truth of experience derived
from careful observation, then what are the observations, and when was
there generalized that vast mass of them on which all politics and
morals should be built? "Not only are there no such experiences, no such
observations, no such inductions, but it is impossible that any should
be assigned." The like is true of Bentham's rule: "Everybody to count
for one, nobody for more than one," and also of the objection to this
rule, that happiness cannot be divided, or greatest happiness obtained,
by equal division of the means to happiness; they all lead, in the last
analysis, to an _a priori_ belief. Moreover, the rule of natural equity,
the freedom of each limited only by the like freedom of all, is not an
exclusively _a priori_ belief, but although the immediate dictum of the
human consciousness after subjection to the discipline of prolonged
social life, it is deducible from the conditions to be fulfilled,
firstly for the maintenance of life at large, and secondly for the
maintenance of social life.

Rights, properly so-called, are corollaries from the law of equal
freedom, and "so far is it from its being true, as some claim, that the
warrant for what are properly called rights is derived from law, it is,
conversely, true that law derives its warrant from them."

In the application of this theory to practical questions, Mr. Spencer's
"Justice" differs from "Social Statics," which it resembles in form and
method, in general in the greatly increased conservatism of the views
expressed. This is shown in all parts of the book, though perhaps most
clearly in those parts relating to the Rights of Women, to the Land
Question, and to the Limits of State-Duties. "Social Statics" advocated
land-nationalization; but "Justice," though still asserting the original
right of the aggregate of men forming the community to the use of the
earth, as that from which all material objects capable of being owned
are derived and so that on which the right to property is originally
dependent, denies the expediency and the justice of a present
redistribution of the land according to this principle; and this because
of the confusion of claims at the present time, the impossibility of
ascertaining whose ancestors were the robbers and whose the robbed in
the gradually arising monopoly, the wrong of making descendants
responsible for the sins of their ancestors, and leaving those now
dependent on the land without compensation for their loss, and the fact
that any claim to the land is merely a claim to it in its original
condition, not in its present state of drainage and cultivation effected
by the labor of generations. Moreover, "under the existing system of
ownership, those who manage the land experience a direct connection
between effort and benefit, while, were it under state-ownership, those
who managed it would experience no such direct connection. The vices of
officialism would inevitably entail immense evils."

The whole of the practical part of "Justice" is especially directed
against Socialism; in general, the course of history shows a less and
less interference with personal freedom, and growing benefit from this
cause. The practicality of woman suffrage and of universal man suffrage
at the present time is denied. If earlier legislation was too much for
the benefit of wealthy and ruling classes, recent extensions of the
suffrage have resulted in still more injurious class-legislation of
another sort.

In this book, Mr. Spencer seems to adhere to his theory of a "final
perfect adaptation to the conditions of social life." Not only is the
distinction between Relative and Absolute Ethics still drawn, but there
are numerous references to an "ultimate state," though certain of these
references might suggest the view that by such a state was meant only
the attainment of so great a degree of civilization as would involve the
cessation of wars.[49] Other passages, however, seem to contradict this
view. One may be especially cited; it is as follows: "This law [of the
gradual reëstablishment of deranged harmony, through adaptation and
heredity], holding of human beings among others, implies that the nature
which we inherit from an uncivilized past, and which is still very
imperfectly fitted to the partially-civilized present, will, if allowed
to do so, slowly adjust itself to the requirements of a fully-civilized
future." And after some consideration of adaptation up to the present
time, the paragraph concludes: "If, in the course of these few thousand
years, the discipline of social life has done so much, it is folly to
suppose that it cannot do more--folly to suppose that it will not, in
course of time, do all that has to be done."[50] But in the abridged and
revised edition of "Social Statics" (1892), the following passage occurs
as part of a note at the end of the chapter on "The Evanescence (?
Diminution) of Evil." "The rate of progress towards any adapted form
must diminish with the approach to complete adaptation, since the force
producing it must diminish; so that other causes apart, perfect
adaptation can be reached only in infinite time."[51]

Vol. I. of "The Principles of Ethics," including Parts I., II., and
III., appeared in August, 1892. In this volume, "The Data of Ethics,"
reprinted as Part I., remains unchanged, except for one or two
unimportant sentences. To this Part I. is, however, appended a chapter
which was, according to Mr. Spencer, written for the first publication
of "The Data of Ethics," but was either put aside for some reason, or
else overlooked, probably the latter, says the author, since it contains
material which should have been embodied. The chapter is headed "The
Conciliation," and seems to correspond to the two chapters on "Trial and
Compromise" and "Conciliation" which follow the chapters on "Egoism
_versus_ Altruism," and "Altruism _versus_ Egoism"; for it begins with a
consideration of the conflict of claims shown by "the last two
chapters," the apparent impossibility of the establishment of an
equilibrium, and the consequent apparent necessity of self-sacrifice.
But this conflict between egoism and altruism is merely transitional and
is in process of gradual disappearance, in the same manner in which the
present degree of conciliation of the two has been reached,--namely, by
the growth of such a constitution in each creature as entails pleasure
in altruistic action. Even with the lower animals, the acts which are
necessary to care for ova or young are the fulfilment of an instinct
which is gratified by the act; and in the human race, conciliation
between egoism and altruism, which goes hand in hand with evolution, has
reached a high degree. In the evolution of the human race itself, from
savagery to its present condition, there has been a marked increase of
this conciliation; this is true not only in the family, but to a small
extent also with regard to the larger groups of men constituting
societies. There is decrease of cruelty, increase of justice, both in
the form of state institutions and in their methods of administration,
more active benevolence, and a public sentiment that leads large numbers
of people to find egoistic gratification in the pursuit of the general
good even to the neglect of private interests. Self-sacrifice thus
ceases to be sacrifice in the ordinary sense of the word, since it comes
to bring with it more pleasure than pain. The future must hold in store
changes analogous to those of the past, but these must go on much more
rapidly under the present comparatively peaceful organization of society
than they have during the militant life of the past. This moral
development is retarded, however, not only by the degree of militancy
yet existing, but also by the necessity for a certain degree of
bluntness of feeling, too great sensitiveness to the suffering of others
entailing, while the pressure of population is as great as at present, a
misery that would make life intolerable. It is likely that, with social
progress, human fertility will decrease as cerebral activity increases,
until a comparative balance of fertility and mortality is reached as
"human evolution approaches its limit of complete adaptation to the
social state"; and sympathy will increase in proportion, no longer
entailing on its possessor more of pain than of pleasure, but the
contrary. "Sympathy is the root of every other kind of altruism than
that which, from the beginning, originates the parental activities. It
is the root of that higher altruism which, apart from the
philoprogenitive instinct, produces desire for the happiness of others
and reluctance to inflict pain upon them. These two traits are
inevitably associated. The same mental faculty which reproduces in the
individual consciousness the feelings that are being displayed by other
beings, acts equally to reproduce those states when they are pleasurable
or when they are painful."

The general corollary from the above-described process of evolution is
that, with the increase of sympathy there arises the double result, that
by its increase it tends to decrease the causes of human misery, and in
proportion as it does this, it becomes itself the cause of further
reflected happiness received by each from others. "And the limit towards
which this evolution approaches is one under which, as the amount of
pain suffered by those around from individual imperfections and from
imperfections of social arrangement and conduct, becomes relatively
small, and simultaneously the growth of sympathy goes on with little
check, the sympathy becomes at the same time almost exclusively a source
of pleasure received from the happiness of others, and not of pains
received from their pains. And as this condition is approached, the
function of sympathy is not that of stimulating to self-sacrifice and of
entailing upon its possessor positive or negative pain, but its function
becomes that of making him a recipient of positive pleasure." Thus
altruism will overgrow egoism, becoming itself a source of egoistic
pleasure, and eventually, with the diminution of the pressure of
population, there will come a state in which egoism and altruism are so
conciliated that the one merges in the other.

Among the social animals, with the ant and the bee, for instance, who
cannot be supposed to possess a sense of duty, we see that this
identification of egoism and altruism, as necessary to social life, has
taken place to a considerable extent; and since pleasure of every kind
is the concomitant of nervous structure, we can understand the pleasure
in altruistic as well as in egoistic activities, as soon as there exists
the nervous structure answering to these activities. As certainly as
there yet exist in civilized men instincts of the chase inherited from
savage ancestors, there are growing up and will continue to grow up in
men, these other structures which will prompt to altruistic activities.

Part II. of "The Principles of Ethics" is concerned with "The
Inductions of Ethics." It opens with a chapter on the confusion of
ethical thought due to the fact that, conforming to the general law of
evolution, "the set of conceptions constituting ethics, together with
the associated sentiments, arise out of a relatively incoherent and
indefinite consciousness; and slowly acquire coherence and definiteness
at the same time that the aggregate of them differentiates from the
larger aggregate with which it originally mingled. Long remaining
undistinguished, and then but vaguely discernible as something
independent, ethics must be expected to acquire a distinct embodiment
only when mental evolution has reached a high stage." "Originally,
ethics has no existence apart from religion, which holds it in solution.
Religion itself, in its earliest form, is undistinguished from
ancestor-worship," which passes, in the second stage, into worship of
dead rulers, and is a method of propitiation, prompted by self-interest.
Among some peoples, the idea of sin is limited to offences against the
gods; and in those other cases where there are ethical commands, the
propriety of not offending God is the primary reason given for obeying
them. This last phase of thought is illustrated by the religion of the
Hebrews, among whom good and bad conduct was but little associated with
the intrinsic natures of right and wrong. The popular belief is still
that right and wrong become such by divine fiat.

The gods of primitive, warlike peoples were gods of war, and the belief
in the moral virtue and honor of war still holds large place in the
thought of the world. The ethics of enmity, thus taught at the same time
with the ethics of amity necessary to the internal life of society, gave
rise to utterly inconsistent and contradictory sentiments and ideas,
which, in considerable measure, still exist side by side, in our
churches and outside them.

But, together with these ethical conceptions, there have slowly evolved
other, utilitarian conceptions, derived from a recognition of the
natural consequences of acts. Authority has been introduced into these
conceptions as the source of the duty of action in accordance with them;
yet there has generally been also some perception of their fitness. Such
utilitarian conceptions are to be found in the later Hebrew writings,
among the Egyptians, Greeks, etc. "The divergence of expediency-ethics
from theological ethics is well illustrated in Paley, who in his
official character derived right and wrong from divine commands, and in
his unofficial character derived them from observation of consequences.
Since his day, the last of these views has spread at the expense of the

A still further simultaneous origin of moral dictates is found in the
sentiments which have arisen with such habits of conformity to rules of
conduct as have been furthered by survival of the fittest. We thus have
a conflict of ethical ideas arising from the conflict of these various
sanctions; and also from the further conflict that ensues where a later
religion has been grafted on a more primitive one, as is the case
everywhere in Christendom.

Among modern writers who assert the existence of a moral sense, there is
a division between those who regard the dicta of conscience as supreme,
and those who hold them to be subordinate to divine commands. The two
are agreed in so far as they regard conscience as having a supernatural
origin; and, in that they both recognize the moral sentiment as innate
and suppose human nature to be everywhere the same, they are also, by
implication, alike in supposing that the moral sentiment is identical in
all men.

But as a matter of fact, the moral sentiment is connected with entirely
different rules among different peoples, prescribing monogamy among one
people, polygamy among another; demanding faithfulness and chastity on
the part of women among one people, encouraging adultery among another,

Common elements in all codes of rules for conduct are the consciousness
of authority, whether that of a God, of a ruler or government, or of
conscience, the more or less definite sense of power or coercion on the
part of this authority, and the representation of public opinion. These
elements, combined in different proportions, result in an idea and a
feeling of obligation, forming a body of thought and feeling which may
be termed pro-ethical, and which, with the mass of mankind, stands in
place of the ethical.

"For now let us observe that the ethical sentiment and idea, properly
so-called, are independent of the ideas and sentiments above described
as derived from external authorities, and coercions, and
approbations--religious, political, or social. The true moral
consciousness which we name conscience does not refer to those extrinsic
results of conduct which take the shape of praise or blame, reward or
punishment, externally awarded; but it refers to the intrinsic results
of conduct which in part and by some intellectually perceived, are
mainly and by most intuitively felt. The moral consciousness proper
does not contemplate obligations as artificially imposed by an external
power; nor is it chiefly occupied with estimates of the amounts of
pleasure and pain which given actions may produce, though these may be
clearly or dimly perceived; but it is chiefly occupied with recognition
of, and regard for, those _conditions_ by fulfilment of which happiness
is achieved or misery avoided." It may or may not be in harmony with the
pro-ethical sentiment; but in any case it is "vaguely or distinctly
recognized as the rightful ruler, responding as it does to consequences
which are not artificial and variable, but to consequences which are
natural and permanent." With the established supremacy of this ethical
sentiment, the feeling of obligation retires into the background, right
actions being performed "spontaneously or from liking." "Though, while
the moral nature is imperfectly developed, there may often arise
conformity to the ethical sentiment under a sense of compulsion by it;
and though, in other cases, non-conformity to it may cause subsequent
self-reproach (as instance a remembered lack of gratitude, which may be
a source of pain without there being any thought of extrinsic penalty);
yet with a moral nature completely balanced, neither of these feelings
will arise, because that which is done is done in satisfaction of the
appropriate desire."

Where the really ethical sentiment conflicts with the factitious idea
and sentiment of obedience to legal authority, the latter may rule at
the expense of the former, as, for instance, in the case of a pedler
condemned for selling without a license. "His act of selling is morally
justifiable, and forbidding him to sell without a license is morally
unjustifiable--is an interference with his due liberty which is
ethically unwarranted."

The remainder of Part II. of the "Principles of Ethics" is occupied with
data cited to show that the amount of internal aggression, of revenge
and robbery, is greater among peoples much occupied with external
aggression, and that these decrease, while justice, generosity (which
Mr. Spencer defines as having a double root, in the philoprogenitive
instinct and the relatively modern feeling of sympathy), humanity
(including kindness, pity, mercy), filial obedience, and industry,
increase as more peaceful habits are reached. A greater veracity is also
indirectly the result of this evolution, since a coercive internal
structure of society is connected with external enmity, and such
coercive structure is unfavorable to veracity. Chastity also increases
with the social evolution, though it does not necessarily characterize
societies of the non-militant type. Its increase is connected with the
growth of the higher moral and æsthetic feelings; romantic love plays a
predominant part in our art. Intemperance, as causing, indirectly,
social evil by a lowering of social efficiency, must, in like manner,
decrease with social advancement.

In summing up his inductions, Spencer says: "Though, as shown in my
first work, 'Social Statics,' I once espoused the doctrine of the
intuitive moralists,... yet it has gradually become clear to me that the
qualifications required practically obliterate the doctrine as
enunciated by them. It has become clear to me that if, among ourselves,
the current belief is that a man who robs and does not repent will be
eternally damned, while an accepted proverb among the Bilochs is, that
'God will not favor a man who does not steal and rob'; it is impossible
to hold that men have in common an innate perception of right and wrong.

"But now, while we are shown that the moral sense doctrine in its
original form is not true, we are also shown that it adumbrates a truth,
and a much higher truth. For the facts cited... unite in proving that
the sentiments and ideas current in each society become adjusted to the
kinds of activity predominating in it.... If the life of internal amity
continues unbroken from generation to generation, there must result not
only the appropriate code, but the appropriate emotional nature.... Men
so conditioned will acquire, to the degree needful for complete
guidance, that innate conscience which intuitive moralists erroneously
suppose to be possessed by mankind at large. There needs but a
continuance of absolute peace externally, and a rigorous insistance on
non-aggression internally, to insure the moulding of men into a form
naturally characterized by all the virtues." Complete exemption from war
has already been attained by some few isolated peoples. "May we not
reasonably infer that the state reached by these small uncultured tribes
may be reached by the great cultured nations, when the life of internal
amity shall be unqualified by the life of external enmity?"

Part III. of the "Principles of Ethics" is occupied with practical
considerations concerning "The Ethics of Individual Life," under the
headings "Activity," "Rest," "Nutrition," "Stimulation," "Culture,"
"Amusements," "Marriage," "Parenthood." Of the general ethical relation
of the individual to society, Spencer says:--"Integration being the
primary process of evolution, we may expect that the aggregate of
conceptions constituting ethics enlarges at the same time that its
components acquire heterogeneity, definiteness, and that kind of
cohesion which system gives to them. As fulfilling this expectation, we
may first note that while drawing within its range of judgment numerous
actions of men towards one another which at first were not recognized as
right or wrong, it finally takes into its sphere the various divisions
of private conduct--those actions of each individual which directly
concern himself only, and in but remote ways concern his fellows."

Ethics has been commonly regarded as merely a system of interdicts on
certain kinds of acts which men would like to do and of injunctions to
perform certain acts which they would like not to do. It says nothing
about the great mass of acts constituting normal life, though these have
their ethical aspect. The pleasurable has been too often regarded as
outside the legitimate sphere of ethical approval, where not directly
the rightful subject of ethical disapproval. But pleasure is an
accompaniment of vitality, and furthers the vital activities; and if the
general happiness is to be the aim of action, then the happiness of each
unit is a fit aim; and there is unquestionably "a division of ethics
which yields sanction to all the normal actions of individual life,
while it forbids the abnormal ones." There is an altruistic as well as
an egoistic justification of the care for self, since the health of
descendants and the ability to provide for offspring is directly
concerned; and since such care is needful to exclude the risk of
becoming a burden to others. And there is a further positive
justification of egoism which results from the obligation to expend some
effort for others, and to become, as far as possible, a source of social
pleasure to others.

It will be seen, from the above analysis, that the chapter appended to
Part I. still speaks of an ultimate state of complete adjustment to
social life[52]; this chapter was, however, published from the original
MS. without alteration. Some passages in Part II. seem to involve the
same idea of a possible complete attainment of the ethical end,[53] but
Part III. closes with reference to "an approximately complete adjustment
of the nature to the life which has to be led."


[38] Spencer elsewhere says "due exercise," _vide_ p. 76.

[39] Essay on "Morals and Moral Sentiment."

[40] P. 105.

[41] _Vide_ "Principles of Psychology."

[42] P. 104.

[43] Pp. 104,105.

[44] Pp. 108, 109.

[45] Pp. 134, 148.

[46] P. 147.

[47] Pp. 202, 203.

[48] P. 231.

[49] See pp. 71, 193.

[50] Pp. 258, 259.

[51] As the "revision" of the theoretical part of this book chiefly
consists, like its abridgment, in the elimination of the references to
Divine Will and other earlier views held before acquaintance with
Darwin's theory of life, there is nothing in the book, in distinction
from Mr. Spencer's other later works, that needs especially to be
considered here.

[52] See, for instance, _supra_, p. 70.

[53] See _supra_, p. 75.


As Herbert Spencer's closest follower, John Fiske deserves to stand next
him in order of analysis. Fiske accepts, though evidently with
reluctance, what he terms "the terrible theory" of evolution, which
establishes the fact of man's consanguinity with dumb beasts. In his
book on "The Destiny of Man" (1884), he sets forth his theory of the
evolution of society as foreshowing man's final destiny. With regard to
the beginnings of psychical development in the course of evolution, he
thus expresses himself: "At length there came a wonderful
moment;--silent and unnoticed, even as the day of the Lord which cometh
like a thief in the night, there arrived that wonderful moment at which
psychical changes began to be of more use than physical changes to the
brute ancestor of man. Through further ages of ceaseless struggle the
profitable variations in this creature occurred oftener and oftener in
the brain, and less often in other parts of the organism, until bye and
bye the size of his brain had been doubled and its complexity of
structure increased a thousandfold, while in other respects his
appearance was not so very different from that of his brother apes....
No fact in nature is fraught with deeper meaning than this two-sided
fact of the extreme physical similarity and enormous psychical
divergence between man and the group of animals to which he traces his
pedigree. It shows that when humanity began to be evolved, an entirely
new chapter in the history of the universe was opened. Henceforth the
life of the nascent soul came to be first in importance, and the bodily
life became subordinated to it. Henceforth it appeared that the process
of zoölogical change had come to an end, and a process of psychological
change was to take its place. Henceforth along this supreme line there
was to be no further evolution of new species through physical
variation, but through the accumulation of psychical variations one
particular species was to be indefinitely perfected.... Henceforth, in
short, the dominant aspect of evolution was to be, not the genesis of
species, but the progress of civilization.... In the deadly struggle for
existence, which has raged throughout countless æons of time, the whole
creation has been groaning and travailing together in order to bring
forth that last consummate specimen of God's handiwork, the Human Soul."

And further, of the genesis of this Human Soul: "With the growth of the
higher centres, the capacities of action become so various and
indeterminate that definite direction is not given to them until after
birth." By the increase of cerebral surface, infancy, which is the
period of plasticity, is prolonged, Man becomes teachable, and though
inherited tendencies and aptitudes still form the foundations of
character, yet the career of the individual is no longer wholly
predetermined by the careers of its ancestors, but individual experience
comes to count as an enormous factor in modifying the career of mankind
from generation to generation.

The psychical development of humanity since its earlier stages has been
largely due to the reaction of individuals upon one another in those
various relations which we characterize as social.

Foreshadowings of social relations occur in the animal world.
Rudimentary moral sentiments are also clearly discernible in the highest
members of various mammalian orders and in all but the lowest members of
our own order. But in respect of definiteness and permanence, the
relations between animals in a state of gregariousness fall far short of
the relations between individuals in the rudest human society. The
primordial unit of human society is the family, the establishment of
which was made necessary and took place through the lengthening of
infancy. When childhood had come to extend over a period of ten or a
dozen years, a period which would have been doubled where several
children were born in succession to the same parents, the relationships
between father and mother, brothers and sisters, must have become firmly
knit; thus the family came into existence, and the way was opened for
the growth of sympathies and ethical feelings. The rudimentary form of
the ethical feelings was that of the transient affection of a female
bird or mammal for its young. First given a definite direction through
the genesis of the primitive human family, the development of altruism
has yet scarcely kept pace with the general development of intelligence;
the advance of civilized man in justice and kindness has been less
marked than his advance in quick intelligence. But the creative energy
which has been thus at work through the bygone eternity is not going to
become quiescent to-morrow; the psychical development of man is
destined to go on in the future as it has in the past. And from the
"Origin of Man," when thoroughly comprehended, we may catch some
glimpses of his destiny.

The earlier condition of things was a state of universal warfare, on
account of the limitation of the food-supply. This warfare was checked
by the beginnings of industrial civilization, which made it possible for
a vastly greater population to live upon a given area, and in many ways
favored social compactness. A new basis of political combination was now
furnished by territorial continuity and by community of occupation. The
supply of food was no longer strictly limited, for it could be
indefinitely increased by peaceful industry; and, moreover, in the free
exchange of the products of labor, it ceased to be true that one man's
interest was opposed to another's. Men did not, it is true, at once
recognize this fact, but have done so only gradually. When the clan had
grown into the state, and the state into the empire, in which many
states were brought together in pacific relations, the recognized sphere
of moral obligation became enlarged, until at length it comprehended all
mankind. The coalescence of groups of men into larger and larger
political aggregates has been the chief work of civilization; and the
chief obstacle to such coalescence has been warfare. Great political
bodies have arisen in three ways. The first, conquest without
incorporation, proved itself suicidal. The second way was conquest with
incorporation, but without representation; and this lacking, the
government retrograded and gradually became a despotism. The third
method, federation, has been the policy of the English government. The
advantage of the habit of self-government has been shown in England's
wide conquest and colonization. The federative method of political
union, pacific in its very conception, is assuming an unquestionable
sway and destined to become universal; the progress of the race will be,
as it has been, with the gradual elimination of warfare.

In a race of inferior animals, any maladjustment is quickly removed by
natural selection. But in man there is a wide interval between the
highest and lowest degree of completeness which are compatible with
maintenance of life; in all grades of civilization above the lowest,
there are so many kinds of superiorities which severally enable men to
survive, notwithstanding accompanying inferiorities, that natural
selection cannot, by itself, rectify any particular unfitness. Hence,
the action of natural selection upon man has long since been essentially
diminished through the operation of social conditions. Therefore the
wicked flourish. Vice is but slowly eliminated, because mankind has so
many other qualities, besides the bad ones, which enable it, in spite of
them, to subsist and achieve progress.

The fundamental difference between civilized man and the savage lies in
the representative power, the imagination, by which men comprehend
pleasure and pain in others. Use and disuse, in place of natural
selection, have come to be paramount with man; and though the ethical
emotions are still too feeble, they will be more and more strengthened
by use, while the manifestation of selfish and hateful feelings will be
more and more weakened by disuse. Man is slowly passing from a primitive
social state, in which he was little better than a brute, toward an
ultimate social state, in which his character shall have become so
transformed that nothing of the brute can be detected in it. The
"original sin" of theology is the brute inheritance, which is being
gradually eliminated; and the message of Christianity: "Blessed are the
meek, for they shall inherit the earth" will be realized in the state of
universal peace towards which mankind is tending. Strife and Sorrow
shall disappear. Peace and Love shall reign supreme. The goal of
evolution is the perfecting of man, whereby we see, more than ever, that
he is the chief object of divine care, the fruition of that creative
energy which is manifested throughout the knowable universe.

We know soul only in connection with body. Yet nothing could be more
grossly unscientific than the famous remark of Cabanis that the brain
secretes thought as the liver secretes bile; the molecular movements of
the brain and the phenomena of thought and feeling are merely
concomitants related in some unknown way. It is not even correct to say
that thought goes on in the brain. He who regards man as the consummate
fruition of creative energy and the chief object of divine care, is
almost irresistibly driven to the belief that the soul's career is not
completed with the life upon the earth. Difficulties to this theory he
will meet; yet the alternative view contains difficulties at least as
great; nor is there any problem in the simplest and most exact
departments of science which does not speedily lead us to a
transcendental problem that we can neither solve nor elude. A broad
common sense argument has often to be called in, where keen-edged
metaphysical analysis has confessed itself baffled. The doctrine of
evolution does not allow us to take the atheistic view of the position
of man; the Darwinian theory, properly understood, replaces as much
teleology as it destroys. In the Titanic events of the development of
worlds from the nebular mist and their after-destruction, we may find no
signs of purpose, or even of a dramatic tendency; but on the earth we do
find distinct indications of a dramatic tendency; though doubtless not
of purpose in the limited human sense. Are we to regard the Creator's
work as like that of a child, who builds houses out of blocks just for
the pleasure of knocking them down again? On such a view the riddle of
the universe becomes a riddle without a meaning. "I can see no
insuperable difficulty in the notion that at some period in the
evolution of humanity this divine spark [the soul] may have acquired
sufficient concentration and steadiness to survive the wreck of material
forms and endure forever. Such a crowning wonder seems to me no more
than the fit climax to a creative work that has been ineffably beautiful
and marvellous in all its myriad stages."

Fiske gives some further definition of social evolution in man, in his
"Cosmic Philosophy" (1874). He there denies the incompatibility of
free-will with causation, saying that "it is the doctrine of
lawlessness, and not the causationist doctrine, which is incompatible
with liberty and destructive of responsibility."[54]

He further postulates heterogeneity of the environment as "the chief
proximate determining cause of social progress," and defines such
evolution as "a continuous establishment of psychical relations within
the community, in conformity to physical and psychical relations arising
in the environment, during which both the community and the environment
pass from a state of relatively indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a
state of relatively definite, coherent heterogeneity; and during which
the constituent units of the community become ever more distinctly
individual."[55] "The progress of a community, as of an organism, is a
process of _adaptation_--the continuous establishment of inner relations
in conformity to outer relations. If we contemplate material
civilization under its widest aspect, we discover its legitimate aim to
be the attainment and maintenance of an equilibrium between the wants
of men and the outward means of satisfying them. And while approaching
this goal, society is ever acquiring in its economic structure both
greater heterogeneity and greater specialization. It is not only that
agriculture, manufactures, commerce, legislation, the acts of the ruler,
the judge, and the physician, have, since ancient times, grown
immeasurably multiform, both in their processes and in their appliances;
but it is also that this specialization has resulted in the greatly
increased ability of society to adapt itself to the emergencies by which
it is now beset."[56] Religion, too, is adjustment; form after form has
been outgrown and perished, yet the life of Christianity, incorporated
in ever higher forms, is continually renewed. The omission of the moral
feeling, as a factor, from Comte's interpretation of the progress of
society, is a fatal defect, since moral and social progress depend more
on feelings than on ideas. As Wallace shows, tribes which combined for
mutual help and protection, restrained appetite by foresight, and felt
sympathy, would have an advantage in the struggle for existence.

"As surely as the astronomer can predict the future state of the
heavens, the sociologist can foresee that the process of adaptation must
go on until, in a remote future, it comes to an end in proximate
equilibrium. The increasing interdependence of human interests must
eventually go far to realize the dream of the philosophic poet, of a
Parliament of Man, a Federation of the World.

"'When the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law,' and when
the desires of each individual shall be in proximate equilibrium with
the means of satisfying them and with the simultaneous desires of all
surrounding individuals."[57]


[54] Vol. II. p. 189.

[55] Ibid. p. 223, 224.

[56] Vol. II. p. 212.

[57] Ibid. pp. 227, 228.


"BIOLOGICAL PROBLEMS" ("Biologische Probleme," 1884)

For what purpose are we in the world? asks the philosopher, and lays,
with this question, the foundation for later errors. In the effort to
rescue from destruction the theory of a creative intelligence, teleology
has adapted itself to many forms of scientific theory, not excepting
that of evolution. It reads into evolution progress towards what is, in
one way or another, assumed to be an end. But we really know, in the
universe, nothing but continuity, eternal change according to natural
law, and so only _causæ efficientes_, never _causæ finales_; and organic
development as well as processes in inorganic nature are to be explained
in this manner. The assumption that the result of a process is an end
towards which the process was directed is unwarranted. The question of
science is not: Wherefore is any creature in the world? but: What is he?
What is his actual aim, that is, his endeavor?

In the answer to this question, all philosophical schools have something
in common. Happiness, in one form or another, is acknowledged to be the
"end" of life in this sense. A follower of the utilitarian school may
define happiness as the "sublime feeling that one has taken part in the
continuous improvement of humanity, and the increase of human
happiness," but his words are less a definition of the concept than a
designation of the way in which happiness is to be arrived at. The
"sublime feeling" can be represented only as a feeling of happiness, of
joy. The religious theory, too, which represents the joys of religion on
earth and in heaven, as compensating for the evils of this life, makes
happiness the end of life, though in a different manner. Spencer is
right in declaring that happiness, however it may be defined, always
means, in the end, a greater amount of pleasure than of pain. At this
point, however, the harmony of the schools ceases. The question as to
the method by which this surplus of pleasure is to be obtained is
answered in different ways. All say, indeed, by seeking good and
avoiding evil. But opinion is divided as to what is good and what is

Rolph here introduces a long criticism of the different schools. Against
utilitarianism he urges that, in so far as it makes the happiness of the
greatest number its principle, it asserts the right of the majority over
a minority, and so advocates, by implication, an absolute subjection to

Our whole moral education has for its aim to give the young as high a
conception as possible of the happiness which springs from virtue and,
on the other hand, to decry the pleasure which may result from forbidden
acts. We seek, in this manner, to diminish the inward struggle and bring
about the right result. He who has grown up under good influences
escapes many temptations to which a man of less moral education falls a
prey. According to Wallock, who makes the degree of inner struggle the
measure of virtue, the man of better education in this case, the more
moral man, must have less merit than the less moral man. Wallock thus
founders on the rock which Kant so skilfully avoids; according to the
former, the man whose lusts have been mastered by education could never
equal the man of evil instincts, and the chastity of a Magdalen must be
regarded as more moral than that of a pure woman.

Spencer's theory, that the conduct of the higher animals is better
adjusted to ends than that of lower species, is erroneous; the lower
animals are exactly as well organized for the ends of their existence as
are the higher animals for theirs; the tapeworm is relatively just as
perfect as the human being, in comparison with whom he possesses many
superior qualities. The common judgment that the human being is superior
does not accord with the real adjustment of things, but with our human
conception of the ideal end of organization, our anthropocentric idea of
the aim of life. We foolishly believe that the tapeworm and every other
animal has the same end as the human being, and rank the animals
according to this principle, instead of tracing the different
genealogical branches to a like height and then comparing them. Not the
fitness for ends, but the kind and multiplicity of the ends for which
there is fitness, determine our judgment; and the ends by which we judge
are those of our own life. We judge subjectively and absolutely instead
of objectively and relatively. We are ever unconsciously influenced by
the conception that nature, in creating the tapeworm, merely made a
false step and a step backwards in her way towards the creation of man.
That all animals are adapted, some in a greater, some in a less degree,
to the ends of their existence, is proved by the simple fact of their
existence, that is, of their survival in the struggle for existence; but
which are in a higher, and which are in a less degree so adapted, is, in
the individual instance, extremely difficult to determine. In any
attempt at such an estimate, we must meet with peculiar difficulties,
resulting from the fact that we judge of the adaptation to ends with
less certainty the further from us any animal is in its organization. A
comparison such as Spencer institutes is possible only with respect to
like functions of similar organs in closely related forms.

The assertion that increase of ability for self-preservation leads to
better care for the young, and makes of such care a duty, is likewise
erroneous. For, up to the highly organized class of the crustacea, we
have no example of care for the young. In the struggle for existence,
the species which survive must be such as not only are in themselves
best fitted for survival, but as also bring forth best fitted progeny.
Nor has Spencer made clear on what ground natural process is to be
regarded as identical with duty. In truth he has succeeded in showing
only that care for the young is wide-spread in the animal kingdom, from
which fact naturally follows that it is a quality which tends to the
preservation of species.

It cannot be conceded that such a perfection as Spencer pictures, where
each shall fulfil all the functions of his own life in the most perfect
and complete manner without interfering with a like freedom in others,
is possible. The assertion involves the extension to all living beings
of that ideal principle of equal claims which Spencer repudiates with
regard to man,--showing that not all men are capable of a like degree of
happiness and that individuals desire, moreover, pleasure differing in
quality. Furthermore, a world of beings which, like the animals and many
plants, can support life only by means of organic material, must, in
order to exist, destroy organic life, either animal or vegetable. The
theory does not even hold with regard to individuals of the same
species; Spencer himself acknowledges the truth of the principles of
Malthus and of Darwin, according to which, even with the lowest rate of
increase, a struggle of competition must soon arise between individuals
of the same species.

Nor does Spencer's proof of the fundamental character of altruism hold,
on investigation. He demonstrates that through the animal species up to
man, there is less and less self-sacrifice of the mother animal in
giving birth to offspring. But this physical sacrifice is not altruism;
altruism lies in conscious care for the young after birth, and this is
not lessened, but increased, the higher we ascend.

That morality is but greater adjustment of acts to ends cannot be
admitted. If, in ordinary speech, the word good refers to greatest
adjustment to ends, whatever the ends may be, that is no proof that it
must have the same significance in Ethics. A good shot may be a good one
in that it hits the mark; but what if it kill a man? The acts of
criminals may be as well adjusted to their ends and as easy to predict
as those of a good man. Spencer's theory would lead, consistently
carried out, to the principle that the means justify the end, an
assertion that is even more dangerous than its opposite. The fact is,
that in Ethics it is the nature of the end which is of importance.

Spencer endeavors to show that only normal exercise of function is
favorable to life, and so moral;--that excess and deprivation are both
injurious. It is not true, however, that excess is always injurious;
within certain bounds it is made up for by reserves in the animal
organism. Or, if Spencer should answer to this objection, that his
"normal" is not to be represented by a sharp line, difficult to keep to,
but by a broad road within which excess is safe, such a representation
would both burden his theory with two dividing-lines, and moreover would
not save it. For he has not deemed it necessary to treat the concept
"normal" to an exact definition, and we find him using it in his later
deductions in an entirely new sense--not as equilibrium between capacity
of function and its exercise, but in the ideal significance of a harmony
between the claims of the individual on the one side, and those of the
environment on the other. This normal is nowhere actually to be found
and cannot, from the nature of things, be arrived at. By addition of
this significance, the word normal becomes indefinite in meaning, and is
used, now in one sense, now in the other. Normal exercise of function
has, however, nothing to do with the claims of the environment, which
generally demands, indeed, a deviation from the normal.

Nor is Spencer's analysis of the beginning of the process of
food-seizure, adduced in support of the theory that happiness and
morality are commensurable, confirmed by facts. According to this
theory, the process of food-taking begins with the contact of animal and
food, in which act the commencement of diffusion of food in the body of
the animal causes a pleasure which leads to the seizure of its prey and
the further act of devouring it. The theory might hold of the lowest
organisms, but could not be true of any animal furnished with an
impenetrable shell or skin. Nor would the seizure follow with sufficient
promptness if it were left to the action of the pleasure caused by
diffusion. Moreover, we should expect to find, according to this theory,
a much more general and finer development of the organ of taste among
the animals,--to find it as a special organ on the lowest planes of
animal life; it is, on the contrary, the latest of the special senses to
develop. It is the reaction on the sense of touch, the lowest and most
general of the special senses, which causes the seizure of nourishment.
We must, therefore, deny that pleasure is the motive to the seizure of
food, and so, too, reject the conclusion that it is the motive to every
other act.

Besides arguing that normal function brings pleasure, Spencer has
attempted to prove that all pleasure has its spring in normal function,
and is therefore moral. Could he succeed in so doing, hedonism would be
proved. For since all schools agree in regarding happiness as the end of
life, and since all these, in common, acknowledge happiness to be an
excess of pleasure over pain, enjoyment might be regarded as the
absolute guide. But if, as Spencer acknowledges, pleasure and morality
are only in a perfectly adapted society commensurate, then in only such
a society can pleasure be the criterion; and since we do not live in a
perfectly adapted society, the theory is not applicable to us, and if
practicably applied would be fatal to society.

Against Spencer's theory of the final spontaneity of morality, many
objections may be urged, among others especially the one that such a
morality ceases to be morality at all, virtue being possible, as Kant
has demonstrated, only where a certain conquest of desire is achieved.
Such a morality is, moreover, unattainable, an extravagant fancy.


Rolph thinks Spencer's theory awakes the conjecture that it was not
first arrived at through investigation, but rests upon a preconceived
opinion, as do to a greater or less extent all theories on this subject.
It seems as if the author had first attached himself to that theory
which best accorded with his scientific bias, and then tried whether
this theory might be proved or supported by facts of biology and
psychology. One might surmise, from the very skilful, but often too
artificial argument, that the author pursued the following train of
thought. Pleasure, and indeed the greatest possible pleasure, is the end
of endeavor in the organic world, that is, the psychical cause of
endeavor. May it not also be the physical cause?

Rolph answers this question with a denial, and endeavors to show that
the taking of food has its cause in the insatiability of all organic
substance. The theory of Spontaneous Generation contains nothing
impossible or improbable; is, on the contrary, a necessary logical
assumption not to be disproved by the mere result of experiment under
conditions of the laboratory. It is easy to imagine that organic
elements, which are to be found in great quantities in inorganic nature,
may come together by chance, or rather in the natural order of things,
to the formation of protoplasm.

The movement of these masses of protoplasm seems, at first glance, to
set the law of gravitation at defiance, but we may answer that an
ascending balloon might seem, to an uninstructed observer, to do the
same, although its movement is merely the natural result of that force;
it is not necessary, therefore, to assume a free inner motive, the soul,
as the cause of the one motion or the other. The first assimilation of
food has its beginning in the process of endosmose and exosmose, in
which the protoplasm, as in general the denser fluid, increases in
volume, taking up more than it gives out; the process occurring, in
detail, according to the special relations of attraction in the parts.
The organism always takes up the greatest amount possible under the
circumstances, exactly as, in the inorganic world, water takes up the
greatest amount possible of salt or any other soluble substance; the
growth of a crystal, and the oxidation of iron are illustrations of the
same principle. Of the limit of this capacity to take up new matter into
the organism we know nothing; all recent experiments go to show that the
organism is capable, under propitious circumstances, of an enormous
receptivity, such as, under natural conditions, it never reaches. The
lower animals feed continually, and their whole lives are passed in this
employment. In plants the tendency is seen still more clearly.
Experiments with electric, violet, and ultra-violet light show an
enormous growth in plants exposed to its action. But this can be only an
indirect growth, namely, the exorbitant acceleration of organic change
and assimilation. This fact is proved by experiments turning on increase
of warmth in soil; from which is seen to result an unusual development
of that part of the plant to which growth is especially directed at the
time. When the warmth of an incubator is increased, the animal organ
especially engaged in development at the time is affected in like
manner. So that we may assume that the organism is capable of responding
to every demand that nature makes upon it under normal conditions; and
since the greatest possible assimilation under the existing conditions
is thus removed from the control of the creature, the latter appears
practically insatiable. This insatiability must appear to the observer
an inner impulse of the organism, an effort towards increase of
nourishment. It may be called mechanical hunger in distinction from
psychical hunger, of which it is the basis. It is not necessary to take
into consideration, in the question as to the degree of assimilation
possible, the amount of excretion of substance by the organism; we must,
on the contrary, assert that this is dependent upon the amount of
assimilation. The measure of growth depends, therefore, on the degree of
assimilation of new material. This degree, however, like the degree to
which the matter may be dissolved in a liquid in the case of inorganic
matter, is especially affected by light and warmth. The creature which
comes into existence in the sun will experience a decrease of organic
change when placed in the shade; and the creature which comes into
existence in the shade will experience an increase of such change under
the influence of the sun, a decrease again with a return to the shade.
This decrease means hunger,--harm. Experiments with zoöspores throw an
interesting light upon these relations. They show that the zoöspores,
although suited to very different degrees of light, all shun darkness.
Although when in the light they soon come to rest, divide, and copulate,
they remain, in the darkness, in a state of continual unrest and motion.
They grow so thin "that they almost excite pity" (Strassburger), and
finally perish of hunger. Only such zoöspores as are distinguished by
sex and copulate come to rest, or those of such sorts as prey upon
others. It is easy to perceive that the unrest of the zoöspores in the
darkness springs from lack of nourishment, from hunger; they seek
feverishly for the light, without which assimilation follows with
insufficient energy to satisfy need and render life possible. In
darkness, copulation alone can do this; copulation takes, then, the
place of normal nourishment.

Or let us consider the case of an organism which has originated in the
shade. Heat, as we know, increases chemical change, in inorganic as well
as organic matter; it hastens the disintegration of certain compounds,
and alone renders it possible in many cases. In general, we may assert
that increase of temperature within certain limits increases
assimilation; that is, capacity to assimilate. Therefore, if an animal
is placed in the sun, its capacity, that is, its need, to assimilate is
increased, although assimilation is much more energetic than before.
Need to assimilate or hunger is, therefore, dependent upon the supply of
food, although, doubtless, also on other conditions, especially those of
light and temperature. If this is true, the hunger of a simple organism
that assimilates energetically must be more intense than that of one
which assimilates slowly, in spite of the consumption of an enormous
quantity of food in the case of the former. Botanists know (Sachs,
"Lehrbuch der Botanik," p. 613) "that growth may be so hastened by too
high a temperature that assimilation (especially under scanty light)
does not suffice to provide the necessary material for it. The
transpiration of the leaves may be so increased that the roots cannot
repair the loss. And on the other hand, a too low temperature of the
soil may so diminish the action of the roots that even a small loss by
transpiration cannot be repaired."

At what stage of organization psychical hunger is added to mechanical
hunger, or whether it may be identified with it, we cannot say. In any
case, the former appears exceedingly early, for excitations of hunger
may be observed in creatures very low in the scale of being. Certainly
hunger is never absent where there is movement.

Hunger, a sense of pain, is, therefore, the first impulse to action.[58]

With a like effort in the attempt to obtain food, that organism will be
best nourished which commands the best means of obtaining and preparing
its food,--the best apparatus for the seizure and grinding of food, and
the best salivary gland. And finally, greater surface of skin, of lungs,
of gills, or of intestines, causes greater capacity for assimilation,
and since this surface is increased by cell-division or propagation, the
capacity of the organism for assimilation grows with its capacity of
propagation.[59] Protoplasm is never entirely homogeneous, and we must
suppose some difference even in the beginning; such difference is,
indeed, fundamental through the very composition of protoplasm from the
four fundamental elements, and this or that other element. These
different elements must be held together by forces of attraction, and
the direction of these forces must have some common centre represented
by some differentiation of the protoplasm, whether as clearer spot, or
as nucleus. This spontaneously generated organism, neither animal nor
plant, is nourished, as we have seen, by diffusion, by the
transformation of inorganic into organic substance. The lowest organisms
possess no definite organs for taking food; they manifest, however,
phenomena of movement which are exactly like those of the animal
organism, for they appear unconditioned and hence voluntary. Locomotion
is, in the lowest animal forms, the only means of obtaining nourishment.
The amoeba surrounds and takes in whatever is by chance met with.
Animals a little higher in the scale swim about and seek their food; or,
remaining in one place, they cause, by means of cilia, a movement of the
water towards a certain part of the body, a sort of mouth where the
protoplasm is open and can take up the prey in the same manner as does
the amoeba. Ascending the scale of life, we find more and more
complicated apparatus for the seizure of food, for its preparation and
digestion, and the beginning of a nervous system, first as the
differentiation of certain muscle-cells, then in connection with a
special sense, that of hearing. If we assume any pleasure to be
connected with the earliest acts of assimilation, it must be that of the
satisfaction of a want, the stilling of pain in the form of hunger.


In the earliest forms of propagation, the younger organism is a true
copy of that from which it springs, the trifling differences being due,
as Schmankewicz has shown, to outer influences. The differences of male,
female, worker, and soldier are due to such outer influences. The
differences in the younger organism, where propagation takes place
through copulation, may be explained by the mixture of types, through
which, by action and reaction, some qualities are intensified, while
some others become latent or are entirely destroyed. To these mutual
influences are to be added such as come from without, especially those
of warmth, and of quantity and quality of food. Under too great an
increase in temperature, the young organism may even be destroyed, the
process of assimilation not being able to keep pace with it. Those
variations which have led to the development of existing forms, that is,
which were favorable to life, are chiefly such as could be brought about
by relative or absolute increase of assimilation. This is true of
mental, as well as of physical, qualities.

It is a fact established without doubt, that the most common and most
widely distributed species show the greatest variability, and that those
species, on the contrary, which are now rare, although they were,
perhaps, at earlier periods, the most common and extremely variable,
vary, at the present date, the least of all. Following Darwin, one
generally draws the conclusion that the severity of the struggle for
existence favors the formation of varieties. For, it is said, the most
common species fight the severest battle with one another, while the
scanty representatives of rarer species come the least into competition
and continue unchanged. But this theory is, in two ways, erroneous. In
the first place, no attention is paid to the fact that a rare species
may be exposed to a severe struggle against another species for the same
nourishment, while a common species may, on the other hand, be exposed
to no such struggle, and, supporting life from a generous supply of
food, be subjected to but slight pressure. The conception of the
Darwinians means nothing more or less than that the individuals of a
species vary the more, the less favorable the conditions of nourishment;
and this cannot be conceded. Again, the fact is to be taken into
consideration, that the species at present common must have passed
through a favorable period in which food was so plentiful that it not
only afforded an abundance to individuals past the dangers of infancy
and youth, but allowed, in addition, the existence of an ever-increasing
number of individuals. And it is this period of increase, of abundance,
not a period of struggle, which has developed the variations we now have
before our eyes. In the same manner one must conclude, with regard to
the rarer species, that the formerly existing numerous varieties were
destroyed during the period of decline, that is, of overpowering
pressure. We have abundant proof of this in the fact that domesticated
species, which are carefully tended and fed, and so wholly withdrawn
from the struggle for existence, vary enormously, and produce the most
wonderful monstrosities.

To what direct causes the appearance of a variety is due, is a question
as yet unanswered. But Weismann's investigations have shown us that
climate plays a large part in their development. Embryology teaches us,
moreover, that the development of the young organism does not take place
with the same uniformity in all organs, but that, on the contrary, in
one period one organ, in another, another, undergoes a more rapid
growth, which may be influenced by variations in food or temperature.
Through such variations the development of monstrosities is explained.
We know that influences of nourishment are operative in the development
of the larvæ of bees to workers or to queens, and we can easily conceive
that other organs besides the sexual are subject to these influences.
The field in which such influences may be operative is, indeed,

All these considerations lead us to the conclusion that variability in
general, but especially that variability resulting in a so-called
improvement of the varieties producing it, is an accompaniment of
prosperous conditions. This is a conclusion not yet reached in zoölogy,
although botanists long ago recognized, in abundance of food, the most
essential condition for the development of variations.

Darwinism fails to account for any need of nourishment beyond that
necessary for the maintenance of the _status quo_ of life. According to
Darwin, the animal can acquire only sufficient for the repair of loss.
The struggle for existence is, therefore, according to him, a struggle
of self-defence, and its results could be, at the best, only the
maintenance of species in their present position or, in a less favorable
case, their decline, and finally their destruction. But this view is
wholly false. The animal acquires not only enough to repair loss, but
much more. How could the first amoeba have propagated itself, if it
consumed no more than it needed for mere self-maintenance, and how could
evolution have taken place? We have seen that, even in the inorganic
world, there is not an equality of loss and repair, but that, in osmose,
the denser fluid takes up more than it gives, while the fluid that is
less dense loses more than it receives, and the mutual exchange reaches
the maximum possible under the existing circumstances. It is this
characteristic which renders the involuntary and forced tendency of the
organism to satiation independent of the amount of waste; this
mechanical hunger is the spring of the insatiability of organisms, and
explains to us their increase in number, the process of increasing
perfection, and individual development. Without it, an eternity would
not have sufficed for evolution; we should still have only a world of
primitive amoebæ.

This theory of development is, then, the opposite of that ordinarily
assumed. The latter asserts that increase of growth demands increase of
nourishment, whereas this asserts the fact that increase of nourishment
determines growth. The struggle for existence is not a struggle for the
mere necessaries to maintain life, but a struggle for increase of
acquisition, increase of life; it is not a struggle of defence, but an
attack which only under certain circumstances becomes a defence. The
rule with which we advise our friends is, "Forward! strive to better
yourself!" though we may endeavor, in hypocritical spirit, to persuade
to contentment those who come into competition with our interests.

The chief points, therefore, in which this theory differs from that of
Darwin, are as follows:--

"The struggle for existence is really a struggle for increase of
nourishment, of life; and independent of the supply of the moment, it
goes on at all times, hence even in a state of abundance.

"Limitation of supply by competition leads to fixation of the species
and, in the end, to its decrease and disappearance.

"Sickness, climate, and direct enemies are the destructive agencies, and
must secure more propitious conditions for survivors, the stronger their

"Only under conditions of prosperity can the survivors propagate
largely, and perfect themselves, separating into varieties and species.

"The increase and differentiation of the organic world shows us that
conditions of prosperity have been the rule, those of want the

Rolph's extremely interesting chapter on Propagation traces the sexual
instinct to the "mechanical hunger." The earliest example which may be
adduced in support of this theory is that of the zoöspores which, by
copulation, sustain life for a time under the unfavorable conditions of
darkness, the thinner male representing, as does also the spermatozoön,
the seeking individual suffering from want, the female representing a
means of sustenance. The sex of the young organism is in like manner
referred by Rolph to conditions of nourishment during development. We
now come to the chapter on


The existence of morality presupposes the existence of commandments of
duty, and of an authority. Among animals, as well as among human beings,
we find recognized authority and can discern the principles of action
which constitute the duty of any particular animal. Authority among the
lower animals is based on might, which is, indeed, the universal source
of authority, without which no authority can exist. Personal authority
is but a particular form of the authority of circumstances; and to this
authority every creature must be subject. It consists of two factors:
the outer authority of the environment, and the inner authority of
impulse. Duty is obedience to authority. The duty of the organism
consists in action that corresponds to these two authorities, following
the direction given as the resultant of the mixture of the two
components. That is, that manner of life is right or moral which renders
the life of the organism the fullest possible under the circumstances.
The unreasoning organism is unconsciously drawn to seek this maximum,
while the reasoning being seeks it through reflection. The impulse to
happiness includes, therefore, for the reasoning being, the impulse to
morality; or, ideally expressed, the relative morality equals the
relative happiness; morality and happiness are the same thing.

An authority without the means of enforcing itself is a
self-contradiction. The means by which nature makes its authority felt
is organic excitation. In proportion to its strength, an excitation
produces sensation, in case it is not too weak to make itself felt at
all. Every excitation has a definite significance and may come from
without or within. Pleasant excitations are always, primarily, the
feeling of the stilling of pain, though there are pains, such as, for
instance, that of a wound, the toothache, headache, an aching corn,
which have no corresponding feeling of pleasure. Nor is pleasure the
only offspring of pain, since pain may bring forth pain. Pleasure
depends, in its character as pleasure as well as in its strength, on the
feeling preceding it in the organism; that is, its quality is the
result, not of the degree of organic excitation, but of the order of
succession of the feelings. For this reason, the same feeling which
brings pleasure to one individual may bring pain to another.

This whole deduction is at variance with Spencer's theory that
pleasurable excitations are favorable to life, painful ones injurious.
And since observation is in direct opposition to his assertion, his
followers have been obliged to supplement it with the conception that
pain is gradually weeded out by natural selection. On the contrary, we
need pain at every instant, since it is the impulse to action;
persistence in the same condition through lack of excitation, must
result in death; pleasure can never originate action, it can only cause
persistence in action already begun. The fact has been too often
overlooked, that the motive and the "end" of an action are by no means
the same. The motive is pain, and the end is either simply the stilling
of pain or an additional positive pleasure. There are, therefore, many
actions which are directed to no concrete positive end, but only to the
purely negative end of escape from pain without consideration of the
further results; a striking example of such action is suicide. Even
where positive pleasure appears as an end, it is never in itself the
motive to action. In order to become a motive, it must first be
transformed into an excitation, into desire for pleasure; and this
desire for a definite or an indefinite pleasure is, in its essence,
pain--the pain of the absence of pleasure.[60]

The pleasure sought may be one already known through experience, or it
may be one not yet experienced. In the latter case, the desire is
awakened by instruction or reflection, or else induced by instinct. But
the motive is always the same, namely, a seeking after pleasure, hence a
feeling of pain.

This view furnishes us with a psychical explanation of the association
of ideas, the mysterious so-called transferrence of the feeling of
pleasure from the end to the means. Pleasure begins as soon as we have
begun the action which will bring us with certainty to the end desired,
and this pleasure may reach such a degree of strength at some point of
the process as to conquer the desire for the real end, hem further
action, and dispose to continuance at the point reached. The action of
the miser may be thus explained.

The objection that, if pain is the motive, the organism is nothing but a
bundle of pains, is by no means valid, for it overlooks the fact that
pain remains, in an immense number of cases, below the threshold of
consciousness; as in the case of organic action, where it is rhythmic.
The same is true of reflex action. To any close observer of the lower
organisms, it seems most probable that these possess consciousness (see
Wundt, "Physiologische Psychologie"), nor is it by any means proved that
the plants do not possess it likewise. It is certainly remarkable that
exactly the lowest plants, which stand so near the animals in the
phenomena of their life, exhibit movements closely resembling those of
animals. And it is, moreover, a fact that automatic and reflex actions
increase with the degree of organization, and are most numerous in human
beings. With increased exercise, one chain of movements after the other
is withdrawn from consciousness; and through this removal from
consciousness action gains in certainty and rapidity, and in energy
also, since the part of the force which was before lost in inducing
consciousness is now released. Such removal from consciousness is,
therefore, a benefit to the organism, as an adaptation to the increased
demands of circumstances. Movements which thus become unconscious are
each and every one of them movements which have but one definite end and
an interruption of which either kills or seriously injures the organism,
or at least brings disorder into its life for the time being. An easily
excited consciousness would be an exceeding danger to the animal.
Conscious action is directed to the attainment of variable ends by means
which are also variable. It cannot, therefore, astonish us that
consciousness disappeared in plants after the loss of free motion.

By the regular exercise of certain actions or of trains of thought,
either through necessity or by habit certain tracks are worn or taken
possession of, so that the whole process, from the excitation to the
action resulting upon it, takes place with such rapidity that we are no
longer conscious of its separate phases and so of the growth of the

The first commandment of animal ethics is, therefore: "Flee pain"; and
closely associated with it is a second commandment furnished by the
insatiability of the organism, the impulse to happiness, to increase of
life. The principle of Spencer's ethics, according to which normal
living is right living, would result in stagnation. Right living
consists, on the contrary, in progress, in passing beyond the normal. No
educator would hesitate for an instant to pronounce the continuance of a
pupil upon a present normal immoral, and to oppose it with all his
powers. From day to day the developing organism advances the line of its
normal activity. And as in the individual, so in the species: every new
generation exceeds in a certain measure the activity of the last. Not
rest, but motion, constitutes the normal; not rest, but motion, is
happiness, and the spring of happiness. Not that being which has no
wants, but that which develops and satisfies the greatest possible
number of wants, is the happiest, leads the most pleasurable life. When
we apply these principles to the animals, we reach the conception that
all such as lead a solitary life live morally when they endeavor, with
all their powers, to better their own condition. That they injure plants
and other animals in so doing need not trouble us, since they are forced
to do so in order to maintain life. The principle on which animal life
is based is hence preëminently egoistic and acknowledges no other right
than that of might. Spencer, in speaking of altruism on the lowest plane
of animal life, makes the fundamental and quite fatal mistake that he
does not first sharply and distinctly define egoism. Had he done this,
he would certainly have found that, for egoism, as for altruism, the
criterion of consciousness, of will, is indispensable. In his definition
of altruism as consisting in those acts which in any way benefit others,
he does nothing less than get rid of egoism altogether, since there are
no acts which do not, in the end, benefit others than the performer. The
greater number of the young brought forth by lowest organisms serve as
food for other species, and hence the parent animal, in bringing forth
such numbers, favors these species rather than her own flesh and blood.
The fly would act altruistically, according to Spencer's definition, in
being caught in the net of the spider.

A creature which gets its food, as do many of the lower species, without
exertion of its own, does not act egoistically, nor does the animal
which, in the natural course of its growth, brings forth young by
spontaneous division; but that animal may do so which acquires its food
by means of any voluntary actions, however insignificant, or which
voluntarily protects and cares for its young; and such voluntary action
increases rather than decreases with greater organization. Real egoism
begins with the voluntary acquisition of food, a process continued in
the forced excretion of the young. But since this action benefits the
second generation, we may regard it as the connecting link between
egoism and altruism. It is not purely altruistic; altruism proper begins
with the nourishment and care of the young. And to what degree we have a
right to consider even this as really altruistic can be determined only
by further investigation. The emptying of the milk-glands is combined
with pleasure; it may therefore be regarded as primarily egoistic, and
furnishes us with a further example of the development of altruism from
egoism. Altruism increases, not only with higher organization, but also
with a higher development of social life.

The beginnings of society are to be found in the family life of animals;
the most primitive form of this is the temporary, voluntary association
of male and female among the higher species; that is, the anthropoids
and vertebrates. On this merely temporary association follows, as a
higher stage, the lasting family union, which exists among comparatively
few animals. The so-called "states" of the animals are, in their most
typical instances, nothing but families living in a condition of

Closer association gives opportunity for a misuse of the powers and aims
of the individual, before impossible. Examples of this are the theft of
honey from one hive of bees by the workers of another, and the carrying
off of the young by wasps and ants, as also the slaughter of the drones.
Since the robber of yesterday may be the robbed of to-day, such acts are
harmful to individuals, to the family, and to the species. They diminish
the degree of life, and are opposed to animal ethics. The association of
male and female, since only temporary, affords little opportunity for
immorality, and the duties of parents to their young are, for the most
part, faithfully performed. In striking contrast to the natural morality
of wild animals is the immorality of domestic animals, which give
themselves up to every sort of vice when not restrained. The moral
conditions of any associated animals not under control, whether in
zoölogical gardens, in the town, or in the country, is, in fact,
monstrous. Immorality increases with the closer association of animals.
The closer the contact and the looser the bond between the individuals
of a species, the greater the opportunity for immorality, and the worse
the resulting habits. The careless life of pleasure led by animals that
live in solitude, is interfered with, in a state of association, by
certain duties. How far the performance of such duties springs from a
concealed pleasure, or from instinct, or follows upon the command of
authority, we, unfortunately, cannot say. The limitation of
gratification signifies, however, decrease of pleasure. The needs of
different animals differ according to differing organization; higher
organization means greater and more complicated desire, the satisfaction
of which is often impossible, but it means also the attainment of
capacity for greater pleasure in form and intensity. Hence even the
partly attained pleasure of the higher animals is, in intensity as well
as in fulness, much greater than the completely attained pleasure of the
lower animals.


Rolph contests Lubbock's theory that the early type of man lived in a
condition of sexual promiscuity, and gives as a reason for his opinion
the "strict" monogamy of those animals which are most closely related to
man. The customs of such animals should have as much weight, as
evidence, as those of any of the present tribes of savages, since these
tribes are as old as civilized races, and their customs cannot,
therefore, be unhesitatingly regarded as primary ones.

The real needs of men, those the gratification of which is indispensable
to the maintenance of life, are few. By experience, and by experience
alone, can man learn that present gratification may mean future pain,
and so be withheld from such gratification; for only disinclination to
one form of pleasure can induce inclination to another form. In the
simplicity of primitive social conditions and the uniform character of
action under such conditions, rules of experience must have been early
formed, which, inherited by succeeding generations, became the rules of
conduct.[61] With the development of authority,--first the paternal
authority, then that of the family, and finally that of the elders of
the tribe,--the possibility of establishing rules of action, and
inducing morality, increased. The very nomination of elders, to which
primitive authority may almost everywhere be traced, shows how great was
the respect for experience.

Spencer remarks, in one place in his "Data of Ethics," that human beings
first banded themselves together because they found it more advantageous
to coöperate. This is only conditionally true. Before human beings could
find association advantageous, they must have accumulated experience of
it. That they did this by their own inclination is certainly not true.
Wherever we find two solitary beings coming together by chance, enmity
is the first feeling excited, and war the result. Everything new,
everything unknown, causes aversion, and this aversion must lead to
misunderstandings and war the more surely because each of the opponents
feels himself disturbed in his supposed right to limitless possession.
Human beings must first have warred with one another before they came to
the knowledge, not that social life, that is, mutual forbearance, was
more advantageous, but that more closely associated individuals gained
in power against a common enemy by their association. Man did not choose
society, but was, on the contrary, forced into it, for good or evil,
through increase of his kind. The discovery of the first tools must have
had an immense influence upon increase in the number of individuals,
which was before limited by struggle with wild animals, and by the
restriction of food to fruit. We must conclude that, under such
circumstances, a lasting contract was inevitable, and that, with it,
vices suddenly appeared which had before existed only potentially, as
predisposition. War or theft must have followed the mutual limitation of
rights, but against this disturbance of the peace other members of the
society must have banded themselves together. The weaker must soon have
been driven from their possessions by the stronger, and must then have
united for the purpose of obtaining, by association, what they were
unable to acquire otherwise. The growing children settled near their
parents, with whom they entered into a family union, in which the father
represented the authority. In this arrangement is the germ of civil
order,--of the ideas of right and wrong. Inner conflicts can at first
scarcely have occurred, since the possessions of the family were in
common, and a conception of theft between members of the family could
not exist. Furthermore, there was scarcely anything worth stealing, for
the implements must have been so primitive that each individual could
easily manufacture them for himself. Only women could have been, in the
beginning, an object of conflict, and for avoidance of this conflict
laws and customs arose, which are, to our modern minds, inexplicable.
Real polyandry may doubtless be explained by the idea of the common
right of possession among brothers; it has, in most cases, this
significance. It is extended, indeed, later, to more distant relatives,
and gains finally a solemn significance, the presentation of the wife,
or of one of a number of wives, being a symbol of fraternity by which
the guest is honored.

With the manufacture of better tools and weapons, temptation to theft
was increased, and authority began to be directed inwards to the society
itself, since inner conflict injured the family in its contests with
outer enemies. What is true of the family in this connection, is true of
the tribe. A joint egoism of the society as a whole must thus have been
developed, as soon as the first step of association was taken. The
earliest law is always negative, a prohibition, not a positive command.

War had its good as well as its evil side, since it made different
peoples acquainted and gave them knowledge of each other's tools,
weapons, and customs. War was, at first, the only means by which peoples
learned to know each other. The establishment of peace led to the union
of different peoples, or at least to peaceful intercourse by exchange,
which united the tribes by common interests, corrected ideas, and
tempered customs.

The egoistic impulses, the feeling of unconditional right to possession,
are the impulses with which the child is born; morality is not inborn,
but must be developed by education, as is shown by the example of such
children as are neglected in education.[62] Or, if there is anything
innate in the direction of morality, it is merely a certain inherited
predisposition acquired in the course of the thousands of years of
social intercourse, which makes it easier for us to respond to
education. If this is not so, and the impulse to morality is innate, why
has it required so many centuries for man to make the simple connection
of ideas, that what is just towards one man is just towards another. In
this feeling of justice, acquired through an extension of egoism, is the
root of all virtue. It is the spring of sympathy or benevolence, which
can be developed only where the feeling of the like rights of others is

But an unconsidered over-estimate of this feeling is the source of
Spencer's Utopia, as it is of that of present socialism. We have seen
that authority is a primary and necessary factor of society. Authority,
virtue, and duty are interdependent, and must be of about the same
antiquity. From all compulsion imposed by authority, the creature, by
its nature, attempts to escape, and the feeling which prompts this
attempt has been falsely called the instinct of freedom. Authority
exceeds its bounds, where it issues commands not demanded by the general
conditions existing in the society. But though these conditions may
demand a limitation of personal freedom, their requirements must,
nevertheless, in general, be enforced.

Natural and Humane Ethics may thus be at variance in some things; may in
others, coincide. There is no necessary conflict and no necessary
agreement between them; therefore the theological theory of an absolute
contradiction between them is false, as is also the teleological theory
of their coincidence. The latter theory, not being able to deny that the
moral and the natural do not always coincide under present
circumstances, endeavors to avoid the difficulty by calling these
conditions abnormal. The theory falls into two errors: in the first
place, it ignores the fact that we have our organs, not _for_ use but
_by_ use; and that our inherited characteristics may be regarded as an
adjustment to the conditions of our ancestors, but not an adjustment to
our own; and in the second place, there are no abnormal conditions.
There are new or changed conditions, but either there are no abnormal
ones, or all are abnormal.

But although increase of life means also increase of desire, although
the organism is insatiable, yet there is, as we have seen, an increase
of happiness, both in quantity and quality, with higher organization.
The absolute amount is increased, but not the relative amount, the
amount realizable in proportion to desire.

Want does not lead to improvement, as Darwin maintains, and the
individual cannot be just or sympathetic in a condition of want. The
freer he is from the direct care of the acquirement of necessities, the
more manifold capabilities will he develop, and the greater will be his

The task which authority must set itself, in order to secure greater
justice in society, and so greater happiness, is twofold, a positive and
a negative task. The positive task consists in such an education of the
young as will enable them by their own effort to advance towards their
individual ideal of happiness, and in the inculcation of such an ideal
as corresponds to their individual talents and means, and is attainable
under the existing circumstances. The negative task, already implied in
the positive one, is the imposition of necessary restrictions in the
means used for the attainment of happiness. Within the limits set by
justice, the individual has a natural right to seek his own pleasure,
and for each individual an attainable maximum may be reckoned. This is
not saying, however, that the individual has a just claim to this
maximum, in case he cannot, or will not, be sufficiently energetic to
gain it by his own efforts. It is an error of modern times to suppose
that the realization of happiness rests in any other hand than that of
the individual himself--that the state can make and decree happiness.
Happiness cannot be secured by means of decrees, by a division of goods,
or by gifts. Division is always unjust, since it leaves out of
consideration that individuality of character which is the only measure
of sensibility to pleasure. The negative part of the task is to be
accomplished less by inculcation of many special virtues than by the
continual direction of the attention to the fundamental virtue of
justice. The positive task is to be accomplished by the most thorough
education of the intelligence of the individual, through which he shall
learn to inquire the reason of moral precepts, to judge for himself, and
then to act on the decision he arrives at. We have seen that the ethical
education of the present time tends to reduce inner struggle, rendering
the results of wrong-doing as repellant as possible. One in whom has
been instilled a very terrible conception of the sufferings resulting,
in the present and future life, from wrong-doing, will perhaps
automatically avoid the evil; and the means for a moral education seem
thus attained. However, it is not so; for when the individual accustoms
himself to being directed in action, not by his own carefully won
experience, but by feelings instilled by others, concerning the ethical
character of which his own insight does not, and cannot, afford him any
explanation, he opens the way to every chance influence, and becomes the
plaything of unknown forces; while he at the same time divests himself
of that personal responsibility without which no society can exist. The
true ideal of education is such as sharpens the judgment and accustoms
the individual to consider his action from all sides, in the
consciousness of personal responsibility. Only through such action is
man the possessor of freedom. He who acts without reflection, from
unreliable emotion, is not free. The freest possible decision is that
which is reached as the result of such a careful consideration of all
the single components of reflection that no one of them exceeds in its
influence its real worth. The ideal of education is not, therefore, the
production of spontaneous decision and action, but of reasoning,
conscious action. That this principle is the only right one is shown by
our former observations, according to which, as society develops, more
and more actions are the result of reflection. And in case a state of
moral perfection is attainable, it can be arrived at only as each member
of the society acts from perfect reflection, not from impulse or
instinct. In attempting social improvement, we must take example by the
chemist, who does not attempt a chemical combination by force but
endeavors to attain the conditions under which the elements will unite,
through their own inner laws, to the desired, homogeneous body. This is
a wearisome process; but it is the shortest and swiftest, for it leads
us to the desired end.

The single virtues cannot be regarded as ideal principles. They
contradict each other, and whether the one or the other should have the
preference depends on the individual case and can be decided only by
reflection. The formulation of these general rules of conduct under the
name of virtues has, practically, only the advantage of reducing the
numberless possibilities of action to a few; but such principles can
never be exhaustive. Wherever the individual forgets this fact and is
led to regard virtue as an end, instead of as the means to an innocent
happiness, virtue ceases to be virtue and becomes its opposite. Thus
thrift becomes avarice, generosity extravagance, courage foolhardiness,
openness want of consideration, gentleness weakness, and chastity
celibacy. The single virtues are only abstractions from special
circumstances generalized to an ideal of action. But in practical life,
we have to do with individual cases whose conditions are by no means
ideal, and cannot be treated as ideal. We must act, in each case, for
the relative best, not for absolute good; and what is best for one sex
or in one society may not be best for the other sex or in another
society. A compromise between idealism and realism is everywhere
necessary; and such a compromise is made, despite all fine words to the
contrary, by every one,--by one only more openly or consciously than
another. It is comforting to remark that mankind shows itself, and
always has shown itself, instinctively taking the road to the attainment
of the end.

Through an extension of relations, authority, at first represented by a
single individual, the head of the family or tribe, reaches the point of
development where the one ruler is unable to rule all parts, and decide
all questions, alone, so that he is obliged to call in help. He
naturally chooses men near to him, with whose character he is
acquainted. But there arises, by this division of authority, the danger
of its misuse to the disadvantage of the ruler himself. Since despotic
government depends on might alone, and the voice of the people has no
influence, every person in any way related to the ruler represents a
danger. Nevertheless, the establishment of new powers to assist the
ruler was the starting-point of constitutional government. For by this
division of power the ruler rendered it impossible for himself to govern
without help from others, and opened the way to a contract of compromise
with the people. The influence of individuals upon the state spread,
thus, to the people itself. Self-government, pure parliamentarism, is
the ultimate end to be reached by the process.

We have seen that neither pleasure, nor utility, nor virtue, nor,
finally, religion, can be regarded as the absolute means, but only as
the relative means to the attainment of happiness. Both the hedonist and
the utilitarian need to correct and further define their principle, as
well in respect to the end to be attained, as in respect to the means
proposed. Their principles are not to be rejected, but fanaticism is to
be condemned. Principles may have exceptions; but fanaticism recognizes
no exceptions.

As to man's final end. Though he has attained to the power of shaping,
to some extent, his own environment and means of existence, yet he does
not occupy an exceptional position in the animal kingdom, and must cease
to exist unless he submits to adapt himself. It has been almost the rule
that the highest animals of an epoch have later died out and been
replaced by some new aristocracy, developed from somewhat lower forms.
It is to be supposed that man, also, will be destroyed, whether by a new
ice-age or by a period of heat. By the very fact of his supremacy, he
disturbs the primal equilibrium, and originates conditions which, even
now, press hard upon single lands and may easily become dangerous to all
civilization. Destruction may also threaten mankind morally, for the
development of morality hitherto gives no surety of its continuance.
Every advancement brings with it some evil, every virtue contains the
germs of some vice. Modern humanity has given us an unreasoning
soft-heartedness, with an extravagant malady of forgiveness which is
nothing less than immorality itself, since it on the one hand undermines
the general sense of justice, while on the other it prompts and
encourages wrong-doing.


[58] For further arguments in support of this assertion, see
"Biologische Probleme," pp. 64-66, etc.

[59] Und da diese Fläche durch Zelltheilung oder Fortpflanzung
vergrössert wird, so wächst die Aufnahmefähigkeit des Organismus mit der
Fortpflanzungsfähigkeit desselben (p. 67).

[60] Und diese Begierde... ist ihrem innersten Kerne nach, eine Unlust,
ein Leid: das Leid des Entbehrens des Genusses (p. 176).

[61] Bei der Binfachheit der primitiven socialen Verhältnisse und der
Einförmigkeit der Lebenstätigkeit müssen sich bald Erfahrungsregeln
gebildet haben, die nun durch Vererbung übertragen und damit zu
Lebensregeln vertieft wurden (p. 195).

[62] Compare _supra_, p. 100, note.


Alfred Barratt's "Physical Ethics" (1869) deals with First Principles,
"Pure," as distinguished from "Applied," Ethics, the aim of the science,
as stated by the author, being "to try to establish the first principle
which is the condition of further progress. If we can establish a
principle _a priori_, and then verify its universality by an appeal to
mental phenomena and to philosophical theories, its existence as a fact
will be made certain; if, in addition to this, we can connect it with
laws still more general and with the family of natural sciences, it will
be no longer a fact, but become a scientific law, a section of the
universal code; and the title of this essay will be justified."

_Part First_ of "Physical Ethics" is occupied with the statement of
axioms, definitions, and propositions "derived from general experience."
They are as follows:--

"_Axiom 1._--Actions, like objects, are capable of being classified
according to their properties, and of being measured by a definite

"_Obs._--This axiom merely means that the qualities of actions, like
those of objects, are fixed and constant, so that the same action has
always the same properties and moral value, and, under the same
circumstances, always produces the same effect.... It follows from this
axiom that it is possible to act so as to attain a definite object, and
thus a general end of action may be arrived at....

"_Axiom 2._--The end of action (being some common property or effect) is
a possible object of knowledge.

"_Axiom 3._--We are capable of being affected by any external object
only through our faculties, or (in other words) as a part of our

"_Axiom 4._--Faculties are known only by their action, or (in other
words) so far as they are portions of our consciousness.

"_Axiom 5._--The sphere of action lies in the adaptation of 'inner' to
'outer' sequences, of faculties to the laws of nature.

"_Axiom 6._--The constitution of man and other animal beings is an
organism consisting of a number of parts, each having its appropriate
function, and the end of each part results from the performance of its

"_Axiom 7._--Approbation is the standard whereby we judge of the moral
value of actions, and is the universal mark of the due performance of a
function and of the attainment of an end."


"1. Good is the object of moral approbation. The highest good is,
therefore, the ultimate object of such approbation, the end of action.

"2. Pleasure is that state of consciousness which follows upon the
unimpeded performance (as such) of its function, by one or more of the
parts of our organism."


"The Good is relative to our faculties. For no object can affect us
except through our faculties (Axiom 3); but to be known by us is to
affect us;

"Therefore, nothing can be known except through our faculties, or (in
other words) except in relation to our faculties;

"But the Good, or End of Action, is a possible object of knowledge
(Axiom 2);

"Hence the Good is relative to our faculties.

"_Corollary 1._--The highest good of man at any time is relative to his
faculties at that time.

"_Corollary 2._--Since ideas derive their elements from experience, the
idea of perfect Good, or God, can only be an idealization of humanity.


"The Good is a state of Consciousness. For, the Good is a possible
object of knowledge (Axiom 2); but all objects of knowledge are states
of consciousness;

"Hence the Good is a state of Consciousness. Or, the Good exists (or is
capable of being known) only by affecting our faculties, or, in other
words, only as an affection of our faculties (Proposition I);

"But an affection of our faculties is a state of consciousness;

"Hence the Good exists only as a state of consciousness.

"_Obs._--... To speak of anything existent external to our
consciousness, is, as we saw, a pure hypothesis, incapable of proof,
perfectly unintelligible and void of utility. When, therefore, we make
use of the ordinary dualistic phraseology, we must remember that the two
worlds there distinguished are merely two divisions of the universe of
self considered as distinct for convenience of language, but differing
only as two classes comprehended under a common genus.


"The Good is relative to circumstances. For, the Good is determined by,
and therefore lies in action (Axioms 7, 6, Obs.); but Action is relative
to circumstances (Axiom 5). Hence the Good is relative to circumstances.


"The Good depends upon the adaptation of faculties to circumstances.

"For, the Good is identical with the end (Def.); which results from the
performance of function by each part of the organism (Axiom 6).

"But the function of each part is its adaptation to circumstances
(Axioms 5, 6): Hence the Good depends upon the adaptation of faculties
to circumstances.

"_Corollary._--Since man is an organism composed of parts (Axiom 6), the
whole good of man is the sum of the goods of his parts, and therefore
depends upon the adaptation of all his parts to their corresponding


"The Good is Pleasure.

"For the good results from the due performance of functions (Prop. IV);
but the Good is a state of consciousness (Prop. II), therefore the Good
is the state of consciousness which results from the due performance of
functions (as such). Hence (by Definition), the Good is Pleasure.

"_Obs._--By our definitions of Good and Pleasure it was evident that
they were coëxtensive, being both marks of the same thing; to prove
their identity it was necessary to show that Good is a state of

Of these propositions Barratt says that I and II are perhaps the most
important, since they assert the impossibility of Transcendentalism.

_Part Second_ of "Physical Ethics" is a "Verification by Special


The assumption of a moral sense has already been made in the definition
of Good as the object of Approbation.

Our previous reasoning would lead us nevertheless to guess that this
sense is not, in its nature, a simple and indecomposable faculty. How,
then, did this sense arise, and what is its nature and composition?

In the lowest animal organization, there are merely vague and indefinite
states of consciousness corresponding to the undeveloped state of
physical function. With the development and specialization of advancing
evolution arises Perception; by which likeness and unlikeness among
sensations are distinguished, and classification is begun.

"At first only the most obvious resemblances are noticed, but as
experience progresses, wider and wider classes ever tend to be formed,
till at last we arrive at those highest ideas which are coëxtensive with
experience. These, though the last in order of birth, become the
starting-points of science--just as men formed the idea of stones
falling long before they discovered the law of attraction, yet by that
law they afterwards 'explain' the former fact. Thus we trace the whole
of Perception or Knowledge to this power of comparison and noting
likenesses, and this we see to be coincident with the organization of
consciousness into central meeting-places or ganglia, in which different
sensations are presented to a common tribunal and so compared together.
We see, therefore, that Perception does not originate consciousness; it
only organizes and develops it. We cannot, therefore, agree with Mr.
Herbert Spencer, who will not allow consciousness to the lowest

The process of perception or Knowledge works, not only on states of
consciousness themselves, but on the changes from one state to another,
or, in other words, on relations. Thus results, on the one hand,
recognition of objects; on the other, argument and reasoning, for the
most abstruse reasoning is nothing more than a classification of

"We have now, therefore, two distinct divisions of Consciousness:
_Sensation_, which as before consists only of pleasure and pain, though
now of different kinds; and _Perception_, which classifies states of
consciousness and their relations, and is therefore concerned only with
change. Knowledge, therefore, has originally no other object than
different pleasures and pains, but eventually it attends so much to the
differences and resemblances that it ceases to remember the pleasure or
pain; in its absorption in the relation it well-nigh forgets the things
related. This process is furthered by the fact that, as the medium gets
more extended, each part of it has less average effect upon the
organism: the primary pleasures and pains being spread over a larger
surface are less intense, and so obtrude themselves less. This is
exemplified by the common observation that sensation and perception tend
to exclude each other.... Nevertheless pleasure and pain ever remain
indissolubly connected with consciousness, though their presence is
often unheeded, and only the more violent forms force themselves on the

"What is true of these simple forms of consciousness, is true of their
later development. The relation of sensation to perception is the same
as that between the faculties of which these are respectively the germs,
emotion and intellect. For emotion is associated sensations of pleasure
and pain; and intellect is associated perceptions of change and
relation. Hence by their very nature these are at once mutually
exclusive and inseparable. A strong emotion drives out reason, and much
reasoning chills emotion.... Yet we can give _some_ reason for any
emotion; and we feel some emotion in working a mathematical problem....
In every intentional act it is evident that both are involved; the end
being given by emotion, the means by reasoning. Reasoning can give no
end, it can only arrange, elicit, suggest; emotion can give no means,
for it cannot classify or observe relations. In the building up,
therefore, of any moral faculty, both these elements must take a part.
Hence it will be well to trace, a little more closely, their mode of
formation, and their connection with muscular activity.

"When in the course of experience a certain sequence of sensation
frequently recurs, the consciousness becomes habituated to it, and the
return of the first sensation is followed by an idea or associative
image of the others.... Hence the idea of pleasure or pain not actually
felt comes to be associated with objects, which, if placed in certain
different positions, would effect us in the way imagined.... Pleasure
may thus be associated through a train of ideas of any length.... After
a time this process becomes organic, the intermediate terms are lost,
and pleasure is _directly_ connected with sensations and ideas that are
in themselves not distinctly pleasurable.

"Now by various trains of association, various pleasures and pains are
connected with the same object. These different combinations of
pleasures and pains, some of which arise, before reasoning, by
unintentional association, but the higher of which are the results of
automatization of reasoning, form the different emotions....

"Action in its origin is simply the correlative of sensation.
Contractility and irritability are the two general properties of vital
tissue, or rather are two sides of one fundamental property which is
also known under the name of sensibility--the power of contraction under
irritation, or of expressing impressed force. Irritability means merely
the phenomena of consciousness, the development of which we have
hitherto been tracing, though we have been throughout obliged to express
ourselves in the language of the inner, and not of the outer
experience.... This internal development we have already examined; we
must now turn to the obverse external development which takes its origin
in contractility.

"The connection between these two fundamental properties is exceedingly
intimate, that of ultimate identity or at any rate inseparability. For
not only is contraction universally the result of irritation, but the
only evidence that we have of irritation is the contraction which
follows, and in their early stages the two represent one and the same
process. When, however, the expression, in action, of force impressed
in sensation, becomes indirect and immediate, the name of irritability
is given to the _immediate_, internal results of its impression, while
contractility expresses the action _ultimately_ expressed. Hence the
seat of irritability is preëminently the nervous system, while
contractility, or the _vis musculosa_, is the name of the special
property of the muscular tissue.

"Considering them however in their origin, they together represent a
certain form of the transmission of force.... Some kinds of impressed
force are followed by movements of retraction and withdrawal, others by
such as secure a continuance of the impression. These two kinds of
contraction are the phenomena and external marks of pain and pleasure
respectively. Hence the tissue acts so as to secure pleasure and avoid
pain by a law as truly physical and natural as that whereby a needle
turns to the pole, or a tree to the light.... Hence, the law of
Self-Conservation, or of the direction of Action, is merely another mode
of expressing the fundamental property of animal tissue, which we have
every reason to believe is derived from the more elementary physical
properties of matter. The course of action is just as dependent on
physical laws as that of a stone which falls to the ground. The belief
in external consciousness makes no difference either way; the earliest
phenomena of such consciousness are those of pleasure and pain,
therefore we can suppose it to exist only as pleasure and pain. In the
one case we say that action aims at, or naturally results in, the
phenomena of pleasure; in the other case that it aims at the actual
consciousness of pleasure.

"The expression of impressed force, or the connection of action and
sensation, is at first in the unorganized tissue direct and immediate,
without the agency of nervous communication, or to return again to the
ordinary psychological language, is unintentional or involuntary.... The
earliest modification is due to association, whereby secondary
sensations, or (as they are called later when they become perceived)
ideas are produced. These manifest themselves as weaker repetitions of
the primary pleasures and pains, and, therefore, are naturally followed
by like results.... The process is this: the force originally impressed
by the first sensation, instead of being all expressed in action, is
partly induced by habituation into an internal channel, and so
transformed into the kind of force which generally impresses the second
kind of sensation, and this now produces its appropriate action. Hence
part of the original force has undergone two transformations instead of
one; the immediate antecedent of action being the force produced by
association, or in other words, the associated pleasure. This is the
rudiment of _motive_, which, however, is not generally called by that
name till it is _perceived_. The same process may go on through two or
more links of association; the first transformed force being again
transformed internally instead of expressed, and the second again in its
turn, until eventually a transformation is reached which finds its
easiest way of escape in action; the immediate motive power being that
transformation of force, or that associated pleasure, which immediately
precedes the action. Actions of this kind constitute the lower phenomena
of instinct: and we see therefore that they may depend on any number of
links of unperceived, or, as we say, unconscious reasoning; and that
their motive is also 'unconscious.' These actions stand half way between
Reflex and Voluntary Actions....

"We now come to the third and last development of associated action.
Here not only is each associated idea perceived, but the change, in each
case, is also a fresh centre of association; whereby similar changes are
connected with it, and it is referred to a class. Hence the whole train
is perceived, not only by the classification of each of its parts with
similar previous sensations, but by the classification of each of its
sequences with previous like sequences: in other words, it is now a
chain of reasoning from the past to the present. That associated
pleasure from which this reasoned train commences is now called the
_motive_ (though really the immediate motive power lies in the last
transformation which directly precedes the active expression) and the
series of ideas intervening between this and the action is called the
_means_. Hence the motive associates the means, and the motive power is
transmitted through them till it is finally expressed in the action
which is appropriate to the attainment of the pleasurable state whose
idea is its source. This association of means with ends is at first
sight opposed to the natural direction, which is from antecedent to
consequent; but when a line of nervous connection is formed, a current
may be transmitted indifferently in either direction. An effect may lead
us to think of its cause, as easily as a cause associates its effect.
By the sequence of action and sensation, a connection is established
between their ideas, which is independent of the order of excitation.
This last kind of action is that which we call voluntary, and the series
of classified ideas and relations which lead to it is called Reasoning.
If at any point the current is attracted in two or more directions by
different trains of association, deliberation is the result; and the
eventual victory of one and the consequent transmission of the force
along it is entitled Will.

"We have therefore distinguished four kinds of action: _Reflex Action_,
which is purely physical and independent of association, and which is
the last link in all the derived varieties; _Lower Instinctive Action_,
which is caused by the first introduction of association, and is hardly
to be distinguished in its phenomena from the last;... _Higher
Instinctive Action_, which involves perception of qualities or
objects;... and finally, _Voluntary_ or _Intentional Action_, such as we
find it in man.... Though we have separated these classes from each
other for clearness of description, there is no distinct line to be
drawn anywhere between them. Each fades insensibly into the next....
Evolution, we must remember, does not advance by stages; these are
merely marks that we make ourselves, like the constellations in
astronomy, for convenience of study.

"Finally, we must remark that the last two kinds of Action ever tend to
relapse into the second, which subjectively is a mere form of the first.
Association of all kinds tends to become organic. By this we mean that,
as the connection becomes more definitely marked and easy, the perpetual
radiation which occurs as the current passes the different points on its
path, disappears; and the whole current passes unimpaired. First, the
radiation caused by the changes disappears, and reasoning becomes
instinct, as in doing a mathematical example from mere memory of the
different steps. Secondly, the radiation from the different nervous
centres also disappears, and the current which ends in action becomes
not only unreasoning but unperceived, as in walking or reading aloud
while thinking of something else....

"Long habituation has two effects: it increases the number of trains
connected with each object, and also the length of each. If we suppose
the simpler emotions to have, by this time, become organic or apparently
simple states of consciousness, a continuance of association tends to
connect them together in bundles, as they themselves were originally
bundles of elementary pleasures and pains. Hence the emotions become
organized in their turn so as to form higher emotions, and eventually,
when association has completed its work,... this organization ends in
one supreme emotion, which is the head of the emotional or sensitive
side of the consciousness....

"Turning next to the second effect of prolonged habituation, we find
that, with objects or actions with which pleasure was at first
associated and which so were called pleasurable, further association
often connects a subsequent pain which increased experience has shown
always to follow upon the immediate pleasure. This pain often more than
counterbalances the preceding pleasure; hence when it is taken into the
emotion, that emotion becomes one no longer of appetition but of
aversion, and the object or action is remembered as one not to be sought
after but avoided. It cannot, however, be called painful, because it
causes immediate pleasure, so a new name has to be invented, and it is
called Bad, or Evil. Similarly, many things which are immediately
associated with pain are found to be eventually followed by pleasure
which more than counterbalances the pain, and as this experience becomes
consolidated by the power of association, they attract rather than
repel, and for a name whereby to distinguish them, are called Good; so
that Good and Evil are correlative terms like Pleasure and Pain, and
mean respectively the greatest total Pleasure, and the greatest total
Pain. Now this experience when once acquired is never lost, but by
virtue of hereditary transmission descends from parents to children.
But, as in the case of the simpler emotions, only the results survive,
and not the means whereby they were arrived at; so that, in a short
time, the words Good and Evil come to be quite separated from Pleasant
and Painful; nay, as might be expected from their origin, they tend to
acquire exactly opposite meanings; for Pleasure and Pain come to signify
only immediate pleasure and pain; and the final reckoning is often
considerably at variance with the first item; as in a race the man who
leads for the first lap seldom wins in the end....

"This, then, is the origin of the Moral Sense.... The Moral Sense,
therefore, is merely one of the emotions," though the last of all in the
order of evolution; it can only claim a life of some two or three
centuries; and there are even some who still doubt its existence. "Man
at any rate is the only animal who possesses it in its latest
development; for even in horses and dogs we cannot believe that it has
passed the intentional or conscious stage.... Good, with them, has no
artificial meaning; it is simply identical with the greatest pleasure."

Only by complete and perfect obedience to all emotions can perfect
freedom from regret be obtained in the gratification of all desire. Man
is at present passion's slave, because he is so only in part; "for the
cause of repentance is never the attainment of some pleasure, but always
the non-attainment of more: not the satisfaction of one desire, but the
inability to satisfy all. The highest virtue, therefore, consists in
being led, not by one desire, but by all; in the complete organization
of the Moral Nature."


When we assert the end of Action to be Pleasure, do we mean the pleasure
of the individual, or universal happiness? "Good has been shown to
follow immediately on the adaptation of an organism to circumstances; it
is evident that external objects can affect it only in so far as they
form part of these circumstances. Hence it follows that the pleasure and
pain of others can come in only incidentally; from the fact that each
man is not an isolated unit, but a member of society. But further, this
social medium itself is, after all, nothing but a part of the individual
affected by it; it is one division of that primary side of his nature,
by which the other side, the emotional, the intellectual, the moral, is
being continually moulded and fashioned; and even if we take the
narrower meaning of self, the pleasures and pains of others cannot
possibly affect a man's actions or emotions except in so far as they
become a part of his. If man aims at pleasure merely by the physical law
of action, that pleasure must evidently be ultimately his own; and
whether it be or be not preceded by phenomena which he calls the
pleasures and pains of others, is a question not of principle but of
detail, just as the force of a pound weight is unaltered whether it be
composed of lead or of feathers, or whether it act directly or through

"The principle, therefore, is clear enough, that the happiness of others
can have only an indirect influence upon the good of each individual.
But it is equally clear that this direct influence must be of no mean
extent, and that it is now our duty to trace its history." Here follows
a scheme of the development of the state from the family, which last was
necessitated by the helplessness of infancy, and from which arose the
habit of human association. We have no evidence from history or science
that mankind has not always existed in a state of society; there is no
warrant for assuming an earlier condition of isolation. "Hence to the
human race the earliest Good was inseparably bound up with what we now
call the Family Virtues."[64] The state, thus originated, developed as a
social organism, with ever greater integration, heterogeneity, and
complexity of parts, and "the End or Good of each individual became
largely modified by the extension of the medium to which his actions had
to be adapted"; man became a member, not only of the family but of the
state, and the conceptions of his nature and duty became wider, "so that
at last the more perfectly each attains his own interest, and the more
pleasure he gathers to his own store, the more certainly does he secure
the universal happiness of mankind." If a man aims, as Spinoza remarks,
at doing real good to himself, he will be sure to do most good to


Under this head is traced the genesis of sympathy through representation
of the pains and pleasures of others and interpretation of them by
individual experience in the same environment; and the genesis of
benevolence, the active side of sympathy, through habit associated with
the ideas of the pleasures and pains of others. Love is defined as
"originally the association of many pleasures with one individual." From
the wider experience of man as a member of a state is developed justice
or the sense of equality of right, patriotism, etc. All these feelings
are hereditary.


This portion of the book treats of the gradual development of knowledge
to wider and wider generalization; of the extension of sympathy from man
to the animal world also; of the universality of consciousness, which
exists in the inanimate as well as the animate world; of the perfection
of morality through the perfection of knowledge, since "knowledge moulds
emotion, and absolute virtue is nothing but absolute correspondence with
nature in action resulting from thought"; and of the evolution of
religion, through knowledge, to a religion of knowledge of the real
universe or of humanity.


Under this heading the metaphysical doctrine of freedom of the will is
combated as a contradiction of the laws of Cause and Effect. Praise and
blame, reward and punishment, are desirable because of their effect on


Barratt defines obligation as a "violent motive." Paley says: "If a man
finds the pleasure of sin to exceed the remorse of conscience, of which
he alone is the judge, the moral-instinct man, so far as I can
understand, has nothing more to offer." What, then, asks Barratt, has he
himself to offer if a man finds the pleasure of sin to exceed the pain
entailed by disobedience to the external command? It may, indeed, be the
fact that particular kinds of motive only come from particular sources,
but unless we can prove that those coming from a command are always the
strongest, we cannot claim for them a position such as that implied by
the word obligation, of being the highest or most universal motives. In
a contest between two motives, it is not the kind but the quantity which
decides. For if two pleasures or pains be equal, what does it matter
where they came from? And if they be not equal, the greater, whatever
its source, will always be the stronger motive.

"Hence obligation is nothing more than a 'violent motive.' Prudence and
duty are both the following of the greatest pleasure; but so far as in
ordinary language we make a distinction between them, the pleasure aimed
at in prudence is proximate and only slightly greater than the pain,
whereas in duty it is not only very considerably greater, but the
greatness is further glorified by a dim aureole of magnificent
generalities and the halo of an unfathomable future....

"And as the result of a motive is in no way dependent on its external
source, so neither is it influenced by its mode of internal operation. A
motive may be strong either by its own natural force as a large excess
of associated pleasure in one direction, or by the facility artificially
given to its expression by the long-continued custom, either in
ourselves or in our fathers, of acting in a certain way on certain
occasions. In other words, the strength of a motive is not absolute, it
is relative to the habits and predispositions of our organisms; but the
strongest motive, whatever its kind, prevails in all cases.

"Obligation is often, again, confounded with compulsion: but submission
to physical force is not morally an act at all, because its [Greek:
archê] or immediate antecedent is external to us, and therefore
independent of our moral laws."


"We saw that Good differs from Pleasure simply by a widening of the
field of calculation; whereby the pleasure of the moment is often found
to entail future pain greater than itself (allowance being made for
perspective), and is therefore condemned as Bad. When, therefore, we
speak of Pleasure as opposed to Good, we always mean the pleasure of the
moment; or very often by a still further narrowing of the term, sensual
as opposed to intellectual pleasures."


[63] Pp. 39, 40.

[64] P. 73.



While with regard to the matter of Ethics,--the general classifications
of right and wrong conduct,--moralists are almost unanimous, with regard
to its form,--the essence and criterion of right and wrong,--there is
great disagreement. All widely spread opinions deserve respect by their
mere existence; they are phenomena to be accounted for. On the subject
of morals, as on all other subjects, opinions gradually modify and
approach each other; but a perfect agreement will probably not be
arrived at.

Leaving aside metaphysical questions, however, we may be able to find,
as in physical science, some constants or ultimate elements which,
though they, according to the metaphysician's view, require further
analysis, yet constitute, within their sphere, scientific knowledge
independent of metaphysics. The follower of Hegel means, in all
probability, precisely the same thing as the follower of Hume, when he
says that a mother loves her child; though, when they come to reflect
upon certain ulterior imports of the phrases used, they may come to
different conclusions. The formula remains the same; for all purposes of
conduct it evokes the same impressions, sentiments, and sensible images,
and it therefore represents a stage at which all theories must coincide,
though they start, or profess to start, from the most opposite bases.
"Mothers love their children" is not unconditionally true; some mothers
do not love their children; but the statement is of worth as
approximating scientific truth. It may be well to attempt to ascertain
in how far it may be rendered scientific.

In the physical sciences, the statements of laws arrived at by the labor
of generations are ideal statements, in which a mass of modifying
circumstances are disregarded for the sake of simplification. Even in
these sciences, the power of prediction is small. Of the complicated
conditions of human action we have even less accurate knowledge than of
those of physical phenomena, though this does not lead us, any more than
in the physical sciences, to suppose that prediction would not be
possible if we knew the conditions. So far as man is a thing or an
animal, it is comparatively easy to determine his conduct. Given a
starving dog and a lump of meat in contact, you can predict the result.
But to determine the behavior of a human being with a glass of water
presented to his lips, you must be able to calculate the action of human
motive and to unravel the tangled skein of thought and feeling in its
variation in the individual under consideration. Moreover, much of the
life of the individual is ruled, not by conscious motive, but by
automatic habit, acquired through education. The prediction of action in
society as a unit is not less difficult than the prediction of
individual action, for if individual differences neutralize each other,
so that a certain uniformity in the influence of circumstances is shown
by statistics, it is not the less difficult to predict what these
uniformities will be. Society as an organism, not a mere aggregate,
presents, in the interaction of more complicated conditions, greater
difficulties than does the individual as such; and it may be said that
prediction of the course of history, even in general terms and for a
brief period, would require an intellect as much superior to that of
Socrates as the intellect of Socrates is superior to that of an ape.

And yet mankind does possess knowledge of conduct, which does not differ
in kind from scientific knowledge; there is, in fact, but one kind of
knowledge, which passes into scientific knowledge as it becomes more
definite and articulate. The knowledge that mankind possesses consists
in what we have thus far taken for granted, that under the same
circumstances of outward environment and inward character, human conduct
does not change. Of society, as of an organism, we cannot say _a priori_
that it is so and could not have been otherwise; we can only show, _a
posteriori_, how different parts mutually imply each other, so that,
given the whole, we can see that any particular part could not have been
otherwise. Our gain from such knowledge is the recognition that there
may be discoverable laws of growth essentially relevant to our
investigation of conduct. So long as reasoning was conducted upon the
tacit assumption that social phenomena can be satisfactorily explained
by studying their constituent elements separately, attention was
diverted from the important principles of the interrelation of parts to
the whole. The theory of evolution brings out the fact that every
organism, whether social or individual, represents the product of an
indefinite series of adjustments between it and its environment. Every
race or society is part of a larger system, product of the continuous
play of a number of forces constantly shifting with an effort towards
general equilibrium, so that every permanent property represents, not an
accidental similarity, but a correspondence between the organism and
some permanent conditions of life. To solve the problem of existence by
calculation is an impossibility; but our own lives are working it out;
the evolution of history is the solution of our problem. And when we
fully recognize that a problem is being solved, we have only to gain
some appreciation of its general nature and conditions, in order to
reach some important, though limited, conclusions, which may fairly be
called scientific, as to the meaning of the answer. These conclusions
are not scientific in the sense of giving us quantitative and precise
formulæ, but they may be so far scientific as to be certain and

Thus we may be able to show how a given set of instincts corresponds to
certain permanent conditions under which they were developed, and
(returning to the problem of differing theories of morals with which we
started) to show what is the cause of differing opinions. Our
investigations of the problem of morality have nothing to do, in the
first instance, with moral principles which are, or profess to be,
deduced from pure logic, independent of any particular fact; they deal
with actual moral sentiments as historical facts. The word moral, as
used in our considerations, does not, therefore, refer to an ideal moral
code, but to the one actually existing in the case considered.

Ethical speculation, as thus understood, must be concerned with
psychological inquiries--inquiries in regions where the vague doctrines
of common sense have not yet crystallized into scientific coherence; we
must therefore proceed with caution.

The contention between materialist and idealist is irrelevant to our
discussion. The fact that mechanical processes underlie all mental
process does not make the latter the less a fact; nor can the mechanical
statement ever supersede the psychological statement. The proposition
that hunger makes men eat will express truth, whatever material
implications are involved in the statement.

Conduct is determined by feeling; we fly from pain, we seek pleasure;
life is a continuous struggle to minimize suffering and lay a firm grasp
upon happiness. "Good" means everything that favors happiness, and "bad"
everything that is conducive to misery; nor can any other intelligible
meaning be assigned to the words. The difficulty of proving these
propositions lies in the fact that they are primary doctrines, for proof
of which we must appeal to the direct testimony of consciousness. But
critics oppose, not so much the propositions themselves, as certain
supposed implications. By pain and pleasure is here meant every
conceivable form of agreeable or disagreeable feeling. The assertion
that conduct is determined by pain and pleasure is not meant as a denial
that it is also, in some sense, determined by the reason; but a state of
consciousness which is neither painful or pleasurable cannot be an
object of desire or aversion. The reason is often contrasted with the
feelings in its determination of conduct, the reasonable man being
defined as one who, instead of being the slave of immediate impulse, is
capable of adapting means to ends and following, thus, courses of
conduct not in themselves agreeable but promising a greater total of
happiness. The fact is, however, that all happiness that determines the
will is future; conduct is determined, in every case, not by a future
feeling of pleasure, which, as future, does not yet exist, but by
present feeling. It is therefore more accurate to say that conduct is
determined by the pleasantest judgment than to say that it is determined
by the judgment of what is pleasantest. The intention of the agent is
defined by the foreseen consequences of his conduct; his end is defined
by that part of the foreseen consequences which he actually desires; and
the end defines the motive, that is, the feeling, which actually
determines conduct. The pleasantest end is adopted because the foretaste
of the pleasure is itself pleasurable. The intellect and the emotions
are in reality related as form and substance, and cannot be divided.

In the action of pain and pleasure, it seems to be an obvious fact that
pain, as pain, represents tension, that is, a state of feeling from
which there is a tendency to change; pleasure represents equilibrium, or
a state in which there is a tendency to persist. The worm writhes on the
hook, and the mind may be said to writhe under a painful emotion in the
effort to writhe into some more tolerable position. In the act of
choice, each mode of action is tried ideally, and the individual settles
into that which is, on the whole, the easiest. The analogy which
naturally offers itself and seems to give the best account of the facts
is the mechanical principle of least resistance. It is not, perhaps,
superfluous to remark that the volition may exercise a very small
influence, even when the limiting conditions are in a great part ideal.
The more painful is not necessarily the less permanent condition. It is
one in which there is an additional chance against permanence. Terror
sets up so disturbed a condition that the mind cannot settle into any
definite course. We can no more alter arbitrarily the circumstances of
our microcosm than those of the external world. It is as difficult to
avoid brooding in vain regret as to evade a physical constraint.

Reason and feeling are bound together in inseparable unity. But reason,
whatever its nature, is the faculty which enables us to act with a view
to the distant and the future. A great part of conduct is automatic; it
is either not determined by conscious motives, or it is determined by
motives which, though they rise for a moment to the surface of
consciousness, are forgotten as soon as felt. Of our conscious conduct,
again, part may be called instinctive and part reasonable. These modes
of action pass into each other by imperceptible degrees. The instinctive
may be converted into reasoned as the consequences become manifest, and
the reasoned become instinctive as the consequences are left out of
account. So, again, the instinctive action becomes automatic when it is
performed without leaving any trace upon consciousness. It may still be
voluntary in the sense that the agent may be able to refrain from it if
his attention happens to be aroused. Habitual actions pass through all
these gradations. When the reason is called into action, it is not in
virtue of a purely logical operation that it conquers if it does so; it
is in virtue of the fact that it reveals a new set of forces ready to
spring into action to the necessary degree.

We may be said to feel by signs as well as to reason by signs. The sight
of a red flag may deter us from crossing a rifle range without calling
up to our imagination all the effects of a bullet traversing the body.
If the motive which prompts us to run the risk be strong, it may be
necessary to convert a greater volume of latent, into active emotion;
and as we frequently fail to do this, we often run risks which we should
avoid were the consequences distinctly contemplated.

The development of the whole nature implies a development of both the
emotional and the intellectual nature; new sensibilities imply new
sentiments; and increased range of thought is associated with an equal
growth in complexity and variety of emotion. The more reasonable being
acts with emotion, but his emotions have more complex and refined
methods. The reasonable man is a better mirror of the world without him,
his conduct shows a better adaptation to ends and a greater logical
consistency in its parts; more harmony of action between the different
instincts. The important question is not solved by these facts. We may
still ask: How is the relation between the different instincts, the
influence exerted by each member of the federation, determined?

We start with certain fixed relations between our various instincts; and
however these may change afterwards, our character is so far determined
from the start. Again, it is plain that this inherited balance varies
greatly with different peoples and gives rise to different types. In one
man the sensual passions have a greater relative importance than in his
neighbor, and so forth. And the question arises, whether we can
determine which of these types is most reasonable.

In the construction of the bow, we may suppose that, from rude
beginnings, through discovery of better and better forms as adapted to
ends in view in its construction, a form of bow would finally be reached
which would represent the maximum of efficiency. This bow may be called
the typical bow. As exquisitely adapted to its purpose, it arouses in us
æsthetic satisfaction. Like the bow, every organism represents the
solution of a problem, as well as a set of data for a new problem. As
the bow is felt out, so the animal is always feeling itself out. The
problem which it solves is how to hold its own against the surrounding
pressure and the active competition of innumerable rivals. Though we
cannot apply an _a priori_ method, cannot define the materials of which
men are made or the end which they have to fulfil, we can determine to
some extent their typical excellence. Recognizing the general nature of
the great problem which is being worked out, we can discover what is
implied in some of the results. The process of evolution must be, at
every moment, a process of discovering a maximum of efficiency; though
the conditions are always varying slowly, and an absolute maximum is
inconceivable. At every point of the process, there is a certain
determinate direction along which development must take place. The form
which represents this direction is the typical form, any deviation from
which is a defect. It is conceivable that the highest efficiency in
different departments of conduct may imply consistent conditions. The
greatest philosopher may also be the greatest athlete and the greatest
poet. It is equally clear that there is no necessary connection. What,
then, is the relative value of different kinds of efficiency? A complete
answer to the question might bring out the fact, which seems on other
grounds probable, that it is an advantage to a race to include a great
variety of different types. It is enough, however, to say that, in
speaking of a type, the assertion is not intended, that there is one
special type conformity to which is a condition of efficiency, but that
evolution is always the working out of a problem, the solution of which
implies the attainment of certain general qualities.

We have changed our point of view from the consideration of pain and
pleasure to that of the conditions of existence. The fact is simply,
that the constants in one problem are variables in the other. Given a
certain character, the agent does what gives him pleasure. But if we ask
how he comes to have that character, the only mode of answering is by
referring to the conditions of existence. His character must be such as
to fit him for the struggle for existence. There must therefore be a
correlation between painful and pernicious actions on the one hand, and
pleasurable and temporal on the other. The useful in the sense of the
pleasure-giving must approximately coincide with the useful in the sense
of the life-preserving. All conduct may be considered as a set of
habits, to each of which there is a corresponding instinct--the word
habit being used to designate any mode of conduct, automatic or
voluntary, which may be brought under a general rule, instinct denoting
all conscious impulses to action, whether including more or less
reasoned choice, and whether innate or acquired. Habits graduate from
the essential processes which constitute life rather than maintain it,
and which are, for the most part, automatic, to the most superficial and
transitory. In order that the proposition "This habit is a bad one" may
have any real meaning, we must assume that the organism can exist
without it. A habit cannot be removed as one takes off a coat, as has
been too often assumed; the whole character of the man is affected by
its removal.

A capacity is essential if it is essential under normal conditions of
environment. The quality which makes a race survive may not always be a
source of advantage to every individual, or even to the average
individual. Since the animal which is better adapted for continuing its
species will have an advantage in the struggle, even though it may not
be so well adapted for pursuing its own happiness, an instinct grows and
decays not on account of its effects on the individual, but on account
of its effects upon the race. The qualities of the individual and those
of the race mutually imply each other, since the individual can no more
be considered apart from society than the apple can be considered apart
from the tree on which it grows. It remains true, however, that certain
qualities of the apple may vary whilst the relation to the tree remains
approximately the same, as also that the individual may vary in his
qualities to some extent, his relation to society remaining
approximately constant; and qualities thus variable may be regarded as,
in so far, independent of society.

Social development takes place without corresponding change of
individual organization. We cannot interpret the changes from savage
life arrived at in present civilization, as representing an essential,
great, or corresponding difference in the innate faculties of the
civilized man from those of the savage, but must regard them rather as
representing the accumulation of mental and material wealth. The child,
learning, with the words of his language, their implicit meanings, has
his feelings modified by them, is thus a philosopher and metaphysician
in the cradle by the associations given him, and is educated from
infancy by the necessity of conforming his activities to those of the
surrounding mass. All organization implies uniformities of conduct, and
therefore continuous discipline. Society is an organism in this sense,
not in any mystical sense. It is not an organism with a single centre of

An organization implies organs; and these are to be found in the various
organizations, political, religious, etc., by which, through a greater
or less division of labor, certain special functions are relegated to
particular associations. We thus have not only to go beyond the
individual and refer to the organs in order to determine the "law" or
form of any instinct developed through the social factor, but we have
also to classify the various social instincts by reference to the
complex structure of society, which implies a distribution into mutually
dependent organs. Moreover, such organs, though primarily directed to a
specific end, acquire a vitality independent of any special end, become
organs discharging a complex function, and imply the existence of a
correspondingly complex set of instincts. We come really to love an
organization because it supplies us with a means of cultivating certain
emotions and of enjoying the society of our fellows; it would be an
entirely inadequate account of the facts if we regarded it simply as the
means of attaining that pleasure which has given the pretext for its

The organs of society are not, however, distinct from each other as the
physical organs are distinct; the same individuals may be members of
various organizations. The race is not, in fact, analogous to the higher
organism, which forms a whole separated from all similar wholes, but to
an organism of the lower type, which consists of mutually connected
parts spreading independently in dependence upon external conditions,
and capable of indefinite extension, not of united growth. We may
consider the race, thus, as forming social tissue, rather than
constituting an organism. The tissue is built up of men, as the tissue
of physiology is said to be built up of cells. The laws of growth and
vitality of the organs of society are always relative to the underlying
properties of the tissue; although, in particular cases, the more
civilized race may be supplanted by the less civilized, we may assume
that these accidental and contingent advantages will be eliminated on
the average, and the general tendency will be to the predominance of
those races which have intrinsically the strongest tissue. Not the state
as such, and (as we have seen) not the individual, is the unit of
evolution; the state may develop when the external pressure is little or
nothing; the social tissue is that primary unit upon which the process
of social evolution impinges. The family is not, itself, a mode of
organization coördinate with other social organs, but rather represents
the immediate and primitive relation which holds men together. It is
quite possible to suppose men living together without any political and
social organization; but some association between the sexes, however
temporary and casual, and some protection of infants by parents, are
absolutely necessary to the continuance of the race beyond a single
generation. A change in family associations implies a corresponding
change of vast importance in the intimate structure of society itself,
in the social tissue. The state may make a marriage law, but it cannot
create or modify the family tie beyond certain narrow limits. It can
bestow privileges upon some one kind of association, but it cannot
originate it, cannot enforce fidelity and chastity.

The social tissue is its own end, or depends upon the whole system of
instincts possessed by man as a social and rational creature.

The development of society as an organic structure implies the
development of customs in the race, and habits in the individuals
forming it. There must be certain rules of conduct which are observed by
all, in order that corresponding rules may be observed by each.

Custom in the civilized society may be distinguished from positive law.
In primitive states, the distinction is imperceptible. The authority of
law itself must rest upon custom,--the custom of obedience. But physical
force alone, or the dread of its application, cannot produce obedience;
the application of such force is so little essential that a state of
society is conceivable, in which it should disappear altogether; men
might be willing to obey their rulers simply from respect and affection.
The power of applying coercion in case of need must no doubt increase as
the strength of the social bond increases; but that bond is also the
stronger, in proportion as the need of applying it becomes less. The
whole social structure, then, must rest, in the last resort, upon the
existence of certain organic customs, which cannot be explained from
without. They depend, for their force and vitality, upon the instincts
of the individual as modified by the social factor; they correspond to a
given state of the social tissue. A legal sanction may be added to any
custom whatever, and thus it may seem that a state can make its own
constitution and define its own organic laws; in reality, however, the
power of making a certain constitution presupposes a readiness to act
together and accept certain rules as binding, and thus implies a whole
set of established customs, essential to the life of the society and
giving rise to special types of character in its members. Every law of
conduct more or less affects the character of the persons subject to it,
so long as it is enforced; and necessarily, every variation in the
character more or less affects the sentiments from which the external
law derives its force. The correspondence, however, is not so intimate
that one mode of statement can always be rendered into the other. For
laws, indeed elaborate codes, are developed without seriously affecting
the general character of the underlying customs, and in the same way
instincts may vary widely without producing any normal change in the
external order, though they affect the mode in which it works. The
essence of any law is in the mutual pressure of the different parts of
the social structure. Any association with a given end will have laws
determined with reference to that end. When we pass, however, from the
organ to the tissue, we still have an organic structure with certain
rules of conduct and corresponding instincts, but we no longer have a
definite end or a fixed material. The material, that is, is to be
regarded as developing and determining the development of the subsidiary
organs. And since the most efficient society normally survives, we may
inversely infer from the survival of a society that it has developed the
properties on which its efficiency depends. The actual laws existing at
any period may not represent the greatest degree of efficiency possible;
but they must be an approximate statement of the essential conditions.

The moral law, as applicable to all members of a society, defines some
of the most important qualities of the social tissue. It is as
independent of the legislature as are the movements of the planets. This
is true whether you resolve morality into reason or make it dependent
upon utility. The action of any set of people can no more change the
nature of facts than that of logical necessities. This is, however,
fully true only of morality as it ought to be in correspondence with
facts. Actual morality corresponds to men's theories about facts, and it
may, therefore, deviate from what the code would be if they were
incapable of error. But it is plain that, though it varies, it must vary
within incomparably narrower limits than other systems of law, because
its variation is determined by far more general conditions; it maintains
itself, so to speak, by the direct action of the organic instincts. The
doctrines of the greatest moral teacher, though somewhat in advance of
prevailing standards, are successful only in proportion as they are
congenial to existing sentiments, give articulate shape to thoughts
already obscurely present in the social medium. Like Socrates, the
reformer must be something of a midwife. Morality grows, and is not
made; that is, it is the fruit of a gradual evolution of the organic
instinct continued through many generations. The ordinary mind resists
any change in principles instilled into it from birth; the great masses
are sluggish in movement.

The moral law has to be expressed in the form: "Be this," not "Do this."
The existence of a character such that variations of circumstances will
cause no deviation from morality is the only security for morals. The
legislator is forced to classify conduct by its objective
manifestations. But the cunning of the man who desires to evade the code
can still devise innumerable methods of accomplishing his end
indirectly. Law permits what it does not prohibit, and is, therefore, in
danger of producing hypocrisy instead of virtue.

The process by which the moral law (or rather, the law of conduct which
includes, but is not coincident with the moral law) is developed, is a
process of generalization. It corresponds to a vast induction carried on
by the race as organized in society. Beginning with modes of conduct
which are seen to be bad, society gradually perceives that the ultimate
principle of classification must be by the primary feelings, that rules
of conduct must be expressed in terms of character, and other rules
which concern the application of these to more special cases must take a
subordinate position and be regarded as only of conditional value. All
these rules must necessarily correspond, within very narrow limits, to a
statement of the conditions of vitality of the tissue which they
characterize. In an ideal state of society, every general principle
would also be recognized in every particular rule. This is a result a
gradual approximation to which, rather than its actual attainment, must
be anticipated.

Morality implies action for the good of others in some sense. Society
may be regarded both as an aggregate and as an organism. There are
certain qualities which we may suppose to vary in the individual without
necessarily involving a change in the social structure. How is the
general rule, as distinguished from other rules, deduced from the
general principle of social vitality?

The law of nature has but one precept, "Be strong." But when we regard
the individual in his relations to society, the law takes on different
forms. This may be expressed by saying that the law "Be strong," has two
main branches, "Be prudent" and "Be virtuous," the first applying to
cases in which the individual is primarily affected, the other to those
in which the units are affected through society and the social factor
must be taken into account.

To find a classification of the virtues that will not run into infinite
detail or be a simple affirmation of the general principle, the internal
development of moral character under its emotional and intellectual
aspects may furnish a sufficient method. The general formula of primary
individual virtues is: "Be strong." The condition of vitality of the
individual as a complex of instincts, is expressed by the formula: "Be
temperate." And the class of virtues referring to the conditions of
intellectual efficiency, has the general rule: "Be truthful."

_Ceteris paribus_, an increase of individual energy is an advantage to
society; and, as a matter of fact, we find that civilized society
differs conspicuously from the ruder in stimulating more vigorously and
systematically the various energies of its members. The most conspicuous
virtue of this class is the virtue of courage. In more primitive
conditions, courage, as necessary to the preservation of society, is
regarded as a virtue in itself; later, some mixture of judgment and
reason is required in its exercise; and finally, since it may be
combined with other anti-social qualities, it is not approved in the
same manner as the more directly social virtues. Courage is now regarded
merely as one manifestation of a character which is fitted for all the
requirements of social existence.

The courage of the bulldog is blind instinct. Where such an instinct
exists, the animal survives by reason of it, not because he forms any
conscious judgment of its advantages. It seems necessary to suppose that
races owed their survival to military prowess when reflection was still
in the most rudimentary stage. The utility of courage must have been a
very obvious discovery as soon as reflection became possible; but the
quality must have existed, in some degree, before it could be
discovered, although the existence of a distinct moral sentiment
doubtless implies some reflection. Moreover, the instincts which imply a
perception of utility must themselves comply with the conditions of
existence, must themselves be useful. Increased intelligence might act
to the disadvantage of the race by increasing selfish cowardice through
a keener perception of personal, as distinct from social, risk; but this
cannot be true ultimately, since we perceive that intelligent races have
an advantage; we may suppose that those races are most successful in
which a perception of the vitality of courage goes along with an
increase of courage. This principle must be regarded, therefore, as
working, not only through the less conscious instinct of the lower
races, but also upon the judgments of a highly civilized society. The
like is true, _mutatis mutandis_, of other qualities (such as industry,
energy, and so forth) which belong to the same class.

The estimate of courage differs with respect to the two sexes, as does
also that of chastity. The historical explanation is simple; courage was
necessary in men in early social stages, to race-preservation; to women,
on the other hand, has been given, from early times, a class of social
functions not requiring courage. The estimate, once fixed, survives even
when some of its early conditions disappear. The savage acquired his
wife by knocking her down; to him the ideal feminine character must
have included readiness to be knocked down, or at least unreadiness to
strike again; and, as some of the forms of marriage recall the early
system, so in the sentiments with which it is regarded there may still
linger something of the early instinct associated with striking and
being struck.

The virtues of chastity and temperance occupy an intermediate position
between the virtues of strength and the directly social virtues. Some of
them are a part of the prudential, and others of the directly moral
code. Temperance is primarily prudential, but the sexual and parental
instincts concern the most intimate structure of society. Our
instinctive classification of temperance as higher than courage has good
reason; the classification of it as a personal virtue cannot be
maintained. A man whose vice injures only himself in the first place,
becomes incapable of benefiting others. As we condemn the man whose
character is bad, whether external circumstances do, or do not, give him
an opportunity of displaying it, so we object logically to the man who
is destroying his social qualities, whether the immediate effect of his
conduct tells upon himself or upon others. Another element, an
instinctive disgust at sensuality, seems to precede judgment upon
intemperance, with a strength not to be accounted for by a mere summing
up of consequences. The human hog revolts us as the smell of the sty
turns our stomach. The justification of the instinct is not that it
implies a judgment of what is useful, but rather that it is a useful
judgment. As men become more intellectual, sympathetic, and so forth,
they gain fresh sensibilities, which are not simple judgments of
consequences but as direct, imperative, and substantial, as any of the
primitive sensibilities. To get rid of the sensibility you must lower
the whole tone of the character. Asceticism, which has arisen chiefly at
times of great indulgence, may have been of use if only as a
demonstration of the possibility of conquering the prevailing passions.
In a similar manner, we may think a great reformer, a Howard for
example, admirable, though he neglects duties which must be performed in
the ordinary case. We thus admit that the general moral code of
benevolence prescribes different conduct according to a man's
opportunities and talents.

Truth is a virtue of slow growth; the savage, like the child, is unable
to distinguish clearly the difference between imagination, hypothesis,
and historical statement. The perception of the utility of truth first
takes the external form: "Lie not," which corresponds approximately but
not perfectly to the internal rule: "Be trustworthy." The internal rule,
as such, is the higher; the external may have exceptions.

We come, at last, to the directly social virtues of justice and
benevolence. So far as truth and temperance are strictly virtuous, they
may be classed, the one under justice, the other under benevolence.
There is no real conflict between justice and benevolence; so far as a
man is really benevolent, he will not wish to benefit some to the injury
of others. Justice seems to consist in the application to conduct of the
principle of sufficient reason.

It is not safe to infer altruistic intention merely from altruistic
consequences. The sexual appetite appears to be the most selfish of
impulses, in that it prompts to conduct often ruinous to its objects. On
the other hand, it is the root of all social virtues. We cannot be sure
that the hen who covers her chicks regards them as more than comfortable
furniture in the nest. Altruism begins with the capability of benevolent
intention; where the conferring of pleasure upon others becomes a
possible motive. The generation of pleasure in others' happiness has
been traced to association; but, though the pleasant association
doubtless prepares the way for the higher sentiment, the latter is
something more.

It is true that all conduct is egoistic, in the sense that all conduct
has its source in the pain and pleasure of the doer; but there is great
difference between conduct that regards human beings as mere means to
personal pleasure and that which takes into account their feelings as
sentient beings. Sympathy springs from the primary intellectual power of
representation. I cannot properly know a man without knowledge of his
thoughts and feelings. Cruelty is, in many cases, simple insensibility,
incapacity for projecting ourselves into the position of other beings.
We may desire the pain of others when it is useful as a deterrent, or
secures our own safety; yet to think about other beings is, in general,
to stimulate our sympathies, our sensibility being thus quickened by the
same power which implies intellectual progress.

To believe in the existence of sentient beings is to take into account
their feelings, to believe that they have feelings, which may persist
when I am not aware of them. A real belief, again, implies that, at the
moment of belief, I have representative sensations or emotions
corresponding to those which imply the actual presence of the object. To
take sentience into account is to sympathize, to feel with. The only
condition necessary for the sympathy to exist, and to be capable,
therefore, of becoming a motive, is that I should really believe in the
object, and hence have representative feelings. Systematically to ignore
these relations is to act as I should act if I were an egoist in the
extremest sense and held that there were no consciousness in the world
except my own. But really to carry out this principle is to be an idiot;
for an essential part of the world as interesting to me is constituted
by the feelings of other conscious agents, and I can ignore their
existence only at the cost of losing all the intelligence which
distinguishes me from the lower animals. It is true that this vicarious
sympathy, this pain at another's pain, may result in our simply getting
rid of our own pain by going away from the sufferer, removing him, or
dismissing him from our mind; as a fact, these methods are often
pursued. But in many cases, such a course is impossible without the
renunciation, at the same time, of many pleasures. If a man is to live
with his friends, he must share their joys and sorrows; the choice is
not between a particular pain and its absence, but involves the whole
question of the renunciation of companionship. Emotions are inevitable,
whether sympathetic or not, in proportion, not simply to the pain and
pleasure at the moment, but to the intensity and degree in which they
form part of the world of the individual,--the world constituted, not by
mere sensations, but by the whole system of thoughts and emotions
sustained by the framework of perception. The existence of pure
malignity must, it is true, be admitted; it may be partly explained as
love of the "sensational," the novel; the full explanation must be left
to the psychologist. Sympathy is the natural and fundamental fact. If
intellectual progress carried with it inferior sociability, it would
tend to be eliminated; the world would be to the stupid; it must carry
with it something which counterbalances the anti-social tendency. Reason
is that which enables a human being to take account of future, as well
as present pleasures. The working of the instincts or feelings, which
dictates conduct, approximately coincides with the prevision as to the
maximum of happiness obtainable by the agent; normally, it is prudent
to be virtuous; and the sympathetic motives, so to speak, always develop
within the framework provided by the other motives. To become reasonable
is to act on general principles, and to act consistently; and this
includes the condition that a statement of the real cause of my action
should equally assign the reason of my action. The law which my feelings
actually follow must coincide with the principle which commends itself
to my reason. In order, then, that a being provided with the social
instincts should act reasonably it is necessary that he should take that
course of conduct which gives the greatest chances of happiness to the
organization of which he forms a part. As the pain or pleasure in
another's pain or pleasure is direct, so the end willed is willed as
pleasurable to the subject, and the statement that altruism involves the
contradiction of aiming at something else than the real end--the
pleasure of the subject--in order to secure that end, is erroneous. The
fact probably is that the mind "flickers," taking into consideration
various consistent and mutually dependent ends, some of which may be
primarily egoistic, some altruistic. The physician is not benevolent
enough to cure me unless he expects a fee; but he may act also out of
sympathy; he need not be always thinking of his fee. Our sympathies
would be stifled, if it were not for the coöperation of motives of a
different kind.

Altruism is the faculty essentially necessary to moral conduct; but the
altruistic sentiment is not to be identified with morality. The
elementary sympathy must be regulated and disciplined, in order that it
may give rise to true morality. Virtues, for instance, which belong to
the type of truthfulness and justice, generally imply a severe restraint
of the immediate sympathetic impulses.

We recognize the internal motive as desirable, and recognize a
difference between the man who acts only from prudential motives and the
one who acts from moral motives. We consider the latter meritorious,
that is, that he has a certain claim upon society, inasmuch as he has
done for nothing what another man will only do for pay, or has refrained
from action from which a less moral man can be restrained only by
coercion. Wherever society finds sacrifice of the individual necessary,
it pays for it in terms of merit. Merit is the value put upon virtue; it
is a function of the social forces, by which our characters are moulded.

Every character is developed under circumstances, and depends upon
mutual adjustment with these; we cannot disentangle the two factors.
Upon the power to infer future action the science of Ethics depends. The
action of the individual is not a matter of chance; in this sense it is
caused. But the instinct from which the action springs is not something
external to the man, which moves him; there is not the man plus the
instinct; the whole man, including the instinct, acts in a certain way,
in which he would not act if he did not possess the instinct. We are
accustomed to say that a man has inherited certain qualities; but the
man is not one thing and the inherited qualities another; the whole man
is inherited. Merit implies effort. This does not mean that effort,
taken absolutely, is the measure of merit. Such an assumption would lead
to our excusing men for the very qualities that make them wicked,--the
murderer because of his spiteful disposition, for instance. The man is
most meritorious who is virtuous with the least effort--provided always
that he has the normal passions of a man. By these, however, since they
are morally neutral, he is accessible to temptation and to a certain

Conscience appears, historically, as a development of simpler instincts;
it is not a primary or a separate faculty; material morality makes its
appearance long before the conscious recognition of a moral law. The
existence of conscience is undeniable. Yet moralists are much given to
exaggerate the sorrow which it actually excites. In almost every case,
the pain which we feel for a bad act is complex, and due only in part to
our conviction that we have broken the moral law. If we regard
conscience as a separate faculty judging of action by some inherent
power, we have to attribute to it reason and feeling. It is not a
primary attribute of the agent (to borrow Spinoza's language), but a
mode of the attributes.

There is, indeed, a sensibility which seems to have as good a claim as
any to be regarded as elementary, and which is clearly concerned in most
of our moral judgments: the sense of shame. This is excited by the
consciousness of the judgment of others. It operates, however, not only
in cases of a breach of morality; but often more strongly even in cases
not concerned directly with morality; and may even operate against the
moral code. But the variation is clearly not indefinite. Social
development implies the development of a certain type of character,
which includes, as essential, certain moral qualities; the
consciousness of the code and of the condemnation of certain classes of
acts, which it would cause, is implied in the sense of shame. The sense
is closely connected with the instinctive disgust before noticed. It
seems to have especial reference to decency and indecency. The value of
the sense of decency cannot be measured by a consideration of a
particular set of bad consequences from indecent actions other than the
shock to decency; we must consider the whole difference between a state
of society which does, and one which does not, possess it; it is an
essential symptom of refinement and delicacy. Again, the judgments of
conscience may be compared to æsthetic judgments. The difference between
the æsthetic and other pleasures depends upon the form of gratification,
not upon the instincts gratified, and seems to correspond to the
difference between work and play. The artist may appeal to our moral
emotions, giving us imaginary ideals; but emotion at the contemplation
of such types is in the æsthetic phase when we simply enjoy their
contemplation, and it passes into the practical phase as soon as it
begins to have a definite relation to the conduct of our lives. Only in
so far as the moral law has become internal, is the delight in heroic or
benevolent energy spontaneous; in so far, we may speak of the existence
of a moral, as of an æsthetic, sense. A man of fine moral sensibility
may, indeed, like the artist, perceive finer moral discords than can be
measured by formulæ; and may thus supply a more delicate test. But the
complex problem of a difference in moral judgment may yet be solved
approximately by reference to the test of social welfare; the highest
type is that which is best fitted for the conditions of social welfare.
The collective experience of the race is always progressing towards a
more accurate solution of the problem.

The utilitarian theory, which makes happiness the criterion of morals,
coincides approximately with the evolutionist theory which makes health
of the society the criterion; for, as we have seen, health and happiness
approximately coincide. The utilitarian theory fails, however, in one or
two respects. It gets rid, as much as possible, of _a priori_ truths,
and rejects intuitions; it bases its argument on the assumption that all
knowledge is empirical and the ethical problem to be solved by a summing
up of the consequences of action. It thus neglects the truth which is
implied by evolution,--that the organism itself is solving the problem;
it neglects the instinctive sense generated by social evolution.
Moreover, it considers society as an aggregate of similar individuals,
taking little account of the variability of human desire. And, further,
the utilitarian theory lays its stress upon morality as extrinsic;
according to it, love of morality for its own sake, as love of the means
to the end, must be as unreasonable as the miser's love for his gold.
Association, in this sense, means illusion; and the more reasonable we
become, the more we should deliver ourselves from the bondage of such
errors; the theory fails just at the point where true morality begins.
Furthermore, in substituting the external rule: "Do this," for "Be
this," it seems to fall into the error of expediency. Though lying is
assumed to be, on the whole, detrimental to happiness, truth is
maintained to be desirable only where it contributes to happiness. The
utilitarian destroys, to some extent, the force of the objection to this
by asserting the danger of trusting ourselves. The force of this
objection is only seen, however, when it is applied, not to the
external, but to the internal code; we instinctively feel the danger to
character in the lie, and hesitate to trust human nature in the
establishment of such a precedent, just as we object to permitting the
taking of life even in cases where prolonged life means prolonged
misery, because we cannot trust human nature with the decision as to
life and death. We make binding laws of morality, and leave it to the
man of exceptional qualities to break them; for the generality of
mankind, the stricter code is safer.

What is the sanction of morality? Why should a man be virtuous? The
answer depends upon the answer to the previous question: What is it to
be virtuous? If, for example, virtue means all such conduct as promotes
happiness, the motives to virtuous conduct must be all such motives as
impel a man to aim at increasing the sum of happiness. These motives
constitute the sanction, and the sanction may be defined either as an
intrinsic, or as an extrinsic, sanction; that is, it may be argued
either that virtuous conduct leads to consequences which are desirable
to every man, whether he be or be not virtuous; or, on the other hand,
that virtuous conduct as such, and irrespectively of any future
consequences, makes the agent happier. The problem is, thus, to find a
scientific basis for the art of conduct. The "sanction" must supply the
motive power by which individuals are to be made virtuous. This is, for
the practical moralist, the culminating point of all ethical inquiry.
Now there is, by our theory, a necessary and immediate relation between
social vitality and morality. But it does not follow that there is the
same intimate connection in the individual case. The sacrifice of some
of its members may be essential to the welfare of the society itself.

We have, then, to answer three questions: first, whether the virtuous
man, as such, is happier than the vicious; second, whether it is worth
while, on prudential grounds, for the vicious man to acquire the
virtuous character; and third, whether it can be worth while, in the
same sense, for the vicious man to observe the moral law.

If any man outside the pulpit were to ask himself what were the main
conditions of happiness, the answer would certainly include health as
the first, most essential, most sufficient condition. But the whole
process of nature, upon the evolutionist doctrine, implies a correlation
between the painful and the pernicious, and thus the elaboration of
types in which this problem is solved by an ever-increasing efficiency
and complexity of organization. Hence we may infer that the typical or
ideal character, at any given stage of development, the organization
which, as we may say, represents the true line of advance, corresponds
to a maximum of vitality. It seems, again, that this typical form, as
the healthiest, must represent not only the strongest type--that is, the
type most capable of resisting unfavorable influences--but also the
happiest type; for every deviation from it affords a strong presumption,
not merely of liability to the destructive processes which are
distinctly morbid, but also to a diminished efficiency under normal
conditions. However, the typical man, though he is, on this theory, the
virtuous man, is also much more than is generally understood by that
name. Happiness is the reward offered, not for virtue alone, but for
conformity to the law of nature, "Be strong." Beauty, strength,
intellectual vigor, æsthetic sensibility, prudence, industry, and so
forth, are all implied in the best type, and are, so far, conducive to
happiness. If virtue be taken in the narrower sense as implying chiefly
the negative quality of habitual abstinence from forbidden actions,
there is no reason to suppose that it coincides with happiness. You can
raise a presumption that moral excellence coincides closely with a happy
nature only when you extend "moral" to include all admirable qualities.
It is chiefly practical reasons which cause an attempted evasion of this
conclusion; the practical moralist holds that the non-social qualities
may be left to take care of themselves, but that stress must be laid
upon the social qualities as the more important, in order to obtain them
in society.

Sympathetic motives may lead to self-sacrifice; but this is also true of
selfish motives; gin is a more potent source of imprudence, even in a
moderate sense, than family affection; and the sympathetic motives have
on their side the far greater intrinsic advantage, that they promote
ends more permanent, far richer in interest, and giving a proper
employment to all the faculties of our nature, besides the intrinsic
advantages that spring from friendly relations with the society of which
we form a part. It is, however, true that higher activity of any sort
may cause pain in an uncongenial medium, and that, hence, the man who is
morally in advance of his age may suffer through his morality; every
reformer who breaks with the world, though for the world's good, must
expect much pain. "Be good if you would be happy," seems to be the
verdict even of worldly prudence; but it adds in an emphatic aside, "Be
not too good." We must acknowledge that excessive virtue cannot be
recommended to the selfish person upon grounds intelligible to him.
There is, however, a general advantage in possessing more varied
possibilities of enjoyment, and in being on the side of the strongest
forces, those of progress.

Extreme self-sacrifice is sometimes demanded of a man by his moral
principles. Is the sacrifice worth making? Would Regulus have suffered,
from remorse, pain worse than death, had he chosen life at the cost of
honor, or would he have found, as many do, that remorse is amongst the
passions most easily lived down? To these questions can only be answered
that morality must often involve pain, but that the virtuous man
nevertheless chooses it.

We must thus conclude, leaving one great difficulty unsolved; and this
is because this difficulty is intrinsically insoluble; there is no
absolute coincidence between virtue and happiness. The scientific
moralist has to do with facts; beyond these he cannot go. From the
scientific point of view, we may hold that evolution implies progress,
and that progress implies a solution of many discords and an extirpation
of many evils; but there is no reason for supposing that all evil will
be extirpated and perfect harmony attained. New sensibilities bring with
them new dangers; even sympathy, when not guided by knowledge, may lead
to rash changes productive of evil as well as good. To improve, whether
for the race or the individual, whether in knowledge or in sympathy, is
to be put in a position where a new set of experiments has to be tried,
and experience to be bought at the price of pain.

It is true that beyond the science lies the art; we must incite the
intrinsic motives to good through the pressure of the social factor. A
certain disadvantage to the individual cannot form a reason for our not
endeavoring to make him moral as far as possible; the good of society as
a whole is involved; and even the man who is himself immoral sees the
advantage of living in a moral medium, and would prefer that the world
at large should not be guided by his own principles.


Carneri begins his book on "Morality and Darwinism" ("Sittlichkeit und
Darwinismus," 1871), with the rejection of the older Spiritualism in
favor of Idealism, on the ground that modern investigation has made it
impossible for philosophy to assume any foundation but one sanctioned by
science; and with a rejection of dualism in favor of monism, on the
ground that the investigations of Wundt and others have shown the
psychical and the physical to be identical.

Instinct is defined by Carneri as thought upon the standpoint of mere
sensation, but following the laws of the same logic as governs conscious
thought. There is, thus, according to his view, no exception to be taken
to the conception which represents instinct as the action of mental
force, the difference between it and human reason as one of degree only.
It is nevertheless a confusion which ascribes reason to the animals.
Even their intelligence is one-sided, since it does not reach
self-consciousness, and it is not to be regarded as an unqualified
improvement upon instinct, since the latter loses both in intensity and
in certainty of action when it no longer governs undisturbed by other
influences: only such animals as are endowed with intelligence
ever eat of injurious food. In human beings instinct has almost
disappeared;--almost, we say, since savages do many things in an
instinctive manner, and even civilized men at times perform acts which,
on account of the exceeding rapidity of their execution, cannot be
regarded as the results of reflection. Instinct may be compared to
polarity in magnetism, according to which opposites are attracted.
Instinct was evolved by natural selection. But intelligence and judgment
are doubtless also to be found even far down in the scale of species.
The brute consciousness is, nevertheless, only a transition-stage, in
which the individual is still lost in the species; and, as such, it is
not to be confused with human reason. Consciousness in the brutes is
purely subjective, a consciousness "für sich"; while in human beings it
is consciousness "an und für sich," consciousness that becomes
subject-object through the concepts developed by language.

Man is as unconditionally subject to the law of causality, psychically
and physically, as the merest atom. There is no such thing as chance;
but in this very fact lies a consolation. In the concept of
individualization in its broadest sense, is included the conception of
freedom, and in the very nature of man there is an indestructible
impulse to freedom; his being, as self-conscious, is identical with the
latter impulse. This increases with increasing civilization, and has
finally become the problem by the solution of which alone man can attain
to self-satisfaction. It is true that the power of choice is
inconsistent with the law of causality; but in the manner in which the
man, as a thinking being, takes his stand over against the species, he
becomes a person, an individuality. As one of the species, he shares the
characteristics of the species, is an expression of the species-idea,
and his action is determined outwardly by things; but it is so
determined only mediately by means of thought, of concepts; these are
the immediate determinants. Hence, man's relation to things is a
different one according to the grade of his knowledge. In so far as this
is adequate, that is, corresponds to the truth of actuality, his
relation is an active one; in so far as it is, on the contrary,
inadequate, the relation is a passive one.

Character is inborn and can never be effaced but only clarified, though
this least through the bitter experience of the results of action. As
the horse loses his sure-footedness after one fall, and falls again more
easily, so we lose, through many a deed, the motive furnished by the
consciousness of never having committed it, and have a greater tendency
to repeat it. If an act has bad results, it is more likely that an
attempt to avoid these results by cunning will be made at later
opportunities for the act, than that the act itself will be avoided.
And even if it were to be avoided, such avoidance would not constitute
an improvement of the character; the latter would but hide itself under
a mask to reappear at the first prospect of exemption from punishment.
That which alone can modify character is a considerable extension of
knowledge. For, since all things influence us only in proportion to the
worth we attribute to them, their power over us must differ according to
the correctness or incorrectness of our judgment. Therefore, the more we
regard things in the light of their actual worth and hence also in their
relations to each other, the more our character, beholding in these
relations the general as the true, will incline to avoid extremes in
action. A preponderantly sensual character remains such through life;
but there is no doubt that a careful education, which makes it
acquainted with nobler principles and develops a sensibility to true
beauty, may ennoble it; while, if the education is, on the contrary,
neglected, it must sink deeper and deeper into the mire of coarseness
and vulgarity.

Character is the sum of its "affections," that is, of all
states and motions of the disposition. These are divisible into
"passions,"--included under selfishness, which is the general,
all-embracing passion,--and the active conditions of existence. These
two divisions are also identical with pain and pleasure, passion with
pain, and activity with pleasure. All desires have their root in the
primary instinct of self-preservation and self-propagation, the instinct
of self-propagation being only the racial form of the instinct of
self-preservation. The instinct of self-propagation is the highest of
all the passions, yet, as Spinoza says, every form of love which
recognizes another cause than mental freedom is easily turned to
hate,--if it is not already a sort of madness, nourished rather by
discord than concord. The various forms of family love, the love of
country, and friendship, noble sisters of love in the narrower sense,
result in desirable activity only as they exist in the form of concepts.
Civilization is nothing but the struggle of inadequate and adequate
concepts, in which, as in the struggle for existence in nature, only
that is triumphant which, instead of assuming a position of separation,
makes the general and the conditions of existence its own; so that
charity in the widest sense of the term is, of all humane feelings, that
to which the palm has been given. In this feeling, the dialectic
movement of the concept "man" is completed and perfected, the single
man, instead of perishing in the struggle of all against all, first
working his way upward out of his species and then taking up, in his own
being, the whole of mankind through the medium of benevolence. By this
evolution he raises himself to the level of the general. Far higher than
that confused sympathy which, in lending temporary aid to one, brings
lasting harm to many, is this adequate concept; true benevolence is
founded upon the clearest reasoning, and is the activity of the mind's
fullest power. The discord which self-consciousness has caused in man
can be done away with only by the greatest possible clarification of
self-consciousness: man returns mentally to the bosom of the universal,
when every living thing causes him to exclaim in the words of the Indian
philosopher: "Behold thyself."

Ethics ranks higher than morals, the latter merely comprising a
collection of particular rules of conduct which, as particular, bear the
stamp of the individual, the non-universal. The details of morality
change according to epochs and peoples. This change has been regarded as
an argument that there is no absolute but only relative good. But the
concept of the Good is, like the concept of the Beautiful, the fruit of
education; that is, it is the product of mind, which, through its own
evolution, arrives at Knowledge. When we do away with all concessions to
one-sided, extravagant desires, abstain from placing mind above the
universal law of causality, and are content with the facts made known to
us by science, we perceive that the absolute True, Beautiful, and Good,
bears the character of the Universal. In this universal character it has
always finally found expression in human life, and in this character it
will always find expression. The idea which reaches perfect expression
in the dialectic movement of these three concepts, the True, the
Beautiful, and the Good, has come into existence by the mediation of the
self-individualizing self-consciousness, just as the evolution on the
earth, which reaches its completion in man, is the outcome of the first
chemical process. Not only have the two one law,--(mind is only in so
far realized[65] as nature is expressed through it, and the actuality of
nature is its expression in mind) but both are, in fact, one, the
succession in their development on the earth being a succession only in
relation to the earth, and for us in this respect. Although to our
notion of time, thousands of millions of years lie between the two,
their separation does not represent a second for the universe and its
eternity, for the comprehension of which it must be disregarded.

The good man is he who does good for its own sake, without effort, not
out of momentary caprice, but out of perfect knowledge and conviction.
He is free, since he acts out of his own character, the law of nature
appearing as the law of his own mind; freedom lies in the absence of
discord and strife in the mind. The good man has strength of soul, just
as the man who lifts a weight without effort, not he who lifts it only
with the greatest effort, possesses strength of body.

There is no absolute Evil in contrast to the absolute Good. Evil is
negative. The perfection of man is identical with the attainment of
absolute Good through evolution.

Morality knows nothing of either reward or punishment; for it there are
only causes and effects. This truth, on which morality is based, lends
to the freedom out of which its activity proceeds a deeper worth. The
eternal laws of mind point the way by which mankind has to proceed; it
is the same way by which man has become man and by which he must
proceed, even if he did not will to advance thus. In the struggle for
existence, which knows only victory or destruction, progress is a
necessity of nature, but it is less painful and more rapid the more
clearly these laws come to be perceived by consciousness. Yet, however
clear they may be, it is only by a tireless endeavor which shrinks from
no sacrifice, that progress takes place. The end which morality has in
view is distant, for it is high; but only with its attainment will
mankind fully deserve its name when "struggle has been transformed to
labor, when no insignia are recognized but those of right, no weapon
used but intelligence, no banner raised but that of civilization."

In the volume, "Man the 'End' of Man" ("Der Mensch als Selbstzweck,"
1877), "a positive criticism of Hartmann's Philosophy of the
Unconscious," Carneri defines instinct as no form of real thought,
nothing dependent upon perception, but merely an inherited, mechanical
dexterity dependent upon sensation. For the assumption that thought is
the source of instinct must lead us naturally, on account of the
existence of the latter where the centralizing organ of thought is
absent, to the theory that thought is universal in nature; that is, we
shall arrive at a theory of atom-souls. It is evident here that not
Carneri's definition of instinct so much as his conception of thought
is changed from the one adopted in "Sittlichkeit und Darwinismus,"
thought being now limited, as it was not in the former book, to
self-conscious mental activity, assumed to be dependent upon nervous
centralization in the brain. In this book also, the author defines the
idea as something having mental existence, though not, he says, in any
metaphysical sense. His idealism is not of such sort that he recognizes
any other way to the attainment of ideas than that of science; and to
him "the service of the materialist who gives us information concerning
the function of the smallest nerve-fibres is of more worth than that of
the idealist who originates a whole philosophical system." The work of
philosophy lies in the rejection of all that is contrary to science, and
the clarification of ideals.

The will may be defined, not as a definite, separate power, but as the
self-conscious impulse to action resulting from excitation. Any other
definition is inconsistent with the theory of evolution, according to
which that individuation which is the first condition of the struggle
for existence, is nevertheless but the expression of all previously
existing oppositions. To make of the will or of the impulse to
self-preservation anything separate and individual, is as childish as to
personify death. The individual is totality as unity. Darwinism teaches
us, not that the world together with man has been created according to
any teleological principle, but that it has developed by virtue of
motion. The human being moves by virtue of reciprocal action and
reaction with the world. Yet only by virtue of his unity as feeling does
he think and will. Individuality is that which stamps all our activity
with the mark of the ego, which causes us to recognize every impulse
that moves in us as our impulse, to call all our willing ours. The
psychical, the summation of functions to which we give this name,
reaches consummation in the clarification of feeling to consciousness,
in which the desire of an action or of abstinence from an action appears
to us as our will. As thought is based on perception, so will is based
on impulse; and since thought and will appear as the two highest
opposites of feeling, and this, according to our definition, springs
from sensation by way of perception, the will, including action and
abstinence from action, arises out of the general sensitivity. The
progress of science authorizes the expectation that the close relation
of sensitivity to simple reaction will one day be discovered.

The conceptions of teleology are groundless. The so-called "ends" of
nature have the peculiarity that they are according to the means. It
does not rain in order that there may be vegetation, but vegetation
exists because it is conditioned by the rain. Only with thinking man, in
his struggle for existence, arises the concept of ends; man has not
attained to civilization by help of a friend; rather has he wrung
civilization from nature as an enemy; compelled by it to the exertion of
his whole strength, and growing in cunning by exercise, he has learned
to use the weaknesses of his foe to his own advantage. To want he owes
the greatest things that he has accomplished. By way of labor alone can
victory over nature be achieved and salvation won.

The standpoint of faith is childlike. Faith does not reason, and may not
do so if it wishes to remain faith. The child can comprehend nature and
man's relation to it only by the language of faith, and there are large
classes of people who, for a long time, will be accessible to no other
language but this. But faith must decrease in the same ratio as mankind
outgrows intellectual childhood. In the same measure, the worth of the
philosophical solution of certain problems must increase; and among the
most important of these problems must be reckoned that of bridging the
chasm between the individual and the world, which has grown wider with
the awakening of consciousness. It lies in the nature of self-conscious
thought to reach out beyond itself, just as it lies in the nature of
sense-perception to regard this "beyond" as the world to come. Hence the
endless longing which seeks the ruler of the world to come, and despairs
without him; until the supposed right to a future life is perceived to
be the right to the Only Whole, and an end is set in the attainment of
this whole. For the thinking man an aimless life has no meaning; there
is only one means of bridging the chasm; namely, that mankind shall set
itself an end.

A final destruction of life upon the earth must surely come, whether it
be in the shape of a sudden catastrophe or as the result of a slow
process. But such an end can no more be regarded as the "end" in the
philosophical sense than death can be regarded, in the same sense, as
the "end" of the individual life. By the development of ideas, which are
concepts of reason in distinction from concepts of the understanding, we
arrive at a notion of the ideal as end.

In the ethical ideal, there is contained more than the empiricist can
offer. The enthusiasm with which the true artist starves for his art, or
the martyr perishes for his conviction, can never be fully explained
from the empirical standpoint. One does not even need to be an idealist
in order to act thus; but the materialist or the realist who possesses
true love of beauty and a heart framed for great deeds, merely deceives
himself when he refuses to acknowledge the All-embracing which therein
overwhelms him. Sociology and the History of Civilization can only point
out how man has attained to the ideas of the Beautiful and the Good;
what these are and wherefore their influence is so powerful,--the real
worth of the Beautiful and the Good,--thought by concepts alone can

The Idea of Man, as he has already developed and may yet develop, is, as
far as our knowledge reaches, the highest of human thoughts. We are
therefore formulating no metaphysical theory in personifying mankind,
and pointing out that the perfecting of which it is capable is the great
end which it has set itself. We know, by our knowledge of human nature,
that mankind will always endeavor to be happy, and that it will approach
nearer perfection the more real and general its happiness becomes.

The particular rules of morality may and must change; but the highest
principle of all morality is changeless. From the purest moral feeling
came Schiller's words: "Live with thy generation, but be not its
creature; serve thy contemporaries, but in that which they need, not
that which they prize. Without having shared their guilt, share with
noble resignation their punishments, and yield thyself freely to the
yoke which they both illy could do without and illy bear. By the
steadfast courage with which thou refusest their pleasure, thou shalt
prove to them that it is not cowardice which causes thy submission." In
these three sentences there lies a whole system of ethics.

In the will to good, indivisible from a feeling of freedom, of which no
power on earth can rob us, lies true happiness.

For mind, as for matter, the law of the indestructibility of force, of
work, is true. That which appears as force or energy is motion; every
impulse to motion is motion, and only in so far as it appears, can the
quantity of motion, force, energy, increase or diminish; as a matter of
fact, it always remains the same. But just as the activity and force of
matter increase with its differentiation, so the activity and energy of
the mind increase with intelligence. It is through intelligence that we
come to a comprehension of the distinction between good and evil, and
through intelligence that we are able to increase social prosperity, and
so morality.

There are no innate, primary human rights; there are only acquired
rights which man has gained for himself in the process of development.

If we were to express negatively the end which mankind sets itself, we
should define it as the greatest possible reduction of pain. Conscious
existence is accompanied by a feeling of pleasure; but the general
progress heedlessly overrides the individual being, and we therefore
have to erect barriers against the stream which thus turns pleasure into

Pain and pleasure are relative to the individual. Every sensation is
pleasurable as long as it does not exceed in strength a certain limit
corresponding, in each case, to the nature of the individual. Since,
however, every sensation becomes, by perception, feeling, thought
appears as a modifying factor in all pain which does not arise from too
extreme physical injury. The manner in which our perceptions,
thought-images, are formed, the store of thought-images and concepts
which we possess, and hence our thought-capacity, combined with the
extent and clearness of our knowledge, are decisive not only with
respect to the avoidance of pain and attainment of pleasure, but also
with respect to our attitude towards pain and pleasure in general; every
pain and every pleasure has, in the last analysis, such worth alone as
we attribute to it. The universalization of true education, the increase
of intelligence, is, therefore, the means by which man's lot may be

Through the conditions of the earth's atmosphere, man has grown to be
the glorious creature that he is. If we gradually give him, by
education, an advantageous love of life and pleasure therein, and at the
same time do not neglect the cultivation of ethical principles, virtue
will become, with the increase of happiness, a necessity.

If intelligence is to bear the fruit which we thus demand of it, its
nature must be such as not only to be nourished by actual life, but also
to uplift by its increase the whole man. And this is, in fact, the case;
where it is not so, we have to do with a one-sided development such as
existing circumstances often condition, but which cannot be regarded as
normal. This point of view is the necessary consequence of the unity
which we postulate of man. If thought and will have their origin in
feeling, and if will clarifies itself through the clarification of
thought, then all advance in thought leads, in general, to an advance in
feeling, and true intelligence is inseparable from true love. We use the
word "love" here, as designating intelligence in its highest sense, and
declare, moreover, that we would desire to see this meaning alone
attached to love. Over against the conception of love which we find in
Hartmann and Schopenhauer, we place the conception of Spinoza, who
designates it as a free, reasonable activity, and says of it as
distinguished from passion that "the love of both man and wife has for
its cause, not a pleasing exterior merely, but especially freedom of

If we regard intelligence and love in their highest antithesis, the one
appears as the appropriative, the other as the self-devoting conception
of things. But since we form a conception of things and make them our
own only in proportion to our intelligence, our attitude towards them
must be according to this measure; and since there is no action without
reaction, intelligence must be broadened by love as well as love
clarified by intelligence. The highest of all is intelligence; but it is
love that first lends it creative power; without love it cannot create,
but only destroy. Everything great and noble that man can point out as
his work is due to love--love of mankind, love of country, love of
knowledge, love of art, love of labor in general. If the devotion is
deficient in purity, determined by extraneous motives, the work will
bear marks of the deficiency. The reason why the power of love is so
much greater than every other power is that its all-embracing, boundless
character reacts upon it as a feeling of eternity, enabling it to
undertake all things, as if it might conquer even death. Life,
considered in its parts, is cheerless; but love, regarding it in its
totality, points out to it the way of salvation through itself. Love is
the concrete element which exalts the abstraction of Intelligence to
incarnate Idea; therefore is love the idealizing principle from which
intelligence draws belief in its own aims. And if one questions whence
comes the conception of immortality, impossible to be won from
experience, love must confess itself guilty of originating it, being
unable, to exist without this self-delusion.

Carneri thus places himself in direct opposition to Schopenhauer's and
Hartmann's notion of love, which, he says, "falls like a deep shadow
over their whole conception of the world"; and he pleads in favor of a
standpoint which shall make self-perfection the aim of existence for
woman as for man. He propounds a theory of education for woman which,
according to his own statement, places him at one in spirit with Mill;
but he avers that he cannot follow the latter in his more extreme views,
which, he says, were evidently assumed by Mill only in view of the
strength of the enemy with which he had to contend. The book ends with
the following paragraph:--

"We do not run after ideals; hence no plan floats before us, according
to which the world should be shaped anew. He who understands how to read
the book of History knows that, in no one place does the identity of
form and content come more clearly into view than in others, and that,
with every new content, there is always a new form also. The modern
state has by no means outlived itself yet, and those who endeavor to do
away with it know not what they are about. Instead of thinking upon a
new form, let us devote our care to the clarification of the content. No
one deceives himself as to the suffering in the world; but he deceives
himself who thinks that he alone can bring about a better condition.
Only the action of all can better things. Therefore, that which remains
for us to do can be summed up in these few words: _Let us make every
effort possible to place every one in a position to help himself._ This
is the only ethical conception of universal reform. Let us prize
knowledge above all things, and let us show that we so prize it by
increasing it and diffusing it as much as lies in our power; let us
prize it above all things, and prove that we do so by using it for the
good of mankind. By knowledge we have become human beings, because
knowledge has brought us to a comprehension of the Beautiful and the
Good. It is knowledge that sets life an end in the attainment of the
Good, and knowledge that glorifies our path to that end. Let us educate
for ourselves wives that shall not merely dimly feel what we think, but
such as will bring to the execution of our will a clear understanding.
Let us educate for ourselves wives who, fired by the same feelings as
our own, will unite their efforts with ours in the education of a
generation that shall take _morally_ the stand upon which the science of
the century finds itself. Let us seek true happiness if we would find
virtue. It is to no wisdom, but it is likewise to no foolishness that we
owe the existence of the world. Man can be foolish; but he can also be
wise; and if he is wise, then the world too is wisely arranged."

Carneri begins his "First Principles of Ethics" ("Grundlegung der
Ethik," 1881) with an investigation of the origin of primary concepts
and our knowledge through these. In order to bring light into our
conception, we must first of all learn the way to the concept; for then
only can we see how the concept completes itself in the judgment, and
becomes, in reasoning, the criterion of its own worth.

The problem which first presents itself to us is that of Life in
general. The problem is inseparable from that of corporeality. If we
follow phenomena to their last conceivable reduction, we finally pass
from the perception of mass to the concept of matter; but further than
this we cannot go. At least, we can perceive only material things, and
that which we call the spiritual in distinction from the corporeal has
always something corporeal as its basis; and if we do not wish to
dispense with the reliable guidance of experience, we shall not overleap
this barrier. Science cannot reckon with supernatural factors.

What matter _is_ we cannot know; that it exists, however, that the
phenomena of nature are no empty seeming, sensation, as the felt result
of the mutual relation between us and the outer world, testifies.
Sensation is the basis of our self-consciousness, of the only full and
irrefutable certainty that we possess. As to what true Being or
Existence is, there is disagreement; but there can be none regarding the
fact that we are conscious of our sensations; and upon this
consciousness rests the postulate of the materiality[66] of all
existence. In order to assert the materiality of all phenomena, we are
forced to distinguish between a corporeal and a non-corporeal action of
matter; matter operates mentally when its division or differentiation
proceeds so far that the resulting phenomena can no longer be perceived
by the senses, but only conceived by thought. The indivisibility of mind
from corporeality follows directly from this definition of the mental
side of nature. We distinguish between the two only for convenience'
sake. The newer Psychology knows nothing of Sensuality in the old sense
of the word, since the basis of all psychical effects is physical.

For matter operating mentally, as for matter operating corporeally,
there are no specific energies; it is, as Wundt expresses it,
functionally indifferent. The differing results of a high
differentiation of centralized organisms arise in accordance with the
changing combinations of elementary parts and nerve activities. These
results are not, however, to be regarded as the mere effects of matter,
but as phenomena of the same, in fact, as the consummation and crown of
the whole evolution of nature. Even in the sense-organs we see the
differentiation of matter advance beyond the sphere of sense-perception.
Therefore, in distinguishing between mind and matter, we are still in
the realm of the natural, and follow the path of experience, if by
experience is understood not alone immediate experience, but also the
conclusions which directly or by strict analogy may be drawn from it.

The theory of an atom-soul and the theory of an organizing principle
must be abandoned as teleological, and so inconsistent with the facts of
evolution. The theory which holds force to be a transcendental
existence, a something outside of matter, must also be rejected. With
the endless divisibility is given an endless motion, inward or outward;
the endlessly divisible matter exists in endless motion, or what is the
same, the endless motion is the endlessly divided matter. Hence motion,
like matter, can never diminish; only the form of its appearance

The order in nature cannot be used as the basis of a teleological
argument; what we call order of nature is necessity as distinguished
from chance. For example, the statement that the life of the earth
requires the alternation of day and night means merely that, since day
and night alternate upon the earth, only such beings could arise and
continue in existence thereon as flourish under this alternation.

The first appearance of protoplasm introduces no strictly new thing, but
only a new form of matter with life-motion; and the formation of germs
is only a further step of the process. The most important characteristic
of all life is sensation. This is the form in which, in all living
things, that which in the rest of nature we call reaction, appears. That
it is so easy for us to say in the same breath, the animal possesses
sensation; and, by this particular excitation we produce in him this
particular sensation, has its reason in the fact that the animal is not
only capable of sensation, but is, moreover, continually in a state of
sensation. By the fact of its continual reaction upon sensation, it
keeps itself alive. Hence the two concepts coincide, so to speak;
sensation is to life what divisibility is to matter. We express with
these words more than a similitude, since all sensation is based upon
motion, is, indeed, motion, and every motion may be reduced to a
division or differentiation in the broadest sense of the word. All
further distinctions, as, for instance, with respect to the mode of
sensation (which belongs, without doubt, to plants as well as to
animals), we leave unnoticed; all differences in the forms of life are
but those of degree, though they may be wide differences of degree; they
are to be ascribed to the influence of outer circumstances.

Sensation develops in the direction of least resistance. In the animal
world, we have to distinguish between outer and inner factors, with the
latter of which a new element seems to be introduced. The difference
between the two is not, however, one of essence, since the will, too, is
determined by outward circumstance. The inner factors of evolution are
comprised in the germ, from which the individual is produced; while the
environment constitutes the outer factors. The individual enters the
world with a certain reserve quantity of force, which represents his
power of resistance to outside forces, and he passes the more rapidly
from youth to age the more rapidly this force is consumed. This
accumulation of force is, therefore, identical with the impulse to
self-preservation, which, as modified by various inner and outer
excitations, manifests itself in various forms. But he who, as
unimpassioned thinker, desires progress, desires also retrogression; he
who desires youth desires age, since the two concepts are correlative
and the one includes the other; old age, and finally death, must come to
our planet as a whole, as well as to the human individual. The original
tendencies of the total character determine, for the most part, the
manner in which the individual sustains the struggle for existence; yet
the environment is in no less degree active in this determination. Not
less important than the manner of reaction is the differing
susceptibility to particular kinds of excitation; the character
resulting from the mutual action and reaction of individual and world
depends upon the manner in which the individual adapts himself to
circumstances, ennobles and disciplines himself.

In idealism, as long as it remains within proper bounds, there is
certainly truth; he who derides it, derides himself. But realism has
also its truth, as long as it does not misjudge the worth of concepts,
by which alone we clearly recognize what things are to us, what their
relations to us are, and so how we have to deal with them. Concrete
concepts inform us as to what is true and what is not true in phenomena.
There is no greater mistake than to suppose that what things are in
themselves, not what they are for us, is of importance to us; as if we
could have an interest in that which things are not for us. The decisive
point is the fact that, not things as they appear to us, but their
rightly conceived appearance, their appearance as understood by adequate
concepts, is the beginning and end of knowledge. Hence the true student
of nature can no more do without the concept than the true philosopher
can leave material perception out of account. Stiff-necked Materialism
is as one-sided as old-time Metaphysics; the one has no meaning for its
form, the other no form for its content; the one is a corpse, the other
a ghost, and each strives in vain to attain the warmth of life. Natural
Science and Philosophy must tread different paths, in so far as division
of labor requires them to do so; but they labor at the two sides of one
whole. Nature is not a machine, but life in its fullest form, and the
task set us is to understand her as she is, not to patch together a
nature out of disconnected scraps.

Carneri adopts the definition given by Claude Bernard, to whom life is
neither a principle nor a result, but a conflict. To the chemical
synthesis, from which protoplasm results, is added, through mechanical
integration, morphological synthesis, to whose special form inherited
characteristics are related as elements. Through the conflict within
living forms, and between these and the rest of the world, motion,
attaining to the character of function, appears as continuous
consumption. Destruction and renewal are inseparable correlative
concepts. This fact is contained in the concept of the conservation of
force, work, and motion. We may distinguish between (1) latent life,
such as that accumulated in the germ, (2) the merely oscillating
plant-life, and (3) free animal life. With this distinction, we place
ourselves upon the standpoint of the individual, for whom there is both
beginning and end, and to whom renewal is subordinated to destruction;
for consumption, death is the characteristic of living in distinction
from non-living matter. If, therefore, we regard life as identical with
death, we merely assert that we consider death identical with life, and
that, in the broader sense of the word, for the universe as a whole,
there is no death. That which Claude Bernard designates as Construction
is the differentiation and division of labor arising in the process of
integration. The cell constitutes the first integration of protoplasm.
In it, motion takes place in a particular form, organizes according to
this form, causes division and synthesis, and impresses features of
character that, by their action and reaction with the environment,
either effect their own destruction, or else maintain their existence,
propagate themselves, become fixed, and undergo further evolution. In
this manner species arise and vary: and the more primitive the form, the
more variable it is; the more advanced, the more fixed. Hence the
invariable character of the germ-cells. In bone-formation, it is clearly
shown that special structure begins very early,--in the cell, namely;
but it is preserved only where it is aided by the necessary action and
reaction. Autonomic in itself, life submits itself to the general laws
of evolution.[67] As the direction of motion is determined for whole
groups of cells by the direction of the motion of the protoplasm in the
single cells, so organic function is determined by the grouping of the
irritable, contractile, sensible cells. From the first origin of life up
to its most perfect development, everything is formed at the cost of
other forms. If life is, therefore, to be conceived as a conflict, it is
a conflict as wide as the universe itself, and we say, with Claude
Bernard, that "life may be characterized, but not defined."

Everything that has sensation lives. As life depends upon particular
combinations of particular elements, so sensation is the characteristic
mark of such combinations, and a higher form of that simple reaction
common to nature in general. Reaction has its reason in the motion
arising from the endless divisibility of matter, through which the most
different combinations and reactions are produced. Since we have before
us, in our contemplation of corporeal nature, not abstract matter in
general, but some sixty or more special chemical elements, we must, in
thinking of atoms, have in mind atoms of these particular elements, and
not atoms of abstract matter in general; of such atoms of matter in
general, or, if one will, of primordial matter, we can know only that
they would in general attract and repel. Only by degrees can a
particular reaction of the elements have been developed; and since our
known elements have particular different reactions, they must be the
product of different combinations. Sensation is due to certain
combinations of these elements; when the combinations no longer exist,
the atoms of these elements still react according to their
characteristic method as atoms of particular elements, but the sensation
dependent on their peculiar combinations is destroyed. The atom as such
is devoid of sensation, and we may convert our earlier proposition,
making it read: Only that which lives is sensible. We know quite well
how much of this course of reasoning is of hypothetic nature; but the
strictest consistency cannot be denied it. The method which explains
life by the assumption of sensible atoms is a much shorter and easier
one; but is it not likewise a method of greater risk? And is there no
danger that, in rejecting a method by which all changes in phenomena are
referred to functions of combinations of elements, we may seek, in
matter itself, something that is not matter? The above theory of life,
also, takes its departure from the assumption that all was, originally,
in the formation of the world, living in the broader sense of the word.
But here we are concerned with life in the narrower sense of the word,
as distinguished from what we call dead nature.

Soul is, therefore, according to our definition, equivalent to animal
life, in contrast to the life of the plant. The significance of the
distinction lies in the intermediation of the general organic unity, not
in a qualitative division. The elements are the same; only their
connection is different, and that which distinguishes the animal is a
centralization of the organs. In referring to the possession of soul by
the animal, we simply point out the independent manner in which, by
reason of sensation, its impulses govern, and develop, through the
scale, up to consciousness and will. Of course the gradations are very
numerous, inasmuch as the functions of the soul are determined by the
development of the organism. The difference between animals whose
sensation attains clear consciousness and such as do not attain to more
than a mechanical action, does not concern us, as long as we regard the
psychical phenomena in their most general form. Every animal possesses
soul; we avoid the expression "_a_ soul," as giving the soul the
significance of something by itself. In like manner, we do not say that
_a_ life, but that life belongs to the animal. The chief condition
necessary to soul as to life consists in union to a whole, and soul
represents the gradation by which life lifts itself to the plane where
it becomes a mirror of the world.

Sensation, as centralized in the brain, becomes perception, the
sensation of a part becoming the sensation of the whole, a _feeling_ of
the individual. It is perceptions which cause movement. To find a
connection between perception as generally understood and the action of
the muscle would be as difficult as to show the connection between body
and soul in the sense of Spirit. But if we regard perception as feeling,
then the awakening of a corresponding impulse, and the transformation of
this into will, which finds expression in a corresponding motion, is
something so natural that it needs but a glance at the nerve-apparatus
in order to comprehend the rapidity of the whole process. With regard to
the unconscious character of the greater part of the process, and its
corresponding rapidity, we have to consider the gradual nature of the
development of the nervous system, the gradual drill of the parts, until
the whole process becomes perfect. By feeling is here not meant
necessarily feeling as pain or pleasure. This quality of feeling does
not necessarily belong to every perception, else thought, as a train of
perceptions, would be unbearable; a certain strength of feeling is
necessary in order that it may attain the character of pain or pleasure;
as we recognize a boundary at which sensation begins, so we recognize
one at which feeling begins to attain the character of pleasure and from
which, up to a second boundary-line, it continues to appear as pleasure;
beyond this line it appears as pain. Moderate feeling is beneficial to
the organism, immoderate feeling harmful; hence the appearance of the
one as pleasure, and of the other as pain. We say expressly "moderate,"
not "weak" feeling, because too weak feeling may also, under certain
conditions, be painful. Horwicz rightly protests against any attempt to
arrange the feelings in an exact scale, since a particular feeling may
lead to quite different phenomena of emotion, according to the
particular circumstances and the particular development which it
undergoes in the organism, and since it is furthermore nothing
changeless and distinct, but merely an energy that necessarily leads to
activity. Hence it is that the excitation which does not pass the stage
of sensation remains localized, but when it attains to the stage of
feeling takes possession of the whole individual, and brings the
essential tendency of his being[68] to expression.

As Carneri tends to interpret the sensation which he predicates of the
lower animals as a mere higher reaction of living matter, and thus
wholly mechanical, so he tends to regard the activity of all animals
which lack brain (under which he understands especially the nervous
developments found in the gray matter which contains Haeckel's
"soul-cells") as devoid of pleasure and pain, and due to mere
inheritance and force of habit. So the action of the ants is not to be
attributed to intelligence, but to mere reaction upon sensation due to
inheritance and exercise; and so the movements of a butterfly impaled
upon a red-hot needle would be attributable to the hindrance of its
flight, not to pain.[69] Thus, with Carneri, the words "sensation,"
"soul," "perception," and "feeling," lose their ordinary significance;
and this fact must be held in mind in the interpretation of his
assertions that "all animals have soul," and "all animals have

Carneri further cites Haeckel's definition of the organism as a
cell-monarchy, in which different individuals, and different groups of
individuals, having different duties, are guided by a central power. He
does not intend thus to assume special centres for consciousness and
will, but only to assert that, through such centralization, the
expression of the whole individual, as total consciousness and total
will, takes place.

Not only the brain, but other parts of the nervous system, are affected
in perception; and the same parts are operative in remembrance. Thus the
association of ideas is explained.

As long as the animal remains upon the plane of mere instinct, it has
only blind impulses.[70] Only in the most highly organized animals do we
find the first traces of conscious, though not yet of self-conscious,
will. In that the animal knows what it will, it distinguishes clearly
the objects of its will, and hence its own impulses. Upon the earlier
plane of mere self-preservation, the beneficial, harmful, and
indifferent were not yet made inward, but only distinguished outwardly
by nature in the struggle for existence, in which the fittest survived;
in consciousness, however, the harmful and advantageous become inward,
taking the form of pain and pleasure. But the animal never gets beyond
the concrete case,--in which his inherited instincts, working with a
rapidity and freedom we often see imitated in the passions of men,
sometimes act so advantageously as almost to deceive us into believing
them the result of reflection; yet sometimes, again, bring most
disastrous results. The animal never attains to a notion of the Whole.
Associations and general perceptions the higher animal species have, but
not concepts.

Impulses appear, in their primary form in the animals, as passions.[71]
The first beginning of the ethical may be found in the passion of love
in the broadest sense of the word, as sexual love and the love of
offspring. The first is chiefly exacting, the second is higher, in that
it gives.

That which divides man physically from the brutes is merely the union of
qualities, all of which, but never all of which united, we find among
the animals; that which divides him mentally from them is self-conscious
thought, developed by means of speech. Through the development of
attention, which arises in connection with a greater and greater
centralization, sensation becomes perception, this develops further to
general perceptions, and is still further perfected to concepts.

Carneri believes primitive man to have been, not more benevolent than
the animals, but less so. Leaving out of account the carnivorous
animals, the brutes seem to satisfy their own wants without interfering
with the satisfaction of others, and, except where the possession of
females is concerned, to live in peace with each other. On the other
hand, the influence of man upon the domestic animals may be seen in the
greed of the dog, who, as capable of instruction, takes on himself all
the evil qualities of his master. The cat, who is not so intelligent as
the dog, is not thus influenced.

For nature there is no good and evil. The animal which tears and devours
its prey is no worse than the swollen stream, that uproots the trees in
its course. With consciousness, intention awakes; yet in the brute this
is only secondary; the brute distinguishes between pain and pleasure,
but not between these as the result of its own action in distinction
from that of nature outside itself. Only the self-consciousness of the
human being knows good and evil; nature does not know evil, for she does
not know the opposition on which it is based. There is wisdom in the
story of Genesis, which sees in the beginning of knowledge, the
commencement of evil. The awakening of self-feeling is the beginning of
a chasm, through the full development of which the individual is at
length separated from nature. With self-consciousness and the feeling of
boundless isolation that therein comes over him, man begins his ethical

But the ethical does not begin with the human being known to us by
natural history; even yet there are races of man which stand lower than
many species of animals; and the early development of moral activity was
of necessity much more of the nature of that which we call evil than of
that which we call good. The mind is a sort of light; and as warmth is
indivisible from the motion which we call light, and the first warmth of
the sun could only burn, so the motion which we call mind could at first
only have destroyed; self-consciousness, in its earliest stages, can
have produced only the intense feelings which lie nearer pain than
pleasure. As man came to have intention, and gained new wants in
development, he could regard the intentions of his fellow-men only with
distrust. Envy, hatred, dislike, were developed long before the family,
and, later, the tribe furnished opportunity for love. Self-consciousness
could, at first, interpret good and evil only as having reference to
self, just as it also conceived its freedom as that of its own caprice.
The desire for happiness and endeavor to attain it is the primary
incentive to all human undertakings. It is erroneous to suppose that man
is nearer to the brutes by this impulse; the animal does not possess it,
has only the impulse to self-preservation.

The idea that man and wife together first constitute the complete human
being, and that the real future of this human being lies in the
children--the idea of the family is, certainly, of all ideas,
primordial, though it probably came late to consciousness. From the
family developed the tribe with the eldest at its head. The more
peaceful the tribe, the more others combined against it, and by their
combination compelled it still further to strengthen its resources. The
feeling of power awakened by the growing concord extended further and
further, and finally made its way to the individual with the full force
of the Idea. This development, but more especially the compelling power
of the struggle for existence, soon called the bravest to command in
place of the eldest of the tribe.

It is by the agency of no other being that, in the mutual relation of
physical and mental activity, consciousness is attained; man himself
comes to a feeling of himself. In the being endowed with soul, who on
the one hand attains, through integration, an independence that appears
as the impulse to self-preservation, on the other hand becomes conscious
of this impulse to self-preservation through a centralized nervous
system that raises the part-sensations to feelings of the whole,
sensation divides into two chief functions, which appear as passion and
thought. We are not concerned, in thought and passion, with opposites,
but with an opposition which a single phenomenon develops through
manifold action and reaction with the rest of the world of phenomena.
The distinction is merely a convenience in finer investigations; there
is, in fact, as little thought without emotion as emotion without
thought. And since emotion always manifests itself as will, this highest
opposition is best defined as that of thought and will. In order to
understand the human being, we must analyze these two sides of

Carneri's examination of the primary laws of thought can be only touched
upon here. In the law of Identity, or, negatively speaking, the law of
Consistency,[72] there comes to our consciousness a more general Species
which includes a determinate species. "The adequate, clear, correct,
corresponding[73] concept is consistent with itself," means, the
adequate concept finds itself again in every object which it includes.
The law of Identity expresses, therefore, not entire sameness, with
which the cessation of all thought would be reached, but simple
consistency. It affords us, thus, the means of recognizing the Untrue in
that which is not what it is called, hence also the means of recognizing
the True. The law of Excluded Middle contains an extension or doubling
of the law of Identity, in that the identity here appears, not in the
form of consistency, but in that of contradiction; as, "either--or." Not
one, but two cases are supposed, only one of which can exist or be true.
The disjunctive proposition which corresponds to it is not less
determinate than the categorical proposition which corresponds to the
law or judgment of Identity, but is rather, on the contrary, a more
forcible affirmation of it. In this determinate nature lies the worth
of the Excluded Middle. Du Bois Raymond's address on the Limits of
Knowledge has caused much joy to conservative thinkers; but these have
made much more out of it than it really means. There is either for us a
transcendental, or there is not; and if not, then we are limited to the
knowledge of nature. The scientific limit set to our knowledge by our
hypotheses and theories is, however, merely a limit set for the purpose
of rounding knowledge to a whole, not of closing it to a further
advancement; but such hypotheses must be consistent with experience and
founded upon it; otherwise we leave knowledge behind us and abandon the
hope of it. We cannot say what, within the province of science, man will
not know, except that he never will know everything.

The law of Causality is the most important law of thought, after that of
Identity. Reason and result are often confused with cause and effect.
The reason on account of which we do a thing is not, however, the cause
by which it occurs. The cause is the complexity of all conditions which
make it possible, and the reason of its performance coincides with a
conscious design on our part that constitutes our purpose. Causality has
nothing in common with the concept of purpose. The principal of
Sufficient Reason has been made the bridge between Causality and Design.
Probably human experience reached first the conception that nothing
occurs without sufficient reason, and only later, by a further mental
step, the conviction that everything for which the necessary conditions
exist takes place. With this conviction, the concept of causality became
clear; but, at the same time the bridge which connects it with the
theory of design in the succession of events was destroyed, so that only
a logical leap can restore us to this incomplete conception of earlier
experience. Causal necessity excludes purposed necessity. That which
takes place may be regarded as, in one direction, conformable to an end,
but may, on the other hand, conform to no end in any direction. A
succession of events conforms to purpose only in so far as it is
regarded by a particular consciousness which combines it in thought with
ends of its own or such as it ascribes to another consciousness. In the
law of Causality, as in the law of Identity, the necessity of
self-consistency and the self-consistency of Necessity reaches
expression. The sufficient reason is simply the completeness of the
conditions, with the existence of which the event takes place, and the
absence of which the event fails to take place.

Spinoza's "Will and intellect are one and the same" is the ethical law
of Identity. All thought is willed; that is, indivisible from a certain
coloring which it has in virtue of its identity with the will, just as
all will is connected with thought; there is, indeed, a will-less
thought, which might, however, just as correctly be called "unthinking
thought,"[74] just as "unthinking willing" is, in reality, will-less
willing. In all mental operations, the identity of the two functions is
found. A will is unthinkable without something willed--an end, given by
thought. It is the fact that, in his practical life, man recognizes
purpose as a necessity, which causes him to read purpose into nature.

"At the basis of identity lies a concept which throws light upon the
teleological principle. This is the concept of the General. The basis of
the principle of identity is a concept of species which embraces the
general in contrast to the singular and particular; just as the judgment
of Identity constitutes an advance to still greater Generality. The
concept of the General which reaches expression in species coincides
with the concept: Law of Nature. The Law is, for a particular circle of
events, what the Species is for a particular circle of objects. As in
the Species, the characteristics are expressed which an object must
exhibit in order to belong to it, so in the Law the conditions are
expressed which much exist in order that the instance included under it
may take place. The relation of Identity to Causality is unmistakable.
Species and Law include no mere plurality of objects and instances, for
as often as the instance comes to pass the law is fulfilled, and the
number belonging to a species is, in conception, limitless. Worlds like
our earth may come into existence again and again; hence specimens of a
certain species, eternally destroyed, may eternally renew themselves,
and instances which fall under a certain law may eternally occur. Simply
their conditions must exist in order that they may occur. Such cases
form, therefore, a whole; and this is Totality in Little." The
importance of every whole which sets itself over against the greater
whole has already been noticed. The former whole constitutes the concept
of Individuality which, as Undivided Unity, becomes independent. "The
limitlessness which we claim for the whole is one of conception; we thus
seek to make that which is incomprehensible conceivable." The concept
does not need to be imagined; it may be thought. "Every one knows what
he means when he opposes the whole to the part. The whole is not a
larger part, but the opposite of the part, as 'all' constitutes the
opposite of the many and the particular."

What we aim at, in this analysis, is a true Realism in the conception of
the Purposeful. The Purposeful is that which conduces to an end, the
Useful. From Individuality follows the individual nature of ends. Every
man has his own ends, and in the attempt to attain his ends does not
hesitate to set himself in opposition to all the rest of mankind. If he
is sufficiently energetic and cunning, he may even succeed, for a time,
in his endeavors, to the harm of humanity. Yet to have the whole of
humanity against oneself is to endeavor to proceed in the direction of
greater resistance, and the process must, sooner or later, result in the
triumph of the stronger power. In the struggle for existence, in its
larger as well as its smaller manifestations, the individual seeks, with
all his power, to satisfy the impulse to happiness which arises with
conscious existence; while the species, as the complex of all energies
developed by its parts, has an impulse to self-preservation of its own,
which, by its action as type, has originated and preserved for centuries
the conception of changeless kind.

"Here is the beginning of the dawn, whose sun, however, in order to
become visible and impart warmth, must rise still higher. The certainty
afforded in the law of Identity in positive form, in the law of
Contradiction in negative form, in the law of Excluded Middle in the
form of an opposition, and in the law of Sufficient Reason in
conditional form, is based upon Causality, Community of Species, or
Totality. For this reason, deduction and induction are only then to be
relied upon when the first form of reasoning has for its middle
proposition one that expresses causality, community of species, or
totality, and the latter form of reasoning takes these for its point of
departure. The analysis of Deduction is of worth as clarifying and
confirming thought, and thus extending its field as often as the
syntheses of Induction stand the proof of the process of clarification.
The supernaturalism of Dualism leads to a dead, the natural character of
Monism to a living, dialectic,--to the dialectic of Becoming. The
concept assumes a concrete form, and, as higher and higher rising sun,
enables us to conceive what it will be to us as Idea. The understanding
knows nothing of ideas; their realm is that of the reason; yet since the
reason is but a higher development of the understanding, the
commencement of this dawn must be perceptible in it. Moreover, the
division which we make between the two originates in our genetic
treatment of the subject, which seeks to explain the concept by showing
the course of its development. Yet the distinction is no empty
abstraction which may not claim life and form to a certain extent. The
human being is always the whole human being; but he is not always
uniformly developed, either physically or mentally. In one individual
the understanding, in another the reason, manifests itself more plainly
in thought. This is also true of the race, the people, and the epoch, as
of the individual. Modern development has turned more and more from the
ideal to material interests; we seem to be progressing towards a
reaction," but what that reaction will be, we cannot say; it may be a
reaction in the worst sense. The mistakes of the understanding cannot be
predicted. With the point of culmination, the extreme is reached, and in
Spiritualism may be found traces of a touching of extremes. Yet the
influence of the understanding is to be relied on in so far as it is the
clear mirror of Necessity. The understanding may err, just because it is
conscious; but experience always corrects these mistakes. Nature, as
gifted with mind, is no new nature; the laws of thought are the natural
laws of the mind. In their mirror the will sees the accomplishment of
the first mental development, and learns to comprehend this, on higher
mental planes, as Common Weal.

The opposition of the individual to the rest of the world which arises
with self-consciousness and individuality is greater, the greater the
individuality. To the struggle for existence is added the struggle for
happiness, which, separating into numberless desires that gain in
attractiveness with every obstacle opposed to their satisfaction, is the
origin of all the passions,--of greed, jealousy, envy, hatred, etc.
Through passion, which is the exaggeration of activities that, in a
normal form, are good, man is led into a struggle for false happiness,
just as the concepts under which his passions arise are false. The
individual against the world cannot attain happiness for himself. The
greatest good, peace of soul, freedom from passion, is attained only
through knowledge, by which the concepts of the individual are
corrected; it is attained, not as dead incapability of emotion, but only
as clear enjoyment of life after past storm. Labor and education are
the path to true happiness and, through true happiness, to virtue. The
passions are not separate existences; the whole man is the passion of
his heart; the whole man feels, just as the whole man thinks. But just
for this reason, because of the identity of will and understanding, the
correction of the concept is the correction of will. This is not saying
that will and understanding are never in opposition to each other; the
apparent opposition is, however, merely a hesitation of the will, which
does not know what it really will. It is true that one passion can be
conquered only by another; we cannot will an emotion that leads to a
certain course of action; but we can fix our attention on the objects
which produce it, and by thus reaching a clear recognition of their
actual and necessary relations, affect our own action. It is true that
man does as he wills; but he wills necessarily as he does. According to
the doctrine of freedom, it must be exactly those who act without
knowing wherefore they act, and who are thus driven by blind impulse,
who are the most fully self-determined. A real freedom and conquest of
necessity can, on the contrary, be attained only by obedience. Just as,
in the animal, the summation of impulses and desires reaches a focus in
feeling, so in man, in proportion to his development, the summation is
in consciousness, the focus of which is the point of concentration of
the will's activity. Spinoza's "Will and understanding are one" means:
the activity of the will is the realization of the activity of thought.
Every one, the more self-sacrificing, as the less self-sacrificing man,
does that which is to him the pleasantest; egoism turns the scale in
both cases; only in the one case the egoism has a basis of broader love.
And since we act according to our conception of things, the question of
our responsibility is the question of our full possession of
consciousness. The necessity of nature must take away our desert, as far
as a future life and its reward are concerned; but from the standpoint
of a being who desires happiness and attains to it through evolution,
necessity gains a new aspect. Natural Selection is Natural Necessity.

Yet not in the understanding, as such, but in the reason, is the
reconciliation of the same with will. Reason in the narrower sense is a
higher development of the understanding, constitutes its completion and
perfection, and presupposes a high degree of culture; though in a wider
sense, as the half-unconscious modification of the impulses by
adjustment to the needs of the species, it develops early in man. By it
alone man becomes man in the full sense of the word. The activity of the
mere understanding is an analytical, that of the reason a synthetical
one, the return of cold consciousness to warm feeling, of abstract mind
to concrete nature. Truth lies, for the reason, in Totality; hence, to
it, the General alone is comprehensible. It has to do, not with abstract
concepts, to which nothing in the realms of the mental or physical
corresponds, but with concepts of species, concrete concepts, which we
call, in distinction from abstract concepts, ideas. By ideas is not
meant existences in the Platonic sense, but the Typical in species.

The impulse to happiness which arises with consciousness as thought and
will, calls itself "I." It is the individual who, with every nerve-cell
and every drop of blood, attempts his own realization. But all
individuals are alike in this, that they reach, at last, a point where
they recognize the fact that their ego is but a miserable half which
needs a Thou to its completion. In the union of the Thou and the I, the
first I becomes a complete and perfect I. Man and woman both realize
that only together do they represent the whole human being. I and Thou
together constitute a We. The ego remains after, as before the union,
the axis upon which the whole world turns. But the egoism of mere
understanding is, by a broader thought, elevated to the altruism of
reason. As the highest union of thought and will, the reason becomes
Idea in and for itself, actual, absolute Idea. With the We was born the
Saviour who should reconcile the sharply opposed factors of awaking
consciousness. The light of his gospel spread in wider and wider
circles; man and woman no longer beheld, each, merely his own happiness
in the other; they saw their mutual happiness in their children, and
their own and their children's happiness in friends, and their own and
their children's and their friends' happiness in their fellow-men. The I
of the reason is the self-conscious We.

The struggle for happiness has brought forth, out of the privileges and
endeavors of individuals, civilization in its present form. Want and the
necessity for labor have been the spur to endeavor and advance. Through
the concepts of ends and of intention, the self-conscious will further
evolved ideas, which themselves undergo a struggle in the activities to
which they give rise; and this is no longer the struggle for existence,
but the struggle for civilization.

There are three Ideas which, arising out of the extension of the I to
Thou and We, are the spring of all ethical conceptions; these are Love,
Humanity, and Public Spirit.[75] Love is the passion of passions and is
the spring of all capacity to altruistic emotion. Love is life in its
highest degree;[76] and by the manner in which a human being loves one
may know what manner of man he is, and what will be the nature of his
feelings towards his fellow-men in other relations of life. A man's
conduct towards women is the surest test of his character. That which
Spencer calls Integration, that which has created all nature, from the
first germ to the perfect human being, and, as preservative cell-labor,
still continues to create,--this infinite Something comes to
consciousness in the human being, as Love. On the lowest plane it can
appear only as simple impulse; but what, developing from stage to stage,
it can accomplish, the history of Love shows us.

To these three ideas of Love, Humanity (or Benevolence), and Public
Spirit correspond three outward phenomena, which bear such relation to
them in the development of morality as the body bears to the soul. These
are: the Family, the State-form, and the Representatives of Great Ideas.
These latter, the men who have been pioneers of civilization, we do not
need to pity or regard as victims, though life was to them a mighty
struggle and a restless labor; in their suffering was their pleasure;
and that which impelled them and compelled them to attain their end was
the impulse to happiness. Therein lies the wonderful secret of the
clarified impulse to happiness, that it finds its highest satisfaction
in itself. Such representatives of great ideas are those in whom the
species overcomes the individual, and out of the species "man" the
species-man is developed. That which they express is the True, if only
the True for, and in, mankind. In this lies their worth; as worth in
Science also, and in the Beautiful, lies in the truth of the Idea that
is therein expressed. The True becomes practical in the Good.

The reason is thus the first condition of happiness, and freedom of the
will lies in the ethical ennoblement of reason, which is nothing more
nor less than obedience, as the total result of all natural causes; by
it the individual is lost in the species as a whole. This ethical height
does not consist in impulse, but in the self-conscious activity of will.
Its mental expression is an Ethical Sense, in distinction from the Moral
Sense of the Intuitionists. Through it man is at one with himself as
with his kind.

The Ethical Sense is not the common property of the species. Just as it
has, however, reached expression in a few, so it is more and more
realized in the many by the process of evolution, through which a common
will, purpose, and good are necessarily finally evolved from all
striving of individual wills after happiness. Ethical ideas arise as the
result of experience, and in them man gradually attains reason.

For the Reason to which Love, Public Spirit, and Humanity are the
natural element, the General (Common) as truth, is no empty conception,
but a promise whose fulfilment is the Good and the Beautiful. The
faithfulness of this Reason never swerves, since it depends on no fear,
but springs from the clearest conviction, and therefore is one with the
love which it feels and inspires. Its friendship is as strong as it is
unselfish, for it does not call anything "friendship" that is based on
other relations than those of mind. Its generosity is always strength,
its mercy never weakness. As far as its power reaches, so far and no
farther do its remorse and pity extend; for all passions which reduce or
dim the activity of the soul are unreasonable. The way to the attainment
of the ethical spirit is pleasure, which guides, though it often
misguides us; fortunately, on the wrong paths we sooner or later meet
with pain, while on the right path we are ever accompanied by pleasure
as "transition from less to greater perfection," to quote Spinoza. The
feeling of Responsibility consists in the soul's recognition of all its
action and omission of action as its own, and in the courage to endure
the consequences of these.

The ethical Ideal, which the ethical imagination as "scientific"
conceives, is the truly happy man, the man fully in harmony with
himself. This idea is to be regarded as a star by which we are to shape
our course, not as an end to be fully attained. Through labor mankind
approaches this ideal, attains knowledge from experience, and clarifies
the concept of happiness. The "I" extends itself to an "I" of mankind,
so that the individual, in making self his end, comes to make the whole
of mankind his end. The ideal cannot be fully realized; the happiness
of all cannot be attained; so that there is always choice between two
evils, never choice of perfect good, and it is necessary to be content
with the greatest good of the greatest number as principle of action.

This is an ideal which is actually and necessarily evolved. Benevolence
has become more general, and has attained a degree not conceived of in
former times. The ideal of a happy humanity has gained definite
outlines, and has become an earnest aim towards which we steer with
filling sails. The end is not to be reached by force, which brings in
its train evil that cannot be gotten rid of for generations, but must be
attained within the bounds prescribed by the state, through education
and increase of intelligence. Nor can the state declare and ensure
happiness; the duties of the state are chiefly negative, as Bentham has
said. Each individual sacrifices a portion of his happiness in order
that the rest may be secured to him by the state; the first-named part
comprises his duties, the rest constitutes his rights; the office of the
state is to hold each to his duties and secure to each his rights. There
is no perfect state, just as there is no perfectly good individual; but
there is progress in states as in individuals.

The merely Useful can never furnish a full solution of the problem of
Ethics, any more than Mathematics and Mechanics or Physics and
Physiology can do so. The Perfect is much more than the merely Useful.
Spencer finds the condition of happiness in the exercise of function.
But he regards happiness as the final end of morality, while, according
to our system, the latter is the product of the former.

Carneri again pleads, in this book, for the like right of woman with man
to mental culture, and to labor which shall make her independent of the
caprice of man; the good of the family alone to be regarded as the
limiting factor.

The extent of Carneri's work on the subject of Ethics makes it
impossible to consider minor points of his theory, such as are included,
for instance, in his criticism of Hartmann, of Schopenhauer, Feuerbach,
and others; or to define more clearly than has been done his relation to
Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, etc. His book "Entwicklung und Glückseligkeit,"
published in 1886, is a collection of essays which first appeared
separately in "Kosmos," and which, as such, do not hold to each other
the relation of parts of an organic whole. They are chiefly a
recapitulation of the views already expressed in the "Grundlegung der
Ethik," with some extensions and possibly some modifications;--these
last, however, chiefly of an extraneous character. In these essays
Carneri demands a systematic moral training in the common school, to the
end of the development of conscience, such training to be non-religious,
though not anti-religious excepting in case the religion itself be seen
to transgress the laws of right established by humane reason; he
protests against the error of Materialism, as likewise against that of
the Apriorists and the "Ideologists" or Idealists in the narrower sense
of the word; and he reaffirms, defines, and further defends his
standpoint as that of a "Real-idealist"; that is, of one to whom Kant is
the point of departure in a farther evolution of theory. He reaffirms
the oneness of the universe, so of man with nature, restates the
self-identity of the individual in will and thought, limits the
knowledge of man to nature as it is for us, but invests it with
certainty within these bounds, and reasserts the necessity of the
progress of the whole through the efforts of the many for happiness. He
lays further stress upon the absence of morality, not only among the
animals, in whom at least general ethical feelings, in distinction from
those towards individuals, are not found, but also among savages;
morality being not the incentive to, but the product of the state. From
this standpoint, he combats Socialism as proposing impossible ideals,
since it presupposes ethically perfect men as governing and being
governed by the laws, and since it disposes of the freedom of the
individual. The theory of compulsion reckons without the will of man as
he is and must be. Man has no primordial rights (except, perhaps, the
right to get and keep all he can); he has only rights that he has gained
by the help of the state. There is no one commandment in which man's
whole duty may be expressed, unless it be, perhaps, some such new
rendering of Kant's words as this: Act always in such a manner that the
maxims of thy will might be taken as the principle by which to render
happy the greatest possible number of human beings. But this can never
become a categorical imperative for all men. Morality lies in the Will
to Good, which becomes in the moral, or according to Carneri's phrase,
the ethical man, a second nature: his sense of duty is joy in duty,
highest satisfaction of his desire for happiness. It might perhaps be
claimed that Carneri, in his theory of the Conscience, has in this book
laid more stress on feeling than in his others; however, it is to be
recollected that, with him, thought and feeling are no distinct
faculties, but that conscience means less an impulse unconscious of
final ends than a self-conscious attitude or readiness of the will as
the result of conviction.

Carneri's latest book, "Die Lebensführung des modernen Menschen" (1891),
is practical rather than theoretical, a consideration of general
problems and rules of action.


[65] Wirklich.

[66] Stofflichkeit; by this word Carneri designates "das Gemeinsame
aller Gegenständlichkeit."

[67] An sich autonom, unterwirft sich das Leben den Cesetzen, die aus
der allgemeinen Entwicklung sich ergeben.

[68] Daseinstrieb.

[69] Pp. 112, 113.

[70] Dunkle Triebe.

[71] Affecte.

[72] Widerspruchslosigkeit.

[73] Entsprechend.

[74] Gedankenloses Denken.

[75] Gemeinsinn oder Gemeingeist, pp. 340, 410. Carneri explains this
word as equivalent to the English "common-sense," but defines the latter
as feeling for the general, the universal.

[76] Potenz.


"ETHICS" ("Ethik," 1887)

Ethical judgments contain an estimate of the worth of human actions.
Every such estimate presupposes the existence of a need, a feeling which
spurs us on to the judgment of the action, as also the existence of a
standard, an ideal, according to which we judge. The motive to the
ethical judgment may be called the basis of Ethics. The standard
involved in the ethical judgment determines the content of Ethics, in
that it decides which actions, which directions and modes of life, are
to be called good in the ethical sense. The ethical basis is the
subjective, the standard the objective, principle in Ethics; the
character of an ethical conception depends upon this presupposed basis,
the applied standard, and the relation between the two.

The feelings and impulses of the individual are not only influenced by
his own experience, but bear also a character derived from the
experience of the whole species; hence the ethical judgments delivered
by the individual are the result of the whole experience of his kind. It
is by virtue of this circumstance that the ethical system of the
individual gains its power; as ethics of the species, it is a condition
of the health and vitality of human life.

This actual working Ethics of the species and of life has been named
Positive Morality. Such Positive Morality manifests itself in the
every-day judgments and principles of men, often in the form of
proverbs, and may express either the enduring worldly wisdom of a
nation, a tribe, or a religious society, or the less enduring "public
opinion" of a century or an epoch.

Is it well to treat such Positive Morality to a criticism, which,
arousing, as it must, doubts and questions, will interfere with the
certainty and energy of action that characterize unreflecting instinct?
Is it well to examine the principles of such a system from a scientific
standpoint? We may answer: Life itself leads naturally to such
questionings; only where the view is narrow and the problems simple is
there full security from doubt. With the growth of experience begins a
comparison of the different laws and ideals, the differing institutions
of different epochs and peoples of which one learns; or new experience
presents problems which cannot be solved by means of the system handed
down; or the individual seeks some orderly arrangement of the great
multiplicity of ethical judgments which he himself pronounces or hears
others pronounce, for the purpose of distinguishing between the more and
the less important ones. It is certainly a serious point in an
individual's or a nation's development when reflection and criticism
begin; but where life leads naturally to such questionings, we must
either find some answer to them or else some reason why they shall not
be answered. Moreover, it is to be noticed that certainty and force of
action are not absolute Goods. The greatest energy may take a most
disastrous direction, and must then be checked. To a new and better
insight, when attained, one must endeavor to secure all the energy
possible. All evolution consists in the diversion of energy from lower
to higher ends.

A scientific system of Ethics does not, and cannot, take the place of
Positive Morality; it only supplies the latter with a basis of reason,
broadens, and develops it. Such a scientific system only endeavors to
discover in accordance with what principles we direct our life, and to
secure for these, when ascertained, greater clearness and inner harmony.
In the mental life of the human being, a continuous action and reaction
of the conscious and the unconscious takes place, as well as of
perception, feeling, and will. What is won in the one province may
profit the others also.

Two tasks of Scientific Ethics, as Historical Ethics and as
Philosophical Ethics, are to be distinguished. Historical Ethics has to
do with the description and explanation of the development of Positive
Morality. Philosophical Ethics has to decide upon the worth of the
various forms assumed by the latter. Philosophical Ethics is a practical
science, and is based upon the supposition that we set ourselves ends
which may be reached through human action. Every ethical judgment
presupposes such an end, for feeling is set in motion by the sight or
the thought of an act only when the latter promotes, or stands in the
way of something, the existence and success of which are desired by us.
Not all that is developed as practical morality can be pronounced good.
On the other hand, customs which were at first assumed from motives
which must be condemned by Philosophical Ethics, may yet prove
themselves good, and may be practised, later, from higher motives; and
such customs cannot then be condemned on account of their origin. Hence,
Philosophical Ethics is both conservative and radical; it respects
nothing simply because it exists; but since it endeavors to furnish
guidance beyond present standards, it attempts to show how that which
has been developed historically may be given new forms and thus used for
further progress. It is difficult, from a broader view, to distinguish
perfectly between Historical and Philosophical Ethics; the historian has
an ideal which he applies more or less in his researches; and the
philosopher in Ethics is more or less ruled by the prevailing opinions
of his time. This necessitates a continual re-discussion of problems.
Yet it does not prevent the existence, in any system, of lasting
principles among the less enduring ones.

Theological Ethics is directly opposed to Historical Ethics as well as
to Philosophical Ethics. It builds upon tradition, upon truth as
something historically revealed. So far, it might appear as if
Theological Ethics were related to Historical Ethics. But the system of
the former does not recognize the method of scientific research, since
the revelation on which it is based is due, according to its doctrine,
to an interposition of supernatural forces not to be explained by the
physical, psychological, and social laws that serve as the foundation of
historical science. It demands a unique position for its historical
basis, and asserts that this must be looked at in an entirely different
light from that in which the rest of the history of the world is
regarded. It appears to approach Philosophical Ethics in instituting an
examination of the worth of historic acts and modes of life. But it
undertakes this examination, not according to any principle that can be
found in nature, but from the point of view of a supernatural revelation
of an ideal. Its foundation is an absolute principle of Authority; its
good is that which is God's will. But how is the individual to be sure
as to what, in the single case, is God's will? By the inward testimony?
How is he to distinguish certainly between such and his own natural
thoughts and feelings; what means of distinction can be applied? In
passing thus to the province of Psychology, we assume a human means of
distinction, and the principle of Authority loses its force. Or if it be
said that we should receive this principle of Authority because it
answers to a need of our nature, we may ask how we know that the need is
one that should be satisfied? Its mere existence cannot guarantee that.
Or how, then, are we to distinguish which of other wishes and needs of
our nature should, and which should not, be gratified? Is the principle
of Authority to decide this? Then we argue in a circle.

A similar circle is adopted by such theologians as attempt to combine
the two assertions: "The good is good because God wills it"; and "God
wills it because it is good." If the good is identical with God's will,
this means that he wills it because it is his will; if he, however,
first recognizes something as good, and therefore wills it, then his
will bows to a law and rule, and is not, in itself, the cause whereby
the Good is good.

Have we not, as a fact, already broken with the absolute principle of
Authority as soon as we begin to reflect, to endeavor to bring the
various commandments of Authority into harmony with each other, thus
applying the measure of our own reason to them?

But it is not these inner contradictions alone which hinder
Philosophical Ethics from making use of theological assumptions; that
which has called Philosophical Ethics into existence and lends it
interest, is the conviction that the ultimate reason of the ethical must
lie in man himself. However lofty may be the ideal, it can become man's
ideal only through his own recognition of it as ideal. For this reason
Socrates was the founder of Ethics by the command: "Know thyself!" In
this command is expressed the principle of free investigation, the
opposite to that of blind obedience. The desire to make Ethics as far as
possible independent of assailable assumptions is likewise active in the
establishment of a system of Philosophical Ethics.

In the great, sometimes too great, regard paid to the distinction
between the subjective and the objective worth of actions, and the
contest as to the relative importance of the two factors, the fact is
often overlooked, that the standard by which ethical judgment is
pronounced is itself of subjective nature. The question arises as to
wherefore we seek a general and objective standard.

It is a fact that human beings reflect upon their own acts, pronouncing
them, according to the result of this reflection, good or bad. How are
such judgments as these possible?

We will suppose, first, the simplest conceivable case, namely, that the
acting subject pronounces judgment on his own act without consideration
of the existence of other beings. Such a judgment must presuppose
memory; but it presupposes something more, namely pain or pleasure
through memory; an end is aimed at only because the thought of a result
causes pleasure. In the simple case supposed, the feeling which
determines the end can be only that of the individual himself, and the
latter will judge the act as good or bad according as it has affected
his own life. The character and significance of the judgment will depend
on whether the feeling of pain or pleasure is determined only by the
single moment or has reference to the life of the individual as a whole.
The lower the life of consciousness, the more isolated and independent
are the single moments of time in relation to each other, and the less
is the significance of the memory and the thought of the ego as a whole
embracing the single moments with their content. Only a half-unconscious
instinct hinders the individual from losing himself in the moment; the
instinct of self-preservation leads him to consider the future and to
make use of the experience of the past. The more he loses himself in the
moment, the less is the power of judgment, since comparison and action
and reaction of the different states cannot take place. The single
moment bears to all others the relation of an absolute egoist, who does
not wish to relinquish any part of its satisfaction for their advantage.

And here we may perceive the possibility of a standpoint upon which all
judgment is dispensed with. Such a standpoint is represented by
Aristippus of Cyrene, who asserts the sovereignty of the moment. It is
not without its justification. Ethics itself must show cause for the
relinquishment of the satisfaction of the moment in favor of other

If the principle of the sovereignty of the moment could be practically
carried out, no reasoning could overthrow it. However, there can
scarcely be a conscious individual in whom there are not instincts and
impulses which reach beyond the moment. When a momentary state of
feeling, as the effect of an act of the subject, comes together in
consciousness with the feeling determined by the conception of the life
as totality (the result of memory and comparison), a new feeling arises
which is either one of harmony or one of discord. The standard by which
judgment is pronounced is determined by this feeling. The capacity for
such feelings is conscience, as this may manifest itself in entirely
isolated individuals. Conscience, in the broadest sense of the word, is
a feeling of relations, and requires only a relation between central and
peripheral feelings,--feelings of wider, and feelings of narrower
thought-connection. The single moment and the single act are judged
according to their worth as parts of the individual life as totality.

And here the individual is confronted by the necessity of bringing the
single parts of his life into harmony. The problem is certainly never
solved by any individual involuntarily. The estimation of earlier acts
according to the assistance they give in this task is, therefore, at
this point, of great importance to the individual. The judgment
pronounced is thus not only made possible through the central feeling
which corresponds to the life as totality, but is determined by it. An
acute sense for that which benefits the individual life whose single
members are the moments, is a condition of the continuance and
development of the life; it is a higher sort of instinct of
self-preservation, and need not be confined to the continuance of
physical life, but may also refer to the ideal needs.

And here we come upon the standpoint of Individualistic Ethics. From
such a standpoint, the problem is to determine, not only how much energy
may be used in the single moments of time, but also in what manner it
should be used in order to secure as great variety and many-sidedness as
may be consistent with the interests of the life as totality. Nor are
the interests of the life to be summed up in physical self-preservation;
the individual acquires, in the natural course of things, interests of
increased ideality and complexity, through which the life gains in

The ethical law, from the standpoint of Individualism, is expressed by a
formula which requires harmonious relation between the interest of the
life as totality and the impulse of the moment; it consists of two chief
mandates: (1) The single instant should have no greater independence
than corresponds to its significance in the life as totality; (2) but,
on the other hand, the single moments should be as richly and intensely
lived as is consistent with the preservation of the life's totality.

Of Individualism, or the principle of the Sovereignty of the Individual,
the same is true as of the sovereignty of the moment, that no reasoning
can overthrow it; if the individual recognizes no end but his own life,
there is no logical way of transition to another standpoint. A change of
aim can take place only through such a change in the central feelings
which determine the standard of the individual that a wider circle of
conceptions enter into his reflections. Until this takes place, there is
no use in appealing to conscience.

The science of Ethics has often claimed to be a science of pure reason.
This claim is opposed to its character as a practical science, since
action can be judged only according to the ends it had in view, and ends
presuppose feelings of pain and pleasure. On the other hand, there is,
in the mere capacity for pain and pleasure, no limitation of the extent
of the circle of conceptions with which the feelings of pain and
pleasure are connected.

Individualism can be carried out in practice only approximately; the
individual has his origin in the species, and lives his whole life as a
part of the life of his kind, with an organization in which the results
of the action and passion of earlier generations are inherited, and in a
mental atmosphere which has induced the development of his species. And
just as the instinct of self-preservation did away with the isolation of
the single moments of the individual life, becoming, thus, the basis of
feelings determined by the interests of the life as totality, so the
sympathetic instincts do away with the isolation of the single
individuals and determine the conditions of the life of the species in
the minds of its individuals. The most primitive form of the sympathetic
instincts is exhibited in the family. Here, however loose and variable
the relation of man and wife may be, that of mother and child cannot, by
its nature, be done away with or essentially changed. In this case, the
sympathetic feeling springs immediately from the natural instinct, and
the relation is the nucleus which makes possible the higher forms of
family life. In the family circle, the sympathetic feelings are
cultivated, and arrive at such strength that they come to include ever
wider and wider circles of human beings. Indeed, the mother-love remains
forever the image and criterion of all sympathy, as well in respect to
strength as to purity.

When sympathy has reached full purity, it is a feeling of pain or
pleasure determined by the fact that other beings feel pain or pleasure.
The most important point of its development was when it so broadened as
to include all mankind. The Peripatetic and the Stoic schools of Greek
philosophy led to this idea of love to all humanity and the natural
union of all men in one great society. But this idea acquired greater
historic importance when it became a chief commandment of a great
religion,--of Christianity. To this sympathetic feeling the criterion of
good and evil is no longer to be found in the individual life, but is
dependent on the life of the whole society of which the individual is a

Yet sympathy is not, from this standpoint, identical with the ethical
feeling, conscience. Conscience is here, too, a feeling of relations
determined by the relation between the ruling or central feeling of the
individual and the results of action. When the individual feels his own
interests subordinate to the good of the whole of which, through
sympathy, he regards himself as a part, the ethical feeling appears as
the feeling of duty. A feeling of duty may be spoken of, likewise, from
the standpoint of pure Individualism, for the concept of duty expresses
only the relation of a lower, narrower consideration to a higher; and
this is represented, in Individualism, by the relation of the single
moments to the life as a whole.

From another point of view, the ethical feeling appears, in its higher
development, as the feeling of justice, which, while regarding the good
of the whole as the chief end, considers also the peculiarities of
individuals. Sympathy in its active form is impulse to share. This
sharing must be carried out according to fixed principles; where
sympathy is universal, differences of division can be justified only by
the fact that the Goods divided, if otherwise divided, would not be in
so high a degree Goods to those to whom they reverted, or would not
conduce to so great progress of the society as a whole. The ethical law
upon this standpoint, the standpoint of Humane Ethics, can be no other
as to content, than that action shall conduce to the greatest possible
welfare and the greatest possible progress of the greatest possible
number of conscious beings; and this law includes two chief mandates, a
negative and a positive mandate: (1) The individual may not receive more
than befits the position which, in consequence of his peculiar
qualities, he occupies among his kind; (2) but, on the other hand, the
capacities and impulses of every individual shall be as fully and
richly developed and satisfied as is consistent with the demands of the
life of the species as a whole. These two mandates follow with logical
necessity from the concept of society as a multiplicity of conscious
beings united into one whole. It is contrary to the unity of society,
that an individual, or that individuals, should be wilfully preferred to
others; every exceptional position must be justified by the demands of
the general conditions of life; on the other hand, a society is the more
perfect the more freely and more independently the single members move,
and the larger the number of different possibilities it realizes, if, at
the same time, unity is preserved and attains an ever higher character
and ever increasing validity.

When the ethical feeling develops, upon the basis of sympathy, to the
feeling of duty and justice, the principle included in the above law
becomes the standard according to which the individual judges his own
actions as well as those of others, and pronounces them good or bad. The
good is that which preserves and develops the welfare of conscious

The ethical principle now arrived at applies to the deeds of conscious
beings, presupposing an end in view. Unconscious nature affects man's
life, but its workings have no ethical character. The ethical judgment
is itself determined by the principle on which it is pronounced, and
hence it serves to produce greater welfare. This is especially to be
seen where the judging and the acting individual are one and the same
person; in other cases, it becomes a special problem to bring the acting
individual to the recognition of the principle; this is a problem of
psychologic-pedagogical nature.

The word "welfare" is used in preference to utility or happiness in
order to prevent misunderstanding, and may be defined as including all
that serves to satisfy the needs of man's nature. Ethics must take into
consideration all the gradations of life, and cannot, therefore,
distinguish in the beginning between outer and inner, higher and lower,
welfare. Such a distinction is already an ethical judgment, and can be
made only after determination of the ethical criterion. Another mistake
is the stress often laid upon momentary feelings of pain and pleasure.
Pain signifies, it is true, the beginning of the disintegration of life,
and pleasure its normal and harmonious development; yet each must be
considered in its relation to the whole consciousness, the whole
character, and the whole social state. So-called utilitarianism has
injured its own cause by resolving consciousness into a sum of feelings,
and society into a collection of individuals. The significance of single
feelings of pain and pleasure for the welfare of society cannot be
determined as if the problem were a simple arithmetical one.

The reasoning of Philosophical Ethics must not be confused with
practical reflection. In the last we are led by instincts and impulses,
by motives of which we are, for the most part, wholly unconscious, by
thoughts and feelings the first origin of which we cannot designate. We
follow the "positive morality" to which we have accustomed ourselves and
which is, in part, an inheritance of our species. Ethics as an art
precedes Ethics as a science; the aim of the latter is partly to show by
what principles the former is guided, and partly to correct these

The ethical principle broadens out, thus, from the single moment of the
individual life until it embraces the whole of mankind; but there are
many points in the course of the development at which we can make a
stand, and there may, therefore, be as many philosophical systems as
there are larger or smaller totalities. The position of the man who
holds fast consistently to a principle that determines the criterion by
the family, the caste, the nation, a sect, as highest totality, is as
unassailable as we have seen that of the individualist to be. The
psychologic-historical evolution alone can bring us, through the changes
which it produces in the feelings, beyond these criterions. In other
words, every criterion has a psychologic-historical basis. He who is to
recognize and carry out practically the principle of the greatest
possible welfare, must be no egoist or individualist, no fanatical
patriot or sectarian; this is the subjective condition necessary to the
objective principle. The conscience which is to be regulated by the
objective principle is always itself the condition of the recognition of
this principle. A system which leaves this fact out of consideration
takes on a dogmatic character. The basis of all ethical judgments is
feeling. By this is not meant, however, that the standpoint of an
individual cannot be influenced by argument; the feelings are always
connected with concepts, and discussion of these concepts is both
possible and must react upon them even if only very gradually.

Conscience is not infallible in its application of the objective
principle; a wider experience may show it to have erred. Conscience is
highest authority, but still an authority which may continually perfect
itself. The objective principle makes possible the mutual correction of
different consciences and the self-correction of the conscience of the
individual through self-judgment.

The difference between Subjective Ethics and Objective Ethics, as here
explained, does not coincide with the difference between Individual
Ethics and Social Ethics. Objective Ethics includes both the latter,
since it recognizes individual peculiarities. It has yet to be decided
whether, within the bounds of Objective Ethics, Individual Ethics and
Social Ethics are dependent upon each other, or whether one, and if one
then which one, determines the other. It has to be decided whether,
according to the principle of welfare, the free self-development of the
individual is to be limited by the conditions of social life, or _vice
versa_. Within the limits of Objective Ethics, there may arise an
Individualism of another sort than that before mentioned, founded, not
upon the sovereignty of the individual, but upon the principle of
welfare, which demands as many independent and peculiar points of
departure for action as possible. The like is true, also, of the
question of smaller organizations within larger ones.

The history of Ethics shows us that the ethical judgment of actions at
first regarded the outer act itself and its results, but was gradually
extended to include the motive, the disposition, the character of the
acting subject. It is perfectly natural that regard should first be
attracted to that which is the object of sense-perception. Moreover,
action at an earlier stage of development is essentially reflex action,
and the expression of instinct; the motives are simple and transparent,
and interest does not linger long with them. The great revolutions in
Ethics appear as essentially progress with regard to the importance
accorded, in ethical judgment, to the inner factors of action. This
greater inwardness is combined with a generalization; for the rejection
of a motive is the rejection of all action occasioned by it, and the
ethical acceptance of a motive the acceptance of all action springing
from it. Hence the transference of regard to inner conditions represents
a great simplification of the ethical law. Examples of such a
transference may be found in the rupture between Christianity and
Judaism, and between Protestantism and Catholicism.

In this way, too, Objective Ethics leads to Subjective Ethics. The
objective judgment not only presupposes a subjective basis, but also
finds some of its best objects in actions which spring from the same
mental constitution which is the basis of the judgment. Here, the basis
of mental constitution and the motive coincide; the ethical law demands
the existence of the moral disposition by which it itself exists in the
species. This Kant expresses in the assertion that it is a duty to
possess conscience. Since the recognition of duties presupposes the
existence of conscience, it might seem as if here were an argument in a
circle. But that this is an illusion may be seen from the fact that the
basis of ethical judgment and the motive do not necessarily coincide and
that it is not necessarily an imperfection when they do not coincide. It
may be necessary in some cases, in accordance with the principle of
welfare, that other motives than the sense of duty shall guide the
action; it may be necessary and healthful, for example, that in some
cases man should be led by the instinct of self-preservation, or by an
immediate sympathy, to labor for the welfare of others, and that
conscience should not be aroused in every single act. It may even be a
sign of perfection when actions that demand exertion and sacrifice are
carried out without the intervention of a sense of duty. Indeed, mental
drill in the end renders that which at first took place by means of a
long psychological process of reflection and will, direct and without
special consciousness of its reason.

All Ethics is practical Idealism. All systems assume an end, and an end
is not anything at present existing, but something which ought to be.
All systems assume, therefore, strong feeling, impulse, and endeavor,
combined with the image of that which is the object of the endeavor. But
the ideal must have points of contact with actuality, so that at least
an approach to it is practicable; it must be physically,
psychologically, and historically possible.

Ethical ideals deviate from the actual in three ways. In the first
place, there is often in actual willing and doing something directly
opposed to the principle of welfare. In this case, the office of Ethics
is to restrain and forbid. To this function corresponds, in the
practical life of the will, the hemming by which involuntary, original,
or acquired impulses and inclinations are repressed. Again, actual
willing and doing often exhibit only a weak and imperfect realization
of that which Ethics demands. Here there must be an increase in the
degree as well as in the extent of the realization. To this corresponds,
in the practical life of the will, effort and attention, the power of
the will, through its influence upon conceptions and feelings, to react
upon itself. And finally, there may be, in willing and doing, a lack of
unity and harmony; various opposed tendencies and impulses may make
themselves felt. Here a process of harmonizing and concentration is
necessary. And to this corresponds, in the practical life of the will, a
drilling in connected action and trains of thought, and in the power to
make an end of reflection by decision. In all three cases, the principle
of welfare is to be followed; and the three processes are to be applied
not only in the development of the individual but also in that of
societies, and of the species.

That which manifests itself in conscience is a species-instinct. In the
feeling of judgment, the relation between central and peripheral factors
finds expression, neither of which, and least of all the central
factors, are developed by individual experience, but both of which are,
on the contrary, the product of the experience of the species. What Kant
called the Categorical Imperative is, in fact, an instinct; and every
instinct speaks unconditionally, categorically, gives no reasons and
admits of no excuse.

No instinct finds expression without the existence of conditions which
call it forth; but all manner of individual and social circumstances may
furnish such conditions.

When conscience begins to be conscious of its office, it manifests
itself as an Impulse.[77] The thought of actions which the instinctive
judgment has recognized, or to the performance of which it has perhaps
incited, is combined with pleasure, the conception of actions of the
opposite nature with pain. The tendency arises to linger with the former
and to repeat them, and to turn from the latter, if no stronger impulses
of another sort make themselves felt.

Conscience may develop, without losing entirely its instinctive or
impulsive character, to practical reason. This takes place through the
development of the conceptions which determine the conscience as
impulse, to greater clearness and distinctness. When conscience acts as
instinct, the individual does not know what he does. If it acts as
impulse, he has a dawning consciousness of his acts. And when it
becomes practical reason, there arises a clear consciousness of ethical
laws and ethical ideals. In different individuals, conscience may appear
in very different forms and degrees, as instinct, impulse, practical
reason, sense of duty, sense of justice. Sometimes it appears as mainly
negative and restraining, sometimes again as chiefly positive, partly
harmonizing and partly increasing. Here it appears as enthusiastic
devotion, there as quiet and continuous tendency. It would be impossible
to name even the principal forms in which it may manifest itself, but it
is of great importance to call attention to the fact of these individual
differences, since we suffer at present from a dogmatism that has but
one measure for all these different manifestations.

We must go a step farther still. There may be men who possess no
strictly ethical feeling and who do not need it. Such men do what they
can with their whole heart without applying any reflective standard to
their own or others' acts. They entirely absorb themselves with
unflagging zeal in a work that perfectly corresponds to their
capabilities and impulses, without any doubt of its rightfulness and
import. They may devote themselves to art and science, to the service of
society, or to their family. Or they belong to the class of happy
natures who spread light and joy by their mere existence. They act in
accordance with the law, without being in possession of the law, and
what objection can Ethics have to offer to this? Ethics is for the sake
of life, not life for the sake of Ethics.

Since all ethical judgments have conscience for their psychological
basis, conscience is highest authority, highest law-giver, in comparison
with which every other authority is subordinate and derived. To wish to
go beyond one's conscience is to wish to go beyond oneself. When I yield
to another human being whose judgment I trust more than my own, this can
be justified only as it takes place through my conscience. Conscience is
infallible, if one understands by infallibility that it is, at every
instant, the highest judge; this infallibility does not mean, however,
that it does not err. Every earnest conviction takes the form of
conscience; the truth is not, however, secured by the mere form. Was it
not from conviction that Aristotle asserted the right of slavery, and
Calvin, with Melancthon's approval, sent Servetus to the stake?

Not less dogmatic than Fichte's assertion that conscience never deceives
us, is the view which regards a system of Ethics as merely the science
of the forms of society and of outward acts, and thus declares
conscience to be without authority in comparison with outer
circumstances and their demands. The law which we obey must always
express itself in the form of conscience. The light which illumines for
us all other things must be within ourselves.

Here we perceive the possibility of a conflict between Subjective Ethics
and Objective Ethics, between the two principles upon which Ethics is
founded. There can be no other solution to the problem than that we
shall follow the command of conscience, provided it speaks clearly and
after sufficient deliberation. It may be added that conscience can
correct and control itself, the later and more experienced conscience
criticising the earlier. As long as the individual acts according to his
best conviction, he is morally healthy; hence, from an ethical point of
view, a pernicious action carried out under the conviction that it is
good is to be preferred to a good action performed with the conviction
that it is bad. In the former case, the spring is pure; in the latter it
is corrupt. Only he who has courage to make mistakes can accomplish
anything great. It is not the cold and narrow, but those who are zealous
for the true and good, who thus err.

The power of self-correction can be developed only when some definite
principle or criterion may be found. Such a principle is that of
welfare. The problem of the application of this principle to action is,
however, like that of the application of the principle of causality to
actual phenomena, an endless one.

In close relation to the concept of Authority stands that of Sanction.
The Authority commands or forbids, the Sanction enables the command or
prohibition to remain in force. The sanction consists in the pain or
pleasure connected with the observation or transgression of the command,
in the reward or punishment which one brings on oneself through one's
action, in the heaven or hell which one approaches by the action. It is
only, however, when the authority itself is an outward one that the
sanction holds this outward relation to the action. In this outward form
it has no immediate ethical significance. The ethical character of an
action is dependent, in subjective regard, on its origin in the
intention of the performer, in objective regard, on its harmony with the
principle of welfare. What ethical significance could it have that here
a feeling of pain or pleasure not arising from the action itself, is
added to it? The outer sanction of reward and punishment is thus but an
educating sanction. The inner sanction consists in a feeling of harmony
and unity with one's own highest convictions, of consistency between
one's ideas and one's actual willing. Thus arises an inner peace that
may be stronger than all contradiction and opposition from without.

Such an inner sanction is not only an effect of the action, but a
feeling already present before the action. It was the preservation and
full development of this feeling that led to the decision and made it
possible. Blessedness, says Spinoza, is not the reward of virtue, but
virtue itself.

The manner in which the ethical is so often made dependent upon certain
fixed religious or speculative assumptions must be, from an ethical
point of view, matter for great solicitude. In the first place, it is
easy to suppose that the man who no longer respects these dogmas may
have emancipated himself also from the ethical maxims dependent upon
them, and would be most consistent if he acted in accordance with the
principle: "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." In the second
place, action is reft of its ethical character when the attention is
directed to things outside its essence and origin, and considerations of
reward and punishment are declared to be a necessary motive. Not even a
belief in progress within the world of experience can have any absolute
worth for Ethics. It may be theoretically difficult to maintain such a
belief; and even if the victorious direction of evolution were shown to
be unfavorable to Ethics, ethical principles would not be destroyed.
Simply the problems would be different; pity and resignation would
acquire greater importance. Wherever the ethical disposition were
present, it would take the side of the conquered and remain upon that
side though the gods themselves were with the conquerors. Ethical worth
does not depend upon mere might.

The birth-hour of conscience is the time when, through the difference
between ideal and actuality, a certain feeling arises. Its death-hour
would be the instant in which the difference forever disappeared. Such a
disappearance might occur in two ways, either through the conquest of
the ideal by actuality or through that of actuality by the ideal. The
objection has been made to the theory of evolution that it fulfilled
the first of these possibilities, and so left no room for Ethics. But
the very fact of the existence of ethical impulses as the actual result
of evolution would seem to belie this theory. And indeed, we see that
evolution is not physical growth alone, but mental as well; and that the
important feature of man's development consists in his aspiration
through desires and impulses, which act as moving forces in his life.
Aspiration is necessary to his evolution, and indifference and lack of
sensibility an obstacle to it. The theory of evolution leads directly to
Ethics, in that it shows that the struggle for existence becomes, in its
higher forms, a common struggle for the continuance and development of
human life. The theory of evolution takes us, indeed, not only to, but
beyond, Ethics; for, according to Spencer, the ethical sense is but an
intermediate condition in a development toward a state of "organic
morality," where right-doing will be involuntary and natural, and a
special ethical sense no longer existent or necessary. Such a state
would constitute the realization of the second alternative mentioned
above, with which Ethics would come to an end. This state is
conceivable, and Ethics could have no objection to offer to it. Yet we
are still far from such a condition, and though we may strengthen our
courage and hope with the thought of a continual progress of human
nature, yet the assumption of such an end to evolution cannot have an
essential influence upon the method of Ethics.

We must, in fact, suppose that progress will bring us new problems and
new ideals, that, as the Ethics of the civilized man includes whole
provinces unknown to the savage, so many relations will certainly
present themselves in the future whose ethical significance our present
thick-skinned condition, our ignorance and egoism, prevent us from

Can one do more than one's duty? From the standpoint of ethical systems
which are founded on authority or any outward principle, this question
may be answered in the affirmative. The Roman Catholic Church
distinguishes, for instance, between that which is commanded and that
which, beyond the command, is merely advised. But he who follows an
inward sanction cannot but feel that he has done no more than his duty
when he has done all that lies in his power for the welfare of mankind.
It may be right, from a pedagogical standpoint, to give especial praise
to actions that tower above the usual; he who performs them, however,
only then possesses the right spirit when he feels that he has done no
more than his duty, and could not have done otherwise. Even from a
pedagogical standpoint, the difference between duty and merely
counselled action, beyond the duty commanded, can be only a relative
one; that which is, upon a lower plane of development, merely advised,
becomes, upon a higher plane, one of the most elementary duties; mercy
to the conquered may be a high virtue in a savage, but to the civilized
man it is a primary rule of morals.

It is of the highest importance to keep in mind the fact that conscience
itself is a cause, and that ethical judgment, arising as a feeling,
takes part, by its influence upon the will, in the ethical evolution
towards highest welfare. Keeping this in mind, it is easy to see that
Ethics not only calls for no limitation of the law of Causality, but
that such a limitation would be pernicious, even destructive, to Ethics.

There are at least six different significations in which the expression
"freedom of the will" may be used.

It may be used to denote absence of outward constraint; but this might
rather be called a freedom of action than a freedom of the will.

It may be used to denote absence of inner constraint; the will which
springs from pain or fear is often called unfree in distinction from the
will which springs from pleasure or hope.

It may refer to energy and vitality of the will. Here the stress is laid
upon the amount which the will can accomplish, not, however, upon its
independence of causes. One can be a determinist and yet concede that
the will plays an important part in the world; or one can be an
indeterminist and yet assume that free will plays but a small part in
the world.

By freedom of the will is often meant the power of choice. This freedom
is not opposed, however, to causality, but to blindness of action,
subjection to momentary impulses. "Free will" denotes, in this case,
self-conscious will.

Or the word "freedom" may refer to the will as ruled by ethical motives.
In this sense, only the good man is free. This significance of the word
is the oldest, comes down to us from Socrates, and is used by Augustine,
Spinoza, and many others.

But the sense of the word "freedom" with which the strife between
Determinism and Indeterminism has to do is that in accordance with
which a free will is not subject to the law of Causality, is not, like
other phenomena, a link in the chain of causes, but is, on the contrary,
a cause, without being an effect. To be free in will is, according to
this definition, to will without cause,--independent of all that has
gone before.

Indeterminism destroys the bond between the individual and his kind,
between the individual and the rest of existence. Indeterminism is hence
unable to regard existence as a totality. Every deeper philosophical or
religious conception becomes, thus, impossible; the only religious
conception consistent with Indeterminism is Polytheism, since every
being that can form the absolute beginning of a chain of causes is a
little god, an absolute being. This fact is to be noted, for the reason
that Determinism is sometimes designated as a godless doctrine.

The assertion that the will is without cause, and the assertion that we
ourselves are the cause of our willing, are two different assertions.
The last finds a cause in our nature. Thoughts and feelings, tendencies,
instincts, and impulses arise in us, and in these the origin of the acts
of the will is to be sought.

If the will, or a part of it, is not subject to the law of Causality, it
stands in relation to the whole personality as something isolated and
accidental. The Indeterminist who asserts that Determinism makes man a
mere machine, himself makes of him something much meaner, something
incoherent and accidental. Ethical judgment is based upon the assumption
that my action is mine; it is, therefore, clear and certain only when
motives and the decision they cause are known. The less my actions can
be understood by knowledge of my character, the more easily I may be
regarded as irresponsible. Although law regards, by its nature, action
and not motive, yet even the judge must gain an insight into the
motives, the outer and inner relations from which the deed originated,
both in order to determine the degree of punishment necessary, and in
order even to be fully persuaded that the action really took place.

Many recent Indeterminists designate the freedom of the will as
exceedingly small. They thus extend the dissolution of the unity of
existence and of the unity of personality to the act of willing itself.
Moreover, if responsibility depends upon freedom, it is impossible to
see how reward and punishment are to be justified upon this standpoint;
since the individual can say with reason that he is not guilty with
respect to the whole, but only with respect to a very small part of his

The words Responsibility, Guilt, Accountability, are taken, like so many
other ethical expressions, from Jurisprudence, or rather they come to us
from a time when the distinction between the province of Jurisprudence
and that of Ethics had not yet been recognized. That I am made
accountable for my action means that I stand as the one to whom reward
or punishment for the deed is meted out. _For what reason_ the action is
rewarded or punished is a question by itself.

In relation to Ethics, the feeling of guilt, of responsibility or
accountability, signifies that my act is subjected to the judgment of
conscience. If I find discord between my act and that which I recognize
as good, remorse arises,--a feeling of inner disharmony, unworthiness,
and self-contempt which may increase until it becomes the greatest
psychical pain. This feeling may be defined, from a deterministic
standpoint, as dissatisfaction with oneself because one has not acted
otherwise, and the wish that one had done so. This wish arises in the
moment of reflection, when one weighs one's act. From the present wish
is not, however, to be concluded that one could just as well have acted
otherwise _at the moment the act took place_. Such an illusion dates the
experience dearly bought with mistake and remorse back to an earlier
period. According to the theory of retribution, remorse must be greatest
in him who has committed the greatest crime. This is not so, however;
since remorse arises from a contrast between ideal and act, which
contrast can take place only when the conception of the ideal is strong;
the purest and best characters often have the strongest feelings of

Remorse first arises when a new attitude of mind is attained different
from that which ruled at the time of the action. Time is necessary for
this new feeling to replace the old, if it is to be more than a
momentary passion, and during this interval the two feelings are both
active in consciousness. This is the time of the birth-pains by which
the new character comes into being. The significance of remorse lies in
the fact that it urges forward, that it gives birth to impulse and
endeavor after a higher plane. Only because remorse is a _motive_, is it
of ethical nature.

If the law of Causality were not active in the realm of the psychical,
this ethical endeavor would be hopeless. Only where order reigns can
the will accomplish anything. Only as we know the law of outer nature,
and know what conditions must be produced in order to bring about a
certain result, can we serve our own ends in this province; and the like
is true in our relation to human nature. Here the problem is to find
motives of the right sort and of sufficient strength. Of what use were
all possible exertion if, under given conditions, the same motive were
followed by now this, now the other entirely different decision. I am
master of my future willing only in so far as a causal relation exists
between my present and my future will. We find, therefore, that the
reason why responsibility goes no further back in the causal chain than
the will, is this: that it is the will which is to be acted on and
altered. That which precedes the act of the will interests us,
ethically, only in so far as it influences the will.

It is a strange assertion, sometimes made, that the consistent
Determinist must be a mere spectator of his own and others' lives. As if
one could feel no pain or pleasure and no desire to interfere, because
one believes life to be subject to law. It is true that theoretical
study may weaken practical interest; but Indeterminism is a theory as
well as Determinism.

What the ethically bad is follows from what has already been said. It
consists of a more or less conscious isolation of the single moment in
the life of the individual, or of the single individual in the life of
the species, such that not only a hindrance to the welfare of individual
or species arises, but also a relaxation of energy and a diminution of
the coherence of individual or species. In most such cases, inertia is
at work. The one moment demands to be lived without any consideration of
others, the individual will not move outside the circle of his own
interests. Such a resistance to influence may be unconscious. It may be
authorized in so far as it is a condition of the development of real
willing that action shall not immediately respond to impression. In this
resistance lies, therefore, the germ of the ethical as well as the
non-ethical life of the will. The clearer consciousness becomes, the
more this inertia takes on the character of defiance. Or the discord
felt through consciousness of the good may be so painful that the
individual desires to free himself at any price. In this case, no
remorse is felt; on the contrary, the individual seeks to dull the
awakened consciousness, or to get rid of it.

It is important to note that conceptions develop, in this connection,
faster than feelings. And as long as the former do not find points of
connection with the existing feelings, they will have no practical
influence. The bad consists in the persistence, from inertia or
defiance, upon a lower plane of development after the consciousness of a
higher has arisen. Evil is the animal in man, the remains of an earlier
plane of life. From the instincts of self-preservation and
self-propagation in their most primitive forms, the ethically bad is
produced, and offers fierce resistance to harmonizing influences.

Evil is, furthermore, a sociological phenomenon; the general
psychological elements take on different forms under different
historical conditions; society, in its different forms and functions, is
always one of the determining factors of its development. The criminal
is, like the saint, the child of his time.

It appears, therefore, that the term "bad" is applied from a standpoint
not shared by him to whom it is applied. If the man who stands upon the
lower plane of morals possessed the full and clear consciousness that
the predicate of badness applied to his conduct, the corresponding
feelings and impulses must arise in him, and his conduct be altered. It
is psychologically impossible to act against our fixed and full
conviction, if this is not blunted by other impulses.

The definition of the good must be, on different ethical planes, a
different one. But when a disinterested and universal sympathy
determines the ethical judgment, only that can be good which preserves
and adds to the welfare of conscious beings, increases their pleasure or
diminishes their pain. Every action which tends in this direction
without producing further results of an opposite nature, is authorized;
every action of which the opposite is true is to be rejected.

Since, in general, pleasure is connected with the healthy and natural
use of the powers, with that which preserves and benefits life, and pain
is connected with the opposite of this, Ethics merely continues the work
begun by nature, in aiming at human progress, at as rich and harmonious
a development of human powers as is possible. The problems of Ethics
concern, therefore, the pleasures of the moment as well as those of the
whole life, the pleasures of the individual as well as those of the
whole species. This remains true even if we accept the pessimistic view
that all life is pain; the good would consist, from this point of view,
in as great alleviation of pain as possible. Even the ascetic tortures
himself only in order to gain greater good.

The ethical end as welfare is not to be conceived as a state of
continuance on the same plane. Such a continuance is impossible;
evolution does not stand still; every step of progress creates new
needs, the satisfaction of which again demands endeavor; perfect
satisfaction is impossible. Even the development of sympathy makes it
easier to wound us in many ways and brings us larger duties. The need of
variety alone would make continuance upon one plane impossible; we labor
not only in order to arrive at conscious ends, but also in order to
relieve ourselves of accumulated energy. The highest end that we can
conceive is a progress in which each step is felt as a good because it
affords scope for action without over-exertion.

Activity is also welfare. But it is so only in so far as it is healthful
activity; when the powers are over-exerted or dissipated in action,
having no common end, or when their application in one direction is at
the cost of other more important directions, progress ceases to be
welfare. The evolution of civilization contains an element of blindness
and heedlessness which is bound up with both its excellencies and its
faults. But civilization is not an act of choice; it is the continuance
of the evolution of nature. Progress is necessary; it is impossible to
remain upon any level attained. Ethics must, therefore, accept progress
as a fact. It does not feel an admiration for an order of nature in
which no advance appears possible without one-sidedness and dissipation
of energy. It is not so hard-hearted that it could forget, in the
seeming splendor of outward results, the anxiety and pain, the sweat and
blood, with which these were won. It demands, therefore, that the heavy
burdens be lightened, the scattered forces united, and all capabilities
that are of worth developed. On the other hand, Ethics is not so
sentimental and short-sighted that it could forget that progress can
take place only through exertion and suffering. Its chief task with
regard to progress is to impress upon the mind the fact that life should
not be made a mere means to the solution of impersonal problems.
Civilization is a means for the individual, not _vice versa_.

The natural division of Ethics is into Individual Ethics and Social
Ethics. It has sometimes been assumed that the whole duty of man could
be summed up in Individual Ethics. However, it is not necessarily true
that that which assists the best development of the individual serves
society as a whole also. When the attention is directed so excessively
to oneself, the general welfare is likely to be forgotten. On the other
hand, a too great subjection of individual interests makes a man a mere
parasite, robbing him of all self-dependence. When Ethics condemns the
instinct of self-preservation, it condemns its own means. If the impulse
to self-preservation, self-assertion, and self-development were evil,
then our essential nature would be evil, and Ethics would be impossible.
The right relation of the two principles is given in the principle of
welfare. Mill's book "On Liberty" denies the ethical significance of
self-development and forgets the individual's oneness with his kind, in
declaring personal vices of no importance to the general welfare. That
which Mill wished to defend was the freedom of the individual, the loss
of which through the compulsion of society and the "moral police" he
feared. But he might have accomplished this purpose without denying the
ethical value of self-development. There is nothing that is a ground for
greater solicitude than the mistake that public opinion and Ethics are
one, and that a condition of things is no longer a subject for ethical
condemnation when no outer power has the right to denounce it.

The first question which presents itself in Individual Ethics is: How is
the individual to educate himself to an ethical personality? Here the
development and strengthening of the ethical principle as governing and
determining the life of the individual is concerned. The problem is one
with the determination of the chief virtue which includes all other
ethical qualities. This virtue is justice, which includes in itself the
two groups contained under Self-assertion and Self-sacrifice.[78]

In the application of this general theory of Ethics, Höffding maintains
the radical-conservative and individual-social position already stated.
The principle of welfare demands the reconciliation of the free
development of the individual and the progress of society as a whole;
the individual does not live to himself alone, hence the state has a
right to demand sacrifices; but it must always be able to show good
reason for such; the burden of proof lies with the side which would take
away the most valuable possession of the individual,--the right to free
self-development in the ever-shifting direction of his need. This very
characteristic of change makes it impossible for the state to decide for
the individual what are his needs, and how they may be satisfied; hence
the best course of the state is a chiefly restrictive one. The relation
between state-help and self-help must be exactly the reverse of that
which Socialism, in remarkable agreement with Bureaucracy and
Absolutism, asserts. Socialism presupposes not only perfection in the
governed but also perfection in the persons to whom the government is
entrusted. It assumes, moreover, that pleasure in activity and its
resulting power of originality and invention would not be weakened if
men's right of initiative were taken from them and their needs
determined by others. Much of the good even now accomplished by the
state in its functions is due to the competition with individual

Philanthropy, on the part of individuals as on that of the state, will
best follow this same principle of indirect aid, in order to obtain the
best results through education of character. Organization is desirable
on the part of individuals, but the state will achieve best results by
acting through smaller organizations which afford a wider field and the
possibility of more intelligent work. In its methods of punishment,
also, the state must have regard, not only to prevention through fear,
but also and chiefly to the bettering of the criminal character; capital
punishment and life-long imprisonment cannot be justified from a higher
ethical standpoint. Freedom should be allowed and tolerance shown the
various religious sects as corresponding to various needs. The more
liberal education of woman, which will make her capable of greater
independence of thought and action, is one of the chief means to the
solution of the marriage-question. The ideal of marriage is free
monogamy; in polygamy, the purely physical must always rule; that part
of self which one can surrender to many can be only the animal; long
association and sympathy alone admit to the sanctuary of love. It
belongs to the nature of true love to believe in its own endlessness; it
is, therefore, incompatible with its nature to arrange for a mere
temporary union. Yet where an unhappy union exists, divorce should be
permitted. Strict divorce laws have always fettered and burdened nobler
natures, while light-minded people have easily found means of escape.

The view that the artist occupies a peculiar position in his ideal
world, must free himself from the actual world, and live only for his
ideal, is ethically false; art should lend form to actual life, defining
and clarifying it, broadening the view and educating sympathy. A great
artist is, at the same time, half a prophet; his whole people and epoch
must learn to know themselves through him. Freedom is to be regarded as
both means and end. A representative government is not only an education
for the people, who through freedom alone can learn to use freedom, but
affords the state, moreover, a firmer foundation in the consciousness of
its citizens that they are responsible for the existing condition of

The development of conscience in force and extent takes place through
thought and imagination. Knowledge alone is not enough; it must be fixed
by exercise,--made a persistent thought, until it becomes, by means of
the laws of association, such a thought as will easily come in play
whenever the case requires it.


[77] Trieb.

[78] Selbstbehauptung und Hingebung.


"MORAL PHILOSOPHY" ("Moralphilosophie," 1889)

Moral Philosophy has a scientific and a practical office. Its scientific
task is to supply the human being with a clearer, more thorough
understanding, founded on ultimate reasons, of his moral life. Its
practical task is to answer the important question: How am I to act? How
shall I order my life?

It was not left to science first to direct human action. Custom and law
seek to order the doing and leaving undone of the members of society.
Ethical philosophy ascertains means of testing the actually existing
ideas of morality, and thus enables us to better law and custom.

A highest criterion, one only, is necessary, by which to judge of the
morality of a deed. If there were more than one, the judgment might fall
out differently from the different standpoints furnished by these.

When I regard the qualities which I consider morally good, I perceive
that they all have a direction conducive to the general welfare or
happiness; and when I regard the qualities which I consider morally bad,
I find that they all have an aim prejudicial to the general welfare or

When I attempt to convince any one that certain conduct which he
considers right is wrong, by showing him that it is opposed to the
general welfare, my final appeal is to his conscience. And in the same
manner, when I correct some of my own moral conceptions, it is my
conscience which determines me to the proof of them, and my conscience
which is the standard that determines my decision. Conscience is the
principle underlying my moral convictions. But I do not possess, in
conscience, a moral power which never errs; hence it behooves me to
judge carefully. Body and mind both have their laws on which depend the
welfare and happiness of society; the last results of science and human
experience give us these laws.

There are few things in regard to which there is so great unanimity as
there is in regard to the right and good. In the fundamental questions,
all the more highly civilized peoples are, for the most part, agreed.

On the lowest planes of civilization, only the narrowest tribal
association is taken into consideration in morals, but gradually, with
the growth of experience, growth of the understanding, which permits the
recognition, in a much higher degree, of the results of action and the
power of sympathy, ever larger circles of human beings are
regarded,--the tribe, the nation, the whole of mankind, all sentient
beings. In this development of conscience and benevolence, there is
nothing to cause moral uncertainty or contempt of conscience; for, in
that case, the fact that there was once a time when human beings were
not on the earth must be a reason for contempt of everything human.

We call various different things good, of worth, others bad, evil; there
must be something common to all these, on account of which we apply the
common term to them. That which is thus common to them is their relation
to a consciousness for which they are good or bad, and not to a merely
perceiving consciousness, but to one that feels and wills. As true and
false relate to the intellectual side of human nature, so do good and
bad relate to the side of feeling and will. Such things are good as are
the mediate or immediate cause of agreeable states of consciousness or
of the prevention or removal of disagreeable states; and on the other
hand, such things are bad as are the cause of pain or the hindrance of
pleasure. We say of these things that they are agreeable or
disagreeable. Or we may use, instead of "agreeable," the term "object
of desire," and instead of "disagreeable," the term "object of
aversion"; for all that is agreeable has an attractive influence upon
the will, and all that is disagreeable or painful has a repellant one.
Joy is that condition of consciousness which we seek to attain and
preserve, whose existence we prefer to its non-existence; and pain is
that state of consciousness which we seek to avoid and destroy, whose
non-existence we prefer to its existence.

The good is often defined as that which conduces to some end; but an end
is nothing other than something willed; that which conduces to an end is
the cause of something that is willed, so that this explanation also
refers back to a consciousness.

Whatever is existent for us must be existent in us, in our
consciousness. Our states of consciousness are either painful, or
indifferent, or pleasant. We must turn, therefore, in the last analysis,
not to things, but to the mind, if we wish to distinguish what is good
and what is bad; and according to the differing constitution of
different minds, the same things may be good or bad. There is good and
bad with respect to our body or senses, and good and bad with respect to
our mind. A moral good is one which causes conscious states of moral

The good has often been divided into the useful and the agreeable. The
agreeable is that which causes immediate, the useful that which causes
mediate pleasure. A thing may be both useful and agreeable; and the like
is true of the disagreeable and the harmful. The useful and the harmful
in this, as it were inner, (subjective) sense, are to be distinguished
from the useful and the harmful in an objective sense; in the last
sense, that is useful which tends to the preservation of life. Between
the useful and harmful, and the pleasurable and painful, in this sense,
there must exist, as the theory of evolution teaches us, a wide-reaching
correspondence. Living beings do that which is pleasurable to them; they
avoid that which is painful; they continue alive when they do that which
is conducive to life and avoid that which is harmful to life. This
continuous process of exterminating those beings to whom the harmful is
agreeable and the useful painful, must tend to make the harmful coincide
with the painful, and the useful with the pleasurable. The agreement is,
however, far from being a perfect one; and it is the less so, the more
complicated are the conditions of life. It is the most imperfect in
human beings.

Good is that which causes pleasure or prevents pain; that is better
which causes more pleasure or prevents more pain. A thing may cause both
joy and pain; in this case, the excess decides whether a thing is good
or bad; and the greater the excess, the better or the worse is the
thing. The greatest possible excess of satisfied states of consciousness
in the life of a human being one may call his greatest possible
happiness. The greatest possible happiness is hence the standard by
which good and evil are determined.

From these reflections is to be seen that a distinction is to be made
between that which is _desired_ and that which is _desirable_. All that
is desired is pleasurable, yet much that is pleasurable has pain for its
result,--pain that is far greater than the momentary pleasure.

The good is often considered as opposed to the agreeable, and the bad as
opposed to the disagreeable or painful. In this case, by pain and
pleasure are understood feelings of the moment, by good and bad are
understood enduring, or at least long-continuing causes of lasting or
oft-recurring pain or pleasure; momentary pleasure may be bought at the
expense of long suffering; and short pain may be the condition of the
prevention of greater evil.

A thing may be good as regards one individual, bad as regards another. A
thing is truly good as regards a society when its total effect has for
the society lasting beneficial results, that is, accords with the
happiness of the society during its whole existence; and that is for
mankind truly good which is, in its total effect, beneficial to present
and future humanity.

In general, we may say that, when we order our conduct by the thought to
serve mankind to the best of our ability, we have a satisfied
consciousness, a good conscience. In so far, therefore, a noble deed is
good for ourselves as well as for society. The question whether or not
the performance of our duty corresponds to our greatest possible
happiness, is a different one. But the good man does not allow this
thought the chief role in consciousness; he is filled with the thought
of doing his duty in devoting himself to the happiness of mankind, and
there is but _one_ form of his own happiness which he will not forego,
namely, the blessedness of a good conscience. This consciousness, this
blessedness which unites the human being to mankind, he should regard
as his highest good; for it is a moral good; and the dissatisfaction
which lies in the consciousness of having violated his duty towards
mankind he should regard as the greatest evil.

It may be objected that this morally satisfied consciousness, this sort
of joy, cannot be called a good. A good is the _cause_ of pleasurable
states of consciousness. But it would appear strange to claim that joy,
happiness, are not goods, and pain, unhappiness, not evils; the terms
"good" and "evil" and "worth" refer not only to joy and suffering, but
also to _desire_ and _will_; and no one doubts that happiness is an
object of desire, and pain an object of aversion.

From what has been said it appears that happiness cannot be defined as
"satisfaction of the desires." Such satisfaction may have unhappiness as
its result. Not all desires are to be satisfied simply because they are

The study of the history of moral conceptions appears to show us that
most changes in this province are the result of a change of views
concerning the effects of actions with regard to the welfare of society;
hence, that they were the fruit of experience. This process of change
takes place, however, very gradually; the rules which are the result of
experience are handed down, for the most part, without statement of
reasons; and only in a very limited measure do the new generations labor
for a progressive development of moral conceptions. We cannot wonder
that a clear consciousness of the highest reasons of moral precepts is
seldom to be found. Yet in civilized societies, the conviction is
general that at least an average conformity to rules of morality is the
indispensable condition of the safety and the good of society. The
answer to the question: What would happen if every one were to act thus?
has been regarded, from earliest times, as decisive with regard to the
moral quality of an act.

When we recognize that actions which we call good and bad are so called
because of their causal relation to pain and pleasure, the belief must
arise in us, that the worth of qualities of character depends on the
promise they contain of future action. The most important power for the
happiness or misery of humanity is the character of human beings. Hence
the morally good, excellence of character, is to be regarded as
preëminently Good. And so it appears that our instinctive judgments are
justified by the deliberations of calm reason.

The question: Why shall I act in accordance with the general welfare? is
answered by these considerations; because such action is right and
reasonable, enjoined by conscience and reason, by human nature itself in
its higher development. He who does not recognize this fact, who does
not find in it the highest and holiest of commandments, and who yet
desires to act reasonably and well, recognizing duties to all men, does
not see what he himself really will.

The conception of right-doing is the motive of the human being, in so
far as he is good. The teacher who desires to have moral influence will
endeavor to awaken this motive in his hearers or readers. For this
purpose he must appeal to their actual characters. And it is as much a
_petitio principii_ to assume, in Ethics, the existence of moral
feelings, as to assume, in Optics, the existence of sight. Just as there
are blind persons, so there are persons without moral feelings. These
are, however, comparatively few; some trace of moral feeling, of
conscience, is to be found in almost every member of society.

The general welfare, that is, the greatest possible true happiness of
all, not the greatest happiness of the smallest number which is often
the ruling principle of state laws, nor the greatest happiness of the
greatest number without consideration of the minority,--is the highest
ethical criterion. It may be difficult to ascertain wherein this
happiness consists; Bentham demands, for the determination of the worth
of an action, a calculation of the intensity, duration, certainty,
fecundity, and purity, of the feelings produced by it. But the happiness
and misery of mankind is surely the most important object of mankind; it
must be, therefore, our highest care to ascertain the results of an
action _as far as we are able_. And, in fact, the most important results
of any form of action are generally ascertainable.

To make endeavor after one's own and others' perfection the criterion of
morality is to set up a false standard, a form without a content, since
"perfection" designates merely a state that accords with some
preconceived concept or end. The question is: What end shall human
perfection realize? The criterion of general welfare alone can define
human perfection. It is such a constitution of man's bodily and
spiritual characteristics as conduces in the highest degree to general

Too long and detailed a consideration of possible results is not
desirable in every case where action is called for. There is seldom time
for a consideration of the intensity, duration, etc., of resulting pain
and pleasure. It is well, in most cases, to follow the general moral
rules we have attained to through previous reflection. In cases of
doubt, we need to appeal to our highest criterion. Often such doubt may
be caused by selfishness, by the hidden desire to act, after all, for
our own benefit; we need, therefore, to put to ourselves the question:
How would we judge the action of another in our own position? Thus we
arrive at the highest moral commandment, which is: So act that thy
conduct, if made general, would be for the good of mankind. And the
force of example is here one of the factors to be considered.

It has been asked what right one has to assert the rule that each one is
to count for one, and no one for more than one, in moral decisions. May
not one human being's capacity for happiness be greater than another's,
and his happiness, therefore, more to be considered? It may be answered
that bad men have never been embarrassed for an excuse for selfishness,
but that the arrogance of regarding one's own happiness as of greater
worth than that of others has brought incalculable harm into the world,
and that the only safe method of calculation for the purpose of
furthering the general welfare, is the rule above given,--that each one
shall count as one and no more.

The rule that the greatest possible happiness of _all_ is to be striven
for, is an assertion that the happiness of every one is to be
considered, that not that of the lowest human being is to be interfered
with unless such interference is _necessary_ in order to prevent still
greater harm to others; and that no such interference shall be greater
than is positively necessary in accordance with this aim. The highest
moral law is thus nothing more than the Christian commandment of love to
all men. And the rule "To count each as one, no more," may receive the
restrictive clause "in so far as the good of the whole of society is not
diminished by so doing."

Some Darwinians are inclined to regard the preservation of existence as
the criterion by which to judge the moral quality of action. "Aim for
the preservation of the species" would be, from their standpoint, the
moral law. But mere existence is not happiness; that is shown by the
fact of suicide. However, it is true that health is one of the
conditions of happiness. Pessimists are generally men of an unhappy
temperament, often of morbid physical constitution; medical science
must, in its progress, help to prevent the development of such morose
dispositions. Want of love may also be a cause of pessimism; most
pessimists have been lonely men. And want of employment may also lead to
pessimism. If we follow Rousseau's advice not to listen to those who are
in exceptional abnormal positions, but appeal to those who constitute
the great majority, we shall conclude that, in general, the happiness of
men greatly exceeds their misery. The increase of suicide is often used
as an argument that civilization has not caused an increase, but a
decrease, of happiness. To this argument it may be answered that the
religious scruples which formerly withheld men from this extreme step
have diminished, that men have grown more self-conscious and independent
in action; and that, moreover, our age is one of unrest, a
transition-period such as no other period has been. When we examine the
lives of tribes on a low plane of civilization, we find their existence
full of uncertainty and of superstitious fear, and at the mercy of the
forces of nature. Without doubt, much misery exists; a great part of it,
however, is caused by the disappointment of too extreme demands for
happiness; the individual must not require that life shall be continuous

The recognition of what right action is, is not its accomplishment. Pain
and pleasure determine the will,--the pain and pleasure of the person
who wills, since he cannot feel with the feelings of others or will with
their will any more than he can move with their limbs. He may have a
conception of the welfare or suffering of others, but a mere mental
image does not determine the will. Only when such a conception arouses
pleasure or pain in the subject himself, are will and action possible.

Love consists in joy in the thought of the beloved person, with joy in
his joy, and pain in his pain. He who seeks to render happy one whom he
loves does not, as a rule, consider the fact that he will himself have a
joy in the happiness of that other; his aim is to give pleasure, not to
himself, but to the other. But the thought of doing for him is combined
with pleasure, the thought of not doing for him is combined with pain;
and these present feelings determine the will.

That which distinguishes the moral from the immoral man is that,
in the former, the notions of the right and good rouse strong
feelings,--feelings of pain at the thought of acting contrary to them,
of pleasure at the thought of acting in accordance with them, feelings
which may overpower all others; while in the immoral man these
conceptions call forth no feelings or only such weak ones as offer no
sufficient opposition to the influence of other feelings. Both men act
from feeling, but not from the same feelings.

Do we, by proving that the moral, as well as the immoral man is
determined in his action by feelings, show that the one approximates to,
or is identical with the other? By no means. In that case, the proof
that both the moral man and the immoral man will with their own will,
and act through their own limbs, that both possess arms, hands, senses,
feelings, understanding, in short, that both are human beings, must
show, in the same manner, an approximation of the moral to the immoral
man. A perceptive, intellectual, objective side, and an emotional,
inner, subjective side are to be distinguished in all action; and only
the confusion of the two has led to the fancy that, with the proof that
all action proceeds from the pain or pleasure of the person who wills,
it is shown that all action, every human being, is selfish, and that
unselfishness is a figment of the imagination. It is not the expected
pleasure that moves the will; it is only when the conception of future
happiness or misery awakens present feelings stronger than other present
feelings which would move the will in another direction, that willing
and action can follow in accordance with that conception. Hence, there
is nothing so remarkable in the sacrifice of one's own happiness. It is
not morally desirable that self-love should be weak, but only that
conscience and general benevolence should be stronger still.

Many who have recognized the reality of sympathy and benevolence have
not regarded them as primary but as evolved from egoism. However, if the
word egoism is to have a distinct meaning, it must be interpreted as the
conscious preference of one's own good to that of others. But with
self-consciousness is likewise developed the consciousness of other
beings, and the latter, as the former, clothes itself with
feelings--with egoistic feelings, and with sympathetic feelings as well.

It is further to be remarked that the proof that an action is
disinterested, is no proof of its moral worth. The worst action,--an
action of pure cruelty, envy, or hatred, may be disinterested, that is,
it may have for its end the pain of another without consideration of the
advantage of the doer.

The effects, as pain or pleasure, of conduct opposed to, or in harmony
with, civil or moral law, in so far as such effects can be predicted
and, as thus predicted, they influence the will, are called Sanctions.
One may distinguish between a physical, a political, a social, a
sympathetic, and a moral sanction. Doubtless the conduct recommended by
self-love, as a result of these sanctions, coincides, to a very large
extent, to a larger extent than egoists in the rule perceive, with that
which the good of society demands; but it is just as certain that, in
many cases, the way of selfish cunning and that of virtue diverge. The
outer sanctions do not insure the coincidence of duty and one's own
happiness; nor does the sympathetic sanction secure this, for sympathy
is often on the side opposed to duty. There is but one sanction which is
ever on the side of action in accordance with duty: the moral sanction,
the peace and joy which accompany the knowledge of having done right.
Duty and self-interest coincide the more nearly, the better and more
unanimous the various sanctions are, and, especially, the more strongly
the moral feelings are developed in a society; one of the tasks society
has to set itself is to labor for the greatest possible concord of duty
and self-interest. But this harmony will never become an absolutely
perfect one and self-sacrifice impossible. Man needs, therefore, some
end which shall depend upon himself alone, if he is to be kept from
discouragement and despair. Such an end is the consciousness of
right-doing. He who chooses this as highest end must devote himself to
the service of mankind, as well as he who makes the advancement of the
good of mankind his end. The thought of this end will prevent him from
being blinded by self-interest in answering the question as to what
right and duty are, and will also preserve him from permitting himself
one or the other pet sin under the excuse that he will atone for it by
other good actions; it will compel him to the endeavor to fulfil every
duty. And though he may not be perfectly happy, he will be happier than
the man who makes the good of humanity his end; since he is less
dependent upon outer events. Benevolence and conscience are not the
same. The latter constrains us to do right, that is, to perform actions
the expected results of which are in harmony with the general welfare;
it has attained its end when the right action is performed, and it has
failed to attain its end when this aim is frustrated. Man has a deep
inner longing for happiness of some sort. When he does not find it upon
earth, he seeks it in some other world. He has often a deep inner
yearning for holiness, and a secret dissatisfaction in his own conduct.
Ethics satisfies this double longing in commanding him to renounce his
greatest happiness and endeavor to attain moral blessedness, the
happiness of holiness.

Perhaps some one may object that this is a selfish view of the moral
life. Is it selfish to renounce one's greatest happiness in order to
attain only peace of conscience? That no one were without such
selfishness! He who sets himself this end will act better, more in
accordance with the good of humanity, than he who makes the advancement
of human welfare his ultimate aim. Hence the human being _should_ choose
this end. Therefore, the highest moral commandment, the Categorical
Imperative, receives this form: "Strive to attain peace of conscience in
devoting thyself to the service of mankind."

By "right" we understand what is in conformity with a standard of action
which we recognize, by "wrong," what is in opposition to it. The
recognition and application of the standard belong to the reason. But
not to reason alone; every rule is the outcome of feelings; and this is
the reason why ideas of right possess the power of motives.

Judgment of action may take place in two ways: immediately, through the
feeling; and mediately, through moral rules, the adoption of which,
however, presupposes feeling. According to the disposition, the
education, the circumstances, of a man, the one or the other form of
judgment prevails. The words "obligation," "commandment," "duty," "law,"
express the fact that something lies without the mere free pleasure of
the acting individual, is withdrawn from its sphere.

It has been said that a distinction is to be made between duty and the
sense of duty--that an objective duty still exists, even when no
corresponding inner sense of duty is present. This merely means that
some one else in distinction from the acting person recognizes a moral
law, by which he may blame the action. Duties are actions sanctioned by
one or another sort of punishment. The moral sanction is self-blame. But
not the performer of an act alone, others also, pronounce judgment on
his action, and in the rule there exists a greater or less harmony
between his judgment and that of others. To self-condemnation is added
the consciousness of having deserved the blame of others.

Human actions are not only an object of displeasure or of indifference,
but also of praise, gratitude, love, admiration. Actions which reveal a
character above the average are regarded as meritorious according to the
measure of their superiority; they deserve recognition, respect, praise,

Three classes of actions to which public opinion applies its sanction
may be distinguished: actions blamed; those the neglect of which is
blamed; and those which are praised. The first two classes, sanctioned
by a punishment, are regarded as duty; the last class, sanctioned by at
least mental reward, are actions of desert. Actions the omission of
which is punished or blamed are not actions of desert, but of duty and

The boundary-line between duty and desert is not fixed and definite; in
the measure in which the moral condition of a society is perfected, the
province of that which is regarded as duty is extended into that which
was formerly regarded as desert. The distinction between duty and desert
has, in general, only an outward significance; it has regard to the
relation to others, to the social sanction. The moral human being does
not inquire what entitles him to praise, but simply what is right; and
he does not compare himself with others but with his moral ideal. Hence
he recognizes, with regard to himself, only duty, not desert. He aspires
to attain, not the approbation of others, but his own, and he attains
this only when he has done that which he holds to be the best possible.

The moral significance of the outward sanction lies in its educating
influence; it acts as counterpoise to inclination to action opposed to
the moral law, and facilitates, thus, the victory of the moral motives,
which increase in strength through use. If it is true that a condition
of "heteronomy" always precedes that of "autonomy," then the outer
sanction is the indispensable condition of the evolution of moral

It has sometimes been said that the human being is under obligation to
others only. But it seems that this view has proceeded from a confusion
of the moral with the juridic significance of the word "duty." It is not
to be doubted that the consciousness of duty would not develop in an
individual who grew up in solitude,--but speech and reason likewise
would not become his. The law of morality applies not only to social
conduct but also to conduct having reference to self.

By "moral law" is not meant a law in the sense that it is imposed on
human beings from without, by another; it is exactly the peculiarity of
the moral law that it is self-imposed as the voice of conscience.

Virtue is related to duty as the enduring characteristic to the single
action, or the lasting will to obligation, to the "ought"; virtue is a
disposition to act in accordance with duty. Vice is a characteristic
which continually determines actions opposed to duty.

There may be exceptional cases where vice is innate, as is idiocy or
insanity, but the records of prisons and reformatories where a moral
influence has been attempted, show us that germs of good may exist even
in those apparently wholly given over to vice. It is true that the
capacity for moral education is narrowed with every added year of life;
but it is impossible for us to say, with certainty, how great this
decrease of capacity may be.[79]

The most essential influence for moral betterment is that which the
personality of an earnest human being exerts by example and precept. The
awakening and strengthening of good impulses is not, however, the
immediate destruction of the bad; and struggle is often necessary if the
good shall conquer. The more frequent the victory, the easier it
becomes. Every virtue can be acquired at least in some degree, if the
wish to acquire it be sufficiently strong and persistent.

But although such struggle as this is often necessary, exactly the sign
of the attainment of virtue consists in the absence of self-compulsion;
by this absence, its perfection is measured.

The assertion, occasionally heard, that virtue is in proportion to
struggle, amounts to the contradictory assertion that the more perfect
the man is, the less is his virtue. The truths which, imperfectly
comprehended, lead to this opinion, are these: We distinguish by the
name of virtue that moral constitution which rises above the average. It
is presupposed, however, that its possessor has, in general, the
impulses and capacities belonging to human nature; he could not be
called temperate in any particular direction, if he did not possess the
capacity of enjoyment which leads many to intemperance. Moreover, the
control of strong impulses from a desire to do right presupposes a
strong sense of duty; and it is on account of this sense of duty that we
respect a man. But if an individual distinguished by a strong sense of
duty gradually succeeds in tempering his impulses and ridding himself of
his faults, his virtue is not less, but more perfect. And finally, the
fact is also to be taken into consideration that, while one cannot
necessarily conclude, from a man's innate love for some especial class
of good actions, that he will do his duty in other directions also, this
is an inference which can be drawn where actions are performed from a
sense of duty.

A certain degree of intelligence is a condition of virtue; a being
without reason is not a moral being, as the animal is not; but morality
requires only average human intelligence.

There is no greater error than the opinion that virtue is not concerned
with action; for virtue is excellence of character which leads to right
action; action is the test of moral worth.

In olden times, an attempt was often made to set up one especial form of
character as universal ideal. Such an attempt is injustifiable, since
the nature and circumstances of individuals differ. In morality, too,
there may be originality.

In the judgment of an action, two questions must be distinguished: the
question whether the action is right or wrong, and the question as to
what inference shall be drawn from it with regard to the character of
the performer.

In the action, there must be distinguished the following points: the
movement of the body; the results of the act; the act of the will; the
intent; the presence or absence of a conviction that the action will not
have evil results; the part of the intent willed, not merely as means
but as end; and the incentive, or feeling from which the action springs.
The chief end and the incentive together are often called the motive.
The movement of the body is not an object of moral judgment, as are not,
also, the outer results of the action as such. Nor is a mere act of the
will as such, but its nature, of moral importance.

No human motive or incentive is, in itself, bad. Not even anger and
hatred are in themselves evil; since wrath against wrong is justifiable.
Yet motives are by no means morally of the same worth; while where
motives directed to the good of the individual are at work, the action
will be, in nine cases out of ten, in accordance with the general good;
it will be, let us say, in nine cases out of ten, contrary to the
general good where motives of malevolence are active. And for this
reason the motive in the single case gives us a clue to the character.
There exists a certain stability of character which makes it likely that
the individual who acts out of good motives on one occasion will do so
again. Of greatest worth are the motives which spring from desire for
the general good; these are moral motives. Actions may be right, yet
immoral, and moral yet wrong. Yet the theory that the objective judgment
of an action, and the judgment of the character of the doer have nothing
in common is erroneous; for in both cases the highest ground of
reasonable judgment is the same; namely, the general good.

Blame is not merely for the sake of prevention through fear; since we
may blame a deed and not its doer. When a man does what we consider
wrong under the impression that he is acting for the general good, we do
not endeavor to frighten him from his conduct by blame, but to convince
him of his error.

But the significance of the motives of an action does not lie merely in
our inference from them to the character of the doer; from the actual,
or inferred, motives of the action spring its most important results;
namely, its influence upon the morality of human beings. Every moral
action reacts for good upon the performer, strengthening his tendency to
such conduct; and it is, besides, an inciting example.

It is not necessary for morality that all actions should take place
directly from desire for the general good, but only that the belief be
present that they are in harmony with the general good; duty need not be
the only motive, but simply the ruling one; one may act immediately from
other motives.

The æsthetic judgment of a character is to be distinguished from the
moral judgment of it. Much that pleases one æsthetically in character is
morally indifferent; and much that is morally of the greatest worth has
little or no æsthetic value. The talk of an identity of the beautiful
and the good has caused much confusion.

Things have particular qualities according to which they affect us and
are affected. All that I can predicate of things, all their being is
their effect. And when I say that a certain thing, as long as it does
not change, will, under the same circumstances, operate in the same way,
I assert merely that this certain thing, as long as it remains
unchanged, is this certain thing. It may often be difficult or
impossible to determine whether or not the thing has changed, but if it
has not changed, it must, under the same circumstances, operate in the
same manner as formerly. As everything is, at each moment, a definite
thing, so is also every human being; he has definite qualities, and if
these do not change, neither does his action under the same
circumstances; if it could change, he would act according to that which
he is not.

Different individuals have different innate tendencies; and differing
circumstances develop similar tendencies in different ways. The history
of the human being is his character, if we add what he has inherited to
his own history. To reflect upon human nature is to assume its
conformity to law; to deny such conformity involves ceasing from thought
on it; for thought means the conclusion of like from like. Though the
action of the human being depends, in a high degree, upon circumstances,
we can often predict, from a knowledge of his character, the general
nature of his action. And if our expectation should be, for once,
disappointed, we do not say that his character has suddenly passed into
its opposite, but that we had an insufficient knowledge of the
circumstances, or that we imputed to him a character which he did not
really possess. We have thus to distinguish two groups of facts in the
contemplation of a particular action: the present constitution of the
doer of the action, and that of the outward circumstances concerned; if
a change occurs in either, the conduct will also change. Criminal
statistics are evidence of the effects of similar circumstances upon
similar characters.

Those who deny the action of cause and effect in the conduct of men as
contradictory of freedom, cannot refer to physical or political liberty,
since the absence of these does not involve the absence of cause and
effect. The free will which is said to be peculiar to the human being
and not possessed by the animals, is an absence of subjection to the
impressions of the moment, and this has been regarded as an activity of
pure reason. But, as Höffding says, the contest of the reason with the
passions is really a contest between feelings combined with reflections
of reason and other violent feelings that are combined with few
thought-elements. This free will is the capacity of reflection gained by
experience. It is not a negation of cause and effect, for the act of the
will is determined by the feelings, thoughts, inclinations, which
precede it; it may be determined by reflection as opposed to the
impressions of the moment. The word "freedom" is also used to denote
moral freedom, or the freedom from determination by immoral motives; in
such case, however, moral motives determine.

But it must be remembered that the natural law of cause and effect is
not like a law in the sense of the political law; it is not something
imposed from the outside. Natural laws are rules formed by men to
express the regularity of events in one sentence; things do not obey the
laws, but the laws are according to things. When we say: Gunpowder
"must" explode when it comes in contact with a flame, the explosion is
necessary; we do not mean that the gunpowder is compelled, under certain
circumstances, to explode; it explodes of its own essential nature.
"Necessity" designates, not a state of things, but a state of the
understanding regarding them. The same is true of the words "possible"
and "accidental." The accidental is the unintentional. The bullet which
accidentally killed a man was not sent with the intention of killing
him. Or "accident" is used of that with regard to which we are ignorant
and cannot predict; the word does not, in this sense either, denote an
absence of cause. Objectively, nothing is "possible"; either it is, or
it is not. Great confusion is, however, caused by a want of clearness in
the interpretation of the words "possible," "impossible," "necessary,"
etc., with regard to the will. When I say: "It is _possible_ for the
good man to perform even the worst action, he _can_ perform it"; and:
"It is not _possible_ for the good man to perform a bad act, he cannot
do it"; I use the words "possible" and "can" in two quite different
senses. The first sentence means: "Even the best man can perform the
worst act _if he will_"; the second: "The good man never has the will;
it follows from his nature that he does not possess it; it would be a
self-contradiction to say that he has it." The human being can do this
or that if he wills, provided no outer force opposes his will; but
whether he wills or not depends upon his character. His will is not

It has been said that "one should not allow himself to be determined,
but should himself determine his act." This assertion makes self
something distinct from one's thoughts and feelings. Free will has also
been interpreted as choice between motives. The human being does not,
however, choose between motives but between acts, and his choice is free
in that he can, as has been said, choose this or that act _if he will_;
but his choice is not the less caused. When, in reflection on a past
act, the human being says to himself: "It was possible for me to act
otherwise," he means, as a rule, simply: "If I had thought as I do now,
I should not have acted thus; but I did not think as I do now." The
delusion that he might have acted differently under the same outer
circumstances and with the same thoughts and feelings, arises from the
difficulty of realizing, from his present standpoint, his position at
the time of action. It may, indeed, seem to us, after we have chosen a
certain course, that another was the easier; but can it be possible that
one preferred the former course when he yet really preferred the latter?
It is the strongest motive that determines the action. Or, if it be
objected to this assertion, that our only criterion of the strength of
motives is their effect as overcoming other motives, the assertion that
the will follows the strongest motive would still exclude accident in
choice; the assertion would amount to this: that the motive which
determines the will in the one instance will always, under the same
outer and inner circumstances, determine it. So Mill remarks that, when
we say that the heavier weight will weigh down the other, we understand
by "heavier weight," merely the one which will weigh down the other.
Nevertheless, the sentence is not senseless, since it means that there
is, in many or most cases, a heavier weight, and that its action is
always the same. Education by others, and self-education would be
useless, if the same thoughts and feelings could, under the same
circumstances, produce now this, now that totally different result, and
not always the same one.

Kant's doctrine of freedom includes practical freedom (which is not,
according to his definition, opposed to causality) and transcendental
freedom; he seems, however, not always to have kept the distinction
between the two clearly in view. His theory of transcendental freedom is
grounded upon the doctrine of the pure ideality of time. The only method
of saving the doctrine of freedom is, according to Kant, the theory that
the law of necessity applies to things as phenomena but not to things
in themselves. If phenomena are not to be regarded as things in
themselves, but as mere thought-images, they must themselves have
reasons which are not phenomena. Such a cause for pure reason[80] is not
determined by phenomena, although its effects appear as phenomena. The
causal action of reason does not have a beginning in time, but is the
constant condition, outside time, of all free action of the will.

Kant failed, however, to prove the pure ideality of time, as Riehl has
sufficiently shown. Moreover, were the _intelligibile_ character of
reason the cause of action as phenomenon, there would be no possibility
of moral improvement, since the noumenon is not affected by
phenomena,--an inference which Schopenhauer makes in adopting Kant's
theory. Moreover, if space has, as Kant also assumes, transcendental
ideality, plurality is not conceivable; hence, the moral difference of
characters, and the science of Ethics itself, could have no
transcendental significance. It is evident that Kant argues from the
standpoint of an assumption of a "soul-thing," a constant "substratum"
of psychical phenomena,--a standpoint which he himself criticizes. He
identifies this thing-in-itself, moreover, with the reason, although he
himself declares that the concept of the thing-in-itself is but a
concept limiting reason.[81] He makes the reason a thing-in-itself
outside time, although it is an activity, a process of consciousness in
time. The thought of duty, of the categorical imperative, is a
phenomenon, and if the will is determined thereby, it is determined by
something in time. Kant takes but little account, moreover, of the fact
of birth. Is the _intelligibile_ character born? If so, it is preceded
by something in time; if not, it must be eternal, existing before birth
as well as after death. And how can he assert, too, that an action might
have been other than it was, if it depended upon the constitution of the
_intelligibile_ character, and this is as it is, and operates as it is?

Schopenhauer's argument for transcendental freedom contains many
self-contradictions, and is founded on the fiction of a first free
choice of character. Schopenhauer asserts, however, that character is
innate. If so, how is it chosen? The theory assumes that one is before
he is. An act of choice presupposes a chooser, and, according to his own
words, "Every _existentia_ presupposes an _essentia_"; that is, every
existence must have a particular being, essence.

Accountability assumes that some one is held answerable for an action or
event, and is, as answerable, amenable to punishment. The punishment may
be one of law, of society, or a moral punishment. The concept of
responsibility is closely allied to that of accountability; it assumes,
in general, that a person is the author of a deed. Responsibility may be
immediate, when the author of the deed was also its performer, or
mediate, when the performer was another person.

Remorse is pain at the recognition of the immorality of a past action.
With the pain is often connected the wish that the action had not been
performed. This wish is naturally unreasonable, since it is directed to
the impossible. Yet it is not idle, as Schopenhauer asserts, since it
has an effect upon future action. There is often also an egoistic
regret, or one not called forth especially by the conscience, for a past
action. This may or may not be moral, according as it is or is not in
harmony with the general welfare.

The friends of the theory of chance as regards the will have asserted
that shame, remorse, would be impossible, if the human being recognized
the fact that his act was necessary. They have neglected, however, to
give any reasons for this remarkable assertion. If a man recognizes that
the constitution of his mind was such as to lead unavoidably to vicious
acts, this is the strongest motive for condemnation of his own moral
constitution, for pain at it, and an endeavor to better it. But if the
act had no necessary foundation in his character, if it was merely an
accident that his will chose thus, then, since the act is past and there
is no reason for drawing conclusions from it with regard to future
action, how does it concern him?

Blame and punishment, as well as self-blame, have regard to character
and so to the future. Acts are not blameworthy and punishable if they
have no cause. Punishment is inflicted from two motives: as a
preventive, and as an expression of the felt need of retribution.
Originally, mankind punished from a desire for revenge. This is not the
moral motive. Not the criminal alone, but the whole constitution of
society, is responsible for his crime. If, then, punishment is allowable
for the sake of prevention, it cannot, as an evil, be permissible
further than is in accordance with this end. Punishment of the insane
could be justified only in case it could prevent insanity.

Nor is desert based upon an uncaused character of the will. We do not
admire, praise, and reward great genius the less because genius is
inborn; nor do we admire the moral man the less because his father
before him was distinguished by deeds of philanthropy. We admire him for
what he _is_.

The doctrine of causality in human action is far from being what it is
sometimes called, a doctrine of fatalism. Fatalism assumes that,
whatever a man may do, a power outside him determines the event; but the
recognition of cause and effect in human action is the recognition of
the fact that the actions of human beings are never without result.

It is often said that morality is founded upon religion. Assuming that,
by religion, is meant the belief in a personal God and in the
immortality of the soul, is this true?

If a mighty tyrant commanded a man to do what was contrary to his
conscience, if he promised rich reward for obedience and fearful torture
for disobedience, would obedience therefore be moral? Why is it
represented as wrong to follow Satan's commands and right to follow
God's will? Evidently not because God is mighty but because he is good,
and Satan is bad. But if it is, thus, a matter of duty, and not merely
one of selfish cunning, to obey God's will, then his will must be
directed to the good; and this presupposes the good to be something in
itself, without regard to the fact that God wills it. If God is a moral
being, this must be so.

This is, in fact, an assumption which the moral members of society have,
in general, made. They boast of the morals of their religion, comparing
it, in this respect, with other religions; and thus they subject it to
the test of morality. Moreover, when we examine the Christian gospel, we
find that it in general assumes the moral laws as already existent and
only urges obedience to them. The good is, as we have seen, that which
conduces to the general welfare. The earliest religions had no
connection with rules of morality; these have developed with the social
life of human beings and have, in it, their root.

As to the belief in immortality, cannot the human being do right without
the thought of the reward and punishment of another life? As a matter of
fact, many good men have not possessed such a belief. The distance of
such an end often makes its effect a weak one, and the motive may easily
become selfish. Yet it is true that a loss of faith may include a loss
of morality, in case the belief exist that there is no basis for
morality outside religion; the responsibility of such a loss of morality
lies with those who teach this latter doctrine. Through love to others
and the thought of the immortality of influence, the moral man gains a
larger life and loses the fear of death. He who has thus faced the
thought of death finds life more earnest but not less happy. Each hour
has not the less its own joy because there is an end, at last. Nor, in
spite of the deep pain the loss of friends causes us, do we lose them
wholly, since the memory of all that was best in them may remain with
us. Our own pain may bring to us a deeper sympathy with, and love for,

If we are able to love the good in God, we may also learn to love the
good in those about us, and be incited, by it, to emulation. The love of
the good in men has always had stronger effect than love for a distant
God of whom but little was known. It was the thought of the man Buddha
which exerted an ennobling influence upon thousands, and it was the
thought of another human being that moved the "christians" more strongly
than did that of a Father in Heaven. Do we love father and mother,
brother or sister, wife or child, or our friends, for God's sake? Why
may we not love all men, as we love our friends and children, for their
own sake?

It has been said that there is no accountability, if not to God. But if
God is the author of the world, he must himself be the cause of evil,
either by direct influence or by neglect to avert. Where, then, is the
justice of his punishment? It does not suffice to answer that God's
justice is not our justice; for in that case, what right have we to
apply the word to him at all?

History demonstrates the fact that morality is by no means necessarily
connected with religion. In the name of religion millions upon millions
of human beings, and these often the most upright and conscientious men
of their nation, have been put to death, and thus the civilization of
whole peoples has been retarded. Slavery in America had no stronger
friends than the churches. How is the forgiveness of sins by God to be
justified? Are the evils which they caused any the less existent because
of such forgiveness, and is it well for the doer to escape, in this way,
the sense of responsibility? Only labor for the good of humanity is the
way of atonement. We ourselves are the creators of the kingdom of

Many claim that Ethics is not indeed based upon Theology, but that it
needs a metaphysical, a teleological, foundation. For it presupposes
that human life has an "end." If we wish to ascertain how our life
should be conducted, we must ascertain what is the end Nature has in
view for us.

But an end is an effect imagined beforehand and willed, which we cannot
bring about immediately but only through a chain of causes. These causes
we call the means to the end. They too are willed, but only indirectly
and because the end is attainable only through them. These processes to
an end are sometimes treated as if the causal succession in them were
reversed, so that the last effect appears as the beginning, and the
future determines the present; in this sense, the end has been called
the end-cause, because the final link of the process causes the
beginning. But this is a senseless conception, since the future, that
which does not yet exist, cannot now operate. In fact, the succession of
causes and effects is no more broken into in the processes leading to an
end than in any other processes. When a human being imagines to himself
a result and endeavors to bring it about, these mental processes are not
future but present; and they are not determined by an influence of the
future upon the present, but by an influence of the past upon the
present; they follow from experience, that is, from that which has
already occurred. They are causal processes in which the activities of
understanding and will have part. Hence "ends" exist in nature in so far
as they exist in man and the higher animals; but outside these, ends
cannot be predicated, unless Nature is regarded either as gifted with
imagination and will or as the creation of a being possessing these. But
imagination and will require, according to all our experience, a highly
developed nervous system, and to assume their existence where such a
centralized system does not exist is scientifically injustifiable.
Moreover, the laws of thought by no means determine us to inquire after
a cause of the whole world, since the concept of cause is applicable
only to changes, not, however, to enduring existences and their

Or let us assume that we had discovered an end set by Nature. Then,
either it would appear useless to interfere with its attainment and
unnecessary to assist in it, or it would appear to us possible to oppose
this end. In this latter case, cause must be shown why we should assist,
or should resist, the process of Nature.

Many philosophers have said that man should live according to his own
nature. If the word "nature" here denotes the totality of his
characteristics, it is evident that the worst actions are not less
natural than the best. Therefore, the word nature cannot, as here used,
have this sense; the natural in this sense is not identical with the
moral. Nor can the term as here used refer to the usual, for in that
case the greatest moral excellence, as unusual, must be rejected. Nor
can it be used to designate the more primary, for in that case, again,
the later developments of benevolence and truthfulness should be

The word can have but one other sense, namely, as opposed to artificial.
But what is in man artificial and what is natural? It seems that the
natural is understood as that which is not the work of human intention
and reflection, of labor, and of education. Innate impulses would be,
according to this definition, natural. But it is evident that one cannot
abandon himself to his blind impulses; society could not exist under
such circumstances.

Or if it be said that, since all organs and impulses of the human being
tend to preservation of the species, and that this must, therefore, be
the end, then let us say "the preservation of the species," or "the good
of mankind" but not "the natural life," is the end for man to attempt.

Nature as a whole is neither good nor bad. Her cruelty in the struggle
for life is continuous. Yet this is not "cruelty," in so far as it is
not willed. She has often selected the best men for her sacrifices. Yet
this is not all that is to be said of the relation of Darwinism to
Ethics. The law of natural selection regulates not only the life of the
individual but also that of peoples and nations. Evil may arise and
prosper in society. But it has no permanent existence. The chances that
the descendants of human beings possessing evil characteristics will
long survive, that they will not, sooner or later, perish as the result
of conflict with the mandates of health, or the laws of the state, or
the demands of society, are not great. In the life of nations, it
appears more clearly than in the life of the individual, that "Death is
the price of sin." Should in any society the opinion gain power that the
struggle for existence authorizes or demands a regardless pursuit of
one's own interests, an oppression and robbery of the weak by the
strong, an annihilation of pain through the annihilation of the
suffering individuals, an outrooting of conscience, and the natural
voice of pity which raises protest against such a course; should
selfishness be bred, and physical strength and refined cunning become
the highest ideal; such a community would be on the verge of its own
destruction; it would have labored for this result by justifying the
struggle of all against all, permitting this the moment that a conflict
of interests arose. Let times of need and danger, times of national war,
come, and we shall see what is the fate of a society in which love of
country, self-sacrifice, a sense of the ideal, respect for truth and
justice, are only subjects for scorn. "The world's history is its

All positive human authorities are subject to the authority of the
conditions of life. If they do not take note of the nature of things, if
they disturb the foundations of social life, their endeavors must
finally suffer shipwreck on the rock of this powerful impersonal

Natural selection is therefore a power of judgment, in that it preserves
the just and lets the evil perish. Will this war of the good with the
evil always continue? Or will the perfect kingdom of righteousness one
day prevail? We hope this last but we cannot know certainly.

We ourselves shall decide our future, by our acts.

       *       *       *       *       *

In an essay written for the Society for Ethical Culture, and read
October 10, 1891, before the London branch of that society, Gizycki
reconstructs his theory of the right final end of life, advocating as
such the General Welfare, instead of Peace of Conscience in the pursuit
of the same. The objections to his own former theory offered are,
chiefly, that if peace of conscience is regarded as the final end, the
individual is likely to take too little account of the outward effects
of his action, to be too little impressed by the evil results which
should teach him greater care. The good of society is regarded by the
virtuous man as more important than his own happiness, as that for which
he is willing to sacrifice his own peace.


[79] The references here are to Lombroso, "Der Verbrecher," deutsche
Ausgabe, S. 129 u. f.; H. v. Valentini, "Das Verbrecherthum im
preussischen Staate," S. 226 u. f.

[80] Intelligibile Ursache.

[81] Grenzbegriff.



The proper business of Ethics is the study of moral judgments--or, if we
say of human conduct, then of conduct as submitted to the praise or
blame of moral judgments. But these judgments are not mere opinions;
conduct is not that which is "judged" to be right in distinction from
that which is right; and thus the analysis of such judgments is a
systematization of both conceptions and facts.

The task of Ethics falls into two parts. It has (1) to supply a
_catalogue raisonné_ of the moral observances of life, the various moral
judgments which make up the contents of the moral consciousness, and (2)
to discuss what it is that the moral judgment, as such, expresses.

Nothing is more striking at the present time than the convergence of
different schools of Ethics--English Utilitarianism developing into
Evolutional Ethics, on the one hand, and the idealism associated with
the German philosophy derived from Kant on the other. The convergence is
not, of course, in mere practical precepts, but in method also. It
consists in an "objectivity" or impartiality of treatment, commonly
called "scientific." There is also a convergence in general results
which consists in a recognition of a kind of proportion between
individual and society, expressed by the phrase "organic connection."
The theory of egoism, pure and simple, has been long dead;
Utilitarianism succeeded it and enlarged the moral end. Evolution
continued the process of enlarging the individual interest, and has
given precision to the relation between the individual and the moral
law. But in this it has added nothing new; for Hegel, in the early part
of the century, gave life to Kant's formula by treating the law of
morality as realized in the society and the state. The change in ethical
conception is not due to biological research alone, but to the study of
history also, and to other general changes in the practical data on
which its principles are built. The social and political history of the
century represents the growth of the idea of freedom, which has properly
two sides--that of individual liberty of healthy development, and that
of the solidarity of society and the responsibility of the individual
to it. With the increasing complexity of interests and the growth of
individual freedom, has come, however, a certain sense of loneliness to
the individual in the midst of modern competition, and this explains, to
a great extent, the increase of suicide in the present century.

The convergence of dissimilar theories affords us some prospect of
obtaining a satisfactory statement of the ethical truths towards which
they seem to move.

Our inquiry falls into two parts, according as we analyze the
conceptions which relate to the existence of the moral judgment or those
connected with its growth, maintenance, and change--the statics or the
dynamics of morality. To these two divisions is to be added a third,
preliminary division, more closely allied with the statical examination
of morality. These three parts are represented by the questions: (1)
What is it that is good? To what are the terms good and bad applied? (2)
Why is it good? What does its goodness mean? (3) How does goodness come
into being; how is it maintained; how does it advance?

Moral judgments apply to voluntary action, that is, action distinguished
by the presence of an idea of the end to be attained "not merely _in_
consciousness but _to_ consciousness," and the conversion of the idea
into the actual reality of presentation. The terms good and bad, indeed,
are applied, not only outside the realm of morals, but also, within it,
to desires and thoughts; but to these only as they are the objects of
volition, in that the will at present allows them to persist in
consciousness or in that their present occurrence is regarded as the
result of past willing.

The conduct to which we apply moral judgment is a whole made up of many
parts--and actions, consequences, and internal feelings have value for
morality only in so far as they are its elements.

External action concerns conduct only in so far as the object of
volitions (which may be either internal or external) is derived from
this source. Voluntary external action is not external only, but has
also an internal side; and not whether I succeed in performing a certain
action or am prevented in the middle of it, but whether I willed it, is
of importance to moral judgment. Conduct is sometimes considered
separately from character; but this separation results from confusing
conduct with mere action. A character exists only in its conduct, and
all moral actions issue from character.

The consequences cannot be separated from conduct in the moral judgment,
except in so far as they could not have been foreseen. The consequences
of conduct are a most important part of action, in that they should be
considered by the person willing, and should influence the nature of his

The internal side of conduct is represented by the moral sentiments.
These are to be distinguished from the mere motives, which, defined as
something that has propulsive force, whether a feeling or a passion,
does not enter into moral action except as absorbed into volition. No
emotion is, in itself, right or wrong, but is only indirectly judged as
such as it makes a difference to the action--as an aptitude of mind
which tends to this or that predominating form of conduct. Moral
sentiments, on the other hand, as moral aptitudes effective for
particular conduct, contain an additional element. Moral sentiments,
thus defined, being equivalent to conduct, it follows that the mere
possession of sentiments cannot constitute the difference between
intrinsic or internal, and customary morality; customs are themselves a
matter of sentiment. Thus "conduct as a concrete whole has an inward
element of sentiment and an outward element of action, and these are
different, on the one hand from mere given feelings, on the other from
mere action." "Conduct is this unity of feeling and action in which mere
feeling is modified by the idea of action, and mere action becomes a
mental, or, if we like, a spiritual thing." "Conduct and character are
the same thing facing different ways." "Think of a man's conduct in
relation to the mental conditions from which it proceeds, and you think
of his character; think of his character as it produces results beyond
these sentiments themselves, and you have conduct."

There are no morally indifferent acts; when viewed in general and
broader lights, all acts are either good or bad; though there are some
cases of really indifferent means arising from the mechanism of action;
as, for instance, that I am to go to London is not indifferent, but we
may suppose that the fact that I may go by the road or by the river
makes no difference to my volition. There is no distinction between
virtue and prudence as regard for self, but prudence, in so far as it is
compatible with social requirements, is a duty and a virtue.

Ethics, then, has to do with conduct as a whole in its external and its
internal aspects. In distinction from Psychology, it has to do with it
not merely as a fact to be analyzed, but with reference to its nature,
quality, or content, judged by a standard of value. It is not dependent
upon Metaphysics, but precedes it in order of time, whatever may be said
of the order of importance; Metaphysics examines, properly, the ultimate
questions left over unanswered by the other sciences. From the purely
physical method, Ethics has advanced to a biological method; and the
doctrine that pleasure is the end of right action has been replaced by
the idea of social vitality as the end.


The recognition of the reference in morality to society has been implied
in all ethical theories; theories of selfish pleasure themselves
recognize the social element in individual gratification, even Cyrenaic
theories recommending selection and refinement of pleasures, and
containing a reference to personal dignity which implies a conception of
man as typical of a perfection that others may sympathize in and attain.
Individualism and Universalism in morals differ only in the order in
which they take their terms. "To the former, the individual comes first
and is the measure of the law; to the latter, the law or society comes
first, and is the measure of the worth of the individual." Nevertheless,
the ethical problem is very differently conceived by the two schools.
But the History of Philosophy shows a tendency to harmonization of the
two; we find that Individualism becomes more and more socialistic, while
Universalism becomes more and more conscious of individuality. We may
trace this movement, in the case of Individualism, in the development of
the philosophic theory of morality as true benevolence from the theory
of benevolence as merely another form of self-love. The earlier
conceptions of Universalism, emphasizing the good as something binding
irrespective of the inclinations of the individual, issue in particular
formulæ of virtue; later conceptions recognize the differences of
individual cases while still insisting on the universal or authoritative
character of morality. The problem receives its definite shape when the
explanation of authority is sought, not in some categorical imperative,
but in the very nature of society itself, which, if a whole, is yet a
whole made up of individuals. Ethical inquiry thus naturally breaks up
into two parts, according as we consider the meaning of right and wrong
for the individual, or for society as embracing many individuals.

As far as morality concerns itself with the individual, the good act
implies a certain adjustment of functions to one another, too much in
any one direction implying a defect in others. "The good life as a whole
is a system of consecutive acts, where each function has its limits
prescribed for it by the demands of all the other functions." And the
good character is "an order or systematic arrangement of volitions." The
goodness of an act is thus a matter of equilibration or adjustment of
the elements of an individual's nature. In this proportion or adjustment
consists the reasonableness, rationality (ratio, [Greek: logos]) of good
conduct. This does not mean that the principle of morality is the result
of reason, for moral adjustment is no more specially the work of reason
than of any other mental faculty.

This account of good character uses ideas which apply, _mutatis
mutandis_, to the life of any organism, as well as to the mind of man;
it merely explains, in terms of human experience, the elements involved
in the conception of organization; the difference lies simply in the
nature of the elements involved in the adjustment, the elements being,
in the case before us, conscious acts. To the question whether such a
definition of morality would not apply rather to conduct than to
character, and whether, the volitions being conceived as a series in
time, it does not dissolve the unity of character, may be answered that
conduct and character have already been shown to be identical, and that
unity can no more be denied to the series of acts involved than it can
be denied to the growing plant or animal whose functions are successive.
The unity conditioned by time is a unity characterized by succession, as
that of space by extension. The objection, as it gathers its strength
from a persuasion that the good character should be described by the
feelings or sentiments of any one time, is legitimate; good conduct is
built upon a man's needs or desires and is defined as satisfying every
part of his nature in its proportion; so that an equilibrium of the
emotions and the moral sentiments is involved in morality, and any
sentiment is moral which can be equilibrated with the rest. "The good
man may be described either as an equilibrated order of conduct, or as
an equilibrium of moral sentiments or of the parts of his nature.
Nevertheless, the order of conduct is a prior conception to that of
structural equilibrium." In a machine, the combination of parts is made
in order to produce the motion of the engine, and the equilibrium is
maintained by the motion. "In the organism, the bodily structure retains
its proportion only in so far as it is in physiological action, and this
physiological action subserves the conduct of the organism," while "in
like manner the equilibrium of moral sentiments exists only through
conduct and is determined by the requirements of conduct." The
equilibrium is effected simultaneously both for conduct and the moral
structure. The ideal is a plan of conduct, ideal in that it is never
fully attained. The ideal is hypothetical in two senses. It supposes
that every member of the order is good, whereas no life contains good
acts only; and that the order itself remains permanent, whereas morality
is necessarily progressive. Nevertheless, it is to be observed that the
ideal is a realized ideal. It is realized in every good act, since the
good act is the act which has the shape it would wear in the ideal
order. "Though it is adjusted to imaginary elements, it realizes the
whole so far as its own particular share is concerned."

Morality implies the existence of society. It is useless to inquire what
would be moral in case the human individual were an isolated being; the
fact is that he is not so, and that all moral judgment implies not only
the judgment of other individuals besides the acting individual, but
also the function of the acting individual as a member of a society. Yet
each member of a society has his special individual work, so that duty
varies according to individual circumstances, and so far from its being
true that morality is not a respecter of persons, it is a fact that it
is always a respecter of persons. This does not deny that there are
certain common bounds of morality, which allow the formation of some
general propositions; nor does it mean that each individual is at
liberty to construct his own moral precepts. The individuality of
morality, which finds a place or vocation for each individual, involves
an equilibrium between the members of society, in which consists the
morality of the whole.

The so-called self-regarding virtues are social as well as
self-regarding; their disregard involves evil, not to the individual
alone, but to others also. It may be objected that acts and thoughts
which can never be known to others are condemned by conscience. In
answer it must be observed:--

(1) That the knowledge of others is a matter of degree; my friends know
my actions; and in order to judge an action, it is not necessary to
suppose the whole nation looking on.

(2) That as personal morality becomes more and more complex, and hence
knowledge by others less and less possible, we leave the judgment of an
act more to the conscience of the individual, as vicegerent of the moral
law. "Acts which are wrong when nobody knows them have come to be so by
a process beginning with simple acts which are known, that is, known in
their outward appearance." The act, known or unknown, leaves its impress
upon character, raising or lowering the efficiency of the agent; and
hence is judged good or bad. The study of art and science has, thus,
moral value, as influencing character.

Good and bad acts and conduct are thus to be distinguished by their
adjustment or non-adjustment to the social order. The adjustment takes
place in a similar manner as in a trial of strength, and the compromise
between the different individuals must be taken as measuring the actual
forces which were engaged.

The social organism has both its morphological, or structural, and its
physiological or functional aspect; and here, once more, the order of
functions is a prior conception to the structural order; in the society,
conduct bears to structure the relation which physiological action in
the body bears to the bodily structure. The social ideal is doubly
hypothetical, implying that all members of the society are good and that
society is statical.

That to which moral judgment applies with regard to the individual's
relation to society, is the adjustment of individual wills regarded
either as directly appearing or as latent and capable of acting, the
occasion being given. The moral principle in society as a whole is thus,
as in the case of the individual, a rational one, and Aristotle rightly
gives the same name ([Greek: orthos logos]) to it as to the principle of
individual action. The moral individual is the reproduction in small of
the social order. But "the two conditions that the individual must be a
harmony within himself, and that he must possess all the powers that are
required of him for the purposes of society, are not different, but
identical." For the absence of such powers implies the absence of
adjustment to his conditions, failing which adjustment the inner harmony
is impossible, although life may be continued, just as it may be
continued under diseased physical conditions.

Good men may thus be said to conform to a certain type or ideal; but
this type is not merely something to which they are fashioned, but to
which they themselves are the contributory elements. Hence the social
ideal is a species of which all good men are the individual instances;
and the species exists, not, as in the case of natural science, as a
generalization in the mind of the observer or as an identical plan upon
which the members are organized, not as a mere collection of
individuals, but as in itself an organism. "Let it not be objected that,
since no society is in perfect equilibrium, and the ideal exists only in
good men, the ideal is therefore as much a creation of the observer's
mind as a natural species. An ideal implies no contrast of observer and
observed: conduct is something mental: the ideal is a reality of mind,
existing in the minds of those who act upon it. The social ideal has
thus a concrete existence in the collective action of good men."

In this manner, the supposed independence of the tendencies towards
Individualism and Universalism disappears, the harmony of the individual
and his harmony with society being identical--a true independence being
equivalent to true coöperation.

Morality implying adjustment to the ideal order, a realization of the
bearings of our acts is important. But we need no special moral faculty
to teach us morality; it is prompted by thoughts and feelings that, as
the result of a process of compromise, are thoughts and feelings
adjusted to a social order.

Obligation "expresses that an act is the act required." "It is that
relation in which the single part of the order stands to the whole
order, when it is confronted by the whole," whether we consider the
single act in relation to the whole character of the individual, or the
single individual in his relations to society. "Duty in the abstract is
the name which comprehends obligation in all its details; a duty in the
concrete is any good act regarded in its relation to the whole. On the
other hand, the whole has _authority_ against its parts, and every
particular duty is said to have authority just so far as it is backed by
the whole mass of duties," as the command of a sovereign has authority
because it gives expression to the will of the whole society over which
he presides. Obligation "corresponds to the necessity under which an
organism lies of acting in a certain manner in order to conform to its
type." Duty is thus not necessarily antagonistic to inclination, as
Kant conceived it, since, in the good man, inclinations are adjusted to
the requirements of social life; and obligation is thus different from
compulsion, which, as attendant on authority, applies to the bad, not
the good, man. The negative side of compulsion is responsibility, which
implies that, in the case of transgression, the person will be called to
account. Duty, though thus free from the idea of antagonism, is itself
always negative, implying subjection of the individual to the larger
order. It is from this negativity that duty lends itself to the legal
idea of compulsion, and in general wears a legal garb.

In law, rights and duties are correlative, the right of one implying
duties of others, and _vice versa_; but in morals, rights and duties are
not merely correlative but identical; it is a duty to insist on rights
in so far as these rights are moral, not merely legal, and the
individual has a right to the performance of duty.

The moral judgment is a judgment on a fact, but expresses, nevertheless,
a fact also; it expresses an adjustment to an ideal order, which, if
ideal, is yet a fact, although never realized in its entirety. Thus
morality is not a mere matter of opinion. Opinions may differ with
regard to a fact of morality as different individuals differ in the
apprehension of a physical fact. An action is not right simply because I
think it is so; but the opinion of the good man represents what is
really good.

Goodness is a mental fact; the apprehension of goodness, as the passing
of judgment upon it, is different from it; but it is nevertheless, in
another sense, the goodness of the good man which approves or is the
approbation of the good act; and "badness exists in the mind of the good
man and is known as disapprobation." The quality of an action is that
which excites approbation; its goodness or adjustment is nothing but the
approbation of the good man, but not of other men. In like manner, duty
and the sense of duty are the same thing. When the act judged is
presented to the mind only as idea, the feeling of approbation or
disapprobation is that which we know as the working of the moral sense
or conscience.

It is this truth that goodness and approbation are identical that
Intuitionism builds upon. Intuitionism, however, regards goodness as
some new quality of action, peculiar and inexplicable; while a true
analysis looks upon goodness as no new quality, the moral judgment
merely placing a mark upon any action as conforming to a certain order
or equilibrated system wanted.

There is in the good man a vague mass of moral sentiments and emotions;
and when the idea of any act comes in contact with these, a feeling of
satisfaction or dissatisfaction arises, according as the idea fuses with
this mass of sentiments or fails in adjustment to them. Moral promptings
are merely promptings which have been adjusted on one side and the other
until they have come to be in harmony with social conditions; they grow
out of the natural feelings by the process of adjustment. The word
"conscience," as it is more generally used, seems to emphasize the
element of reflection in a greater degree than "moral sense." The
explanation of the apparent independence of conscience is merely that,
in the good man, the moral order is realized, and action from moral
principle takes place spontaneously. In so far as this is true, he is,
in the ethical sense, free, yet not free in the sense that he is to be
bound by his own conscience alone in opposition to the judgment of all
other consciences; "on the contrary, the conscience sits as a tribunal
on a man's acts or intentions, just because it is the representative of
the moral order."

In speaking of a "perverted conscience," morality condemns the isolation
of a man's ideas about right conduct, from the judgment of his fellows.

The conscience, by reason of the element of reflectiveness, is higher
than the moral sense; and the cultivation of a refined conscience is the
basis of all morality. Yet this very reflectiveness involves danger, in
that, attaching itself as it does to the negative side of duty, it tends
to associate the latter with the idea of painfulness rather than of
pleasure, and to induce fear, and also in that it tends to develop a
morbid subjectivity of feeling through too much self-examination.

Good conduct, as good in virtue of the equilibrium it establishes
between the various parts of conduct itself, should contain within
itself the whole justification of morality. As such, it is the end of
morality, in that it is both the object and purpose, the aim or desire;
and in that it is also the standard, criterion, or result by which
conduct is measured.

Good conduct involves a common good as part of the moral order, and so
creative of a tie between all members of society. The common good is
thus not to be conceived as something that might be, as it were, cut up
and distributed, but as common in that it involves an adjustment of
claims. The common good is thus, in a sense, objective, or objectively
valid, though not objective in the sense that it exists outside the
minds of men, but in the sense that it is a compromise between wills, in
which each mind surrenders merely personal whims for a common agreement.

Since there seems a discrepancy between my own good and the good of
others, how do I make the good of others my object, going beyond myself
in the range of my interest? And how is self-sacrifice possible? The
answer to the first question is that morality reconciles the likes and
dislikes of individuals, so that self-love and love of others describe
the moral relation from opposite ends; every act of respect for others
is an act of self-furtherance.

We are entitled to assume, as not needing proof, that the instincts of
altruism are as fundamental and original as those of self-love. But if
we use stricter reasoning, we can see how, in either case, we identify
ourselves with others. Altruism is merely a form of conduct in which the
egoistic element, though present, retires into the background; while in
all right egoism, we aim at the good of others as well as our own good,
though our own good appears as the more prominent feature in the act of
willing. We must not be understood as willing, in altruism, another's
good in any mystical sense, in the sense of any identification of self
with others; we will the good of others in quite a different sense from
that in which we will our own good, the idea of their good being a
representation in our mind from the analogy of our own experience; and
the good attained by each party to the transaction is different and
incommunicable. Neither must egoism or altruism be interpreted in the
sense that, in either, reflection on the end as distinctively the good
of self or of others is involved; the moral agent in general throws his
energies into this or that course of action, because it is felt to be
what is wanted, without further reflectiveness.

Human beings, as plastic shapes, moulded by contact, adjust themselves
to each other, and thus it comes about that certain personal claims are
waived. Self-sacrifice is a real fact, a fact attested by the existence
of the bad, to whom such sacrifice involves a loss of happiness and is
impossible. It means the abandonment of a real good which the individual
would seize under other circumstances. It is sometimes contended that
real self-sacrifice is impossible, either (1) because the sacrifice is
really pleasanter to the agent, or (2) because he is compensated for his
loss. But the evident fact that self-sacrifice is pleasanter to the
agent does not involve the seeking of his own pleasure by the agent, and
even if it be admitted that there is always the forecast of compensation
in the mind of the agent, yet part of the forecast is the picture of
happiness foregone. But here, as before, it may be said that the element
of reflection, the weighing of one's own and others' happiness against
each other is read into the act by the onlooker, and is not necessarily
involved. That his own self-sacrifice, the compensation of his own
consciousness of right-doing outweighs, to the moral man, the pleasure
of lower aims, does not mean that the individual is selfish in seeking
self-sacrifice. And, in fact, that any ulterior aim of self-satisfaction
beyond the act itself is sought, in self-sacrifice, by the moral man, is
false; the greatest acts of heroism are characterized by complete
absorption in the impersonal end sought, the good of the agent thus not
lying beyond, but consisting in his action. Acts characterized by
another spirit than this we do not term self-sacrifice.

As all conduct is a matter of will, so morality is concerned not merely
with the virtues, the practical dealings of men, but also with all that
strengthens or weakens the will and, in general, conduces to character.
In judging a man, the significance of his individual gifts, and the
responsibility which attends the cultivation of these gifts must be
recognized. Not special virtues alone must be considered, but the whole
man must be judged and the significance of his self-cultivation in this
or that direction observed. This does not mean that the exceptional
faults of exceptional men are to be condoned. On the contrary, there is
no reason to suppose that special gifts confer a special privilege
rather than a special responsibility. Judged in the entirety of their
character, such men may not be worse than others, and this fact should
be regarded; but we should not defend their sins as such. The neglect of
self-cultivation in one direction may be necessary to action in another
direction; but the moral criterion of such self-cultivation or action is
to be found in morality as an equilibrium of powers.

Perfection is not itself sufficient to define the end. Perfect is that
which is the best possible; perfection as a perfect activity rather
than a perfect state (as we must conceive it) is equivalent to the best
possible conduct. But the moral end can be understood as perfection only
when by the best possible conduct is understood that which is the best
possible under circumstances determined by morality itself. The fullest
development as demanded by morality is not necessarily the perfection of
development in any particular case, that is, with regard to any
particular gift or individual. Or, in other words, perfection in both
its absolute and its comparative meaning, is a conception which belongs,
not to morality as such, but to the materials out of which morality is
constituted. Take "perfect" as equivalent to "best," then perfection is
equally involved in every good action. The good is always the best; what
is right is perfect; morality discards degrees of comparison. But the
degree of perfection to which any power or individual is to be developed
is determined, morally, by the principle of equilibrium. Moreover, we
may recognize degrees of perfection in individuals who are,
nevertheless, not to be classified as of less or greater moral value.

There are two different conceptions of merit, the one as applied to
magnitude of actual achievement, the other to magnitude of effort. The
apparent discrepancy vanishes on reflection, since both conceptions
apply to what passes beyond the average and measures the distance
between the two.

Against the hedonistic doctrine, it has been urged by Green that
pleasure as such is not the end of action, for even where the single
pleasure is desired there is always the thought of a permanent self
whose good is supposed to lie in the direction of this pleasure; while a
sum of pleasures cannot, as such, be an object of desire, since
pleasures, as separate and transitory in contradistinction from the
permanent self, cannot be added together in fact, but only in thought;
and with regard to a greatest sum of pleasures the difficulty is still
greater, since pleasures admit of indefinite increase, and their sum can
never be the greatest possible. In so far as desire is supposed to be
for pleasures and nothing else, the argument that a sum of pleasures
cannot be desired must be admitted. The transiency of the pleasures has,
however, nothing to do with the question; the reason why a sum of
pleasures cannot form a single pleasure is that they are pleasures with
a higher idea--that of a series involving a plan. This does not prove
that a sum of pleasures might not be the criterion of conduct. It must
be admitted that "sum" is an unfortunate word, since it seems to imply
that the pleasures must be combined in one total result; but such an
interpretation of the word is not necessary. A series of pleasures is
properly nothing more than an aggregate or combination of pleasures,
partly successive, partly coëxistent. Nor does the greatest possible
happiness mean a happiness than which no greater is possible, but the
greatest possible under the given conditions. The polemic is directed
against the individualistic psychology, which regards mental states as a
mere succession of events. So far the arguments enforce a great
principle; a mere succession of feelings or sensations could never yield
a conception of a sum apprehended as a sum. But this is irrelevant. For
such an idea we require much more than sensation: we require memory,
perception, the idea of a self. But this is only saying that morality
requires more than mere sensation, and the argument assumes the
standpoint it is fighting, treating mental states as mere events. It,
moreover, introduces the idea of a permanent self as something superior
to mere sensations, whereas perhaps this self is elaborated from
sensational elements. Furthermore, if the proposition means that a mind
which had only sensations could not have a sum of sensations, this may
be denied. A sum is possible from three positions--that of the
conception of a spectator, that of a reflecting consciousness, and that
of a feeling consciousness which feels its states continuously, though
it may not feel them as continuous, for such a feeling would argue
comparison and reflection. The polemic, therefore, while in so far right
as it is directed against individualistic psychology, seems to assign
wrong reasons for a rejection of hedonism; Utilitarians, while speaking
of pleasures in the language of psychology, treat them really as
something more than mere events--treat them as we really combine them by
processes much higher than sensation. A refutation of hedonism must
consist in showing that pleasures really differ in kind, and cannot,
therefore, be compared in intensity. "Pleasure" is often used as
equivalent to a pleasant sensation; such pleasures differ in kind, as in
the case of gratified hunger, ambition, and the like, and cannot be
actually added, either in thought or in enjoyment, because
incommensurable. "Pleasure" is often used, also, to refer, not to the
sensation itself, but to its pleasantness, and here the same thing is
true; if we distinguish the quality and the tone of feeling, as usual in
psychology, the classification of tones as pleasurable and painful is
insufficient. "The tones of colors and sounds, for instance, are more
naturally represented by the mood of mind they suggest: red has a warm
tone, black a sad, gray a sober, the organ a solemn tone."[82] The tone
of some feelings is too indefinite for description,--a vague comfort or
discomfort,--while the tone may rise to a condition to be described only
by "bliss" or "rapture." Pleasure and pain depend, moreover, not only on
the quality and quantity of the feeling, but on the whole condition of
the mind, pleasure indicating agreement with the mind, pain
non-agreement. Every pleasure being a function of the sensation in which
it is an element, the supposed sum of pleasures must be made up of
pleasures every one of which is qualified as that which is produced by a
certain activity. "The sum of pleasures, therefore, re-introduces the
distinctions and contents of the moral order, and, though an expression
of the criterion of conduct, is therefore, like perfection, not an
independent criterion." The element of quality in pleasure may be
_verified_ more easily as what may be called _preferability_. The term
preferability does not mean that there is an inherent moral value in
every pleasure, in virtue of which pleasures may be distinguished as
higher or lower--obviously an erroneous view, for higher and lower is an
antithesis established by morality itself; the value depends on the kind
of pleasure, and the preferability is that in the good man's mind.

It might be objected that even though pleasures differ in kind, a
comparison and summation of them might be possible, just as comparison
and summation of weights is possible, although weight depends not on
bulk alone but also on specific gravity. It cannot be denied that some
numerical expression for qualities of pleasure may yet be found, by
which they may be compared. But it is to be noted that, the higher we go
in the scale of existence, the more distinct becomes the growth of a
principle of selection or distribution which the members of a
combination must follow in order to produce a given quantitative result.
In chemistry we may obtain the atomic equivalent of sulphuric acid (98)
in many ways, but we can obtain the acid itself only by specific
combinations in specific proportions. In determining what food to give
an animal, we must consider not bulk alone but the nutritiousness of
various sorts. We might express the nutritiousness of various foods by
numbers, but the numerical equivalent would tell us nothing, unless we
knew the kinds of food to be combined. And in the same way we might
express the sum of pleasures as end numerically, but until we know the
kinds of activities and so of pleasures to be combined to this sum, the
formula is useless to inform us as to the end or method of attaining it.
The popular conception of happiness avoids all the difficulties and
perplexities caused by setting up pleasure as the end, because in that
conception pleasures and pains are never considered apart from conduct
and character. Thus, though the end involves pleasure, the criterion is
good conduct. The good conduct necessarily involves pleasure, for
conduct which only outwardly conforms to the moral rule, and in which
the agent does not take pleasure, is not really good.

The pleasure-formula thus represented as the standard of conduct is to
be distinguished, as actual ethical pleasure in the act, from the
pleasures attendant on the act as results, and which may be termed
pathological in a Kantian sense. The ethical pleasure need not be
unmixed, for the act which satisfies one part of a man's nature does not
necessarily satisfy all the other parts. But the ethical pleasure must
be present as the total reaction of character considered apart from the
incidentals of result.

Pleasures and pains may be divided into two classes, active and passive;
active pleasures being those attendant on an act, as gratification of an
impulse, passive pleasures those which come to us as enjoyments, not as
the gratification of the impulse producing an act, though perhaps
resulting from our act. Active pains are those of want, passive those of
suffering. The pleasures accompanying an act as pleasures of attainment
are always pleasures of gratification, but not of gratification merely,
for they gratify a sentiment directed towards an object previously
present to the mind in idea; and it is because the volition realizes the
idea that the pleasures are called pleasures of attainment, and in this
fact lies also their ethical value. The ethical pleasure in the action
itself is not to be confused with the mere pleasure in the explicit
consciousness of right-doing, which argues special reflectiveness. The
ethical pleasure meant is identical with the feeling of approbation, not
as a reflection on the act as idea, but as present in the act itself.
But the ethical pleasures are not independent of the incidental
pleasures, but depend upon them, the latter themselves being considered
in determining what acts are to be performed.

The pleasure-formula of the end represents the end in terms of all the
ethical pleasures secured by good action; and now we can see how
morality can be expressed in terms of all the pleasures and pains
involved in action, the purely ethical pleasures being reckoned among
the rest. Every pleasure is an inducement to persistence, every pain an
inducement to change; hence, since the society of good persons, or the
kingdom of powers within a man's own mind acquiesce in the moral order
as the equilibrium in which all their claims are gratified as far as may
be, it follows that the order of good conduct represents the maximum of
happiness. The end thus _involves_ the greatest happiness of the
greatest number.

If pleasure is but a part of the standard of morality, is it, then, the
object of conduct? If the idea before the mind to be realized in action
is called the object of the action, then in the same sense the pleasure
connected with the idea, which must be pleasant, is the object of
conduct. The difficulty in agreeing that the pleasure of the idea is
part of the object of desire arises from two causes: (1) confusion of
the object of desire with the character or criterion of the object; (2)
a misunderstanding of how the ideal object is related to the result. As
to the latter cause, it may be said that the idea is only in this sense
an idea of the result, that the result is the idea as it is realized;
the elements of the idea are derived from the past, and the desire is
not for the prospective pleasure of the end. As to the first cause,
though it is false that the prospective pleasure must necessarily be
part of the idea, the opposite conclusion is not necessarily legitimate
that desire is not for pleasure at all. It is true that, in order to
distinguish one object from another, we need to know what kind of an
object it is; but to conclude that, therefore, the desire is not for
pleasure, is to confuse the actual idea before the mind in desire with
its quality. That we do not make pleasure an object in the sense that
the pleasantness of the object itself is what we have before us in
desire, is obvious. Such a desire would argue a reflectiveness which has
been shown not to be necessarily characteristic of action. Nor is it the
pleasure of an act which is the cause of the desire, even if we suppose
this not in the sense that reflection apprehends it as cause. To suppose
this is to confuse the cause with its sign. The pleasure is a function
of the quality of the object. The element of reflectiveness _may_ enter
into a consideration of the object, and the prospective pleasure thus
become an element of the object of desire. But it is only a part; the
pleasure alone cannot be the object of desire. The pleasure which is
thus a part of the object is not a future pleasure, but that which is
actually present in our minds, belonging to the ideal object as part of
it--the represented pleasure of attainment. To call the pleasure desired
the prospective pleasure is to confound the reflection of the spectator
with the actual fact in the mind of the agent to an act. The pleasure
is, moreover, not pleasure in general, but the pleasure of the agent;
but this is not stating that the act is necessarily selfish.

Since every object of desire and will includes pleasure, the so-called
"paradox of hedonism"--that pleasure is lost by seeking after it--cannot
be explained by holding that pleasure is not itself the object of
desire, and that consequently pleasure is never, in enjoyment, what it
is in idea. This last is true, for no idea is in reality what it is as
idea. But the explanation lies rather in pointing out how foolish it is
to seek for what is a sign or effect rather than for its cause.

In the good man, the pleasure of attainment is the ethical sense of
approbation, and this is also goodness. It may, however, be asserted
that it is not this ethical pleasure, this goodness as such, that is
desired by the good man; again, it is only in exceptional cases of
reflectiveness that goodness or the right action as such is
distinctively desired; and herein lies Kant's mistake in asserting that
a moral act must be done from a sense of duty.

Active pains, as wants, are what prompt to action, and are, so, the
conditions of conduct. Though in themselves evil, as pain, they cannot
be considered by themselves apart from the action to which they lead. As
for passive pains, in so far as they are the result of evil action on
the part of others, they ought not to have occurred, and we try to
prevent their repetition by punishment. Those sufferings incidental to
right conduct are to be borne, in so far as they are inevitable, as a
necessary evil in that which, considered as a whole, is good. As soon as
they cease to be inevitable, they are to be removed. We do not imagine,
however, that pain may ever be wholly removed. But the statement that
pain is inevitable to right conduct is not to be interpreted as an
assertion that it is for the sake of goodness, as a discipline,--a
metaphysical conception depending on the idea of a divine purpose.

Morality is thus a kind of optimism, not ignoring the reality of pains
in right conduct, but treating them as part of the given conditions
which it has to turn to the best account, by the creation of a conduct
and character involving ethical pleasures. Pessimistic theories do not
ignore this optimism of morality; but in such theories the fact of pain
is emphasized and dwelt upon, and morality is regarded only as a means
of lessening pain, or, as in the case of Von Hartmann, finally getting
rid of it altogether by a universal suicide. It is impossible to
determine whether existence represents an excess of pain or of pleasure,
since the answer to the problem is a matter of individual temperament;
and, moreover, pleasures and pains cannot be (as yet) merely
quantitatively compared. Another error of pessimism consists in
comparing pleasures and pains in detail and supposing the result to hold
good in the general sum; but even in cases where pleasures are greatly
outweighed by pains, the pains may sink in value considered in
connection with the rest of life. The desirability of non-existence
could be maintained only as a race should be developed desiring it; but
the whole course of history is in the opposite direction.

The question, Is life worth living? involves two: (1) Is it actually
preferable to the creature who lives it? (2) Can any life be said to
have a real value; is any life subjectively, is any objectively,
preferable? The answer to the first question is the fact of life, for
the mysterious instinct of self-preservation called in to account for
the continuance of existence is one of the elements to be considered in
the problem, cannot be excluded. It is true that only certain kinds of
life are preferable, but the very meaning of the principle of selection
is the securing of the life that is worth living.

Having arrived at this answer, we can no longer compare existence and
non-existence in respect to preferability, and the second problem
presents itself to us as the question as to what existence is of value.
The answer is the moral life, goodness, as including all the activities
of character.

The moral end has sometimes been defined as social vitality. Vitality
is, in strictness, the energy to live, and has two aspects. It is (1)
the force which keeps a creature alive, or (2) the force which keeps it
well. As implying the keeping up of vital functions, the notion of
continued existence represents the end, but represents it in its lowest
aspect, its least and poorest significance, and is an insufficient
description; for not existence can be the end, but existence of a
certain sort. "Existence, in fact, is an abstraction to which nothing
corresponds in experience: nothing exists except upon certain terms.
Given the type, the end of the creature is to continue the existence of
that type; but continuance of existence is nothing more nor less than
the performance of those functions which constitute the type of life in
question: it is not separated from those functions as something which
they subserve." If the functions in man or animal are said to be
determined by the need of maintaining his existence, it may be answered
that his existence is these functions. In this sense of continued
existence as the repetition of vital functions in their order, it is
true, but only secondarily true, that the end is to preserve life. But
the doctrine of evolution implies much more than such preservation. It
means the victorious continuance of life. But because a type is
victorious, we cannot infer that the end of the type is to maintain its
victorious existence in the sense of aiming at victory. To do this is to
read into the end a theory of how the type came into existence. The end
of a type is to act according to the type; the victory over rivals
affords the opportunity of this. The preservation of existence is a
condition of the end, not the end itself; to regard it as such is to
confuse cause with effect.

Vitality as health, on the other hand, implies the equilibrium which
constitutes good conduct good. It must, however, "be observed that
health is not a further specification or a limitation of continued life,
but is coëxtensive with it."

But health, as applied to morals, is a metaphorical term. Morality does
not consist in mere physical vitality; on the contrary, some sacrifice
of such vitality may be necessary, the perfect physical vitality may be
inconsistent with the development of higher and finer mental functions.
"With this proviso, vitality as health is simply another name for the
character of good conduct which wins it the title of good."

There is often a distinction made between virtue and duty, the former
word seeming to include the latter and go beyond it. However, it is not
only virtuous to do one's duty, but it is also the duty of the
individual to do his best. In fact, the two, virtue and duty, are
coëxtensive, the term "virtue" describing conduct by the quality of the
agent's mind, the term "duty" by the nature of the act performed.
Nevertheless, there are actions to which it is more natural to apply the
term "virtue," "duty" being colored by legal implications. In the legal
sense, duty fixes, not the highest line of conduct, but the lowest
limit, beneath which conduct must not fall. Virtue, as contrasted with
duty in the legal sense, seems to be coëxtensive with merit. Negative
merit, however, where a man is good in spite of some great disadvantage,
does not make an act virtuous in distinction from dutiful conduct. It is
the duty of a man with a passion for drink to repress it; but we do not
term his performance virtuous, though it may be meritorious. Merit, that
is, implies a scale within the range of good acts themselves. Virtue and
duty coincide, however, only so long as the moral value of actions are
considered. For we distinguish two different classes of virtues, or two
senses of the word "virtue," corresponding to the distinction of ethical
and pathological, the pathological virtues being certain gifts of
emotion or sentiment, which are sometimes thought to make action more
virtuous, but do not alter its real character. "Thus, for example, the
virtue of benevolence may be thought imperfect without kindly feeling,
though a man may be benevolent without any such spontaneous movement.
Chastity, again, may in some natures be accompanied by, and flow from, a
delicacy of feeling which makes all unlawful suggestions impossible.
Now, if these emotions were necessary to their respective virtues, we
should have to admit that duty was less than virtue. But we must
maintain that they are excellences which do not alter the moral
character of conduct, and may be absent altogether and leave the agent
as virtuous as if they were present. Some persons, indeed, would say
that there was less virtue in characters which possessed these emotional
endowments.... In themselves, they are not virtues in the ethical sense,
but only 'add a lustre' to habits of will. They may even be ineffectual,
as often happens with very good-natured persons, or they may be
positively bad. Courage, for instance, we admire even in a villain. We
may conclude, then, that these excellences of disposition are only
valuable in so far as they are helps to virtue, and we praise the brave
villain on account of a quality which is of the utmost importance for
actual goodness. They enter into our ideal of the perfect or complete
character, though, if we estimate our ideal of perfection, we shall
find, I think, that we attach less value to them when they are native
than when they have been produced by a constant discipline."

It might seem, then, that we could classify duties under virtues. To a
considerable extent such a classification is possible. But it must be
imperfect, because there are duties--for example, filial duty, or the
duty of casting one's vote in a political contest--which do not
correspond to any general head of virtue, or may be ranked under several
heads: and again, we may rank along with virtues which stand for duties
qualities of conduct which do not correspond to duties in the same
sense; as, for instance, in a list of heads of duties, wisdom and
self-control. The enumeration mixes up two classifications, in the one
of which we group observances together under certain heads, in the other
of which we enumerate certain elements of good action in general,
certain aspects which every good action presents, and we exhibit them as
qualities in the agent's mind. The two classifications are combined in
the ancient description of morality under the heads of wisdom, courage,
temperance, and justice. The better classification is by moral
institutions, where the moral life is already mapped out for us into its
different parts. Such a scheme of classification will consider (_a_) the
Individual, (_b_) the Family, (_c_) the Society, (_d_) the State; the
fourth division including international duties, the third not being
necessarily limited to a particular society, but extending to all


The previous description of morality supposes it to be stationary, and
is like a section taken across the path of morality at any one time. It
gives us no idea of the process and progress of morality. We have yet to
show how the moral order is produced, and to examine the meaning and the
law of moral progress.

As the moral organism may be compared to a species of which the various
moral individuals are the members, so the moral ideal may be regarded as
a species of which the various ideals in the minds of good men are the
different individuals. We should thus expect to find the origin and
growth of morality analogous to or, more strictly speaking, identical
with, the growth of natural species.

"If an ultimate ideal were admissible, it would be impossible to assert
that morality is essentially progressive." Morality, in the sense of an
equilibrium, has at every stage a certain finality, in the sense that it
is, for that stage, the ideal adjustment. But we cannot conceive of any
ideal as final in the sense of stationary. The good is always ultimate
but always in motion. "Moral progress admits of only two degrees of
comparison, the superlative being identical with the positive." By
"best" we do not imply a greater rightness in the ultimate condition,
but only a highest development. Spencer's conception of the distinction
between Absolute and Relative Ethics involves the conception of an
ultimate "ideal congruity," or complete adaptation of man to his
conditions, a mobile equilibrium including perfection as well as
goodness, present choice being never between wrong and an absolute
right, but always between two wrongs, the lesser of which is to have the
preference. The picture is, in itself, perfectly legitimate; and in so
far as Spencer "conceives that the only ideal is the absolutely right
conduct, his conception is not only legitimate, but true." There is
always, however, an absolute right that may be chosen; and "using the
conception of a mobile equilibrium, we found it to be, not a goal of
progress, but the meaning of goodness at any time." "The distinction of
good and bad (right and wrong) arises within the limited range of
conditions that are to be met by good action." That, as Sidgwick
asserts, there is always some course of conduct which is right, the
moral consciousness declares with certainty, and is thus against the
relativity of morality. Mr. Spencer holds that any concomitant of pain
makes an action wrong, therefore it is natural for him to regard all
present morality as only relative. But to the good man the pleasure of
doing right exceeds the possible attendant pains of an action; and
except upon the understanding that, in a society of good men, every one
will adjust himself with equanimity to the needs of others, not even the
acts which are declared to be typical of absolutely right conduct can be
free from concomitant pain. "Will the ideal state exhibit no
competitions, such as rivalry in love, which can be ended indeed with
the contentment of all persons, but assuredly not without attendant

The general error in theory on this subject lies in a misconception of
the idea of "adjustment" to environment, the fact not being noted that
the environment is not itself fixed and permanent. What the environment
is depends upon the nature and faculties of the individual, the same
environment being a different one for amoeba and human being, for the
blind man and the man possessing sight; and what environment is and what
the individual does are settled at one and the same time, the process of
selection being one from both sides, and the variation of both. The
adaptation "wherever it exists and so far as it exists" is, hence,
perfect adaptation; if the lower organism is adapted to its environment,
its adaptation is as perfect as that of the higher organism to its

Every successful life means adaptation. "Every animal which can maintain
its life is in adaptation to its environment." The bare formula of
adaptation means nothing more than the fact of existence. "Adaptation to
the conditions as such teaches us nothing as to the nature of the
organism; for all functions are reactions upon the conditions, and
therefore, so far, adaptations. But it points to something behind. It
means that _all_ the functions of the animal are adapted to the
conditions, and this means that its functions are adapted or adjusted to
one another under the conditions."

"The moral ideal consists in a certain equilibrium established on the
basis of certain conditions--wants and sentiments in moral agents." It
involves advance just for this reason, because the act of adjustment
implied in good conduct itself alters the sentiments of the agent, and
creates new needs demanding a new satisfaction. The change is not always
in the same direction, however; for cultivation in one direction may
cause the individual to become aware of capacities or wants in quite
another direction, or the advocacy of one side of a question, persevered
in, may so open up the other side as to end in complete change of view.
In any case, however, there is an enlargement of experience, and the old
facts are themselves changed by it as well as are the individuals
subject to it.

This change or adjustment leads to a maladjustment requiring a new
adjustment. This maladjustment is to be distinguished from the
reärrangements which are contemplated by the statical ideal and due to
the mere rotation of wants in society; the latter are within the moral
system as a system of mobile equilibrium. The maladjustment is of
another sort. "The good act ceases to be good by its performance. The
moral ideal ceases to satisfy." The two forms of change may be compared
respectively to a shifting of position on the same locus, and to such a
shifting of position as involves a shifting of locus. Thus, by change
after change of this sort, a new variety replaces its parent, and this
variety in time producing a fresh variety, there is finally reached a
new species. Progress thus becomes a necessary fact, and the difference
of so-called stationary societies from progressive ones can lie only in
the comparative slowness of change.

"As there is a difference between different societies in rate of change,
so there is a similar difference as between different parts of conduct."
Law, a part of morality, lags behind in moral progress. However, there
is nevertheless always advancement, otherwise legislators would be
unnecessary. And the direct outward change of form is preceded by other
change, laws which fall into disfavor by means of moral progress being
modified, in application, within the possible limits of interpretation,
and less and less rigidly enforced. There is good reason why law should
have a certain permanence.

The moral standard appears to have a similar more or less fixed
character, while morality itself is in continuous change. There are two
reasons for this appearance: (1) the changes in the moral order are
infinitesimal and not perceived by us except as accumulated through some
period of time; and, moreover, what is commonly called the moral
standard is only a kind of generalization from the extremely various
opinions of different persons as to what is right, and differs from the
real standard which "registers the conduct constituting equilibrium, and
is possessed by the good man. Perfectly good men are impossible. The
standard current is therefore nothing more than a common understanding,
which every one, even every good man, expresses differently; it is no
more an exact expression of the truth than is, let us say, a great
scientific conception (like development) which regulates all knowledge,
but is amongst the educated little more than the name of a general way
of thinking, while the thing itself is becoming, at the hands of men of
science, modified or even transformed." (2) The mistake is often made of
describing morality, not by institutions, but in terms of virtues, and
while the name applied to different virtues remains the same, their
content changes from age to age.

This idea of variability affects the statical conception of order with
regard to habit--the moral requirement being that the fixed habits of
morality should not be so fixed as to be incapable of advancement; and
with regard to conscience, of which it might be said that, instead of
representing the moral order, it was more occupied in changing than in
maintaining it, but which in reality thus represents the moral order, to
which the ideal is a changing one.

Two difficulties or objections may arise with regard to this idea of a
changing ideal. The progress has been represented by personifying the
ideal and supposing the person to change with each new ideal. Again,
"goodness consists, we saw, of a system of conduct in the individual
himself or in society, and this system forms a series in time. It would
seem to follow that, if goodness is always progressive, no second act
would be performed under the same law, although the very idea of the law
means a series of acts." But we are not to suppose that, if fifty good
men in a society act rightly, fifty new ideals are established, for the
ideal represents the equilibrium of the members of the society, and it
depends on whether the new ideals of the fifty men represent the new
equilibrium whether we shall call the persons good or bad. Again, the
ideal at any moment would be in fact realized in a series, supposing the
conditions did not alter meanwhile; and while the system of conduct is
serial, it is realized at any one moment in the mind of the man whose
sentiments correspond to its requirements.

"In this process we see exhibited the interplay of the element of
goodness or rightness with that of perfection. In all actual goodness,
we have perfection attained as well; but in the statical notion of
goodness perfection is subordinate--only that exercise is perfect which
is legitimate. But in the notion of progressive goodness, perfection
regains its rights. For goodness, having secured perfection, creates new
materials which destroy the old equilibrium and call for a new one.
Goodness determines perfection, but change in perfection determines,
therefore, changes in goodness." Morality is the creation of a better;
this better is change from a lower to a higher development, not the
growth of a greater rightness. All good conduct is _absolutely_ good,
and the good man of former days was as good as the good man of to-day,
although he performed acts not allowable by the higher moral standard
attained as highest development. Accordingly, there is no such thing as
an absolute morality, in comparison with which other conduct is variable
and relative. The relativity of good conduct, instead of being a
reproach, is in reality its highest praise, for it implies that the
conduct takes account of exactly those conditions to which it is meant
to apply. This conception of morality as absolute runs into that of
morality as an eternal and identical law: eternal, for the morality of
given conditions remains eternally true for those conditions; identical,
for although it cannot be called identical in the sense that virtues do
not change with institutions, it is identical in form,--as an
equilibrium of social forces in an order of conduct. The more important
conception of the moral law is its unity in which, as the stages of one
continuous law, its identity consists. "Progress is not mere destruction
of the lower, but fulfilment."

In considering how morality arises, it would be erroneous to suppose
that it comes into existence by an actual compromise. It arises through
a process of continuous change, parts of which may be an insensible
growth, parts the self-conscious adoption of a proposed new scheme. In
the latter case, a slight reform may be adopted with but little
opposition from members of the society other than the proposer, as
meeting a recognized, common want; or, in the case of a more extended
reform, the idea as first proposed may be long contended against, and
only finally adopted after much alteration by reason of contact with
such opposition. In its acceptance innumerable forces are combined,
innumerable different motives determine its acceptation by different
persons. Whatever the motive, however, the conduct of the person
accepting it alters in accordance with its acceptation.

The chief importance of pleasure and pain lies in the part they take in
such choice. They are "the tests of the act being suitable or the
reverse to the character (in the widest sense) of the agent." If a
reform does not suit the character, it will cause pain and urge to
removal of the pain by resistance; and on the other hand, when the
reform is accepted, it must be that it gives pleasure to the persons
concerned. But in saying this we have to remember the distinction
between ethical (or effective) and pathological (or incidental)
pleasures and pains. The total reaction of character on a stimulus may
be pleasurable, but this pleasure results from a mixture of pleasures
and pains weighed against one another. This balancing of pleasures and
pains is not reflective, but takes place by a kind of intuitive act in
which only subsequent reflection may be able to distinguish the
elements. The pleasure or pain involved in acceptance or rejection is
not the ground of acceptance or rejection. The cause of the acceptance
or rejection is the nature of the reform itself, its congruity or
incongruity with the natures of the persons accepting or rejecting it.
"When the new ideal is definitely established, those who do not obey it
are bad, those who do are good." Those who were good under the old may
thus be bad under the new ideal, and _vice versa_.

The gradual reform through the choice of individuals who act upon their
feelings without knowing the whole aim or bearing of their conduct is
similar to that where a definite reform is the end in view. It is a
gradual adjustment of wills under new conditions and represents the
position of equilibrium which would be completely realized if all the
society were good.

The new ideal is not to be defined as merely the will of the majority,
the possession of a majority being nothing but the fact of its
prevalence. The ground of prevalence is that it represents the
equilibrium. "There is no virtue in mere preponderance; it is not that
reforms follow the majority, but that a majority is attracted by a
suitable reform."

A new ideal arises by a struggle of varieties analogous to that in the
organic world,--the word "struggle" being metaphorical in both cases,
since actual conflict is not necessary to either. "The distinction of
good and bad corresponds to the domination of one variety... which has
come to prevail in virtue of its being a social equilibrium," and thus
representing suitability to all the conditions of life. Evil is simply
that which has been rejected and defeated in the struggle with the good.

The reformer, as not representing the predominating ideal and so the
social equilibrium, and the man who turns out to be bad by the new
ideal, thus stand originally upon the same level. "Each is an instance
of a variety of the original species, but the former is the successful
variety"; his ideal "represents the real forces of society and can be
adopted by the whole." The struggle is one of character and conduct, and
results not necessarily in the extinction of life, but in the extinction
of unsuitable ideals.

"The distinction of the _formally_ bad from the _materially_ good rests
upon the transition from the old ideal to the new, though sometimes we
use those terms as describing what is only legally wrong though morally
approved. A reformer, until his reform is established, is formally
wrong. He can be considered materially right only prospectively;... time
only can prove whether he had really forecast the movement of his
society." "Sometimes a society may be so divided, as in our civil war,
that neither variety is predominant. In such a case we must say, not
that there was no rule of right, but that there was a different rule for
each of the two halves of the nation." "There does not arise any need
for the distinction of formally and materially right conduct, until the
limits have been overstepped, within which it is in any age considered
right for a man to act upon his own conviction. These limits are placed
very differently in different ages."

Does good action, then, depend on the bad man as well as on the good?
"Good and evil arise together, and good is therefore always relative to
evil, but we do not therefore take our morality from the bad. We cannot,
in fact, know who is bad until the standard is created, but once
created, we maintain it against bad men by punishment. But, on the other
hand, the moral standard does depend upon the forces which, when allowed
free play, are distinguished as bad.... A large part of conduct consists
of precautions which it is not only legitimate but incumbent to take,
but which we should dispense with under happier conditions.... And in a
second way, morality depends on 'badness,' for when a habit of action
which we dislike and call bad comes to be strong enough to make itself
felt, we seek to satisfy its claims as reasonable. There is... no
external standard by which we can settle once and for all what claims
are legitimate and what are not. We derive our conception of the
reasonableness of things from our experience of their vitality and
effective powers. A wise man who thinks the feelings and beliefs of his
neighbors ridiculous will, by persuasion or force, resist them with all
his energies, but when he finds them persist in spite of all his
efforts, he will recognize that there are more things in human nature
than stir within the narrow limits of his own breast. If what we now
call bad conduct, murder, adultery, theft, could be conceived to become
predominant under greatly changed and of course impossible conditions,
it would cease to be bad and would be the ideal of life."

From the view that morality depends upon victory, misconceptions may
arise. The question may be asked: Should one, in case of doubt, follow
one's own conviction, or join the side it is thought will prevail? But
that good is created by predominance is a theory of the means by which
ideals come into existence, not a statement of the motive of those who
participate in the struggle. The struggle is between characters and
their forces, and not victory is the end, but the assertion of certain

"Interest or good in general is a different conception from the right or
the morally good. Interest means what is good for an individual
considered from his own point of view, and without regard to similar
claims of other individuals. It is the maximum of happiness or
satisfaction which he can secure under his conditions. By 'maximum
happiness' is meant that distribution of satisfactions or of the
energies which produce them, any deviation from which on either side
implies a less fulness of life." It refers, however, to his good as a
social, not as an isolated individual.

As a general rule, interest is in agreement with goodness; misdeeds are
unprofitable. But there are instances where goodness and interest do not
coincide, though not in the case of the good man. That virtue and
interest are in general identical means, statically, that morality is a
reconciliation of interests by which wants are satisfied, and is
established by the creation of a new type of character, which has wants
of only certain kinds; and, dynamically, it represents the fact that
forces are arrayed on the side of the good which are too powerful for
the bad. "Good is the victorious ideal"; and though we may say that it
would really be to the bad man's interest to be bad, if circumstances
were such that his variety could maintain itself, we may add that such
hypothetical interests cannot be secured. However, interest does not
coincide with morality--

(1) Where the individual does not care for punishments and social
censures. (2) Where a man, by reason of certain superiorities of force
over others with whom he is more directly in contact, is able to obtain
power and suppress their resistance, or where the moral weakness of
others leaves him unpunished. In these exceptional cases, we have the
contradictory phenomenon that an ideal which can maintain its existence
is yet declared to be bad. "Such cases mark a stage of transition in the
process by which the distinction of good or bad is established." In the
struggle of animal species, the same phenomenon may be found; an
exceptional individual of a vanishing variety maintains his existence
for a time by reason of his exceptional endowment or of coming in
contact merely with the weaker members of the successful variety.

There are two ways in which the moral ideal is maintained,--by education
and by punishment. Punishment is the condemnation of wrong-doing by
censure or by legal penalties. The unpleasant consequences of neglect of
the self-regarding virtues are not punishment; but the reaction of the
good forces of society against wrong-doing is as natural as the
unpleasant physical effects of imprudence.

"If the question as to what moral sanction is means, 'What reason is
there why morality exists?' the answer lies not in enumerating the
penalties of wrong-doing, but in tracing the origin of morality as an
equilibrium of the forces of society.... But the question, 'Why should I
be moral?' means, most naturally and usually, What inducements are there
to me to do right?" The answer is that motives differ for different
individuals. With some, outer social inducements, with others, the
approbation and disapprobation of conscience are stronger. These latter
ethical pains and pleasures which are felt at the idea of an action
stand on a different footing from feelings having regard to external
rewards and punishments and also the prospective pleasures and pains of
conscience. The man who does right because he shrinks from prospective
pains of conscience is not a good man, but intermediate morally between
the bad man who seeks only to escape legal punishment and the good man
whose pains of conscience felt at the idea of a wrong act prevent his
performing it.

Punishment wears different shapes according to the point of view from
which it is regarded, but, in the distinctively moral view, is
reformatory. All punishment is retribution, but not in the sense that it
is personal vengeance. The value of this idea of retribution lies in the
fact that it places punishment on a line with the process of
self-assertion by which species maintain their life; it is a part of the
reaction of the organism against anything which impedes its vitality.
If, however, punishment avenges the evil deed, it is a confusion to say
that it is for the sake of vengeance. The purpose in the mind of those
punishing is not necessarily vengeance, and the idea of mere retribution
is repugnant to the good man. From the juridic point of view, the object
of punishment is prevention; from the moral point of view, reformation.
The reformation seeks to destroy a bad ideal, and does not necessarily
destroy the individual in whom it is found; but in some cases the
wrong-doer's mind is so perverted that only death, it is judged, will
suffice. "Here, too, paradoxical as it may seem, though perhaps the
chief object of our punishment is the indirect one of bettering others,
we punish with death in order to make him a good man and to bring him
within the ideal of society.... The penalty of death is thought
necessary to bring home to him the enormity of his guilt."

The object of punishment is not always achieved, but this matters not
for its moral character, which lies in its conscious object. The idea of
punishment as reconciling the criminal with society includes the aspect
of retribution or expiation, under which punishment may be viewed from
without; but it is only when the suffering is attended by reformation
that it can be considered in a proper sense expiation or atonement.

Responsibility differs from obligation by introduction of the element of
punishment. Obligation is the necessity of good conduct which arises out
of the relation of the act to the order of which it forms a part.
"Responsibility is the negative aspect of this relation. When I think of
conduct as required of me, I think of it as my duty; when I think of it
as conduct which if I do not perform, I shall be rightly punished, I
have the sense of responsibility." The sense of responsibility is thus a
knowledge of the requirements of the law, and it is only as we have
law-abiding instincts that we feel it; and we feel it differently
according as we think of the authority of the law as derived from its
mere enactment or as founded upon the social good, or as established in
our own conscience and self-respect, which represent the social good. As
including recognition of certain conduct as right, the sense of
responsibility is more than the mere knowledge and fear of punishment.
"It is only those who can appreciate that punishment will be deserved to
whom the idea of responsibility applies. There is, therefore, no
difference between the fact of responsibility and the sense of
responsibility, any more than there is between goodness and the feeling
of approbation, or duty and the sense of duty. When we declare a bad
man responsible, we mean that the good man holds him to be justly

Responsibility depends, then, on two things,--that a man is capable of
being influenced by what is right, and that whatever he does is
determined by his character. This capacity depends on his being aware of
the meaning of his acts, and so of their connection with other acts, and
contains thus an element not present in the relations of animals.

"Except for the authority of one or two great names, there seems to be a
general agreement that the will is determined by character." If
character means the principle of volition, as it is regarded in our
analyses, the assertion is a truism. It is no less true if character is
defined as disposition; all our dealings with our fellow-men reckon on
their acting in accordance with their character. The distinction made by
Green that the mind acts from its own nature (the motive and the whole
process of willing being within the mind) is no more and no less true of
the action of other bodies. The emergence of new sentiments in character
might be urged as an argument for free will; but this is of no more
significance than the budding of trees in springtime. The sense of
freedom is the sense of choice between two motives; but this merely
depends upon the intellectual property that the object willed is present
to consciousness,--in case of choice two objects being present to the
mind. "So far is the consciousness of freedom from being a ground for
assuming an arbitrary or undetermined power of volition that it is
exactly what would be expected to accompany the process of determination
when the object concerned was a conscious mind. Pull a body to the right
with a force of twelve pounds and to the left with a force of eight; it
moves to the right. Imagine that body a mind aware of the forces which
act upon it; it will move in the direction of that which, for whatever
reason, appeals to it most; and in doing so it will, just because it is
conscious, act of itself, and will have the consciousness of freedom."
But which motive is chosen is fixed and dependent upon character, that
cannot choose otherwise than it does; and the sense of freedom is a
sheer delusion. The feeling that one ought to have acted otherwise
implies another sort of freedom, according to which he only is truly
free who chooses the right; in such choice it is, however, the
character which acts, and though a man is free, in this sense, _if he
chooses_, his choice is determined. The argument of free will in regard
to punishment does not explain punishment, but renders it inexplicable.
It would be senseless to punish except as, by so doing, we can influence
a man's character. Determinism does not make punishment wrong; it is not
cruelty, but kindness to punish: it saves a man from worse, from
degradation of character, enabling him to change his ideal, and thus
bringing himself into equilibrium with his kind. The reason of certain
doubts which are beginning to be felt to-day with regard to punishment
is the larger knowledge of the dependence of men on their surroundings,
hence of the culpability of society as a whole; it is not an objection
to responsibility as such, but to the distribution of responsibility.

Education, the second means by which the moral ideal is defended, is not
identical with social progress, by which the moral ideal is itself
changed, but is the individual progress included within each definite
moral ideal. Education and progress are, however, inseparably bound
together, in that education goes hand in hand with punishment, and in
that it leads to the discovery of new ideals. If we take only the
irregular line which includes the good, and discard the ideals which are
exterminated or left behind, the movement of ideals is continuous with
education, and progress may therefore be described as an education of
society. The education of children has to put them in possession of the
present moral achievement, and to make them independent individuals,--so
to penetrate them with the moral order that it shall appear in them as
spontaneous character. It is an evolving of an ideal already present;
for, to be capable of education, a person must have already set foot on
the right path.

As in the physical world, so in the moral, we have the survival of many
different genera and species,--various ideals of conduct or institutions
of life, some of which may be grouped together by strong resemblances,
others of which stand to each other in the relation of lower to higher
organisms; the survival of archaic institutions in the higher as well as
their history of progress showing their affinities with the lower.
"History is the palæontology of moral ideals," and provides us with a
better means of studying the growth of morality than exists for the
study of the growth of species. As in the organic world, varieties
develop from species by a gradual and continuous movement of sentiment,
each successful variation forming the basis of a new variation, and the
differences of the varieties from each other and from the original
species increasing with their distance from the original species, until
the difference amounts to a difference of species. We may call these
modifications "accidental," but, as in the physical world, they are so
only as we regard them from the position occupied by a person before the
event; they have their causes if we can find them. These causes are to
be found in the contact of different minds. Variability depends to a
considerable extent on the size of a genus, but only in so far as
greater size involves greater complexity and variety of interests; the
vast but homogeneous societies of the East being less progressive than
the smaller but more complex ones of the West. "Where freer scope is
left to individual inclinations or aptitudes, there the friction of mind
against mind is more intense. New ideas are generated in the more vivid
consciousness of the people, and life becomes more inventive."

Species developed from a common genus will show some common traits and
some rules of mutual observance, savage peoples which have divided into
tribes being an exception to the latter part of the statement, for the
reason that lower societies have very little moral cohesion; they may be
compared to lower organisms which reproduce themselves by fission, or to
homogeneous colonies of animals, like sponges. Under the generic
institutions we must not include those which arise merely as the result
of similar circumstances. Ideals once formed advance at very different
rates, though the tendency to divergence is always being corrected by
the diffusion of ideas. But where one nation takes ideas from another,
these ideas are not borrowed, in the sense that they come wholly from
the other nation; there must have been, in the borrowing nation, a
development of ideas up to the point that makes the borrowing
possible,--a similar development to that of the nation from which the
borrowing takes place, due to similar circumstances. The communication
of moral ideas does not depend upon race-community, as is shown by the
ready adoption of Western ideas by such nations as the Hindoos and

In general language, we identify development and progress; and this is
true also in the case of morality. Goodness means progress; wickedness,
retrogression or else stagnation, which, compared with advance, is
retrogression. "In changing from one form to another, morality changes
from what is right under one set of conditions to what is right under
another set, and such change from good to good is what we mean by
becoming better. To deny this is to find some other standard of advance
than in the actual movement which has taken place, to put an _a priori_
conception of development in place of the facts." "The moral ideal is
always, therefore, a progress, for either the society is single, and
goodness represents the law of its advance, or if the society is part of
a larger one, its ideal can be retrogressive only because the society is
so far bad." "And since goodness and badness exhaust the field of moral
possibilities, if the propositions that goodness means progress, and
badness regress, are both true, we must be able to convert them, and
maintain that all progress is due to goodness and all regress to
badness." To do this, we must distinguish between degradation and a mere
degeneration which involves a return to simpler conditions as an
adaptation to changed environment. Such degeneration as adaptation to
circumstances, in an individual or a society as a whole, is progress.
Fish who become blind by living in the dark become thus better fitted to
their circumstances, and the like is true of moral degeneration under
simpler conditions. Old age and death are characteristic of the higher
type of organism, in distinction from the lower types which, multiplying
by fission, are practically eternal; they are conditions of the
advantage of type, in which the individual is partaker. So a good
society under simpler conditions is on the side of progress, though it
may lie outside the main line of advance.

It is true that bad persons often help on progress, but the good they do
lies in their representation of the will of society for progress, the
evil lies in their use of this will as means to their own ends. It may
be objected, too, that the good man is sometimes a hindrance to progress
through stupidity; but to this is to be answered that intellect itself
becomes morally characterized in action.

All events and institutions are thus determined by their conditions; but
there is a movement forward distinguishable from the delay of stragglers
and the resistance of enemies, and this distinction is enforced by the
moral predicates of good and bad.

Our theory does not imply that whatever is, is right; such a statement
involves the use of the word right in the sense of "correct," or
"intelligible," "accountable by reflection." Nor is the doctrine
fatalistic. Fatalism implies that men act at the impulse of some force
which they do not understand; "but the history of mankind is the history
of beings who, through their own gift of consciousness, subdue
circumstances to their own characters." In judging a nation's
development, we must not interpret it according to our own likings, as
progression or retrogression; nor must we imagine retrogression from
relaxation of duties in some certain directions, but must regard the
society and its institutions as a whole.

The test of higher organization usually given is that of increasing
differentiation of parts with corresponding specialization of function.
But the main course of progress is not linear, or in one continuous
direction; apparent reversions to former types are only apparent; the
new type stands higher than the old. In other words, history moves in
cycles. It follows, from this, that mere differentiation is insufficient
for definition. While the differentiation advances, its significance
alters, or, let us say, the relative places of specialization and of
unity alter. Along with differentiation goes a process of integration.
Great revolutions simplify. The result of greater and greater
heterogeneity is to produce a new principle, which combines the warring
elements. The definition of progress by increased differentiation is
lacking in two ways: It tells us nothing of the forces by which progress
is produced, and it gives no connected view of the actual facts of
historical development. A general statement of progress in its formal
sense is found in the conception of a struggle of ideals. But as in this
struggle the survival of the fittest does not necessarily mean the
destruction of those who represented the defeated ideal, but the
supplanting of their ideal by another, the movement is one of
comprehension, and we should expect to find, and do find, the history of
morality exhibit the gradual development of a universal moral order,
good not for one group of men but for all. It would be a misapprehension
to regard this change as merely quantitative, as if the virtues were the
same whether they applied on a larger or a smaller scale. "The
quantitative extension is parallel with, and in reality proceeds from, a
change in the conception of the human person himself." In primitive
communities, the individual is so limited that he can hardly be called
an individual at all. First among the Greeks do we find the person the
embodiment of the social order, but in a limited sense. "When this
limitation breaks down, and the individual stands forth as independent
and self-conscious, the author of the laws he obeys, we have at the same
time the extension of the area of persons with whom he is in moral

"It matters little that the Western ideal of a society of humanity is
realized to so slight an extent. The ideal exists and implies the
inclusion of mankind." The principle of democracy, which we are engaged
in working out, "continues, or perhaps supersedes, under much more
complex conditions and over a wider range of institutions, the same
principle as Christianity introduced." It is not merely an identical
element in many individual states, but a comprehensive ideal. The power
of naturalization, extradition laws, international action among the
working classes, etc., imply this.

This "comprehension" is not merely one of breadth, but of depth as well:
the ideal includes not only the present of mankind, but its whole future
also. Duties have always been recognized to posterity, but the range of
generations to whom they applied was small, and the interests which it
was believed could be secured were limited also. _Après moi le déluge_
describes a form of selfishness of all ages, but different ages have
understood the _après moi_ quite differently. At the present day, the
range of responsibility is extending indefinitely.

A common political ideal does not mean a universal peace. Coarser forms
of dispute disappear, but, on the other hand, as nations grow more
refined in their ideals, they grow more susceptible. What a political
humanity, or a political community of Europe, would mean, is the
substitution of international punishment for the self-willed conflicts
of irresponsible nations.

We cannot say what the future of society and of morality may
be,--whether mankind will be able to take mechanical means against a
period of ice, or whether human society may not, as a whole, be
destroyed, to be replaced by a higher type of existence, which may arise
on the earth from the development of humanity, or may, on some other
planet, take up the tale of human civilization as we take up that of the
civilization of Greece and Rome.

Two things follow from the progressive character of the moral ideal: (1)
that the classification and description of duties will vary with each
age; (2) that, as the ideal changes from age to age, the highest moral
principle or sentiment will change with it.

At the present time, a belief has gained great authority, that the sense
of duty is transitory and will finally disappear; but whether we, with
Spencer, identify obligation with coercion, or understand it as the
relation of a part of conduct to the rest, in neither sense is the
proposition true as it stands. If duty means constraint, it by no means
follows that constraint will cease with progress; for constraint arises
from confronting one inclination with a higher idea, and its
disappearance would mean that inclinations had become constant; this is,
however, impossible. The fiction of a final stage of mobile equilibrium
is an unwarranted conclusion from the fact that all morality involves a
cycle of conduct in mobile equilibrium. But the theory represents a
truth,--the truth that morality at no time implies in itself the sense
of duty. The sense of duty, as involving the hard feeling of compulsion,
of subjection to authority, and bound up with the sense of sin, a sense
stronger in proportion to merit or the interval between first
inclination and final moral willing, may and is giving place to a higher
conception. In the family, this may already be found, where
self-sacrifice and aid are matters of affection and rendered freely. In
the higher ideal, we have that love of man for a higher and larger order
than himself which morality represents as solidarity with society, a
continually progressive society of free individuals; which religion
represents as the love for and of God.

And at the last two questions may be asked: (1) whether the difficulties
in which Christianity is placed at the present day do not arise from
absorption of its highest idea into the conceptions and the practice of
morality, so that the religious sentiment is starved; and (2) whether
the ideal of a free coöperation in the progress of humanity may not be
used to interpret the belief in immortality, putting in the place of
individual immortality the continuance of life in the persons whom the
individual may affect. In "The International Journal of Ethics" July,
1892, Alexander combats some misinterpretations of "Natural Selection in
Morals," which he says are partly due to Spencer's Individualism.
Natural Selection in social life does not mean necessarily destruction
of individuals, but is a struggle of ideals, such as that between
Individualism and Collectivism,--in which Selection seems to favor


[82] The reference is here to Wundt, "Phys. Psych.," I. p. 485 (ed.



Dr. Paul Ree's "Source of the Moral Feelings" ("Ursprung der moralischen
Empfindungen," 1877), is written from a pessimistic and mechanical
standpoint. The connection of thought and feeling in the region of
morals is, according to Ree, a purely, or very nearly a purely, outward
one, moral judgments not being the result of sympathy or antipathy, or
related to these feelings in more than an external manner, but arising
from associations of ideas engendered by education; the Sense of Justice
being, in this manner, the effect of Punishment. A definite distinction
is likewise made by Ree, between vice, which affects the individual
only, and badness, which affects society, the profligate who satisfies
his lust in the most unrestrained manner being regarded as perhaps
unwise, but not bad, as long as he does not seduce the pure. The author
fails, however, to show us how vice can be practised without social
injury, and necessarily fails also--since his position takes into
account no organic relations of characteristics--to notice the
significance of profligacy as an inherent feature of character. He
touches at one or two points, only, on Habit, and at one point alone on
Heredity, where he raises the question of the hereditary character of
Vanity, but arrives at no conclusion. He also makes the division of
Egoism from Non-egoism a definite one, fully identifying the Good with
the Non-egoistic, the Bad with the Egoistic. The Non-egoistic really
exists; a man may relieve another's suffering in order to free himself
from the sight of it; or he may relieve it for the other's sake.
Nevertheless, non-egoistic action is rare; men are much more egoistic
than the apes, who are rivals only with regard to food and sexual
desire, while men are rivals not only with respect to these primitive
wants, but with respect to many others besides, especially since they
not only regard the present but provide for the future also.

Vanity, according to Ree, gives rise to envy, hatred, and malignity.
But, the action of these passions being opposed to the safety of
society, some persons[83] introduced punishment for its protection, and
fear of punishment, and exchange of labor united men in peace. Deeds and
never motives were at first considered in the infliction of punishment,
but, outer compulsion not securing safety, the ideal of an inner
condition of character which should secure it arose. "Good" and "useful"
are synonyms, but men of later generations, receiving laws without
explanation of their origin, fail to understand that the Good was, in
its origin, simply the Useful, that the Bad was, in like manner, the
Harmful, and that Punishment is for the purpose of prevention and not in
the nature of a return for things done. The knowledge of this truth
takes from life some of its grandeur; but the truth remains the truth,

The will is not free; the mistake of regarding it as free is the result
of the failure to perceive that punishment looks to the future, not to
the past,--is a means of prevention, not a requital. The right to punish
does not rest, therefore, upon the Sense of Justice; but punishment is
justifiable as a means of prevention. Its choice, like that of other
evils as the alternatives of greater ones, is the practice of the
principle, The end justifies the means. Those who repudiate this
principle have not generally looked deeply into its meaning; moreover,
it has been misused. In putting it in practice, several things must be

1. The end to be served must be a good one;

2. The choice of means causing pain is permissible only when no other
means are possible;

3. The pain must be reduced to the least possible;

4. The pain must be less than would be involved in the omission of this
particular choice.

       *       *       *       *       *

The doctrine of eternal punishment is untenable, because:--

1. It presupposes the existence of a God.

2. Supposing a God to be existent, we cannot name him either good or
bad. "God is good" means "He does good to the world and its
inhabitants"; but of the world we know only the little earth, and of God
we know nothing.

3. If we will, nevertheless, predicate goodness or badness of God, we
must call him bad, since all beings known to us suffer much pain and
have little pleasure. The gods of the savages, who are not yet led away
by theological hair-splitting, are evil.

4. But if we still persist in naming God good, then we cannot suppose
him to be also cruel, and even more cruel than the hardest-hearted of

5. The doctrine of eternal punishment assumes the existence of a soul;
but the difference between human beings and the higher animals is not so
great that one can ascribe an especial soul to men.

6. But if a soul exists, it cannot be tortured, since it is immaterial.

7. And the deeds which God will thus punish deserve, on the theory of
punishment as prevention, no requital.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not immaterial to us whether men have a good or an evil opinion of

1. Because we hope for advantages from a good opinion.

2. Because we are vain.

Vanity arose, in the first place, because admiration was useful to men,
just as it is useful to the birds at pairing-time, and habit rendered it
agreeable in itself. Men therefore desire it, even when it has no
especial use, because "they know that all admiration is followed by a
strong feeling of pleasure."[84] The difference between man and the
peacock in respect to vanity is merely that he desires to be admired for
other things than outer appearance alone,--for courage, strength,
cleverness, the tools of battle, and many other things. Since, among
human beings, men and not women choose their mates, endeavoring to
obtain one or more of the most beautiful women possible, women endeavor
to render themselves beautiful, expending greater efforts as the stake
is greater in their case than in that of the peacock. They endeavor to
supplement their outward attractiveness by amiability, cleverness,
household industry, and, in our days, wealth; but beauty always makes
the strongest impression upon the man. Men desire to be admired rather
for other things than outward appearance, though for this, too, to some

But vanity may be objected to (1) on the ground that it is a desire to
create envy, and envy is pain and gives rise to hatred; (2) on the
hedonistic ground that the vain man more often suffers pain from not
being admired than experiences pleasure from admiration; (3) on the
intellectual ground that vanity renders a man incapable of impersonal
interest in Nature, Art, Philosophy, and Science. Entire freedom from
vanity could, however, be attained only by a life of complete isolation.
Because of these reasons for blame, men do not confess that they act
from vanity, but give other reasons for deeds prompted by this

Ambition may be blamed on grounds similar to those on which vanity is
blamed. However, this feeling urges to many useful acts, and without it
few would find interest for great effort. And since, because of its
usefulness, ambition is less blamed than vanity, men are more ready to
acknowledge that they possess it.

We desire to appear well in the eyes of others, therefore we conceal our
envy and hatred, and affect high courage, great honesty, and charity.
Such hypocrisy is bad; but it is necessary. For if men were to show
themselves as they are, with hearts full of hostility, they could not at
all associate. In order to make frankness and peace both possible, men
must become what they now pretend to be; but this does not lie in their

Malignant pleasure in others' pain arises from a comparison with our own
more agreeable situation, or from the pleasure in our own superiority in
any respect.

When a woman is seduced, it is in the interest of other women to
ostracise her, since, if marriage were to be abolished, women would lose
in position; the man who seduces her is blamed for bringing shame on
her, but not for unchastity, for men have no interest in maintaining
chastity in their own sex.

Caprice arises, not from change of mood, but from the pleasure of power
experienced in now charming by amiability, now causing gloom by
coldness, and again inspiring fear through anger.

If one desires anything from another, one should not say, "It is a
little thing," but "It is very much that I ask"; since he who is asked
gives more readily when he thinks he will appear very kind.

Natural Selection does not prefer the individual as far as morals are
concerned, but only nations. Moral rules are variable, but not steadily
progressive. Man is by nature selfish; simply habit tames men and makes
them, by change in nerves and muscle, more amenable to rule.

The good man is probably worse off than the bad man. Pain exceeds
pleasure in all beings. Everything, love included, becomes worthless
when attained, and labor begins again for new attainment. Man is,
moreover, the most unhappy of all beings, for he feels most strongly,
and in his complicated organism there is almost always something out of
order. For this reason, sympathy[86] brings more pain than pleasure. The
bad man has only pangs of conscience to disturb him, and, if he is
superstitious, the fear of punishment after death. It is difficult to
say whether the bad man or the good man is happier. In fact, happiness
depends rather on temperament, power of self-control, and health.
Possibly these truths may seem harmful; and if the good man is higher
than the bad man, and goodness should be sought, only so much of the
truth should be revealed as is not antagonistic to this end. But the
good man is not the higher, although, because goodness is useful, our
education has attempted to make us believe this. The animals may be
unselfish as well as man; on the other hand, the disinterested search
for truth is not found among the animals. The attainment of truth is,
moreover, pleasurable to the searcher, turning painful desire for truth
to pleasurable fulfilment.

Dr. Ree's later book, "The Origin of Conscience" ("Die Entstehung des
Gewissens," 1885), does not add anything distinctly new in theory to
this first book; it is rather noticeable for what it omits of the
pessimism of the earlier book, for a more moderate, thoughtful, and less
assertive tone, than for additional theories or even much further
elaboration of the old theories, except as regards the derivation of the
Sense of Justice. It traces the savage custom of the revenge of death
through its displacement by the payment of blood-money, up to the final
substitution of state punishment. Punishment does not grow out of
revenge, but succeeds it. It is not revenge, though the desire that the
guilty may be punished and the desire for revenge may be mixed, in some
cases. Pain, not the Sense of Justice, drives the savage to revenge.
Punishment does not grow out of the Sense of Justice, but the latter out
of the former. The interference of the state with the revenge of the
individual is at first a mediation between the two parties for the
maintenance of peace in the interest of the community; later, the state
arrives at a method of punishment for the purpose of prevention.

Hume's theory of the origin of religion has been confirmed by
Anthropology. The savage sees in natural phenomena the action of living
beings endowed with mental faculties like his own, and he gradually
comes to transfer this action to beings not in, but, according to his
new idea, behind, phenomena. The gods of primitive religions are moral
only as the peoples whose gods they are, are moral. As society
progresses, religion falls behind, and a new interpretation of old
doctrines must be introduced in order to bring it up to the later
standard. Then the gods, as moral with the morality of this later date,
are imagined as commanding the later standard, and to the fear of
punishment by the state is added, as a preventive force, that of the
punishment of the gods. The gods command what men command, forbid what
men forbid. The God of the Old Testament, Jahveh, was, like Zeus, a
nature-god, and took revenge as men did. When a later date demanded a
standard of greater humanity, Christ came, and he represented the God
of the Old Testament, no longer as revengeful and passionate, but as
possessing the attributes of sympathy which he felt in himself. The
later standard of the New Testament takes into consideration motives as
well as deeds, and commands positively as well as forbids. But the God
of the New Testament is not wholly love; if his love is unreturned, he
becomes angry, like men.

The Categoric Imperative in the individual is merely the result of his
individual education. Conscience alone accomplishes little; other
motives than the desire to do right--fear of punishment, etc.--are
stronger. Nothing is, in itself, good or bad, but only so far as it is
useful or harmful.

Sympathy is to some degree innate,--how it arose we cannot say; but it
has been preserved by natural selection.


[83] P. 46.

[84] P. 78.

[85] See, in contradistinction to Ree's theory of vanity, Sigwart's
admirable essay on this subject, contained in his "Kleine Schriften."

[86] Dr. Ree appears to depart from his general theory here and identify
sympathy with morality.




Twenty years ago, any one about to deal with moral science from the
standpoint of the Theory of Evolution, might have deemed it necessary to
preface his work with a statement of cogent reasons for the assumption
of such a standpoint. At a time when Theology saw in Darwinism only a
weapon of the anti-theological party, and when even many scientists were
not yet decided as to the worth of the new ideas, the right of the
student to make use of them in psychological and ethical investigations
might have been a subject for dispute. Yet even in the beginning the
attitude of apology was assumed oftener without, than within,
English-speaking countries, for the very reason that exactly among the
race from which Darwin sprang, the warfare of his conception of animate
nature with older systems was fiercest. At the present date, the
attitude of opinion is changed in all countries. The Theory of Evolution
has few, if it can be said to have any, enemies among the students of
science. "With Louis Agassiz died the last opponent of Darwinism
deserving scientific notice," says Haeckel.[87] Theology itself has
ceased from extreme hostilities, and many theologians have even found in
the idea of Evolution an argument with which to defend teleological
doctrine. The present opponents of Darwinism as applied to psychology
and ethics rather contest its special worth for these provinces than
deny its validity in them. Nevertheless, a universal acceptance cannot
be claimed for the theory; and since ethics is, above all other
sciences, the one that should most desire to persuade rather than to
alienate,--and this the more, the stronger its conviction of its own
truth,--it may be well to state or restate some of the reasons which
justify, from almost all modern standpoints, at least a tentative
application of the ideas of Evolution to ethical theory. Such a
statement, or restatement, must be an attempt to demonstrate the
validity of the theory in this province, and to give some good reasons
for supposing, _a priori_, that a survey of ethical questions from the
point of view it furnishes may be of ethical utility. The proof of such
utility can be found, ultimately, only in the results of the
investigation itself.

There is but one phase of the theological doctrine of Creation with
which the mere idea of an evolution of life, by itself considered, is
directly at variance; this is the doctrine of Creation as taught by the
older Theology, which accepted the opening chapters of Genesis as
literal history, not as, by any possibility, an oriental allegory.
Between the theory of Evolution and the idea of Creation as a primal
formation of matter with force or motion in accordance with fixed laws,
between it and the idea of an initial application of force from
without,--an impulsion which set the universe in motion,--between it and
the conception of a transcendental guidance through natural law or of a
pantheistic order of development, there is no such necessary
contradiction as could justify the denial of Evolution from the
standpoint of any of these theories. It is, therefore, with the
defenders of the older theological doctrine of creation only that an _a
priori_ defence of Evolution has to deal.

The argument which this doctrine has always regarded as one of its
strongest defences is that of the universality of the notion of a
Creating Spirit. But this defence is no longer available; modern
research has proved the idea to be by no means universal. Sir John
Lubbock says, "The lower races have no idea of a Creation; and among
those somewhat more advanced it is, at first, very incomplete." "The
lower savages regard their gods as scarcely more powerful than
themselves;... they are not creators; they are neither omniscient nor
all-powerful; far from conferring immortality on man, they are not even
in all cases immortal themselves."[88] "Stuhr, who was, as Müller says,
a good observer of such matters, reports that the Siberians had no idea
of a Creator. When Burchill suggested the idea of creation to the
Bachapin Kaffirs, these 'asserted that everything made itself,' and that
trees and herbage grew by their own will."[89] "As regards Tahiti,
Williams observes that the 'origin of the gods and their priority of
existence in comparison with the formation of the earth, being a matter
of uncertainty even among the native priests, involves the whole in the
greatest obscurity.'"[90] "When the Capuchin missionary, Merolla, asked
the queen of Singa in Western Africa who made the world, she, 'without
the least hesitation, readily answered, "My ancestors."'"[91] "The
Bongos of Sudan had no conception of there being a Creator,"[92] the
Adipones, the Californian Indians, before they came in contact with
white men, the Crees, the Zulu Kaffirs, the Hottentots, had no idea of a
creation. "Even in Sanscrit, there is no word for creation, nor does any
such appear in the Rigveda, the Zendavesta, or in Homer."[93] The idea
of a creation in any sense is not, then, universal, and cannot be
asserted to be innate, _a priori_, primordial, or essential to human
nature. Nor, assuming the standpoint of belief in a Creator, is there
any ground for supposing that he would have chosen the one rather than
any other method of creation. The internal as well as the external
difficulties in the way of a too literal exegesis of the Old Testament
are rapidly causing the abandonment of dogmatism with respect to this
point; and any other interpretation than a literal one cannot, as has
been said, logically object to a theory of Becoming based on scientific

It is in the nature of many of our greatest scientific theories that
their simplicity and naturalness in the explanation of facts fill us
with a sense of wonder that they had not long before suggested
themselves to scientists. If, for instance, we were to attempt, in a
Cartesian spirit, to free ourselves from all the prejudice of previous
dogma and regard only the general course of nature, we could not
logically avoid the conclusion, even from a superficial view, that a
theory of the gradual development of existing forms has far more
probability on its side than that of a creation from without which broke
in upon natural process, and placed ready-made suns and planets in the
heavens, and finished beasts and men upon the earth. Everywhere in the
organic world we behold the process of growth, the development of
germs, the passage of the inorganic into the organic, and of the organic
into the inorganic again,--change and transformation under natural law.

The difficulty which difference of form and function in the various
species offers to a theory of Evolution is by no means so large as has
often been claimed; as great difference exists between the oak and the
acorn, from which we know it, nevertheless, to spring; as much contrast
is exhibited between the brown twigs of the trees and shrubs in winter
and the brilliant foliage and flowers which they put forth under the
warmer sun of spring; quite as great contrasts may be found, in the life
of every human being, between the single cell and the individual
completeness attained at birth, between infancy and morally
characterized manhood and womanhood, between the vigor of full maturity
and the deterioration of age. Even the chasm between the organic and the
inorganic is not logically impassable. The necessity of nourishment is
the natural bridge between the two, and the equivalence of conditions
and result, the indestructibility of matter and motion, establish at
once the necessity of the inference that the organic can exist only at
the ultimate expense of the inorganic, from which it is continually
renewed. Were our senses such that, having before been closed, they were
suddenly opened to the perception of the daily observable facts of
growth, these would probably appear to us very nearly as strange,
anomalous, and impossible as the changes which, according to the
Darwinian Theory, have resulted in the existence of different species;
and it is obvious that the public mind, becoming gradually accustomed to
the conception of the latter changes, does not now regard them as so
wonderful and anomalous as they appeared to it in the beginning.

Processes involving complete change of form may be observed, at the
present time, everywhere in nature; but they are observable, everywhere
in the organic, as growth without breaches; even a primitive science has
always recognized the gradual character of motion, the absence of gaps
in the causal chain, at least outside of the initiative action of human
will. Such a natural hypothesis of creation as we have above supposed,
formed upon crude and superficial, but as far as it goes, logical
reasoning from facts of observation, could not regard the process as
other than a gradual one, in which simpler forms and conditions must be
supposed to have preceded more complex ones; in other words, it could
not logically conceive the process as other than an evolution.

Traces of an idea of Evolution may be found in various crude forms in
nearly all the earlier Greek philosophers, especially in Anaximander,
Heraclitus, Democritus, Empedocles, and later in Aristotle. Such traces
may even be found in many heathen mythologies in contradistinction from
the Judaic. The progress of investigation, establishing the universality
of natural law and, in every province, the gradual character of change
was, before Darwin, as it has been since his work, in the direction of
such a theory, as was shown by the ready acceptance with which Darwinism
met, if not by the world at large, at least by the majority of
scientists. In England, France, and Germany, there were others at work
under the influence of thoughts similar to if not identical with those
that inspired the researches and experiments of Darwin; and the nebular
theory of Kant had already claimed in Astronomy what the Darwinian
claimed in Biology. "When Kant, in his Natural History of the Heavens,
which has become the fundament of modern Astronomy, says, 'Give me
matter and I will make you a world,' what he intended to express was
that the natural laws of matter are perfectly competent to render
comprehensible to us the development of our well-known solar

In the very beginning, the theory of Evolution may be said to have had
three distinct branches, represented by the Nebular Theory in Astronomy,
Haeckel's Ontogeny, and the Biology of Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, and
Huxley; and to these should properly be added the Sociological Ethics of
Spencer, which was not, however, worked out to a complete system. But Du
Prel says of later research: "In the progress of modern science, no
principle has proved so fruitful as that of evolution. All branches
compete with one another in its use, and have brought about by its aid
the most gratifying results. Geology interprets the significance of
superimposed, hardened strata of the earth's crust in the sense of a
history of the earth's development; Biology, in union with the study of
fossils, arranges the living and petrified specimens of plants and
animals in their order, and constructs a history of the evolution of
organic life; Philology prepares a genealogical tree of languages, and
finds in it signs which throw light on prehistoric times, and reveal
facts forgotten for thousands of years; Anthropology discovers in the
form and expression of human beings rudimentary signs that point to a
theory of development from lower forms; and, finally, History reveals
the evolution of civilization in far-distant historic times; and in all
these branches it becomes apparent that we only then understand
phenomena when we have comprehended their Becoming."[95]

It is due to the gradual perception of the fact that some such theory as
that of Evolution is implied in the very conception of the constancy of
nature that there has been a continual decrease of that negative form of
criticism which has made much of the gaps in the direct proof. Modern
science has so grown to, and by, the theory of Evolution that the
overthrow of the latter means nothing more nor less than the destruction
of science itself in its highest results. Even those who reject the
conclusions of Evolution are found to make use of its methods, and must
do so perforce. As the breadth and depth and height of the theory come
to be perceived, it is seen that the demand for complete proof is
nothing more nor less than a demand for the perfection of all branches
of knowledge, the refusal of credit without such proof a refusal to
place any confidence in the first principles of scientific theory until
it has fully explored the universe and left nothing further to be
discovered. But science would have less ground for complaint, if the
opponents of Darwinism consistently refused, on the ground of the
incompleteness of our knowledge, to form any theory whatever on the
subject of man's nature and development, permitting the worth of the
evolutional theory to be determined by its future results in application
as hypothesis. But the peculiar spectacle is afforded us of a party
rejecting a theory supported by numberless facts in all branches, and
whose very breaches the direction of discovery continually tends to
bridge, in favor of a dogma which cannot point to one scientific fact in
its support,--a party demanding absolute perfection of proof as the
condition of its acceptance of one theory, while it at the same time
fiercely defends a conception of nature of which it cannot furnish the
most imperfect proof. It is true that mankind has not beheld the
evolution of the whole vegetable and animal kingdom. But neither had any
human eye ever yet beheld the planet Neptune when Le Verrier prophesied
its existence and calculated its size and position. The theory of
Evolution is a reasoning from the constancy of nature, as was that of Le
Verrier, only, in the case of the former, we have the observation and
calculations of not one scientist alone, but of thousands, on which to
rely. To demand of the scientist that he shall produce the organic from
the inorganic, and practically demonstrate the change of form and
function, and the process of separation of species, before the
possibility of such development is conceded, is on a par with demanding
of him an actual reproduction of the Glacial Period before the theory of
its previous existence shall be accepted. There is no reason for
supposing that, if spontaneous generation once took place, the peculiar
complication of conditions which produced it will ever again recur or
can be artificially constructed.

But science has no desire to be dogmatic. It readily acknowledges the
total absence of direct and established proof at this particular
juncture of the beginning of life. It can only point to the indirect
testimony of Physiological Chemistry and Crystallogeny, to the
simplicity of structure and movement in certain forms of life, and
finally to the observed constancy of nature. But an exaggerated
significance has been given to this chief flaw in the theory of
Evolution, by those who, starting with the intention of defending
Theology or the dignity of the Human, have been driven back, step by
step, to this point, and fail to perceive that, arrived here, they have
already abandoned the ground on which contest was possible. What
significance a primal creation merely of lowest organisms can have, for
either a defence of human dignity or for Christian Theology, it is
difficult to perceive. As a matter of choice, it would seem to be more
consistent with the omnipotence and dignity of a Creator to suppose that
these very simple organisms arose, like other forms, under the action of
natural law than that special interference was necessary in just their
case. But, supposing such a special Creation, the following questions
immediately present themselves from the theological standpoint: Are
these special creations endowed with soul? If so, they must be immortal;
if not, then soul arises in the process of evolution; if it arises as do
all other things, qualities, functions, by growth,--that is, by the
addition of infinitesimal increments (as we must, indeed, suppose it to
arise if we regard it as "evolved")--then whence come these increments?
If they come direct from a Creator, then surely no special favor towards
man in the bestowment of soul can be alleged; and if they arise by
natural causes, out of nature, then why may not their first beginning,
their first infinitesimal appearance, also be supposed to be due to such

The proof of an increase, a growth, of what have been called
distinctively the mental faculties, throughout the animal kingdom, is
every day stronger. No one believes, at the present date, with
Descartes, that the animals are automata. Differences of mental power
would seem to be but differences of degree; the facts all point to such
a theory. The more scientific theologians have, indeed, abandoned this
with the other minor points of contest above discussed, and devoted
their efforts to argument from the moral nature of man. Philology,
Anthropology, and Geology testify to mental progress, even in the human
species; and if such a progress is a fact, it cannot have been without
influence upon the moral nature of man, even supposing the latter to be
God-given. Indeed, a merely physical progress or change cannot have been
without such influence; for the most conservative theologians admit the
strong action of the body upon the mind. It would seem, then, for all
reasons, that an investigation of the process of mental evolution, or of
evolution in general, ought not to be without results significant for
any system of morality. If it is true that we learn wisdom and morality
from human history, this can be so only because history gives us
increased knowledge of the constancy of nature in those of its
manifestations which specially concern the human, and thus enables us
better to judge the present and predict the future. We should suppose
that a still wider knowledge of our mental and physical evolution must
be of yet greater worth to us in the same manner,--that the disclosure
of more extended fields of nature to our vision must afford us new and
valuable lessons with regard to ourselves; just as the telescope makes
no discovery in the most distant regions of space that does not prove to
have, in the end, its peculiar significance for our own planet. If our
investigations should prove fruitless, as all such investigations have
been said by some to be, the fact, established _a posteriori_, could not
be disputed. But, considering all the points above noticed, such a
result could not but astonish us; and we should even be inclined, after
all that has been said, to suspect that the fault lay rather in the
particular method than in the direction of our research.


[87] "Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte," 8th ed., p. 109.

[88] "Origin of Civilization," p. 391.

[89] "Origin of Civilization."

[90] Ibid.

[91] Ibid.

[92] Ibid.

[93] Ibid.

[94] Du Prel: "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Weltalls."

[95] "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Weltalls."



The preceding considerations have made it evident that the idea of
Evolution has undergone a broadening process since Darwin first brought
it before the world. It is necessary to glance briefly at some of the
chief phases and the general significance of this process in order to
define the extent and intent of the concept as far as science has made
such definition possible.

To Darwin himself the struggle for existence was always between the
unities represented by complete organisms whether as isolated
individuals, or in family, tribal, or national groups. Everywhere in his
calculations, appearing unchanged in his results, is found the unknown
quantity of variation from ancestral type, the known factors being
heredity, and natural and sexual selection in the struggle for
existence. Wallace's ideas as to color in birds deprive the theory of
sexual selection of one of its most important points of application in
Darwin's work. It is, in fact, easy to see that sexual selection cannot
neutralize natural selection, that any particular form of sexual
selection can arise and finally survive only by a harmony with the
direction of natural selection, and that the two must therefore appear,
even from any standpoint of freedom of the will, as continually
attaining coincidence. It has been said, above, that the struggle for
existence was, for Darwin, between the organisms as unities. This
consistent position of the specialist has been criticised, from a more
general point of view, by Lewes in his essay on the Nature of Life,[96]
in which he asserts that we must logically "extend our conception of the
struggle for existence beyond that of the competition and antagonism of
organisms--the external struggle; and include under it the competition
and antagonism of tissues and organs--the internal struggle." "Mr.
Darwin," he says, "has so patiently and profoundly meditated on the
whole subject, that we must be very slow in presuming him to have
overlooked any important point. I know that he has not altogether
overlooked this which we are now considering; but he is so preoccupied
with the tracing out of his splendid discovery in all its bearings, that
he has thrown the emphasis mainly on the external struggle, neglecting
the internal struggle; and has thus, in many passages, employed language
which implies a radical distinction where--as I conceive--no such
distinction can be recognized. 'Natural Selection,' he says, 'depends on
the survival, under various and complex circumstances, of the
best-fitted individuals, but has no relation whatever to the primary
cause of any modification of structure.'[97] On this we may remark,
first, that selection does not _depend_ on the survival, but _is_ that
survival; secondly, that the best-fitted individual survives because of
that modification of its structure which has given it the superiority;
therefore, if the primary cause of this modification is not due to
selection, the selection cannot be the cause of species. The facts which
are relied on in support of the idea of 'fixity of species' show, at any
rate, that a given superiority will remain stationary for thousands of
years; and no one supposes that the progeny of an organism will vary
unless some external or internal cause of variation accompanies the
inheritance. Mr. Darwin agrees with Mr. Spencer in admitting the
difficulty of distinguishing between the effects of some definite action
of external conditions, and the accumulation through natural selection
of inherited variations serviceable to the organism. But even in cases
where the distinction could be clearly established, I think we should
only see an _historical_ distinction, that is to say, one between
effects produced by particular causes now in operation and effects
produced by very complex and obscure causes in operation during
ancestral development.... Natural Selection is only the expression of
the results of obscure physiological processes."

The last statement is one to which Darwin himself would certainly not
have objected. It is an extension of the principle implicitly involved
in all his work and explicitly stated in his later work, although the
chief emphasis is laid on outer conditions. The extension of the idea of
competition from the outer condition of organisms to the more ultimate
physiological unities of organ and tissue is a philosophic gain. It is
evident, however, that that for which Darwin is seeking is not a
philosophical generalization which shall include outer and inner change
under one highest law, but, first of all, the particular causes of
particular variation interesting to the specialist in biology. It is
made too clear for mistake in "The Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication" that the uncertainty with regard to such particular forms
of cause is the spring of his declaration of our ignorance as to
variation. The possibility of an inclusion of lower in higher
generalizations he would not deny; though the special laws first occupy
his attention. Doubtless, his work is not, as is no man's, wholly free
from inconsistencies and contradictions,--which are due, in part, to the
fact that every scientific theory is, even in the thought of the
individual, an evolution. But the declaration of mystery in the question
of variation is not equivalent to a theory of accident, of
transcendental mystery, or of some special organic or vital force, such
as Claude Bernard especially opposed; it is merely and simply a
statement of the mystery of present ignorance. This fact is expressly
stated in Darwin's later work. We find, for instance, in the
introduction to a letter to the editor of "Nature," written in 1873, the
origin of many instincts referred to "modifications or variations in the
brain, which we, in our ignorance, most improperly call spontaneous or
accidental;" and we have, in "The Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication,"[98] such passages as the following: "When we reflect on
the individual differences between organic beings in a state of nature,
as shown by every wild animal knowing its mate; and when we reflect on
the infinite diversity of many varieties of our domesticated
productions, we may well be inclined to exclaim, though falsely, as I
believe, that variability must be looked at as an ultimate fact,
necessarily contingent on reproduction. Those authors who adopt this
latter view would probably deny that each separate variation has its own
proper exciting cause. Although we can seldom trace the precise relation
between cause and effect, yet the considerations presently to be given
lead to the conclusion that each modification must have its own distinct
cause." It is "probable that variability of every kind is directly or
indirectly caused by changed conditions of life. Or, to put the case
under another point of view, if it were possible to expose all the
individuals of a species during many generations to absolutely uniform
conditions of life, there would be no variability.... The causes which
induce variability act on the mature organism, on the embryo, and, as we
have good reason to believe, on both sexual elements before impregnation
has been effected." Darwin further considers, in this same book, some of
the probable particular causes of variation, as given in climate and
food. And it may be remarked, in this connection, that Rolph's criticism
of the impossibility of progress under conditions of want is irrelevant
as applied to Darwin, since the latter himself says expressly: "Of all
causes which induce variability, excess of food, whether or not changed
in nature, is probably the most powerful";[99] again: "We have reason to
suspect that an habitual excess of highly nutritive food, or an excess
relatively to the wear and tear of the organization from exercise, is a
powerful exciting cause of variability."[100] Rolph's criticism is
probably due to forgetfulness of the fact that Darwin limited the
struggle for existence to that of complete organisms with one another,
and that, under such a limitation of the conception to external
struggle, a condition of want cannot be conceived as necessarily
precluding a monopoly of abundance by best-fitted individuals.

Theories with regard to the special outer causes and resulting
physiological conditions of variation have been gradually added to, as
facts on this score have accumulated. But, as investigation advances,
the question is seen to involve all the problems of the intricate
chemical and mechanical nature of physiological structure in its
manifold forms and degrees of organization. The field stretches out in
this direction, under our contemplation, to an indefinite distance; and
science appears as yet to have passed only the outer limits of its

It is certain that the comparatively recent science of Physiological
Chemistry will have many of the decisive words to say on this score, in
the future. "When we see the symmetrical and complex outgrowths caused
by a single atom of the poison of a gall-insect, we may believe that
slight changes in the chemical nature of the sap or blood would lead to
extraordinary modifications of structure," says the great seer of
evolution himself.[101]

Among special theories of Evolution, a distinction may be made between:
(1) such special theories as aim at biological simplification by
reduction of all organic variation to one primary form of cellular
process; (2) such theories as are content with less ultimate laws, by
which the various ascertained forms of change are included in one
general statement not involving special physiological or physical theory
but applicable to all forms of life; (3) such theories as aim to give
distinctive philosophic expression to a generalization like the last
named, including in this statement both psychical and physiological
phenomena; and (4) such theories as aim at an ultimate expression of the
direction of evolution that shall include the phenomena of life, both
physiological and psychical, under one head with all other natural
phenomena. To the first class belong only "provisional" hypotheses,
among the best known of which are those of Pangenesis, Perigenesis, and
the Continuity of the Germ-Plasm. To the second, which are not merely
tentative but have a broad foundation in known fact, belongs Haeckel's
theory of Inheritance and Adaptation, a theory restated in substance,
from independent research, by Eimer, whose ultimate general factors of
analysis are the same with Haeckel's, though he deals, beyond these,
with special facts and special theories of his own. Phases of the second
class often entitle them to inclusion in the third. An example of the
third class is found in Spencer's definition, "Life is the continual
adjustment of inner relations to outer relations." The fourth and last
class includes Fechner's "Tendency to Stability" and Spencer's theory of
the rhythm of motion (see his "First Principles"), similar to which are
certain ideas of Zöllner, Du Prel, and others; and similar elements to
which are to be found in Haeckel's "Plastidule-Theory." In connection
with this class, reference may be made to an article by Dr. J. Petzoldt
in the "Vierteljahrschrift für wissenschaftliche Philosophie" under the
title "Maxima, Minima, und Oekonomie," in which, among others, Fechner's
views especially are discussed with reference to an ultimate principle
of evolution. The first pages on the "Tendency to Stability" in
Fechner's "Ideas concerning the Evolution of the Organic" ("Einige Ideen
zur Schöpfungs- und Entwicklungsgeschichte der Organismen") are as

"For the sake of brevity I call relations of position and motions
recurring at regular periods, that is after like intervals, in the
particles forming a material system or in the centres of whole masses
conceived as forming a larger system, 'stable relations.' Among such
relations is to be reckoned the condition of rest of the particles or
masses in relation to each other, as the extreme case, which we may call
the state of 'absolute stability'; while a dissipation of the particles
or masses, to infinity, in different directions, constitutes the other
extreme of absolute instability.

"We do not speak of 'absolute stability,' but of 'full stability,' in
cases where motion still takes place, but this brings continually, in
exactly the same periods of time, the same relations of particles or
masses, not only as regards position, but also as regards velocity and
direction of the motion and change of velocity and direction....

"To absolute and full stability may be added, as third case, that of
greater or less approach to full stability, which we may term briefly
'aproximate stability'... and of which we have an example in the chief
bodies of our solar system.

"It may serve as a simplification of the consideration of stable
relations of motion to remark... that, in an isolated system or one
under constant outer conditions, exactly or very nearly the same
relations of velocity and direction recur when exactly or very nearly
the same relations in the position of the particles or masses return. As
regards the velocity, this follows directly from the principle of the
conservation of energy; as regards the direction, it is indisputably
possible to assume the connection of its recurrence with that of the
other relations, although I cannot remember that a direct general proof
of this has been found.

"With these introductory specifications in mind, let us assume any
number of material particles to be restricted, by forces of some sort,
to motion within limited space, and the system either withdrawn from
outer influences or under such as are constant; let us, moreover,
suppose the system undisturbed by the interference of psychic freedom,
or the latter impossible. In such case, certain initial positions,
velocities, and directions of the parts of the system being assumed, all
following states will be determined by these. And now, if there are
among these conditions, either present at the beginning, or attained in
the course of the motion, any such as have for their result a return of
the same states after a given time, then the motion, and so also the
positions of the parts conceived as at first undergoing alteration in
form and velocity, will, unless they contain the immediate condition of
periodic recurrence, continue altering until those of all the possible
states are reached which contain the condition of recurrence; until this
point is attained, the system will, so to speak, know no rest. Has the
recurrence once taken place within a given time, then it must always
take place anew within the same time, because the same conditions are
there to determine it. And since these conditions are determinative of
the whole course of motion from one recurrence to the next, the same
course must be repeated; that is, in every like phase of the period a
like state of motion will exist. But this gives us full stability of the
system, a change, a deviation from the attained stability being possible
only through changes in outer influences, the assumed constancy of which
rendered the attainment of stability possible.

"This principle appears at first purely _a priori_; but the assumption
should not be overlooked that there are among the conditions determining
the motion such as lead to their own recurrence, and this is to be taken
for granted, since it is necessary to assume that a system must continue
to change until, but only until, the conditions of full stability are
attained, in case it is attainable; and that this full stability, when
once reached, cannot be again destroyed by the action of the system
itself. The question presents itself as to how far calculation and
experience permit us to lay down a more general principle.

"In a system in which only two particles or masses, withdrawn from outer
influences, are determined to motion by mutual attraction and the
influence of a primary impulse in another direction, calculation shows
us that, motion to infinity being excluded, the attainment, and indeed
the immediate attainment, of full stability is a necessity; and for
swinging pendula and vibrating strings it may be calculated, from the
nature of the moving forces, that they would remain in a condition of
fully stable motion if outer resistance were removed; for, such
obstacles present, they pass through an approximately stable condition
to one of absolute stability. The power of purely mathematical
calculation does not go beyond such comparatively simple cases....

"But if we call experience to our aid, it may be asserted, in accordance
with very general facts, that, in a system left to itself or under
constant outer conditions, and starting from any conceivable state, if
not full stability at least a greater or less approximation to it is
reached as final condition, from which no retrogression takes place
through the inner workings of the system itself. The tendency to
approximately stable conditions appears, or the actual state is
attained, according to the measure in which variable outer influences
are withdrawn. So that so little is lacking to our hypothesis, that,
although it has at this point to make up for the impossibility of
perfect demonstration, we are nevertheless justified in laying down the
following law or principle:--

"In every system of material parts left to itself or under constant
outer influences, so, then, in the material system of the universe, in
so far as we regard it as isolated, there takes place, motion to
infinity being excluded, a continuous progress from more unstable to
more stable conditions, up to the attainment of a final condition of
full or approximate stability."

From the union of the principle thus stated and that of the conservation
of energy "it follows that no unlimited progress of the universe to
absolute stability, which consists in perfect rest of the parts, can
take place.... The energy manifested in the universe cannot be altered,
in general, in its amount, but only in the form in which it manifests
itself." "It cannot be asserted that the attainment of full stability in
the universe would be the attainment of an eternal rest, but only of the
most perfectly adjusted motions, and therefore such motions as would
give rise to no variations.... But a condition which brings with it
eternal repetition cannot be reached in finite time."

"To elucidation of this principle of the Tendency to Stability," says
Dr. Petzoldt analyzing Fechner's work, "we have only to call to
remembrance a number of natural phenomena, such as the ebb and flow of
the tide, the circulation of moisture, periodic changes of temperature,
and so forth, which exhibit great periods of approximate stability and
in which we notice in general no retrogression.

"Not less does the constitution of organisms which are, 'so to speak,
constituted dependent upon periodicity of their functions, and so upon
stable relations of their life,' serve to confirm the theory. Only the
concept of stability must be extended in their case, since not always
the same, but only substitutive parts of the organic systems tend
towards stability.

"Experience never gives us an example of an isolated system; on the
contrary, every system is a part of higher systems. The inner relations
of its stability are not conditioned by its own parts only, but also,
more or less, by those of other systems, so that the destruction of one
part-system is always only in the direction towards the stability of a
higher, ultimately of the highest, system; that is, of the system of the

"Thus the teleological principle coincides with the principle of the
Tendency to Stability, and at the same time the latter constitutes the
link between the former and the law of Causality. Though, in truth, this
manner of looking at the matter signifies a generalization of the
concept of 'end,' since it defines _all_ stable conditions as ends. The
view is justified, however, by the fact that the greatest possible
physical satisfaction--for us, the criterion of teleology--is always
bound up with the longest possible preservation or slow change of a
stable organic condition. The _physical_ Tendency to Stability 'bears
with it a _psychical_ tendency to the attainment and conservation of
just those conditions' towards which the physical tendency is directed."

Of the fact that Lange "feels the lack of the proof of this 'Tendency to
Stability,'" Dr. Petzoldt says: "But how is there a need of proof here?
To prove is to refer back to known facts. But what is there in Fechner's
remarks that stands in need of such a reference? They simply draw our
attention to the result of evolution as a state which bears, in itself,
the guarantee of some continuance. Can any one contest this? Is there
anything further to prove? It is said that Gauss once remarked that
Lagrange's equations of motion are not proved, but only historically
stated. The case is exactly the same here. The fact is attested, merely,
that evolution ends in a stable condition; and herein lies the pith and
the great merit of the theory of the Tendency to Stability."

Dr. Petzoldt criticises, among other things, especially Fechner's
concept of approximate stability, in that no distinction is made by the
author between three different cases. The first case comprises forms of
motion in which periodicity is only approximate, but in which,
nevertheless, no retrogression in stability takes place; this case is
illustrated by our solar system. The second case comprises forms of
motion in which the stability increases up to a certain point, but
beyond this, despite relative constancy in outer conditions, decreases
again until complete destruction of the system supervenes; an
illustration of this form of motion is found in all organisms. The
third case comprises forms of motion which we cannot concede to be
stable. "For, if we ascribe periodic motion to pendula and musical
strings which vibrate in a resisting medium, this is nevertheless a
periodicity, which continually changes _in the same sense_, and we
certainly cannot say that pendula and strings approach, in a resisting
medium, a condition of absolute, through a condition of approximate,
stability. We recognize in these vibrations, decreasing in amplitude,
merely unstable changes which tend toward a final stable
condition,--namely that of rest."

The author finds a further ground of criticism in Fechner's assertion
that organisms are entirely dependent upon the periodicity of their
functions. Only a part of such functions are periodic. Periodicity is
not conceivable without stability, but stability is conceivable without

In the process of evolution towards a stable form of movement,
Dr. Petzoldt recognizes briefly two factors, "Tendency and
Competition."[102] Tendency is defined, in general, as the direction,
actual or potential, of material parts or of mental or physical
function; competition, as the conflict of tendencies, from which a
tendency of a higher order results. "The concept of Competition is, like
that of Tendency, to be taken in a general significance. A number of
forces which act upon a single point compete. Different mental images,
observations, concepts, laws, come into competition, from which result
concepts and laws of lower and higher orders. The struggle for existence
is only a special case of competition. Though this often ends with the
immediate or gradual destruction of systems entering upon it,
nevertheless only a middle worth between all the competing tendencies
can be ascribed to the resultant. Even the conqueror is, after the
struggle, other than what he was before it; a part of the tendency
destroyed by him lives on in him, has combined with his original
tendency to a resultant. Tendencies can as little disappear without
compensation as can forces, whether the compensation consists in a
strengthening or in a weakening of others, and the _conservation of
competing tendencies_ might be regarded as a further qualitative
addition to the law of the conservation of force. Hence, in the
examination of the effects of the struggle for existence, the like
claim of all tendencies taking part in it is not to be left out of
consideration. Each makes its full force felt. But not all attain to
competition; of the numerous tendencies bound up in one organism, only a
few unite, in the single case, to a resultant, which has a direction
towards a definite issue." The less the opposition of competing
tendencies of concepts or laws, the less the deviation of the resultant
from its components, and the less the change these have to undergo. The
higher concepts and laws are, the less are the number of distinguishing
marks which they take from all single conceptions; for they are the
resultants of very strongly opposed components.[103]

Fechner's views are related to, and, to some extent, dependent upon,
certain ones of Zöllner adduced in connection with a consideration of
sun-spots.[104] Du Prel, who also acknowledges special indebtedness to
Zöllner, attempted in his "Struggle for Existence in the Heavens" ("Der
Kampf ums Dasein am Himmel") to demonstrate the fact of a struggle and
selection among the heavenly bodies analogous to that claimed for life
upon the earth. The title of the book was afterwards changed to "The
History of the Evolution of the Universe,"[105] its scope having "grown
far beyond the limit of the former title." Du Prel finds one of the
chief advantages of an application of Darwinian ideas to astronomy in
the fact that, unlike our earth, the heavens in their immensity afford
us existing, or to our eye existing, examples of the various stages of
their evolution, in nebular mist, comets, suns, fixed stars, planets,
rings, and moons,--all subject to processes of development, which we may
to some extent observe. In the first chapter of this book, Du Prel says:
"The existing condition of the Cosmos with respect to all forms of the
Purposeful[106]--whether we regard the realm of the organic or the
inorganic--can be looked upon only as an attained, moving equilibrium of
forces. Immanent in Nature lies the capacity to develop from chaotic
conditions to teleologic forms; for, in the ceaseless play of forces,
all other than such combinations are by their nature given over to
destruction, while it lies, on the contrary, in the essence of all
purposeful combinations to be preserved. In every system of mechanical
forces an adjustment of the same must finally be arrived at through the
removal of all immanent oppositions." "_It is impossible_ for nature to
remain in chaotic conditions." "Every system of forces tends to a state
of equilibrium. This is as true of the conflict of images in a human
brain, from whose mutual accommodation the resultant of a unified theory
of the universe arises, as of oppositions in the social organism, of the
conditions of power and civilization of neighboring peoples, of the
meteorologic states of the earth, of the mechanical forces of a solar
system, or the atoms of a cosmic mist. Every war of the elements ends
with an adjustment of ideal justice, for every 'moment' of force has
influence proportioned to its power and the duration of its

There is one portion of Fechner's theory as above stated (its
metaphysical phases being beyond the scope of the present chapter have
not been touched upon) that raises a question which may perhaps appear
to have in itself no special significance, but which nevertheless opens
up, by its implications, new fields of inquiry, and may possibly lead to
further theory. The condition of stability which evolution in the
universe as a whole gradually approaches but can never attain to in
finite time is declared, namely, to be one not of rest, but of motion. A
question might be raised, here, as to the definition of the "infinite
time" asserted to be necessary to the attainment of such full
stability,--whether the phrase be used in the mathematical or the
philosophic sense; and the question would be found, I believe, to
involve the unanswerable problem of the finite or infinite character of
the universe in space. Of a universe conceived under the philosophic
concept of spatial infinitude, obviously no final state as the result of
evolution can be predicated, the evolution supposing a progress which,
as involving infinite matter, cannot be accomplished in finite time. If
we, however, conceive the universe as occupying finite space and
undergoing continual evolution as a whole in the direction of
equilibrium, it is a question whether the end must not be attained in
finite time. For a universe conceived as finite, however immense, there
must be a finite number, however great, representing the changes
necessary to the attainment of final equilibrium; and if progress in the
direction of such equilibrium is of necessity continual, the final
equilibrium must be attainable in finite time. The question of the
nature of such a state of final, universal stability is bound up with
the problem of motion through a perfect void, and of the possibility of
the formation of such a void through the concentration of matter.
Leaving out of consideration the problem in its metaphysical form, which
concerns the possibility of conceiving inter-material space, it may be
said that it is not now supposed that the heavenly bodies move through
an absolute void; and the existence of any medium opposing resistance,
however slight, is a condition rendering impossible the attainment of
absolute stability of motion or a full stability which suffers no
diminution and is, therefore, in effect, an absolute stability. It may
be questioned whether the very nature of motion is not coincident with
change, and this with action and reaction, or competition. Such a view
would reduce evolution to a single ultimate principle, in place of
Darwin's Variation and Selection through struggle, or Petzoldt's
Tendency and Competition. We should have left, instead of these, only
the final principle involved in moving matter considered in its ultimate
parts. The metaphysical problem of the infinite divisibility of matter
need not here concern us; the ultimate parts of an organism could not
be, however, its organs as Lewes defined them, but rather, from a
positive standpoint, the ultimate units recognized by science in cell
and cell-parts. We may, indeed, since we know no beginning of motion,
legitimately regard all tendency as itself resultant. Just as we cannot
separate matter and motion, except by abstraction from reality, so, too,
we cannot conceive of motion except as having definite direction; and
thus we arrive, by a final analysis, at the ultimate philosophic
principles of matter and its motion. I use these terms in no
metaphysical sense, but merely as generic terms including under one head
specific forms of material combination and the specific forms of motion
of their wholes or parts.

The question of the character of a conceived state of final equilibrium
may be approached from a somewhat different side, though the emphasis
falls, as before, on the solidarity of the universe and the nature of
motion as change. We may, for instance, regard the earth as an isolated
system whose isolation makes possible the continual progress of the
evolution taking place on its surface. But this whole evolution is, on
the other hand, dependent upon the light and heat of the sun. Again, the
sun is undergoing an evolution whose continuous progress may be regarded
as in a certain sense dependent upon isolation; but we see, on
reflection, that this very process is the result of the cooling nature
of the sun's surroundings, and that it is sending its motion in every
direction through space. The moon, which has passed through both the
evolution that the sun is undergoing and that which is in progress upon
the earth, is now passing through another stage which the earth must
reach in time by diffusion of its atmosphere, in case its destruction is
not accomplished by some catastrophic event before the arrival of that
distant period. Suns and planets, all the heavenly bodies, are sending
their influence in every direction through the unfathomable depths of
space; and just as the capacity of the earth to be warmed by the
influence of the sun involves its reciprocal capacity to act as a
cooling medium for that body, so the conditions throughout the universe
must be regarded as everywhere interdependent and mutually implying one
another. Thus we again arrive finally at a universal action and reaction
among the parts of the universe, all motion implying change of the
direction of motion. Or, since we may and are, in fact, obliged to
regard every direction or form of motion as a resultant,--for of motion
as of matter we know no absolute beginning,--even this simple assumption
may supply us with the conclusion which we have reached in a more
roundabout way. We may regard motion in any direction as counterbalanced
by a resistance in every other direction sufficient to produce it in
this one; in other words, motion takes place at every instant, in the
direction of least resistance, even though this direction may represent,
in the next instant, through the action of new "moments" of force, the
greatest resistance. Any direction as well as any change of direction
implies, then, resistance; resistance is equivalent to the interference
of force, or, in other words, to competition; and competition may, at
any moment, become catastrophe. The difference between competition and
catastrophe is one merely of degree, or rather it is a subjective
difference depending upon the point of view of the observer. In other
words, all that we can testify to is a certain periodicity of motion,
all motion meeting with resistance, the accumulation of which finally
induces motion in another sense. Larger periodicities are made up of
smaller periodicities, and, according to the point of view taken, any
period of such motion may be regarded as an evolution, that which
Fechner terms "full" stability being only the maximum towards which
motion during that period tends. Absolute stability can be conceived
only as perfect rest, whether we conceive it as merely an abstraction,
its realization as rendered impossible by the conservation of energy, or
whether we conceive it as possible in a universe regarded as finite; an
absolute stability of motion is a self-contradiction, and a full
stability which knows no retrogression is equally a self-contradiction.
Periodicity is, then, all into which the Tendency to Stability resolves
itself for nature as we know it.

We perceive, in the actual universe, the fact of a certain imperfect
periodicity. This wave form of movement in great and little plays, as
Spencer has shown far more elaborately than Fechner, a large part in the

But the evident fact of a present periodicity of imperfect form suggests
another possible conception. We are under no necessity to regard the
universe as finite either in space or time. On the contrary. We tend
naturally to conceive of it as finite after the analogy of particular
things which we perceive continually to arise and perish; but as
concerns space, we have no knowledge of any limit, and, as concerns
time, the conception of any actual beginning or end to the universe as a
whole is only the ancient naïve idea which science has disproved in
showing that neither matter nor motion ever perish. An infinite universe
is conceivable, in which not exactly the same but very similar forms, or
forms of which the successive ones closely resemble each other though
those widely separated may be very dissimilar, continue to arise and be
destroyed to all eternity. The conception of a primal nebular mist is
not a necessary inference from astronomic phenomena; it is as easy and
as logical to regard the various phases of planetary development
revealed to us by the telescope as so many phases of an evolution and
dissolution continually recurring in different parts of the universe,
one extreme of which is represented by the nebular mist, the other by
the cold and lifeless remains of planets gradually suffering dissolution
as they revolve through space. The greater the immensity of the
universe is conceived to be, the nearer our conception of it must
approach to this type. But the term Tendency to Stability is misapplied
when applied to such infinite and imperfect periodicity--to the motion,
thus conceived, of the universe as a whole.

The periodicity in the life of organic species may be compared to the
wave-motions of light and heat as distinguished from those of water, the
individual representing the single wave-length. The analogy is not,
however, intended--to speak with Bacon--as one of nature, but merely as
one of mind. And just here it may be questioned whether Fechner may not
have been right, after all, in his assertion of the dependency of the
organism upon periodicity of function, whether the periodic character of
the individual life, dependent, as it must be supposed to be, on
adaptation to a medium to some degree resisting, does not sacrifice its
stability in so far as the increments of resistance lack uniformity.
This is evidently the case in large relations; is it not logically
necessary to suppose it so in minute relations, though the fact may not
be so evident to the coarse measurement of the senses? Experience seems
to prove that an approximate periodicity in larger relations, is most
consistent with health; and it must be remembered that the non-periodic
relations are subordinated to periodic ones, that not only in the case
of waking and sleeping, working and eating, but also in those of rest
and labor, a certain uniformity is necessary to the best mental and
physical condition. A close observation will, I think, reveal a greater
periodicity than was at first suspected; since much of it is of
so-called "automatic," "unconscious," or "half-conscious" nature. It is
to be noticed, here, that the termination of individual lives is often
in the nature of a catastrophe, and a uniform periodicity of individual
development and decay cannot be assigned, except in the form of an
average that falls much below the figure attained by the thoroughly
healthy individual. There is every reason to believe that if we could
sleep, rise, eat, bathe, exercise, work, and rest with the regularity of
a clock, we should be the better for it physically. But the
irregularities outside the province of our will-power render it
impossible for us to order our lives in this manner. Nor do we desire to
do so. For these very irregularities, as representing greater or less
change to which adaptation is necessary, are, in many cases and within
certain lines, the conditions and signs of progress; though they may
constitute in other cases and beyond these lines--that is, where they
are of too great intensity or duration--conditions of retrogression, the
imperfection in periodicity becoming catastrophe, which may extend
beyond the individual to his offspring. We may thus infer that the final
destruction of the individual organism is conditioned by its own
progress and the progress of its species, but that on the other hand,
when the destruction of the individual is too abrupt, it may mean
catastrophe to the species also, or at least to a part of it, through

Our considerations so far have been of a nature to convince us that not
isolation, but a constancy in the continual action of like relatively
small increments of force in the same directions, is the condition of
steady evolution. The less constant and the larger the increments, the
nearer the changes involved resemble catastrophe, though the
catastrophes themselves may be regarded in another light as forming part
of an evolution of a higher order. The changes the sun is undergoing may
be regarded as evolution in so far as the influence of the cooling
medium is a constant one. The earth as a whole and in its parts may be
regarded as passing through a process of evolution towards full
stability in so far as the sun's heat is a constant quantity, the
periodic changes of seasons and of day and night the same. The relation
would seem, therefore, to be one of time--the time-relation involved in
the duration of outer conditions as constant with reference to the
period required for the attainment of stability. Thus the sun's
influence upon the earth might appear approximately constant to the
human individual, but might represent a rapid change in relation to some
stupendous and long-continued evolution in some other part of the
universe. Considerations which we have already noticed forbid our
regarding any conditions of "full" as distinguished from absolute
stability as anything other than peculiar states single in the system
and thus unenduring maxima succeeded by decrease, although the process
may be, with reference to any other particular process, so slow, the
retrogression from the culminating point so gradual, as to be, with
respect to this other process, inappreciable.

And while we are busied with matters which involve the whole
multiplicity of relations in the universe, just a word with reference
to cause and effect. Which one of these myriad material parts
interacting at any moment shall we single out as the cause of the
succeeding state? The solidarity of the universe as far as the complete
interdependence of all its parts is concerned is clear to us. It is true
we cannot reckon with all factors of the universe at once; and the
concept of cause and effect is therefore a useful one. But the cause of
anything must be, from a positive point of view, just what the methods
prescribed for its discovery in any particular case shows it to be:
namely, a factor, merely, in the manifold conditions determining a
following state, the removal of which means the prevention of the
succession of exactly that state. Which, for instance, shall we regard
as the cause of an evil act--the character of a man or the temptation
offered by circumstances? The change or removal of either means the
change or removal of the act. Neither is complete without the other, and
both are involved in the whole complexity of the universe, through
heredity on the one hand and the action of nature external to life on
the other.

And just here we may glance at Spencer's definition of life as "the
continual adjustment of inner relations to outer relations." Though
emphasizing an important side of evolution, it is evidently incomplete.
Evolution is not only the adjustment of inner relations to outer
relations, it is also the adjustment of outer relations to inner
relations as well as of inner relations among themselves; or it is a
process of mutual adjustment of all the parts engaged in it.

Our analysis, though crude and imperfect, may now be regarded as
complete. Our scope will not allow of a more elaborate one. It is
fitting, therefore, that we proceed to synthesis. The first matter which
presents itself to us, in this connection, is the theory of Heredity and
Adaptation mentioned above.

The theory is not a new one, wholly outside Darwin's conception of
evolution. The concept of Adaptation represents simply the
generalization of all those special causes with which Darwin more
particularly occupied himself, and is, in essence, only a proclamation
of that universal subjection to natural law which Darwin himself plainly
asserted. As such a. generalization it is, however, a useful one; it
furnishes us with an expression, for the organic world, of that
universal action and reaction through which opposing forces move towards
stability by mutual adjustment.

The law of Heredity, again, may be regarded as an organic expression of
the more general principle according to which motion that, in the sense
defined above, suffers only a minimum of interference, that is, motion
which, by a certain equilibrium of mutual relations, is "approximately"
or "fully" stable, tends to continue to take place in nearly the same
directions, or nearly to repeat itself. It is thus apparent, also, that
Heredity is closely related to the more special principle of Habit, or
also of Use and Disuse, if only we remember that, whatever the
metaphysical truths of Freedom or Determination, the psychical is always
accompanied by what may be called equivalents of the physical under
natural law. The special laws of Heredity are still enveloped in
mystery; I refer, not to that mystery which may be regarded as
surrounding all ultimate facts, if we choose to conceive them as
expressing or concealing something further unknowable, but to the
scientific mystery of ignorance, which time may dissolve. Biologists
disagree on this question, the ultimate decision of which must be left
to them. Still some general criticism on the results of research in this
direction may be allowable from a philosophic standpoint.

The chief point at issue between various theories of Heredity seems to
be the degree of importance to be attached to Adaptation: however we may
express the question, this is the ultimate form to which it is
reducible. Now it is obvious, from the foregoing analysis, that the form
of theory which would be most useful to us, if such were attainable,
would be one in which the degree of tendency to inheritance as well as
the strength of inherited tendency is expressed in terms of the
intensity and duration of exercise, use, function, habit, or form of
motion or action (however we may choose to term it); and variation is
regarded as the resultant of such tendency and change in the
environment, or, in other words, deviation from constancy of influence.
It may be useful to inquire to what extent such a general theory is
authorized by special ones.

We have the testimony of two of the acknowledged greatest
authorities--Darwin and Haeckel--as well as that of a score of other
biologists, and specialists in related branches, to the inheritance of
peculiarities acquired during the life of the individual.[108] Eimer
lays especial stress on the fact, long witnessed to by one class of
specialists, of the hereditary character of brain-diseases, among which
may be reckoned some that are without doubt due to direct influence of
the environment.[109] Haeckel and Eimer even instance cases in which
mutilation has been inherited.[110] One such instance would be
sufficient, in overthrowing the general denial of the inheritance of
individual adaptation, to make probable the direct influence of the
environment in other cases, the uniformity discoverable in the workings
of natural law leading us to suppose that the one instance would not be
isolated. It must have weight, too, as an argument, in the judgment of
many doubtful cases. Not one such case alone is furnished us, however,
but many well-authenticated ones. And it is to be remarked that even
Weismann has gradually parted from his original theory, recognizing more
and more clearly the element of adaptation in inheritance. It seems open
to question, indeed, whether Weismann's theory, in withdrawing the
germ-plasm from the direct influence of the environment with which the
parent individual is in contact does not exempt it from the universal
law of action and reaction. Eimer designates such an opposition as
Weismann postulates of the germ-plasm to the rest of the organism as a
"physiological miracle," and the artificial line thus drawn between the
germ-cells before and after the beginning of development as "opposed to
that conformity to law shown in the morphological and physiological
unity of living beings."[111] Ancient ideas seldom conceived of a
universality of action and reaction; and ancient belief, isolating
phenomena, invested each with some special guiding power. This belief
was maintained as the conception of a special vital force long after the
increasing knowledge of nature had caused it to be abandoned with regard
to inorganic phenomena; and the theory of the continuity of the
germ-plasm seems to be a survival, with regard to the comparatively
unexplored province of Embryology, of the idea of such a force.

The elements of which the organism is composed are not strange essences
or entities peculiar to the organic; they are the same with those of
inorganic matter, though their combinations differ somewhat from these,
both in chemical composition and in the morphological arrangement of the
composites. We can easily conceive these differences as coördinate with
differences of general form and function; but it is inconceivable that
the continual assimilation of matter in growth should be at any time
without result in function, however comparatively small this result may
be in higher forms representing an accumulation of energy from previous
conditions. The separation of form and function is an abstraction, as is
that of matter and motion; we cannot suppose the connection of
particular functions with particular forms,--particular
organization,--to be accidental, any more than we can suppose the
particular properties of particular inorganic composites and elements to
be accidental or these particular properties to be without result in the
organic matter into which the particular composites and elements are
taken up.

The environment must contain complementary conditions of function in
order that the individual may even come into existence and survive at
all. The great question is, then, how much is to be allowed for original
tendency in primal organisms and how much is to be reckoned to the
account of the action of the environment in the course of evolution.
Even if we go back beyond the organic, assuming a development of the
organic from the inorganic, we must come, in the last analysis, to
irresolvable elements whose motion, as distinct and particular action
and reaction, must have definite form. If we begin with a supposititious
simple organism conceived as lowest,--the primal form to which the name
"organism" may be applied,--we must likewise conceive of this as
embodying motion distinctive as its form, which may be regarded as
concomitant and coördinate with that form,--or, that is, as function.
The ultimate elements of this organism represent positive factors and
the primal organism itself must be regarded as a positive factor (or
positive composite) without which the evolution of highest organisms
would be impossible. We may, therefore, regard it as in this sense
embracing the potentialities of evolution. But are we to regard it as
representing potentiality in a further sense--in the sense that, beyond
the particular life-motion coördinate with its particular composition
and form, it represents an independent force that prefigures the whole
animate evolution? To such an assumption the analogy--which is something
far more than a mere analogy--of Embryology logically reduces us, on
Weismann's theory, unless we assume a fixity of species that practically
does away with the whole theory of Evolution and returns to the original
darkness that on which Darwin threw light. Or, if we leave out of
account this analogy and begin with sexual propagation, the problem, on
Weismann's theory, is very nearly as difficult. Are we to look upon the
conditions involved in the environment as mere negatives and simply
developing the positive potentialities of the germ-plasm? If we resolve
the environment into its elements, even the ultimate analysis must show
it composed of positive factors of matter and motion, each one of which
has its full worth in any resultant of incidence. The positivity of
these elements takes from the primal germ-plasm any superiority of
potentiality; the potentiality lies also in the environment. That the
organism is in constant contact with the environment is evident; and
that this contact, involving incidence of force, cannot be without
result, and result representing a full equivalent of all the factors, is
also evident. It may seem as if we could understand human progress, or
progress in other species, in the limited province open to direct
observation, on Weismann's theory; but evolution as a whole becomes, on
this theory, a mystery, and indeed, as Eimer terms it, a miracle.
Logical consistency thus tells against the theory; and undeniable
exceptions to its fundamental conception, furnished by such authorities
as Darwin and Haeckel, raise a further presumption against it, that,
taken in connection with the logical inconsistencies noticed,
constitutes the strongest probability against its truth.

The general experience of mankind has recognized, in a thousand ways,
that the individual is "a creature of habit." The strength of the
muscle, the cunning of hand or eye or ear, mental acuteness, and even
liability to temptation in any direction, or, on the other hand, moral
strength, all are coincident with exercise within the bounds set by the
normal of the organ,--that is, within its ability to repair its waste in
labor, an ability defined by the food-supply and its power of
assimilation; for even the moral struggle that is so great as to exhaust
physically ends in a weakness which may represent the very condition of
conquest by the temptation opposed, if this present itself again before
the system has had time to repair its loss. We may regard this weakness
as a lessening of force in one particular direction, the resultant of
action deviating in favor of the other of the opposing forces or
tendencies manifested in the struggle. In this connection I cannot do
better than refer to the "Kritik der reinen Erfahrung" already
mentioned, in which the influence of the environment on the individual
is minutely traced. The special feature of the work is its entire
freedom from the thousand metaphysical implications which have gradually
gathered about our philosophical vocabulary and which render it
well-nigh impossible to write from any new standpoint without danger of
misunderstanding. This perspicuity and exactness are secured by a new
vocabulary which may seem at first glance, on account of its
unfamiliarity, elaborate and incomprehensible, but which is, when
mastered, the greatest possible aid to understanding. Nevertheless, the
terminology of the book and the exceeding closeness of its analysis,
while rendering it peculiarly valuable to the expert in Philosophy,
place it beyond the grasp of the average reader; and Ethics is a science
which concerns, not the specialist in Philosophy alone, but all thinking

The influence of exercise even beyond the individual has long been
recognized. Lamarck advanced the theory that the development of organs
and their force of action is in ratio to their employment. Darwin also
laid stress, particularly in his later works, on Use and Disuse, but he
often defined the term more specifically than many other authors,
Lamarck among them, seem to have done. The very mass and magnitude of
Darwin's knowledge made it, as Huxley has said, somewhat unwieldy, and,
in diverting the attention to minute features, sometimes prevented
distinctness in broad generalizations; the very virtue of Darwin's work
conditioned also its defect. If we begin with the general theory of use
and disuse, we may regard each present form of organic action or
function, whether conscious or unconscious, as in some manner the result
of exercise, the processes of food-taking, digestion, repair of waste,
being classed, not as, in any case, mere negative reactions, but as
positive organic functions. If we apply the term "habit" to all these,
it is evident that we must, in so doing, extend the significance of the
word beyond its ordinary interpretation. From our present point of view,
such an extension of meaning might be claimed to be legitimate; the
question here is, in reality, only one of expediency, namely, whether it
is not better to retain the more specific significance of the word. It
may be useful, at least, to indicate the relations of Habit to Use and
Disuse. In its ordinary interpretation, the term "habit" refers more
particularly to a form of action acquired during the life of the
individual, and may be used to imply the action of the will in its
formation, or may simply have in view the organic concomitants of
whatever mental action is included in such formation. Since our present
standpoint supposes a certain equivalence of the mental and physical,
that is, uniformity in their connection (without entering into the
question of their dependence or independence, or considering which, in
case of dependence, is to be regarded as dependent, which as fundamental
and independent), we may leave for the moment the mental side of
function out of account, to take it up later. Darwin's definition of
habit was, as we have seen, no distinct and invariable one, and while he
speaks of "inherited habit," referring both to forms of action acquired
during the life of the individual and to such acquired through use
favored by constancy of environment during several generations, it is
not always plain whether he has in mind the action of the will, or only
its organic equivalents. He inclines, like many other authors, to give
prominence to the physical side of action in lower species, to the
mental side in higher. If we use the term "habit" in the sense of
tendency to function acquired by use, we employ what is certainly a
useful terminology, yet we are in danger, if we do not carefully define
our terms, of elevating to the position of a reality an abstraction that
has none. Function and Tendency to Function are not separable; the
distinction is not an inner, but an outer one, of favorable or
unfavorable environment by which tendency to function becomes function
or _vice versa_. To habit, then, we can attach, from our present
standpoint, no distinctive implication beyond that of individual
acquirement,--an implication obviously not fundamental in a theory of
organic function. Use and disuse are rather the fundamental concepts
with which, in a consideration of function under Heredity and
Adaptation, we have to do.

But, in this connection, it is also obvious that, when we, from our
point of view, distinguish between the organism as acted on by the
environment and the environment as acting, we make a distinction that
may be both useful and necessary for many purposes, but that is yet an
arbitrary one. The organism is not the dependent, passive, the
environment the independent, formative factor in the process of
development, the organism is not purely reactive, the environment
active, but the two are interactive; and from their interaction arises
change, as resultant, in both organism and environment. So, too, if we
return to Fechner's conception, the separation of function as effect
from use and disuse as cause is an arbitrary one. Every function, as
representing a state of more or less perfect, moving equilibrium, may be
regarded either as the final form issuing from a long process of action
and reaction or, as determined at present, by such a comparative
constancy of all its conditions as makes the line followed by the
resultant approximately a repetition of that which it has followed
before; and we may lay stress upon either the inferior resistance in
this line or the continual application of superior force, the
accumulation of energy, in its direction. Use or exercise is function;
long continuance of the same or approximately the same form of function
may be regarded as concomitant with a certain constancy of environment,
sufficient to furnish the complementary condition always necessary. The
present form of function may be regarded as the result of an evolution
of function in the sense that it is the end-form assumed by the same,
but not in a sense that separates it from previous forms of function by
a distinction of kind; since each of these may be regarded, in like
manner, as the result of the preceding evolution. As in the definition
of Habit, so in that of Use, the element of animal will or of a distinct
vital principle is likely to be consciously or unconsciously included,
lending it thus a superior significance to that of mere organic function
regarded as its result. Again it must be said, however, that, whatever
the metaphysical truth of freedom, will does not interfere with the
equivalence of physical conditions and results or prevent perfect
uniformity of relation between the physical and the psychical, and that
a special vital force cannot be demonstrated. Disuse may be defined
either as the mere discontinuance of Use or as Use in a sense opposed to
the form of function particularly under consideration.

The idea of some special vital principle doubtless has its origin in the
mysterious tendency of every organic form to develop along certain
lines. The mystery involved is here, again, besides that of ultimate
fact on which the metaphysician lays stress, the lack of the ability of
present science to furnish such a description of the process as shall
resolve it into its elements and demonstrate the uniformities of
relation among these elements in this last analysis. But it is to be
remarked that the metaphysician is apt to confuse these two meanings of
the word "mystery," and regard the mystery of the organism as a greater
metaphysical one than that of simpler processes whose elements are
better known; and this in spite of the fact that he himself does not at
all deny the uniformity in natural process which we term Law, or expect
to find it less in an ultimate analysis than in a more superficial one.
We understand the simple parallelogram by which the physicist represents
to us the action of two forces at incidence, we may represent to
ourselves the motion of any one of the heavenly bodies as the resultant
of the centrifugal and centripetal forces, but when we come to consider
the formation of a crystal, and watch the regularity of shape and
grouping, this very uniformity which had been before an explanation now
seems all at once to represent an insoluble mystery separating the
process forever from those others. The more complicated the process
becomes, the more the mystery appears to increase, until we build up,
out of a negative ignorance, some positive new entity to baffle us. And
yet neither do we deny, as has been said, the constancy of nature in its
most final elements, nor can it at all be shown or supposed that those
simpler processes we seemed to understand were less along fixed lines
than the more complicated ones. If we grant, then, the insoluble mystery
of the transcendental meaning of things claimed by the metaphysician, we
cannot admit the presence of this mystery in the organic more than in
the inorganic, nor discover in the science of the former any further
element lacking than in that of the latter, except a remediable
ignorance which, when remedied, can only reveal in new particulars the
workings of natural law. It may be remarked, in this connection, that
those who are so ready to claim the workings of some special force or
power in the development of the organism make no assertion of such in
the so analogous growth of the crystal. The passage of the inorganic
into the organic and back into the inorganic is, in fact, no more (if
the metaphysician will, no less) mysterious than the evaporation of
water and its recondensation, the propagation of animal form no greater
mystery than the continued flowing of a stream in spite of evaporation,
or the growth of a crystal to the form of its kind. The propagation of
species is, in one sense, an isolated fact; but so, in like sense, is
the evaporation of water or the formation of the crystal of a
particular chemical: but none of these phenomena are isolated in any
other sense, as less or more than a part of a universal whole. We carry
our notion of human importance into all our science, and so invest with
greater weight and mystery ignorance that concerns our own life and that
of allied forms. As we have seen, a connection of use, or of duration
and intensity of function, with its strength is evident in the
individual, and we are compelled to suppose the connection a constant
one even where such constancy cannot be directly demonstrated. There is
evidently a relation likewise between degree, or duration and intensity,
of use or exercise of function, and strength of tendency in the species,
which we must also suppose to be constant. Darwin distinctly recognizes
this, everywhere in his work, in asserting that such function as is
favored by the environment for several generations is more likely to be
transmitted. But though the separation of organism and environment into
cause and effect may be useful in the solution of some problems, it is
yet to be kept in mind that the distinction is an arbitrary selection of
some factors as dependent, others as independent variables, while all
are, in fact, interdependent. Function may be regarded as at every
moment determined by the factors given in environment and organism, in
which either may seem the more important, according to the particular
case or the point of view from which it is regarded. The tendency of the
organism may represent such an accumulation of potential energy that a
slight favorable element in the environment may be like a spark in a
magazine of gunpowder, followed by results seemingly most
disproportionate to its own significance; yet the accumulation of energy
in the organism can have taken place only under previous favorable
circumstances of the environment; and if we regard the organism in its
relation to the whole environment, that is, to the universal conditions
outside it, the primary importance may seem to attach to these. But yet,
which is, in the last analysis, the more important to the explosion of
the magazine--spark or powder? Either is insufficient without the other;
the two are simply complementary and both indispensable to the result.
So too habit, use, or exercise of function and influence of the
environment cannot be held distinct; exercise of function is impossible
without a sufficient complementary factor in the environment, but this
is evidently sufficient only with the existence of that tendency in the
organism of which it is the complement. Regarding strong tendency as the
result of a long process of evolution in which the environment has
presented sufficient complementary elements to condition its
development, the strength of tendency being coördinate with the duration
and intensity of the process of evolution, we can understand that any
such change in the environment as shall prevent such function may be of
so much significance, the suppression of the function represent so great
departure from what was previous resultant, that even the destruction of
the organism may supervene in cases where longest exercised and
strongest functions are prevented; and we can understand, from the same
standpoint, the slight comparative importance of the experience of
individuals as influencing their descendants, except under especially
favorable conditions of the organism.

All biologists make much of the mixture of types in sexual propagation;
and Rolph, perhaps, lays especial stress on it in connection with
progressive heredity. He calls attention to the intricacy of interaction
of forces at once introduced by it in its action and reaction with the
environment, and shows, in this connection, the extreme similarity of
the younger generation to the parent where propagation is non-sexual,
that is, does not involve such mixture of types. It may be said that
every new factor in development introduces a complexity greater as the
complexity of the conditions already attained by the organism is
greater, since its influence on the different elements and combinations
of elements varies; or (if we choose to put it thus) since the possible
chemical compounds and especially the possible combinations and
permutations of elements and parts increase enormously with the increase
of the latter in number. But the importance of the presence of any
particular new element in these complexities depends, further, on its
particular nature.

The final decision of the principal question of progressive heredity
which our argument concerns must be left to Biology; but biologists
themselves have as yet discussed these questions chiefly from a
philosophical standpoint,--on general, as distinguished from specific,
grounds. All theory is at this point tentative. But if only for this
reason we have a right, in assuming a working theory, to select that
which seems best to accord with philosophic principles of universal
application as well as with general biological fact. For the rest, it
has at least been made evident, by all that has been said above
concerning the constant contact and interaction of organism and
environment, that the selection of one of these two factors as the
positive and one as the negative, one as the formative the other as the
formed, one as the active the other as the passive factor, one as
independent the other as dependent, one as invariable the other as alone
variable, is an arbitrary one. In dealing with the complexity of the
universe, whether mathematically or logically, we cannot grasp all
factors at once, and so are obliged to regard some sides to the
exclusion of others, to disregard the variable and dependent nature of
some factors in the consideration of that of others. The method is
useful as well as necessary, useful because necessary; but we are too
apt to forget that we are dealing with half-truths, devices of reason,
and come to regard them as whole truths. Thus the abstraction of Natural
Selection is too often elevated to a separate entity, a particular power
residing in the environment as such. It is, on the contrary, a mere
fiction, a device for assisting our comprehension of complex action and
reaction. Not only does the action of the environment alter the
organism, the action of the organism also alters the environment; or, to
put it more plainly, the state of organism and environment at any moment
is the result of the interaction of preceding states of organism and
environment. Material combinations, whether organic or inorganic, when
fitted to their environment, survive; those best fitted, where perfect
fitness does not exist, thrive best; this is only another method of
saying that absence of resistance is coördinate with the preservation of
form and its inherent motion to the extent of the non-interference. As
organic forms survive only to the extent to which they are in harmony
with each other and with inorganic conditions, so inorganic forms or
combinations survive unaltered only when they are in harmony with other
inorganic conditions and uninterfered with by organic forms. Matter and
motion in some form must survive, both being indestructible. Natural
Selection in this sense, as at each moment regulating inorganic
combinations and motions and organic form and function, is either
ultimately the origin of variation, or else it is not its preserver. It
is to be remembered that the organism is, from the physical point of
view, simply form (that is, organization) and function; when we have
subtracted these, we have subtracted the organism.

The inability of the reason to grasp all sides of the complexity of
natural processes at once, even where these are known, is a thing to be
kept in mind in our future investigations; we are apt to take our
analyses for the syntheses of nature.

In the preceding considerations, an "equivalence of the Physical and the
Psychical" has been assumed, which, though already in a measure defined,
should have been, perhaps, more fully explained. It may be repeated
that, in such equivalence, no materialistic assumption is made of the
dependence of the Psychical on the Physical; nor is the intention to
assert that the Psychical can be measured by the weights and measures of
the Physical. The assertion is intended in the sense that there is
always a physical function connected with the psychical, and that the
relation of the two is not an accidental or variable, but a constant
one. All that is claimed is, in other words, that, whatever the
metaphysical truth as to the freedom of the will, such freedom cannot
interfere with the constancy of nature. But, in fact, all that is
postulated by physical science in the assertion of the equivalence of
physical forces is such a uniformity or constancy of relation as we
postulate of the Psychical and Physical; for the different forms of
physical force can no more be measured by the same standards than can
thought and brain-process.

It may be added, further, that by "force" as used in the above
arguments, no metaphysical entity is implied; the word simply serves as
the generic term embracing different forms of motion and the equivalent
of motion in resistance, and enables us to deal with motion regarded as
potential as well as with motion actually existent.


[96] "Problems of Life and Mind," second series, chap. on Evolution.

[97] "The Variation of Plants and Animals under Domestication," 1868,
II. 272.

[98] Vol. II. Chap. XXII.

[99] "Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication," II. p. 257.
See also "Origin of Species," 6th ed., I. pp. 7-9, etc.

[100] "Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication," II. p. 418.

[101] Ibid.

[102] For elaboration of definition and theory, _vide_ the article in
question, "Vierteljahrschrift für wissenschaftliche Philosophie," 1890.

[103] As confirming this analysis of evolution, reference is made to
Mach: "Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwicklungen," p. 128, and "Beitrage zur
Analyse der Empfindungen," pp. 25, 154; also Avenarius: "Kritik der
reinen Erfahrung."

[104] See above essay by Petzoldt.

[105] "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Weltalls," 1882.

[106] "Gestaltungen des Zweckmässigen."

[107] "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Weltalls," chap. I.

[108] See especially Darwin: "The Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication"; Haeckel: "Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte," 8th ed.,
1889, p. 179 _et seq._

[109] "Die Entstehung der Arten auf Grund von Vererben erworbener
Eigenschaften," p. 204 _et seq._

[110] Ibid. p. 190 _et seq._

[111] "Entstehung der Arten," p. 15.



It is interesting to notice the opinions of different scientists and
philosophers as to the extent to which reason is diffused in the
universe, where the point lies at which the boundary line is to be drawn
between reason and an automatism of instinct or organic action, or
whether any such point can be found at all, whether reason, at least as
consciousness and will, is not inherent in all life, or at least in all
animal life, or whether it is not, indeed, to be regarded as the cause
of motion even outside life, in the inorganic as well as the organic.
There is no need to remind ourselves of the philosophic conception of
the World as Will, the Philosophy of the Unconscious, or the Theory of
Monads. The theories that specialists in physical science have arrived
at, through the results of wide-reaching investigations in their own
peculiar branch, are as various as those of philosophers. Darwin
carefully avoids drawing any distinct limit-line between reason and
instinct, but remarks that "A little dose of judgment or reason, as
Pierre Huber expresses it, often comes into play, even with animals low
in the scale of nature."[112] Haeckel says: "Unbiassed comparison and
unprejudiced test and observation place it beyond doubt that so-called
'instinct' is nothing else than a sum of soul-activities which,
originally acquired by adaptation, have been fixed by habit and carried
down from generation to generation by inheritance. Originally performed
with consciousness and reflection, many instinctive actions of the
animals have become, in the course of time, unconscious, exactly as is
the case with the habitual activities of human reason. These, too, may,
with like justice, be looked upon as the workings of innate instinct,
as, indeed, the impulse to self-preservation, maternal love, and the
social instinct often are regarded. Again, instinct is neither
distinctively an attribute of the brain of the animal, nor is the
reason an especial endowment of human beings. On the contrary, an
impartial doctrine of soul recognizes a long, long, descending scale of
gradual evolution in the life of the soul, which leads from higher to
lower human beings, from more perfect to more imperfect animals, step by
step, down to those forms whose simple nerve-ganglion furnishes the
starting-point of all the cell-less brain-forms of this scale."[113] The
lecture in which this passage occurs not only argues further that the
soul is composed of soul-activities as the brain is composed of cells,
but finds in all living cells, "all protoplasm, the first element of all
soul life, sensation in the simple forms of pain and pleasure, movement
in the simple forms of attraction and repulsion. Only the degrees of
development and combination of soul are different in different beings."
Du Prel, impressed with the evolution of order from disorder in the
heavens as on the earth, ascribes this to universal sensation as a
fundamental quality of all matter, which makes it continually tend
towards a state of equilibrium in which collision is reduced to a
minimum.[114] Some biologists ascribe sensation, or consciousness, to
animal life alone; some ascribe consciousness to such animals only as
possess a nervous system; some philosophers make a distinction between
sensation, consciousness, and self-consciousness, as shown in the scale
of animal life; some, again, approaching the problem from another side,
lay emphasis on the difference between automatic and organic action,
instinct, "blind impulse," and will. Carneri, as we have seen,[115]
holds that even the action of an animal so high in the scale as the
butterfly may be pure automatism, its fluttering when impaled merely the
motion of a continued attempt at flight.

These differences in opinion seem to depend, in great measure, upon the
end of the scale of being chosen as the starting-point in the
development of theory. If we begin with man and assume intelligence to
be the cause of design,--of the purposeful, the self-preserving,--in his
action, we shall be likely to infer intelligence as the cause of
self-preserving function in all animals, and we shall find great
difficulty in drawing any distinct line between intelligence and
automatism. If we are not students of inorganic nature, the evolution to
be found also in it, up to the attainment of preservative forms of
motion, may escape our observation, preoccupation with man and the self-
or rather human-interested bias of observation blinding us to it; but if
we carry our considerations, in an unprejudiced spirit, on beyond the
province of life, we may, like Du Prel and others, arrive at a theory of
intelligence as a universal property of matter. On the other hand, if we
begin with inorganic matter and assume automatism to be the cause of its
motion, we are likely, ascending the scale of organic existence, to
interpret much of its function as due to material action and reaction,
and may again, from this side, find so great difficulty in drawing the
line where intelligence begins, that we may fall, as Carneri has done,
into the opposite extreme to that last noticed, and interpret nearly all
animal action as unintelligent or even insentient.

Let us look at the dilemma a little more closely. Might it not seem,
from one point of view, as if the harmonious movements of the stars, by
which they avoid their own destruction, must be referred to desire and
will to avoid it? If all systems of material parts, without exception or
distinction, tend, as Fechner, Du Prel, and Petzoldt assert, towards
harmony of the parts such that the motion of these parts will become
self-preservative, does it not seem logically necessary to assume that
this self-preservation, arising in inorganic matter in the same manner
as in organic matter, must be due to the same causes as those
to which we ascribe action towards an end, action that involves
self-preservation, in the broadest sense of the word, in man? May not
the heavenly bodies, learning from experience in some way, as man does,
gradually come to choose, though still in accordance with natural laws
(as man also invariably chooses) that orbit which preserves them from
collision? True, they must finally suffer destruction, but so, also,
must the human individual, and the race of human beings. The difference
of evolution and dissolution in the two cases is only one of time. Among
different species of nervously organized beings, the duration of life
also differs. Or, if we deny the existence of intelligence in inorganic
nature, can we, at least, descending the scale of organic being, find
any point of which we can say, "Here intelligence ends and automatism
begins"? Shall we deny the existence of intelligence in plants, and if
so, how shall we find that dividing line between the plant and animal
kingdoms which the advancement of science in many directions is
rendering, not more distinct, but less and less so? G. Th. Schneider
says, in his book on "The Human Will": "The movements of touch and
locomotion in the search for food are the first movements in which the
specific animal-life may be recognized. In no plant is the groping
caused by hunger to be observed."[116] But is this true? The
insectivorous plants, for instance, open their leaves when their prey is
digested, waiting for fresh prey; and they close them again when prey
has again entered, thus practically grasping their victim and holding
him fast. Although the nature of the plant prevents its moving from the
spot where it grows, are these movements less a search for and capture
of food than those of the animal? To say that the closing of the leaves
depends upon the beginning of some chemical process in the plant
furnishes us with no mark of distinction between the two, for it is
equally true that chemical processes underlie animal motion; and to
object that the reopening of the leaves is the result of the completion
of assimilation gives us, also, no distinctive mark, since the animal's
search for food is likewise the result of hunger and so connected with a
particular state of the digestive organs. The action of insectivorous
plants draws our attention because the process of assimilation involved
so resembles animal digestion; but, as a point of fact, the opening of
petals to receive the air and sun is as much a search for food as the
opening of leaves to receive insect prey.

Schneider adds to the passage above quoted, "A further difference
between psychical and physiological movements is this, that the latter
always remain the same, however the excitation changes, while the former
have, now the character of attraction, now that of repulsion." It may be
questioned whether this difference either can be demonstrated to be a
distinctive mark. We have only to go into a dark cellar where the
potatoes have begun to sprout, in order to see how plants that
ordinarily grow upward will take every curve and angle in order to reach
towards the light of some distant window. And if we turn one of the
tubers about, we may watch the pallid sprout again turn to grow towards
the far-away sunlight. Thomas A. Knight relates experiments in which
plants of the Virginia creeper (_Ampelopsis quinquefolia_) were removed
from one side of the house to the other, being, in each case, screened
from perpendicular rays of the sun, and records that, in all cases, the
tendrils turned in a few hours in a direction pointing to the centre of
the house. One plant after being thus experimented with, was "removed to
the centre of the house and fully exposed to the perpendicular light of
the sun; and a piece of dark-colored paper was placed upon one side of
it, just within reach of its tendrils; and to this substance they soon
appeared to be strongly attracted. The paper was then placed upon the
opposite side, under similar circumstances, and a piece of plate glass
was substituted; but to this substance the tendrils did not indicate any
disposition to approach. The position of the glass was then changed, and
care was taken to adjust its surface to the varying position of the sun,
so that the light reflected might continue to strike the tendrils; which
then receded from the glass, and appeared to be strongly repulsed by
it."[117] Darwin writes of the insectivorous _Drosera rotundifolia_: "If
young and active leaves are selected, inorganic particles not larger
than the head of a small pin, placed on the central glands, sometimes
cause the outer tentacles to bend inwards. But this follows much more
surely and quickly, if the object contains nitrogenous matter which can
be dissolved by the secretion. On one occasion, I observed the following
unusual circumstance. Small bits of raw meat (which acts more
energetically than any other substance), of paper, dried moss, and of
the quill of a pen, were placed on several leaves, and they were all
embraced equally well in about two hours. On other occasions the
above-named substances, or more commonly particles of glass, coal-cinder
(taken from the fire), stone, gold-leaf, dried grass, cork, blotting
paper, cotton-wool, and hair rolled into little balls, were used, and
these substances, though they were sometimes well embraced, often caused
no movement whatever in the outer tentacles, or an extremely slight and
slow movement. Yet these same leaves were proved to be in an active
condition, as they were excited to movement by substances yielding
nitrogenous matter, such as bits of raw or roast meat, the yolk or white
of boiled eggs, fragments of insects of all orders, spiders, etc. I will
give only two instances.

"Minute flies were placed on the discs of several leaves, and on others
balls of paper, bits of moss and quill of about the same size as the
flies, and the latter were well embraced in a few hours; whereas after
twenty-five hours only a very few tentacles were inflected over the
other objects. The bits of paper, moss, and quill were then removed from
these leaves, and bits of raw meat placed on them; and now all the
tentacles were soon energetically inflected.

"Again, particles of coal-cinder (weighing rather more than the flies
used in the last experiment) were placed on the centres of three leaves:
after an interval of nineteen hours, one of the particles was tolerably
well embraced; a second by a very few tentacles; and a third by none. I
then removed the particles from the two latter leaves, and put on them
recently killed flies. These were fairly well embraced in seven and
one-half hours, and thoroughly after twenty and one-half hours; the
tentacles remaining inflected for many subsequent days. On the other
hand, the one leaf which had in the course of nineteen hours embraced
the bit of cinder moderately well, and to which no fly was given, after
an additional thirty-three hours (_i.e._ in fifty-two hours from the
time when the cinder was put on) was completely reëxpanded and ready to
act again."[118]

From these and many other experiments Darwin concludes that inorganic
and some organic substances not attacked by the secretion of the leaf
act much less quickly and efficiently than organic substances yielding
soluble matter, which is absorbed.

He also writes of the curvature of radicles which come in contact with
obstacles at right angles:--

"The first and most obvious explanation of the curvature is that it
results merely from the mechanical resistance to the growth in its
original direction. Nevertheless, this explanation did not seem to us
satisfactory. The radicles did not present the appearance of having been
subjected to a sufficient pressure to account for their curvature. Sachs
has shown that the growing part is more rigid than the part immediately
above, which has ceased to grow, so that the latter might have been
expected to yield and become curved as soon as the apex encountered an
unyielding object; whereas it was the stiff, growing part which became
curved. Moreover, an object which yields with the greatest ease will
deflect a radicle: thus, as we have seen, when the apex of the radicle
of the bean encountered the polished surface of extremely thin tin-foil
on soft sand, no impression was left on it, yet the radicle became
deflected at right angles. A second explanation occurred to us, namely,
that even the gentlest pressure might check the growth of the apex, and
in this case growth could continue only on one side, and thus the
radicle would assume a rectangular form; but this view leaves wholly
unexplained the curvature of the upper part, extending for a length of
8-10 mm.

"We were therefore led to suspect that the apex was sensitive to
contact, and that the effect was transmitted from it to the upper part
of the radicle, which was excited to bend away from the touching object.
As a little loop of fine thread, hung on a tendril or on the petiole of
a leaf-climbing plant, causes it to bend, we thought that any hard
object affixed to the tip of a radicle, freely suspended and growing in
damp air, might cause it to bend if it were sensitive, and yet would not
offer any mechanical resistance to its growth.... Sachs discovered that
the radicle a little above the apex is sensitive and bends like a
tendril _towards_ the touching object. But when one side of the apex is
pressed by any object, the growing part bends _away_ from the

Acting on this idea, Darwin found, in many experiments, that the
radicles of plants freely suspended in bottles, when brought into
contact with the most yielding substances, bits of paper, etc., were
deflected, in a very few hours, from their original course, and often at
right angles to this. He says, further:--

"As the apex of a radicle in penetrating the ground must be pressed on
all sides, we wished to learn whether it could distinguish between
harder, or more resisting, and softer substances. A square of sanded
paper almost as stiff as card, and a square of extremely thin paper (too
thin for writing on) of exactly the same size (about one-twentieth of an
inch), were fixed with shellac on opposite sides of the apices of twelve
suspended radicles.... In eight out of the twelve cases, there could be
no doubt that the radicle was deflected from the side to which the
card-like paper was attached and towards the opposite side bearing the
very thin paper.

"This occurred, in some instances, in nine hours, but in others not
until twenty-four hours had elapsed. Moreover, some of the four failures
can hardly be considered as really failures: thus, in one of them in
which the radicle remained quite straight, the square of thin paper was
found, when both were removed from the apex, to have been so thickly
coated with shellac that it was almost as stiff as the card; in the
second case, the radicle was bent upward into a semicircle, but the
deflection was not directly from the side bearing the card, and this was
explained by the two squares having become cemented laterally together,
forming a sort of stiff gable from which the radicle was deflected; in
the third case, the square of card had been fixed by mistake in front,
and though there was deflection, this might have been due to Sachs's
curvature; in the fourth case alone, no reason could be assigned why the
radicle had not been at all deflected."

Darwin found, moreover, by experiment, that, when the tip of a radicle
is burnt or cut, "it transmits an influence to the upper adjoining part,
causing it to bend away from the affected side." This deflection
resembles, in a very striking manner, the avoidance of sources of injury
and pain on the part of animals.

And at the end of his book on the Movements of Plants, which contains
very many other experiments bearing on the question of sensitivity in
plants, the author writes, "It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the
tip of the radicle thus endowed, and having the power of directing the
movements of the adjoining parts, acts like the brain of one of the
lower animals."

It is true that the plant does not react with the rapidity which
characterizes the animal; Darwin found that radicles are not sensitive
to temporary contact, but only to long, though to slight pressure. It is
also true that the physical basis of the movement is more simple, and so
more easily traceable in the plant than in the animal organism; yet why
lay such especial stress upon this side of plant-life, since it is
acknowledged that the physical basis is by no means peculiar to it, but
that, on the contrary, all life-processes, in the animal as well as in
the plant, have their physical side, although greater complexity of
organization may make this more difficult to follow in the one case than
in the other?

But we may begin at the other end of the scale and examine the facts
presented from the opposite point of view. The physicist demonstrates
that force is indestructible; that is, that the sum of the motion and
resistance to motion residing in indestructible matter is also
imperishable, that all present motion must be regarded as the resultant
of previous conditions of motion and resistance, as far back as we may
go, until we reach some assumed primal state (which is only assumed and
cannot be proved to have existed) in which the matter composing the
universe is supposed to have been at complete rest; and that every
resultant bears relations to its component factors of force that are
constant, every component finding its full value in the resultant. What
evidence has the present state of our solar system and the other systems
of heavenly bodies revealed to us by the telescope to offer us in proof
of their consciousness or sentience? How are the whirl and concentration
of nebular mists, the crash and collision of elemental bodies, from
which, by simple action and reaction, after ages of disharmony, only a
comparative harmony is arrived at as inevitable result, evidence of aim,
intention, will, consciousness, in the matter subject to this evolution?
Do we find anything here except blind law? The movements of plants,
often directly favorable to self-preservation, may be explained by the
arrangement of the cells and their chemical action. Or, if sentience
must be assumed to be the cause of movement attaining ends of
self-preservation in plants, how are we to account for organic and
instinctive action in animals? How is it, for instance, that the
new-born infant sucks, and the chicken but a few hours old, even though
it has been hatched in an incubator apart from its kind, picks at the
food strewn before it, aiming, too, with considerable precision?[120]
How does it happen that the process of breathing and digestion, the
beating of the heart and the circulation of the blood, all so necessary
to life, go on with regularity, though not directed by reason? Has the
newly hatched chicken any experience to teach it what food is, and how
it is to be seized; or does the caterpillar, which spins itself a
cocoon, do this with the understanding that it is about to enter a new
phase of existence? Or, if such important and, at first view, seemingly
intelligent action can be explained as unreasoning instinct, why cannot
many other actions of the lower animals be thus explained? Why may not
nearly all, if not all of them, be thus explained, and consciousness be
regarded as the exclusive property of man?

But how much of the action we term automatic, instinctive, or organic,
reflex or "merely functional," can be positively asserted to have no
admixture of consciousness? If we examine our own action closely we
shall often find that we were, in fact, conscious of much that seems,
at first glance, purely automatic. It may appear to us, for instance,
that reflection on the notes of a musical composition which we have
known for a long time "by heart" hinders rather than helps us, even
causing us sometimes to fail completely in our performance. But if we
examine our condition at the time of such a failure, do we not usually
find that, when we began to think about what we were playing, we were
suddenly seized with a fear of failing and that the fear confused us? Or
do we not find, at least, that withdrawal of our attention from the
music by conversation that requires any concentration of thought is as
likely to confuse us as too great attention to it? A friend of mine one
day related to me the following experience: Having a felon upon his
finger, he submitted to a surgical operation, for which the operator
preferred to administer an anæsthetic. When he awoke to consciousness
again, he was pleased to find the painful operation completely finished
and the hand newly dressed. Asked whether he had experienced any pain,
he answered, "Not a twinge," whereat the surgeon remarked that he had
screamed and groaned during the operation. To this he replied that his
action must have been merely reflex. An hour or so later, however, as he
was at work, a sudden recollection of the whole operation came to him.
Persons undergoing dental operations under the influence of laughing-gas
often scream and make convulsive movements as if in pain, though they
declare, afterwards, in like manner, that they have felt nothing; but
may not this be due, as in the case just cited, to a mere lapse of
memory? Why, indeed, should the patient scream if not in pain? Again,
there is a poison--curarine, the Indian arrow poison--which has power to
deprive its victim of all motion, while leaving him, as has been
ascertained in cases in which it has been used as a medicine, a
consciousness that is more or less dimmed. May not the seeming dimness,
however, be due to the incomplete function of memory when turned to
events that transpired under its influence? And may not the action of
so-called anæsthetics of all sorts involve simply a paralysis of action
similar to that caused by the Indian arrow poison, together with a more
complete lapse of memory than that ensuing upon the latter? To answer
that anæsthetics affect the brain, and that therefore consciousness is
not possible, is begging the question, for it is by just such
experiments and experience of the apparent mental effects of
anæsthetics in connection with peculiar brain conditions that theories
of non-sensibility under these conditions have been arrived at. States
of somnambulism generally used to be classed as outside the sphere of
memory and were therefore sometimes called unconscious; but recent
experiments in hypnotism have shown that similar states to these may be
remembered or not remembered according to the individual case, and that
persons who, when awakened, ordinarily recall nothing of that which has
passed in the hypnotic state may be made to recall all the events of
that state if commanded to do so before awakening. Pflüger has attempted
to demonstrate, by many experiments, that consciousness is not confined
to the brain but is also connected with the spinal cord;[121] why,
however, draw a line at the spinal cord? Is not nerve substance the same
with that from which the spinal cord and the brain develop, are not all
nerve cells primarily mere modifications of cells of the outer skin?

Of unconsciousness in ourselves we can have no more an immediate and
direct knowledge than of unconsciousness outside ourselves, since, in
order to be immediately known, it would have to be present in
consciousness; and a conscious unconsciousness is a self-contradiction.
We can only witness to a failure of memory at certain points (which
failure has already been shown to be untrustworthy as evidence) or to
movements of our body to which we can supply no corresponding conscious
states as premeditation. But our inability to testify to such is merely
negative. A great deal has been made, in one way and another, of the
fact that there are links in premeditated action which do not come into
consciousness, there being no knowledge, for instance, of the processes
in nerve and muscle between the movement of the arm in writing and the
premeditation of such movement. As a fact, however, none of the
physiological processes which accompany the psychical are present to our
consciousness except as given through the senses or through
nerve-transmission similar to that of sense-perception. The conscious
elements of any present state of thought do not include the changes in
brain-matter concomitant with them. But the question may be raised, as
Haeckel raises it,--though perhaps somewhat differently,--in his essay
on Soul-cells and Cell-souls, as to whether the brain-cells themselves
are not endowed with consciousness; and any answer in the negative is,
evidently, an assumption, of which we can give no proof. Indeed, the
question may be asked, and has been asked, whether the remarkable white
blood corpuscles which traverse our body, and are so similar to certain
lower forms of life, are not to be regarded as distinct beings, or
whether, in fact, all the cells whose combined life and movement make up
our own are not endowed with distinct being and consciousness. Again an
answer in the negative is evidently a mere assumption. And why stop, in
this case, exactly with the cells of animal life; why not apply our
question to those of plant life also? Why not, indeed, suppose all forms
to be endowed with consciousness, all harmonious motion to be
accompanied by pleasure, all dissolution and conflict by pain? From
analogy we may conclude something, but from mere non-analogy nothing.
Our experience may entitle us to the assertion that all beings
possessing a nervous system are endowed with consciousness, but we
cannot conclude, therefore, that all beings not possessing a nervous
system are not endowed with consciousness. We have associated
consciousness with acts peculiar to man, and hence inferred its presence
in similar movements of animals similarly constructed. But if we could
examine the physiological accompaniments of our own thought and feeling
and their issue in action, if we could look on at all the details, the
chemical and mechanical changes of the physiological processes, what
hint should we find in these more than in any other physical processes,
from which to infer consciousness? They are not the less rigidly in
accordance with natural law than any other. But our observation of all
other processes than those of our own organism is a mere extraneous one,
like this we have imagined of the processes of our own body; if there
were consciousness in other forms we could not enter into it; and how
can we prove extraneously its non-existence? Our own "stability" of
function and the stability of all life-motion has been developed in a
perfectly similar manner to that by which the stability of the heavenly
bodies has been developed, the physical side of the process being just
as fully a matter of action and reaction, and our action towards ends
the slowly progressive result of this course of action and reaction,
just as is the case with the harmonious movements of the systems of the
heavens. It would, moreover, be perfectly easy to formulate a purely
physical and mechanical explanation of our action, as Carneri does of
the action of ants and other species,--to explain the plucking of a
rose, for instance, as mere reaction upon the sense of smell and sight,
or as the mere mechanical action of cell-matter.

But, again, on the other hand: If it is true that the nervous system is
developed from cells of the outer covering of the body, it is,
nevertheless, not true that those primary cells are the nervous system,
any more than it is true that the lowest forms of life, from which man
has developed, are human beings. Rudimentary eyes exist in some animals
in the form of mere pigment spots, but we do not suppose these pigment
spots to endow the animal with sight as we understand it. Sight is not a
function of all forms of life, neither is hearing, and these powers have
developed out of forms of animal life in which they did not exist; why
then is it necessary to suppose consciousness to be a property of all
forms of life because we know it to appear in some higher developments
of life? Why may it not arise, as do sight and hearing, by gradual
evolution, as a function of special organisms? Have we any direct
knowledge of consciousness except in connection with certain normal
conditions of our own brain? And, this being said, have we any means
left by which we can prove the existence of consciousness, except in
connection with a brain similar to our own?

What grounds have we for assuming the existence of consciousness where
the analogy of our own organization does not furnish us with an
argument? If we argue from the analogy of our own experience to the
existence of consciousness in animals whose organization is similar to
our own, and then, following down the scale of life, find no pause or
gap at which to draw an exact line, we must not the less forget that
with the diminishing analogy the force of our inference diminishes in
like degree. Or where is the logical necessity of inferring that
consciousness must exist in the inorganic either because the organic
originally developed from the inorganic, or because it suffers
continually a renewal by nourishment, which is, in effect, as much a
development from the inorganic as the supposed primal one? The pigment
spot from which the eye arises is not the eye, simple protoplasm is not
the organized human being; whence does the physical organization arise?
Are we to suppose it, too, as preëxistent, "in a weaker form," or in
any form, in the inorganic? Whence have we any grounds for assuming that
that which we know only in connection with a certain peculiar
organization exists elsewhere? Are we to suppose the color blue to be
present in certain chemical elements because their chemical compound is
blue? Or how is it that even isomeric compounds may exhibit different
qualities? Shall we regard the color as not essentially connected with
the chemical constitution of the supposed compound? As a matter of fact,
color is one of the chemist's means of recognition. Or shall we
"explain" the color by the length of light-waves or the construction of
the eye, correcting, thus, one part of our experience by another, and
assuming one as fundamental and essential, the other as non-essential?
We "explain" sound as wave-movement in some outer medium and in the ear,
correcting, thus, the hearing by sight or touch; does this mean that
that part of our experience given us through the eye or hand alone is
truth, and to be relied on and recognized as such, while the experience
given us through the other senses is non-essential and not to be
accepted or relied on? But if the eye gives us the truth, then why do
we, in the case of color, correct it again by another phase of our
experience? How are we to decide which is essential, the wave-movement
that is (or may be made) perceptible to our eye, or the sound heard by
our ear, the color directly seen or the length of the light-wave
concluded from experiment? As a matter of fact, we emphasize one or the
other according to the end we have in view in our experiment. Is it the
length of the wave which causes the color, or the color which causes the
particular wave-length? If we analyze brain-action as chemical action,
do we prove thereby that the consciousness concomitant with this
peculiar chemical action under these peculiar conditions must exist
elsewhere under other conditions? Are the characteristics of one
chemical compound the same as those of another because both compounds
are matter and motion? If we prove that the brain contains cells similar
to cells in other parts of the nervous system, that the whole nervous
system arises, in the first instance, from epithelium cells, that the
whole animal is descended from some primal protoplasmic cell, and that
the cells of plants are similar, in many ways, to those of animals, do
we thereby prove that consciousness exists except as coördinate with the
peculiar cells and arrangements of cells in the brain? We have no
precedent from which to argue, since consciousness is to us a unique
feature of the universe; we know it immediately only as existent in
ourselves, and in order to obtain any precedent must be guilty of
assuming it in order to prove it.

The dilemma seems, thus, as we analyse and inquire into it more closely,
to increase rather than decrease in significance. How is any solution to
be arrived at?

If we return to the beginning of our considerations on this point, we
shall find that, in coming at the question from either side, we have
made an assumption. Our first premises were as follows: Assuming that
consciousness is the cause of movement by which man attempts to arrive
at his ends, what reason have we for supposing consciousness to exist
outside man? and, on the other hand: Assuming mechanical action and
reaction to be the cause of movement in inorganic nature, what reason
have we for assuming this to be the cause of action in organic
existence? Let us examine these assumptions more closely.

We may return to the theory of the gradual development of stable out of
unstable conditions as stated in different ways by Zöllner, Fechner, and
Du Prel. As has been shown, the principle applies to organic as well as
to inorganic nature, and is only a broader principle including that of
the Survival of the Fittest. There is a physical side to all psychical
functions, and everywhere our investigation shows us the physical
following unchanging laws. The development of the Stable from the
Unstable explains to us the evolution of function in the direction of
the preservation of the organic forms of which it is the function, as
well as the evolution of harmonious movement in the heavenly bodies. The
explanation of the natural and necessary elimination of the inharmonious
covers the whole ground, and seems to assign a cause for every form of
preservative action, for the harmonious conduct which preserves the
state or the family as a collection of individuals, as well as for the
harmony of function that preserves the individual. As long as reason can
change no smallest detail in the workings of the laws of nature, as long
as it can never render any motion other than the exact resultant of the
forces represented in it, what room remains for reason as a cause? Ought
we not rather, though from a much broader and therefore more convincing,
in fact from the broadest and hence most convincing view of the matter,
to regard consciousness, as do many physiologists on narrower grounds,
as the mere accompaniment of material processes?

But this brings us again to a consideration of the concept of cause.
What do we mean by cause? Above, we spoke of the "cause of motion"; do
we designate by this term those factors of preceding motion which,
continued, produce it as composite resultant? If so, why not substitute
for the term "cause of motion," "component factors of motion"? But is
this, in fact, all we meant by cause? Was there not, in our mind, as we
made use of the term, a vague half-conception of some additional force
beyond those so exactly summed up in the resultant, which, in some
indefinable manner, guided the process? As has been sufficiently
demonstrated, no such additional force can be shown to exist, or be
logically assumed in theory, except in some transcendental sense; nature
gives us only perfect equivalence of forces. A cause of motion except as
the mere sum of its preceding components is, therefore, a natural
impossibility. Hence the reason or consciousness cannot be assumed to be
such a cause. But if consciousness cannot be regarded as such a cause
additional to the component factors of motion, neither can anything
outside consciousness be regarded as such a cause. Natural laws are
often treated as if they constituted a cause; but they are not entities
which control nature: they are merely forms by which we express nature's
constancy, uniformity. Neither is constancy or uniformity a controlling
entity: it is simply a generalization, if a universal one, whether we
regard it as _a priori_ or as _a posteriori_. It appears, then, that we
have no greater reason for regarding the constancy of nature or natural
law as cause than we have for asserting reason to be such.

In this connection the question may be in order, as to why the student
of the natural sciences, who is in the habit of proclaiming, so loudly,
the necessity or at least the constancy of everything in nature, should
yet elect to assign to consciousness the character of the non-essential,
that is the accidental. Action and reaction are, according to him,
essential inherent properties of brain matter as such, but consciousness
is merely a dependent. But who shall decide what part or form of force,
what factors of the universe are accidental and what essential? If our
assertion of constancy in natural phenomena means anything at all, it
means that nothing is accidental, but that all factors of phenomena are
essential. Is the bell the less silver to my eye because it appeals to
my ear with sound, or the ball the less round to touch because my field
of vision is flat? Even if we suppose forms of matter, and organic
forms, to exist without consciousness, can we therefore assert
consciousness to be any the less essential, any the less inherent in the
nature of things, any the less existent and actual, where it appears? If
so, what physiological function can we call inherent and essential,
since these all also arise with evolution? Heat may exist without light,
but is light therefore less essential than heat, where it arises? The
very constancy which psychical phenomena exhibit would show their
essential character as factors of the universe. Perhaps it is the
attempt of the spiritualist to assign to consciousness something more
than such a character which has led his adversary into the opposite
error of asserting it to be something less; but the two extremes of
doctrine are quite equally far from that scientific method which holds
to given phenomena. Materialism is as much metaphysics as Spiritualism
is; and the materialist who condemns metaphysics condemns himself.
Consciousness belongs to the Actual; and the Materialism which assigns
it a place subordinate to that of other actual phenomena is as much
dogmatism as is any theory which subordinates the other phases of the
Actual to it. The fact that consciousness bears constant relation to
certain physiological phenomena is no ground for pronouncing it the
effect and the physiological phenomena the cause, it the dependent and
the physiological phenomena the independent factors; the relations of
all forms of force to each other are constant. Heat is constant in its
accompaniment of light; and yet who shall say the one is dependent, the
other independent, the one cause, the other merely effect?

We have only to regard the theories of specialists in order to discover
how easily habitual occupation with one particular side, form, factor,
or phase of phenomena inclines one to regard that side as the only
essential one, and all others as non-essential, dependent upon it, mere
effect of which it is the cause. The physicist tends to interpret
everything by mechanical action and reaction; the chemist lays more
particular stress on the chemical properties of organic as of inorganic
matter; the physiologist emphasizes cellular structure and combination,
and makes much of brain cells, the spinal cord, the _nervus
sympathicus_, and the special sense-organs; the biologist often regards
the attraction and repulsion involved in the so-called sensibility of
all forms of living matter as the cause of all life phenomena; the
anatomist calls attention to the arrangement of organs with respect to
each other, the mechanical adjustment of parts for function, the size
and shape of bones as caused by weight and the angle of its incidence,
etc., etc.; while the psychologist on the other hand refers everything
to mental causality. For complete science, however, we need the aid of
every special science,--of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physiology,
Anatomy, Psychology, and all the other branches which can contribute to
any side of our knowledge of nature. The desire within us for unity is
strong, the impulse to simplify by referring everything to a single
principle almost irresistible; and in so far as we do this through a
conviction of the oneness of the universe as consisting of
interdependent parts we are in a certain sense justified; but until we
can grasp this unity in its totality, our one-sided reductions must
remain false in so far as they make claim to include the whole of truth.
It may be most useful to choose out that side or phase of phenomena for
any particular investigation which is most accessible to such
investigation; where the links of the psychical fail, it may be
necessary to scientific completeness or clearness to complete the chain
with the aid of the physical, but it should be borne in mind that this
is a device of reason for convenience' sake. It may be possible to
imagine two worlds, one in which the physical evolution alone takes
place and all phenomena peculiar to organic function arise through the
action and reaction of organic matter;[122] but the question is not what
we can imagine but what is: we can imagine many things which do not
exist and are impossible to nature. The human reason has also found it
possible to conceive of spirit unconnected with body.

The materialist calls triumphant attention to the constancy of material
phenomena, and proves, by careful comparison with coördinate psychical
phenomena, the uniformities in the latter. Disease of every kind, but
particularly those forms of disease which attack especially the nervous
system--brain and spinal cord and the nerve endings--furnish the strong
points of his argument, which is thus based on facts no lover of truth
desires to gainsay; but when the materialist has shown us all these
facts, has he not proved, with regard to the psychical, exactly that
constancy which entitles it to consideration as a part of the actual
universe subject to natural law?

The materialist objects that if the physical side of nature is the
essential one, the psychical cannot be essential. On what grounds is
this claim based? Is the color of an object not essential to it because
its shape is essential, or do the actual existence and change of color
according to natural law interfere with the actual existence and change
of shape according also to natural law? Does only one of our senses give
us truth?

Logic is very ready with its definitions of "things" and their
"properties" and "accidents," as Physics is very ready with its analyses
of light and color and sound, and Physiology with its analyses of the
sense organs and their relations to color and sound. But shall we accept
only the physiological analysis of cell form and action, and reject the
sense-synthesis of sight or hearing as less important, less actual? Or
are we to believe that the sense-function alone is essential and not
also some actuality in its object, as of this or that color? Are we to
believe that any property or accident of a thing may change, and the
thing remain yet actually the same thing? What are our essences as
separated from their properties and accidents? As a matter of fact, we
know nothing except we know it as some particular thing, every change in
which leaves it something different from what it was before. Changes of
particular form or color are changes to some other particular form or
color, unless they are such changes as withdraw the object from the
reach of the special sense of sight before appealed to, as for instance
in the case of evaporation. That one form of force may accompany or pass
into another makes neither one of the concomitants and neither the
preceding nor the succeeding form less real. As a fact, however, much
superstition still remains with us as unconscious result of just such
withdrawals from the perception of one sense and analogous new appeals
to some hitherto unaffected sense, although we are accustomed to flatter
ourselves that science has long overcome this superstition. There is no
change that is not a particular change, that is not according to
constant laws of nature, and, as such, essential to nature. There is no
phase of nature that exact science can consistently regard as
non-essential. So that, even if reason does not exist in combination
with all matter, we have no ground for regarding it as non-essential
where it does exist, and no more reason for defining it as effect than
we have for defining it as cause. Result it may be, as physiological
function is result,--that is, an end-form of processes of change which
we call evolution.

But we have found our disproof and also our proof of the existence of
reason outside the human species fail us wherever the direct evidence of
extreme analogy is wanting, as soon as we cease to regard reason as a
cause of physiological change. Perhaps it will be well for us to define
more closely the province of reason, before we proceed further in our
considerations. An exhaustive analysis is not necessary to our purpose
and it would be useless to attempt it at this point of our argument. The
relation of reason to action is what chiefly concerns us here, and in
this connection Mr. Leslie Stephen's definition of it as that faculty
which enables us to act with regard to the distant and future might seem
to designate its important function.[123] Simple reaction on the present
action of force belongs to all matter. However, when we consider
further, a certain doubt may rise as to the exact correctness of this
definition or description, for does not that which we call instinct
often perform the same office for the animal as that which we have
designated as the office of reason? Let us look into this question a
little more closely. We may take, for instance, the case of those
insects and other animals which, though never caring for or indeed
seeing their offspring after the hatching of the latter, make provision
at the laying of the eggs for their nourishment during the helplessness
of the first period of their life; are we to suppose that these animals
have any means of knowing that they are providing for their offspring?
Can they have learned the fact from their own parent whom they never
saw, or from others of their own species who are in the same predicament
as themselves? As Schneider points out,[124] the human infant must have
sucked before it could have had any ideas, as individual, of the act of
sucking. The newly hatched chickens of Eimer's experiments above
referred to could scarcely have had any conception of the act of eating
before they picked at their food. How happens it that the young of many
of the lower animals which give no care to eggs or offspring yet know
how to care for themselves after the peculiar manner of their kind? Once
it is admitted that any acts which attain results that constitute
desirable ends for the acting subject need not be regarded as caused by
knowledge of the ends, there is no reason to suppose that the principle
may not hold of many acts in which a distinct knowledge of the end seems
to play a part. But what do we mean by end?

Let us take, for instance, the act of eating. The biologist and the
physiologist tell us that the end which eating serves is the
preservation of life; and the biologist may further add--not the life of
the individual, alone, but that of the species. The very consistent
physiologist may principally have in view, in eating, the preservation
of his own health, and may even take into consideration, in a degree,
his possible future offspring, guarding his own health with a view to
theirs. With a minority of other men these more general and distant
results may to some extent be kept in view as ends. But it is evident
that, with the majority of people, they are, where ends at all,
subordinate ones, the immediate satisfaction of hunger, the pleasure of
eating, or the relief of physical depression, appearing oftener as chief
end. And what is to be said of the new-born infant, which sucks when the
breast is placed between its lips? what is the end which it has in view
in taking nourishment? Shall we suppose it, as individual, to have any
definite conception of the contrast between states of hunger and states
of satisfaction, and to possess the knowledge that the act of sucking is
the proper means to the attainment of satisfaction as an end? As the
infant becomes the boy seating himself at table with a distinct
conception of pleasure to be attained by the gratification of a vigorous
appetite, so the boy may become the physiologist eating with a view
chiefly to his own health and to the further end of health in his
offspring. How does it happen that, thus, the same act, the significance
of which remains the same, may be performed and by the same individual
yet with quite different ends, or perhaps in some cases (that of the
infant) no end at all, in view?

When we perceive the sphex providing its eggs, as is its wont, with
living and yet motionless and helpless insects, we can scarcely refrain
from believing that it is inspired by parental affection thus to provide
for its future young; and yet we might, with quite equal reason,
suppose that the act of copulation, in the case of the sphex, must have
in view the propagation of offspring and the preservation of the
species, since this is its result also; we refrain from so supposing,
simply because a common experience furnishes us with the knowledge that
the act of copulation, most necessary to the propagation of offspring
and the preservation of the species, may yet be performed with no direct
view to either of these ends, the birth of offspring being even
regarded, in many cases, as something to be avoided if possible. With
respect to all manner of acts, we continually fall into error by
imputing what would be our own end, in case we performed the act, to
another individual of our own species performing it; and the danger of
error is doubtless increased when we attempt to judge the ends of an
entirely different species by ends in a degree common to our own
species. There is no reason why we should not suppose that some less
ultimate end than that of the preservation of offspring may be present
to the consciousness of the sphex placing food about its eggs, just as
some nearer end than preservation of the species, health of offspring,
or even individual health may be present to the human individual in the
acts of copulation or of food-taking. And there remains still the
further question as to whether the care of the sphex for its eggs may
not be, and continue forever, on the plane of the first act of
food-taking in the human infant; and then the question again arises as
to what the nature of that plane of action may be.

These questions must remain, I believe, in great part unanswered,
considerations such as those noticed above making the inference even of
like ends from like acts very untrustworthy, the inference of similar
ends from similar acts still more so, and the inference of the existence
of no end or consciousness at all a logical impossibility. However, a
certain general clew is given us in the constant coördination of our own
nervous system with psychical processes, from which we may infer
psychical processes in some manner and degree similar to our own in
species whose nervous system greatly resembles our own; the similarity
need not be that of ends, however. The decreasing similarity of nervous
organization as we descend the animal scale may be supposed to be
coördinate with some decrease of psychical similarity. _Wherein_ this
increasing dissimilarity consists, however, we have yet to inquire.

If we return to the act of food-taking in the individual, we perceive
that, avoiding any exact assumption as to the definite nature of the act
in its first appearance in the infant, we may make the general assertion
that, as in the case of the supposed physiologist who finally comes to
eat with a direct view to the preservation of health in his offspring as
well as his own preservation and health, the act itself, while remaining
unchanged in nature, connects itself, in the process of development,
with various ends. As the individual becomes conscious of farther and
farther reaching and more and more complicated results of the act, he
postulates these as ends, not forgetting, however, important ends
earlier postulated. He may eat, as a boy, for the pleasure of eating,
later with his health and the capacity for useful work in view, and
finally to the end also, or perhaps primarily, of securing healthy
offspring; but he eats, in all these cases; and it is even supposable
that he may eat the same kinds of food, healthful food being, from the
beginning, agreeable to him. The widening of knowledge by experience, in
the case of the human individual, furnishes him with more distant and
more complex ends, which were earlier impossible to him, since he knew
nothing of them.

Something similar appears to be the truth in the case of the mental
progress of the human species as a whole. The growth of knowledge is, in
fact, a growth of consciousness of the constant connection of particular
processes with particular results, and of human acts as affecting these;
with which increase of knowledge a further coördinate development in the
sense of a postulation of further and further and more and more complex
ends keeps pace. We are continually making "discoveries,"--performing or
observing operations some or all of the observed results of which are
unforeseen by us, though these very results may be later sought as ends.
We are often able to predict the results even of entirely new
experiments; but we foresee, and can therefore assume as end, no results
the elements of which in their connection with their conditions have not
first come, in some way, within our knowledge. Nothing is a discovery
which does not involve some new element or new combination of elements.
The growth of knowledge, in individual and species, and the increase in
distance and complexity of ends never attain completeness, not all
results become known; new discoveries are constantly being made which
show us that we have hitherto been blind to results continually before
our eyes, action in accordance with which would have been most
advantageous to us.

With all these facts before us, how are we to decide as to the end in
view in any non-human act? How can we be sure whether the bird which
covers its eggs is acting with a view to the production of offspring or
merely, as some authors have assumed, to the more immediate end of
cooling its own breast.[125] How do we know whether any feeling which we
might term mother-love is active in the sphex's care for her eggs,
whether they are, as some authors have suggested, a part of her own ego
and therefore cared for, or whether the act of caring for them has not
finally come to have some immediate pleasure connected with it, such as
accompanies the satisfaction of hunger or the sexual instinct, the
pleasure itself being sought as an end? How do we know even whether the
impaled butterfly is endeavoring to escape pain or merely attempting to
continue its flight?

There appear to be some general lines that we may draw. Thus, for
instance, all facts seem to justify the assumption that the possession
of a nervous system involves sensibility and susceptibility to pain and
pleasure; and thus it is hardly consistent to suppose that the struggle
of the impaled butterfly can be without pain. It might be at times more
agreeable to our selfishness to suppose animals insusceptible of pain,
but I think we can scarcely lay that flattering unction to our soul, and
must face the assumption of their sensibility and feeling. The question
as to whether the butterfly has any distinct idea of escape as an end to
be striven for is a different one and not so easily solved. Yet as
regards conscious ends, too, we may be able to arrive at some general
conclusions with respect to the acts of animals, even of those low in
the scale. Some such conclusions have already been reached in our
considerations. But it is to be noted that all these are purely
negative--exclusions not inclusions. We may be able to say, for
instance, after careful experiment and observation, that this or that
act takes place where there is no possibility of previous knowledge, on
the part of the animal performing it, of this or that result (which we
may, however, regard as an end that should especially be desired by the
animal), and that this particular result cannot, therefore, be an end
present to the animal mind, as such, in performing the act. Lubbock
believes that the passive state of the caterpillar in its cocoon during
its transformation to a butterfly is a necessary condition of its
preservation, since the mouth while undergoing change to an organ
adapted to sucking, and the digestive organs during their preparation
for the assimilation of honey, must be useless, and therefore the animal
in an active state must perish of starvation. It is scarcely to be
supposed, however, that the insect is aware of these ends of
self-preservation involved in the state of passivity in the cocoon and
knowingly seeks them as ends. Since the metamorphosis takes place but
once in the individual life, the insect has no means of learning
anything about it beforehand from his individual experience (though,
even if this were not true, there would still remain the first instance
of cocoon-spinning to be explained); and it is both difficult to suppose
that the caterpillar has always had opportunity to be instructed in some
way by butterflies of his kind, as well as unnecessary to suppose this,
since we see, in other cases, that acts useful to the individual may
take place without previous instruction or experience. In the case of
the sphex, too, as in that of many other lower species that provide for
offspring they will never see, it is not to be supposed that the welfare
of the offspring but rather some result nearer than this is the end in
view, if any end be present to consciousness.

With regard to primary acts of instinct such as those of the newly
hatched chicken, and the new-born infant, it would seem as if an
argument like the following might hold; it is, in fact, often made use
of in a somewhat different form. We have seen that not only the progress
of the individual but also that of the human species as a whole has
involved an ever increasing knowledge of the connection of processes
with their results and the coördinate assumption of these increasingly
distant and complex results as ends. The ends which animals with a less
extensive knowledge of natural processes may postulate, must be nearer
and less complex than our own, the ends of those whose experience
affords them least extensive knowledge being nearest and simplest, until
we arrive thus at those lowest forms of animal life which cannot be
supposed to have any knowledge that may be termed such, whose action and
reaction, in its psychical aspect, can be figured only as vague

But first as to this vague sensation. Among our own acts, in which
"blind instinct" seems to play a rather larger part than reason, there
are those in which the gratification of the instinct involved is
attended with a peculiar pleasure, while the denial of gratification to
a sufficient degree is correspondingly painful; these are the acts
connected with the gratification of the primary appetites of hunger,
thirst, and sex. The strength of the appetites, the degree of emotion
involved in them, seems to be directly coördinate with their character
as connected with primary functions. This being the case, why may we not
suppose the functions of the simplest forms of life, which we believe to
have been passed on from generation to generation almost unchanged, for
the whole period of time occupied in the evolution of the human race, to
be connected with feelings equally as strong as any of our own, or even
stronger since function has been exercised on these few lines only?
Feeling changes direction with the growth of man's knowledge, with the
development of reason; it may be connected with new and more complex
processes; but it would be difficult to prove that strength of feeling
has increased except as connected with increased exercise of
_particular_ function--that is, it would be difficult to prove that the
whole sum of feeling has increased. And if we may assume that it has not
increased, then we must suppose as great a degree of feeling to be
possible in the lowest animals as in man; and no reason appears why we
should not suppose it to exist also in as great a degree in the plants
and in the inorganic matter from which both these forms of the organic
have sprung.[126]

And we have to notice a second fact: If the ends present to human reason
are nearer ones according as the knowledge of the individual performing
them is narrower, these nearer ends and the means of their attainment
may yet be very clearly and thoroughly known, the narrower knowledge
including the minute, often the minutest particulars, as far as it goes;
and why may we not suppose the so-called "instinctive" movements of
animals very low in the scale of being, which exhibit a most perfect
adaptation as far as it reaches, to be connected with a like perfect, if
very narrow, action of reason? Or why should we draw a line here between
the movements of animals and all other movements?

We are thus brought face to face with a dilemma to which there appears
to be no solution. If the solution is impossible, however, why attempt
it? In this case, anything we may term solution can be only dogmatic
assertion or else mere speculation. If the question is unanswerable, it
is unanswerable, and there is no use in further endeavor in this
direction. But, in reviewing our arguments, we shall find, I think, that
that which led us astray at every turn and induced us to hope for an
answer, now on this side, now on that, was the tendency to look for some
independent cause, some essence, effecting change rather than being
effected, or of which phenomena were only the properties. It was this
which made us believe that we had found the means to an answer in reason
as the cause of action towards ends, as also, again, that we had found
it in the development of the higher organism from the lower, and of the
organic from the inorganic. We know no such independent cause, no such
essence. We know only variables, preceding conditions and succeeding
conditions, all of which preceding and succeeding conditions we must
regard as equally essential since they are equally actual; and we know
in all variation a certain constancy of relations, which we, by
abstraction, term law.

The argument which starts with the dependence of "ends" upon reason,
and so infers a necessary intervention of reason where motion is such as
to attain results regarded by the onlooker as ends to be desired, is
often applied in a still wider form in Theology. Of course if we start
with a definition of ends as results actually desired and premeditated,
then we may infer reason from the assumed existence of "ends" in any
case; but such a form of argument is evidently a gross case of _petitio
principii_; we assume that which is to be proved,--namely, the desire
and premeditation of the results attained. This fallacy ordinarily
escapes the eye through the double significance of the word "end" as it
is generally used; in the premises of the argument the use of the word
is justifiable if no implications of reason and will are associated with
it; but, with such a non-committal definition of the word, the
conclusion noticed could never be reached, we should find ourselves at
the end of the argument no nearer it than we were at the beginning.

The gradual development of stability from instability, harmony from
disharmony, a state where collision is at a minimum from one where it
was at a maximum, may be regarded as furnishing the best phase possible
of a teleological argument. Even the dissolution of any system is part,
according to the theory, of the evolution of some higher system of
stability, that is, of one including more elements. This leads us,
however, to the question of the definition of "higher"; the friends of
theological Teleology are very ready to define the development of life
up to man as the development of higher from lower forms, but are they
willing to regard a succeeding stage of still greater stability, a state
of barren and lifeless rest like that of the moon's surface, which our
earth will probably one day attain, as a yet higher stage of
development, the destruction of man and of the earth as part of a higher
evolution? We have to consider, further, that, unless we assume some
final state of absolute stability for the universe, we can suppose only
an asymptotic evolution towards it, in which higher and higher systems
of stability are developed only to be again destroyed. We know nature
only as involving such processes of evolution and dissolution; we know
no enduring stability. If we regard merely the side of evolution in
these processes, we may seem to have a strong argument for design; but
if we give attention to the dissolution succeeding every evolution, the
argument loses its force. And, again, if we assume the continual order
of destruction, reconstruction, and re-destruction finally to give place
to a condition of absolute stability, the question may be recurred to
whether this state could be one of motion, whether it must not rather be
conceived as one of absolute rest, some frozen peace of which the moon's
is but an imperfect type. We may ask, then, whether the friends of the
teleological argument would agree to designate this state, which is
highest from a mathematical point of view since it includes all the
elements of the universe, as highest in any point of view favoring a
theological theory of design. The teleological argument is accustomed to
take into consideration only the evolution side of natural process; the
pessimistic argument lays emphasis, on the other hand, on all forms of
dissolution,--both views corresponding thus, as a matter of fact, to but
half the truth. Even if we do not look beyond the evolution upon the
earth, it is evident that each step in advance is marked by wide-spread
destruction, each survival of the few bought at the expense of the
slaughter of the many. We may overlook the slaughter, but it does not
the less exist; we may egoistically shut our eyes to the pain, when it
is not our pain, but it is not the less a fact.

But further than this: Our previous investigations have shown us
difficulties on every side, when we have attempted to assume reason in
matter as the cause of stability or harmony, preservative action, or the
survival of the fittest. We may argue that mere matter and motion cannot
have produced such results as these; but how do we know this? How have
we such an intimate acquaintance with the nature of matter and motion
that we can assert this? Where were we at the origin of the universe (if
we suppose such) or where were we at the origin of life, that we should
be able to be assured of this? Or how do we know in any case, from an
origin, what might evolve with time? We obviously cannot argue from the
analogy of man's action, since he is a part of the problem itself,
included in the question, and such an analogy is a _petitio principii_.
If we have found it impossible to assume reason as cause in his case,
how can we, by the analogy of his action and by a universal
generalization, assume it as a Universal Cause? We have, in fact,
absolutely no precedent from which to argue, and may answer,--when
Wallace asserts that combinations of chemical compounds might produce
protoplasm, but that no such combinations could produce living or
conscious protoplasm,[127]--How do you know that they could not? We
have, indeed, no evidence to the contrary: we do not know. If we assume
the creation of protoplasm or the creation of the world to have been
analogous to any of the phenomena of our experience, in which we find
only certain constant results of the forces resident in matter, then
certainly we have no precedent for asserting the necessity of divine
creation; and if we assume the creation to have been essentially
different from any of the phenomena of our experience, then certainly we
have no data upon which to base any theory whatever concerning it. But
the assumption that the creation of protoplasm, of the earth, or of the
universe, was essentially different from any of the processes that we
know, is a mere assumption, without basis: we have no data from which to
argue in this direction; any hypothesis of such sort is made purely and
absolutely _a priori_. A first appearance of protoplasm upon the earth
we must infer from the facts furnished us by Geology and Astronomy; but
a creation of either matter or motion is a mere assumption. As we know
matter, it can neither be created nor destroyed. We cannot draw any
inference from man's will, for man creates nothing; his action is itself
a part of nature. Advanced theological doctrine tends more and more to
limit the creation to the first communication of motion to matter or to
assume some transcendental government of the universe, known, according
to the assumption, transcendentally, or inferred from the existence of
moral tendency or from desire for the transcendental in man. With
Transcendentalism we have, as yet, nothing to do; and with moral
principle in its bearings on this matter we cannot deal until later. But
as for the hypothesis of a first communication of motion to "dead"
matter, we may remark, as before, that this is a mere hypothesis with no
facts to support it. We know nothing of motion apart from matter, or of
matter except through motion; the two cannot be separated in fact, and
there is no reason for their separation in hypothesis or theory. Du Prel
says: "Whether causeless motion is scientifically conceivable, depends
on whether we have to regard rest or motion as the natural condition of
matter; for a motion that is not primary must, as newly appearing
change, be preceded by a cause. But though experience might incline us
to regard rest as the original condition of matter, and therefore to
seek a cause for every motion, this is, nevertheless, only the result
of an incomplete induction. For if it is true that we never see a
motionless body pass into a state of motion without a cause, on the
other hand, it is just as certain that a moving body can never pass into
a state of rest without cause; and if this axiom can never be directly
proved in processes on the earth, we can, nevertheless, show reason for
it: motion on the earth cannot be imagined without resistance from
obstacles, since the attraction of the earth and the moments of friction
can never be removed. But the axiom is indeed indirectly proved by the
fact that we see the velocity of a body decrease in proportion to the
resistance of obstacles; the body can only then attain to a condition of
rest when the moving force is consumed to the last remnant. Hence, if we
subtract the whole sum of resistance to the motion, we have again the
former condition, the motion with its original velocity.... Which
condition of matter is the original one, rest or motion, experience
cannot inform us. We have as good reason for regarding rest as arrested
motion, as for regarding motion as disturbed rest. The requirement of an
outer cause for the first impulsion of matter therefore has meaning only
in so far as rest is claimed to be the original, natural condition of
matter; but this claim cannot be substantiated, and the opposite is just
as conceivable, namely, that rest is only arrested motion, and that all
cosmic matter had motion from the beginning."[128]

Wallace practically abandons his own ground, not only in his later works
in ascribing much to natural selection which he was at first inclined to
believe the effect of some supernatural cause, and omitting from his
chapters on the application of the conception of evolution to man
several arguments for supernatural intercession employed in his earlier
work, but even in his first book, by admitting that natural selection
takes advantage of mental superiority just as it does of physical
superiority. We may notice at this point, however, a consistent
inconsistency of his, in that, though he denies the existence of
consciousness in matter, he leaves no logical room for the opposite
theory of a gradual development of consciousness, since he asserts that
all instinctive actions were at first self-conscious. This position is
held by others also.

We may note here an objection of Wallace's that "because man's physical
structure has been developed from an animal form by natural selection,
it does not necessarily follow that his mental nature, even though
developed _pari passu_ with it, has been developed by the same causes
only." The question may be again repeated as to what is meant by cause;
and it will be well to keep distinct, in our thought, transcendental
cause and cosmic conditions. We must admit that we have no proof of the
absence of transcendental causes. Neither the constancy of nature nor
the inseparability and indestructibility of matter and motion can prove
the absence of such causes, which might be entirely consistent with
these things; we have no data from which to argue that they are not so.

But though the law of Excluded Middle must hold good here as elsewhere,
it is also to be noticed that the absence of proof in the natural order
of things, with respect to the non-existence of transcendental causes,
is not equivalent to the presence of proof of the opposite. We cannot
infer, from the fact that no proof can be given of the non-existence of
transcendental causes, that therefore proof can be given of the
existence of such causes; or, from the fact that transcendental causes
may be, that therefore transcendental causes are; they may also not be.
There is, in fact, absence of proof for either view. Of the
transcendental, if it exists, we can know by definition absolutely
nothing. The man who endeavors to prove its existence generally bases
his argument on this very fact in order to disprove the validity of any
argument of his opponent from natural facts; when he, therefore, after
legitimately silencing his opponent, goes on himself to prove the
transcendental, he is guilty of self-contradiction. When Fiske asserts
that there is no problem "in the simplest and most exact departments of
science which does not speedily lead us to a transcendental problem that
we can neither solve nor elude,"[129] we may admit the point, but surely
it does not follow, because we cannot solve it, that therefore we must
solve it, far less that we must solve it in one particular way. If we
cannot solve it, we cannot solve it, and there is an end to the matter,
unless we find new proof. We may not be able, as Fiske says, to elude
the problem, but we certainly are able to elude the answering of it, and
must do so perforce if the first part of the assertion,--namely, that we
cannot answer it,--be correct. When Fiske urges us to accept one view
because "the alternative view contains difficulties at least as great,"
we fail to perceive any grounds in this position for such acceptance. To
Fiske's question as to whether we are to regard the work of the Creator
as like that of the child, who builds houses just for the pleasure of
knocking them down again, we may answer that the existence of a Creator
must first be proved before we, from a scientific basis, may make any
inference as to his purpose; and that we certainly cannot use an
assumption of his existence in order to protest against a theory of
Disteleology,--as Fiske seems to do,--if we use the teleological
argument to prove his existence.

We may furthermore protest against the elevation of any negative term,
as, for instance, Spencer's "Unknowable," to a term signifying a
positive existence. We do not know whether there is any positive
Transcendental that is to us unknowable; this mere negative term is
admissible only on the assumption that it expresses such an absence of
knowledge. The Unknowable assumed as existent entity is the Unknowable
known,--a self-contradiction.

A similar criticism may be applied to Spencer's use in his "First
Principles" of the word "Force," spelled with a capital, and defined as
designating "Absolute Force," an "Absolute, Unconditioned Reality,"
"Unconditioned Cause,"[130] etc. The attribution of reality to a mere
mental abstraction is a survival of old conceptions repudiated by
Spencer in their older form. Of forces we know much, but of abstract
Force nothing,--except as an abstraction from reality; and the dangers
in the use of such a term are made manifest by Spencer's elevation of
this concept to the character assigned it by the other terms quoted.

To sum up. We have found in nature only variables, no constant and
invariable factor, no independent one according to which the others
vary; we have found no cause that was not also an effect; that is, we
have discovered nothing but a chain of phenomena bearing constant
relations to each other, no causes except in this sense. We have no
precedent or data from which to assert that chemical combinations could
not have resulted in protoplasm and in living protoplasm, no data from
which to assert that mere evolution could not have produced
consciousness. As a matter of fact, however, we find the relations of
consciousness and physiological process as constant as those of the
different forms of material force, and while discovering no grounds upon
which to pronounce either consciousness or physiological process the
more essential, find none, either, for pronouncing one more than the
other independent of what we call natural law. The logic of all our
experience leads us to believe that neither protoplasm, nor the earth,
nor any of the parts of the universe, could have originated otherwise
than under natural law, that is, as the result of preceding natural
conditions which must have contained all the factors united in the
result, and would thus explain to us, if we knew them, in as far as any
process is explained by analysis, the results arising from them. We know
matter and motion only as united; we know no state of absolute rest, and
we have no grounds for supposing any initial state of such absolute
rest, or any state in which motion not previously existent in the
universe entered. On the other hand, we have no proof of the absence of
consciousness outside animal life, and no proof of the non-existence of
transcendental causes, though likewise no proof of their existence.


[112] "Origin of Species," 6th ed., Vol. I. p. 320.

[113] "Lecture on Cell-souls and Soul-cells," 1878.

[114] "Entwicklungsgeschichte des Weltalls," p. 349 _et seq._

[115] See Part I. p. 161.

[116] "Der menschliche Wille," p. 13.

[117] On the Motions of the Tendrils of Plants; among the essays of
Knight published under the title, "A Selection from Physiological and
Horticultural Papers," 1841.

[118] See "Insectivorous Plants," Chaps. I. and II.

[119] "The Movements of Plants," Chap. III.

[120] See experiments made by Eimer: "Entstehung der Arten," etc., p.
263 _et seq._

[121] E. Pflüger: "Die sensorischen Functionen des Rückenmarks der
Wirbelthiere," 1853.

[122] See Lange: "Geschichte des Materialismus," II. Theil, p. 486.

[123] "The Science of Ethics," p. 60.

[124] "Der thierische Wille," p. 161.

[125] See, for instance, Eimer: "Entstehung der Arten," p. 283.

[126] Carneri's instance, cited in support of his theory of the
possibility of sensation without pleasure or pain, that certain nerves
connected with fine sense-perception, may yet be cut without special
pain to the owner, is a poor one, first, because highly developed
nerves, the media of fine perceptions, are especially inapt examples for
citation in support of any theory of primitive sensation in lower
organisms, and, second, because the problem of pain and pleasure in such
cases is very different from the problem of pain and pleasure in
connection with ordinary excitation of nerve endings or the outer
covering of the organism from which the nervous system has developed.
The fact that, in highly developed organisms, some parts are less
susceptible of pleasure and pain might as easily be construed into an
argument that corresponding parts of lower organisms differ, in the same
manner, in susceptibility. Furthermore, sensation being admitted, as
Carneri admits it, or rather asserts it, of all forms of animal life, it
is difficult to conceive how he can interpret the phenomena of
appetition and repulsion as devoid of feeling. Most authors have argued,
with much more reason, that pleasure and pain are primordial. Carneri's
further argument that he who conceives the lower species as feeling
pleasure and pain introduces an immense amount of pain into the world
(p. 113, "Grundlegung der Ethik") is quite aside from the question as to
the facts of the case. Nor can man create pain by his conception of its
existence, or destroy it, if it exists, by a refusal to acknowledge its

[127] See Part I. pp. 19, 22.

[128] "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Weltalls", p. 350 _et seq._

[129] See Part I. p. 80.

[130] Pp. 170, 192d.



In any discussion of the will, we are met at the outset by the
difficulties of definition, on which whole chapters might be, and have
been, written. But one great difficulty has already been considered in
the discussions of the previous chapter, in the questions as to the
existence of consciousness in inorganic nature, in organisms which
differ from our own in not possessing a centralized nervous system, and
in connection with actions of our own body known to our centralized
consciousness only as results. Leaving these questions open, as we have
found it necessary to do, and confining ourselves, in speaking of
consciousness, to consciousness as we immediately know it, or as we may,
with some degree of probability, infer it in animals constituted
similarly to ourselves, we find one obstacle to our definition removed.
For by will is generally meant a psychical faculty; and to speak of
"unconscious will" is either a self-contradiction or a mere figure of

We shall also find, I think, that the most essential characteristic of
the will as a psychical faculty is that it is connected with action
which has in view some end consciously sought; action to which there
corresponds no conscious end, whether a long premeditated end or an end
instantaneously comprehended and assumed in the moment of need, we term
reflex. The question may arise as to whether there are not acts which we
name merely "involuntary," which must be classified, from a
pyschological standpoint, as midway between the voluntary and the
reflex. But it may be answered that here, as everywhere in connection
with the organic, there is difficulty in drawing distinct lines; there
are psychical conditions in which some strong emotion, for instance,
terror, so takes possession of the mind as almost to exclude plan of
action, and the individual appears to act, as we say, "unconsciously";
but I think this very adverb solves, for us, to all practical purposes,
the question we have put. When we analyze such psychical conditions, we
often find that, besides emotion, there was some degree of preconception
of action, though the emotion so absorbed our attention at the time that
the other appeared subordinate and was easily forgotten; but the fact
that we term action of this sort, where we fail to discover
preconception, "unconsciously" performed, would go to confirm the
definition with which we began, though we may have difficulty in
deciding whether or not a particular action comes under the head of
willed action, that is, action to a preconceived end.

Another question which has been frequently asked, in analyses of the
will, is whether mere abstinence from action, the negation of action,
can be classed as an instance of willing, willing being, by definition,
an active, not a passive state. It may be answered that, from the
physiological point of view, a point of view not to be wholly
disregarded even by the conservative psychologist, the arresting action
of the will as the control of lower by higher centres, is its most
important function. And to this physiological fact corresponds the
psychological fact that no stronger exertion of will-power is known to
us than that sometimes necessary to the attainment of mere passivity. A
definition that would exclude such passive states from the province of
the will must exclude, on the same principle, all other willing not
issuing in muscular action, and so all voluntary control of thought. The
choice between activity and passivity may be as real and as difficult as
between two different forms of activity.

We have here introduced the concept of choice, and it may be well to
define this, and its significance in our definition of will, more
exactly. Voluntary action is, we say, often preceded by long
deliberation and severe struggle, ending finally in the choice of one of
the many modes of action deliberated. We can conceive of this struggle
as not so long, as shorter and shorter, until it occupies so little time
and attention as to be scarcely perceptible. But we can conceive, also,
of a premeditation which includes no struggle, in which one motive
appears so strong as to exclude consideration of any but the one end,
and the deliberation has reference only to the best means of attaining
that end. The murderer, inspired by a desire for revenge, may seek his
end with the same directness, if not the same instantaneousness, or with
the same directness and instantaneousness, as the dog who snaps at a
piece of meat; yet we call his action voluntary, whatever we may think
of the dog's action, our conception of which may be rendered indistinct
by our uncertainty as to the nature of instinct and the part it plays in
the action of other species. We call the action of the murderer
voluntary because we conceive that he consciously sought the end
involved. We are even inclined to call it voluntary in cases where the
criminal is moved by momentary passion, since we conceive that he might
have exerted self-control.

Our conception of will is, therefore, closely bound up with the
conception of conscious end, distant or near. Our association of choice
with the act is not always exact; we may conceive of the choice as
actually taking place between one of several ends deliberated upon, or
as involved in the conscious determination of any end, even though no
other was deliberated upon, even though all others were excluded from
consciousness by passion; since we conceive that as all definition is,
in fact, exclusion, so the determination of one end is in effect the
negation of others that might have been sought, if only in the form of
the contrary of action, inaction.

We are thus brought, first of all, to a consideration of the meaning of
the term "end." As we have seen in the last chapter, an end is that part
of the results of an action which consciousness especially holds in view
in the performance of an act. The end in view has sometimes been called
the cause of the act, but it is evident, as both Gizycki and Stephen
have shown, that a future state, that is, something which at the time of
willing does not exist, cannot move the will; though the representation
of a hoped-for end is concerned in action,--in just what capacity we
have yet to determine. It has also been urged that nothing external can
act upon the will, but only internal states of consciousness. All
depends, here, upon the definition of external and internal. The
distinction between the two is a legitimate one where it calls attention
to the difference between that which is at present perceived and that
which is only remembered, or imagined from the elements given by memory.
But what _is_ an object, as present to me, beyond what it is to my
consciousness? My knowledge of a thing is made up of various elements
contributed through the different senses; and this assertion is exactly
the same as the statement that a thing is the sum of its qualities. My
idea of the fire, the lamp, or any other object as external, arises
from the fact that it appeals to more of my senses than one, that, if
withdrawn from one or from all but one, it may still be perceived by the
other or others, or that, if withdrawn from all of them for a time by
some obstacle, it may be perceived again when this obstacle is removed;
but beyond perception or memory of perception, in any case, I have no
consciousness of the object. The perception is not, however, something
distinct from consciousness, but _is_ consciousness. The error above
noticed arises from the conception of consciousness as a sort of place,
another space into which we cannot get objects from external space; the
conception is a crude one, yet it often enters into psychological
speculation. The perceived, that is the external, does, as a matter of
fact, affect our will.

There may thus be two definitions of the term "internal" and two of
"external," as the words are generally used. Internal may mean either
within the body or within consciousness, external may mean external to
the body or external to consciousness. The two meanings are, in both
cases, commonly confused,--that is, consciousness is looked upon, as has
been said, as a sort of internal space within the body to which external
things cannot get admission. "External to consciousness" should refer
simply to that which the individual or individuals considered do not
perceive, of which they are unconscious. That of which we are conscious
is in consciousness. But all manner of ingenious jugglery is played with
the help of the metaphysical dualism implied in the other definition of
the terms. The objection of a possibility of this duality of meaning
applies to Barratt's use of the term "external" at the opening of his
book on Ethics, and the objection of a possibility of a similar duality
applies to many other expressions in the propositions and definitions
with which he begins,--to such expressions, for instance, as "relative
to our faculties," "state of consciousness," etc.[131] Objection may
also be taken to such quantification of the predicate as is found in
Cor. 1 of Prop. I.

To return to the question of the will. The thought-image, memory or
perception, with its associations, has been termed the excitation or the
motive and said to move or determine the will to some end. Thus the
perception of the burning house is said to be that which leads me to
give an alarm, or the perception of the smoking lamp that which moves me
to turn it down. To this form of statement is often objected that mere
thought or perception can never move the will, but that feeling is
required to do this. A further discussion may arise as to whether it is
feeling in the form of pleasure or of pain which moves the will. Many
authors regard anticipated pleasure as a constant motive; Rolph, on the
contrary, as we have seen, inclines to the view that it is always some
present pain by which we are moved to action. And it is argued that,
since the direction of the will is determined by pleasure or by pain,
that is by motives, the will is not free.

Again, the physiologist calls attention to the fact that the so-called
free action of the will has for its basis physiological processes, all
of which are in accordance with the strict uniformity of nature, all
subject to law, and all, as we must believe, capable of exact prediction
from the conditions which produce them, if we but comprehended these
conditions. There is no gap in these processes where free will might
interpose; the whole thought-process, the deliberation preceding
decision, the moral struggle if there is one, the decision itself, and
its realization in action, have for their foundation physiological
function, which is as much determined by necessity as any of the
processes in inorganic nature. The results of past experience, not of
the experience of the individual only but of that of the whole species
inherited as inborn tendency and capacity and modified by individual
circumstances, are stored up in the organism, the point of
centralization being the brain; any single excitation sets this whole
complicated machinery in motion and the result is the act. The
individual, not understanding this complicated process of reaction, not
being able to trace the results of experience to their source, to
descend the whole scale of being to the beginnings of life and note the
gradual development of tendency, and seeing the inadequacy of the
excitation in itself to account for the action following, attributes to
this a peculiar character, regarding that which is really result as
absolute beginning, independent cause.

We may consider the matter from still another point of view. We may
inquire whether the freedom predicated of the human will is predicated
of that alone, or of will in the whole range of animal life. And if it
be predicated of the human will alone, we may ask at just what point of
the evolution this is supposed to arise, whether, in the gradual
development, any particular point can be found or assumed to exist, of
which we can say: Here the animal ceases and man begins. Or if freedom
is asserted of the whole range of animal will, not, however, of plant
movement or the motions of the inorganic, we may again inquire as to the
point of exact division between the animal and the plant. Evolution is,
by definition, a gradual process, a growth in which there are no gaps,
and of which our finest and most minute calculations by infinitesimals
can give us only a faint conception. Where is there any point of such a
process at which we can suppose the entrance of a totally new principle
that cannot be regarded as another expression of force or merely a new
form of animal function, but as directly opposed to developed function
and to the force that is subject to natural law?

The Evolutionist may state the problem in still a new form, as follows:
The survival of any organism at a given period is determined by the
fitness of that organism for the conditions of the environment at that
period. The form and function of the animal are thus, at each moment,
determined by the environment. And since only functions in harmony with
the environment render the organism capable of survival under that
environment, the functions of surviving organisms are in a direction
favorable to the preservation of the form of which they are the
functions. Since, moreover, self-preservation in some form, whether as
preservation of the whole organism or as preservation of a part through
satisfaction of its function (rendered possible only through harmony
between the function and the environment), always constitutes the end
sought by the will, the individual appears to himself to will ends,
whereas these are all determined for him by the survival of the fittest,
whose function he inherits and carries out subject only to the
modification of the peculiar elements of his own environment. If we
suppose, at any point of development, an action not in accord with that
which the laws of nature necessitate decided upon by the will, such an
action cannot be carried out. But even a decision is impossible contrary
to natural law, since in preceding evolution there has been no point at
which nature has not in like manner determined action, and the present
decision, being the expression of function attained as the result of
evolution, must be as much determined as the action which follows.

Or if we return to our conception of the development of stable from
unstable conditions, we may consider all evolution of higher function as
increased adaptation, that is, as harmony with an ever wider circle of
nature, the reason appearing as corresponding concomitant knowledge of
this widening circle, to which the function of the organism is adjusted.
The reflection preceding decision on an end consists in the imagination,
by aid of the memory of past experience, of some of the constant results
of particular function, to which function, however, the organism is
irresistibly moved. Thus that which is generally regarded as the
greatest independence of nature is, in reality, the greatest subjection
to nature considered as a whole, although this wider subjection means an
increasing independence of the mere excitation of the moment. The
ability to weigh all sides of a question, sometimes termed Freedom, is
rather the widest adaptation, which means the widest determination by
nature. The lower organisms may be, as Rolph and Alexander assert, as
well adapted to their particular environment as the higher; but the
higher are adapted to a wider environment, to more of the variations of
the conditions on the earth's surface. Man is the most widely adapted of
all animals. This is a fact which we express when we say that man's
power of adaptation is greatest,--that is, that there are latent
tendencies in him, the result of former adaptations, which may
correspond sufficiently to new environment, _i.e._ to environment
involving many new elements, to enable him to survive. This wider
adaptation expresses itself especially in the higher development of the
nervous centres, to which man's higher reason corresponds; it is through
the reason especially that his adaptiveness comes to light.

The statistician often has considerable to say against a doctrine of
freedom of the will. He calls attention to the necessary character of
human action as evidenced by its uniformities under uniform
circumstances, in the various important relations of life. These
uniformities are not less than those which statistics reveal in disease
and death and other events classed as not under the control of the will.

And to all this evidence we may add that of the history of the mental
life of the species, derived from the combined labors of the geologist,
the ethnologist, the philologist, and the historian. Everything goes to
prove an evolution in the mental life of man, as gradual, and as much
subject to the influence of the environment, as his physical evolution
has been. Carneri says, "The eternal laws of mind point out the way upon
which man has to proceed; it is the same way by which man has become
man, and by which mankind must go forward even if it does not will thus
to proceed."[132]

And again, the authorities on mental disease demonstrate the constant
relations, not only of general health of brain to health of mind, and of
disease of brain to mental unsoundness, but also of particular physical
symptoms to particular mental symptoms. This constancy of relations is
revealed with more certainty and distinctness by every step in the
progress of medical knowledge. The specialist in mental disease inquires
with reason how we can acknowledge the physical processes of the body to
be governed by natural law, yet assert the emancipation from law of the
psychical processes which vary concomitantly with these in a manner that
science shows to be perfectly constant. To the testimony of Psychiatry
may be added that of the comparatively new science of Criminology.

And, finally, Evolutional Ethics demonstrates the constancy of
character, the persistence of habit, and the uniformity of its change
under the influence of environment. If there is no persistence of
character and uniformity in its action, we have no reason, as various
authors have shown, for trust or distrust, for praise or blame; and, I
think we may add, none for love or dislike, reverence or contempt,
enthusiasm or coldness, in the contemplation of character or conduct. If
the fact that a man acts honorably, kindly, nobly, in one instance is
not a warranty that we may with reason expect him to act similarly again
under similar circumstances, allowance being made for error in our
interpretation of motive (which may have been merely self-interested
where we thought it disinterested) and for changes produced in character
by the environment between the first act and the opportunity of the
second, then character is merely a jumbled chaos of chance, and the name
"habit" a contradiction in terms. We may, perhaps, respect the single
act, but we have no reason for respecting the individual performing it,
since the "individual" cannot be regarded as coëxtensive with a single
act of his life, and least of all when the act gives no clew to a
permanent basis issuing in uniform action of which law can be
predicated. In this case, the noble deed, or any number of noble deeds,
afford us no security that the next act of the person performing them,
or all the rest of the acts of his life, may not be wholly ignoble,
base, and vile.

In the face of all the considerations thus offered us, we cannot well
find reason for accrediting the will with a peculiar position in the
universe, as emancipated from the natural law which we discover in all
other phenomena. But it behooves us, in this connection, to inquire as
to just what is the significance of the term "natural law." It has
already been implicitly defined in our previous considerations. Lewes
and several other modern philosophical writers have given excellent
definitions of the expression. Lewes writes as follows: "Law is only one
of two conceptions, (1) a notation of the process observed in phenomena,
which process we mentally detach and generalize by extending it to all
similar phenomena; (2) an abstract Type, which, though originally
constructed from the observed Process, does nevertheless depart from
what is really observed, and substitutes an Ideal Process, constructing
what _would be_ the course of the process were the conditions different
from those actually present. The first conception is so far real that it
expresses the _observed series of positions_. It is the process of
phenomena, not an agent apart from them, not an agency _determining
them_, but simply the ideal _summation of their positions_....
Phenomena, in so far as they are ruled, regulated, determined in this
direction rather than in that, and necessarily determined in the
direction taken,... are determined by no external agent corresponding to
Law, but by their coöperant factors internal and external; alter one of
these factors and the product will be differently determined. It is
owing to the very general misconception of the nature of Law, that there
arises the misconception of Necessity; the fact that events arrive
irresistibly when their conditions are present is confounded with the
conception that the events must arrive whether the conditions be present
or not, being fatally predetermined. Necessity simply says that whatever
is, is, and will vary with varying conditions."[133] Neither Natural Law
nor Necessity is an entity extraneous to phenomena which governs or
compels them; the two are generalizations merely by which we express a
certain uniformity that we find universal.

Let us return to our analysis of the organic as matter and of function
as its motion. Go as far as we like in our analysis, and we still have
left positive entities of matter and force, or matter, motion, and the
equivalent of motion in resistance; moreover, we cannot suppose either
matter or force to decrease by our analysis. Here, therefore, we have
indestructible entities, and these, not Law and Necessity, are the
positive factors. But if the final divisions of matter leave us still
positive factors, then the combinations of these must be positive also;
not only the theoretical atoms of the chemist, or the organic cells with
their motions and functions, but the combinations of these in organisms,
must be positive.

It is said that the organism answers to its environment "as the clay to
the mould"; that it is formed by the environment and adjusted to it.
Here we may inquire whether the adjustment referred to is present
adjustment or that of the whole development of the organism. If present
action of the environment is all that is had in view, it may be objected
that not anything in the environment, and not the whole environment, is
more positive than the organism. The one of the two factors cannot be
regarded as positive, the other as merely negative, the environment as
the active and formative, the organism as the passive and formed, the
environment as determining, the organism as determined.

But we may also consider the organism in the process of development. In
this case, we seem to find reason for regarding it as purely the product
of the environment in which it has arisen. The product it certainly is
in one sense; that is, it is the end-form of a series of changes which
we may suppose originally inorganic matter, or (if we prefer to begin
with the lowest form of life) simplest forms of organic matter, to have
undergone. But the present forms of matter everywhere are, in like
manner, the products of the past changes of matter; if we trace these
changes which have produced present forms, in the case of the inorganic
as well as that of the organic, back to any point of time which we may
choose as a beginning, we shall find in neither case more matter or a
greater amount of force than at the present period; we shall find the
same matter in different combinations, the same force in other forms.
Present forms are not greater or less than past ones, but their exact
equivalents; the beginning was not greater than the end; the producing
forms and forces were not greater than are their products. By a backward
course of thought comprehending evolution we may bring unity into our
conception of the organic, but we find no new factors of force, and need
to avoid laying stress upon the process to the depreciation of the
importance of the product. We may be led to suspect that our search
after new and more important factors was only another form of the search
after an independent cause according to which all other phenomena may be
said to vary. Our mathematical habit of selecting some one side of
natural process as independent, in order to trace, by its variation, the
variation of the others, leads us to regard the one side, phase, or
portion, of phenomena as actually thus independent; although we forget,
in this assumption, that we may select any phase for our mathematical
independent, and are not confined to any particular one. The organism is
itself a part of the environment regarded as conditioning, when we
consider the development of other organisms, or change in inorganic
matter, with which it is in contact. Our minds are unable to comprehend
the whole of nature as variation only, and we fasten on some one part of
the process as independent of the general change or as holding a unique
position in it, from which to consider the variation of the rest. And
the conception of some one part of phenomena as cause disappointing us,
on closer investigation, as far as merely present phenomena are
concerned, we remove the conception farther back into a dim past which
we fail to analyze in thought with the same completeness with which we
analyze the present. We are not, however, in the habit of tracing back
any other than just the organic forms to an arbitrary point which we
call the beginning, and emphasizing this in distinction from present
conditions; in considering the inorganic, we simply notice present
conditions and mark the result of action and reaction between this and
that other form of matter with which it comes in contact.

The action of the animal at any moment may be said to be determined by
the tendency or potential energy inherent in it at the moment, and the
influence exerted by a particular excitation; this is a matter of action
and reaction; but the force represented by both sides, by that of
organism and by that of environment, is equally positive and equally
represented again in the result. Particular emphasis has been laid, now
on the positive activity of the organism by one school of writers, now
on the activity of the environment as moving the organism to action by
another school; but both sides contribute to the result. Where action
and reaction in inorganic matter are considered, we do not regard either
of two incident forces as alone positive; nor do we regard one as
overcome by the other in the sense that it is not fully represented in
the result.

Again, if we return to the dispute as to the importance of the
physiological "basis" of action, the remark may be repeated, that it is
mere dogmatism to select some one phase of phenomena as the only
essential phase, while all other phases are regarded as non-essential or
subordinate. The materialist who derides the idea of a "Ding-an-sich" is
himself assuming something very like it, when he endeavors to prove
matter to be the cause, essence, or independent, of which consciousness
is the mere effect, property, or dependent.

Even if it could be said with truth that the brain secretes thought as
the liver secretes bile (and the analogy does not hold), it should be
borne in mind that the bile is no mere dependent creation of the liver,
but that, before it became bile, it existed in another form, was, in
fact, a part of the liver of which it is regarded as the dependent
creation. Matter and force have simply changed form; that is all. The
later form is not rendered secondary in importance or less positive by
the fact of its sequence upon the other form. The conditions equal the
result; they are not greater than it. Where is there, on closer
analysis, passivity as distinguished from activity? All force is, by
definition, active; and all matter represents force. We find simple
equivalence, that is, a uniformity of relation between preceding
conditions and succeeding conditions. Our "Natural Law" and "Necessity"
resolve themselves into this. Yet the conception of law as something
extraneous to things, something without them not included in their
primary nature but controlling them, is a very common conception. Thus
Du Prel, though rejecting other forms of teleological argument, bases a
whole course of teleological reasoning upon the mere fact of law.[134]
However, we know of natural law merely as an expression of
uniformities, a generalization from the relations of things; we have no
reason for treating it as extraneous to the nature of things themselves;
and nature itself furnishes us with no reason for supposing the
relations of things to be of more significance than things themselves;
relations are not entities.

If man be part of nature, it is strange that the force within him should
be regarded as so shaped and compelled, the force without him, on the
other hand, as so compelling and mighty. No part of nature is, as a
matter of fact, compelled. All things act and react spontaneously from
their own nature, and man in the same manner acts from his. Law cannot
be defined as determining action and reaction, nor can Necessity; they
are not entities. Force is sometimes called the determining factor, but
an abstract Force we do not know; we know force only as motion or the
equivalent of motion in resistance, or as the conceived potentiality of
motion. The concept of potentiality of motion is, however, again only a
device of reason for bringing unity into our conception of things by
accounting for the appearance of motion where before it was not.
Potentiality is no existence, no reality; actual potentiality is a
contradiction in terms. Nature contains only actualities. Force is the
abstract term by which we include motion, resistance, and the conceived
potentiality of motion, under one head. Motion again is often defined as
the cause of movement; but such a conception makes the abstract notion
of a thing the cause of the thing itself, unless by motion as the cause
we understand the preceding motion, and by movement as the effect we
mean the succeeding motion, in which case we have to bear in mind the
equivalence of conditions and results. Nor do we know motion as
something apart from matter, moving it; we know no abstract motion; we
know only things as moving, changing, and resisting motion. There is no
outside cause given us in our experience as the mover, from which things
are to be distinguished as the passive moved. Things move. And in
correspondence with the activity of things is doubtless the sense of
freedom in the exertion of the will. Outer compulsion, resistance to the
carrying out of a course decided upon or desired, has sometimes been
interpreted as the negation of freedom of the will; but it has with
reason been objected to this definition that the very strongest sense of
inner freedom may exist in connection with such compulsion. It may be
supposed that, as long as there is action in the brain, the
corresponding sense of freedom will exist; or, lest this statement be
interpreted as materialistic, we may say instead: As long as
consciousness exists, it must by definition exist as activity, with
which the sense of freedom is indissolubly connected.

But we may look at the matter from the more purely psychological side.
The opponents of a theory of freedom make much of the determination of
the will by motives. In their argument, the will is treated as if it
were some separate material thing, the motive another equally separate
thing which, when brought into contact with the will, sets it in motion
in somewhat the same manner as the powder in the gun drives the ball.
But the motive is not something external to consciousness, something
foreign, that, introduced, impels the will to action; nor can the will
be compared to an organ of the body, the motion of which is given us
through our senses as the motion of a part, not of the whole body. The
functions of the body are, in this sense, a part of the material world
to us. But the will is no material thing, no separate organ of
consciousness in this sense. In the will, consciousness expresses
itself; and we cannot say that it is only a part of consciousness that
thus expresses itself. The motive, as conscious, belongs to that
consciousness which finds expression in the will.

A similar form of theory to that just noticed regards the will as
determined especially by feeling. But feeling belongs as evidently to
consciousness as does will, nor can we say that one part of
consciousness feels and another wills, the one part being the active
mover, the other the passive moved; the division into parts is a
material one applicable to things occupying space, but not to
consciousness. The notion here of mover and moved is very similar to
that noticed above, of motion as cause, movement as effect.

It is sometimes said that the desirability of an object moves or
determines the will. Here arises the question as to whether the
desirability of an object lies in the object or is only dependent upon
consciousness as a quality of feeling. Thus we come, by closer analysis,
to the fundamental problem of the connection of consciousness with the
external world. It is often said that desirability is a mere predication
of consciousness and does not lie in the object or end itself. That
desirability is a predication of consciousness is true in a sense. And
yet it is evident that this predication corresponds to actualities
existing in the thing or end, on account of which it is pronounced
desirable or, under proper conditions, desired. When we analyze the
state of consciousness itself, we find it impossible to separate the
desirability as predicated by consciousness and the desirability as
predicated of the end, the excited feeling and the feeling as excited by
the object. From one point of view, excitation and consciousness are the
two sides of the conditions, both of which are essential to the result;
but, from another point of view, it is equally true that the desire of
the end is always a part of consciousness, which expresses itself in the
will according to its own inherent nature.

The act of the will, as following excitation, is sometimes treated as
its mere result, hence subject to it, subordinate and passive; on this
principle, we could also define brain-action as subject to nerve-action
and passive in comparison, wherever it follows. The mere conception of
the conservation of force would make it impossible to suppose a result
of force to be less than preceding force of which it is the result. We
do not call the evolution of organic life on the earth subject or
subordinate to the motion of the nebular mists, or passive with respect
to them. The mere sequence of one event upon another in time does not
justify our pronouncing the one subordinate to the other or passive with
respect to it, the whole sum of matter and force remaining always the
same, and a resultant in any particular instance exactly representing
its factors.

From our examination of the above arguments, we perceive that the
materialist uses both the concomitance of consciousness with material
processes, and, again, the sequence of particular conscious states upon
material processes, as proof of the subordination and passivity or
dependence of consciousness, as proof that the latter is effect of the
material as cause; indeed, we are not at all sure that he does not often
confuse the two arguments from sequence and from concomitance. On the
other hand, the argument of sequence is often used to prove the greater
importance and activity of consciousness in contrast to matter,
consciousness being regarded as antecedent to excitation in general or
to some particular excitation. But consciousness is not the "prius" of
its excitation in time, since its very definition includes activity and
this is not possible without excitation; consciousness is always the
consciousness of something. To regard consciousness as the "logical
prius" of matter or of excitation by matter may be possible, but the
standpoint is either a purely fanciful or a purely dogmatic one. With
regard to its priority in respect to a particular excitation, the
remarks made above hold good, that mere sequence does not prove
subordination or passivity as distinguished from activity. The fact of
concomitance is also sometimes treated as a part of theories of the
causal nature of consciousness, the brain being regarded as the mere
organ of mind, the passive instrument upon which it acts. In this case,
however, as in the opposite argument that consciousness is dependent
upon brain-action, there is probably some indistinct idea of sequence at
work. The argument applies equally well, indeed, in either direction,
the materialistic or its opposite, and merely this fact would lead us to
suspect that it can be conclusive in neither.

Thus, in hunting for some cause and effect in the activity of the will,
we bring to light, in the end, only a certain concomitance and sequence.
That which we call "explanation" of natural process is, in fact, in all
cases, merely a finer analysis of concomitance or sequence, or the
analysis of some new phase of it. We have only the finer elements of the
process analyzed before us in any case, although we are often inclined
to treat these elements as if they were the essence and cause of the
process to which they belong. We explain, for instance, the green color
of the leaf by the continually renewed presence of a certain chemical
combination; yet the green color is not less real and essential than the
chemical composition which constantly accompanies it. The musical note
is not the less real to our ear because we can make the vibrations of
the string and the air perceptible to our eye, or because we can observe
to some extent, and infer further, vibrations of parts of the ear that
are the physiological accompaniment of the note heard. The light of the
fire is not the less real because of the heat that I feel from it, nor
is either less actual because I can analyze the process of combustion in
the case. The shape of the leaf to my touch does not make its greenness
of color the less real to my eye, nor does change of form prevent change
of color or prove it less essential in any case. The smell of the rose
does not render its color less real and essential, and, _vice versa_,
the color does not render the smell less an essential part of reality.
Neither does the activity of the brain render the activity of
consciousness less real, or interfere with its freedom, any more than
the activity of the consciousness renders that of the brain less actual
or interferes with its free action and reaction. My knowledge of a thing
given me through one sense is totally different from the knowledge of it
given me through other senses; yet I do not find this various knowledge
contradictory or irreconcilable. Why, then, do I find such great
difficulty in reconciling the simple facts of consciousness and
brain-activity? And why should there be such an inclination to give
greater prominence to physiological process than to mental process, to
regard the only method of reconciling the two that of proclaiming the
dependence of consciousness?

The solution of the question is not so difficult to find. In the first
place, our knowledge of the concomitance of brain-process and
consciousness, or at least of the constant uniformity of this
concomitance, is only comparatively recent. Further, this knowledge is
not given us immediately, but is the conclusion of a process of
reasoning. While such concomitance as we immediately perceive--the
concomitance of certain impressions on one sense with certain other
impressions upon other senses--appears to us so natural as to need no
comment, the newness and mediate nature of our knowledge of this other
concomitance incline us to regard it as strange and needing some
especial "explanation." While the concomitant impressions upon the
senses, wherever they are constant, become united in our conception to a
single whole, we fail to unite the elements of this mediately known
concomitance to such a whole; doubtless, however, if a perception of all
the details of our own brain-activity were the invariable accompaniment
of thought, we should thus unite them. We can no more "explain" why the
two activities are concomitant, except as we show it to be a fact and
analyze it into its elements, than we can show why just Prussian blue
should be the characteristic of one chemical compound and the green of
plant-life of another, why the connection of the colors should not be
the reverse. The importance we accord the physiological accompaniments
of mental process is partly accounted for by the significance which
attaches to more recent knowledge as constituting scientific progress;
in the effort to bring together in our conception the two elements of
consciousness and brain-action, to whose association we are not
accustomed by immediate perception, we are led to lay especial weight
upon the facts of recent discovery, which are connected with so great
advance in science and have done away with so many superstitions. And,
finally, in the rebound from the old superstitions, the tendency is to
exaggerated views in the opposite direction. The attempt to correct
spiritualistic ideas of a soul superior to the rest of nature and no
part of it has resulted in materialism. And by the physiological basis
we now think to "explain" the facts of psychology. "Notable enough,"
says Carlyle, "wilt thou find the potency of Names; Witchcraft, and all
manner of Spectre-work and Demonology, we have now named Madness, and
Diseases of the Nerves. Seldom reflecting that still the new question
comes upon us: What is Madness, what are Nerves? Ever, as before, does
Madness remain a mysterious-terrific, altogether infernal boiling-up of
the Nether Chaotic Deep, through this fair-painted Vision of Creation,
which swims thereon, which we name the Real. Was Luther's Picture of the
Devil less a Reality, whether it were formed within the bodily eye or
without it?"

If the connection of physiological and psychological processes requires
"explanation," beyond that of analysis, why should we not feel ourselves
equally required to explain, in like manner, the connection of light
with heat and sound, and form with color? Why is it more comprehensible
that the ball can be at the same time round to my touch and red or gray
to my eye, and that the rose can both smell sweet and be yellow in tint?
Why should we, in this particular instance, make such a strenuous effort
to find reasons which can never be given in this case any more than in
the others, and which we do not, moreover, demand in the others? Why
cannot we accept the simple fact of concomitance in this case also? Our
attempts to show the reason of brain-activity by means of mind-activity,
or, _vice versa_, to explain mental activity as caused by, and dependent
upon, physiological activity, must end equally in failure, in a
one-sided dogmatism. It is the concomitance of the two, to the thought
of which we are not yet used, that thwarts us. And yet Zeno, the
sceptic, found as great difficulties in sequence, and proved, to his
satisfaction and that of his followers, the utter impossibility of many
things which we accept as simple facts without troubling ourselves to
solve his problems.

We have seen that any explanation of facts beyond analysis, except as we
assume some transcendental intuition, is impossible. The search for some
further explanation embodies the last remnant of the idea of some
special separate agent behind each single event and process, with which
early superstition was animated. Driven by the gradual spread of
knowledge to more and more obscure details in concomitance, and to ever
greater distance of time in sequence, it has reached the final shadows
of the one, and the furthest ends of evolution, whither thought seldom
travels, in the other. That we expect other explanation than analysis,
or read into analysis more than its real worth, is the result of an
indistinctness and confusion in our thought, which has not yet lost the
habit of infusing into generalizations and abstractions a vitality of
their own apart from reality. We continually hope and strive for some
explanation that shall give us more than nature, and yet, strange to
say, we endeavor to found our theories in and on nature. We acknowledge
the scientific truth of the indestructibility of matter and force, the
constancy of their sum, and yet we nevertheless continue to construct
our many-storied theories of causes and essences, failing to notice that
we are bringing all our concepts from a time when the equivalence of
results and conditions, of results and their factors, was not yet


[131] See Part I. p. 107 _et seq._

[132] "Sittlichkeit und Darwinismus," p. 363. See also, however, the
"Grundlegung der Ethik," p. 289.

[133] "Problems of Life and Mind," Ser. I. Vol. I. pp. 308, 309.

[134] "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Weltalls," pp. 352 _et seq._



Hume, in his essay on the Passions, writes: "What is commonly, in a
popular sense, called reason, and is so much recommended in moral
discourses, is nothing but a general and calm passion which takes a
comprehensive and a distant view of its object, and actuates the will,
without exciting any sensible emotion. A man, we say, is diligent in his
profession from reason; that is, from a calm desire of riches and
fortune. A man adheres to justice from reason; that is, from a calm
regard to public good, or to a character with himself and others. The
same objects which recommend themselves to reason in this sense of the
word, are also the objects of passion, when they are brought near to us,
and acquire some other advantages, either of external situation, or
congruity to our internal temper; and by that means excite a turbulent
and sensible emotion. Evil at a great distance is avoided we say from
reason; evil near at hand produces aversion, horror, fear, and is the
object of passion." We know no state of consciousness from which
elements of thought are excluded; consciousness is not a state of rest,
but a continual passage from percept to concept, or from concept to
percept, or if from percept to percept even then with the intervention
of concepts. Judgment, exclusion and inclusion, has part in all
consciousness; and thus pleasure and pain must be regarded as always
accompanied by thought-elements, though the thought-factors may escape
notice because of the prominence of violent emotion, just as, in like
manner, feeling may draw less attention when of a less turbulent nature.
This is not equivalent to saying that emotion must always be accompanied
by a representation of its object. To this last statement might be
objected that emotion may not be, at first, connected with its proper
object, just as so-called purely physical pain may not be, in the
beginning, combined with any perception of the object producing it, may
not even be localized, in fact. But to this objection may be answered
that our conception of "its" object, in the case of emotion, is similar
to our conception of "the" end of any particular act; that which we
regard as "the" object of the emotion may be entirely different from the
object in the consciousness of the being subject to the emotion. That is
to say, emotion speedily connects itself with _some_ object, or even if
felt for some time as vague want is yet combined with thought, in that
we make mental search for its object or, where it is too faint to induce
this action, tend to turn to memories or imaginations sad or joyful,
according as the feeling tinges our mood with exhilaration or sadness;
but the objects with which it connects itself in thought may be quite
other than those which onlookers regard as its proper object. Into many
an emotion of childhood and growing adolescence, for instance, the adult
reads a meaning and object of which he is aware the individual subject
to the emotion has no thought. Physical feeling may not be connected
with any distinct perception of the object producing it (as, for
instance, when one bruises oneself in the dark), but it is never
unconnected with thought-images. The intermediate links between this
outwardly stimulated physical feeling and so-called purely mental
emotion are represented by localized organic feelings, passing by
imperceptible degrees into non-localized feeling experienced as mood.
But feeling on any plane is not, as conscious, uncombined with thought.

It follows that, as connected with the human will, emotion is never
uncombined with thought. This fact is implied in the definition of will
as the conscious determination on some definite course of conduct which,
as definite, is an exclusion of other courses, and thus involves
judgment. Where action takes place without conscious predetermination,
we call it "organic," "automatic," "reflex," or "involuntary," the pain
or pleasure connected with the act rising into our individual,
centralized consciousness when the action has already taken place or
during its progress. In the latter case, part of the act rises into
consciousness as result, as already performed, and the will may then
interpose to check and prevent the elements not yet performed.

The question as to whether thought is always accompanied by feeling, at
least by feeling as pleasure or pain, may appear more difficult than the
previous one. That thought is not always connected with violent emotion
as pleasure or pain is evident. But, as Höffding says, "feeling may be
strong and deep without being violent." If we examine carefully any
train even of abstract and apparently, at first glance, wholly
unemotional reasoning, we can generally trace a distinct vein of varying
feeling accompanying the thought,--perhaps extreme interest in the
problem involved and pleasure in its solution, hope as we seem to be on
the point of finding the key to it, disappointment when the hope proves
a delusive one, shame or impatience at our failure, or pride in our
readiness, and exultation when we have finished our work. All these
feelings may relate to the mere solution of the problem as end, or may
pass beyond it to ends more or less distant and complicated, to which
the solution of the problem then appears as means. Even if we could
suppose all other feeling to be excluded, we cannot conceive of a train
of thought untinged with mood,--interest or weariness, exhilaration or
depression,--the dim complex of perhaps many elements, but admitting of
general classification on the side of either the pleasurable or the
painful, the agreeable or the disagreeable.

Is feeling the result of thought, or thought the result of feeling?
which of the two is to be accorded the greater importance with regard to
the will? and what is the significance of feeling as pleasure and of
feeling as pain with respect to the will? These are some of the
questions generally considered in one form or another in the discussion
of the relations of mental functions. The first question may be
interpreted in any one of several different ways. It may be regarded as
referring to particular excitations, objects, or ends, or to precedence
at the earliest beginning of consciousness in general, or to the initial
state of consciousness in the case of the individual organism. Since we
are not able to determine as to where consciousness does begin, either
absolutely in nature as a whole or relatively in the individual, whether
there is, indeed, any such thing as an initial state, and since we can
predicate nothing certainly as to the nature of such a state if there be
one, the interpretation of the question which has reference to this
relative or absolute beginning of consciousness cannot be answered. If
we regard the question, however, as having reference to particular
excitations, objects, or ends, it is evident that sometimes one,
sometimes the other of the two functions appears more prominent in the
beginning; pain or pleasurable excitation sometimes makes itself felt
before it is connected in consciousness with any distinct object, and
again perception may give us thought-images which only consideration
renders painful or pleasurable. But there is no real beginning in either
case; in consciousness as we know it, thought and feeling are
continually intermingled, and only their direction varies with varying
excitation, now thought, now feeling, assuming the greater prominence.

This last consideration has important bearings on a question which we
have previously discussed and to which we may, at this point, revert for
a moment. The fact alone that we know nothing of a beginning of
consciousness, but only its variation, is sufficient to make us doubt
whether we are in possession of any data from which to pronounce
dogmatically on the absence of consciousness in the case of organisms
differing from our own, or even in the case of inorganic matter. Why may
we not equally well suppose merely a difference in the direction of
consciousness corresponding to differing organization and function in
the one case and differing composition or constitution and corresponding
motion in the other? Our error begins in assuming no ends possible in
action except such as we ourselves would set, and so in assuming no end
to be present in cases where no end would exist for the human being, or
where the end which would be involved for us cannot have come within the
experience of the organism performing the act. In the latter case, we
speak of "blind instinct" or of "automatism." We forget that an "end" is
merely some one of such constant results of function as are brought
within the circle of our experience; which end may come to lie farther
and farther away, for the same act, as the circle of experience widens
and varies in direction, even in beings as similar as individuals of the
human species. With the attainment of manhood and womanhood, whole
regions of thought and feeling, whole classes of motives, are opened up
which are wholly unknown to the child and would be incomprehensible to
him; the ends of the scientist, the man of letters, the idealist in
morals, the sensualist, and the boor, may differ radically in performing
the same or very similar acts. However, there is a certain community of
ends in human beings, due to common organization and experience, which
enables them to judge to some extent of each other's ends. But these
data of organization and experience fail us when we come to judge of
beings not human, and hence we are liable to error in their case. A
superior being of an entirely different species from our own might be
greatly puzzled to discern the motives which could govern some of our
acts,--those, for instance, which incite the miser to starve in misery
with a fortune hidden in the cellar. A superior being of another species
gifted with pessimistic views, if we can suppose such, regarding our
action externally as we regard brute-action and plant-function, might
imagine our whole action to be directed to the attainment of our own
death, since that is what we finally achieve as the result of action,
and sometimes with most purposeful rapidity; and he might suppose the
suicide, and the miser, and the opium-eater, and the drunkard, and the
glutton, to be only the more intelligent members of the species, the
others to be led chiefly by blind instinct. It is a fundamental mistake
to suppose that there can be no "ends" but those of which we are

The question as to the existence of any causal relations in the old
sense between thought and feeling has already been answered in previous
considerations; all we can assert is sequence or simultaneity. Indeed,
as psychology has rarely troubled itself with any direct question of
this sort, its introduction may appear foolish. Yet feeling is
sometimes, by imputation, treated as a mere attribute of thought, while
again, as we shall see, it is often considered as an independent,
directing, if not perception, at least the subsumption of percepts in
thought. And, indeed, it is difficult to perceive why, if feeling and
thought be regarded as two quite distinct yet simultaneous activities,
the same problem as to precedence might not arise, under the concepts of
cause and effect, as in the case of physiological process and
consciousness as a whole.

But a question with which Psychology and Ethics have occupied themselves
as a most important one is that of the relation of pleasure and pain to
the will. A point around which strife particularly rages is the problem
as to whether it is the pleasurableness of the end which moves the will
to seek it; and on the view taken as to the truth on this point theories
of freedom or determination of the will are often based, the advocate of
free will arguing that the power of choosing the painful proves his
theory, the determinist declaring that the invariable might of the
pleasurable over the will shows the subordination of the latter. But I
cannot, for my own part, see how the demonstration of the fact that the
will may be moved by the imagination of a painful end rather than, or
as well as, by that of a pleasurable one is a proof of its freedom; as I
also fail to perceive how it is proved that the will is determined
because it invariably chooses the pleasurable rather than the painful
end. In either case, choice may be said equally to depend on motive, and
in either case the will may be said equally to choose. It is true in
either case that the strongest motive moves; it is true in either case
that the will decides upon the act with a feeling of its own spontaneity
and freedom, and guides the movement of the body in the performance of
the act. That which is shown in an invariable connection of the will
with pleasurable motives is a constancy which we find elsewhere in
nature and which forbids us to regard will as something outside and
above the rest of nature. As we have seen, however, the theory of a
compulsion of nature anywhere by constancy or law, or of the compulsion
of one particular part by the rest, is untenable.

In speaking of the pleasurable and painful, we have introduced the
conception of ends into our considerations, and may emphasize, in
another form, the fact that we cannot consider indefinite feeling alone
as the mover of the will to an end. The pleasurableness or painfulness
is predicated of some definite object or event, and corresponds to
definite actualities perceived in the object or imagined with the help
of former experience. Thought and feeling are thus inextricably
commingled in the state of consciousness leading to choice, and the
nature of the acting individual and that of the external objects
concerned are equally essential to the result.

We have hitherto treated thought, feeling, and will, as separate parts
of consciousness, defining each, by implication, much as we would define
wheel, tongue, and whiffletree, as parts of a wagon. But the three are
indissolubly connected in the act of the will, and thought and feeling
are not, as we have seen, ever disconnected. Nor can we say that it is
one part of consciousness that feels, another that thinks, and still
another that wills. Further, a closer analysis may render it doubtful
whether that which we call will is only an occasional act of
consciousness, or whether it is not rather involved in all operations of
consciousness as we have seen thought and feeling to be. The identity of
will and that which is often called involuntary attention has already
been asserted by some authors, and not the identity of will and outward
attention alone, but also of will and attention to the inner process of
consciousness. Here, however, the dividing line generally sought between
willed and unwilled, involuntary, or, as we say, drifting thought,
becomes dim and uncertain. But it is evident that attention is given to
that which interests us for one reason or another; and the question
logically presents itself as to whether thought ever follows a direction
wholly uninteresting to us, or whether it does not the rather always
turn from such direction to one which has for us at least some degree of
interest, whether, in short, the will does not in this manner, as the
innervation of attention, accompany and direct all mental process. The
sense of effort involved in choice, in the struggle of interfering
impulses, may bring into prominence mental activity at points where such
obstacles and interferences occur; but is not the mental force which we,
in this case, especially notice the same with that involved in all
processes of consciousness? Just as the physiological process in nerve
and muscle with which the limbs are moved in action, or eye or ear
innervated in the effort of attention, is only the outcome of the
processes which are constantly going on in the brain, so the concomitant
process of will or attention is but the expression, in another form, of
the activity involved in all consciousness.

The division of consciousness into separate entities or parts has often
been carried much further than this threefold one; the division has
varied with the particular theory and fancy of the student, until some
one has suggested that we might, on the principle used, assume a
distinct faculty for dancing, for eating, sleeping, dressing, reading,
writing, and so on, _ad infinitum_,--the faculty, in each case, being
defined as the special activity that discharges the particular function
assigned to it by the name. Only by abstraction and by the investiture
of our abstractions with a life of their own do we arrive at a theory of
thought, feeling, and will, as separate entities, or parts; in the
mental process itself, they are indissolubly united.

We have seen that thought acquires new directions with the evolution of
the individual, that pleasure and pain attach themselves to new objects,
and that will is directed to new ends. If we can discover in these
changes any uniformities of relation everywhere manifest as far as
experience extends, the constancy of nature may admit of our conclusion
that the relation is fundamental, and we may be able to formulate thus
a general law of evolution with respect to the mental processes. Such a
law must, of course, be interpreted, not as governing the changes which
it regards, but simply as the expression of general facts of their
development. Our considerations on this point are in a line with those
of Chapter I; indeed, they are only a more special application and more
careful derivation and expansion of points there noticed.

If we begin with our own experience, and study the growth of this or
that particular habit gradually acquired, we notice that it not only
becomes stronger with time, acquiring an intensity less and less easy to
check, but also that this increasing strength of tendency is accompanied
with a corresponding increase of pleasure in the performance of the act.
The drunkard may have derived no especial pleasure from his first glass;
he may, indeed, have found the taste little to his liking, and the
slight succeeding dizziness disagreeable; but, with habituation, both
gradually become agreeable. The first fit of intoxication may be felt as
unpleasant, not only in the succeeding shame and physical depression,
but in itself; though it is also conceivable that the state of thorough
intoxication may have been led up to so slowly, by such imperceptible
degrees, that it may be combined, even in the first instance, with a
certain degree of pleasure. It is, however, evident that this pleasure
increases with further lapse of time. If we study the habits of
individuals, we shall find a thousand little peculiarities of habit in
which others than their performers would be puzzled to discover anything
attractive, and in which, indeed, the latter themselves would find
difficulty in pointing out the source of the gratification that they
nevertheless experience. Our habits are things we are loth to break
with; and we grow more loth as time passes, until finally no
consideration, no shame of scorn or pain of punishment in any form, can
suffice to counterbalance the craving of desire and the fierce pleasure
of satisfaction, or the less turbulent but not less strong impulse that
carries us steadily in the course which past custom has worn for us.
Customary acts are themselves agreeable to us, though their results may
bring with them disagreeable factors.

Again, this same principle is directly traceable in heredity. We say,
for instance, of the drunkard whose father and grandfather were
drunkards before him, that he has inherited a "taste" for intoxicants,
meaning, not that he can feel their attraction before he has tasted them
and experienced their influence, but that the habit of drunkenness is
one more easily formed in him than in the average individual,
constitutional peculiarities corresponding to a pleasure derived from
the alcohol. We often notice striking resemblances, not only in general
appearance but also in mental characteristics and habits, extending even
to attitude and gesture, between children and parents deceased when the
children were yet infants. I have known very peculiar physical habits to
appear, in one instance in three, in another in four, generations, with
the avowal of satisfaction in their practice on the part of the persons
subject to them, although neither they could explain, nor onlookers
comprehend, the pleasure derived from them. Imitation is not always
possible in such cases; in one case of these two just cited, it was, in
the third generation at least, impossible; and even where there is
imitation, it is by no means proved that an innate tendency does not
lend readiness to the formation of the habit. It may here be objected
that we are venturing on too uncertain ground in endeavoring to
formulate any general law of the growth of habit in relation to
heredity, opinions differing so much as to the relative importance to be
accorded to environment and innate tendency in the formation of
character, and especially as to the possibility of the inheritance, by
succeeding generations, of new peculiarities not common to the species
as a whole but acquired by individual parents. As far as the former
question is concerned, it may be said that the whole development of
plant or animal in organization and corresponding functions must be
regarded as directly dependent upon present environment, never
independent of it; but that, while it must be conceded that the
environment is greatly concerned in the development of habit, and that
no innate tendency can manifest itself unless the complementary
conditions of its appearance are presented by circumstance, it may
likewise be claimed that the influence of environment no more excludes
heredity than heredity excludes the influence of the individual
environment. We tend, generally, to emphasize heredity in the case of
the plant and the animal, and environment in the case of the human
being. This is because our knowledge of species other than our own is
merely an outward one, while the ideas of heredity in our own case are
confused by our consciousness of the influence that even minute
circumstances may have upon our inner life and character. And yet just
those who are inclined to lay most stress upon the power of good
influences are generally, strange to say, the very ones who would most
protest at the assertion of the superiority of outer conditions over
inner ones. It can scarcely be supposed that any law of heredity which
applies to the rest of the animal kingdom does not apply to man also.
With respect to the second of the two questions noticed above, something
has already been said from one point of view, and more will be said
later from another. At present it will be sufficient for our purpose to
notice some generally admitted facts. Darwin uses a certain caution when
he comes to the consideration of the conditions of inheritance, and
makes the general statement that the tendency to inheritance of any
function is increased by the continuation of the action of the inducing
conditions of environment for several generations. But it may be
questioned whether an innate tendency may not have favored and assisted
the action of the environment in the later of these generations,
whether, indeed, the continuity everywhere supposed in evolution does
not compel us to assume, between the first appearance of any function,
trait, or habit, and its attainment, after several generations, of
sufficient strength to render its hereditary character noticeable,
intermediate degrees of strength in the intermediate generations. On the
same principle on which we accept the theory of evolution as a logical
necessity, despite the gaps in the proof, we must also, I believe,
consider development of any sort to be continuous increase.

But even the theory of the increased probability of the inheritance of
any mark, function, trait, or habit, after several generations of
inducing environment, is sufficient for our present purpose. It still
remains true, if we regard the development of function or habit in its
broad features, that the tendency to inheritance, the organic
significance of any function or habit is increased with increased
exercise. Merely in the one case we regard the increments of increase as
infinitesimal, while, in the other case, we regard them as of much
greater than infinitesimal value. Even the theory of Weismann, which
regards everything as present in the germ, must formulate some such
theory as this of the environment as the condition of the development of
germinal possibilities.

Not only are the strongest and most infallibly recurring functions those
which have been most strongly and longest exercised, but these strongest
functions, those to which, as we say, the tendency is strongest, are
connected with the strongest pleasures of gratification and the most
extreme pain of denial. The sexual appetite is an example of such a
function fundamental to all the higher forms of animal life. Hunger and
thirst, if long unsatisfied, are connected with intensest suffering and,
if not dulled by general ill-health or too great satiety, involve a keen
pleasure of satisfaction. Muscular exercise is a source of keen
enjoyment, and physical inaction results in general depression that may
become extreme if the inaction be long continued.

In this pain of inaction, a new conception has been introduced into our
considerations. The converse of this pain is that involved in the
over-exercise of any function. We thus perceive that the pleasure
involved in the exercise of function lies between two extremes, beyond
either of which is pain, discomfort. Such pain is connected with the
vacillations in the relations of food-assimilation to the use of
accumulated energy. These two general processes or functions of all
organic matter are reciprocal or complementary, and the too much or too
little on either side which involves pain may be looked upon as a
disturbance of equilibrium. Excess on either side means want on the

And this brings us again to the conception of normal function as a
stable form of motion. Long-exercised function, fundamental functions of
animal or plant life are forms of motion that for a very long period
have found their sufficient complementary conditions in the environment,
have met with but little interference in this environment. And thus we
attain a conception of pleasure as that form of feeling accompanying
forms of physiological motion with which there is a minimum of
interference. Pleasure appears as the accompaniment of unimpaired and
unimpeded function everywhere as far as our knowledge extends. Function
and habit are essentially the same; habit is merely function. The
functions of the species furnish the foundation of the habits of the
individual, which vary according to individual surroundings and the
family peculiarities acquired through peculiar circumstances. The degree
of pleasure in the exercise of any function or habit bears constant
relations to the strength of the acquired function, while this again
bears constant relations to degree of exercise, in which the time
relation plays a prominent part. Here we have, too, by implication, the
explanation of the disagreeable character of the strange and new except
as it corresponds to some tendency of the organism, some capability not
yet exercised, in which case it appears as nothing strictly new but only
as pleasing variety. From a physiological point of view, the new appears
as that which demands a readjustment involving the fresh action of
natural selection, and the possible destruction of the organism in case
the readjustment demanded is too great. From the physical and mechanical
view, the new may be regarded as a disturber of equilibrium.

To this analysis the objection may possibly be urged that obstacles
often increase pleasure. If, however, a definition of obstacle be
demanded, it will soon appear that what is meant by an obstacle that
increases pleasure is not anything that interferes with function but
rather that which is exactly its occasion and opportunity. To a man in
health and vigor who sets off for a walk through the fields, a hedge or
fence in the way is no real obstacle, but furnishes rather an agreeable
diversion, a new method of trying his strength and getting rid of
superfluous muscular secretions; it adds but the spice of some slight
variety to his exercise. That which is an interruption of one function,
may be the opportunity of another; and if the demands of the first
function for satisfaction are not too imperative, the interruption of
too great duration, the obstacle may not be felt to be disagreeable. But
pain and pleasure are often mixed, since the satisfaction of one
function may be the prevention of another. If, in this case, the
function which is satisfied is a fundamental one, the function which is
prevented a subordinate one, the pleasure exceeds the pain. If, on the
other hand, the function prevented is a fundamental one, the function
satisfied a merely subordinate one, the pain exceeds the pleasure.

With the ideas of unimpaired and unimpeded function as pleasurable, and
of the new as demanding readjustment, we arrive at the consideration of
health and disease. The free performance of any particular function is
the first condition of the health of the organ of which it is the
function, the regular performance of all physical functions according to
the mutual adjustment of the organs of the body the condition of the
health of the organism as a whole. And thus again we come round to the
conception of pleasure as connected with the action that accords with
the health of the organism. And this leads us to some remarks concerning
the act of food-taking which may answer a possible objection to the
statements made above with regard to the pleasure involved in the act.
The moralist and idealist are wont to protest against any theory that
may seem to give prominence to "the purely animal" side of human life.
But first, we have to do, at present, merely with facts on which ethical
theory may be founded, not as yet with such theory itself. Furthermore,
the selection of the appetites of hunger, thirst, and sex, as
illustrating the general theory of the relations of pleasure and pain to
function is not made in order to lay special stress upon these appetites
but because they afford, as fundamental, especially good examples. And,
finally, it may be noticed that the pleasure connected with the stilling
of hunger and thirst is not that of taste alone, though doubtless there
are many with whom this pleasure is one of the most important of life;
on the taking of sufficient and proper nourishment depends the pleasure
involved in the general health of the body; the pain of non-satisfaction
in this case is not simply that of a single organ but that of the whole
organism. Even the deferment of a single meal beyond the usual hour
often lowers the "tone" of the whole body, and the variations of too
much or too little strongly influence the mood and general happiness of
the individual. On the right use of nourishment depend, in great
measure, the ability to cope with circumstances and the moral power of

In connection with the idea of a certain equilibrium between exercise
and nourishment, waste and repair, as normal, healthful, and
pleasurable, Rolph's principle of the Insatiability of life may be
considered. Evidently the facts of evolution demonstrate the power of
the organism to advance by slow degrees beyond its original normal. But
the progress is an exceedingly slow one, and the power of advance in the
individual organism, at any particular point, by no means limitless, but
very definitely limited. The limitations of the power of assimilation
are evidenced by the evil results of over-eating, of over-satiety of
function in any direction. Even at an early period of life, when growth
is most marked, the capacity for assimilation is by no means limitless.
The idea of insatiability is advanced by Lewes[136] in a somewhat
different form. It may possibly be an aid to the comprehension of the
process of growth to regard one factor, namely the organism, as the
active side of the development tending to indefinite growth in all
directions, and the other factor, the environment, as the regulating,
resisting factor, limiting such growth; the conception may, perhaps, be
legitimately resorted to as we resort to various other devices which
bring into prominence some one side of a process to the neglect of
others but to the simplification of our concepts and calculations. A
similar device is used by Zöllner in his consideration of
sun-spots.[137] But these representations should not be mistaken for
actuality. The limitless expansion of the organism is as much a fiction
as a theory of the limitless coercion of the environment resisted by the
organism would be. The latter fiction is involved in one interpretation
of the Struggle for Existence. Either view is one-sided; environment and
organism both alike represent active forces, of both which combined,
growth is, at each moment, the exactly conditioned resultant.

We may notice another assertion of Rolph's, namely, that growth is
produced by increase of nourishment rather than that it demands[138]
increase of nourishment as the Darwinians state. I do not know how the
Darwinians come to be accredited with this statement in the sense which
is evidently criticised by Rolph. In so far as the statement may be
interpreted as meaning that growth takes place first, and without
nourishment, and that the demand for nourishment then ensues on this
growth, the criticism is evidently valid. But the word "demands" may be
interpreted in quite a different way as designating the need of growth
for its conditions, or rather (for this is the ultimate significance of
the word in this sense) the logical demand of the reason, which cannot
suppose anything to take place in the absence of its conditions. Any
other signification of the word is contrary to the whole spirit of
Darwinism, and would accord much better with a theory of Insatiability
or with other forms of theory that imply a special vital principle of
some sort. If, when Rolph makes the assertion that increase of
nourishment produces growth, he refers, by "increase of nourishment,"
to the mere act of mastication, it is true that growth must be regarded
as following upon this as its condition; but growth and the assimilation
of nourishment are identical. And, in fact, assimilation begins in the
action of the saliva in the act of mastication. Analysis of assimilation
gives us sequence in one sense, since the parts of the act follow upon
one another; but any interpretation which tends to draw a distinct line
at any point in the physiological process, or to distinguish between
assimilation as active, performed, and growth as passive, suffered,
should be avoided.

We may return to the consideration of pleasure and pain as connected
with function in general, with a view to a solution, if possible, of the
problem of its especial connection with the will. The brain may be
defined, from the point of view of the theory of evolution, as the organ
of centralization through which the unity of the organism is
established, and the adaptation of parts or the development of special
function becomes the adaptation or function of the whole. With this
physiological adaptation, an increasing breadth of knowledge by
experience, the deviation of feeling from old into new channels, and the
attainment of new ends of action, are associated. Just as past
adaptations must have their physiological representation in
brain-organization, so psychical experience is stored up to be
remembered on sufficient suggestion, and finds, thus, its expression in
conscious will, just as its physiological concomitants must be supposed
to find their expression in nervous and muscular action. As we have
seen, pleasure follows the line of evolution of function, strongest
pleasure appearing in the direction of most strongly developed function,
so that, just as any conflict of tendencies to function in the brain
must result in conquest by the strongest tendency, the line of action
must always correspond with that of the greatest pleasure. And just as
the most strongly inherent function is combined with the greatest
pleasure, so the representation of the performance of this most strongly
inherent function is, in the conflict of tendencies before action,
combined with the greatest pleasure of anticipation. This statement
coincides with Stephen's remark that it is not the representation of the
greatest pleasure, but the pleasantest representation, which furnishes
the decisive motive to will. Contingent circumstances may introduce into
the actual carrying out of the act determined upon an element of pain
not before experienced, in which the wish may arise that the act had not
been performed; and the strength of the tendency to action in this
direction is thus diminished.

With regard to this analysis, several things are to be noted. (1) It is
no more claimed that the strongest pleasure of anticipation is
unmitigated pleasure than that the pleasure involved in the attainment
of the end is necessarily unmitigated. Wherever there is interference,
there is also pain. Where any struggle is involved, where any conflict
of tendencies and wishes precedes choice, the struggle itself and the
relinquishment of one or more courses in favor of the one chosen involve
disagreeable elements, and the fiercer the struggle the greater the
pain. Where two extremely strong tendencies thus come into collision,
the pain involved may amount to agony. Our statement that the more
pleasurable end or rather the one the imagination of which is the more
pleasurable is the one sought by will needs therefore to be put into a
somewhat different form, since, among all the methods of action open to
choice in any case, there may be none the thought of which involves any
positive pleasure, though there is in all or most cases some one which
promises at least a negative excess of pleasure, that is, least pain.
(2) No assumption is made as to the particular kind of representation or
the particular kind of end with which the greatest pleasure of
anticipation or of realization is combined, whether these are "higher"
or "lower," sensual or intellectual, moral or immoral. It is not by any
means asserted that the most moral end may not be that which is chosen.
(3) It is not asserted that any direct calculation of the pleasure to
self involved in any course of action necessarily contributes to choice.
(4) The pleasure or pain connected with the imagination of a future
event is not to be confused with the actual pleasure or pain of the
event itself. The feeling experienced in the event may be wholly
different from that of anticipation.

In connection with the second point, reference may be made to an
assertion of Sidgwick's in his attack upon Hedonism. He writes as
follows, "We have to observe that men may and do judge remote as well as
immediate results to be in themselves desirable, without considering
them in relation to the feelings of sentient beings."[139] The question
for us here is, first, whether the emphasis of the assertion is on the
word "considering,"--a question the context does not answer. It is
certainly true that decisions are reached, judgments pronounced, without
introspection and self-analysis, and without long reflection of any
sort. It is true that, even where reflection does take place, there is
not necessarily any distinct attachment of the concept "pleasurable" to
results considered, whether with relation to self or to others. The dog
who snatches at a piece of meat does not probably waste any time in
reflecting on the pleasure he will experience in eating it; and yet we
do not the less believe that if the act were not pleasurable to him he
would not perform it. It may also be true that a man often pronounces
results to be desirable without noting or caring for their relations to
other sentient beings; but if these results are regarded by him as
desirable, then they must be in some way desirable to himself, that is,
must have a pleasurable relation to his own feelings. Desire appertains
to sentient beings and to sentient beings as such; a thing which is
desirable must be desirable to a sentient being; the desirable which is
not desirable to a sentient being is the desirable which is
not-desirable, a self-contradiction.

In connection with the third of the points above noticed, Rolph's
assertion that not pleasure but pain is the motive to action, may be
considered. The author does not mean anything else than that action is
in the direction from "want," "hunger," "pain," to ends involving
pleasure, so that this theory does not, when analyzed, differ
fundamentally from theories which assume the motive to will to be
furnished by the most pleasurable end or by the most pleasurable
representation of an end. The chief point of difference is the
conception of the state of consciousness preceding will as invariably
one of pain, the want of the end willed as invariably painful. Now it is
evident that the satisfaction of a function may be so long deferred as
to involve the severest pain; hunger, thirst, may reach a degree of
intensity that is frenzy, muscular inaction, in an ordinarily active
individual, if long persevered in, may be combined with extreme
discomfort and depression. And it is also true that all desire involves
want in the sense that an end is sought because its absence is felt as
undesirable. But want in this sense means merely desire, and is not
necessarily combined with any real pain of deprivation. The state of
consciousness preceding action may be, on the contrary, one of
exhilaration, of exceeding joy of anticipation; the gratification of a
desire may take place so soon after the first appearance of the desire,
or the gratification of the desire become so certain so soon after the
desire is first felt, that no pain of want is felt at all. Rolph,
indeed, finds great difficulty in demonstrating his theory, and finally
resorts to the definition of the pain which, as he asserts, furnishes
the motive to action as "the pain of the absence of pleasure." He says,
moreover, that not all pain is felt as such, since much feeling is below
the threshold of consciousness.[140] But "unconscious pain" and "feeling
below consciousness" are mere self-contradictions. Specification of that
of which, as unconscious, we know nothing is a very easy way of
delivering oneself from the necessity of positive proof, but it is a
very unscientific one. With respect to Rolph's assertion that pain can
not be dispensed with, since it is everywhere the motive to action, it
may be remarked that this statement seems to accord ill with Rolph's
other theory that never the struggle for existence but always states of
plenty and comfort are the conditions of growth, and the lengthy
demonstration that periods of want must condition decline,
retrogression, and finally the extinction of the species suffering the
want. From the standpoint of Darwin, the struggle for existence is not
inconsistent with the possession of plenty on the part of favored
individuals and species, but Rolph expressly denies the compatibility of
the two principles.

In his theory of want as the universal motive to action, Rolph cites
suicide as an extreme case of this want. Our analysis has already taken
into consideration some of the cases of mental struggle and postponement
of the satisfaction of desire involving pain. But where one end greatly
desired is unattainable, choice may yet be possible of another end
affording partial satisfaction of the function corresponding to the
desire, and, in cases where choice is necessary between two or more
conflicting ends, the gratification of one may be attended with a
sufficient degree of pleasure to cause partial forgetfulness of the
disappointment in the necessary relinquishment of the other ends. Where,
however, the function denied is one of the most fundamental of the
organism, its denial may be combined with intensest pain and a gradual
physical degeneration, or even a sudden collapse of the organism, ending
in death; or it may induce an act that secures this end through the
mediation of self-conscious will. What is true, in this case, of the
denial of some one fundamental function, is true also of an accumulation
of coincident denials of a number of lesser ones. Our desires are,
indeed, in all cases, more or less complex, and involve the fulfilment
of various functions; but we can easily imagine such an accumulation of
small ills as to lead to desperation. Where no choice of action seems
left us by which we may attain some one end deeply desired, or where a
coincidence of obstacles makes it appear as if there were no choice of
action towards any desirable ends, death may be chosen as a lesser evil
than life, the equivalent of a lesser pain in the absence of feeling
altogether. It may be noted, however, that where suicide is prevented in
the first moment of desperation, the individual planning it may not only
never again attempt it, but may afterwards even find much pleasure in
life. As there is a high degree of pleasure connected with the
performance of deeply rooted function or habit, so the performance of
all function is attended with some modicum of pleasure, except in such
isolated moments as render suicide possible. Every end desired is one of
function, and all function furnishes ends to the will. The pessimist
lays emphasis upon the fact of the speedy loss of pleasure in ends
attained. But herein lies the higher pleasure of life, that it is not
rest but progress. The pleasures we attain may be continually renewed if
rightly sought, but they cannot be unintermittently sustained. We cannot
rest at ends attained and find unlessened rapture in them. Rest is not
an attribute of life; life is essentially motion, that phase of it which
we term rest being mere change of function for a time. The intimate
relation, between pleasure and an equilibrium of waste and repair
renders it impossible to obtain pleasure except as occupation is varied
in order to afford opportunity of recuperation to organs and cells
before used. Proper variation, however, may enable us to return to old
pleasures with ever renewed and even increased enjoyment. But it is
conceivable that the pleasures of gratification and the pains of
disappointment may be so nearly balanced as to make life possible and
yet endow it, at least for a period, with but little joy. It is to be
noticed, however, that intense pain cannot endure, unmodified, for any
great length of time. As pleasure follows the line of customary action,
so pain diminishes with long-continued lack in any direction, unless
this direction be that of too fundamental function, in which case the
organism succumbs entirely and perishes. Either we grow gradually used
to our disappointment and forget it to a great degree in other
gratification, or we die under it. Certainly there are losses the pain
of which is never entirely forgotten, after which life is never quite
the same again; but the first agony of such losses is materially
modified with time; and many of the losses which have seemed worst to us
at the time they occurred are later looked back upon without regret. We
progress to another stage, and the ends we desire to gain are changed.
The habitual misanthrope, indeed, generally derives a great deal of
satisfaction from his own misery; and this leads us to the apparently
anomalous remark that even pain as function may come to be combined with
pleasure; we feel a satisfaction in our own capacity of emotion. The
sensitivity of the poet to pain as well as his sensitivity to pleasure
is a source of often very keen gratification and pride to him. Of the
weak and aged who have no especial pleasure in life, it may be said that
they have also, in general, no fierce pains, at least seldom such as
bring desperation in youth. Having learned from experience, they are not
subject to such exaggerated expectations, and hence disappointments, as
accompany youth, vigor, and ignorance of the realities of life; and
often they derive enjoyment from things which would have no attraction
for the young.

The old question as to the relation between health and happiness may be
answered by the statement that the two coincide. The statement is not
meant, however, in the sense that the happiness which we at present
attain is coincident with health in an absolute sense or that, _vice
versa_, perfect happiness is, or can be, coincident with that which we
ordinarily term health. The two terms are generally very ill-defined;
sometimes the one, sometimes the other, is used in an absolute sense in
connection with the discussion of the parallel term in a comparative
sense. Perfect happiness must coincide with perfect health; for perfect
health must coincide with perfect fulfilment of all function, and this
coincides with the gratification of all desire. At present desires
conflict, and the gratification of one is bought at the expense of
others. This partial gratification corresponds to a partial health; but
we too often forget, in the discussion of health and happiness, that
health is no more perfect than is happiness. The individual is not yet
in harmony with himself. But this means that he also is not in harmony
with the environment.

In the development of thought, feeling, and will, we have noticed a
certain parallelism, the attainment of new knowledge, the deviation of
feeling into new channels, and the direction of will to new ends;
indeed, our analysis must bring us to regard this development as
something more than a parallelism, since, as we have seen, thought,
feeling, and will, cannot be defined as separate organs of mind. And we
are here led to notice a theory sometimes advanced, that the feelings of
one individual can never be changed by another. You may present a man
with arguments, say the advocates of this theory, but this is all; you
cannot bring him to act on the arguments unless his feeling is already
of the right sort before you present your arguments; if it is not, you
cannot in any way alter it. Now a certain general foundation of
character, of fundamental feeling, must always be conceded; but this is
not what these theorists mean when they say that arguments can never
alter feeling. "Of what use would it be to argue with my child and tell
her that this or that act of hers is selfish," said a man to me not long
ago of his three-year-old daughter; "if she is selfish, arguing with her
will not make her less so; showing her that she is selfish will never
have any effect upon her selfishness; you may change opinions by
argument, but not feelings." The theory reminds us of the old idea of
the will as something above other phases of nature and so supreme above
their influence; it replaces this theory of the uncaused nature of the
will by one of the like absolute independence of feeling. And yet,
strange to say, this theory is oftenest advanced by just those who
assert the variability of will in accordance with law, under the
influence of the environment, and unite with these already incongruous
theories the wholly contradictory one that it is feeling which furnishes
the motive to will. To appeal to any one except through the medium of
thought is certainly impossible; the feelings cannot be influenced
except by representation and argument. Feeling cannot be taken by itself
and so influenced. But the person endeavoring to convince does not
desire to arouse indefinite feeling; he invariably wishes to excite it
with regard to some definite end. To change opinion is also to change
feeling in some degree. Whether an appeal to another is successful or
not depends on the nature of the appeal and upon the consciousness of
the individual to whom the appeal is made; but this means that not the
nature of consciousness alone decides the result. In any excitation by
the environment, the result is conditioned, not by the one factor alone
but by both; and no excitation can leave the individual entirely
unchanged; the multiplication of infinitesimal single excitations
constitutes the whole of evolution. A first appeal or argument may be
felt only as disagreeable interference; but an accumulation of appeals
at first disagreeable and met only with rebuffs may eventually result in
total change of both ends and feelings. The amount of appeal necessary
differs with the person appealed to; it may be large or small,
excessively large or excessively small, but the general fact remains,
that feelings vary as thought widens, and that an accompanying change of
ends takes place. Thought and feeling are not two separate and
independent things, but are, on the contrary, vitally united.

We may put our old familiar question with regard to cause and effect in
a new form in respect to the development of thought, feeling, and will.
In considering the process of evolution, will, and, therefore, the
conscious exercise of function, is ordinarily treated as the effect of
pleasure; but our course of analysis identifies function and its
exercise and rather brings function into the foreground, though the
assertion of precedence in importance has been avoided. The course was
chosen partly because it affords an opportunity of propounding the
following questions: Is lapse of time, amount of exercise, or pleasure,
the cause of habit? Or is habit the cause of function? Or is pleasure
the cause of continued exercise of function? Or is function the cause of
pleasure? Or is a minimum of interference the cause of pleasure and of
function in a particular direction? Or is not, rather, continued
exercise of function the cause of the absence of interference wherever
and as far as it exists? We find all these various suggested theories
advocated, by direct statement or by implication, in the treatment of
the evolution of function by different authors, and indeed we frequently
find several of the theories included, by implication, in the work of
the same author. The vital connection of unimpeded function and pleasure
is apparent, and the necessity of the time element in the development of
function may also be asserted; but there is not, according to our
theory, any reason for introducing the concept of cause into the

Our analysis of the development of thought, feeling, and will, has an
important bearing on the teleological argument. If all habit comes, in
time, to be pleasurable, if pleasure merely follows the line of
exercise of function, _whatever that line may be_, and ends are thus
mere matters of habit, and habit, exercise, is a matter of the action
and reaction of all conditions, then it is evident that the force of the
teleological argument is at once destroyed. We cannot pass beyond
nature, by this route, to the inference of a transcendental cause. Man's
action being a part of nature and the result of all conditions as much
as is the motion of the wind or the waves, the results he produces, like
theirs, only change and never creation, the only inference we could make
from his will to other will must be an inference to will that is a part
of nature, a result if also a condition, a link in the chain of nature,
its ends coördinate with habit but not the cause of it, and no more
determining than determined.


[135] See Avenarius' formulæ of "complete vital maintenance":
f(R) = -f(S); f(R) + f(S) = o, "Kritik der reinen Erfahrung."

[136] "Problems of Life and Mind," Ser. II. p. 103.

[137] See essay by Petzoldt above considered.

[138] "Biologische Probleme," p. 96; "erfordern."

[139] "Methods of Ethics," 4th ed. p. 97.

[140] "Biologische Probleme," p. 177 _et seq._



Carneri, in consistency with his scepticism as to feeling in animals,
remarks that, with man, the struggle for happiness is added to the
struggle for existence. Wallace and others regard man as comparatively
withdrawn from the struggle for existence and the operation of natural
selection. Much depends on definition in any statement; but it may be
repeated that the analogy of nervous organization does not permit us to
suppose the absence of pleasure and pain in many species, and that man
is no exception to the rule that the disharmonious is the unstable, and
doomed, by its nature, to destruction.

However, analogy does not, as we have seen, carry us far in deciding
upon the presence or absence of consciousness, or in determining the
exact nature of the ends it posits even where we may suppose it to be
present and conscious of ends. If, then, we apply the terms "egoism" and
"altruism" to the action of plants or even of other animal species,
meaning, by these terms, that, in the action referred to, such ends are
sought and willed as render human conduct what we call altruistic, we
may be falling into error. However, in considering egoism and altruism
in their relations to human development, it may be useful to note their
prototypes, as far as external form is concerned, in life on lower
planes, without making any assumption as to the internal meaning of
these prototypes, except in so far as, in special instances, we may be
warranted by further particular examination of facts.

It is evident that the action of animals is of a sort that has as its
immediate and most prominent result their own protection and
preservation, and that they show themselves generally hostile to other
kinds and even, in many cases, if not hostile, at least indifferent,
under most circumstances, to their own kind. Yet a certain amount of
mutual support may occasionally be observed even among lower species.
One of the forms of such aid most common in the whole range of animal
species is the care of the parent animal for its offspring. This care is
more usual on the part of the female than on that of the male, and where
it is exercised it is not the exception, but rather the rule, that the
mother will sacrifice life itself in the defence of her young. Such care
and self-sacrifice, especially marked in mammals and birds, are too well
known to need illustration here.

Mutual aid between the sexes is not so common or so strongly marked as
the care of parent animals for their young. There is often no
companionship at all between the sexes, and even at the time of mating
male and female may show themselves hostile to each other. It often
happens with certain _Epeiridae_ the males of whom are smaller than the
females, that, after copulation or sometimes even before, the female
seizes upon the male and makes a meal of him. Sometimes, also, during
the battle of two males for the possession of a female, the latter
throws her web about both and devours them.[141] Female deer wandering
in the company of a male have been observed to watch with indifference
the contest of the latter with some newly arrived male, and on his death
to lick the wounds of their new suitor and follow him as they before
followed his predecessor. The relations of male and female among the
birds, especially among some sorts of birds, have, on the other hand,
often been made the theme of the poet.

But mutual aid among the animals is not confined to the relations of
parents and offspring, and male and female. Whether or not we explain
the societies of animals as merely huge families, as some authors are
inclined to do, the fact of the association remains, and it continues to
be true that, in this association, much mutual assistance is given. In
this connection, however, may be cited the experiments of Lubbock,
showing the exceeding irregularity and apparent caprice with which such
assistance is rendered among even such creatures as the ants, with whom
organization is generally regarded as having arrived at an unusual
degree of development. Lubbock found that, wherever a regular battle was
in progress, the ants gave aid to each other, but that where a single
ant was attacked by an enemy, the others of the nest generally took no
part in the matter. In many cases, they passed by wounded or helpless
members of their own colony, leaving them to perish where a very small
amount of help would have saved them. In some cases, they cared for the
slightly wounded; but those who were severely wounded they threw from
the nest. In their hostility to their enemies, they were merciless and
more persistent than in their help of friends.[142] Lubbock, arguing
from such facts as these, differs in opinion from Grote, who regards it
as necessary to the maintenance of any society that some moral feeling
should exist. Indeed, that which Carneri asserts with regard to the care
of offspring might be claimed in this case, namely, that the assistance
reaches exactly so far as is necessary for the preservation of species.
The implication is that all this apparent altruism is mere automatism.

In support of a view similar to this, Benno Scheitz quotes the following
case,[143] "which Dr. Altum relates from his own experience": "'In the
Gens d'Armes Market in Berlin, I saw several larks and a robin in a
cage; the former cowered sorrowfully, with somewhat roughened feathers,
in a corner, but the robin was in full activity. It ran to the food-cup,
seized as many ant-larvæ as it could grasp in its bill, and hastened
with these to the nearest lark. The latter, however, did not honor the
solicitous robin and its food with as much as a look. But scarcely had
the robin offered its disdained food than it let this fall and hastened
after fresh food, offered this, let it fall, fetched fresh again,--only
to begin the same performance anew. As long as I watched this
interesting spectacle, the robin was thus employed, and very soon the
greater portion of the ant-larvæ had been carried from the food-vessel
and lay scattered before the different larks. And what was here the
motive of the redbreast in permitting itself no nourishment (I did not
see that it ate a single one of the ant-larvæ itself), but carrying it
all to its fellow-prisoners,--sympathy and love for the larks, who
disdained all food, and who could have taken the same food for
themselves, in the same manner, and with exactly the same amount of
trouble? The redbreast had been caught and carried away from its young;
the impulse to feed was strongly awakened and had before been strongly
active, but not satisfied; the bird was obliged, therefore, to continue
to bring food, although there was no longer anything to feed.'" The care
which female animals of many species, when deprived of their young,
often show for the young of other animals of the same or other species
that come in their way is well known. Among domestic animals, the cat
appears particularly susceptible in this respect, though comparisons
here are perhaps scarcely fair, since, of all domestic animals that are
habitually deprived of their young, the cat is about the only one that
has the chance of coming in contact with young animals near the size of
its own kind. The cat has been known to adopt young rats, chickens,
puppies, ducks, and will generally, during the time of suckling, take up
readily with kittens of another litter. Galton, in his "Inquiry into
Human Faculty," mentions that the records of many nations have legends
like that of Romulus and Remus, these being surprisingly confirmed by
General Sleeman's narrative of six cases where children were nurtured
for many years by wolves, in Oude. The working ants of certain species
show as great care for the slave-larvæ robbed from other nests as do
many parent animals for their own offspring. Again, the care for their
eggs shown by many animals who give no care to their young may be cited
as evidence in favor of the theory of automatism. In the vegetable world
also, similar protection is afforded flower and fruit, the most
wonderful instances of such protection being, perhaps, those of the
insectivorous plants.

But to all these arguments in favor of automatism may be answered: (1)
that functions which are preserved and inherited must evidently be, not
only in animals and plants, but also and equally in man, such as favor
the preservation of the species; those which do not so favor it must
perish with the individuals or species to which they belong; (2) that it
cannot, indeed, be assumed that a result which has never come within the
experience of the species can be willed as an end, although, with the
species, function securing results which, from a human point of view,
might be regarded as ends, may be preserved; but (3) that, as far as we
assume the existence of consciousness at all in any species or
individual, we must assume pleasure and pain, pleasure in customary
function, pain in its hindrance; and (4) that, as far as we can assume
memory, we may also feel authorized to assume that a remembered action
may be associated with remembered results that come within the
experience of the animal, some phases of which may thus become, as
combined with pleasure or pain, ends to seek or consequences to avoid.
There is no reason to be given why care for the young should be more
pleasurable than care for eggs; the one may be as pleasurable to some
species as the other is to other species. If we assume consciousness in
Dr. Altum's robin, we may assume pleasure in the care of its young and
also, as a possibility, pleasure in the results of such care, the
preservation and prosperity of the young; whether the consciousness of
the robin includes abstract concepts of preservation and prosperity, is
another question. The human mother, too, is wont to be peculiarly tender
to children in general, but we do not for that reason infer that her
kindness towards them is mere automatism. There is no necessary
opposition between reason and instinct, and certainly none between
emotion and instinct. To the very functions from which we derive the
most pleasure we are impelled by an irresistible innate tendency. In any
particular case, it may be very difficult to determine the amount of
reasoning power possessed by the animal, the exact relation of ends to
means in its consciousness; but it may be remarked that there are human
mothers who reason little with regard to the preservation of the species
or other so-called ends secured by the care they give their offspring;
the care is spontaneous, but may not be the less a matter of warm
affection. It appears strange, therefore, that exactly that constancy
and strength of tendency, with need of satisfaction by other channels if
the usual ones fail, which we use as proof of extreme mother-tenderness
in the case of human beings should, in the case of other species, be
turned into an argument to disprove the existence of this feeling.

It is sometimes argued that the feeling of the parent animal in the care
of its young is, in any case, merely one of pleasure in the activity,
and has no connection with the good of the offspring. In such a case as
that of the robin, where the effects of the care come within the
experience of the mother, this is a mere arbitrary assumption, although
direct proof of the contrary may be impossible. Naturally, in the case
of an animal which cares for its eggs, but never comes in contact with
the offspring that are hatched from them, it would be impossible to
suppose any affection for the offspring as such; their existence does
not come within the range of the animal's experience. With regard to an
animal whose connection with its young is constant, the theory that
pleasure in their care has no reference to their welfare, has no
evidence to support it and is unjustifiable. If we cannot directly
disprove it, we have, at least, the evidence of many facts unfavorable
to it. The distress manifested not only by many mammals (who might be
supposed to find physical discomfort merely in the absence of the means
of relief of the milk-glands), but also by other animals and notably
birds, in the loss of their young and even in any danger that threatens
them,--the indescribably mournful sounds at deprivation, the after
depression, and the capacity for self-sacrifice in their defence, would
lead us naturally, from an unprejudiced standpoint, to a belief in
something very like what we term mother-love in human beings. From
Letourneau's "Sociology based upon Ethnography,"[144] I quote the
following: "A female wren, observed by Montagu, spent sixteen hours a
day in looking for food for her little ones. At Delft, when there was a
fire raging, a female white stork, not being able to carry away her
young ones, allowed herself to be burnt with them.... J. J. Hayes tells
us of a female white bear forgetting the Esquimaux dogs, the huntsmen,
and her own wounds, in order to hide her own little bear with her body,
to lick her and to protect her. In Central Africa, a female elephant,
all covered and pierced with javelins, hurled at her by the escort of
black men attending upon Livingstone, was all the while protecting her
young one with her trunk which her own large body enabled her to
cover.... In Sumatra, a female orang-outang, pursued with her little one
by Captain Hall and wounded by a gunshot, threw her infant on to the
highest branches of the tree on to which she had climbed, and continued,
until she died, exhorting her young one to escape. In Brazil, Sphix saw
a female of the stentor niger who, wounded by a gunshot, collected her
last remaining strength to throw her young one on to one of the branches
close by; when she had performed this last act of duty, she fell from
the tree and died." In Romanes' "Animal Intelligence," occurs the
following quotation from Dr. Franklin:[145] "'I have known two parrots,'
said he, 'which had lived together four years, when the female became
weak and her legs swelled. These were symptoms of gout, a disease to
which all birds of this family are very subject in England. It became
impossible for her to descend from the perch, or to take her food as
formerly, but the male was most assiduous in carrying it to her in his
beak. He continued feeding her in this manner during four months, but
the infirmities of his companion increased from day to day, so that at
last she was unable to support herself on the perch. She remained at the
bottom of the cage, making, from time to time, ineffectual efforts to
regain the perch. The male was always near her, and with all his
strength aided the attempts of his dear better half. Seizing the poor
invalid by the beak or the upper part of the wing, he tried to raise
her, and renewed his efforts several times. His constancy, his gestures,
and his continued solicitude, all showed in this affectionate bird the
most ardent desire to relieve the sufferings and assist the weakness of
his companion. But the scene became still more interesting when the
female was dying. Her unhappy spouse moved around her incessantly, his
attention and tender cares redoubled. He even tried to open her beak to
give her some nourishment. He ran to her, then returned with a troubled
and agitated look. At intervals, he uttered the most plaintive cries;
then, with his eyes fixed on her, kept a mournful silence. At length his
companion breathed her last; from that moment he pined away, and died in
the course of a few weeks.'"

Moreover, care of animals for other animals shows itself often where
neither the relation of parent to offspring, nor the relation of sex,
nor even that of species, furnishes the basis. Aside from the friendship
and self-sacrifice of domestic animals for man, friendships, under
domestication, between individuals of all manner of ordinarily most
hostile species are reported. Such friendship is not at all infrequent
between dog and cat. In the family of a relative of my own were once a
quail and cat who were most devoted to each other. They would spend
hours playing together, and were often left alone together for long
periods. The cat never manifested any tendency to regard the bird in the
light of food; she seemed, however, well aware of the danger it might be
under from other cats, and invariably drove these away when they
endeavored to approach the house. This cat was also friendly to a tame
robin which preceded the quail as pet in the same family.

And furthermore, assistance is frequently given spontaneously where
there has been no association before the act. There are a number of
instances on record, and supported by good authority, where dogs have
brought suffering individuals of their own kind to places where they had
themselves received aid. Romanes cites from Mr. Oswald Fitch the story
of a domestic cat who "was observed to take out some fish-bones from the
house to the garden, and, being followed, was seen to have placed them
in front of a miserably thin and evidently hungry stranger cat, who was
devouring them; not satisfied with that, our cat returned, procured a
fresh supply, and repeated its charitable offer, which was apparently as
gratefully accepted. This act of benevolence over, our cat returned to
its customary dining-place, the scullery, and ate its own dinner off the
remainder of the bones."[146] Romanes says further: "An almost precisely
similar case has been independently communicated to me by Dr. Allen
Thomson, F.R.S. The only difference was that Dr. Thomson's cat drew the
attention of the cook to the famishing stranger outside by pulling her
dress and leading her to the place. When the cook supplied the hungry
cat with some food, the other one paraded round and round while the meal
was being discussed, purring loudly." "Mr. H. A. Macpherson writes me
that in 1876 he had an old male cat and a kitten aged a few months. The
cat, who had long been a favorite, was jealous of the kitten and 'showed
considerable aversion to it.' One day the floor of a room in the
basement of the house was taken up in order to repair some pipes. The
day after the boards had been replaced, the cat 'entered the kitchen (he
lived almost wholly on the drawing-room floor above), rubbed against the
cook, and mewed without ceasing until he had engaged her attention. He
then, by running to and fro, drew her to the room in which the work had
taken place. The servant was puzzled until she heard a faint mew from
beneath her feet. On the boards being lifted, the kitten emerged safe
and sound, though half-starved. The cat watched the proceedings with the
greatest interest until the kitten was released; but, on ascertaining
that it was safe, he at once left the room, without evincing any
pleasure at its return. Nor did he subsequently become really friendly
with it.'"

I cite still one other instance of animal affection from Romanes: "One
of a shooting-party under a banian tree killed a female monkey, and
carried it to his tent, which was soon surrounded by forty or fifty of
the tribe, who made a great noise and seemed disposed to attack the
aggressor. They retreated when he presented his fowling-piece, the
dreadful effect of which they had witnessed, and appeared perfectly to
understand. The head of the troop, however, stood his ground, chattering
furiously; the sportsman, who perhaps felt some little degree of
compunction for having killed one of the family, did not like to fire at
the creature, and nothing short of firing would suffice to drive him
off. At length he came to the door of the tent, and finding threats of
no avail, began a lamentable moaning and by the most expressive gesture
seemed to beg for the dead body. It was given him; he took it
sorrowfully in his arms and bore it away to his expecting companions.
They who were witnesses of this extraordinary scene resolved never again
to fire at one of the monkey race."[147]

As to the changeable and capricious appearance of the assistance
rendered in animal associations, by one member to another, it may be
said that any being of a different species who could look into our towns
and cities might easily find as great problems of caprice here as among
the ants and bees. We, too, leave our fellows to perish unaided; we,
too, kill off, by neglect and hard usage, often not only or chiefly our
drones, but even some of our most industrious, useful members of
society. With us, too, there is very often greater hostility towards
enemies than kindness towards friends. Many savage tribes, that we
certainly concede to be endowed with intelligence, could learn of the
ants, rather than teach them, with regard to the duties of mutual aid.
With regard to other species than his own, even so-called civilized man
is often eminently selfish and cruel. Among the savages the most extreme
cruelty is often shown. Bain, in an essay entitled "Is there Such a
Thing as Pure Malevolence?" cites from a book, "Siberian Pictures,"
together with mention of the pleasure shown by onlookers in the drowning
of a man, an instance where boys seemed to find a genuine and peculiar
delight in slowly roasting a dog to death.[148] And Bruce describes in
his travels the feasts of the Abyssinians, where the flesh was cut from
an ox alive and bellowing with pain. But our police courts frequently
bear witness to the possibility of the most wanton cruelty performed by
people within our own most enlightened societies, although we may claim
that cruelty is not so general in civilized societies. I personally have
known of a case where, a horse becoming suddenly ill and falling upon
the road, it was prodded by its owner with a pitchfork until it died of
its wounds; and of another case where a man fastened to a tree a
harmless kitten that had wandered into his yard, and deliberately stoned
it to death. Surely we have very little right to criticise the slaughter
of animals by other species, while we ourselves name the taking of life
"sport." Our criticism of the play of the cat with the mouse as "cruel"
is humorous--if there can be any humor connected with cruelty--as long
as we ourselves find delight in the prolonged struggle of the trout and
the torture of the fox-chase. Perhaps the cat may be under the
impression that the mouse takes pleasure in being played with; certainly
we can believe that this is possible, when beings who claim to possess
so much higher intelligence can gravely assert that the fox enjoys the

Amongst so-called civilized human beings, too, the care of parents for
offspring is by no means universal, and mothers are known whom not even
the fear of the law can hinder from sacrificing their children by the
slow torture of starvation for the gain of a few pounds or for even
simple relief from the trouble of their rearing. The reports of the
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children show that not
strangers but parents are the most frequent sinners against the child.
Nor is infanticide and neglect confined to the poorer classes. I repeat,
if a being of some other species enabled to obtain only such external
knowledge of us as we have of other species, some being beholding us,
for instance, from distant planets, should endeavor to form a theory of
our inner egoism and altruism, of sentiment and motive, he might be as
puzzled as we are when we study the conduct of bees and ants. Even the
helplessness of the ant species, _Polyergus rufescens_, at which we
often wonder as stupidity, has its parallel in some of the former
slave-owners of the southern states of North America, who live in the
utmost poverty and ignorance because they have lost the habits of
industry and consider work beneath them. Mother-love is certainly the
rule amongst us; but it is not more constant or self-sacrificing than
with some other species, though it, in general, accompanies the child
farther in his career. This rule is not, however, universal. Human
mothers of a lower type, who show fondness for their children when they
are little, often exhibit little or none for them after they have grown
out of arms.

It is claimed that altruism was, in its origin, egoism. Everything
depends, in theory on this point, on our definition of the terms
"origin" and "altruism." If we regard the life of animals in general or
the life of any particular species as having been non-social before it
was social, and as having become social through increase of numbers, the
"chance" association which arose naturally in this way being favored by
natural selection, we must assume function fundamentally advantageous to
self without regard to the results to other beings to have been primary,
whether or not we call this function egoism. With regard to animal life
in general, we cannot avoid adopting some such view as this, since we
find few species forming lasting bonds of association, a large number
forming only exceedingly short ones, and some forming none at all, and
since we must furthermore suppose a scarcity of living individuals to
have preceded their multiplicity. Moreover, we cannot suppose
consciousness to have been absent, in the case of many of the animal
species, during the whole of this development. And where there is
consciousness, pleasure must be a concomitant along the line of
development, and customary forms of action come to present ends, whether
or not the individual has the abstract concept of "ends."

But we need to remember that even the human race has not yet arrived at
perfection, and that even moral altruism (for not all altruism is
necessarily moral) is not yet absolutely attained in any species. Our
ordinary use of the term is progressive; that which is altruistic at one
period of history is often looked upon, at a later period, as merely a
higher form of egoism. This fact should be borne in mind when, in Ethics
or Political Economy, we inquire whether man was, in the beginning,
altruistic. What do we mean here by "altruism," and what by "beginning"?
A similar criticism may be made on the rather more usual question as to
whether man was, in the beginning, social; what is the beginning of our
species, and what degree of association is necessary in order that the
individuals associating may be termed "social"? The question is a
difficult one to answer from any point of view. While the majority of
human beings, even the most savage, show some degree of gregariousness,
there appear to be some tribes that are even less social in their habits
than the most of our ape-cousins. Mr. Dalton says of the savages of
Inner Borneo that they live in the most perfect state of nature, do not
cultivate the earth or live in huts, do not eat either rice or salt, and
do not associate with each other, but wander like wild animals in the
forest. "The sexes meet in the jungle, or the man carries away a woman
from some campong. When the children are old enough to shift for
themselves, they usually separate, neither one afterwards thinking of
the other."[149]

As to just what form the development of altruism from egoism may have
assumed in the case of any particular species, or how the individuals of
the species may first have been led to association, the state of science
does not, at present, enable us to say. Most authors, indeed, incline to
class all social development as having its origin in some one form of
family relation. Rolph, for instance, refers it to the necessary
association of the sexes, at certain times, for the purpose of
copulation. Others regard the care of the female for its young as the
primary form from which all social organization has developed. Inasmuch,
however, as the line of ascent from primitive protoplasm to man cannot
be regarded as straight, but has very many branches, it is quite
conceivable that the development may have taken place in different ways
in different branches or different species; and the very various forms
which social organization shows in different species is direct evidence
in favor of such a supposition. Thus it is not, for instance, in some
species, the mother animal, but the male, who cares for the young, and
again, in other cases, affectionate relations of the sexes are not a
prominent feature of the social structure. The attitude of a swarm of
bees towards the queen, her progeny, and the drones, presents aspects
entirely different from those of ant-nests or human tribal or state
organization. In some species where the female exhibits considerable
care and concern for her eggs or offspring, there is no especial
friendliness between the sexes, and in other cases, where no care is
given to offspring, there is still apparently some degree of
friendliness, or at least of physical attraction, between male and
female. It is not only conceivable that the habit of association may
have been developed by different means in different species, but it is
also conceivable that, in some cases, several forms of family relation
may have assisted equally, and in other cases have united, even if not
in equal measure, in producing the result. The association of parent
with offspring, for instance, is in most cases impossible without some
degree of association between the offspring.

However we may suppose social relations to have originated in the case
of any particular species, whether through the sexual or the parental
relations or through both combined, and whether we trace these relations
themselves back, in the one instance, to the original union of the sexes
in the individual, and propagation as self-division, in the other to the
unity of mother and offspring before the individual life commences, or
whether we simply begin with some non-hostile contact of individuals as
already existent, it is evident that, with increasing competition,
coöperation must be to the advantage of those coöperating. Those
individuals whose single strength is supplemented by the aid of others
must succeed best in the struggle for existence. Moreover, with the
exercise of altruistic forms of action, we must suppose pleasure in its
exercise to increase, in so far as we suppose any consciousness at all
in the animal performing the action. The greater the degree of exercise,
the greater the pleasure connected with the action, and the more readily
the organism will respond to conditions permitting its accomplishment;
while repetition, again, must increase tendency to repetition. This is
true not only of exactly the same form of action, but also of similar
forms, that is, of forms having some like elements. The conditions of
action are never exactly the same; the environment is continually
changing; but the animal tends to choose, among possible forms of
action, that which corresponds most nearly to most exercised and
pleasurable forms.

At just what period we are to regard the altruistic forms of action as
becoming in spirit altruistic depends, as has already been said, on our
definition of the degree of disinterested feeling necessary to altruism
proper, aside from our theories of the existence and form of
consciousness in the case of any particular species at any particular
point of development. In the case of even disinterested human action,
the altruism is not generally, or at least in very many cases, wholly
unmixed with _any_ thought of self, though this thought may not hold
first place. If self-sacrifice be the test of altruistic feeling, then
we must suppose the latter to exist, in some relations, even far down in
the scale of being. In this case, just as in other cases where choice is
necessary, the stronger tendency conquers even with the result of pain
of disappointment in some other direction. The case of altruistic action
is hence not unique in this respect, and it might perhaps be argued that
such self-sacrifice would therefore be possible without any
consideration or consciousness of the good accruing to others through
its performance. But if we analyze the development of any habit, we find
that the pleasure of the act speedily connects itself with all the
constant results of the act that come within the experience of the
performer of the act and are recognized as its results. Any result at
first unpleasant must, if it is constant, either lead to the
discontinuance of the act or else, with time, lose much of its quality
of unpleasantness. Either the expected pain of this one factor is
sufficient to counterbalance the pleasure awaited in the act, and a
repetition of the act is thus avoided, or, as in all other cases of
habitual experience, the pain or discomfort gradually diminishes, until,
if the habit be long enough continued, pleasure takes its place. The
pleasure of others must be a constant result of action that secures
their welfare, and if this result comes within the conscious experience
of the performer of the action, we can scarcely avoid supposing that,
even if his action is in the beginning purely selfish, the pleasure of
those benefited must come in time to play a part in the pleasure of the
performer. The part it plays will not be, in the beginning, naturally, a
very important one, but its importance will increase with time. If this
is true in a measure even of the individual, it is doubly true of the
species. Wherever, therefore, we may suppose the existence of sufficient
intelligence for the inference of pleasure from its outer signs in
others, it must be admitted to be possible and even probable that
constant habits of self-sacrifice and helpfulness to others will be
accompanied by some measure of altruistic feeling. And even if we
suppose an insufficiency of intelligence for such inference, it is still
possible and even probable that the constant symptoms of pleasure in
others will come to be a part of the conditions of the pleasure of the
individual or the species in whom habits of self-sacrifice have become
constant, although their inner significance is not recognized. It may be
objected that, if actual altruistic feeling were present in animals
which show a certain amount of helpfulness towards others of their
kind, this altruism would not desert these others at the very time of
their greatest need or when any great peril to self is involved, or that
it would show itself in many other acts than just those which, as in the
case of the ants, secure the preservation of a society, or in that of
some other species give a certain protection to the female during
breeding time. The argument is wholly inconclusive, and has already been
answered. The action of natural selection in the preservation of those
forms of tendency that secure the preservation of the species does not
annul the action of the will or render the presence of strong emotion in
the direction of the tendency thus preserved impossible; on the
contrary, we must suppose all tendency, in man equally with other animal
species, to be the result of natural selection. And in man, too,
altruism that is sufficient for some degree of sacrifice is insufficient
for a greater. In man, as in other species, altruistic feeling and
altruistic action vary according to the particular directions in which
habit in the species and in the individual has been cultivated. Men and
women who are not kind to each other will frequently be kind to little
children. The average Englishman is kind to his dog in spite of his
total indifference to the pain inflicted on the very nearly if not quite
as intelligent fox; and he will grow indignant to the verge of tears
over abuse of a horse, while he will regard the like abuse with little
or no emotion when it is inflicted on a miserable donkey. I doubt if the
average Englishman would shoot horses or dogs, even if they were good
for food and useless otherwise, and abounded wild in Great Britain. But
this is merely because association and habit have made him acquainted
with the capacity of feeling in the horse and dog, and have accustomed
him to humane treatment of them.

An argument sometimes advanced against the theory of a derivation of
altruism from egoism is that such altruism has no premises or reasons;
if, say the advocates of this argument, a man performs an apparently
altruistic act to-day from selfish motives, and performs the same act
to-morrow without calculation of the benefit to self to be gained from
it,--if such a change were possible,--then this man must simply have
forgotten his motives for the act. But this is not altruism proper. Such
action is the result of a logical confusion, but it can never be
altruism. Altruism proper has a motive, and this motive is the desire to
do good to others. With regard to this argument it may simply be said
that it is wholly untenable from any evolutionist standpoint; it
destroys at once the possibility of any moral progress. Intended to
defend altruism and moral principle in general from what is designated
as degradation, it is itself degrading in its denial of the
compatibility of natural and moral advance. It posits the assertion that
nothing can ever become that which it was not from the beginning, an
assertion utterly inconsistent with any theory of growth, whether
evolutional or otherwise. It is contradictory, too, of the directly
observed every-day facts of individual experience. The ends with which
we perform our acts, and the same acts, certainly change from day to
day. The adult would have reason for shame were the ends with which he
performs certain acts the same with those with which he performed those
same acts when he was a child. The emotions with which we regard life
and its various relations alter every day. If the change from egoism to
altruism could be pronounced logical confusion, then all mental
evolution must constitute an increase of intellectual disorder, a
continuous progress towards less instead of greater intelligence. Where
is the beginning of feeling and what was feeling in the beginning? Of
what nature were the motives of our ape-like progenitors, and of what
nature the first motive that appeared in the universe? and how have we
ever arrived at the possession of other motives than these? What a
confusion worse confounded must be our present motives, and of what a
chaos of thought and emotion must the human intellect consist! The
origin of any such argument as this, intended to disprove the theory of
a derivation of altruism from egoism, is probably in the failure to
distinguish the fact that both altruism and egoism, as we know them, are
comparative, not absolute. Naturally, absolute altruism could not
develop immediately from absolute egoism, that is, the one could not
change immediately into the other. But there are very few human beings
in whom some degree of altruism does not exist; and all we may note
directly of change of motive in ourselves, as well as all we ever could
note of change in external action in other species, is gradual increase
in this direction. In the individual case it is quite possible for
change to take place in the opposite direction of the development of
greater egoism.

In connection with the discussion of the development of motives, we may
inquire what is the final end of action; I refer not to the ideal end
but the actual end, although the two are not always distinguished in the
answer to this question. The confusion of the two generally arises from
forgetfulness of the fact that an end is the part of the result of an
act particularly willed by the performer. The concept is again a
teleological one, although often advanced, in some form, by persons of
materialistic views. Thus some authors, looking at the process of
evolution as continual survival of the fittest, and observing that
natural selection thus tends continually towards health, so that the
action of existing species is, in a large and ever increasing measure,
favorable to health, assert that the latter is the end of action.
Others, in like manner and from similar premises, argue that the
preservation of the species is the end of action; or sometimes the
logical inaccuracy involved in making health or the preservation of
species the universal end of action is partly concealed by giving the
assertion the form that one or the other of these is "the end attained"
by action. To these statements may be answered: The health of the
individual, although it sometimes appears as the end willed, is by no
means the constant and universal end, but, on the contrary, rather an
infrequent end. As to the preservation of the species, the concept has
never been heard of by a majority of human beings, and a thing cannot be
an end to those who have not heard of it. It is doubtful, moreover,
whether even those to whom it is familiar often, if ever, make it the
end of action. With regard to pleasure, it has already been said that
special calculation of the pleasure to accrue to self is by no means a
necessary part of the motive to action. Attention may again be called to
the fact that it is not the future pleasure that decides the will to
action in the case of struggle of conflicting tendencies, but that it is
the more pleasurable representation, and that it is present pleasure
which decides in any case. Or, rather, it is not the pleasure, the
feeling alone, that decides, for feeling is never found alone; it is
always combined with thought-images. The strength of pleasurable feeling
is the "tone" in which the intensity of the function manifests itself,
and according to which it tends to further expression in action. In the
imagination of action and its results, or the thought of it, reflection
may linger especially on any one of its elements,--on any part of the
action or its results as inferred from the analogy of past experience;
the pleasure to self is not necessarily the element on which the mind
lays stress, and the pleasure to others may be the element with which
thought is particularly occupied and which turns the scale of choice;
just as, also, in the actual action and its results, the pleasure in
pleasure or benefit accruing to others may more than counterbalance the
pain which some other inevitable phase of the action or its results
brings with it.

Much that has been said of the development of egoism from altruism still
holds true of the individual, even if the idea of a progress in altruism
through heredity be surrendered. The consideration of the question of
heredity is, however, necessary to any complete or wide-reaching theory
of moral progress. Hitherto, the actuality of the inheritance of
altruistic tendency has been assumed on the strength of previous
considerations with regard to heredity in general, according to which we
could not conceive all the multifarious differences which appear in all
the species and varieties of animal nature to have been present in
simplest primal organisms, or all the differences of the different
species and varieties which have arisen through sexual propagation from
common ancestors to have been present as inherent potentialities in the
germ-plasm, as such, of their common ancestors, and so cannot consider
the lesser variations which go to make up the larger ones as due merely
to the germ-plasm. It remains for us to examine the facts more
particularly with respect to this special form of tendency. Stephen
says: "An unreasoning animal can only adapt itself to new circumstances,
except within a very narrow range, by acquiring a new organization; or,
in other words, by becoming a different animal. Its habits and instincts
may therefore remain fixed through countless generations. But man, by
accumulating experiences, can virtually alter both his faculties and his
surroundings without altering his organization. When this accumulation
extends beyond the individual, it implies a social development, and
explains the enormous changes wrought within historical times, and which
define the difference between the savage and the civilized man."[150]
"Briefly, society exists as it exists in virtue of this organization,
which is as real as the organization of any material instrument, though
it depends upon habits and instincts instead of arrangements of tangible
and visible objects."[151] "Children, no doubt, start with infinitely
varying aptitudes for moral culture, as they start with stomachs of
varying strength of digestion; but, in every case, the action of the
social medium is an essential factor of the result."[152] Now, in the
first place, objection may be made to the term "unreasoning animal," in
that, whatever we may think with regard to inorganic matter and
plant-life or even with regard to the lower forms of animal-life, the
whole theory of evolution is opposed to the supposition that reason
suddenly arises in man; and in that we have, moreover, in the case of
many of the higher species, very conclusive evidence of the presence of
some degree of reason. Mr. Stephen does not elsewhere make any positive
assertion of the entire absence of reason in animals; yet to his remark
that "It may be that germs of this capacity [_i.e._ the capacity to
learn by experience and impart this knowledge to others] are to be found
in the lower animals" he adds, "but we shall make no sensible error if
we regard it, as it has always been regarded, as the exclusive
prerogative of humanity."[153] That is, we make no sensible error if we
regard the progress of other animal species than our own to be wholly
"organic," that of our own species, on the other hand, to be wholly an
accumulation of common knowledge. The division between man and the rest
of the animal kingdom is thus made a very distinct and absolute line. It
may be noticed, second, that the third quotation of the three cited
consecutively above contains a very different statement from that of the
first quotation. And it may be said, third, that the second quotation,
while seeming to bear out the first, is in reality a contradiction of
it, since it makes social organization dependent upon "habits" and

Exactly what is it that is meant by the alteration of organization which
is pronounced unnecessary to the "virtual" alteration of human
faculties? From the modern spiritualistic, the materialistic, the
positivistic, or any modern standpoint at all, it is difficult to
perceive how mental alteration can be supposed without the assumption of
an exactly corresponding physiological change. In view of the
exceedingly minute structure of the nervous system, which is chiefly
affected by such change, we may suppose this change to be so fine as to
be imperceptible to sense-perception, but, since it must, in any case,
be exactly coördinate with the psychical change, I fail to see how we
can scientifically regard the one and at the same time ignore the other
and pronounce it of no significance. And if we suppose any fixation of
psychical alteration, we cannot avoid likewise supposing an exactly
coördinate fixation of physiological alteration. Of course the question
remains as to the extent to which fixation takes place in either case,
and this question we have yet to consider. The weakness of Mr. Stephen's
position lies in his assumption of fixation on the one side and his
denial of it on the other.

How far are the moral qualities acquired in one generation inherited by
the next? Inasmuch as all development is by inappreciable increments,
all change of organization gradual, or, in psychical terms, inasmuch as
character varies only slowly from the grooves of established habit,
there is a general truth in the statement that all habit prominent
enough to be noticed as such can generally be traced farther back than
the next generation only. Nevertheless, here are a few cases for the

"Gall speaks of a Russian family in which the father and grandfather had
died prematurely, the victims of taste for strong drink. The grandson,
at the age of five, manifested the same liking in the highest degree."

"Trélat, in his work 'Folie Lucide,' states that a lady of regular life
and economical habits was subject to fits of uncontrollable dipsomania.
Loathing her state, she called herself a miserable drunkard, and mixed
the most disgusting substances with her wine, but all in vain; the
passion was stronger than her will. The mother and the uncle of this
lady had also been subject to dipsomania."

"Charles X----, son of an eccentric and intemperate father, manifested
instincts of great cruelty from infancy. He was sent at an early age to
various schools, but was expelled from them all. Being forced to enlist
in the army, he sold his uniform for drink and only escaped a sentence
of death on the testimony of physicians, who declared that he was the
victim of an irresistible appetite. He was placed under restraint, and
died of general paralysis."

"A man belonging to the educated class, and charged with important
functions, succeeded for a long time in concealing his alcoholic habits
from the eyes of the public; his family were the only sufferers by it.
He had five children, only one of whom lived to maturity. Instincts of
cruelty were manifested in this child, and from an early age its sole
delight was to torture animals in every conceivable way. He was sent to
school, but could not learn. In the proportions of the head he
presented the character of microcephalism, and in the field of
intellectual acquisition he could only reach a certain low stage, beyond
which further progress was impossible. At the age of nineteen he had to
be sent to an asylum for the insane."

"A man of an excellent family of laboring people was early addicted to
drink, and died of chronic alcoholism, leaving seven children. The first
two of these died, at an early age, of convulsions. The third became
insane at twenty-two, and died an idiot. The fourth, after various
attempts at suicide, fell into the lowest grade of idiocy. The fifth, of
passionate and misanthropic temper, broke off all relations with his
family. His sister suffers from nervous disorder, which chiefly takes
the form of hysteria, with intermittent attacks of insanity. The
seventh, a very intelligent workman, but of nervous temperament, freely
gives expression to the gloomiest forebodings as to his intellectual

"Dr. Morel gives the history of a family living in the Vosges, in which
the great-grandfather was a drunkard, and died from the effects of
intoxication; and the grandfather, subject to the same passion, died a
maniac. He had a son far more sober than himself, but subject to
hypochondria and of homicidal tendencies; the son of this latter was
stupid, idiotic. Here we see, in the first generation, alcoholic excess;
in the second, hereditary dipsomania; in the third, hypochondria; and in
the fourth, idiocy and probable extinction of the race."[154]

It is the general testimony of authorities that mental disease may thus
appear in one generation as general tendency to excess, in another as
homicidal mania, in another as microcephalism, etc. Here we have
examples of the hereditary character of what we recognize as nervous
disease, which yet has its moral as well as its intellectual side. There
are few who do not recognize the power of the parent, through injury to
his own health, to affect the health of his children; and yet that which
we call disease is not more physical than that which we call moral
characteristic. However, the physical side of that which we call normal
moral characteristic is more withdrawn from observation; that which is
recognized as mental disease forms, in this respect, a link between what
we term ill-health and mental characteristic. The physical features of
what we term ill-health attract our attention especially because of the
weakness and incapacity or the distinct physical pain involved; the
physical side of insanity comes also more or less distinctly to our
notice, but the physical accompaniments of normal characteristic attract
less attention. And yet all these three conditions have each a psychical
and each a physiological side. It is therefore difficult to understand
how the possibility of the inheritance of ill-health from want or excess
can be acknowledged and yet the possibility of the inheritance of
psychical characteristic acquired by the parent be doubted; the latter
has its organic side as much as the former. And no better illustration
of this fact can be found than in just such cases as those above cited,
where that which appears in the first place as mere excess, that is,
moral characteristic as we ordinarily term it, takes finally the form of
microcephalism, idiocy, or insanity.

Man's early existence as an individual is distinguished by the length of
duration of a condition of helplessness, at the beginning of which,
beyond the fundamental so-called organic action, only a few simple
activities manifest themselves. The human being is born with almost
everything to acquire, and the earlier years, during which habits are
slowly accumulating, appear peculiarly adaptive or formative. The human
child is peculiarly susceptible, as regards mental and moral
acquirements, to the nature of his surroundings. But this fact does not
necessarily mean any more than what Stephen asserts in the last of the
three quotations above cited, namely, that the social medium is an
essential factor of the result; it does not necessarily exclude the
inheritance of moral or immoral tendency acquired under civilization or
even by near ancestors. Even in cases of the inheritance of the most
extreme passion for alcohol, we cannot suppose that the taste would ever
have manifested itself, had alcohol never come within the reach of the
inheriting individual. The young kitten that has never tasted meat will
snatch at a piece as soon as it scents it; but we cannot suppose that
the evidently inherited taste for flesh would ever appear, did flesh
never come within the range of its sense-perception. Since a suitable
environment must always be conceived as essential to the development
even of the most inveterate inherited qualities, and since man's mental
and especially his moral superiority has been developed in connection
with social conditions, it is conceivable that, these conditions
failing, his mental and moral development may show a lack coördinate
with the degree of such failure. And here is an answer to those who, in
contesting the theory of any moral inheritance, state their views in the
final form that if any inheritance at all can be claimed, it can only be
as a certain degree of readiness in responding to the conditions of
civilization; _no_ inheritance can ever be anything more than this; the
existence, to a sufficient degree, of complementary conditions in the
environment is always necessary to the development of tendency. It is,
therefore, conceivable that the child of civilized parents of a higher
type of morality, if carried off, in infancy, by savages, might fail to
exhibit the high character of its parents, just as it is conceivable and
more than probable that it would fail to exhibit their higher
intellectual gifts. It is also conceivable that the child of moral
parentage may inherit the capacity of high moral development and yet
fall into crime, if circumstances afford him no education save that of
association with hardened criminals. We might only with reason expect to
find, in the case of the supposed child abducted by savages, a certain
mental acuteness applied to savage affairs and some greater degree of
humane feeling, dominated, however, by savage conceptions; as also
greater ease in the acquirement of civilized ideas and customs in case
of a return to higher surroundings before maturity; and we might only
expect to find, in the case of the child brought up among criminals, a
greater degree of that primitive honor and faithfulness which may exist
among criminals. Modern reformatories have testified to the possibility
of the redemption of a large number of criminals from their evil life,
but they have shown, nevertheless, that there is a lust of cupidity, a
love of meanness, and an animality from which rescue is almost if not
quite impossible. The reaction of men whose past opportunities have been
about equal, upon effort for their reform, exhibits also very different
degrees of readiness. The testimony of reformatories for the young is
especially of worth on this point; and I once heard Mrs. Mary A.
Livermore, whose interest in reformatories and prisons is well known,
describe the faces of many of the children to be found in a certain
institution of this sort, as bearing fearful witness to the fact that
they had been "mortgaged to the devil before they were born." I remember
a number of cases cited by the matron of a certain orphan asylum showing
that children taken from their home at too early an age to have learned
the sins of their parents by imitation may yet repeat those sins. Out of
three children of the same parents, the one of whom was a drunkard and
prostitute, the other a thief, one developed, at a very early age, a
tendency to dishonesty, another an extreme morbid eroticism, and the
third child appeared to have escaped the evil inheritance; but he was
still very young when I last heard of him. The two children did not
exhibit these evil traits at their entrance to the home, but developed
them later.

And here it may be noticed that the fact of the unformed character of
the infant does not prove that the tendencies which make their
appearance in later life are wholly the result of the environment. It
has been remarked by biologists and pathologists that inherited
characteristics tend to appear at an age corresponding to that at which
they appeared in the progenitor. The caterpillar does not undergo
metamorphosis with a less regularity because it is not, in the
beginning, a butterfly, and the beard does not the less appear in the
adult human male because he was not born bearded. Diseases of the brain
often develop, for several generations, at nearly the same age, and
there seems to be no reason why we should not suppose the like to be
true in the case of many normal characteristics. Ribot cites from
Voltaire the following case: "'I have with my own eyes,' he writes,
'seen a suicide that is worthy of the attention of physicians. A
thoughtful professional man, of mature age, of regular habits, having no
strong passions, and beyond the reach of want, committed suicide on the
17th of October, 1769, leaving behind him, addressed to the council of
his native city, an apology for his voluntary death, which it was not
thought advisable to publish, lest men should be encouraged to quit a
life whereof so much evil is spoken. So far there is nothing
extraordinary, since instances of this kind are everywhere to be found;
but here is the astonishing feature of the case: his father and his
brother had committed suicide at the same age as himself. What hidden
disposition of mind, what sympathy, what concurrence of physical laws,
caused this father and his two sons to perish by their own hand and by
the same form of death, just when they had acquired the same year of
their age?'"[155] Ribot continues:--

"Since Voltaire's day, the history of mental disease has registered a
great number of similar facts. They abound in Gall, Esquirol, Moreau of
Tours, and in all the writers on insanity. Esquirol knew a family in
which the grandmother, mother, daughter, and grandson, committed
suicide. 'A father of taciturn disposition,' says Falret, 'had five
sons. The eldest, at the age of forty, threw himself out of a
third-story window; the second strangled himself at the age of
thirty-five; the third threw himself out of a window; the fourth shot
himself; a cousin of theirs drowned himself for a trifling cause. In the
Oroten family, the oldest in Teneriffe, two sisters were affected with
suicidal mania, and their brother, grandfather, and two uncles, put an
end to their own lives.'... The point which excited Voltaire's surprise,
viz. the heredity of suicide at a definite age, has been often noticed:
'M. L----, a monomaniac,' says Moreau of Tours, 'put an end to his life
at the age of thirty. His son had hardly attained the same age when he
was attacked with the same monomania, and made two attempts at suicide.
Another man, in the prime of life, fell into a melancholy state and
drowned himself; his son, of good constitution, wealthy, and the father
of two gifted children, drowned himself at the same age. A wine-taster
who had made a mistake as to the quality of a wine threw himself into
the water in a fit of desperation. He was rescued, but afterwards
accomplished his purpose. The physician who had attended him ascertained
that this man's father and one of his brothers had committed suicide at
the same age and in the same way.'...

"A woman named Olhaven fell ill of a serious disorder, which obliged her
to wean her daughter, six weeks old. This complaint of the mother began
by an irresistible desire to kill her child. This purpose was discovered
in season to prevent it. She was next seized with a violent fever which
utterly blotted the fact from her memory, and she afterwards proved a
most devoted mother to her daughter. This daughter, become a mother in
her turn, took two children to nurse. For some days she had suffered
from fatigue and from 'movements in the stomach,' when one evening as
she was in her room with the infants, one of them on her lap, she was
suddenly seized by a strong desire to cut its throat. Alarmed by the
horrible temptation, she ran from the spot with the knife in her hand,
and sought in singing, dancing, and sleep, a refuge from the thoughts
that haunted her. Hardly had she fallen asleep when she started up, her
mind filled with the same idea, which now was irresistible. She was,
however, controlled, and in a measure calmed. The homicidal delirium
recurred, and finally gave way, only after many remedies had been

These are only a few out of the many instances that might be given of
recurrence, at the same age or under the stimulation of similar
conditions, of so-called pathological states. Science has hitherto given
more study to such cases than to the inheritance of healthful
conditions, though the line between h