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Title: Ethics
Author: Tufts, James Hayden, 1862-1942, Dewey, John, 1859-1952
Language: English
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American Science Series



Professor of Philosophy in Columbia University


Professor of Philosophy in the University of Chicago


New York
Henry Holt and Company
London: George Bell and Sons

Copyright, 1908,
Henry Holt and Company


The significance of this text in Ethics lies in its effort to awaken
a vital conviction of the genuine reality of moral problems and the
value of reflective thought in dealing with them. To this purpose
are subordinated the presentation in Part I. of historic material;
the discussion in Part II. of the different types of theoretical
interpretation, and the consideration, in Part III., of some typical
social and economic problems which characterize the present.

Experience shows that the student of morals has difficulty in getting
the field objectively and definitely before him so that its problems
strike him as real problems. Conduct is so intimate that it is not easy
to analyze. It is so important that to a large extent the perspective
for regarding it has been unconsciously fixed by early training. The
historical method of approach has proved in the classroom experience of
the authors an effective method of meeting these difficulties. To follow
the moral life through typical epochs of its development enables
students to realize what is involved in their own habitual standpoints;
it also presents a concrete body of subject-matter which serves as
material of analysis and discussion.

The classic conceptions of moral theory are of remarkable importance in
illuminating the obscure places of the moral life and in giving the
student clues which will enable him to explore it for himself. But there
is always danger of either dogmatism or a sense of unreality when
students are introduced abruptly to the theoretical ideas. Instead of
serving as tools for understanding the moral facts, the ideas are
likely to become substitutes for the facts. When they are proffered
ready-made, their theoretical acuteness and cleverness may be admired,
but their practical soundness and applicability are suspected. The
historical introduction permits the student to be present, as it were,
at the social situations in which the intellectual instruments were
forged. He appreciates their relevancy to the conditions which provoked
them, and he is encouraged to try them on simple problems before
attempting the complex problems of the present. By assisting in their
gradual development he gains confidence in the ideas and in his power to
use them.

In the second part, devoted more specifically to the analysis and
criticism of the leading conceptions of moral theory, the aim
accordingly has not been to instill the notions of a school nor to
inculcate a ready-made system, but to show the development of theories
out of the problems and experience of every-day conduct, and to suggest
how these theories may be fruitfully applied in practical exigencies.
Aspects of the moral life have been so thoroughly examined that it is
possible to present certain principles in the confidence that they will
meet general acceptance. Rationalism and hedonism, for example, have
contributed toward a scientific statement of the elements of conduct,
even though they have failed as self-inclosed and final systems. After
the discussions of Kant and Mill, Sidgwick and Green, Martineau and
Spencer, it is possible to affirm that there is a place in the moral
life for reason and a place for happiness,--a place for duty and a place
for valuation. Theories are treated not as incompatible rival systems
which must be accepted or rejected _en bloc_, but as more or less
adequate methods of surveying the problems of conduct. This mode of
approach facilitates the scientific estimation and determination of the
part played by various factors in the complexity of moral life. The
student is put in a position to judge the problems of conduct for
himself. This emancipation and enlightenment of individual judgment is
the chief aim of the theoretical portion.

In a considerable part of the field, particularly in the political and
economic portions of Part III., no definitive treatment is as yet
possible. Nevertheless, it is highly desirable to introduce the student
to the examination of these unsettled questions. When the whole
civilized world is giving its energies to the meaning and value of
justice and democracy, it is intolerably academic that those interested
in ethics should have to be content with conceptions already worked out,
which therefore relate to what is least doubtful in conduct rather than
to questions now urgent. Moreover, the advantages of considering theory
and practice in direct relation to each other are mutual. On the one
hand, as against the _a priori_ claims of both individualism and
socialism, the need of the hour seems to us to be the application of
methods of more deliberate analysis and experiment. The extreme
conservative may deprecate any scrutiny of the present order; the ardent
radical may be impatient of the critical and seemingly tardy processes
of the investigator; but those who have considered well the conquest
which man is making of the world of nature cannot forbear the conviction
that the cruder method of trial and error and the time-honored method of
prejudice and partisan controversy need not longer completely dominate
the regulation of the life of society. They hope for a larger
application of the scientific method to the problems of human welfare
and progress. Conversely, a science which takes part in the actual work
of promoting moral order and moral progress must receive a valuable
reflex influence of stimulus and of test. To consider morality in the
making as well as to dwell upon values already established should make
the science more vital. And whatever the effect upon the subject-matter,
the student can hardly appreciate the full force of his materials and
methods as long as they are kept aloof from the questions which are
occupying the minds of his contemporaries.

Teachers who are limited in time will doubtless prefer to make their own
selections of material, but the following suggestions present one
possible line of choice. In Part I., of the three chapters dealing with
the Hebrew, Greek, and modern developments, any one may be taken as
furnishing an illustration of the method; and certain portions of
Chapter IX. may be found more detailed in analysis than is necessary for
the beginner. In Part II., Chapters XI.-XII. may be omitted without
losing the thread of the argument. In Part III., any one of the specific
topics--viz., the political state, the economic order, the family--may
be considered apart from the others. Some teachers may prefer to take
Parts in their entirety. In this case, any two may be chosen.

As to the respective shares of the work for which the authors are
severally responsible, while each has contributed suggestions and
criticisms to the work of the other in sufficient degree to make the
book throughout a joint work, Part I. has been written by Mr. Tufts,
Part II. by Mr. Dewey, and in Part III., Chapters XX. and XXI. are by
Mr. Dewey, Chapters XXII.-XXVI. by Mr. Tufts.

It need scarcely be said that no attempt has been made in the
bibliographies to be exhaustive. When the dates of publication of the
work cited are given, the plan has been in general to give, in the case
of current literature, the date of the latest edition, and in the case
of some classical treatises the date of original publication.

In conclusion, the authors desire to express their indebtedness to their
colleagues and friends Dr. Wright, Mr. Talbert, and Mr. Eastman, who
have aided in the reading of the proof and with other suggestions.


  CHAPTER                                                         PAGE

  I. INTRODUCTION                                                    1

    § 1. _Definition and Method_:--Ethical and moral, specific
    problem, 1; importance of genetic study, 3. § 2. _Criterion
    of the moral_:--The moral in cross section, the "what" and
    the "how," 5; the moral as growth, 8. § 3. _Divisions of the
    treatment_, 13.



  II. EARLY GROUP LIFE                                              17

    § 1. _Typical facts of group life_:--Primitive unity and
    solidarity, 17. § 2. _Kinship and household groups_:--The
    kinship group, 21; the family or household group, 23.
    § 3. _Kinship and family groups as economic and industrial
    units_:--The land and the group, 24; movable goods, 25.
    § 4. _Kinship and family groups as political bodies_:--Their
    control over the individual, 26; rights and responsibility, 27.
    § 5. _The kinship or household as a religious unit_:--Totem
    groups, 30; ancestral religion, 31. § 6. _Age and sex groups_,
    32. § 7. _Moral significance of the group_, 34.


    § 1. _Three levels of conduct_:--Conduct as instinctive and
    governed by primal needs, regulated by society's standards,
    and by personal standards, 37. § 2. _Rationalizing agencies_:
    Work, 40; arts and crafts, 41; war, 42. § 3. _Socializing
    agencies_:--Coöperation, 42; art, 45. § 4. _Family life
    as idealizing and socializing agency_, 47. § 5. _Moral
    interpretation of this first level_, 49.

  IV. GROUP MORALITY--CUSTOMS OR MORES                              51

    § 1. _Meaning, authority, and origin of customs_, 51.
    § 2. _Means of enforcing custom_:--Public approval, taboos,
    rituals, force, 54. § 3. _Conditions which render group
    control conscious_:--Educational customs, 57; law and
    justice, 59; danger or crisis, 64. § 4. _Values and defects
    of customary morality_:--Standards, motives, content,
    organization of character, 68.

  MORALITY                                                          73

    § 1. _Contrast and collision_, 73. § 2. _Sociological agencies
    in the transition_:--Economic forces, 76; science and the
    arts, 78; military forces, 80; religious forces, 81. § 3.
    _Psychological agencies_:--Sex, 81; private property, 83;
    struggles for mastery and liberty, 84; honor and esteem, 85.
    § 4. _Positive reconstruction_, 89.

  VI. THE HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENT                                  91

    § 1. _General character and determining principles_:--The
    Hebrew and the Greek, 91; Political and economic factors, 92.
    § 2. _Religious agencies_:--Covenant, 94; personal law-giver,
    95; cultus, 97; prophets, 99; the kingdom, 100. § 3. _Moral
    conceptions attained_:--Righteousness and sin, 102;
    responsibility, 104; purity of motive, 105; the ideal of
    "life," 107; the social ideal, 108.

  VII. THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE GREEKS                         111

    § 1. _The fundamental notes_:--Convention versus nature, 111;
    measure, 112; good and just, 113. § 2. _Intellectual forces of
    individualism_:--The scientific spirit, 114. § 3. _Commercial
    and political individualism_:--Class interests, 119; why obey
    laws? 122. § 4. _Individualism and ethical theory_:--The
    question formulated, 124; individualistic theories, 126. § 5.
    _The deeper view of nature and the good, of the individual and
    the social order_:--Aristotle on the natural, 127; Plato's
    ideal state, 129; passion or reason, 131; eudæmonism and the
    mean, 134; man and the cosmos, 135. § 6. _The conception of
    the ideal_:--Contrast with the actual, 136; ethical
    significance, 138. § 7. _The conception of the self, of
    character and responsibility_:--The poets, 138; Plato and the
    Stoics, 140.

  VIII. THE MODERN PERIOD                                          142

    § 1. _The mediæval ideals_:--Groups and class ideals, 143; the
    church ideal, 145. § 2. _Main lines of modern development_,
    147. § 3. _The old and new in the beginnings of
    individualism_, 149. § 4. _Individualism in the progress of
    liberty and democracy_:--Rights, 151. § 5. _Individualism as
    affected by the development of industry, commerce, and
    art_:--Increasing power and interests, 153; distribution of
    goods, 157; industrial revolution raises new problems, 159.
    § 6. _The individual and the development of intelligence_:--The
    Renaissance, 163; the Enlightenment, 165; the present
    significance of scientific method, 167.


    § 1. _Elements of agreement and continuity_:--Régime of custom,
    172; persistence of group morality, 173; origin of ethical
    terms, 175. § 2. _Elements of contrast_:--Differentiation
    of the moral, 177; observing _versus_ reflecting, 178; the
    higher law, 181; deepening of meaning, 182. § 3. _Opposition
    between individual and social aims and standards_:--Withdrawal
    from the social order, 184; individual emancipation, 186.
    § 4. _Effects upon the individual character_:--Increased
    possibilities of evil as well as of good, 187. § 5. _Moral
    differentiation and the social order_:--Effects on the family,
    193; on industry and government, 194; on religion, 195;
    general relation of religion to morality, 197.



  X. THE MORAL SITUATION                                           201

    Distinguishing marks of the moral situation, 201; Traits of
    voluntary activity, 202; The good and bad in non-voluntary
    behavior, 203; Indifferent voluntary conduct, 205; The moral
    is introduced when ends have conflicting values, 207;
    Selection then depends upon, and influences, the nature
    of the self, 209.

  XI. PROBLEMS OF MORAL THEORY                                     212

    Theory grows from practical problems, 212; Three typical
    problems of reflective practice, 213; Corresponding problems
    of theory, 214; Their historical sequence, 215; Growth of
    individualism, 220; The two types of individualism, 221.

  XII. TYPES OF MORAL THEORY                                       224

    § 1. _Typical divisions of theories_:--Teleological and
    jural, 224; individual and institutional, 225; empirical and
    intuitional, 226. § 2. _Division of voluntary activity into
    Inner and Outer_:--The "how" and the "what," 227; attitude
    and consequences, 228; different types of each theory, 229;
    bearing of each theory upon problems of knowledge and
    of control, 231. § 3. _General interpretation of these
    theories_:--Ordinary view of disposition and of consequences,
    232; advantages claimed for emphasis upon consequences, 234;
    for emphasis upon disposition or attitude, 236; necessity of
    reconciliation of these theories, 237.

  XIII. CONDUCT AND CHARACTER                                      240

    Problem of their relation, 240. § 1. _The good will of
    Kant_:--Emphasis upon motive, 241; motive with or without
    consequences, 242; necessity of effort, 243; overt action
    required to prove motive, 245. § 2. _The "Intention" of the
    Utilitarians_:--Emphasis upon consequences, 246; distinction
    of intention from motive, 247; they are really identical,
    248; motive as blind and as intelligent, 249; practical
    importance of insistence upon consequences, 251; foresight
    of consequences depends upon motive, 252. § 3. _Conduct and
    character_:--The nature of disposition, 254; partial and
    complete intention, 256; complexity of motives, 257. § 4.
    _Morality of acts and of agents_:--Subjective and objective
    morality, 259; the doer and his deed, 260; summary, 261.


    Residence and nature of goodness, 263; happiness as the
    good, 264; love of happiness as the evil, 265; ambiguity in
    conception of happiness, 266. § 1. _The Object of Desire_:--Is
    it pleasure? 269; desire presupposes instinctive appetites,
    270; and objects of thought, 271; happiness and desire, 272;
    need for standard, 274. § 2. _The Conception of Happiness as a
    Standard_:--Utilitarian method, 275; Difficulty of measuring
    pleasure, 276; character determines the value of a pleasure,
    277; Mill's introduction of quality of pleasure, 279. § 3.
    _The constitution of happiness_:--Pleasures depend upon
    objects, 281; they are qualitative, 282; they vary with
    disposition, 283; happiness as the moral good, 284.

  XV. HAPPINESS AND SOCIAL ENDS                                    286

    Utilitarianism aims at social welfare, 286; value as a theory
    of social reform, 287; its aim conflicts with its hedonistic
    theory of motive, 289; Bentham's method of reconciling
    personal and general happiness, 291; Mill's method, 293;
    sympathy and the social self, 298; the distinctively moral
    interest, 300; equation of virtue and happiness, 301; moral
    democracy, 303.


    § 1. _Problem of reason and desire_:--Nature of a reasonable
    act, 306; theories about moral knowledge, 307. § 2. _Kant's
    theory of practical reason_:--Traits of morality, 309; reason
    as _a priori_ and formal, 310; true meaning of generalization,
    313; the general and the social, 314. § 3. _Moral sense
    intuitionalism_:--Function of reason, 317; habit and sense,
    319; invalid intuitions, 321; deliberation and intuition, 322;
    the good man's judgment, 324. § 4. _The place of general
    rules_:--Their value, 325; casuistry, 326; and its dangers,
    327; secondary ends of utilitarianism, 329; empirical rules
    and customs, 330; distinction of rules and principles, 333;
    sympathy and reasonableness, 334.

  AUTHORITY                                                        337

    Conflict of the rational with the attractive end, 337. § 1.
    _The subjection of desire to law_, 339; cause of conflict of
    desire and thought, 342; demand for transformation of desire,
    343; social character of duties, 345; the social self is the
    "universal" self, 346. § 2. _Kantian theory_:--Accord with
    duty versus from duty, 346; the two-fold self of Kant, 347;
    criticism of Kant, 348; emphasis falls practically on
    political authority, 351; "Duty for duty's sake," 351.
    § 3. _The Utilitarian theory of duty_:--The hedonistic
    problem, 353; Moral sanctions, 354; they are too external,
    355; Bain's account, 356; Spencer's account, 358; such
    views set up a fictitious non-social self, 361. § 3. _Final
    statement_:--Growth requires disagreeable readjustments, 362.


    Problems regarding the self, 364. § 1. _The doctrine of
    self-denial_:--Explanation of its origin, 365; four objections
    to doctrine, 366. § 2. _Self-assertion_:--Ethical dualism, 369;
    "naturalistic" ethics, 369; false biological basis, 371;
    misinterprets nature of efficiency, 373. § 3. _Self-love
    and benevolence; or egoism and altruism_:--The "crux"
    of ethical speculation, 375; are all motives selfish? 376;
    ambiguity of term selfish, 377; are results selfish? 379;
    self-preservation, 380; rational regard for self, 382;
    regard for others, 384; the existence of "other-regarding"
    impulses, 385; altruism may be immoral, 387; social
    justice necessary to moral altruism, 389. § 4. _The
    good as self-realization_:--Self-realization an ambiguous
    idea, 391; true and false consideration of the self, 393;
    equation of personal and general happiness, 395.

  XIX. THE VIRTUES                                                 399

    Introductory--virtue defined, 399; natural ability and
    virtue, 400; evolution of virtues, 401; responsibility
    for moral judgment, 402; futility of cataloguing virtues,
    402; their cardinal aspects, 403. § 1. _Temperance_:--Greek,
    Roman, and Christian conceptions, 405; negative and positive
    aspects, 407; pleasure and excitement, 408. § 2. _Courage
    or persistent vigor_:--Dislike of the disagreeable, 410;
    "dimensions" of courage, 411; optimism and pessimism, 412.
    § 3. _Justice_:--Three meanings of, 414; justice and
    love, 415; justice and punishment, 416. § 4. _Wisdom or
    conscientiousness_:--Importance of intelligent interest, 418;
    Greek and modern ideas of moral wisdom, 419; ideals and
    thoughtfulness, 420; ideals and progress, 422.




    Object of discussion, 427. § 1. _Growth of individuality
    through social organizations_:--Emancipation from custom,
    428; double movement towards individuality and complex
    associations, 429; morality and legality, 432; two-fold
    contribution of social environment to individual morality,
    433; moral value of the state, 434. § 2. _Responsibility
    and freedom_:--Liability, 436; freedom as exemption and as
    power, 437; legal and moral freedom, 438. § 3. _Rights and
    obligations_:--Their definition, 439; they are correlative,
    440; physical rights, 442; limitations put upon them by war
    and punishment, 443; by poverty, 444; mental rights, 445;
    limitations to freedom of thought and expression, 446;
    education, 448.

  XXI. CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE POLITICAL STATE                       451

    § 1. _Civil rights and obligations_:--Their definition, 451;
    their classes, 452; significance of established remedies for
    wrongs, 454. § 2. _Development of civil rights_:--Contrast
    with savage age justice, 456; social harm versus metaphysical
    evil, 457; recognition of accident and intent, 459; of
    character and circumstances, 460; of mental incapacity, 462;
    significance of negligence and carelessness, 464; conflict of
    substantial and technical justice, 465; relations of the legal
    and moral, 467; reform of criminal procedure necessary, 468;
    also of punitive methods, 470; and of civil administration,
    471. § 3. _Political rights and obligations_:--Significance of
    the state, 473; distrust of government, 474; indifference to
    politics, 476; political corruption, 477; reform of partisan
    machinery, 478; of governmental machinery, 479; constructive
    social legislation, 480; a federated humanity, 481. § 4. _The
    moral criterion of political activity_:--Its statement, 482;
    the individualistic formula, 483; the collectivistic formula,

  XXII. THE ETHICS OF THE ECONOMIC LIFE                            486

    § 1. _General analysis_:--The economic in relation to
    happiness, 487; relation to character, 488; social aspects,
    491. § 2. _The problem set by the new economic
    order_:--Collective and impersonal organizations, 495;
    readjustments required, 496. § 3. _The agencies for carrying
    on commerce and industry_:--Early agencies, 497; the business
    enterprise, 498; the labor union, 499; reversion to group
    morality, 500; members and management, 500; employer and
    employed, 501; relations to the public, 502; to the law, 503.
    § 4. _The methods of production, exchange, and
    valuation_:--The machine, 507; basis of valuation, 508. § 5.
    _The factors which aid ethical reconstruction_:--Principles
    more easily seen, 511.


    1. Wealth subordinate to personality, 514. 2. Wealth and
    activity, 514. 3. Wealth and public service, 515. 4. A change
    demanded from individual to collective morality, 517. 5.
    Personal responsibility, 519. 6. Publicity and legal control,
    520. 7. Democracy and distribution, 521.


    § 1. _Individualism and socialism_:--General statement, 523;
    equal opportunity, 526. § 2. _Individualism or free contract
    analyzed; its values_:--Efficiency, 527; initiative, 527;
    regulation of production, 528. § 3. _Criticisms upon
    individualism_:--It does not secure real freedom, 528; nor
    justice, 530; competition tends to destroy itself, 531;
    position of the aristocratic individualists, 532.


    § 4. _The theory of public agency and control_, 536. § 5.
    _Society as agency of production_:--Charges against private
    management, 537; corruption, 538; conditions of labor, 540;
    collective agency not necessarily social, 544. § 6. _Theories
    of just distribution_:--Individualistic theory, 546; equal
    division, 547; a working programme, 548. § 7. _Ownership and
    use of property_:--Defects in the present system, 551. § 8.
    _Present tendencies_:--Individualistic character of the
    Constitution, 554; increased recognition of public welfare,
    555; social justice through economic, social, and scientific
    progress, 557. § 9. _Three special problems_:--The open versus
    the closed shop, 559; the capitalization of corporations, 561;
    the unearned increment, 564. Appendix: Prof. Seager's
    programme of social legislation, 566.

  XXVI. THE FAMILY                                                 571

    § 1. _Historical antecedents of the modern family_:--Maternal
    type, 572; paternal type, 572; influence of the church, 576.
    § 2. _The psychological basis of the family_:--Emotional and
    instinctive basis, 578; common will, 580; parenthood, 581;
    social and religious factors, 582; the children, 582. § 3.
    _General elements of strain in family relations_:--Differences
    between the sexes in temperament and occupation, 584; in
    attitude toward the family, 587; differences between parents
    and children, 589. § 4. _Special conditions which give rise to
    present problems_:--The economic factors, 590; cultural and
    political factors, 593. § 5. _Unsettled problems_:--Economic
    problems, 594; the dilemma between the domestic life and
    occupations outside the home, 595; the family as consumer,
    598. § 6. _Unsettled problems_:--Political problems, authority
    within the family, 599; equality or inequality, 600; isolation
    not the solution, 602; authority over the family, divorce,
    603; general law of social health, 605; conclusion, 605.

       *       *       *       *       *





=Provisional Definition.=--The place for an accurate definition of a
subject is at the end of an inquiry rather than at the beginning, but a
brief definition will serve to mark out the field. Ethics is the science
that deals with conduct, in so far as this is considered as right or
wrong, good or bad. A single term for conduct so considered is "moral
conduct," or the "moral life." Another way of stating the same thing is
to say that Ethics aims to give a systematic account of our judgments
about conduct, in so far as these estimate it from the standpoint of
right or wrong, good or bad.

=Ethical and Moral.=--The terms "ethics" and "ethical" are derived from
a Greek word _ethos_ which originally meant customs, usages, especially
those belonging to some group as distinguished from another, and later
came to mean disposition, character. They are thus like the Latin word
"moral," from _mores_, or the German _sittlich_, from _Sitten_. As we
shall see, it was in customs, "ethos," "mores," that the moral or
ethical began to appear. For customs were not merely habitual ways of
acting; they were ways approved by the group or society. To act contrary
to the customs of the group brought severe disapproval. This might not
be formulated in precisely our terms--right and wrong, good and
bad,--but the attitude was the same in essence. The terms ethical and
moral as applied to the conduct of to-day imply of course a far more
complex and advanced type of life than the old words "ethos" and
"mores," just as economics deals with a more complex problem than "the
management of a household," but the terms have a distinct value if they
suggest the way in which the moral life had its beginning.

=Two Aspects of Conduct.=--To give a scientific account of judgments
about conduct, means to find the principles which are the basis of these
judgments. Conduct or the moral life has two obvious aspects. On the one
hand it is a life of purpose. It implies thought and feeling, ideals and
motives, valuation and choice. These are processes to be studied by
psychological methods. On the other hand, conduct has its outward side.
It has relations to nature, and especially to human society. Moral life
is called out or stimulated by certain necessities of individual and
social existence. As Protagoras put it, in mythical form, the gods gave
men a sense of justice and of reverence, in order to enable them to
unite for mutual preservation.[1] And in turn the moral life aims to
modify or transform both natural and social environments, to build a
"kingdom of man" which shall be also an ideal social order--a "kingdom
of God." These relations to nature and society are studied by the
biological and social sciences. Sociology, economics, politics, law, and
jurisprudence deal particularly with this aspect of conduct. Ethics must
employ their methods and results for this aspect of its problem, as it
employs psychology for the examination of conduct on its inner side.

=The Specific Problem of Ethics.=--But ethics is not merely the sum of
these various sciences. It has a problem of its own which is created by
just this twofold aspect of life and conduct. It has to relate these two
sides. It has to study the inner process _as determined by the outer
conditions or as changing these outer conditions_, and the outward
behavior or institution _as determined by the inner purpose, or as
affecting the inner life_. To study choice and purpose is psychology; to
study choice as affected by the rights of others and to judge it as
right or wrong by this standard is ethics. Or again, to study a
corporation may be economics, or sociology, or law; to study its
activities as resulting from the purposes of persons or as affecting the
welfare of persons, and to judge its acts as good or bad from such a
point of view, is ethics.

=Genetic Study.=--When we deal with any process of life it is found to
be a great aid for understanding the present conditions if we trace the
history of the process and see how present conditions have come about.
And in the case of morality there are four reasons in particular for
examining earlier stages. The first is that we may begin our study with
a simpler material. Moral life at present is extremely complex.
Professional, civic, domestic, philanthropic, ecclesiastical, and social
obligations claim adjustment. Interests in wealth, in knowledge, in
power, in friendship, in social welfare, make demand for recognition in
fixing upon what is good. It is desirable to consider first a simpler
problem. In the second place, this complex moral life is like the human
body in that it contains "rudiments" and "survivals." Some of our
present standards and ideals were formed at one period in the past, and
some at another. Some of these apply to present conditions and some do
not. Some are at variance with others. Many apparent conflicts in moral
judgments are explained when we discover how the judgments came to be
formed in the first instance. We cannot easily understand the moral life
of to-day except in the light of earlier morality. The third reason is
that we may get a more objective material for study. Our moral life is
so intimate a part of ourselves that it is hard to observe impartially.
Its characteristics escape notice because they are so familiar. When we
travel we find the customs, laws, and moral standards of other peoples
standing out as "peculiar." Until we have been led by some such means to
compare our own conduct with that of others it probably does not occur
to us that our own standards are also peculiar, and hence in need of
explanation. It is as difficult scientifically as it is personally "to
see ourselves as others see us." It is doubtless true that to see
ourselves merely as others see us would not be enough. Complete moral
analysis requires us to take into our reckoning motives and purposes
which may perhaps be undiscoverable by the "others." But it is a great
aid to this completer analysis if we can sharpen our vision and awaken
our attention by a comparative study. A fourth reason for a genetic
study is that it emphasizes the dynamic, progressive character of
morality. Merely to examine the present may easily give the impression
that the moral life is not a life, a moving process, something still in
the making--but a changeless structure. There is moral progress as well
as a moral order. This may be discovered by an analysis of the very
nature of moral conduct, but it stands out more clearly and impressively
if we trace the actual development in history. Before attempting our
analysis of the present moral consciousness and its judgments, we shall
therefore give an outline of the earlier stages and simpler phases.

=Theory and Practice.=--Finally, if we can discover ethical principles
these ought to give some guidance for the unsolved problems of life
which continually present themselves for decision. Whatever may be true
for other sciences it would seem that ethics at least ought to have some
practical value. "In this theater of man's life it is reserved for God
and the angels to be lookers on." Man must act; and he must act well or
ill, rightly or wrongly. If he has reflected, has considered his conduct
in the light of the general principles of human order and progress, he
ought to be able to act more intelligently and freely, to achieve the
satisfaction that always attends on scientific as compared with
uncritical or rule-of-thumb practice. Socrates gave the classic
statement for the study of conduct when he said, "A life unexamined,
uncriticized, is not worthy of man."


It is not proposed to attempt at this point an accurate or minute
statement of what is implied in moral conduct, as this is the task of
Part II. But for the purposes of tracing in Part I. the beginnings of
morality, it is desirable to have a sort of rough chart to indicate to
the student what to look for in the earlier stages of his exploration,
and to enable him to keep his bearings on the way.

Certain of the characteristics of the moral may be seen in a
cross-section, a statement of the elements in moral conduct at a given
time. Other characteristics come out more clearly by comparing later
with earlier stages. We give first a cross-section.

=1. Characteristics of the Moral Life in Cross-section.=--In this
cross-section the first main division is suggested by the fact that we
sometimes give our attention to _what_ is done or intended, and
sometimes to _how_ or _why_ the act is done. These divisions may turn
out to be less absolute than they seem, but common life uses them and
moral theories have often selected the one or the other as the important
aspect. When we are told to seek peace, tell the truth, or aim at the
greatest happiness of the greatest number, we are charged to do or
intend some definite act. When we are urged to be conscientious or pure
in heart the emphasis is on a kind of attitude that might go with a
variety of acts. A newspaper advocates a good measure. So far, so good.
But people may ask, what is the motive in this? and if this is believed
to be merely selfish, they do not credit the newspaper with having
genuine interest in reform. On the other hand, sincerity alone is not
enough. If a man advocates frankly and sincerely a scheme for enriching
himself at the public expense we condemn him. We say his very frankness
shows his utter disregard for others. One of the great moral
philosophers has indeed said that to act rationally is all that is
necessary, but he at once goes on to claim that this implies treating
every man as an end and not merely a means, and this calls for a
particular kind of action. Hence we may assume for the present purpose a
general agreement that our moral judgments take into account both what
is done or intended, and how or why the act is done. These two aspects
are sometimes called the "matter" and the "form," or the "content" and
the attitude. We shall use the simpler terms, the What and the How.

=The "What" as a Criterion.=--If we neglect for the moment the How and
think of the What, we find two main standpoints employed in judging: one
is that of "higher" and "lower" within the man's own self; the other is
his treatment of others.

The distinction between a higher and lower self has many guises. We
speak of a man as "a slave to his appetites," of another as possessed by
greed for money, of another as insatiately ambitious. Over against these
passions we hear the praise of scientific pursuits, of culture, of art,
of friendship, of meditation, or of religion. We are bidden to think of
things [Greek: semna], nobly serious. A life of the spirit is set off
against the life of the flesh, the finer against the coarser, the nobler
against the baser. However misguided the forms in which this has been
interpreted, there is no doubt as to the reality of the conflicting
impulses which give rise to the dualism. The source is obvious. Man
would not be here if self-preservation and self-assertion and sex
instinct were not strongly rooted in his system. These may easily
become dominant passions. But just as certainly, man cannot be all that
he may be unless he controls these impulses and passions by other
motives. He has first to create for himself a new world of ideal
interests before he finds his best life. The appetites and instincts may
be "natural," in the sense that they are the beginning; the mental and
spiritual life is "natural," as Aristotle puts it, in the sense that
man's full nature is developed only in such a life.

The other aspect of the What, the treatment of others, need not detain
us. Justice, kindness, the conduct of the Golden Rule are the right and
good. Injustice, cruelty, selfishness are the wrong and the bad.

=Analysis of the How: the Right and the Good.=--We have used right and
good as though they might be used interchangeably in speaking of
conduct. Perhaps this may in the end prove to be true. If an act is
right, then the hero or the saint may believe that it is also good; if
an act is good in the fullest sense, then it will commend itself as
right. But right and good evidently approach conduct from two different
points of view. These might have been noted when speaking of the content
or the What, but they are more important in considering the How.

It is evident that when we speak of conduct as _right_ we think of it as
before a judge. We bring the act to a standard, and measure the act. We
think too of this standard as a "moral law" which we "ought" to obey. We
respect its authority and hold ourselves responsible. The standard is
conceived as a control over our impulses and desires. The man who
recognizes such a law and is anxious to find and to do his duty, we call
conscientious; as governing his impulses, he has self-control; as
squaring his conduct strictly by his standard, he is upright and

If I think of "_good_," I am approaching conduct from the standpoint of
value. I am thinking of what is desirable. This too is a standard, but
it is a standard regarded as an end to be sought rather than as a law. I
am to "choose" it and identify myself with it, rather than to control
myself by it. It is an "ideal." The conscientious man, viewed from this
standpoint, would seek to discover the true good, to value his ends, to
form ideals, instead of following impulse or accepting any seeming good
without careful consideration. In so far as impulses are directed by
ideals the thoroughly good man will be straightforward, "sincere": that
is, he will not be moved to do the good act by fear of punishment, or by
bribery, just as the upright man will be "governed by a sense of duty,"
of "respect for principles."

=Summary of the Characteristics of the Moral.=--To sum up the main
characteristics of the moral life viewed in cross-section, or when in
full activity, we may state them as follows:

On the side of the "what," there are two aspects:

(a) The dominance of "higher," ideal interests of knowledge, art,
freedom, rights, and the "life of the spirit."

(b) Regard for others, under its various aspects of justice, sympathy,
and benevolence.

On the side of the "how" the important aspects are:

(a) The recognition of some standard, which may arise either as a
control in the guise of "right" and "law," or as measure of value in the
form of an ideal to be followed or good to be approved.

(b) A sense of duty and respect for the law; sincere love of the good.

(a) and (b) of this latter division are both included under the
"conscientious" attitude.

=2. The Moral as a Growth.=--The psychologists distinguish _three
stages_ in conduct: (a) Instinctive activity. (b) Attention; the stage
of conscious direction or control of action by imagery; of
deliberation, desire, and choice. (c) Habit; the stage of unconscious
activity along lines set by previous action. Consciousness thus
"occupies a curious middle ground between hereditary reflex and
automatic activities upon the one hand and acquired habitual activities
upon the other." Where the original equipment of instincts fails to meet
some new situation, when there are stimulations for which the system has
no ready-made response, consciousness appears. It selects from the
various responses those which suit the purpose, and when these responses
have become themselves automatic, habitual, consciousness "betakes
itself elsewhere to points where habitual accommodatory movements are as
yet wanting and needed."[2] To apply this to the moral development we
need only to add that this process repeats itself over and over. The
starting-point for each later repetition is not the hereditary instinct,
but the habits which have been formed. For the habits formed at one age
of the individual's life, or at one stage of race development, prove
inadequate for more complex situations. The child leaves home, the
savage tribe changes to agricultural life, and the old habits no longer
meet the need. Attention is again demanded. There is deliberation,
struggle, effort. If the result is successful new habits are formed, but
upon a higher level. For the new habits, the new character, embody more
intelligence. The first stage, purely instinctive action, we do not call
moral conduct. It is of course not _im_moral; it is merely _un_moral.
The second stage shows morality in the making. It includes the process
of transition from impulse, through desire to will. It involves the
stress of conflicting interests, the processes of deliberation and
valuation, and the final act of choice. It will be illustrated in our
treatment of race development by the change from early group life and
customs to the more conscious moral life of higher civilization. The
third stage, well-organized character, is the goal of the process. But
it is evidently only a relative point. A good man has built up a set of
habits; a good society has established certain laws and moral codes. But
unless the man or society is in a changeless world with no new
conditions there will be new problems. And this means that however good
the habit was for its time and purpose there must be new choices and new
valuations. A character that would run automatically in every case would
be pretty nearly a mechanism. It is therefore the second stage of this
process that is the stage of active moral consciousness. It is upon this
that we focus our attention.

Moral growth from the first on through the second stage may be described
as a process in which man becomes more _rational_, more _social_, and
finally more _moral_. We examine briefly each of these aspects.

=The Rationalizing or Idealizing Process.=--The first need of the
organism is to live and grow. The first instincts and impulses are
therefore for food, self-defence, and other immediate necessities.
Primitive men eat, sleep, fight, build shelters, and give food and
protection to their offspring. The "rationalizing" process will mean at
first greater use of intelligence to satisfy these same wants. It will
show itself in skilled occupations, in industry and trade, in the
utilizing of all resources to further man's power and happiness. But to
rationalize conduct is also to introduce new ends. It not only enables
man to get what he wants; it changes the kind of objects that he wants.
This shows itself externally in what man makes and in how he occupies
himself. He must of course have food and shelter. But he makes temples
and statues and poems. He makes myths and theories of the world. He
carries on great enterprises in commerce or government, not so much to
gratify desires for bodily wants as to experience the growth of power.
He creates a family life which is raised to a higher level by art and
religion. He does not live by bread only, but builds up gradually a
life of reason. Psychologically this means that whereas at the beginning
we want what our body calls for, we soon come to want things which the
mind takes an interest in. As we form by memory, imagination, and reason
a more continuous, permanent, highly-organized self, we require a far
more permanent and ideal kind of good to satisfy us. This gives rise to
the contrast between the material and ideal selves, or in another form,
between "the world" and "the spirit."

=The Socializing Process.=--The "socializing" side of the process of
development stands for an increased capacity to enter into relations
with other human beings. Like the growth of reason it is both a means
and an end. It has its roots in certain instincts--sex, gregariousness,
parental instincts--and in the necessities of mutual support and
protection. But the associations thus formed imply a great variety of
activities which call out new powers and set up new ends. Language is
one of the first of these activities and a first step toward more
complete socialization. Coöperation, in all kinds of enterprises,
interchange of services and goods, participation in social arts,
associations for various purposes, institutions of blood, family,
government, and religion, all add enormously to the individual's power.
On the other hand, as he enters into these relations and becomes a
"member" of all these bodies he inevitably undergoes a transformation in
his interests. Psychologically the process is one of building up a
"social" self. Imitation and suggestion, sympathy and affection, common
purpose and common interest, are the aids in building such a self. As
the various instincts, emotions, and purposes are more definitely
organized into such a unit, it becomes possible to set off the interests
of others against those interests that center in my more individual
good. Conscious egoism and altruism become possible. And in a way that
will be explained, the interests of self and others are raised to the
plane of rights and justice.

=What is Needed to Make Conduct Moral.=--All this is not yet moral
progress in the fullest sense. The progress to more rational and more
social conduct is the indispensable condition of the moral, but not the
whole story. What is needed is that the more rational and social conduct
should itself be valued as good, and so be chosen and sought; or in
terms of control, that the law which society or reason prescribes should
be consciously thought of as right, used as a standard, and respected as
binding. This gives the contrast between the higher and lower, as a
conscious aim, not merely as a matter of taste. It raises the collision
between self and others to the basis of personal rights and justice, of
deliberate selfishness or benevolence. Finally it gives the basis for
such organization of the social and rational choices that the progress
already gained may be permanently secured, while the attention, the
struggle between duty and inclination, the conscious choice, move
forward to a new issue. Aristotle made these points clear:

    "But the virtues are not in this point analogous to the arts. The
    products of art have their excellence in themselves, and so it is
    enough if when produced they are of a certain quality; but in the
    case of the virtues, a man is not said to act justly or
    temperately (or like a just or temperate man) if what he does
    merely be of a certain sort--he must also be in a certain state of
    mind when he does it: i.e., first of all, he must know what he is
    doing; secondly, he must choose it, and choose it for itself; and,
    thirdly, his act must be the expression of a formed and stable

=Summary of the Characteristics of the Moral as Growth.=--The full cycle
has three stages:

(a) Instinctive or habitual action.

(b) Action under the stress of attention, with conscious intervention
and reconstruction.

(c) Organization of consciously directed conduct into habits and a self
of a higher order: Character.

The advance from (a) to and through (b) has three aspects.

(a) It is a rationalizing and idealizing process. Reason is both a means
to secure other ends, and an element in determining what shall be

(b) It is a socializing process. Society both strengthens and transforms
the individual.

(c) It is a process in which finally conduct itself is made the
conscious object of reflection, valuation, and criticism. In this the
definitely moral conceptions of right and duty, good and virtue appear.


PART I., after a preliminary presentation of certain important aspects
of group life, will first trace the process of moral development in its
general outlines, and then give specific illustrations of the process
taken from the life of Israel, of Greece, and of modern civilization.

PART II. will analyze conduct or the moral life on its inner, personal
side. After distinguishing more carefully what is meant by moral action,
and noting some typical ways in which the moral life has been viewed by
ethical theory, it will examine the meaning of right and good, of duty
and virtue, and seek to discover the principles underlying moral
judgments and moral conduct.

PART III. will study conduct as action in society. But instead of a
general survey, attention will be centered upon three phases of conduct
which are of especial interest and importance. Political rights and
duties, the production, distribution, and ownership of wealth, and
finally the relations of domestic and family life, all present unsettled
problems. These challenge the student to make a careful examination, for
he must take some attitude as citizen on the issues involved.


The literature on specific topics will be found at the beginning of each
Part, and at the close of the several chapters. We indicate here some of
the more useful manuals and recent representative works, and add some
specific references on the scope and methods of ethics. Baldwin's
_Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology_ has selected lists (see
especially articles, _Ethical Theories_, _Ethics_, _Worth_) and general
lists (Vol. III.). Runze, _Ethik_, 1891, has good bibliographies.

ELEMENTARY TEXTS: Mackenzie, _Manual of Ethics_, 3rd ed., 1900;
Muirhead, _Elements of Ethics_, 1892; Seth, _A Study of Ethical
Principles_, 6th ed., 1902; Thilly, _Introduction to Ethics_, 1900.

Ethics_, 1883 (Idealism); Martineau, _Types of Ethical Theory_, 1885,
3rd ed., 1891 (Intuitionism); Sidgwick's _Methods of Ethics_, 1874, 6th
ed., 1901 (Union of Intuitionist and Utilitarian Positions with careful
analysis of common sense); Spencer, _The Principles of Ethics_, 1892-3
(Evolution); Stephen's _Science of Ethics_, 1882; The comprehensive work
of Paulsen (_System der Ethik_, 1889, 5th ed., 1900) has been translated
in part by Thilly, 1899; that of Wundt (_Ethik_, 1886, 3rd ed., 1903),
by Titchener, Gulliver, and Washburn, 1897-1901. Among the more recent
contributions, either to the whole field or to specific parts, may be
noted: Alexander, _Moral Order and Progress_, 1889; 2nd ed., 1891;
Dewey, _Outlines of Ethics_, 1891, and _The Study of Ethics, A
Syllabus_, 1894; Fite, _An Introductory Study of Ethics_, 1903;
Höffding, _Ethik_ (German tr.), 1887; Janet, _The Theory of Morals_
(Eng. tr.), 1884; Ladd, _The Philosophy of Conduct_, 1902; Mezes,
_Ethics, Descriptive and Explanatory_, 1900; Moore, _Principia Ethica_,
1903; Palmer, _The Field of Ethics_, 1902, _The Nature of Goodness_,
1903; Taylor, _The Problem of Conduct_, 1901; Rashdall, _The Theory of
Good and Evil_, 1907; Bowne, _The Principles of Ethics_, 1892; Rickaby,
_Moral Philosophy_, 1888.

HISTORIES OF ETHICS: Sidgwick, _History of Ethics_, 3rd ed., 1892;
Albee, _A History of English Utilitarianism_, 1902; Stephen, _The
Utilitarians_, 1900; Martineau, _Types of Ethical Theory_; Whewell,
_Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy in England_, 1852, 1862;
Köstlin, _Geschichte der Ethik_, 2 vols., 1881-92 (ancient theories);
Jodl, _Geschichte der Ethik_, 2 vols., 1882-89 (modern); Wundt, _Ethik_,
Vol. II.; the histories of philosophy by Windelband, Höffding, Erdmann,
Ueberweg, Falckenberg.

SCOPE AND METHOD OF ETHICS: See the opening chapters in nearly all the
works cited above, especially Palmer (_Field of Ethics_), Moore,
Stephen, Spencer, Paulsen, and Wundt (_Facts of the Moral Life_); see
also Ritchie, _Philosophical Studies_, 1905, pp. 264-291; Wallace,
_Lectures and Essays on Natural Theology and Ethics_, 1898, pp. 194 ff.;
Dewey, _Logical Conditions of a Scientific Treatment of Morality_
(_University of Chicago Decennial Publications_, 1903); Stuart, _The
Logic of Self-realization_, in University of California Publications:
_Philosophy_, I., 1904; Small, _The Significance of Sociology for
Ethics_, 1902; Hadley, Article _Economic Theory_ in Baldwin's _Dict._

RELATION OF THEORY TO LIFE: Green, _Prolegomena_, Book IV.; Dewey,
_International Journal of Ethics_, Vol. I., 1891, pp. 186-203; James,
same journal, Vol. I., 330-354; Mackenzie, same journal, Vol. IV., 1894,
pp. 160-173.


[1] Plato, _Protagoras_, 320 ff.

[2] Angell, _Psychology_, p. 59.

       *       *       *       *       *




Hobhouse, _Morals in Evolution_, 2 vols., 1906.

Westermarck, _The Origin and Development of Moral Ideas_, Vol. I., 1906.

Sutherland, _The Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct_, 2 vols.,

Wundt, _Facts of the Moral Life_, 1902; also _Ethik_, 3rd ed., 1903,
Vol. I., pp. 280-523.

Paulsen, _A System of Ethics_, 1899, Book I.

Sumner, _Folkways_, 1907.

Bergmann, _Ethik als Kulturphilosophie_, 1904.

Mezes, _Ethics, Descriptive and Explanatory_, Part I.

Dewey, _The Evolutionary Method as Applied to Morality_, Philos. Review,
XI., 1902, pp. 107-124, 353-371.

Adam Smith, _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, 1759.

Baldwin, _Social and Ethical Interpretations_, 1902.

Taylor, _The Problem of Conduct_, 1901, chap. iii.

Spencer, _Data of Ethics_, 1879; _Psychology_, 1872, Part IX., chs.

Ihering, _Der Zweck im Recht_, 3rd ed., 1893.

Steinthal, _Allgemeine Ethik_, 1885.



To understand the origin and growth of moral life, it is essential to
understand primitive society. And while there is much that is uncertain,
there is one fact of capital importance which stands out clearly. This
is _the dominant influence of group life_. It is not asserted that all
peoples have had precisely the same type of groups, or the same degree
of group solidarity. It is beyond question that the ancestors of modern
civilized races lived under the general types of group life which will
be outlined, and that these types or their survivals are found among the
great mass of peoples to-day.


Consider the following incident as related by Dr. Gray:

    "A Chinese aided by his wife flogged his mother. The imperial
    order not only commanded that the criminals should be put to
    death; it further directed that the head of the clan should be put
    to death; that the immediate neighbors each receive eighty blows
    and be sent into exile; that the head or representatives of the
    graduates of the first degree (or B.A.) among whom the male
    offender ranked should be flogged and exiled; that the granduncle,
    the uncle, and two elder brothers should be put to death; that the
    prefect and the rulers should for a time be deprived of their
    rank; that on the face of the mother of the female offender four
    Chinese characters expressive of neglect of duty towards her
    daughter should be tattooed, and that she be exiled to a distant
    province; that the father of the female offender, a bachelor of
    arts, should not be allowed to take any higher literary degrees,
    and that he be flogged and exiled; that the son of the offenders
    should receive another name, and that the lands of the offender
    for a time remain fallow." (J. H. GRAY, _China_, Vol. I., pp.
    237 f.)

Put beside this the story of Achan:

    Achan had taken for his own possession certain articles from the
    spoil of Jericho which had been set apart or "devoted" to Jehovah.
    Israel then suffered a defeat in battle. When Achan's act became
    known, "Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan, the son of
    Zerah, and the mantle, and the wedge of gold, and his sons and his
    daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his
    tent, and all that he had.... And all Israel stoned him with
    stones; and they burned them with fire and stoned them with
    stones." (JOSHUA vii: 24, 25.)

The converse of these situations is brought out in the regulations of
the Kumi, a Japanese local institution comprising five or more

    "As members of a Kumi we will cultivate friendly feelings even
    more than with our relatives, and will promote each other's
    happiness as well as share each other's grief. If there is an
    unprincipled or lawless person in a Kumi, we shall all share the
    responsibility for him." (SIMMONS and WIGMORE, _Transactions,
    Asiatic Society of Japan_, xix., 177 f.)

For another aspect of the group take Cæsar's description of landholding
among the Germans:

    "No one possesses privately a definite extent of land; no one has
    limited fields of his own; but every year the magistrates and
    chiefs distribute the land to the clans and the kindred groups
    (_gentibus cognationibusque hominum_) and to those (_other_
    groups) who live together." (_De Bell. Gall._, VI., 22.)

Of the Greeks, our intellectual ancestors, as well as fellow Aryans, it
is stated that in Attica, even to a late period, the land remained to a
large degree in possession of ideal persons, gods, phylæ (tribes) or
phratries, kinships, political communities. Even when the superficies of
the land might be regarded as private, mines were reserved as
public.[3] The basis on which these kinship groups rested is thus stated
by Grote:[4]

    "All these phratric and gentile associations, the larger as well
    as the smaller, were founded upon the same principles and
    tendencies of the Grecian mind--a coalescence of the idea of
    worship with that of ancestry, or of communion in certain special
    religious rites with communion of blood, real or supposed."
    "The god or hero, to whom the assembled members offered their
    sacrifices, was conceived as the primitive ancestor to whom they
    owed their origin."

Coulanges gives a similar statement as to the ancient family group:[5]

    "The members of the ancient family were united by something more
    powerful than birth, affection, or physical strength; this was the
    religion of the sacred fire, and of dead ancestors. This caused
    the family to form a single body both in this life and in the

Finally, the following passage on clanship among the Kafirs brings out
two points: (1) That such a group life implies feelings and ideas of a
distinctive sort; and (2) that it has a strength rooted in the very
necessities of life.

    "A Kafir feels that the 'frame that binds him in' extends to the
    clan. The sense of solidarity of the family in Europe is thin and
    feeble compared to the full-blooded sense of corporate union of
    the Kafir clan. The claims of the clan entirely swamp the rights
    of the individual. The system of tribal solidarity, which has
    worked so well in its smoothness that it might satisfy the utmost
    dreams of the socialist, is a standing proof of the sense of
    corporate union of the clan. In olden days a man did not have any
    feeling of personal injury when a chief made him work for white
    men and then told him to give all, or nearly all of his wages to
    his chief; the money was kept within the clan, and what was the
    good of the clan was the good of the individual and _vice versa_.
    The striking thing about this unity of the clan is that it was
    not a thought-out plan imposed from without by legislation upon an
    unwilling people, but it was a _felt-out_ plan which arose
    spontaneously along the line of least resistance. If one member of
    the clan suffered, all the members suffered, not in sentimental
    phraseology, but in real fact." (DUDLEY KIDD, _Savage Childhood_,
    pp. 74 f.)

The above passages refer to Aryan, Semitic, Mongolian, and Kafir
peoples. They could be matched by similar statements concerning nearly
every people. They suggest a way of living, and a view of life very
different from that of the American or of most Europeans.[6] The
American or European belongs to groups of various kinds, but he "joins"
most of them. He of course is born into a family, but he does not stay
in it all his life unless he pleases. And he may choose his own
occupation, residence, wife, political party, religion, social club, or
even national allegiance. He may own or sell his own house, give or
bequeath his property, and is responsible generally speaking for no
one's acts but his own. This makes him an "individual" in a much fuller
sense than he would be if all these relations were settled for him. On
the other hand, the member of such groups as are referred to in our
examples above, has all, or nearly all, his relations fixed when he is
born into a certain clan or family group. This settles his occupation,
dwelling, gods, and politics. If it doesn't decide upon his wife, it at
least usually fixes the group from which she must be taken. His
conditions, in the words of Maine, are thus of "status," not of
"contract." This makes a vast difference in his whole attitude. It will
help to bring out more clearly by contrast the character of present
morality, as well as to see moral life in the making, if we examine more
carefully this group life. We shall find, as brought out in the
passages already quoted, that the most important type of group is at
once a kindred or family, an economic, a political, a religious, and a
moral unit. First, however, we notice briefly the most important types
of groups.


=1. The Kinship Group.=--The kinship group is a body of persons who
conceive of themselves as sprung from one ancestor, and hence as having
in their veins one blood. It does not matter for our study whether each
group has actually sprung from a single ancestor. It is highly probable
that the contingencies of food-supply or of war may have been an
original cause for the constitution of the group, wholly or in part. But
this is of no consequence for our purpose. The important point is that
the members of the group regard themselves as of one stock. In some
cases the ancestor is believed to have been an animal. Then we have the
so-called totem group, which is found among North American Indians,
Africans, and Australians, and was perhaps the early form of Semitic
groups. In other cases, some hero or even some god is named as the
ancestor. In any case the essential part of the theory remains the same:
namely, that one blood circulates in all the members, and hence that the
life of each is a part of the common life of the group. There are then
no degrees of kindred. This group, it should be noted, is not the same
as the family, for in the family, as a rule, husband and wife are of
different kinship groups, and continue their several kinship relations.
Among some peoples marriage ceremonies, indeed, symbolize the admission
of the wife into the husband's kinship, and in this case the family
becomes a kinship group, but this is by no means universally the case.

The feeling that one is first and foremost a member of a group, rather
than an individual, is furthered among certain kin groups by a scheme of
class relationship. According to this system, instead of having one
definite person whom I, and I alone, regard and address as father or
mother, grandfather, uncle, brother, sister, I call any one of a given
group or class of persons mother, grandfather, brother, sister. And any
one else who is in the same class with me calls the same persons,
mother, grandfather, brother, or sister.[7] The simplest form of such a
class system is that found among the Hawaiians. Here there are five
classes based upon the generations corresponding to what we call
grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, children, and
grandchildren, but the words used to designate them do not imply any
such specific parentage as do these words with us. Bearing this in mind,
we may say that every one in the first class is equally grandparent to
every one in the third; every one in the third is equally brother or
sister to every other in the third, equally father or mother to every
one in the fourth, and so on. In Australia the classes are more numerous
and the relationships far more intricate and complicated, but this does
not, as might be supposed, render the bond relatively unimportant; on
the contrary, his relationship to every other class is "one of the most
important points with which each individual must be acquainted"; it
determines marital relations, food distribution, salutations, and
general conduct to an extraordinary degree. A kinship group was known as
"tribe" or "family" (English translation) among the Israelites; as
genos, phratria, and phyle among the Greeks, gens and curia among the
Romans; clan in Scotland; sept in Ireland; Sippe in Germany.

=2. The Family or Household Group.=--Two kinds of families may be noted
as significant for our purpose. In the _maternal family_ the woman
remains among her own kin, and the children are naturally reckoned as
belonging to the mother's kin. The husband and father is more or less a
guest or outsider. In a blood feud he would have to side with his own
clan and against that of his wife if his clan quarreled with hers. Clan
and family are thus seen to be distinct. In the _paternal_, which easily
becomes the _patriarchal_ family the wife leaves her relatives to live
in her husband's house and among his kin. She might then, as at Rome,
abjure her own kindred and be formally adopted into her husband's gens
or clan. The Greek myth of Orestes is an illustration of the clashing of
these two conceptions of father kin and mother kin, and Hamlet's sparing
of his mother under similar circumstances, shows a more modern point of

It is evident that with the prevalence of the paternal type of family,
clan and household ties will mutually strengthen each other. This will
make an important difference in the father's relation to the children,
and gives a much firmer basis for ancestral religion. But in many
respects the environing atmosphere, the pressure and support, the group
sympathy and group tradition, are essentially similar. The important
thing is that every person is a member of a kindred, and likewise, of
some family group, and that he thinks, feels, and acts accordingly.[8]


=1. The Land and the Group.=--In land, as a rule, no individual
ownership in the modern sense was recognized. Among hunting and pastoral
peoples there was, of course, no "ownership" by any group in the strict
sense of modern law. But none the less, the group, large or small, had
its fairly well-defined territory within which it hunted and fished; in
the pastoral life it had its pasture range and its wells of water. With
agriculture a more definite sense of possession arose. But possession
was by the tribe or gens or household, not by the individual:

    "The land belonged to the clan, and the clan was settled upon the
    land. A man was thus not a member of the clan, because he lived
    upon, or even owned, the land; but he lived upon the land, and had
    interests in it, because he was a member of the clan."[9]

Greek and German customs were quoted at the outset. Among the Celts the
laws of ancient Ireland show a transitional stage. "The land of the
tribe consisted of two distinct allotments, the 'fechfine' or tribeland,
and the 'orta' or inheritance land. This latter belonged as individual
property to the men of the chieftain groups."[10] The Hindoo
joint-family and the house-community of the Southern Slavonians are
present examples of group ownership. They are joint in food, worship,
and estate. They have a common home, a common table. Maxims of the Slavs
express their appreciation of community life: "The common household
waxes rich"; "The more bees in the hive, the heavier it weighs." One
difficulty in the English administration of Ireland has been this
radical difference between the modern Englishman's individualistic
conception of property and the Irishman's more primitive conception of
group or clan ownership. Whether rightly or not, the Irish tenant
refuses to regard himself as merely a tenant. He considers himself as a
member of a family or group which formerly owned the land, and he does
not admit the justice, even though he cannot disprove the legality, of
an alienation of the group possession. For such a clan or household as
we have described is not merely equivalent to the persons who compose it
at a given time. Its property belongs to the ancestors and to the
posterity as well as to the present possessors; and hence in some groups
which admit an individual possession or use during life, no right of
devise or inheritance is permitted. The property reverts at death to the
whole gens or clan. In other cases a child may inherit, but in default
of such an heir the property passes to the common possession. The right
to bequeath property to the church was long a point on which civil law
and canon law were at variance. The relations of the primitive clan or
household group to land were therefore decidedly adapted to keep the
individual's good bound up with the good of the group.

=2. Movable Goods.=--In the case of movable goods, such as tools,
weapons, cattle, the practice is not uniform. When the goods are the
product of the individual's own skill or prowess they are usually his.
Tools, weapons, slaves or women captured, products of some special craft
or skill, are thus usually private. But when the group acts as a unit
the product is usually shared. The buffalo and salmon and large game
were thus for the whole Indian group which hunted or fished together;
and in like manner the maize which was tended by the women belonged to
the household in common. Slavic and Indian house communities at the
present day have a common interest in the household property. Even women
and children among some tribes are regarded as the property of the


In a modern family the parents exercise a certain degree of control over
the children, but this is limited in several respects. No parent is
allowed to put a child to death, or to permit him to grow up in
ignorance. On the other hand, the parent is not allowed to protect the
child from arrest if a serious injury has been done by him. The _State_,
through its laws and officers, is regarded by us as the highest
authority in a certain great sphere of action. It must settle
conflicting claims and protect life and property; in the opinion of many
it must organize the life of its members where the coöperation of every
member is necessary for some common good. In early group life there may
or may not be some political body over and above the clan or family, but
in any case the _kin or family is itself a sort of political State_. Not
a State in the sense that the political powers are deliberately
separated from personal, religious, and family ties; men gained a new
conception of authority and rose to a higher level of possibilities when
they consciously separated and defined government and laws from the
undifferentiated whole of a religious and kindred group. But yet this
primitive group was after all a State, not a mob, or a voluntary
society, or a mere family; for (1) it was a more or less permanently
organized body; (2) it exercised control over its members which they
regarded as rightful authority, not as mere force; (3) it was not
limited by any higher authority, and acted more or less effectively for
the interest of the whole. The representatives of this political aspect
of the group may be chiefs or sachems, a council of elders, or, as in
Rome, the House Father, whose _patria potestas_ marks the extreme
development of the patriarchal family.

The control exercised by the group over individual members assumes
various forms among the different peoples. The more important aspects
are a right over life and bodily freedom, in some cases extending to
power of putting to death, maiming, chastising, deciding whether newly
born children shall be preserved or not; the right of betrothal, which
includes control over the marriage portion received for its women; and
the right to administer property of the kin in behalf of the kin as a
whole. It is probable that among all these various forms of control, the
control over the marriage relations of women has been most persistent.
One reason for this control may have been the fact that the group was
bound to resent injuries of a member of the group who had been married
to another. Hence this responsibility seemed naturally to involve the
right of decision as to her marriage.

=It is Membership in the Group Which Gives the Individual Whatever
Rights He Has.=--According to present conceptions this is still largely
true of legal rights. A State may allow a citizen of another country to
own land, to sue in its courts, and will usually give him a certain
amount of protection, but the first-named rights are apt to be limited,
and it is only a few years since Chief Justice Taney's dictum stated the
existing legal theory of the United States to be that the negro "had no
rights which the white man was bound to respect." Even where legal
theory does not recognize race or other distinctions, it is often hard
in practice for an alien to get justice. In primitive clan or family
groups this principle is in full force. Justice is a privilege which
falls to a man as belonging to some group--not otherwise. The member of
the clan or the household or the village community has a claim, but the
stranger has no standing. He may be treated kindly, as a guest, but he
cannot demand "justice" at the hands of any group but his own. In this
conception of rights within the group we have the prototype of modern
civil law. The dealing of clan with clan is a matter of war or
negotiation, not of law; and the clanless man is an "outlaw" in fact as
well as in name.

=Joint Responsibility= and mutual support, as shown in the blood feud,
was a natural consequence of this fusion of political and kindred
relations. In modern life States treat each other as wholes in certain
respects. If some member of a savage tribe assaults a citizen of one of
the civilized nations, the injured party invokes the help of his
government. A demand is usually made that the guilty party be delivered
up for trial and punishment. If he is not forthcoming a "punitive
expedition" is organized against the whole tribe; guilty and innocent
suffer alike. Or in lieu of exterminating the offending tribe, in part
or completely, the nation of the injured man may accept an indemnity in
money or land from the offender's tribe. Recent dealings between British
and Africans, Germans and Africans, France and Morocco, the United
States and the Filipinos, the Powers and China, illustrate this. The
State protects its own members against other States, and avenges them
upon other States. Each opposes a united body to the other. The same
principle carried out through private citizens as public agents, and
applied to towns, is seen in the practice which prevailed in the Middle
Ages. "When merchants of one country had been defrauded by those of
another, or found it impossible to collect a debt from them, the former
country issued letters of marque and reprisal, authorizing the plunder
of any citizens of the offending town until satisfaction should be
obtained." Transfer the situation to the early clan or tribe, and this
solidarity is increased because each member is related to the rest by
blood, as well as by national unity. The Arabs do not say "The blood of
M. or N. has been spilt," naming the man; they say, "Our blood has been
spilt."[11] The whole group, therefore, feels injured and regards every
man in the offender's kin as more or less responsible. The next of kin,
the "avenger of blood," stands first in duty and privilege, but the rest
are all involved in greater or less degree.

=Within the Group= each member will be treated more or less fully as an
individual. If he takes his kinsman's wife or his kinsman's game he will
be dealt with by the authorities or by the public opinion of his group.
He will not indeed be put to death if he kills his kinsman, but he will
be hated, and may be driven out. "Since the living kin is not killed for
the sake of the dead kin, everybody will hate to see him."[12]

When now a smaller group, like a family, is at the same time a part of a
larger group like a phratry or a tribe, we have the phase of solidarity
which is so puzzling to the modern. We hold to solidarity in war or
between nations; but with a few exceptions[13] we have replaced it by
individual responsibility of adults for debts and crimes so far as the
civil law has jurisdiction. In earlier times the higher group or
authority treated the smaller as a unit. Achan's family all perished
with him. The Chinese sense of justice recognized a series of degrees in
responsibility dependent on nearness of kin or of residence, or of
occupation. The Welsh system held kinsmen as far as second cousins
responsible for insult or injury short of homicide, and as far as fifth
cousins (seventh degree of descent) for the payment in case of homicide.
"The mutual responsibility of kinsmen for _saraal_ and _galanas_ (the
Wergild of the Germans), graduated according to nearness of kin to the
murdered man and to the criminal, reveals more clearly than anything
else the extent to which the individual was bound by innumerable meshes
to his fixed place in the tribal community."[14]


The kinship or household group determined largely both the ideas and the
cultus of primitive religion; conversely religion gave completeness,
value, and sacredness to the group life. Kinship with unseen powers or
persons was the fundamental religious idea. The kinship group as a
religious body _simply extended the kin to include invisible as well as
visible members_. The essential feature of religion is not unseen beings
who are feared, or cajoled, or controlled by magic. It is rather
_kindred_ unseen beings, who may be feared, but who are also reverenced
and loved. The kinship may be physical or spiritual, but however
conceived it makes gods and worshippers members of one group.[15]

=1. Totem Groups.=--In totem groups, the prevailing conception is that
one blood circulates in all the members of the group and that the
ancestor of the whole group is some object of nature, such as sun or
moon, plant or animal. Perhaps the most interesting and intelligible
account of the relation between the animal ancestor and the members of
the group is that which has recently been discovered in certain
Australian tribes who believe that every child, at its birth, is the
reincarnation of some previous member of the group, and that these
ancestors were an actual transformation of animals and plants, or of
water, fire, wind, sun, moon, or stars. Such totem groups cherish that
animal which they believe to be their ancestor and ordinarily will not
kill it or use it for food. The various ceremonies of religious
initiation are intended to impress upon the younger members of the group
the sacredness of this kindred bond which units them to each other and
to their totem. The beginnings of decorative art frequently express the
importance of the symbol, and the totem is felt to be as distinctly a
member of the group as is any of the human members.

=2. Ancestral Religion.=--At a somewhat higher stage of civilization,
and usually in connection with the patriarchal households or groups in
which kinship is reckoned through the male line, the invisible members
of the group are the _departed ancestors_. This ancestor worship is a
power to-day in China and Japan, and in the tribes of the Caucasus. The
ancient Semites, Romans, Teutons, Celts, Hindoos, all had their kindred
gods of the household. The Roman genius, lares, penates, and manes,
perhaps the Hebrew teraphim,--prized by Laban and Rachel, kept by David,
valued in the time of Hosea,--were loved and honored side by side with
other deities. Sometimes the nature deities, such as Zeus or Jupiter,
were incorporated with the kinship or family gods. The Greek Hestia and
Roman Vesta symbolized the sacredness of the hearth. The kinship tie
thus determined for every member of the group his religion.

=Religion Completes the Group.=--Conversely, this bond of union with
unseen, yet ever present and powerful kindred spirits completed the
group and gave to it its highest authority, its fullest value, its
deepest sacredness. If the unseen kin are nature beings, they symbolize
for man his dependence upon nature and his kinship in some vague fashion
with the cosmic forces. If the gods are the departed ancestors, they are
then conceived as still potent, like Father Anchises, to protect and
guide the fortunes of their offspring. The wisdom, courage, and
affection, as well as the power of the great heroes of the group, live
on. The fact that the gods are unseen enhances tremendously their
supposed power. The visible members of the group may be strong, but
their strength can be measured. The living elders may be wise, yet they
are not far beyond the rest of the group. But the invisible beings
cannot be measured. The long-departed ancestor may have inconceivable
age and wisdom. The imagination has free scope to magnify his power and
invest him with all the ideal values it can conceive. The religious bond
is, therefore, fitted to be the bearer, as the religious object is the
embodiment in concrete form, of the higher standards of the group, and
to furnish the sanction for their enforcement or adoption.


While the kindred and family groups are by far the most important for
early morality, other groupings are significant. The division by ages is
widespread. The simplest scheme gives three classes: (1) children, (2)
young men and maidens, (3) married persons. Puberty forms the bound
between the first and second; marriage that between the second and
third. Distinct modes of dress and ornament, frequently also different
residences and standards of conduct, belong to these several classes. Of
groups on the basis of sex, the _men's clubs_ are especially worthy of
note. They flourish now chiefly in the islands of the Pacific, but there
are indications, such as the common meals of the Spartans, of a wide
spread among European peoples in early times. The fundamental idea[16]
seems to be that of a common house for the unmarried young men, where
they eat, sleep, and pass their time, whereas the women, children, and
married men sleep and eat in the family dwelling. But in most cases all
the men resort to the clubhouse by day. Strangers may be entertained
there. It thus forms a sort of general center for the men's activities,
and for the men's conversation. As such, it is an important agency for
forming and expressing public opinion, and for impressing upon the young
men just entering the house the standards of the older members. Further,
in some cases these houses become the center of rites to the dead, and
thus add the impressiveness of religious significance to their other

Finally, _secret societies_ may be mentioned as a subdivision of sex
groups, for among primitive peoples such societies are confined in
almost all cases to the men. They seem in many cases to have grown out
of the age classes already described. The transition from childhood to
manhood, mysterious in itself, was invested with further mysteries by
the old men who conducted the ceremonies of initiation. Masks were worn,
or the skulls of deceased ancestors were employed, to give additional
mystery and sanctity. The increased power gained by secrecy would often
be itself sufficient to form a motive for such organization, especially
where they had some end in view not approved by the dominant
authorities. Sometimes they exercise strict authority over their
members, and assume judicial and punitive functions, as in the Vehm of
the Middle Ages. Sometimes they become merely leagues of enemies to


The moral in this early stage is not to be looked for as something
distinct from the political, religious, kindred, and sympathetic aspects
of the clan, family, and other groups. The question rather is, _How far
are these very political, religious, and other aspects implicitly
moral_? If by moral we mean a conscious testing of conduct by an inner
and self-imposed standard, if we mean a freely chosen as contrasted with
a habitual or customary standard, then evidently we have the moral only
in germ. For the standards are group standards, rather than those of
individual conscience; they operate largely through habit rather than
through choice. Nevertheless they are not set for the individual by
outsiders. They are set by a group of which he is a member. They are
enforced by a group _of which he is a member_. Conduct is praised or
blamed, punished or rewarded by the group of which he is a member.
Property is administered, industry is carried on, wars and feuds
prosecuted for the common good. What the group does, each member joins
in doing. It is a reciprocal matter: A helps enforce a rule or impose a
service on B; he cannot help feeling it fair when the same rule is
applied to himself. He has to "play the game," and usually he expects to
play it as a matter of course. Each member, therefore, is practicing
certain acts, standing in certain relations, maintaining certain
attitudes, just because he is one of the group which does these things
and maintains these standards. And he does not act in common with the
group without sharing in the group emotions. It is a grotesque
perversion to conceive the restraints of gods and chiefs as purely
external terrors. The primitive group could enter into the spirit
implied in the words of the Athenian chorus, which required of an alien
upon adoption

  "To loathe whate'er our state does hateful hold,
  To reverence what it loves."[17]

The gregarious instinct may be the most elemental of the impulses which
bind the group together, but it is reinforced by sympathies and
sentiments growing out of common life, common work, common danger,
common religion. The morality is already implicit, it needs only to
become conscious. The standards are embodied in the old men or the gods;
the rational good is in the inherited wisdom; the respect for sex, for
property rights, and for the common good, is embodied in the system--but
it is there. Nor are the union and control a wholly objective affair.
"The corporate union was not a pretty religious fancy with which to
please the mind, but was so truly felt that it formed an excellent basis
from which the altruistic sentiment might start. Gross selfishness was
curbed, and the turbulent passions were restrained by an impulse which
the man felt welling up within him, instinctive and unbidden. Clannish
camaraderie was thus of immense value to the native races."[18]


The works of Hobhouse, Sumner, Westermarck contain copious references to
the original sources. Among the most valuable are:

FOR SAVAGE PEOPLE: Waitz, _Anthropologie der Naturvölker_, 1859-72;
Tylor, _Primitive Culture_, 1903; Spencer and Gillen, _The Native Tribes
of Central Australia_, 1899, and _The Northern Tribes of Central
Australia_, 1904; Howitt and Fison, _Kamilaroi and Kurnai_, 1880;
Howitt, _The Native Tribes of S. E. Australia_, 1904; N. Thomas,
_Kinship, Organization and Group Marriages in Australia_, 1906; Morgan,
_Houses and House-life of the American Aborigines_, 1881, _The League of
the Iroquois_, 1851, _Systems of Consanguinity, Smithsonian
Contributions_, 1871, _Ancient Society_, 1877. Many papers in the
_Reports of the Bureau of Ethnology_, especially by Powell in 1st,
1879-80; Dorsey in 3rd, 1881-82, Mendeleff in 19th, 1893-94.

FOR INDIA, CHINA, AND JAPAN: Lyall, _Asiatic Studies, Religious and
Social_, 1882; Gray, _China_, 1878; Smith, _Chinese Characteristics_,
1894; _Village Life in China_, 1899; Nitobé, _Bushido_, 1905; L. Hearn,
_Japan_, 1904.

Marriage in Early Arabia_, 1885; _The Religion of the Semites_, 1894; W.
Hearn, _The Aryan Household_, 1879; Coulanges, _The Ancient City_, 1873;
Seebohm, _The Tribal System in Wales_, 1895, and _Tribal Custom in
Anglo-Saxon Law_, 1902; Krauss, _Sitte und Brauch der Südslaven_, 1885.

GENERAL: Grosse, _Die Formen der Familie und die Formen der
Wirthschaft_, 1896; Starke, _The Primitive Family_, 1889; Maine,
_Ancient Law_, 1885; McLennan, _Studies in Ancient History_, 1886;
Rivers, _On the Origin of the Classificatory System of Relationships_,
in Anthropological Essays, presented to E. B. Tylor, 1907; Ratzel,
_History of Mankind_, 1896-98; Kovalevsky, _Tableau des origines et de
l'Evolution de la Famille et de la Propriété_, 1890; Giddings,
_Principles of Sociology_, 1896, pp. 157-168, 256-298; Thomas, _Relation
of Sex to Primitive Social Control_ in Sex and Society, 1907; Webster,
_Primitive Secret Societies_, 1908; Simmel, _The Sociology of Secrecy
and of Secret Societies_, American Journal Sociology, Vol. XI., 1906,
pp. 441-498. See also the references at close of Chapters VI., VII.


[3] Wilamowitz-Möllendorf, _Aristotle und Athen_, II. 93, 47.

[4] _History of Greece_, III., 55.

[5] _The Ancient City_, p. 51.

[6] Russian mirs, South Slavonian "joint" families, Corsican clans with
their vendettas, and tribes in the Caucasus still have the group
interest strong, and the feuds of the mountaineers in some of the border
states illustrate family solidarity.

[7] "In all the tribes with whom we are acquainted all the terms
coincide without any exception in the recognition of relationships, all
of which are dependent on the existence of a classificatory system, the
fundamental idea of which is that the women of certain groups marry the
men of others. Each tribe has one term applied indiscriminately to the
man or woman whom he actually marries and to all whom he might lawfully
marry, that is, who belong to the right group: One term to his actual
mother and to all the women whom his father might lawfully have
married."--SPENCER and GILLEN, _Native Tribes of Central Australia_, p.

[8] The fact that primitive man is at once an individual and a member of
a group--that he has as it were two personalities or selves, an
individual self and a clan-self, or "tribal-self," as Clifford called
it,--is not merely a psychologist's way of stating things. The Kafir
people, according to their most recent student, Mr. Dudley Kidd, have
two distinct words to express these two selves. They call one the
_idhlozi_ and other the _itongo_. "The _idhlozi_ is the individual and
personal spirit born with each child--something fresh and unique which
is never shared with any one else--while the _itongo_ is the ancestral
and corporate spirit which is not personal but tribal, or a thing of the
clan, the possession of which is obtained not by birth but by certain
initiatory rites. The _idhlozi_ is personal and inalienable, for it is
wrapped up with the man's personality, and at death it lives near the
grave, or goes into the snake or totem of the clan; but the _itongo_ is
of the clan, and haunts the living-hut; at death it returns to the
tribal _amatongo_ (ancestral spirits). A man's share in this clan-spirit
(_itongo_) is lost when he becomes a Christian, or when he is in any way
unfaithful to the interests of the clan, but a man never loses his
_idhlozi_ any more than he ever loses his individuality."--_Savage
Childhood_, pp. 14 f.

[9] Hearn, _The Aryan Household_, p. 212.

[10] MacLennan, _Studies in Ancient History_, p. 381.

[11] Robertson Smith, _Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia_, p. 23.

[12] Cited from the Gwentian Code. Seebohm, _The Tribal System in
Wales_, p. 104.

[13] E.g., certain joint responsibilities of husband and wife.

[14] Seebohm, _The Tribal System in Wales_, pp. 103 f.

[15] "From the earliest times, religion, as distinct from magic or
sorcery, addresses itself to kindred and friendly beings, who may indeed
be angry with their people for a time, but are always placable except to
the enemies of their worshippers or to renegade members of the
community. It is not with a vague fear of unknown powers, but with a
loving reverence for known gods who are knit to their worshippers by
strong bonds of kinship, that religion in the only true sense of the
word begins."--ROBERTSON SMITH, _Religion of the Semites_, p. 54.

[16] Schurtz, _Altersklassen und Männerbünde_.

[17] _Oedipus at Colonus_, vv. 186 f.

[18] Dudley Kidd, _Savage Childhood_, pp. 74 f.




A young man may enter a profession thinking of it only as a means of
support. But the work requires foresight and persistence; it broadens
his interests; it develops his character. Like Saul, he has gone to
search for asses, he has found a kingdom. Or he may marry on the basis
of emotional attraction. But the sympathies evoked, the coöperation made
necessary, are refining and enlarging his life. Both these cases
illustrate agencies which are moral in their results, although not
carried on from a consciously moral purpose.

Suppose, however, that children are born into the family. Then the
parent consciously sets about controlling their conduct, and in
exercising authority almost inevitably feels the need of some standard
other than caprice or selfishness. Suppose that in business the partners
differ as to their shares in the profits, then the question of fairness
is raised; and if one partner defaults, the question of guilt. Or
suppose the business encounters a law which forbids certain operations,
the problem of justice will come to consciousness. Such situations as
these are evidently in the moral sphere in a sense in which those of the
preceding paragraph are not. They demand some kind of judgment, some
approval or disapproval. As Aristotle says, it is not enough to do the
acts; it is necessary to do them in a certain way,--not merely to get
the result, but to intend it. The result must be thought of as in some
sense good or right; its opposite as in some sense bad or wrong.

But notice that the judgments in these cases may follow either of two
methods: (1) The parent or business man may teach his child, or practice
in business, what tradition or the accepted standard calls for; or (2)
he may consider and examine the principles and motives involved. Action
by the first method is undoubtedly moral, in one sense. It is judging
according to a standard, though it takes the standard for granted.
Action by the second method is moral in a more complete sense. It
examines the standard as well. The one is the method of "customary"
morality, the other that of reflective morality, or of conscience in the
proper sense.

=The Three Levels and Their Motives.=--We may distinguish then three
levels of conduct.

1. Conduct arising from instincts and fundamental needs. To satisfy
these needs certain conduct is necessary, and this in itself involves
ways of acting which are more or less rational and social. The conduct
may be _in accordance with_ moral laws, though not directed by moral
judgments. We consider this level in the present chapter.

2. Conduct regulated by _standards of society_, for some more or less
conscious end involving the social welfare. The level of custom, which
is treated in Chapter IV.

3. Conduct regulated by a standard which is both social and rational,
which is examined and criticized. The level of conscience. Progress
toward this level is outlined in Chapters V. to VIII.

The motives in these levels will show a similar scale. In (1) the
motives are external to the end gained. The man seeks food, or position,
or glory, or sex gratification; he is forced to practice sobriety,
industry, courage, gentleness. In (2) the motive is to seek some good
which is social, but the man acts for the group mainly because he is
_of_ the group, and does not conceive his own good as distinct from
that of the group. His acts are only in part guided by intelligence;
they are in part due to habit or accident. (3) In full morality a man
not only intends his acts definitely, he also values them as what he can
do "with all his heart." He does them _because_ they are right and good.
He chooses them freely and intelligently. Our study of moral development
will consider successively these three levels. They all exist in present
morality. Only the first two are found in savage life. If (1) existed
alone it was before the group life, which is our starting-point in this
study. We return now to our consideration of group life, and note the
actual forces which are at work. We wish to discover the process by
which the first and second levels prepare the way for the third.

=The Necessary Activities of Existence Start the Process.=--The prime
necessities, if the individual is to survive, are for food, shelter,
defense against enemies. If the stock is to survive, there must be also
reproduction and parental care. Further, it is an advantage in the
struggle if the individual can master and acquire, can outstrip rivals,
and can join forces with others of his kind for common ends. To satisfy
these needs we find men in group life engaged in work, in war or blood
feuds, in games and festal activities, in parental care. They are
getting food and booty, making tools and houses, conquering or enslaving
their enemies, protecting the young, winning trophies, and finding
emotional excitement in contests, dances, and songs. These all help in
the struggle for existence. But the workmen, warriors, singers, parents,
are getting more. They are forming certain elements of character which,
if not necessarily moral in themselves, are yet indispensable requisites
for full morality. We may say therefore that nature is doing this part
of moral evolution, without the aid of conscious intention on man's
part. To use the terms of Chapter I., we may call this a rationalizing
and socializing process, though not a conscious moral process. We notice
some of the more important agencies that are operative.


=1. Work.=--The earlier forms of occupation, hunting and fishing, call
for active intelligence, although the activity is sustained to a great
degree by the immediate interest or thrill of excitement, which makes
them a recreation to the civilized man. Quickness of perception,
alertness of mind and body, and in some cases, physical daring, are the
qualities most needed. But in the pastoral life, and still more with the
beginning of agriculture and commerce, the man who succeeds must have
foresight and continuity of purpose. He must control impulse by reason.
He must organize those habits which are the basis of character, instead
of yielding to the attractions of various pleasures which might lead him
from the main purpose. To a certain extent the primitive communism acted
to prevent the individual from feeling the full force of improvidence.
Even if he does not secure a supply of game, or have a large enough
flock to provide for the necessities of himself and his immediate
family, the group does not necessarily permit him to starve. The law
"Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" does not press upon
him with such relentless grasp as in the modern individualistic struggle
for existence. Nevertheless it would be an entirely mistaken view of
primitive group life to suppose that it is entirely a lazy man's
paradise, or happy-go-lucky existence. The varying economic conditions
are important here as measuring the amount of forethought and care
required. It is the shepherd Jacob whose craft outwits Esau the hunter;
and while the sympathy of the modern may be with Esau, he must remember
that forethought like other valuable weapons may be used in a social as
well as a selfish fashion. The early Greek appreciation of craft is
probably expressed in their deification of theft and deception in
Hermes. Agriculture and commerce, still more than preceding types of
occupation, demand thoughtfulness and the long look ahead.

The _differentiation of labor_ has been a powerful influence for
increasing the range of mental life and stimulating its development. If
all do the same thing, all are much alike, and inevitably remain on a
low level. But when the needs of men induce different kinds of work,
slumbering capacities are aroused and new ones are called into being.
The most deeply-rooted differentiation of labor is that between the
sexes. The woman performs the work within or near the dwelling, the man
hunts or tends the flocks or ranges abroad. This probably tends to
accentuate further certain organic differences. Among the men, group
life in its simplest phases has little differentiation except "for
counsel" or "for war." But with metal working and agricultural life the
field widens. At first the specializing is largely by families rather
than by individual choice. Castes of workmen may take the place of mere
kinship ties. Later on the rules of caste in turn become a hindrance to
individuality and must be broken down if the individual is to emerge to
full self-direction.

=2. The Arts and Crafts.=--Aside from their influence as work, the arts
and crafts have a distinctly elevating and refining effect. The
textiles, pottery, and skilfully made tools and weapons; the huts or
houses when artistically constructed; the so-called free or fine arts of
dance and music, of color and design--all have this common element: they
give some visible or audible embodiment for order or form. The artist or
craftsman must make definite his idea in order to work it out in cloth
or clay, in wood or stone, in dance or song. When thus embodied, it is
preserved, at least for a time. It is part of the daily environment of
the society. Those who see or hear are having constantly suggested to
them ideas and values which bring more meaning into life and elevate its
interests. Moreover, the order, the rational plan or arrangement which
is embodied in all well-wrought objects, as well as in the fine arts in
the narrow sense, deserves emphasis. Plato and Schiller have seen in
this a valuable preparation for morality. To govern action by law is
moral, but it is too much to expect this of the savage and the child as
a conscious principle where the law opposes impulse. In art as in play
there is direct interest and pleasure in the act, but in art there is
also order or law. In conforming to this order the savage, or the child,
is in training for the more conscious control where the law, instead of
favoring, may thwart or oppose impulse and desire.

=3. War.=--War and the contests in games were serving to work out
characteristics which received also a definite social reënforcement:
namely, courage and efficiency, a sense of power, a consciousness of
achievement. All these, like craft, may be used for unmoral or even
immoral ends, but they are also highly important as factors in an
effective moral personality.


=Coöperation and Mutual Aid.=[19]--Aside from their effects in promoting
intelligence, courage, and ideality of life, industry, art, and war have
a common factor by which they all contribute powerfully to the social
basis of morality. They all require coöperation. They are socializing as
well as rationalizing agencies. Mutual aid is the foundation of
success. "Woe to him who stands alone, e'en though his platter be never
so full," runs the Slav proverb. "He that belongs to no community is
like unto one without a hand." Those clans or groups which can work
together, and fight together, are stronger in the struggle against
nature and other men. The common activities of art have value in making
this community of action more possible. Coöperation implies a common
end. It means that each is interested in the success of all. This common
end forms then a controlling rule of action, and the mutual interest
means sympathy. Coöperation is therefore one of nature's most effective
agencies for a social standard and a social feeling.

=1. Coöperation in Industry.=--In industry, while there was not in
primitive life the extensive exchange of goods which expresses the
interdependence of modern men, there was yet much concerted work, and
there was a great degree of community of property. In groups which lived
by hunting or fishing, for instance, although certain kinds of game
might be pursued by the individual hunter, the great buffalo and deer
hunts were organized by the tribe as a whole. "A hunting bonfire was
kindled every morning at daybreak at which each brave must appear and
report. The man who failed to do this before the party set out on the
day's hunt was harassed by ridicule."[20] Salmon fishery was also
conducted as a joint undertaking. Large game in Africa is hunted in a
similar fashion, and the product of the chase is not for the individual
but for the group. In the pastoral life the care of the flocks and herds
necessitates at least some sort of coöperation to protect these flocks
from the attacks of wild beasts and from the more dreaded forays of
human robbers. This requires a considerable body of men, and the
journeying about in company, the sharing together of watch and ward, the
common interest in the increase of flocks and herds, continually
strengthens the bonds between the dwellers in tents.

In the agricultural stage there are still certain forces at work which
promote the family or tribal unity, although here we begin to find the
forces which make for individuality at work until they result in
individual ownership and individual property. Just as at the pastoral
stage, so in this, the cattle and the growing grain must be protected
from attacks by man and beast. It is only the group which can afford
such protection, and accordingly we find the Lowland farmer always at
the mercy of the Highland clan.

=2. Coöperation in War.=--War and the blood feud, however divisive
between groups, were none the less potent as uniting factors within the
several groups. The members must not only unite or be wiped out, when
the actual contest was on, but the whole scheme of mutual help in
defense or in avenging injuries and insults made constant demand upon
fellow feeling, and sacrifice for the good of all. To gain more land for
the group, to acquire booty for the group, to revenge a slight done to
some member of the group, were constant causes for war. Now although any
individual might be the gainer, yet the chances were that he would
himself suffer even though the group should win. In the case of blood
revenge particularly, most of the group were not individually
interested. Their resentment was a "sympathetic resentment," and one
author has regarded this as perhaps the most fundamental of the sources
of moral emotion. It was because the tribal blood had been shed, or the
women of the clan insulted, that the group as a whole reacted, and in
the clash of battle with opposing groups, was closer knit together.

  "Ally thyself with whom thou wilt in peace, yet know
  In war must every man be foe who is not kin."

"Comrades in arms" by the very act of fighting together have a common
cause, and by the mutual help and protection given and received become,
for the time at least, one in will and one in heart. Ulysses counsels
Agamemnon to marshal his Greeks, clan by clan and "brotherhood (phratry)
by brotherhood," that thus brother may support and stimulate brother
more effectively; but the effect is reciprocal, and it is indeed very
probable that the unity of blood which is believed to be the tie binding
together the members of the group, is often an afterthought or pious
fiction designed to account for the unity which was really due
originally to the stress of common struggle.

=3. Art as Socializing Agency.=--Coöperation and sympathy are fostered
by the activities of art. Some of these activities are spontaneous, but
most of them serve some definite social end and are frequently organized
for the definite purpose of increasing the unity and sympathy of the
group. The hunting dance or the war dance represents, in dramatic form,
all the processes of the hunt or fight, but it would be a mistake to
suppose that this takes place purely for dramatic purposes. The dance
and celebration after the chase or battle may give to the whole tribe
the opportunity to repeat in vivid imagination the triumphs of the
successful hunter or warrior, and thus to feel the thrill of victory and
exult in common over the fallen prey. The dance which takes place before
the event is designed to give magical power to the hunter or warrior.
Every detail is performed with the most exact care and the whole tribe
is thus enabled to share in the work of preparation.

In the act of song the same uniting force is present. To sing with
another involves a contagious sympathy, in perhaps a higher degree than
is the case with any other art. There is, in the first place, as in the
dance, a unity of rhythm. Rhythm is based upon coöperation and, in turn,
immensely strengthens the possibility of coöperation. In the
bas-reliefs upon the Egyptian monuments representing the work of a large
number of men who are moving a stone, we find the sculptured figure of a
man who is beating the time for the combined efforts. Whether all rhythm
has come from the necessities of common action or whether it has a
physiological basis sufficient to account for the effect which rhythmic
action produces, in any case when a company of people begin to work or
dance or sing in rhythmic movement, their efficiency and their pleasure
are immensely increased. In addition to the effect of rhythm we have
also in the case of song the effect of unity of pitch and of melody, and
the members of the tribe or clan, like those who to-day sing the
Marseillaise or chant the great anthems of the church, feel in the
strongest degree their mutual sympathy and support. For this reason, the
Corroborees of the Australian, the sacred festivals of Israel, the
Mysteries and public festivals of the Greeks, in short, among all
peoples, the common gatherings of the tribe for patriotic or religious
purposes, have been attended with dance and song. In many cases these
carry the members on to a pitch of enthusiasm where they are ready to
die for the common cause.

Melodic and rhythmic sound is a unifying force simply by reason of form,
and some of the simpler songs seem to have little else to commend them,
but at very early periods there is not merely the song but the recital,
in more or less rhythmic or literary form, of the history of the tribe
and the deeds of the ancestors. This adds still another to the unifying
forces of the dance and song. The kindred group, as they hear the
recital, live over together the history of the group, thrill with pride
at its glories, suffer at its defeats; every member feels that the
clan's history is his history and the clan's blood his blood.


Family life, so far as it is merely on the basis of instinct, takes its
place with other agencies favored by natural selection which make for
more rational and social existence. Various instincts are more or less
at work. The sex instinct brings the man and the woman together. The
instinct of jealousy, and the property or possessing instinct, may
foster exclusive and permanent relations. The parental instinct and
affection bind the parents together and thus contribute to the formation
of the social group described in the preceding chapter. Considering now
the more immediate relations of husband and wife, parents and children,
rather than the more general group relations, we call attention to some
of the most obvious aspects, leaving fuller treatment for Part III. The
idealizing influences of the sex instinct, when this is subject to the
general influences found in group life, is familiar. Lyric song is a
higher form of its manifestation, but even a mute lover may be
stimulated to fine thoughts or brave deeds. Courtship further implies an
adaptation, an effort to please, which is a strong socializing force. If
"all the world loves a lover," it must be because the lover is on the
whole a likable rôle. But other forces come in. Sex love is intense, but
so far as it is purely instinctive it may be transitory. Family life
needed more permanence than sex attraction could provide, and before the
powerful sanctions of religion, society, and morals were sufficient to
secure permanence, it is probable that the property interest of the
husband was largely effective in building up a family life, requiring
fidelity to the married relation on the part of the wife.

But the most far-reaching of the forces at work in the family has been
the parental instinct and affection with its consequences upon both
parents and children. It contributes probably more than any other
naturally selected agency to the development of the race in sympathy; it
shares with work in the development of responsibility. It is indeed one
of the great incentives to industry throughout the higher species of
animals as well as in human life. The value of parental care in the
struggle for existence is impressively presented by Sutherland.[21]
Whereas the fishes which exercise no care for their eggs preserve their
species only by producing these in enormous numbers, certain species
which care for them maintain their existence by producing relatively
few. Many species produce hundreds of thousands or even millions of
eggs. The stickleback, which constructs a nest and guards the young for
a few days, is one of the most numerous of fishes, but it lays only from
twenty to ninety eggs. Birds and mammals with increased parental care
produce few young. Not only is parental care a valuable asset, it is an
absolute necessity for the production of the higher species. "In the
fierce competition of the animated forms of earth, the loftier type,
with its prolonged nervous growth, and consequently augmented period of
helplessness, can never arise but with concomitant increases of parental
care." Only as the emotional tendency has kept pace with the nerve
development has the human race been possible. The very refinements in
the organism which make the adult a victor would render the infant a
victim if it were without an abundance of loving assistance.[22]

Whether, as has been supposed by some, the parental care has also been
the most effective force in keeping the parents together through a
lengthened infancy, or whether other factors have been more effective in
this particular, there is no need to enlarge upon the wide-reaching
moral values of parental affection. It is the atmosphere in which the
child begins his experience. So far as any environment can affect him,
this is a constant influence for sympathy and kindness. And upon the
parents themselves its transforming power, in making life serious, in
overcoming selfishness, in projecting thought and hope on into the
future, cannot be measured. The moral order and progress of the world
might conceivably spare some of the agencies which man has devised; it
could not spare this.


On this first level we are evidently dealing with forces and conduct,
not as moral in purpose, but as valuable in result. They make a more
rational, ideal, and social life, and this is the necessary basis for
more conscious control and valuation of conduct. The forces are
biological or sociological or psychological. They are not that
particular kind of psychological activities which we call moral in the
proper sense, for this implies not only getting a good result but aiming
at it. Some of the activities, such as those of song and dance, or the
simpler acts of maternal care, have a large instinctive element. We
cannot call these moral in _so far as_ they are purely instinctive.
Others imply a large amount of intelligence, as, for example, the
operations of agriculture and the various crafts. These have purpose,
such as to satisfy hunger, or to forge a weapon against an enemy. But
the end is one set up by our physical or instinctive nature. So long as
this is merely _accepted_ as an end, and not compared with others,
valued, and _chosen_, it is not properly moral.

The same is true of emotions. There are certain emotions on the
instinctive level. Such are parental love in its most elemental form,
sympathy as mere contagious feeling, anger, or resentment. So far as
these are at this lowest level, so far as they signify simply a bodily
thrill, they have no claim to proper moral value. They are tremendously
important as the source from which strong motive forces of benevolence,
intelligent parental care, and an ardent energy against evil may draw
warmth and fire.

Finally, even the coöperation, the mutual aid, which men give, so far as
it is called out purely by common danger, or common advantage, is not in
the moral sphere in so far as it is instinctive, or merely give and
take. To be genuinely moral there must be some thought of the danger as
touching others and _therefore_ requiring our aid; of the advantage as
being common and _therefore_ enlisting our help.

But even although these processes are not consciously moral they are
nevertheless fundamental. The activities necessary for existence, and
the emotions so intimately bound up with them, are the "cosmic roots" of
the moral life. And often in the higher stages of culture, when the
codes and instruction of morality and society fail to secure right
conduct, these elementary agencies of work, coöperation, and family life
assert their power. Society and morality take up the direction of the
process and carry it further, but they must always rely largely on these
primary activities to afford the basis for intelligent, reliable, and
sympathetic conduct.


Bagehot, _Physics and Politics_, 1890; Bücher, _Industrial Evolution_,
Eng. tr., 1901, _Arbeit und Rythmus_, 3rd ed., 1901; Schurtz,
_Urgeschichte der Kultur_, 1900; Fiske, _Cosmic Philosophy_, Vol. II.,
_The Cosmic Roots of Love and Self-sacrifice_ in Through Nature to God,
1899; Dewey, _Interpretation of the Savage Mind_, Psychological Review,
Vol. IX., 1892, pp. 217-230; Durkheim, _De la Division du Travail
Social_, 1893; P. Kropotkin, _Mutual Aid, a Factor in Evolution_, 1902;
ROSS, _Foundations of Society_, 1905, Chap. VII.; Baldwin, Article
_Socionomic Forces_ in his Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology;
Giddings, _Inductive Sociology_, 1901; Small, _General Sociology_, 1906;
Tarde, _Les Lois de l'Imitation_, 1895; W. I. Thomas, _Sex and Society_,
1907, pp. 55-172; Gummere, _The Beginnings of Poetry_, 1901; Hirn, _The
Origin of Art_, 1900.


[19] P. Kropotkin, _Mutual Aid a Factor in Evolution_; Bagehot, _Physics
and Politics_.

[20] Eastman, _Indian Boyhood_.

[21] _The Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct_, Chs. II.-V.

[22] _Ibid._, p. 99.



We have seen how the natural forces of instinct lead to activities which
elevate men and knit them together. We consider next the means which
society uses for these purposes, and the kind of conduct which goes
along with the early forms of society's agencies. The organization of
early society is that of group life, and so far as the individual is
merged in the group the type of conduct may be called "group morality."
Inasmuch as the agencies by which the group controls its members are
largely those of custom, the morality may be called also "customary
morality." Such conduct is what we called at the opening of the previous
chapter "the second level." It is "ethical" or "moral" in the sense of
conforming to the _ethos_ or _mores_ of the group.


=Meaning of Customs or Mores.=--Wherever we find groups of men living as
outlined in Chapter II., we find that there are certain ways of acting
which are common to the group--"folkways." Some of these may be due
merely to the fact that the members are born of the same stock, just as
all ducks swim. But a large part of human conduct, in savage as truly as
in civilized life, is not merely instinctive. There are _approved_ ways
of acting, common to a group, and handed down from generation to
generation. Such approved ways of doing and acting are customs, or to
use the Latin term, which Professor Sumner thinks brings out more
clearly this factor of approval, they are _mores_.[23] They are
habits--but they are more. They imply the judgment of the group that
they are to be followed. The welfare of the group is regarded as in some
sense imbedded in them. If any one acts contrary to them he is made to
feel the group's disapproval. The young are carefully trained to observe
them. At times of special importance, they are rehearsed with special

=Authority Behind the Mores.=--The old men, or the priests, or medicine
men, or chiefs, or old women, may be the especial guardians of these
customs. They may modify details, or add new customs, or invent
explanations for old ones. But the authority back of them is the group
in the full sense. Not the group composed merely of visible and living
members, but the larger group which includes the dead, and the kindred
totemic or ancestral gods. Nor is it the group considered as a
collection of individual persons. It is rather in a vague way the whole
mental and social world. The fact that most of the customs have no known
date or origin makes them seem a part of the nature of things. Indeed
there is more than a mere analogy between the primitive regard for
custom and that respect for "Nature" which from the Stoics to Spencer
has sought a moral standard in living "according to nature." And there
is this much in favor of taking the world of custom as the standard: the
beings of this system are like the person who is expected to behave like
them; its rules are the ways in which his own kin have lived and
prospered, and not primarily the laws of cosmic forces, plants, and

=Origin of Customs; Luck.=--The origin of customs is to be sought in
several concurrent factors. There are in the first place the activities
induced by the great primitive needs and instincts. Some ways of acting
succeed; some fail. Man not only establishes habits of acting in the
successful ways; he remembers his failures. He hands successful ways
down with his approval; he condemns those that fail.

This attitude is reënforced by the views about good luck and bad luck.
Primitive man--and civilized man--is not ruled by a purely rational
theory of success and failure. "One might use the best known means with
the greatest care, yet fail of the result. On the other hand, one might
get a great result with no effort at all. One might also incur a
calamity without any fault of his own."[24] "Grimm gives more than a
thousand ancient German apothegms, dicta, and proverbs about
'luck.'"[25] Both good and bad fortune are attributed to the unseen
powers, hence a case of bad luck is not thought of as a mere chance. If
the ship that sailed Friday meets a storm, or one of thirteen falls
sick, the inference is that this is sure to happen again. And at this
point the conception of the group welfare as bound up with the acts of
every member, comes in to make individual conformity a matter for group
concern--to make conduct a matter of mores and not merely a private
affair. One most important, if not the most important, object of early
legislation was the enforcement of lucky rites to prevent the individual
from doing what might bring ill luck on all the tribe. For the
conception always was that the ill luck does not attach itself simply to
the doer, but may fall upon any member of the group. "The act of one
member is conceived to make all the tribe impious, to offend its
particular god, to expose all the tribe to penalties from heaven. When
the street statues of Hermes were mutilated, all the Athenians were
frightened and furious; they thought they should all be ruined because
some one had mutilated a god's image and so offended him."[26] "The
children were reproved for cutting and burning embers, on the ground
that this might be the cause for the accidental cutting of some member
of the family."[27] In the third place, besides these sources of custom,
in the usefulness or lucky character of certain acts, there is also the
more immediate reaction of individuals or groups to certain ways of
acting according "as things jump with the feelings or displease
them."[28] An act of daring is applauded, whether useful or not. The
individual judgment is caught up, repeated, and plays its part in the
formation of group opinion. "Individual impulse and social tradition are
thus the two poles between which we move." Or there may even be a more
conscious discussion analogous to the action of legislatures or
philosophic discussion. The old men among the Australians deliberate
carefully as to each step of the initiation ceremonies. They make
customs to be handed down.


The most general means for enforcing customs are public opinion, taboos,
ritual or ceremony, and physical force.

=Public Approval= uses both language and form to express its judgments.
Its praise is likely to be emphasized by some form of art. The songs
that greet the returning victor, the decorations, costumes, and tattoos
for those who are honored, serve to voice the general sentiment. On the
other hand ridicule or contempt is a sufficient penalty to enforce
compliance with many customs that may be personally irksome. It is very
largely the ridicule of the men's house which enforces certain customs
among the men of peoples which have that institution. It is the ridicule
or scorn of both men and women which forbids the Indian to marry before
he has proved his manhood by some notable deed of prowess in war or

=Taboos.=--Taboos are perhaps not so much a means for enforcing custom,
as they are themselves customs invested with peculiar and awful
sanction. They prohibit or ban any contact with certain persons or
objects under penalty of danger from unseen beings. Any events supposed
to indicate the activity of spirits, such as birth and death, are likely
to be sanctified by taboos. The danger is contagious; if a Polynesian
chief is taboo, the ordinary man fears even to touch his footprints. But
the taboos are not all based on mere dread of the unseen.

    "They include such acts as have been found by experience to
    produce unwelcome results.--The primitive taboos correspond to the
    fact that the life of man is environed by perils: His food quest
    must be limited by shunning poisonous plants. His appetite must be
    restrained from excess. His physical strength and health must be
    guarded from dangers. The taboos carry on the accumulated wisdom
    of generations which has almost always been purchased by pain,
    loss, disease, and death. Other taboos contain inhibitions of what
    will be injurious to the group. The laws about the sexes, about
    property, about war, and about ghosts, have this character. They
    always include some social philosophy." (SUMNER, _Folkways_, pp.
    33 f.)

They may be used with conscious purpose. In order to have a supply of
cocoanuts for a religious festival the head men may place a taboo upon
the young cocoanuts to prevent them from being consumed before they are
fully ripe. The conception works in certain respects to supply the
purpose which is later subserved by ideas of property. But it serves
also as a powerful agency to maintain respect for the authority of the

=Ritual.=--As taboo is the great negative guardian of customs, ritual is
the great positive agent. It works by forming habits, and operates
through associations formed by actually doing certain acts, usually
under conditions which appeal to the emotions. The charm of music and
of orderly movement, the impressiveness of ordered masses in
processions, the awe of mystery, all contribute to stamp in the meaning
and value. Praise or blame encourages or inhibits; ritual secures the
actual doing and at the same time gives a value to the doing. It is
employed by civilized peoples more in the case of military or athletic
drill, or in training children to observe forms of etiquette, so that
these may become "second nature." Certain religious bodies also use its
agency. But in primitive life it is widely and effectively used to
insure for educational, political, and domestic customs obedience to the
group standards, which among us it secures to the codes of the army, or
to those of social etiquette. Examples of its elaborate and impressive
use will be given below under educational ceremonies.

=Physical Force.=--When neither group opinion, nor taboo, nor ritual
secures conformity, there is always in the background physical force.
The chiefs are generally men of strength whose word may not be lightly
disregarded. Sometimes, as among the Sioux, the older braves constitute
a sort of police. Between different clans the blood feud is the accepted
method of enforcing custom, unless a substitute, the wergeld, is
provided. For homicide within a clan the remaining members may drive the
slayer out, and whoever meets such a Cain may slay him. If a man
murdered his chief of kindred among the ancient Welsh he was banished
and "it was required of every one of every sex and age within hearing of
the horn to follow that exile and to keep up the barking of dogs, to the
time of his putting to sea, until he shall have passed three score hours
out of sight."[29] It should be borne in mind, however, that physical
pains, either actual or dreaded, would go but a little way toward
maintaining authority in any such group as we have regarded as typical.
Absolutism, with all its cruel methods of enforcing terror, needs a more
highly organized system. In primitive groups the great majority support
the authority of the group as a matter of course, and uphold it as a
sacred duty when it is challenged. Physical coercion is not the rule but
the exception.


Although customs or mores have in them an element of social approval
which makes them vehicles of moral judgment, they tend in many cases to
sink to the level of mere habits. The reason--such as it was--for their
original force--is forgotten. They become, like many of our forms of
etiquette, mere conventions. There are, however, certain conditions
which center attention upon their importance and lift them to the level
of conscious agencies. These conditions may be grouped under three
heads. (1) The education of the younger, immature members of the group
and their preparation for full membership. (2) The constraint and
restraint of refractory members and the adjustment of conflicting
interests. (3) Occasions which involve some notable danger or crisis and
therefore call for the greatest attention to secure the favor of the
gods and avert disaster.

=1. Educational Customs.=--Among the most striking and significant of
these are the initiation ceremonies which are so widely observed among
primitive peoples. They are held with the purpose of inducting boys into
the privileges of manhood and into the full life of the group. They are
calculated at every step to impress upon the initiate his own ignorance
and helplessness in contrast with the wisdom and power of the group; and
as the mystery with which they are conducted imposes reverence for the
elders and the authorities of the group, so the recital of the
traditions and performances of the tribe, the long series of ritual
acts, common participation in the mystic dance and song and decorations,
serve to reënforce the ties that bind the tribe.

Initiation into the full privileges of manhood among the tribes of
Central Australia, for instance, includes three sets of ceremonies which
occupy weeks, and even months, for their completion. The first set,
called "throwing up in the air," is performed for the boy when he has
reached the age of from ten to twelve. In connection with being thrown
up in the air by certain prescribed members of his tribe, he is
decorated with various totem emblems and afterward the septum of his
nose is bored for the insertion of the nose-bone. At a period some three
or four years later a larger and more formidable series of ceremonies is
undertaken, lasting for ten days. A screen of bushes is built, behind
which the boy is kept during the whole period, unless he is brought out
on the ceremonial ground to witness some performance. During this whole
period of ten days, he is forbidden to speak except in answer to
questions. He is decorated with various totem emblems, for which every
detail is prescribed by the council of the tribal fathers and tribal
elder brothers. He is charged to obey every command and never to tell
any woman or boy what he may see. The sense that something out of the
ordinary is to happen to him helps to impress him strongly with a
feeling of the deep importance of compliance with the tribal rules, and
further still, with a strong sense of the superiority of the older men
who know and are familiar with the mysterious rites of which he is about
to learn the meaning for the first time. At intervals he watches
symbolic performances of men decorated like various totem animals, who
represent the doings of the animal ancestors of the clan; he hears
mysterious sounds of the so-called bull-roarers, which are supposed by
the women and uninitiated to be due to unseen spirits; and the whole
ends with the operation which symbolizes his induction into young
manhood. But even this is not all; when the young man has reached the
age of discretion, when it is felt that he can fully comprehend the
traditions of the tribe, at the age of from twenty to twenty-five, a
still more impressive series of ceremonies is conducted, which in the
instance reported lasted from September to January. This period was
filled up with dances, "corroborees," and inspection of the churinga or
sacred emblems--stones or sticks which were supposed to be the dwellings
of ancestral spirits and which are carefully preserved in the tribe,
guarded from the sight of women and boys, but known individually to the
elders as the sacred dwelling-place of father or grandfather. As these
were shown and passed around, great solemnity was manifest and the
relatives sometimes wept at the sight of the sacred object. Ceremonies
imitating various totem animals, frequently of the most elaborate sort,
were also performed. The young men were told the traditions of the past
history of the tribe, and at the close of the recital they felt added
reverence for the old men who had been their instructors, a sense of
pride in the possession of this mysterious knowledge, and a deeper unity
because of what they now have in common. One is at a loss whether to
wonder most at the possibility of the whole tribe devoting itself for
three months to these elaborate functions of initiation, or at the
marvelous adaptability of such ceremonies to train the young into an
attitude of docility and reverence. A tribe that can enforce such a
process is not likely to be wanting in one side, at least, of the moral
consciousness, namely, reverence for authority and regard for the social

=2. Law and Justice.=--The occasions for some control over refractory
members will constantly arise, even though the conflict between group
and individual may need no physical sanctions to enforce the authority
of the group over its members. The economic motive frequently prompts an
individual to leave the tribe or the joint family. There was a constant
tendency, Eastman states, among his people, when on a hunting expedition
in the enemy's country, to break up into smaller parties to obtain food
more easily and freely. The police did all they could to keep in check
those parties who were intent on stealing away. Another illustration of
the same tendency is stated by Maine with reference to the joint
families of the South Slavonians:

    "The adventurous and energetic member of the brotherhood is always
    rebelling against its natural communism. He goes abroad and makes
    his fortune, and as strenuously resists the demands of his
    relatives to bring it into the common account. Or perhaps he
    thinks that his share of the common stock would be more profitably
    employed by him as capital in a mercantile venture. In either case
    he becomes a dissatisfied member or a declared enemy of the

Or covetousness might lead to violation of the ban, as with Achan. Sex
impulse may lead a man to seek for his wife a woman not in the lawful
group. Or, as one of the most dangerous offenses possible, a member of
the group may be supposed to practice witchcraft. This is to use
invisible powers in a selfish manner, and has been feared and punished
by almost all peoples.

In all these cases it is of course no abstract theory of crime which
leads the community to react; it is self-preservation. The tribe must be
kept together for protection against enemies. Achan's sin is felt to be
the cause of defeat. The violation of sex taboos may ruin the clan. The
sorcerer may cause disease, or inflict torture and death, or bring a
pestilence or famine upon the whole group. None the less all such cases
bring to consciousness one aspect of moral authority, the social
control over the individual.

And it is a _social_ control--not an exercise of brute force or a mere
terrorizing by ghosts. For the chief or judge generally wins his
authority by his powerful service to his tribesmen. A Gideon or Barak or
Ehud or Jephthah judged Israel because he had delivered them. "Three
things, if possessed by a man, make him fit to be a chief of kindred:
That he should speak on behalf of his kin and be listened to, that he
should fight on behalf of his kin and be feared, and that he should be
security on behalf of his kin and be accepted."[32] If, as is often the
case, the king or judge or chief regards himself as acting by divine
right, the authority is still _within the group_. It is the group
judging itself.

In its _standards_ this primitive court is naturally on the level of
customary morality, of which it is an agent. There is usually neither
the conception of a general principle of justice (our Common Law), nor
of a positive law enacted as the express will of the people. At first
the judge or ruler may not act by any fixed law except that of upholding
the customs. Each decision is then a special case. A step in advance is
found when the heads or elders or priests of the tribe decide cases, not
independently of all others, but in accordance with certain precedents
or customs. A legal tradition is thus established, which, however
imperfect, is likely to be more impartial than the arbitrary caprice of
the moment, influenced as such special decisions are likely to be by the
rank or power of the parties concerned.[33] A law of precedents or
tradition is thus the normal method at this level. The progress toward a
more rational standard belongs under the next chapter, but it is
interesting to note that even at an early age the myths show a
conception of a divine judge who is righteous, and a divine judgment
which is ideal. Rhadamanthus is an embodiment of the demand for justice
which human collisions and decisions awakened.

The conscious authority of the group is also evoked in the case of feuds
or disputes between its members. The case of the blood feud, indeed,
might well be treated as belonging under war and international law
rather than as a case of private conflict. For so far as the members of
the victim's clan are concerned, it is a case of war. It is a patriotic
duty of every kinsman to avenge the shed blood. The groups concerned
were smaller than modern nations which go to war for similar reasons,
but the principle is the same. The chief difference in favor of modern
international wars is that since the groups are larger they do not fight
so often and require a more serious consideration of the possibility of
peaceable adjustment. Orestes and Hamlet feel it a sacred duty to avenge
their fathers' murders.

But the case is not simply that of clan against clan. For the smaller
group of kin, who are bound to avenge, are nearly always part of a
larger group. And the larger group may at once recognize the duty of
vengeance and also the need of keeping it within bounds, or of
substituting other practices. The larger group may see in the murder a
pollution, dangerous to all;[34] the blood which "cries from the
ground"[35] renders the ground "unclean" and the curse of gods or the
spirits of the dead may work woe upon the whole region. But an unending
blood feud is likewise an evil. And if the injured kin can be appeased
by less than blood in return, so much the better. Hence the wergeld, or
indemnity, a custom which persisted among the Irish until late, and
seemed to the English judges a scandalous procedure.

For lesser offenses a sort of regulated duel is sometimes allowed. For
example, among the Australians the incident is related of the treatment
of a man who had eloped with his neighbor's wife. When the recreant
parties returned the old men considered what should be done, and finally
arranged the following penalty. The offender stood and called out to the
injured husband, "I stole your woman; come and growl." The husband then
proceeded to throw a spear at him from a distance, and afterwards to
attack him with a knife, although he did not attempt to wound him in a
vital part. The offender was allowed to evade injury, though not to
resent the attack. Finally the old men said, "Enough." A curious form of
private agencies for securing justice is also found in the Japanese
custom of hara-kiri, according to which an injured man kills himself
before the door of his offender, in order that he may bring public odium
upon the man who has injured him. An Indian custom of Dharna is of
similar significance, though less violent. The creditor fasts before the
door of the debtor until he either is paid, or dies of starvation. It
may be that he thinks that his double or spirit will haunt the cruel
debtor who has thus permitted him to starve to death, but it also has
the effect of bringing public opinion to bear.

In all these cases of kindred feuds there is little personal
responsibility, and likewise little distinction between the accidental
and intentional. These facts are brought out in the opening quotations
in Chapter II. The important thing for the student to observe is that
like our present practices in international affairs they show a _grade_
of morality, a limited social unity, whether it is called kinship
feeling or patriotism; complete morality is not possible so long as
there is no complete way of settling disputes by justice instead of

=3. Occasions Which Involve Some Special Danger or Crisis.=--Such
occasions call for the greatest attention to secure success or avoid
disaster. Under this head we note as typical (a) the occasions of birth,
marriage, death; (b) seed time and harvest, or other seasons important
for the maintenance of the group; (c) war; (d) hospitality.

=(a) Birth and Death Customs.=--The entrance of a new life into the
world and the disappearance of the animating breath (_spiritus_,
_anima_, _psyche_), might well impress man with the mysteries of his
world. Whether the newborn infant is regarded as a reincarnation of an
ancestral spirit as with the Australians, or as a new creation from the
spirit world as with the Kafirs, it is a time of danger. The mother must
be "purified,"[37] the child, and in some cases the father, must be
carefully guarded. The elaborate customs show the group judgment of the
importance of the occasion. And the rites for the dead are yet more
impressive. For as a rule the savage has no thought of an entire
extinction of the person. The dead lives on in some mode, shadowy and
vague, perhaps, but he is still potent, still a member of the group,
present at the tomb or the hearth. The preparation of the body for
burial or other disposition, the ceremonies of interment or of the pyre,
the wailing, and mourning costumes, the provision of food and weapons,
or of the favorite horse or wife, to be with the dead in the unseen
world, the perpetual homage paid--all these are eloquent. The event, as
often as it occurs, appeals by both sympathy and awe to the common
feeling, and brings to consciousness the unity of the group and the
control exercised by its judgments.

The regulations for marriage are scarcely less important; indeed, they
are often seemingly the most important of the customs. The phrases
"marriage by capture" and "marriage by purchase," are quite misleading
if they give the impression that in early culture any man may have any
woman. It is an almost universal part of the clan system that the man
must marry out of his own clan or totem (exogamy), and it is frequently
specified exactly into what other clan he must marry. Among some the
regulations are minute as to which of the age classes, as well as to
which of the kin groups, a man of specific group must choose from. The
courtship may follow different rules from ours, and the relation of the
sexes in certain respects may seem so loose as to shock the student, but
the regulation is in many respects stricter than with us, and punishment
of its violation often severer. There can be no doubt of the meaning of
the control, however mistaken some of its features. Whether the
regulations for exogamy, which provide so effectually for avoiding
incest, are reinforced by an instinctive element of aversion to sex
relations with intimates, is uncertain; in any case, they are enforced
by the strongest taboos. Nor does primitive society stop with the
negative side. The actual marriage is invested with the social values
and religious sanctions which raise the relation to a higher level. Art,
in garments and ornament, in dance and epithalamium, lends ideal values.
The sacred meal at the encircled hearth secures the participation of the
kindred gods.

=(b) Certain Days or Seasons Important for the Industrial Life.=--Seed
time and harvest, the winter and summer solstices, the return of spring,
are of the highest importance to agricultural and pastoral peoples, and
are widely observed with solemn rites. Where the rain is the center of
anxiety, a whole ritual may arise in connection with it, as among the
Zuñi Indians. Ceremonies lasting days, involving the preparation of
special symbols of clouds and lightning, and the participation of
numerous secret fraternities, constrain the attention of all. Moreover,
this constraint of need, working through the conception of what the
gods require, enforces some very positive moral attitudes:

    "A Zuñi must speak with one tongue (sincerely) in order to have
    his prayers received by the gods, and unless his prayers are
    accepted no rains will come, which means starvation. He must be
    gentle, and he must speak and act with kindness to all, for the
    gods care not for those whose lips speak harshly. He must observe
    continence four days previous to, and four days following, the
    sending of breath prayers through the spiritual essence of plume
    offerings, and thus their passions are brought under control."
    (MRS. M. C. STEVENSON in 23d Report, _Bureau of Ethnology_.)

Phases of the moon give other sacred days. Sabbaths which originally are
negative--the forbidding of labor--may become later the bearers of
positive social and spiritual value. In any case, all these festivals
bring the group authority to consciousness, and by their ritual promote
the intimate group sympathy and consciousness of a common end.

=(c) War.=--War as a special crisis always brings out the significance
and importance of certain customs. The deliberations, the magic, the war
paint which precede, the obedience compelled by it to chiefs, the
extraordinary powers exercised by the chief or heads at such crises, the
sense of danger which strains the attention, all insure attention. No
carelessness is permitted. Defeat is interpreted as a symbol of divine
anger because of a violated law or custom. Victory brings all together
to celebrate the glory of the clan and to mourn in common the warriors
slain in the common cause. Excellence here may be so conspicuous in its
service, or in the admiration it calls out, as to become a general term
for what the group approves. So the _aret[=e]_ of the Greeks became
their general term, and the Latin _virtus_, if not so clearly military,
was yet largely military in its early coloring. The "spirit of Jehovah,"
the symbol of divine approval and so of group approval, was believed to
be with Samson and Jephthah in their deeds of prowess in Israel's

=(d) Hospitality.=--To the modern man who travels without fear and
receives guests as a matter of almost daily practice, it may seem
strained to include hospitality along with unusual or critical events.
But the ceremonies observed and the importance attached to its rites,
show that hospitality was a matter of great significance; its customs
were among the most sacred.

    "But as for us," says Ulysses to the Cyclops, "we have lighted
    here, and come to these thy knees, if perchance they will give us
    a stranger's gift, or make any present, as is the due of
    strangers. Nay, lord, have regard to the gods, for we are thy
    suppliants, and Zeus is the avenger of suppliants and sojourners,
    Zeus, the god of the stranger, who fareth in the company of
    reverend strangers."

The duty of hospitality is one of the most widely recognized.
Westermarck has brought together a series of maxims from a great variety
of races which show this forcibly.[38] Indians, Kalmucks, Greeks,
Romans, Teutons, Arabs, Africans, Ainos, and other peoples are drawn
upon and tell the same story. The stranger is to be respected sacredly.
His person must be guarded from insult even if the honor of the daughter
of the house must be sacrificed.[39] "Jehovah preserveth the
sojourners," and they are grouped with the fatherless and the widow in
Israel's law.[40] The Romans had their _dii hospitales_ and the "duties
toward a guest were even more stringent than those toward a
relative"--_primum tutelæ_, _delude hospiti_, _deinde clienti_, _tum
cognato_, _postea affini_.[41] "He who has a spark of caution in him,"
says Plato, "will do his best to pass through life without sinning
against the stranger." And there is no doubt that this sanctity of the
guest's person was not due to pure kindness. The whole conduct of group
life is opposed to a general spirit of consideration for those outside.
The word "guest" is akin to _hostis_, from which comes "hostile." The
stranger or the guest was looked upon rather as a being who was
specially potent. He was a "live wire." He might be a medium of
blessing, or he might be a medium of hurt. But it was highly important
to fail in no duty toward him. The definite possibility of entertaining
angels unawares might not be always present to consciousness, but there
seems reason to believe that the possibility of good luck or bad luck as
attending on a visitor was generally believed in. It is also plausible
that the importance attached to sharing a meal, or to bodily contact, is
based on magical ideas of the way in which blessing or curse may be
communicated. To cross a threshold or touch a tent-rope or to eat
"salt," gives a sacred claim. In the right of asylum, the refugee takes
advantage of his contact with the god. He lays hold of the altar and
assumes that the god will protect him. The whole practice of hospitality
is thus the converse of the custom of blood revenge. They are alike
sacred--or rather the duty of hospitality may protect even the man whom
the host is bound to pursue. But, whereas the one makes for group
solidarity by acts of exclusive and hostile character, the other tends
to set aside temporarily the division between the "we-group" and the
"others-group." Under the sanction of religion it keeps open a way of
communication which trade and other social interchange will widen. It
adds to family and the men's house a powerful agency in maintaining at
least the possibility of humaneness and sympathy.


These have been suggested, in the main, in the description of the nature
of custom and its regulation of conduct. We may, however, summarize
them as a preparation for the next stage of morality.

=1. The Forming of Standards.=--There is a standard, a "good," a
"right," which is to some degree rational and to some degree social. We
have seen that custom rests in part on rational conceptions of welfare.
It is really nothing against this that a large element of luck enters
into the idea of welfare. For this means merely that the actual
conditions of welfare are not understood. The next generation may be
able to point out as equally absurd our present ignorance about health
and disease. The members of the group embodied in custom what they
thought to be important; they were approving some acts and forbidding or
condemning others; they were using the elders, and the wisdom of all the
past, in order to govern life. So far, then, they were acting morally.
They were also, to a degree, using a rational and social standard when
they made custom binding on all, and conceived its origin as immemorial.
When further they conceived it as approved by the gods, they gave it all
the value they knew how to put into it.

The standards and valuations of custom are, however, only partly
rational. Many customs are irrational; some are injurious. But in them
all the habitual is a large, if not the largest, factor. And this is
often strong enough to resist any attempt at rational testing. Dr.
Arthur Smith tells us of the advantage it would be in certain parts of
China to build a door on the south side of the house in order to get the
breeze in hot weather. The simple and sufficient answer to such a
suggestion is, "We don't build doors on the south side."

An additional weakness in the character of such irrational, or partly
rational standards, is the misplaced energy they involve. What is merely
trivial is made as important and impressive as what has real
significance. Tithing mint, anise, and cummin is quite likely to
involve neglect of the weightier matters of the law. Moral life
requires men to estimate the value of acts. If the irrelevant or the
petty is made important, it not only prevents a high level of value for
the really important act, it loads up conduct with burdens which keep it
back; it introduces elements which must be got rid of later, often with
heavy loss of what is genuinely valuable. When there are so many ways of
offending the gods and when these turn so often upon mere observance of
routine or formula, it may require much subsequent time and energy to
make amends. The morals get an expiatory character.

=2. The Motives.=--In the motives to which it appeals, custom is able to
make a far better showing than earlier writers, like Herbert Spencer,
gave it credit for. It doubtless employs fear in its taboos; it
doubtless enlists the passion of resentment in its blood feuds. Even
these are modified by a social environment. For the fear of violating a
taboo is in part the fear of bringing bad luck on the whole group, and
not merely on the violator. We have, therefore, a quasi-social fear, not
a purely instinctive reaction. The same is true in perhaps a stronger
degree of the resentments. The blood revenge is in a majority of cases
not a personal but a group affair. It is undertaken at personal risk and
for others' interest--or rather for a common interest. The resentment is
thus a "_sympathetic resentment_."[42] Regarded as a mere reaction for
self-preservation this instinctive-emotional process is unmoral. As a
mere desire to produce pain it would be immoral. But so far as it
implies an attitude of reacting from a general point of view and to aid
others, it is moral. Aside from the passions of fear and resentment,
however, there is a wide range of motives enlisted. Filial and parental
affection, some degree of affection between the sexes over and above sex
passion, respect for the aged and the beings who embody ideals however
crude, loyalty to fellow clansmen,--all these are not only fostered but
actually secured by the primitive group. But the motives which imply
reflection--reverence for duty as the imperious law of a larger life,
sincere love of what is good for its own sake--cannot be brought to full
consciousness until there is a more definite conception of a moral
authority, a more definite contrast between the one great good and the
partial or temporary satisfactions. The development of these conceptions
requires a growth in individuality; it requires conflicts between
authority and liberty, and those collisions between private interests
and the public welfare which a higher civilization affords.

=3. The Content.=--When we consider the "what" of group and customary
morality we note at once that the factors which make for the idealizing
and expansion of interests are less in evidence than those which make
for a common and social interest and satisfaction. There is indeed, as
we have noted, opportunity for memory and fancy. The traditions of the
past, the myths, the cultus, the folk songs--these keep up a mental life
which is as genuinely valued as the more physical activities. But as the
mode of life in question does not evoke the more abstractly rational
activities--reasoning, selecting, choosing--in the highest degree, the
ideals lack reach and power. It needs the incentives described in the
following chapters to call out a true life of the spirit. The social
aspects of the "what," on the other hand, are well rooted in group
morality. It is unnecessary to repeat what has been dwelt upon in the
present and preceding chapters so fully. We point out now that while the
standard is social, it is unconsciously rather than consciously social.
Or perhaps better: it is a standard of society but not a standard which
each member deliberately makes his own. He takes it as a matter of
course. He is in the clan, "with the gang"; he thinks and acts
accordingly. He cannot begin to be as selfish as a modern
individualist; he simply hasn't the imagery to conceive such an
exclusive good, nor the tools with which to carry it out. But he cannot
be as broadly social either. He may not be able to sink so low as the
civilized miser, or debauchee, or criminal, but neither can he conceive
or build up the character which implies facing opposition. The moral
hero achieves full stature only when he pits himself against others,
when he recognizes evil and fights it, when he "overcomes the world."

=4. Organization of Character.=--In the organization of stable character
the morality of custom is strong on one side. The group trains its
members to act in the ways it approves and afterwards holds them by all
the agencies in its power. It forms habits and enforces them. Its
weakness is that the element of habit is so large, that of freedom so
small. It holds up the average man; it holds back the man who might
forge ahead. It is an anchor, and a drag.


Much of the literature at the close of Chapters II. and III.,
particularly the works of Spencer and Gillen and Schurtz, belongs here
also. Schoolcraft, _Indian Tribes_, 1851-57; Eastman, _Indian Boyhood_,
1902. Papers on various cults of North American Indians in reports of
the _Bureau of Ethnology_, by Stevenson, 8th, 1886-87; Dorsey, 11th,
1889-90; Fewkes, 15th, 1893-94, 21st, 1899-1900; Fletcher, 22nd,
1900-01; Stevenson, 23d, 1901-02; Kidd, _Savage Childhood_, 1906; _The
Essential Kaffir_, 1904; Skeat, _Malay Magic_, 1900; N. W. Thomas,
general editor of Series, _The Native Races of the British Empire_,
1907-; Barton, _A Sketch of Semitic Origins_, 1902; Harrison,
_Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion_, 1903; Reinach, _Cultes,
Mythes et Religions_, 2 vols., 1905; Frazer, _The Golden Bough_, 3
vols., 1900; Marett, _Is Taboo Negative Magic?_ in Anthropological
Essays, presented to E. B. Tylor, 1907; Crawley, _The Mystic Rose_,
1902; Spencer, _Sociology_, 1876-96; Clifford, _On the Scientific Basis
of Morals_ in Lectures and Essays, 1886; Maine, _Early History of
Institutions_, 1888; _Early Law and Custom_, 1886; Post, _Die Grundlagen
des Rechts und die Grundzüge seiner Entwicklungsgeschichte_, 1884;
_Ethnologische Jurisprudenz_, 1894-95; Pollock and Maitland, _History of
English Law_, 1899; Steinmetz, _Ethnologische Studien zur ersten
Entwicklung der Strafe_, 1894.


[23] W. G. Sumner, _Folkways_.

[24] Sumner, _Folkways_, p. 6.

[25] _Ibid._, p. 11.

[26] Bagehot, _Physics and Politics_, p. 103.

[27] Eastman, _Indian Boyhood_, p. 31.

[28] Hobhouse, _Morals in Evolution_, Part I., p. 16. Hume pointed out
this twofold basis of approval.

[29] Seebohm, _The Tribal System of Wales_, p. 59.

[30] The account is based on Spencer and Gillen, _The Native Tribes of
Central Australia_, chs. vii.-ix.

[31] Maine's _Early Law and Custom_, p. 264.

[32] _Welsh Triads_, cited by Seebohm, op. cit., p. 72.

[33] Post, _Grundlagen des Rechts_, pp. 45 ff.

[34] Deuteronomy 21:1-9; Numbers 35:33, 34.

[35] Genesis 4:10-12; Job 16:18.

[36] On the subject of early justice Westermarck, _The Origin and
Development of Moral Ideas_, ch. vii. ff.; Hobhouse, _Morals in
Evolution_, Part I., ch. ii.; Pollock and Maitland, _History of English

[37] Leviticus, ch. xii.

[38] "The Influence of Magic on Social Relationships" in _Sociological
Papers_, II., 1905. Cf. also Morgan, _House-life_.

[39] Genesis 19:8; Judges 19:23, 24.

[40] Psalms 146:9; Deuteronomy 24:14-22.

[41] Gellius, in Westermarck, op. cit., p. 155.

[42] Westermarck regards this as one of the fundamental elements in the
beginnings of morality.




=1. What the Third Level Means.=--Complete morality is reached only when
the individual recognizes the right or chooses the good freely, devotes
himself heartily to its fulfillment, and seeks a progressive social
development in which every member of society shall share. The group
morality with its agencies of custom set up a standard, but one that was
corporate rather than personal. It approved and disapproved, that is it
had an idea of good, but this did not mean a good that was personally
valued. It enlisted its members, but it was by drill, by pleasure and
pain, and by habit, rather than by fully voluntary action. It secured
steadiness by habit and social pressure, rather than by choices built
into character. It maintained community of feeling and action, but of
the unconscious rather than the definitely social type. Finally it was
rather fitted to maintain a fixed order than to promote and safeguard
progress. Advance then must (1) substitute some rational method of
setting up standards and forming values, in place of habitual passive
acceptance; (2) secure voluntary and personal choice and interest,
instead of unconscious identification with the group welfare, or
instinctive and habitual response to group needs; (3) encourage at the
same time individual development and the demand that all shall share in
this development--the worth and happiness of the person and of _every_

=2. Collisions Involved.=--Such an advance brings to consciousness two
collisions. The oppositions were there before, but they were not felt as
oppositions. So long as the man was fully with his group, or satisfied
with the custom, he would make no revolt. When the movement begins the
collisions are felt. These collisions are:

(1) The collision between the authority and interests of the group, and
the independence and private interests of the individual.

(2) The collision between order and progress, between habit and
reconstruction or reformation.

It is evident that there is a close connection between these two
collisions; in fact, the second becomes in practice a form of the first.
For we saw in the last chapter that custom is really backed and enforced
by the group, and its merely habitual parts are as strongly supported as
those parts which have a more rational basis. It would perhaps be
conceivable that a people should move on all together, working out a
higher civilization in which free thought should keep full reverence for
social values, in which political liberty should keep even pace with the
development of government, in which self-interest should be accompanied
by regard for the welfare of others, just as it may be possible for a
child to grow into full morality without a period of "storm and stress."
But this is not usual. Progress has generally cost struggle. And the
first phase of this struggle is opposition between the individual and
the group. The self-assertive instincts and impulses were present in
group life, but they were in part undeveloped because they had not
enough stimulus to call them out. A man could not develop his impulse
for possession to its full extent if there was little or nothing for him
to possess. In part they were not developed because the group held them
back, and the conditions of living and fighting favored those groups
which did keep them back. Nevertheless they were present in some
degree, always contending against the more social forces. Indeed what
makes the opposition between group and individual so strong and so
continuous is that both the social and the individual are rooted in
human nature. They constitute what Kant calls the _unsocial
sociableness_ of man. "Man cannot get on with his fellows and he cannot
do without them."

=Individualism.=--The assertion by the individual of his own opinions
and beliefs, his own independence and interests, as over against group
standards, authority, and interests, is known as individualism. It is
evident that such assertion will always mark a new level of conduct.
Action must now be personal and voluntary. It is also evident that it
may be either better or worse than the level of custom and group life.
The first effect is likely to be, in appearance at least, a change for
the worse. The old restraints are tossed aside; "creeds outworn" no
longer steady or direct; the strong or the crafty individual comes to
the fore and exploits his fellows. Every man does what is "right in his
own eyes." The age of the Sophists in Greece, of the Renaissance in
Italy, of the Enlightenment and Romantic movement in western Europe, and
of the industrial revolution in recent times illustrate different phases
of individualism. A people, as well as an individual, may "go to pieces"
in its reaction against social authority and custom. But such one-sided
individualism is almost certain to call out prophets of a new order;
"organic filaments" of new structures appear; family, industry, the
state, are organized anew and upon more voluntary basis. Those who
accept the new conditions and assume responsibility with their freedom,
who direct their choices by reason instead of passion, who "aim at
justice and kindness" as well as at happiness, become moral persons and
gain thereby new worth and dignity. While, then, the general movement is
on the whole a movement of individualism, it demands just as
necessarily, if there is to be moral progress, a _reconstructed
individual_--a person who is individual in choice, in feeling, in
responsibility, and at the same time social in what he regards as good,
in his sympathies, and in his purposes. Otherwise individualism means
progress toward the immoral.


The agencies which bring about the change from customary and group
morality to conscious and personal morality are varied. Just as
character is developed in the child and young man by various means,
sometimes by success, sometimes by adversity or loss of a parent,
sometimes by slow increase in knowledge, and sometimes by a sudden
right-about-face with a strong emotional basis, so it is with peoples.
Some, like the Japanese at the present, are brought into sudden contact
with the whole set of commercial and military forces from without. Among
others, as with the Greeks, a fermentation starts within, along
intellectual, economic, political, and religious lines. Or again,
national calamities may upset all the old values, as with the Hebrews.
But we may note four typical agencies which are usually more or less

=1. Economic Forces.=--The action of economic forces in breaking up the
early kinship group or joint family may be noticed in the history of
many peoples. The clan flourishes in such conditions of hunting life or
of simple agriculture as were found among Australians and Indians, or
among the Celts in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. It cannot survive
when a more advanced state of agriculture prevails. A certain amount of
individualism will appear wherever the advantage for the individual lies
in separate industry and private ownership. If buffalo was to be hunted
it was better to pool issues, but for smaller game the skilful or
persistent huntsman or shepherd will think he can gain more by working
for himself. This is intensified when agriculture and commerce take the
place of earlier modes of life. The farmer has to work so hard and long,
his goal is so far in the future, that differences of character show
themselves much more strongly. Hunting and fishing are so exciting, and
the reward is so near, that even a man who is not very industrious will
do his part. But in agriculture only the hard and patient worker gets a
reward and he does not like to share it with the lazy, or even with the
weaker. Commerce, bargaining, likewise puts a great premium on
individual shrewdness. And for a long time commerce was conducted on a
relatively individual basis. Caravans of traders journeyed together for
mutual protection but there was not any such organization as later
obtained, and each individual could display his own cunning or ability.
Moreover commerce leads to the comparison of custom, to interchange of
ideas as well as goods. All this tends to break down the sanctity of
customs peculiar to a given group. The trader as well as the guest may
overstep the barriers set up by kin. The early Greek colonists, among
whom a great individualistic movement began, were the traders of their
day. The parts of Europe where most survives of primitive group life are
those little touched by modern commerce.

But we get a broader view of economic influences if we consider the
methods of organizing industry which have successively prevailed. In
early society, and likewise in the earlier period of modern
civilization, the family was a great economic unit. Many or most of the
industries could be advantageously carried on in the household. As in
the cases cited above (p. 60) the stronger or adventurous member would
be constantly trying to strike out for himself. This process of constant
readjustment is, however, far less thoroughgoing in its effects on mores
than the three great methods of securing a broader organization of
industry. In primitive society large enterprises had to be carried on by
the co-operation of the group. Forced labor as used by the Oriental
civilizations substituted a method by which greater works like the
pyramids or temples could be built, but it brought with it the overthrow
of much of the old group sympathies and mutual aid. In Greece and Rome
slavery did the drudgery and left the citizens free to cultivate art,
letters, and government. It gave opportunity and scope for the few. Men
of power and genius arose, and at the same time all the negative forces
of individualism asserted themselves. In modern times capitalism is the
method for organizing industry and trade. It proves more effective than
forced labor or slavery in securing combination of forces and in
exploiting natural resources. It likewise gives extraordinary
opportunities for the rise of men of organizing genius. The careers of
"captains of industry" are more fascinating than those of old-time
conquerors because they involve more complex situations, and can utilize
the discoveries and labors of more men. But modern capitalism has been
as destructive to the morality of the Middle Ages, or even of a hundred
years ago, as was forced labor or slavery to the group life and mores
which they destroyed.

=2. The Progress of Science and the Arts.=--The effect of the progress
of science and intelligence upon the mores is direct. Comparisons of the
customs of one people with those of another bring out differences, and
arouse questions as to the reasons for such diversity. And we have seen
that there is more or less in the customs for which no reason can be
given. Even if there was one originally it has been forgotten. Or again,
increasing knowledge of weather and seasons, of plants and animals, of
sickness and disease, discredits many of the taboos and ceremonials
which the cruder beliefs had regarded as essential to welfare. Certain
elements of ritual may survive under the protection of "mysteries," but
the more enlightened portion of the community keeps aloof. Instead of
the mores with their large infusion of the accidental, the habitual,
and the impulsive, increasing intelligence demands some rational rule of

And science joins with the various industrial and fine arts to create a
new set of interests for the individual. Any good piece of workmanship,
any work of art however simple, is twice blest. It blesses him that
makes and him that uses or enjoys. The division of labor, begun in group
life, is carried further. Craftsmen and artists develop increasing
individuality as they construct temples or palaces, fashion statues or
pottery, or sing of gods and heroes. Their minds grow with what they do.
Side by side with the aspect of art which makes it a bond of society is
the aspect which so frequently makes the skilled workman the critic, and
the artist a law to himself. In the next place note the effect on those
who can use and enjoy the products of the arts. A new world of
satisfaction and happiness is opened which each person can enter for
himself. In cruder conditions there was not much out of which to build
up happiness. Food, labor, rest, the thrill of hunt or contest, the
passion of sex, the pride in children--these made up the interests of
primitive life. Further means of enjoyment were found chiefly in society
of the kin, or in the men's house. But as the arts advanced the
individual could have made for him a fine house and elaborate clothing.
Metal, wood, and clay minister to increasing wants. A permanent and
stately tomb makes the future more definite. The ability to hand down
wealth in durable form places a premium on its acquirement. Ambition has
more stuff to work with. A more definite, assertive self is gradually
built up. "Good" comes to have added meaning with every new want that
awakes. The individual is not satisfied any longer to take the group's
valuation. He wants to get his own good in his own way. And it will
often seem to him that he can get his own good most easily and surely
either by keeping out of the common life or by using his fellow men to
his own advantage. Men of culture have frequently shown their
selfishness in the first way; men of wealth in the second. An
aristocracy of culture, or birth, or wealth may come to regard the whole
process of civilization as properly ministering to the wants of the
select few. Nearly every people which has developed the arts and
sciences has developed also an aristocracy. In the ancient world slavery
was a part of the process. In modern times other forms of exploitation
may serve the purpose better. Individualism, released from the ties
which bound up the good of one with the good of all, tends to become
exclusive and selfish; civilization with all its opportunities for
increasing happiness and increasing life has its moral risks and
indirectly, at least, its moral evils.

These evils may appear as the gratification of sense and appetite and
thus may be opposed to the higher life of the spirit, which needs no
outer objects or luxuries. Or they may appear as rooted in selfishness,
in the desire for gratifying the exclusive self of material interests or
ambition, as over against sympathy, justice, and kindness, which mark a
broadly human and social life. In both cases serious men have sought to
overcome by some form of "self-denial" the evils that attend on
civilization, even if they are not due to it.

=3. Military Forces.=--The kinship group is a protection so long as it
has to contend only with similar groups. The headlong valor and tribal
loyalty of German or Scottish clans may even win conflicts with more
disciplined troops of Rome or England. But permanent success demands
higher organization than the old clans and tribes permitted.
Organization means authority, and a single directing, controlling
commander or king. As Egypt, Assyria, Phoenicia show their strength
the clans of Israel cry, "Nay, but we will have a king over us; that we
may also be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go
out before us, and fight our battles."[43] Wars afford the opportunity
for the strong and unscrupulous leader to assert himself. Like commerce
they may tend also to spread culture and thus break down barriers of
ancient custom. The conquests of Babylon and Alexander, the Crusades and
the French Revolution, are instances of the power of military forces to
destroy old customs and give individualism new scope. In most cases, it
is true, it is only the leader or "tyrant" who gets the advantage. He
uses the whole machinery of society for his own elevation. Nevertheless
custom and group unity are broken for all. Respect for law must be built
new from the foundation.

=4. Religious Forces.=--While in general religion is a conservative
agency, it is also true that a new religion or a new departure in
religion has often exercised a powerful influence on moral development.
The very fact that religion is so intimately bound up with all the group
mores and ideals, makes a change in religion bear directly on old
standards of life. The collision between old and new is likely to be
fundamental and sharp. A conception of God may carry with it a view of
what conduct is pleasing to him. A doctrine as to the future may require
a certain mode of life. A cultus may approve or condemn certain
relations between the sexes. Conflicting religions may then force a
moral attitude in weighing their claims. The contests between Jehovah
and Baal, between Orphic cults and the public Greek religion, between
Judaism and Christianity, Christianity and Roman civilization,
Christianity and Germanic religion, Catholicism and Protestantism, have
brought out moral issues. We shall notice this factor especially in
Chapters VI. and VIII.


The psychological forces which tend toward individualism have been
already stated to be the self-assertive instincts and impulses. They are
all variations of the effort of the living being first to preserve
itself and then to rise to more complicated life by entering into more
complex relations and mastering its environment. Spinoza's "_sui esse
conservare_," Schopenhauer's "will to live," Nietzsche's "will to
power," the Hebrew's passionate ideal of "life", and Tennyson's "More
life, and fuller" express in varying degree the meaning of this
elemental bent and process. Growing intelligence adds to its strength by
giving greater capacity to control. Starting with organic needs, this
developing life process may find satisfactions in the physical world in
the increasing power and mastery over nature gained by the explorer or
the hunter, the discoverer, the craftsman, or the artist. It is when it
enters the world of persons that it displays a peculiar intensity that
marks the passions of individualism _par excellence_. We note four of
these tendencies toward self-assertion.

=1. Sex.=--The sex instinct and emotion occupies a peculiar position in
this respect. On the one hand it is a powerful socializing agency. It
brings the sexes together and is thus fundamental to the family. But on
the other hand it is constantly rebelling against the limits and
conventions established by the social group for its regulation. The
statutes against illicit relations, from the codes of Hammurabi and
Moses to the latest efforts for stricter divorce, attest the collision
between the individual's inclination and the will of the group.
Repeatedly some passion of sex has broken over all social, legal, and
religious sanctions. It has thus been a favorite theme of tragedy from
the Greeks to Ibsen. It finds another fitting medium in the romance. It
has called into existence and maintains in every large city an outcast
colony of wretched creatures, and the evils which attend are not limited
in their results to those who knowingly take the risks. It has worked
repeated changes in the structure of the family authorized by society.
Its value and proper regulation were points at issue in that
wide-reaching change of mores attendant upon the Reformation, and
apparently equilibrium has not yet been reached.

=2. The Demand for Possession and Private Property.=--In the primitive
group we have seen that there might be private property in tools or
weapons, in cattle or slaves. There was little private property in land
under the maternal clan; and indeed in any case, so long as the arts
were undeveloped, private property had necessary limits. The demand for
private property is a natural attendant upon individual modes of
industry. As we have said, it was a common principle that what the group
produced was owned by the group, and what the individual made or
captured was treated as his. When individual industry came to count for
more, the individual claimed more and more as private possession.

The change from the maternal clan to the paternal family or household
was a reënforcement to the individual control of property. The father
could hand down his cattle or his house to his son. The joint family of
India is indeed a type of a paternal system. Nevertheless the tendency
is much stronger to insist on individual property where the father's
goods pass to his son than where they go to his sister's children.

The chiefs or rulers were likely to gain the right of private property
first. Among certain families of the South Slavs to-day, the head has
his individual eating utensils, the rest share. Among many people the
chiefs have cattle which they can dispose of as they will; the rest have
simply their share of the kin's goods. The old Brehon laws of Ireland
show this stage.

But however it comes about, the very meaning of property is, in the
first place, exclusion of others from some thing which I have. It is
therefore in so far necessarily opposed to group unity, opposed to any
such simple solidarity of life as we find in group morality. As the
American Indian accepts land in severalty, the old group life, the
tribal restraints and supports, the group custom and moral unity that
went with it, are gone. He must find a new basis or go to pieces.

=3. Struggles for Mastery or Liberty.=--In most cases these cannot be
separated from economic struggles. Masters and slaves were in economic
as well as personal relations, and nearly all class contests on a large
scale have had at least one economic root, whatever their other sources.
But the economic is not their only root. There have been wars for glory
or for liberty as well as for territory or booty or slaves. As the
struggle for existence has bred into the race the instinct of
self-defense with its emotion of anger, the instinct to rivalry and
mastery, and the corresponding aversion to being ruled, so the progress
of society shows trials of strength between man and man, kin and kin,
tribe and tribe. And while, as stated in the preceding chapter, the
coöperation made necessary in war or feud is a uniting force, there is
another side to the story. Contests between individuals show who is
master; contests between groups tend to bring forward leaders. And while
such masterful men may serve the group they are quite as likely to find
an interest in opposing group customs. They assert an independence of
the group, or a mastery over it, quite incompatible with the solidarity
of the kinship clan, although the patriarchal type of household under a
strong head may be quite possible. There comes to be one code for rich
and another for poor, one for Patricians and another for Plebs, one for
baron and another for peasant, one for gentry and another for the common
folk. For a time this may be accepted patiently. But when once the rich
become arrogant, the feudal lord insolent, the bitter truth is faced
that the customs have become mere conventions. They no longer hold. All
the old ties are cast off. The demand for freedom and equality rises,
and the collision between authority and liberty is on.

Or the contest may be for intellectual liberty--for free thought and
free speech. It is sometimes considered that such liberty meets its
strongest opponent in the religious or ecclesiastical organization.
There is no doubt a conservative tendency in religion. As we have
pointed out, religion is the great conservator of group values and group
standards. Its ritual is most elaborate, its taboos most sacred.
Intellectual criticism tends to undermine what is outgrown or merely
habitual here as elsewhere. Rationalism or free thought has set itself
in frequent opposition likewise to what has been claimed to be "above
reason." Nevertheless it would be absurd to attribute all the
individualism to science and all the conservatism to religion.
Scientific dogmas and "idols" are hard to displace. Schools are about as
conservative as churches. And on the other hand the struggle for
religious liberty has usually been carried on not by the irreligious but
by the religious. The prophet Amos found himself opposed by the
religious organization of his day when he urged social righteousness,
and the history of the noble army of martyrs is a record of appeal to
individual conscience, or to an immediate personal relation to God, as
over against the formal, the traditional, the organized religious
customs and doctrines of their age. The struggle for religious
toleration and religious liberty takes its place side by side with the
struggles for intellectual and political liberty in the chapters of

=4. The Desire for Honor, or Social Esteem.=--James, in his psychology
of the self, calls the recognition which a man gets from his mates his
"social self." "We are not only gregarious animals, liking to be in
sight of our fellows, but we have an innate propensity to get ourselves
noticed, and noticed favorably by our kind. No more fiendish punishment
could be devised, were such a thing physically possible, than that one
should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed by all
the members thereof."[44] From such a punishment "the cruelest bodily
tortures would be a relief; for this would make us feel that however bad
might be our plight, we had not sunk to such depth as to be unworthy of
attention at all."[45] Honor or fame is a name for one of the various
"social selves" which a man may build up. It stands for what those of a
given group may think or say of him. It has a place and a large place in
group life. Precedence, salutations, decorations in costume and bodily
ornament, praises in song for the brave, the strong, the cunning, the
powerful, with ridicule for the coward or the weakling are all at work.
But with the primitive group the difference between men of the group is
kept within bounds. When more definite organization of groups for
military or civil purposes begins, when the feudal chief gathers his
retainers and begins to rise above the rest of the community in
strength, finally when the progress of the arts gives greater means for
display, the desire for recognition has immensely greater scope. It is
increased by the instinct of emulation; it often results in envy and
jealousies. It becomes then a powerful factor in stimulating

But while desires for honor and fame provoke individualism, they carry
with them, like desires for property and power, elements that make for
reconstruction of the social on a higher level. For honor implies some
common sentiment to which the individual can make appeal. Group members
praise or blame what accords with their feeling or desire, but they do
not act as individuals merely, praising what pleases them as
individuals. They react more or less completely from the group point of
view; they honor the man who embodies the group-ideal of courage, or
other admirable and respected qualities. And here comes the motive which
operates to force a better ideal than mere desire of praise. No group
honors the man who is definitely seeking merely its applause rather
than its approval--at least not after it has found him out. The force of
public opinion is therefore calculated to elicit a desire to be _worthy_
of honor, as well as to be honored. This means a desire to act as a true
social individual, for it is only the true member of the group,--true
clansman,--true patriot,--true martyr,--who appeals to the other members
when they judge as members, and not selfishly. When now the group whose
approval is sought is small, we have class standards, with all the
provincialism, narrowness, and prejudice that belong to them. As the
honor-seeker is merely after the opinion of his class, he is bound to be
only partly social. So long as he is with his kin, or his set, or his
"gang," or his "party," or his "union," or his "country"--regardless of
any wider appeal--he is bound to be imperfectly rational and social in
his conduct. The great possibilities of the desire for honor, and of the
desire to be worthy of honor, lie then in the constant extension of the
range. The martyr, the seeker for truth, the reformer, the neglected
artist, looks for honor from posterity; if misjudged or neglected, he
appeals to mankind. He is thus forming for himself an ideal standard.
And if he embodies this ideal standard in a personal, highest possible
judging companion, his desire to be worthy of approval takes a religious
form. He seeks "the honor that is from God." Though "the innermost of
the empirical selves of a man is a self of the _social_ sort, it yet can
find its only adequate _socius_ in an ideal world."[46]

The moral value of these three forces of individualism was finely stated
by Kant:

    "The means which nature uses to bring about the development of all
    the capacities she has given man is their _antagonism_ in society,
    in so far as this antagonism becomes in the end a cause of social
    order. Men have an inclination to _associate_ themselves, for in a
    social state they feel themselves more completely men: i.e., they
    are conscious of the development of their natural capacities. But
    they have also a great propensity to _isolate_ themselves, for
    they find in themselves at the same time this unsocial
    characteristic: each wishes to direct everything solely according
    to his own notion, and hence expects resistance, just as he knows
    that he is inclined to resist others. It is just this resistance
    which awakens all man's powers; this brings him to overcome his
    propensity to indolence, and drives him through the lust for
    honor, power, or wealth to win for himself a rank among his
    fellowmen. Man's will is for concord, but nature knows better what
    is good for the species, and she wills discord. He would like a
    life of comfort and pleasure; nature wills that he be dragged out
    of idleness and inactive content, and plunged into labor and
    trouble in order that he may find out the means of extricating
    himself from his difficulties. The natural impulses which prompt
    this effort, the sources of unsociableness and of the mutual
    conflict from which so many evils spring, are then spurs to a more
    complete development of man's powers."[47]

We have spoken of the "forces" which tend to break down the old unity of
the group and bring about new organization. But of course these forces
are not impersonal. Sometimes they seem to act like the ocean tide,
pushing silently in, and only now and then sending a wave a little
higher than its fellows. Frequently, however, some great personality
stands out preëminent, either as critic of the old or builder of the
new. The prophets were stoned because they condemned the present; the
next generation was ready to build their sepulchers. Socrates is the
classic example of the great man who perishes in seeking to find a
rational basis to replace that of custom. Indeed, this conflict--on the
one hand, the rigid system of tradition and corporate union hallowed by
all the sanctions of religion and public opinion; upon the other, the
individual making appeal to reason, or to his conscience, or to a
"higher law"--is the tragedy of history.


It must not be supposed that the moral process stops at the points
indicated under the several divisions of this last section. As already
stated, if the people really works out a higher type of conscious and
personal morality, it means not only a more powerful individual, but a
reconstructed individual and a reconstructed society. It means not only
the disintegration of the old kinship or family group, which is an
economic, political, and religious unity as well. It means the
construction of a new basis for the family; new moral principles for
business; a distinct political state with new means for government, new
conceptions of authority and liberty; finally, a national or universal
religion. And the individual must on this higher level choose all these
voluntarily. More than this: as he chooses in the presence of the new
conflicting ends presented by individualism, he sets up or adopts a
standard for himself. He thinks definitely of what is "good" and
"right." As he recognizes its claim, he is responsible as well as free.
As he identifies himself heartily with it, he becomes sincerely and
genuinely moral. Reverence, duty, and love for what is good become the
quickening emotions. Thoughtfulness, self-control, aspiration toward an
ideal, courageous venturing in its achievement, kindness and justice,
become the dominant temper, or at least are recognized as the temper
that should be dominant. The conception of moral character and moral
personality is brought to consciousness. The development of the Hebrews
and Greeks will show how these positive values emerge.


_Kant's Principles of Politics_, tr. by Hastie, 1891, especially the
essay _The Idea of a Universal Cosmopolitical History_; Hegel,
_Philosophy of History_, tr. by Sibree, 1881; Darwin, _The Descent of
Man_, 1871, 1882-87; Schurman, _The Ethical Import of Darwinism_, 1888;
Seth, _The Evolution of Morality_, Mind, XIV., 1889, pp. 27-49;
Williams, _A Review of Systems of Ethics founded on the Theory of
Evolution_, 1893; Harris, _Moral Evolution_, 1895; Tufts, _On Moral
Evolution_, in Studies in Philosophy and Psychology (_Garman
Commemorative Volume_), 1906; Ihering, _Der Kampf ums Recht_; Simcox,
_Natural Law_, 1877; Sorley, _Ethics of Naturalism_, 1885.


[43] 1 Sam. 8:19, 20.

[44] _Psychology_, Vol. I., ch. x.

[45] _Ibid._, p. 293 f.

[46] James, _Psychology_, I., 316.

[47] _Idea of a Universal Cosmopolitical History._




=1. The Hebrew and the Greek.=--The general character of the Hebrew
moral development may be brought out by a contrast with that of the
Greeks.[48] While many phases are common, there is yet a difference in
emphasis and focus. There were political and economic forces at work in
Israel, and religious forces in Greece. Nevertheless, the moral life in
one people kept close to the religious, and in the other found
independent channels. Conscientious conduct for the Hebrew centered in
doing the will of God; for the Greek, in finding rational standards of
good. For the Hebrew, righteousness was the typical theme; for the
Greek, the ideal lay rather in measure and harmony. For the Greek,
wisdom or insight was the chief virtue; for the Hebrew, the fear of the
Lord was the beginning of wisdom. The social ideal of the Hebrews was
the kingdom of God; of the Greeks, a political State. If we distinguish
in conscience two aspects, thoughtfulness in discovering what to do and
hearty desire to do the right when found, then the Greeks emphasize the
former, the Hebrews the latter. Intellect plays a larger part with the
Greek; emotion and the voluntary aspect of will with the Hebrew. Feeling
plays its part with the Greeks largely as an æsthetic demand for measure
and harmony; with the Hebrews it is chiefly prominent in motivation,
where it is an element in what is called "the heart," or it functions
in appreciation of acts performed, as the joy or sorrow felt when God
approves or condemns. Both peoples are interesting for our study, not
only as illustrating different kinds of moral development, but also as
contributing largely to the moral consciousness of western peoples

=2. The Early Morality.=--The accounts of the tribal life and customs in
the early period after the settlement in Canaan, show the main features
of group life which are already familiar to us. Clan or kinship loyalty
was strong on both its good and its defective sides. There were
fidelity, a jeoparding of lives unto death, honor for group heroes,
joint responsibility, and blood revenge. There were respect for
hospitality and regulation of marriage, though not according to later
standards. A rough measure of justice was recognized in "as I have done,
so God hath requited me." But there was no public authority to restrain
the wrongdoer, except when a particularly revolting brutality shocked
public sentiment. Festivals and sacrificial meals united the members of
the family or clan more closely to each other and to their god. Vows
must be kept inviolable even if they involved human sacrifice. The
interests and ends of life were simple. The satisfaction of bodily
wants, the love of kin and above all of children, the desire to be in
right relation of favor and harmony with the unseen deity who protected
from enemies and sent fruitful seasons,--these made their chief good.
The line of their progress from these rude beginnings to a lofty moral
ideal lay through religion. But the religious conceptions were directly
related to political, social, and economic conditions; hence, both
aspects must be briefly characterized.

=3. Political Development.=--The political development (a) built up a
national unity which worked to break down old group units, (b)
strengthened military ambition and race pride, (c) stimulated the
prophets to their highest conceptions of the divine majesty and
universality, but, finally when the national power and hope were
shattered, (d) compelled the most thoroughgoing reconstruction of all
the values, ideals, and meaning of life. It is not possible or necessary
to trace this process in detail, but we may point out here the general
effect of the political development in bringing into clearer
consciousness the conceptions of authority and law which were important
factors in Hebrew morality. The earlier patriarchal head of the clan or
family exercised certain political power, but there was no explicit
recognition of this. Government by the "elders" or by the heads of the
household makes no clear distinction between the common kinship and the
political and legal authority of the sovereign. The "judges," whose rule
preceded the kingdom, were military deliverers who owed their authority
to personal powers rather than to a definite provision. To establish an
organized political community, a kingdom, was then to bring into clearer
recognition this element of authority which was merely implicit in the
tribal organization. It allowed a more distinctly voluntary relationship
to be differentiated from the involuntary relationship of kinship, or
the personal relationship of the hero. While, therefore, in the
formation of the kingdom the earlier prophets saw only a rejection of
God, the later prophets saw in it the symbol of a higher type of
relation between God and people. It was given religious sanction and the
king was regarded as the son of Jehovah. It was thus ready to serve as
the scheme or setting for the moral unity and order of a people.

=4. The Economic Factors.=--The organization and growing prosperity of
the political power were attended by economic and social changes. The
simple agricultural life of the early period had not caused entire loss
of clan organization and customs. But the growth of trade and commerce
under Solomon and later kings brought in wealth and shifted the center
of power and influence from country to city. Wealth and luxury had their
usual results. Clashing interests asserted their strength. Economic and
social individualism destroyed the old group solidarity. At the times of
the prophets Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, there were classes of rich and poor.
Greed had asserted itself in rulers, judges, priests, and "regular"
prophets. Oppression, land monopoly, bribery, extortion, stirred moral
indignation. The fact that these were practiced by the most zealous
observers of ritual and guardians of religion roused in the great
reformers a demand for a change in religion itself. Not sacrifices but
justice is the need of the hour and the demand of God.


The interaction between the religious and the moral education of the
Hebrews was so intimate that it is difficult to distinguish the two, but
we may abstract certain conceptions or motives in Israel's religion
which were especially significant. The general conception was that of
the close personal relation between god and people. Israel should have
no other god; Jehovah--at least this was the earlier thought--would have
no other people. He had loved and chosen Israel; Israel in gratitude, as
well as in hope and fear, must love and obey Jehovah. Priests maintained
his cultus; prophets brought new commands according to the requirements
of the hour; the king represented his sovereignty and justice; the
course of events exhibited his purpose. Each of these elements served to
provoke or elicit moral reflection or moral conduct.

=1. The "Covenant" Relation was a Moral Conception.=--The usual
religious conception is that of some blood or kin relation between
people and deity. This has the same potential meaning and value as that
of the other relations of group life outlined in Chapter II. But it is
rather a natural than a "moral"--i.e., conscious and voluntary--tie. To
conceive of the relation between god and people as due to voluntary
choice, is to introduce a powerful agency toward making morality
conscious. Whatever the origin of the idea, the significant fact is that
the religious and moral leaders present the relation of Israel to
Jehovah as based on a covenant. On the one hand, Jehovah protects,
preserves, and prospers; on the other, Israel is to obey his laws and
serve no other gods. This conception of mutual obligation is presented
at the opening of the "Ten Commandments," and to this covenant relation
the prophets again and again make appeal. The obligation to obey the law
is not "This is the custom," or "Our fathers did so"; it is placed on
the ground that the people has voluntarily accepted Jehovah as its god
and lawgiver.

The meaning of this covenant and the symbols by which it was conceived,
changed with the advance of the social relationships of the people. At
first Jehovah was "Lord of Hosts," protector in war, and giver of
prosperity, and the early conceptions of the duty of the people seemed
to include human sacrifice, at least in extreme cases. But with later
prophets we find the social and family relationship of husband and
father brought increasingly into use. Whether by personal experience or
by more general reflection, we find Hosea interpreting the relationship
between God and his people in both of these family conceptions. The
disloyalty of the people takes on the more intimate taint of a wife's
unfaithfulness, and, conversely, in contrast to the concepts of other
religions, the people may call Jehovah "my husband" and no longer "my
master" (Baal). The change from status to contract is thus, in Israel's
religion, fruitful with many moral results.

=2. The Conception of a Personal Lawgiver.=--The conception of a
personal lawgiver raises conduct from the level of custom to the level
of conscious morality. So long as a child follows certain ways by
imitation or suggestion, he does not necessarily attach any moral
meaning to them. But if the parent expressly commands or prohibits, it
becomes a matter of obedience or disobedience. Choice becomes necessary.
Character takes the place of innocence. So Jehovah's law compelled
obedience or rebellion. Customs were either forbidden or enjoined. In
either case they ceased to be merely customs. In the law of Israel the
whole body of observances in private life, in ceremonial, and in legal
forms, is introduced with a "Thus saith the Lord." We know that other
Semitic people observed the Sabbath, practiced circumcision,
distinguished clean from unclean beasts, and respected the taboos of
birth and death. Whether in Israel all these observances were old
customs given new authority by statute, or were customs taken from other
peoples under the authority of the laws of Jehovah, is immaterial. The
ethical significance of the law is that these various observances,
instead of being treated merely as customs, are regarded as personal
commands of a personal deity.

This makes a vital difference in the view taken of the violation of
these observances. When a man violates a custom he fails to do the
correct thing. He misses the mark.[49] But when the observance is a
personal command, its violation is a personal disobedience; it is
rebellion; it is an act of will. The evil which follows is no longer bad
luck; it is punishment. Now punishment must be either right or wrong,
moral or immoral. It can never be merely non-moral. Hence the very
conception of sin as a personal offense, and of ill as a personal
punishment, forces a moral standard. In its crudest form this may take
the god's commands as right simply because he utters them, and assume
that the sufferer is guilty merely because he suffers. We find this in
the penitential psalms of the Babylonians. These express the deepest
conviction of sin and the utmost desire to please the god, but when we
try to discover what the penitent has done that wakens such remorse
within him, we find that he seems merely to feel that in some way he has
failed to please God, no matter how. He experiences misfortune, whether
of disease, or ill-luck, or defeat, and is sure that this must be due to
some offense. He does not know what this may be. It may have been that
he has failed to repeat a formula in the right manner; it is all one. He
feels guilty and even exaggerates his own guilt in view of the
punishment which has befallen him. Job's three friends apply the same
logic to his case.[50]

But side by side with the conception that the laws of Jehovah must be
obeyed because they were his commands, there was another doctrine which
was but an extension of the theory that the people had freely accepted
their ruler. This was that Jehovah's commands were not arbitrary. They
were right; they could be placed before the people for their approval;
they were "life"; "the judge of all the earth" would "do right." We have
here a striking illustration of the principle that moral standards, at
first embodied in persons, slowly work free, so that persons are judged
by them.

=3. The Cultus as Morally Symbolical.=--The elaborate cultus carried on
by the priests, symbolized, however imperfectly, certain moral ideas.
The solicitous care for ceremonial "purity" might have no direct moral
value; the contamination from contact with birth or death or certain
animals might be a very external sort of "uncleanness." Nevertheless,
they emphasized in the most forcible manner a constant control over
conduct by a standard which was set by a divine law. The "holiness" of
the priests, as set apart to special service of Jehovah, emphasized the
seriousness of their work; and further, it contributed to that
distinction between spiritual and material, between higher and lower,
which is a part of moral life. Moreover, while part of this value
inheres in all ritual, the contrast between Jehovah's worship and that
of other deities challenged moral attention. The gods of the land, the
various Baals, were worshipped "upon every high hill and under every
green tree." As gods of fertility, they were symbolized by the emblems
of sex, and great freedom prevailed at their festivals. At certain
shrines men and women gave themselves for the service of the god. The
first born children were not infrequently sacrificed.[51] These
festivals and shrines seem to have been adopted more or less fully by
Israel from the Canaanites, but the prophets have an utterly different
idea of Jehovah's worship. The god of Sinai rejects utterly such
practices. License and drunkenness are not, as the cultus of Baal and
Astarte implied, the proper symbols of life and deity. The sensual
cannot fitly symbolize the spiritual.

Moreover, one part of the cultus, the "sin offering," directly implied
transgression and the need of forgiveness. The "sins" might themselves
be ceremonial rather than moral, and the method of removing them might
be external--especially the process of putting the sins upon a scapegoat
which should "bear upon him all their iniquities into a solitary
land,"--nevertheless, the solemn confession, and the shedding of the
blood which was the "life," could not but remind of responsibility and
deepen reflection. The need of atonement and reconciliation, thus
impressed, symbolized the moral process of reconstructing, of putting
away a lower past, and readjusting life to meet an ideal.

=4. The Prophets as a Moral Force.=--The prophets were by far the most
significant moral agency in Israel's religion. In the first place, they
came to the people bearing a message from a living source of authority,
intended for the immediate situation. They brought a present command for
a present duty. "Thou art the man," of Nathan to David, "Hast thou
killed, and also taken possession?" of Elijah to Ahab, had personal
occasions. But the great sermons of Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, were no less
for the hour. A licentious festival, an Assyrian invasion, an Egyptian
embassy, a plague of locusts, an impending captivity--these inspire
demand for repentance, warnings of destruction, promises of salvation.
The prophet was thus the "living fountain." The divine will as coming
through him "was still, so to speak, fluid, and not congealed into

In the second place, the prophets seized upon the inward purpose and
social conduct of man as the all-important issues; cultus, sacrifice,
are unimportant. "I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no
delight in your solemn assemblies," cries Amos in Jehovah's name, "But
let justice roll down as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream."
"I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed
beasts," proclaims Isaiah, "new moons, and sabbaths, the calling of
assemblies,--I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting." You
need not ceremonial, but moral, purity. "Wash you, make you clean; put
away the evil of your doings;--seek justice, relieve the oppressed,
judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." Micah's "Shall I give my
first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my
soul?" seized upon the difference once for all between the physical and
the moral; a completely ethical standpoint is gained in his summary of
religious duty: "What doth God require of thee, but to do justly, and
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" And the New Testament
analogue marks the true ethical valuation of all the external religious
manifestations, even of the cruder forms of prophecy itself. Gifts,
mysteries, knowledge, or the "body to be burned"--there is a more
excellent way than these. For all these are "in part." Their value is
but temporary and relative. The values that abide, that stand criticism,
are that staking of oneself upon the truth and worth of one's ideal
which is faith; that aspiration and forward look which is hope; that sum
of all social charity, sympathy, justice, and active helpfulness, which
is love. "But the greatest of these is love."

=5. The Religious View of the Kingdom Gave the Setting for a Social
Ideal.=--Jehovah was the king of his people. The human ruler in
Jerusalem was his representative. The kingdom of Israel was under divine
care and had on the other hand a serious purpose. The expansion and
glory of the kingdom under Solomon showed the divine favor. Division and
calamity were not mere misfortunes, or the victory of greater armies;
they were divine rebukes. Only in righteousness and justice could the
nation survive. On the other hand, the confidence in Jehovah's love for
Israel guaranteed that he would never forsake his people. He would
purify them and redeem them even from the grave. He would establish a
kingdom of law and peace, "an everlasting kingdom that should not be
destroyed." Politics in Israel had a moral goal.

=6. Religion Gave the Problem of Evil a Moral Significance.=--The Greek
treatment of the problem of evil is found in the great tragedies. An
ancestral curse follows down successive generations, dealing woe to all
the unhappy house. For the victims there seems to be nothing but to
suffer. The necessity of destiny makes the catastrophe sublime, but also
hopeless. Ibsen's _Ghosts_ is conceived in a similar spirit. There is a
tremendous moral lesson in it for the fathers, but for the children
only horror. The Greek and the Scandinavian are doubtless interpreting
one phase of human life--its continuity and dependence upon cosmical
nature. But the Hebrew was not content with this. His confidence in a
divine government of the world forced him to seek some moral value, some
purpose in the event. The search led along one path to a readjustment of
values; it led by another path to a new view of social interdependence.

The book of Job gives the deepest study of the first of these problems.
The old view had been that virtue and happiness always went together.
Prosperity meant divine favor, and therefore it must be the good.
Adversity meant divine punishment; it showed wrongdoing and was itself
an evil. When calamity comes upon Job, his friends assume it to be a
sure proof of his wickedness. He had himself held the same view, and
since he refuses to admit his wickedness and "holds fast to his
integrity," it confounds all his philosophy of life and of God. It
compels a "reversal and revaluation of all values." If he could only
meet God face to face and have it out with him he believes there would
be some solution. But come what may, he will not sell his soul for
happiness. To "repent," as his friends urge, in order that he may be
again on good terms with God, would mean for him to call sin what he
believes to be righteousness. And he will not lie in this way. God is
doubtless stronger, and if he pursues his victim relentlessly, may
convict him. But be this as it may, Job will not let go his fundamental
consciousness of right and wrong. His "moral self" is the one anchor
that holds, is the supreme value of life.

  "As God liveth, who hath taken away my right,
  And the Almighty who hath vexed my soul;
  Surely my lips shall not speak unrighteousness.
  Till I die, I will not put away my integrity from me,
  My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go."[52]

Another suggestion of the book is that evil comes to prove man's
sincerity: "Does Job serve God for naught?" and from that standpoint the
answer is, Yes; he does. "There is a disinterested love of God."[53] In
this setting, also, the experience of suffering produces a shifting of
values from the extrinsic to the internal.

The other treatment of the problem of suffering is found in the latter
half of Isaiah. It finds an interpretation of the problem by a deeper
view of social interdependence, in which the old tribal solidarity is
given, as it were, a transfigured meaning. The individualistic
interpretation of suffering was that it meant personal guilt. "We did
esteem him stricken of God." This breaks down. The suffering servant is
not wicked. He is suffering for others--in some sense. "He hath borne
our griefs and carried our sorrows." The conception here reached of an
interrelation which involves that the suffering of the good may be due
to the sin or the suffering of others, and that the assumption of this
burden marks the higher type of ethical relation, is one of the finest
products of Israel's religion. As made central in the Christian
conception of the Cross, it has furnished one of the great elements in
the modern social consciousness.


The moral conceptions which were thus worked out may now be brought
together for convenient summary under the two heads of the "How" and the
"What" indicated in our introductory chapter. Under the first we specify
the conceptions resulting (1) from recognition of a standard of right,
and an ideal of good, (2) from free choice of this ideal. Under the What
we indicate the content of the ideal on both its personal and its social

=1. Righteousness and Sin.=--Righteousness and sin were not exact or
contradictory opposites. The righteous man was not necessarily sinless.
Nevertheless, the consciousness of sin, like a dark background, brought
out more emphatically the conception of righteousness. This conception
had its two aspects, derived from the civil and the religious spheres of
life--spheres which were not separate for the Hebrew. On the one hand,
the just or righteous respected the moral order in human society. The
unrighteous was unjust, extortionate, cruel. He did not respect the
rights of others. On the other hand, the righteous man was in "right"
relation to God. This right relation might be tested by the divine law;
but as God was conceived as a living person, loving his people,
"forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin," it might also be measured
by an essential harmony of spirit with the divine will. There was the
"righteousness of the law," and the "righteousness of faith." The first
implies complete obedience; the second implies that in spite of
transgressions there is room for atonement[54] or reconciliation. As the
first means ethically the testing of conduct by a moral standard, a
"moral law," so the second stands for the thought that character is
rather a matter of spirit and of constant reconstruction than of exact
conformity once for all to a hard and fast rule. Specific acts may fail
to conform, but the life is more than a series of specific acts. The
measurement of conduct by the law has its value to quicken a sense of
shortcoming, but alone it may also lead either to self-righteous
complacency or to despair. The possibility of new adjustment, of
renewal, of "a new birth," means liberation and life. As such it may be
contrasted with the Buddhist doctrine of Karma, the causality from which
there is no escape but by the extinction of desire.

"Sin" had likewise its various aspects. It stood for missing the mark,
for violating the rules of clean and unclean; but it stood also for
personal disobedience to the divine will, for violation of the moral
order of Israel. In this latter sense, as identified by the prophets
with social unrighteousness, it is a significant ethical conception. It
brings out the point that evil and wrongdoing are not merely individual
matters, not merely failures; they offend against a law which is above
the private self, against a moral order which has its rightful demands
upon us.

=2. Personal Responsibility.=--The transition from group to individual
responsibility was thoroughly worked out by the prophets, even if they
were not able to carry full popular assent. In early days the whole kin
was treated as guilty for the offense of the kinsman. Achan's case has
already been cited; and in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, "Their
wives and their sons and their little ones" were all treated alike.[55]
In like manner, the family of the righteous man shared in the divine
favor. The later prophets pronounced a radical change. The proverb, "The
fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on
edge," is no more to be used, declares Ezekiel, speaking for Jehovah.
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the
iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of
the son;" and it is especially interesting to note that the Lord is
represented as pleading with the people that this is fair, while the
people say, "Wherefore doth not the son bear the iniquity of the
father?" The solidarity of the family resisted the individualism of the
prophetic conception, and five hundred years after Ezekiel the traces of
the older conception still lingered in the question, "Who did sin, this
man or his parents, that he was born blind?"[56] For another aspect of
responsibility, viz., intent, as distinct from accidental action,[57]
we have certain transitional steps shown in the interesting "cities of
refuge"[58] for the accidental homicide in which he might be safe from
the avenger of blood, provided he was swift enough of foot to reach a
city of refuge before he was caught. But the fullest development in the
ethics of responsibility along this line seemed to take the form
described under the next head.

=3. Sincerity, and Purity of Motive.=--The Hebrew had a philosophy of
conduct which made it chiefly a matter of "wisdom" and "folly," but the
favorite term of prophet and psalmist to symbolize the central principle
was rather "the heart." This term stood for the voluntary disposition,
especially in its inner springs of emotions and sentiments, affections
and passions. The Greek was inclined to look askance at this side of
life, to regard the emotions as perturbations of the soul, and to seek
their control by reason, or even their repression or elimination. The
Hebrew found a more positive value in the emotional side of conduct, and
at the same time worked out the conception of a sincere and
thoroughgoing interest as lying at the very root of all right life. The
religious influence was as elsewhere the important agency. "Man looketh
on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart,"
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, Jehovah will not hear me," are
characteristic expressions. A divine vision, which penetrates to the
deepest springs of purpose and feeling, will not tolerate pretense. Nor
will it be satisfied with anything less than entire devotion: the
Israelite must serve Jehovah with all his heart. Outer conformity is
not enough: "Rend your heart and not your garments." It is the "pure in
heart" who have the beatific vision. Not external contacts, or
ceremonial "uncleanness," on which earlier ritual had insisted, defile
the man, but rather what proceeds from the heart. For the heart is the
source of evil thoughts and evil deeds.[59] And conversely, the
interests, the emotions, and enthusiasms which make up the man's deepest
self do not spring forth in a vacuum; they go with the steadfast purpose
and bent, with the self of achievement. "Where your treasure is, there
will your heart be also."

Purity of motive in a full moral consciousness means not only (formal)
sincerity, but sincere love of good and right. This was not stated by
the Hebrew in abstract terms, but in the personal language of love to
God. In early days there had been more or less of external motives in
the appeals of the law and the prophets. Fear of punishment, hope of
reward, blessings in basket and store, curses in land and field, were
used to induce fidelity. But some of the prophets sought a deeper view,
which seems to have been reached in the bitterness of human experience.
Hosea's wife had forsaken him, and should not the love of people to
Jehovah be as personal and sincere as that of wife to husband? She had
said, "I will go after my lovers _that give me my bread and my water, my
wood and my flax, my oil and my drink_."[60] Is not serving God for hire
a form of prostitution?[61] The calamities of the nation tested the
disinterestedness of its fidelity. They were the challenge of the
Adversary, "Doth Job fear God for naught?" And a remnant at least
attested that fidelity did not depend on rewards. The moral maxim that
virtue is its own reward is put in personal terms by the prophet after
the exile:

    "For though the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be
    in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields
    shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and
    there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the
    Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."[62]

=4. The Conception of "Life" as an Ideal.=--The content of Israel's
moral ideal on its individual side was expressed by the term "Life." All
the blessings that the leader of Israel could offer his people were
summarized in the phrase, "I have set before you life and death;
wherefore choose life." The same final standard of value appears in the
question of Jesus, "What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world
and lose his own life?" When we inquire what life meant, so far as the
early sources give us data for judgment, we must infer it to have been
measured largely in terms of material comfort and prosperity,
accompanied by the satisfaction of standing in right relations to the
god and ruler. This latter element was so closely united with the first
that it was practically identical with it. If the people were prosperous
they might assume that they were right; if they suffered they were
surely wrong. Good and evil were, therefore, in this stage, measured
largely in terms of pleasure and pain. The end to be sought and the
ideal to be kept in mind was that of long and prosperous life--"in her
right hand length of days, in her left hand riches and honor."
Intellectual and æsthetic interests were not prized as such. The
knowledge which was valued was the wisdom for the conduct of life, of
which the beginning and crown was "the fear of the Lord." The art which
was valued was sacred song or poetry. But the ideal values which came to
bulk most in the expanding conception of "life" were those of personal
relation. Family ties, always strong among Oriental peoples, gained in
purity. Love between the sexes was refined and idealized.[63] National
feeling took on added dignity, because of the consciousness of a divine
mission. Above all, personal union with God, as voiced in the psalms and
prophets, became the desire. He, and not his gifts, was the supreme
good. He was the "fountain of life." His likeness would satisfy. In his
light the faithful would see light.

But even more significant than any specific content put into the term
"life," was _what was involved in the idea itself_. The legalists had
attempted to define conduct by a code, but there was an inherent
vitality in the ideal of life, which refused to be measured or bounded.
The "words of eternal life," which began the new moral movement of
Christianity, had perhaps little definite content to the fishermen, and
it is not easy to say just what they meant in moral terms to the writer
of the Fourth Gospel who uses the phrase so often. With Paul, life as
the realm of the spirit gets definition as it stands over against the
"death" of sin and lust. But with all writers of Old or New Testament,
whatever content it had, life meant above all the suggestion of
something beyond, the gleam and dynamic power of a future not yet
understood. It meant to Paul a progress which was governed not by law or
"rudiments," but by freedom. Such a life would set itself new and higher
standards; the laws and customs that had obtained were felt to be
outgrown. The significance of early Christianity as a moral movement,
aside from its elements of personal devotion and social unity to be
noticed below, was the spirit of movement, the sense of newly forming
horizons beyond the old, the conviction that as sons of God its
followers had boundless possibilities, that they were not the children
of the bond woman, but of the free.

=5. The Social Ideal of Justice, Love, and Peace.=--We have seen how
this ideal was framed in the setting of a kingdom of God. At first
national, it became universal, and with a fraternity which the world is
far from having realized, it was to know "neither Jew nor Greek, bond
nor free." At first military, it took on with seer and psalmist the form
of a reign of peace and justice. After the fierce and crude powers
typified by the lion and the bear and the leopard had passed, the seer
saw a kingdom represented by a human form. Such a kingdom it was that
should not pass away. Such was the kingdom "not of this world" which
Jesus presented as his message. Membership in this moral kingdom was for
the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, the merciful, the peace-makers,
the hungerers after righteousness. Greatness in this moral community was
to depend on service, not on power. The king should not fail till he had
"set justice in the earth." He should "deliver the needy, and the poor."

Certain features of this ideal order have since found embodiment in
social and political structures; certain features remain for the future.
Certain periods in history have transferred the ideal entirely to
another world, regarding human society as hopelessly given over to evil.
Such theories find a morality possible only by renouncing society. The
Hebrews presented rather the ideal of a moral order on earth, of a
control of all life by right, of a realization of good, and of a
completeness of life. It was an ideal not dreamed out in ecstatic
visions of pure fancy, but worked out in struggle and suffering, in
confidence that moral efforts are not hopeless or destined to defeat.
The ideal order is to be made real. The divine kingdom is to come, the
divine will to be done "_on earth_ as it is in heaven."


The works of W. R. Smith (_Religion of the Semites_) and Barton (_A
Sketch of Semitic Origins_) already mentioned. Schultz, _Old Testament
Theology_, tr. _1892_; Marti, _Religion of the Old Testament_, tr.
1907; Budde, _Religion of the Old Testament to the Exile_, 1899; H. P.
Smith, _Old Testament History_, 1903; W. R. Smith, _The Prophets of
Israel_, 1895; Bruce, _Ethics of the Old Testament_, 1895; Peake,
_Problem of Suffering in the Old Testament_, 1904; Royce, _The Problem
of Job_ in Studies of Good and Evil, 1898; Pratt, _The Psychology of
Religious Belief_, 1907, ch. v.; Harnack, _What is Christianity?_ tr.
1901; Cone, _Rich and Poor in the New Testament_, 1902; Pfleiderer,
_Primitive Christianity_, tr. 1906; Matthews, _The Social Teaching of
Jesus_, 1897; Wendt, _The Teaching of Jesus_, 1899; Pfleiderer,
_Paulinism_, 1891; Cone, _Paul, The Man, the Missionary, and the
Teacher_, 1898; Beyschlag, _New Testament Theology_, tr. 1895; The
_Encyclopedia Biblica_, _The Jewish Encyclopedia_, and Hastings'
_Dictionary_, have numerous valuable articles.


[48] M. Arnold, "Hebraism and Hellenism," in _Culture and Anarchy_, ch.

[49] The Hebrew and Greek words for sin both mean "to miss."

[50] The general function of punishment as bringing home to the
individual the consciousness of guilt and thus awakening the action of
conscience, has an illustration in Shakespere's conception of the prayer
of Henry Vth before the battle of Agincourt. In ordinary life the bluff
King Harry devotes little time to meditation upon his own sin or that of
his father, but on the eve of possible calamity the old crime rises
fresh before him. Stimulated by the thought of an actual penalty to be
imposed by a recognized authority, he cried: "Not to-day, O Lord! Oh,
not to-day! Think not upon the fault my father made in compassing the

[51] Recent excavations are held to confirm the prophets on this (Marti,
_Religion of the Old Testament_, pp. 78 ff.).

[52] Job 27:1-6.

[53] Genung, _Job, The Epic of the Inner Life_.

[54] See _Atonement in Literature and in Life_, by Charles A. Dinsmore.
Boston, 1906.

[55] Numbers 16, Joshua 7.

[56] John 9:2.

[57] Hammurabi's code showed a disregard of intent which would make
surgery a dangerous profession: "If a physician operate on a man for a
severe wound with a bronze lancet and cause the man's death; or open an
abscess [in the eye] of a man with a bronze lancet and destroy the man's
eye, they shall cut off his fingers." Early German and English law is
just as naïve. If a weapon was left to be repaired at a smith's and was
then caught up or stolen and used to do harm, the original owner was
held responsible.

[58] Numbers 35, Deuteronomy 19, Joshua 20.

[59] Mark 7:1-23.

[60] Hosea 2:5.

[61] H. P. Smith, _Old Testament History_, p. 222.

[62] Habakkuk 3:17, 18.

[63] The Song of Songs.




=Convention versus Nature.=--The Hebrew moral life was developed under
the relation, first of the people, then of the individuals, to God,--a
relation at once of union and of conflict. It was out of the relation of
the individual to social traditions and political order that the Greek
came to full consciousness of moral law on the one hand, and a moral
personality on the other. And just as in Jewish life the law and the
prophets (or, later, the "law and the gospel") stood for the conflicting
forces, so in Greek life the opposition between the authority of the
group, embodied in custom and institutions, on the one hand, and the
urging claims of developing personality, manifest in both intelligence
and desire, on the other, found expression in contrasted terms. The
authority of the group embodied in customs and institutions, came to be
regarded by the radicals as relatively external, artificial, and rigid.
It was dubbed "convention," or "institution" (_thesis_, what is set up).
The rapidly developing intelligence challenged the merely customary and
traditional; the increasing individuality challenged the superior
authority of the group, especially when this manifested itself
apparently in a government of force. Personal intelligence and personal
feeling asserted a more elemental claim, felt themselves rooted in a
more original source, and called this source "nature" (_physis_). Social
tradition and authority, individual reason and feeling, thus confronted
each other as "convention" and "nature." It was a struggle which has its
analogy in the development of many a young man or young woman who is
emerging from parental control to self-direction. But in Greek life more
distinctly than elsewhere we see the steps of the process as a civic and
not merely an individual development. Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides
presented this conflict of the individual with law or destiny as the
great, oft-repeated tragedy of human life. Aristophanes mocked with
bitter satire the "new" views. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cynics,
Cyrenaics, Epicureans, and Stoics took part in the theoretical

=Measure.=--The fundamental note of all Greek life, before, during, and
after this development, was _Measure_, _Order_, _Proportion_. This note
found expression in religion, science, art, and conduct. Among their
gods, the Greeks set Moira, "Destiny," and Themis, "Custom," "Law,"
"Right." They found order in the universe, which on this account they
called the "cosmos." They expressed it in their arts, especially in
architecture, sculpture, the choral dance, and the more highly developed
tragedy or lyric:

    "And all life is full of them [of form and measure]," says Plato,
    "as well as every constructive and creative art. And surely the
    art of the painter and every other creative and constructive art
    are full of them,--weaving, embroidery, architecture, and every
    kind of manufacture; also nature, animal and vegetable,--in all of
    them there is grace or the absence of grace; and if our youth are
    to do their work in life, must they not make these graces and
    harmonies their perpetual aim?"

The best people, the "gentlemen," were styled kaloika-gathoi--"fair and
good." The motto at the Delphic shrine was, "Nothing in excess."
Insolent disregard of propriety, "hybris," was the quality most
denounced by the early moralizing poets. Tityus, Tantalus, and Sisyphus,
the three special subjects of divine punishment, suffered the penalty
of insatiate desire, or limits overstepped. And after criticism and
individualism had done their work, Plato's conception of justice,
Aristotle's doctrine of the "mean," the Stoic maxim of "life according
to nature," have but discovered a deeper significance for the
fundamental law of Greek life.

=The Good and the Just.=--The conceptions of the Good and the Just are
developed from the two notes just presented. The motive for challenge to
established institutions was the awakening desire of the individual to
seek his own good and to live his own life. Commerce was bringing a
great variety of rewards to the shrewd merchant and a great variety of
goods to evoke and gratify wants. Slavery set free the citizen from the
need of manual labor and gave him leisure to cultivate his tastes. The
forces of individualism, described in Chapter V., were all at work to
bring the process and object of desire to consciousness. Moreover, the
term "good" was also in use to mark the popular ideal. It was applied to
what we should call the "successful" men of the day. In present life our
term "good" has become so definitely moral that probably most young
persons would hesitate to say that they have it as their ideal to become
good, although few would hesitate to say that they wish to be capable
and successful. For social and political recognition seems to be based
rather on achievement of striking results than upon what is technically
called "goodness." But in Greece moral goodness was not used to
designate "character" as contrasted with "results." The "good man" was
like the "good lawyer" or "good athlete" or "good soldier," the man who
was efficient and conspicuous. It was in the process which we are to
trace that the ambiguities and deeper meanings of the term came to

The terms Just and Justice were not of course merely synonyms for order
and measure. They had likewise the social significance coming from the
courts and the assembly. They stood for the control side of life, as
Good stood for its aspect of valuation and desire. But as compared with
the Hebrew conception of righteousness, they meant much less a
conformity to a law divine or human which had been already set up as
standard, and much more, an ordering, a regulating, a harmonizing. The
rational element of measure or order was more prominent than the
personal note of authority. Hence we shall find Plato passing easily
back and forth between justice or order in the individual and justice or
order in the State. On the other hand, the radicals of the day could
seize upon the legal usage and declare that Justice or the Law was
purely a matter of self-interest or class interest.


=The Scientific Spirit.=--The older standards were embodied in religious
and political ideas and institutions; the agency which was to
disentangle and bring into clear consciousness the standards _as such_,
was the scientific spirit, the knowledge and reflection of an
intellectual people at a period of extraordinarily rapid development.
The commercial life, the free intercourse with other peoples and
civilizations, especially in the colonies, the absence of any generally
dominating political authority, the architectural problems suggested by
a beauty-loving people,--all promoted alertness and flexibility of mind.

In a concrete form, this rational character had already found expression
in the quality of Greek art. Reference has already been made to the
formal side of Greek art, with its embodiment of rhythm and measure; the
subject-matter shows the same element. The Greek world, as contrasted
with the barbarian world, was conceived by the Greek as the realm of
light contrasted with darkness; the national God, Apollo, embodied this
ideal of light and reason, and his fitting symbol was the sun. The
great Pan-Athenaic procession, as reproduced in the Parthenon frieze,
celebrated the triumph of Greek light and intelligence over barbarian
darkness. Athena, goddess of wisdom, was a fitting guardian of the most
Greek of all Greek cities. Greek tragedy, beginning in hymns of worship,
soon passed over into a portrayal of the all-controlling laws of life,
as these are brought into stronger relief by a tragic collision with
human agents.

It was, however, in the realm of science that this intellectual genius
found field for expression in a clearly conscious manner. Almost all our
sciences were originated by the Greeks, and they were particularly
successful in those which called for abstract thinking in the highest
degree. Euclid's geometry and Aristotle's logic are conspicuous
illustrations of this ability. The most general conceptions of natural
science: e.g., the conception of the atom and the whole materialistic
theory of the universe; the conception of evolution, meaning by this the
process of change according to an all-controlling law; the conception of
natural selection, according to which those organisms survive which are
fitted for their environment,--all these were the product of the keen
intelligence of the Greeks. Nor was their scientific ability expended
upon external nature alone. The conception of history as more than a
series of events, the comparative method in the study of political
systems, the analysis of literary and artistic effects, attest the same
clarity of mind and the same eager search for the most general laws of
every aspect of experience.

=Science and Religion.=--When, now, this scientific mind began to
consider the practical guidance of life, the older political and
religious controls presented serious difficulty. The gods were supposed
to reward the good and punish the evil,[64] but how could this be
reconciled with their practices? Æschylus attempted a purifying and
elevating of the divine ideal, similar to that which Israel's conception
underwent in the work of the prophets. He magnified the dignity and
providential government of Zeus, which, though dark, is yet just and
certain. But the great obstacle was that the earlier and cruder
conceptions of the gods had been fixed in literary form; the tales of
Cronos's impiety to Uranos, of Zeus' deceitful messenger and marital
unfaithfulness, of Aphrodite's amours, and Hermes' gift of theft, were
all written in Hesiod and Homer. The cruder conceptions of the gods had
thus become too firmly fixed in the popular imagination to be capable of
becoming the bearers of advancing ethical ideals, and so not merely the
irreverent scoffer, but the serious tragedian, Euripides, and the
religious idealist, Plato, do not hesitate to challenge boldly the older
conceptions, or to demand a revision of all this literature before it
comes into the hands of the young.

=Social Standards.=--The social standards of propriety and honorable
conduct were likewise brought in question by advancing intelligence. The
word which summed up the early Greek idea of the best type was
_Kalokagathos_. This word was very nearly the equivalent of our English
word "gentleman." It combined the elements of birth, ability, and
refinement, but in the earlier usage the emphasis was upon the fact of
birth, even as our terms "generous," "noble," "gentle," originally
referred to membership in a "gens." Socrates investigated the current
estimates and found that the people who were generally regarded as the
"respectable," or, as we should say, the "best" people of Athens, were
not necessarily either "fine" or "good" in person or character; the
term had come to be one of "convention," without basis in reason. Plato
goes still further and with a direct application of the rational
standard to the current estimates, pokes fun at the conventional
judgment of what constitutes the respectable gentleman.

    "When they sing the praises of family and say that some one is a
    gentleman because he has had seven generations of wealthy
    ancestors, he [the philosopher] thinks that their sentiments only
    betray the dullness and narrowness of vision of those who utter
    them, and who are not educated enough to look at the whole, nor to
    consider that every man has had thousands and thousands of
    progenitors, and among them have been rich and poor, kings and
    slaves, Hellenes and barbarians, many times over. And when some
    one boasts of a catalogue of twenty-five ancestors, and goes back
    to Heracles, the son of Amphitryon, he cannot understand his
    poverty of ideas. Why is he unable to calculate that Amphitryon
    had a twenty-fifth ancestor, who might have been anybody, and was
    such as fortune made him, and he had a fiftieth, and so on? He is
    amused at the notion that he cannot do a sum, and thinks that a
    little arithmetic would have got rid of his senseless vanity."

The type of life that is really noble or fine and good is to be found in
the seeker for true beauty and goodness. External beauty of form and
appearance has its value in kindling the desire for the higher forms of
beauty,--beauty of mind, of institutions and laws, of science,--until
finally the conception of the true beauty is reached. This true beauty,
as distinct from the particular beauties, and true good, as distinct
from seeming or partial good, are discovered only by the "philosopher,"
the seeker for wisdom.

=Popular Morals.=--Nor did the more positively recognized types of moral
excellence fare better. As recognized in common life, they were courage,
prudence or moderation, holiness or a certain respect for the serious
things of life, and justice: but none of these, Plato argues, is really
an independent excellence, apart from conscious and intelligent action.
Courage, for example, is not really courage unless one knows and
foresees the danger in all its strength; otherwise there is merely
reckless bravery. Prudence or moderation, to be really excellent, must
be measured by wisdom. Even justice cannot be regarded as at bottom
distinct from wisdom, the true measure of all the relations of life.

=Science and the Laws.=--The political control was likewise involved in
question by the same forces of intelligence which had challenged the
religious authority. The frequent changes of government, and the more or
less arbitrary measures that were oftentimes adopted, were adapted to
awaken doubt as to the absolute right and authority of the laws. The
despot who gained control in many a Greek city was not bound by ties of
blood to all members of the community, nor did he govern in accordance
with the ancestral traditions of the tribe. The political authority
frequently clashed with the instincts and traditions of family and
kinship. Under such circumstances, the political authority was likely to
be challenged and its constraining power stretched to the breaking
point. So in the _Antigone_ of Sophocles, the command of the ruler is
opposed to the "higher law" of kinship and nature. The law of man is not
the law of nature or of God. To disobey this conventional law of man is
to be guilty of "holiest crime." The old standards, both of religion and
of political life, crumbled before the analysis of the developing
intelligence, and the demand for some standard could be met only by the
intelligence itself. To question the old must inevitably seem irreverent
and anarchical. Some questioned merely to doubt; others, and of these
Socrates was the leader, questioned in order to find a firmer basis, a
more authoritative standard. But naturally the popular mind did not
distinguish between these two classes of questioners, and so Socrates
perished, not merely as the victim of unjust popular calumny, but as
the victim of the tragedy of moral progress, of the change from the
established to the new.


A further line of development joined forces with this growth of
intelligence, to emphasize the problem of moral control, and to set the
individual with his standards over against the objective standards of
society. This was the rapidly growing consciousness of individual goods
and interests. The commercial life, with its possibilities of individual
property, the rapid changes of political life, with the rise of
individuals to power and privilege, the increasing opportunities which a
high civilization brought both men and women for personal enjoyment and
gratification of rapidly increasing wants, all tended to make the
individual seek his own good, and to shift the emphasis of life from the
question, What is proper, or honorable? to the question, What is
_good_--good for _me_?

=Class Interests.=--The conviction that the authority of government and
law was largely dictated by the very considerations of private interests
which they were supposed to overrule and eliminate, made the situation
more acute. For the Greek States were no longer groups with common
interests. The growth of capital, the corresponding eagerness for gain,
the formation of distinct classes, each intent on its interests,
supplanted the older, more homogeneous State. "The whole development of
the political life of the Hellenic republics depended ultimately on the
decision of the question, which of the different social classes--the
capitalistic minority, the middle class, or the poor--should obtain the
dominant place." Aristotle defines an oligarchy as a State governed in
the interest of the rich; a democracy, as a State governed in the
interest of the poor. Another contemporary writer explains a democracy
as consulting the interests of the democrats, the "lower classes," and
considers this a matter of course, "for if the rich had the say, they
would do what was good for themselves but not for the multitude."
Naturally such dominance by classes called out vigorous criticisms upon
the laws and standards so established. The aristocratic minority
inveighed against "custom" or conventions which would tame the strong to
the level of the weak. Nature demands rather the "survival of the
fittest," i.e., of the strong. The enlightened spectator of the game of
government, on the other hand, declares that all laws are made in the
interest of ruling classes. The reader of current criticisms on laws and
courts will see how close is the parallel to present complaints. We have
to-day the same two classes: One inveighs against governmental
interference with the right to combine, to contract, and in general to
get from the earth or from men, women, and children all that superior
power and shrewdness can possibly extract. The other complains that
legislatures are owned by wealth, that judges are appointed from
corporation lawyers, that common law is a survival of ancient
aristocratic status, and that for these reasons labor can get no

Let us first hear the plea for inequality:

    "Custom and nature are generally at variance with one another; ...
    for by the rule of nature, that only is the more disgraceful which
    is the greater evil; as, for example, to suffer injustice; but by
    the rule of custom, to do evil is the more disgraceful. For this
    suffering of injustice is not the part of a man, but of a slave,
    who indeed had better die than live; for when he is wronged and
    trampled upon, he is unable to help himself or any other about
    whom he cares. The reason, as I conceive, is that the makers of
    laws are the many weak; and they make laws and distribute praises
    and censures with a view to themselves and their own interests;
    and they terrify the mightier sort of men, and those who are able
    to get the better of them, in order that they may not get the
    better of them; and they say that dishonesty is shameful and
    unjust; meanwhile, when they speak of injustice, they desire to
    have more than their neighbors, for knowing their own
    inferiority, they are only too glad of equality. And therefore,
    this seeking to have more than the many is conventionally said to
    be shameful and unjust, and is called injustice, whereas nature
    herself intimates that it is just for the better to have more than
    the worse, the more powerful than the weaker; and in many ways she
    shows, among men as well as among animals, and indeed among whole
    cities and races, that justice consists in the superior ruling
    over and having more than the inferior. For on what principle of
    justice did Xerxes invade Hellas, or his father the Scythians?
    (not to speak of numberless other examples). They, I conceive, act
    according to nature; yes, and according to the law of nature; not
    perhaps, according to that artificial law which we frame and
    fashion, taking the best and strongest of us from their youth
    upwards, and taming them like young lions, and charming them with
    the sound of the voice, saying to them that with equality they
    must be content, and that this is the honorable and the just. But
    if there were a man who had sufficient force, he would shake off
    and break through and escape from all this; he would trample under
    foot all our formulas and spells and charms, and all our laws,
    sinning against nature; the slave would rise in rebellion and be
    lord over us, and the light of natural justice would shine forth.
    And this I take to be the lesson of Pindar, in the poem in which
    he says that

      "'Law is the King of all, mortals as well as immortals!'

    This, as he says:

      "'Makes might to be right, and does violence with exalted hand; as
      I infer from the deeds of Heracles, for without buying them----'

    "I do not remember the exact words, but the meaning is, that he
    carried off the oxen of Geryon without buying them, and without
    their being given to him by Geryon, according to the law of
    natural right, and that the oxen and other possessions of the
    weaker and inferior properly belong to the stronger and superior."
    (PLATO, _Gorgias_, 482-4.)

The essence of this view is, therefore, that might is right, and that no
legislation or conventional code ought to stand in the way of the free
assertion of genius and power. It is similar to the teaching of
Nietzsche in recent times.

But the other side had its complaint also. The laws are made by the
"shepherds" of the people, as Homer called them. But who is now so
simple as to suppose that the "shepherds" fatten or tend the sheep with
a view to the good of the sheep, and not to their own good? All laws and
governments really exist for the interest of the ruling class.[65] They
rest upon convention or "institution," not upon "nature."

=Why Obey Laws?=--And if laws and social codes are but class
legislation, conventional, why obey them? The older Greek life had felt
the motives described in Chapter IV., though it had embodied them in
symbolism and imagery. The Nemesis that followed the guilty, the
Erinnys, or avenging goddesses, were the personified wrath of outraged
law; _aid[=o]s_, respect or reverence, _aischyne_, regard for public
opinion, were the inner feelings. But with the advancing tide of
intellectual criticism and individual interest, these sanctions were
discredited; feelings of personal enjoyment demanded recognition, and
the moralists at first appealed to this. "Parents and tutors are always
telling their sons and their wards that they are to be just; but only
not for the sake of justice, but for the sake of character and
reputation." But if the only reason for justice is reputation, there
might seem to be no sufficient reason for taking the thorny path, if
there be an easier. Will not the youth say, in the words of Pindar:

    "Can I by justice, or by crooked ways of deceit, ascend a loftier
    tower which may be a fortress to me all my days?"[66]

And if I decide that the crooked way is the easier, why shall I not
follow it? My party, or my "union", or my lawyer will stand by and see
me through:

    "But I hear some one exclaiming that the concealment of wickedness
    is often difficult; to which I answer, Nothing great is easy.
    Nevertheless, the argument indicates this, if we would be happy,
    to be the path along which we should proceed. With a view to
    concealment we will establish secret brotherhoods and political
    clubs. And there are professors of rhetoric who teach the art of
    persuading courts and assemblies; and so, partly by persuasion and
    partly by force, I shall make unlawful gains and not be punished.
    Still I hear a voice saying that the gods cannot be deceived,
    neither can they be compelled. But what if there are no gods? or,
    suppose them to have no care of human things, why in either case
    should we mind about concealment?"[67]

Besides, the greatest prizes, not only in material goods, but even in
the line of reputation, seemed to fall to the individualist if he could
only act on a sufficiently large scale. He could then be both prosperous
and "respectable." If he could steal the government, or, in modern
phrase, bribe a legislature to elect him to Congress, pass special
legislation, or grant a franchise, he could not merely escape
punishment, but be honored by his fellows.

    "I am speaking of injustice on a large scale, in which the
    advantage of the unjust is most apparent, and my meaning will be
    most clearly seen in that highest form of injustice, the
    perpetrator of which is the happiest of men, as the sufferers of
    these who refuse to do injustice are the most miserable--I mean
    tyranny which by fraud and force takes away the property of
    others, not retail but wholesale; comprehending in one things
    sacred as well as profane, private and public, for any one of
    which acts of wrong, if he were detected perpetrating them singly,
    he would be punished and incur great dishonor; for they who are
    guilty of any of these crimes in single instances are called
    robbers of temples and man-stealers and burglars and swindlers and
    thieves. But when a man has taken away the money of the citizens
    and made slaves of them, then instead of these dishonorable names,
    he is called happy and blessed, not only by the citizens but by
    all who hear of his having achieved the consummation of injustice.
    For injustice is censured because the censurers are afraid of
    suffering, and not from any fear which they have of doing
    injustice. And thus, as I have shown, Socrates, injustice, when on
    a sufficient scale, has more strength and freedom and mastery than
    justice; and, as I said at first, justice is the interest of the
    stronger, whereas injustice is a man's own profit and


=The Question Formulated.=--The outcome of this first movement was thus
twofold: (a) It forced the questions, "What is just?" "What is good?"
into clear and definite consciousness. The very necessity of comparison
and of getting a _general standard_, forced the inquirer to disentangle
the concepts previously embodied in customs and laws. But when the
essence was thus found and freed, or disembodied, as it were, the custom
seemed lifeless, merely "convention", and the essence often quite
opposed to the form. (b) It emphasized the _personal interest_, the
affective or emotional side of conduct, and made the moral problem take
the form, "What is the good?"

Furthermore, two positive theses have been established by the very
forces which have been active in disintegrating the old status. If
custom no longer suffices, then reason must set the standard; if society
cannot prescribe the good to the individual, then the individual must
find some method of defining and seeking it for himself unless he is to
make shipwreck of his whole venture.

We may bring both aspects of the problem under the conception of
"nature", as opposed to convention or institution. Convention is indeed
outgrown, nature is the imperious authority. But granting that nature is
rightful master, is "nature" to be sought in the primitive beginnings,
or in the fullest development? in a life of isolation, or in a life of
society? in the desires and passions, or in reason and a harmonious

Or, stating the same problem otherwise: granting that reason must fix
the measure, and the individual must define and seek the good for
himself, is the good to be found in isolation, or is it to be sought in
human society with its bonds of family, friendship, and justice? Is the
end to be pleasure, found in the gratification of desires, irrespective
of their quality, and is it the business of reason merely to measure one
gratification with another and get the most? or is wisdom itself a good,
and is it better to satisfy certain impulses rather than others? i.e.,
shall reason form the standard as well as apply it?

These contrasting solutions of the problem of life may be stated then
under the two pairs of antitheses: (1) The Individual _versus_ the
Social; (2) The Immediate Satisfaction _versus_ an Ideal Standard, at
once higher and more permanent.

=Typical Solutions.=--Poets, radicals, sensualists, individualists of no
philosophic school, as well as the historic philosophic schools,
contributed to the discussion and solution of these problems. All sought
the "natural" life; but it is noteworthy that all the philosophic
schools claimed Socrates as their master, and all sought to justify
their answers by reason, all made the wise man the ideal. The Cynics and
Cyrenaics, Stoics and Epicureans, Plato and Aristotle represent the
various philosophic answers to these alternatives. Cynics and Cyrenaics
both answer (1) by individualism, but diverge on (2), the Cynics placing
emphasis on independence from wants, the Cyrenaics on gratification of
wants. Stoics and Epicureans represent broader and more social
development of the same principles, the Stoics seeking a cosmopolitan
state, the Epicureans a community of friends; the Stoics emphasizing
reason or wisdom as the only good; the Epicureans finding for wisdom a
field in the selection of refined pleasures. Plato and Aristotle, with
varying emphasis but essential agreement, insist (1) that the good of
man is found in fulfilling completely his highest possible functions,
which is possible only in society; (2) that wisdom is not merely to
apply a standard but to form one; that while neither reason alone nor
feeling alone is enough for life, yet that pleasure is rather for life
than life for pleasure. Finally, Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics, as
well as the tragic poets, contribute successively to the formation of an
ideal of responsible character.

=Early Individualistic Theories.=--Cynics and Cyrenaics were alike
individualists. Society, they held, is artificial. Its so-called goods,
on the one hand, and its restrictions on the other, are to be rejected
unless they favor the individual's happiness. Independence was the mark
of wisdom among the Cynics; Antisthenes, proud of the holes in his
garment; Diogenes, dwelling in his tent or sleeping in the street,
scoffing at the current "conventions" of decency, asking from Philip
only that he would get out of his sunshine--are the characteristic
figures. The "state of nature" was opposed to the State. Only the
primitive wants were recognized as natural. "Art and science, family and
native land, were indifferent. Wealth and refinement, fame and honor,
seemed as superfluous as those enjoyments of the senses which went
beyond the satisfaction of the natural wants of hunger and sex."

The Cyrenaics, or hedonists (_h[=e]don[=e]_, pleasure), gave a different
turn to wisdom. The good is pleasure, and wisdom is found in that
prudence which selects the purest and most intense. Hence, if this is
the good, why should a man trouble himself about social standards or
social obligations? "The hedonists gladly shared the refinement of
enjoyment which civilization brought with it; they found it convenient
and permissible that the intelligent man should enjoy the honey which
others prepared; but no feeling of duty or thankfulness bound them to
the civilization whose fruits they enjoyed. Sacrifice for others,
patriotism, and devotion to a general object, Theodorus declared to be
a form of foolishness which it did not become the wise man to


=Value of a State.=--Plato and Aristotle take up boldly the challenge of
individualism. It may indeed be granted that existing states are too
often ruled by classes. There are oligarchies in which the soldier or
the rich control for their own interests; there are tyrannies in which
the despot is greed and force personified; there are democracies (Plato
was an aristocrat) in which the mob bears rule, and those who flatter
and feed its passions are in authority. But all these do but serve to
bring out more clearly the conception of a true State, in which the rule
is by the wisest and best and is not for the interest of a class, but
for the welfare of all. Even as it was, the State of Athens in Plato's
day--except when it condemned a Socrates--meant completeness and freedom
of life. It represented not merely a police force to protect the
individual, but stood for the complete organization of all the life
which needs coöperation and mutual support. The State provided
instruction for the mind and training for the body. It surrounded the
citizen with an atmosphere of beauty and provided in the tragedy and
comedy opportunities for every citizen to consider the larger
significance of life or to join in the contagious sympathy of mirth. In
festivals and solemn processions it brought the citizen into unity of
religious feeling. To be an Athenian citizen meant to share in all the
higher possibilities which life afforded. Interpreting this life,
Aristotle proclaims that it is not in isolation, but in the State, that
"the goal of full independence may be said to be first attained."

=The Natural.=--Aristotle goes directly to the heart of the problem as
to what is natural by asserting that nature is not to be found in the
crude beginning, but rather in the complete development. "The nature of
anything, e.g., of a man, a horse, or a house, may be defined to be its
condition when the process of production is complete." Hence the State
"in which alone completeness of life is attained" is in the highest
sense natural:

    "The object proposed or the complete development of a thing is its
    highest good; but independence which is first attained in the
    State is a complete development or the highest good and is
    therefore natural." "For as the State was formed to make life
    possible, so it exists to make life good."

    "Thus we see that the State is a natural institution, that man is
    naturally a political animal and that one who is not a citizen of
    any State, if the cause of his isolation be natural and not
    accidental, is either a superhuman being or low in the scale of
    human civilization, as he stands alone like a 'blot' on the
    backgammon board. The 'clanless, lawless, hearthless man,' so
    bitterly described by Homer, is a case in point, for he is
    naturally a citizen of no state and a lover of war."[70]

Nor does Aristotle stop here. With a profound insight into the relation
of man to society, and the dependence of the individual upon the social
body, a relation which modern social psychology has worked out in
greater detail, Aristotle asserts that the State is not merely the goal
of the individual's development, but the source of his life.

    "Again, in the order of nature the State is prior to the household
    or individual. For the whole must needs be prior to its part. For
    instance, if you take away the body which is the whole, there will
    not remain any such thing as a hand or foot, unless we use the
    same word in a different sense, as when we speak of a stone hand
    as a hand. For a hand separated from the body will be a disabled
    hand; whereas it is the faculty or function of a thing which makes
    it what it is, and therefore when things lose their function or
    faculty, it is not correct to call them the same things, but
    rather homonymous, i.e., different things having the same name.
    We see, then, the State is a natural institution, and also that it
    is prior to the individual. For if the individual as a separate
    unit is not independent, he must be a part and must bear the same
    relation to the State as the other parts to their wholes; and one
    who is incapable of association with others or is independent and
    has no need of such association, is no member of a State; in other
    words, he is either a brute or a God."[71]

And, moreover, when we look into the nature of the individual, we do not
find him a being devoid of the sympathies and qualities which find their
natural expression not only in the State, but in various social and
friendly relations. There is "an impulse toward the life in common"
([Greek: philia]) which expresses itself in friendship, but which is
also so essential to that recognition of others called justice that we
may say "it is the most just of all just things." There is also a unity
of disposition and purpose ([Greek: omonoia]) which may be called
"political friendship."[72]

=Plato's Ideal State.=--How then is the State constituted and governed
which is to provide for man's full development, his complete good?
Evidently two principles must control. In the first place, it must be so
constituted that every man may develop in it the full capacities of his
nature, and thereby serve at once the perfection of the State and his
own completeness; and in the second place, the State or social whole
must be ruled by those best fitted for this work. Not the soldier, nor
the plutocrat, nor the artisan, but the man who knows, is the suitable
ruler for our ideal community. The soldier may defend, the artisan may
support, but the scientific or intelligent man should rule. And it is
evident that in settling this principle, we have also answered our first
problem; for the soldier and the artisan will find his full development
by doing the work which he can do well, not by meddling with a task in
which he must necessarily fail. In order to guard against the greed
which was so characteristic of the governments of his day, Plato would
provide that the rulers and warriors should have no private property,
and not even private families. Their eye should be single to the good of
the whole. When asked as to the practicability of a State governed by
such disinterested rulers, and with such wisdom, he admits indeed its
difficulty, but he stoutly demands its necessity:

    "Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this
    world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political
    greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who
    pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand
    aside, cities will never have rest from their evils,--no, nor the
    human race, as I believe,--and then only will this our State have
    a possibility of life and behold the light of day."[73]

And yet the question of the actual existence of a perfect State is not
the question of supreme importance. For Plato has grasped the thought
that man is controlled not only by what he sees, but by what he images
as desirable. And if a man has once formed the image of an ideal State
or city of this kind, in which justice prevails, and life reaches fuller
and higher possibilities than it has yet attained, this is the main

    "In heaven, there is laid up a pattern of it, methinks, which he
    who desires may behold, and beholding, may set his own house in
    order. But whether such an one exists, or ever will exist in fact,
    is no matter: for he will live after the manner of that city,
    having nothing to do with any other."[74]

=The Social as Law of Nature.=--The social nature of man, thus
vindicated by Plato and Aristotle, remained as the permanent possession
of Greek thought. Even the Epicureans, who developed further the
hedonistic theory of life, emphasized the values of friendship as among
the choicest and most refined sources of pleasure. The Stoics, who in
their independence of wants took up the tradition of the Cynics, were
yet far from interpreting this as an independence of society. The
disintegration of the Greek states made it impossible to find the social
body in the old city-state, and so we find with the Stoics a certain
cosmopolitanism. It is the highest glory of man to be a citizen not of
Athens but of the universe,--not of the city of Cecrops, but of the city
of Zeus. And through this conception the social nature of man was made
the basis of a "natural law," which found its expression in the
principles of Roman and modern jurisprudence.

=Passion or Reason.=--In answering the question as to the true nature of
man, Plato and Aristotle found the suggestions likewise for the problem
of individual good. For if the soldier as the seeker for fame and honor,
the avaricious man embodying the desire for wealth, and still more, the
tyrant personifying the unbridled expression of every lust and passion,
are abhorrent, is it not easy to see that an orderly and harmonious
development of impulses under the guidance and control of reason, is far
better than that uncramped expression of desires and cravings for which
some of the radical individualists and sensualists of the day were
clamoring? As representative of this class, hear Callicles:

    "I plainly assert that he who would truly live ought to allow his
    desires to wax to the uttermost, and not to chastise them; but
    when they have grown to their greatest, he should have courage and
    intelligence to minister to them and to satisfy all his longings.
    And this I affirm to be natural justice and nobility." The
    temperate man is a fool. It is only in hungering and eating, in
    thirsting and drinking, in having all his desires about him, and
    gratifying every possible desire, that man lives happily.[75]

But even Callicles himself admits that there are certain men, the
creatures of degraded desire, whose lives are not ideal, and hence
that there must be some choice of pleasure. And carrying out in the
individual life the thought above suggested by the State, Plato raises
the question as to whether man, a complex being, with both noble and
ignoble impulses, and with the capacity of controlling reason, can be
said to make a wise choice if he lets the passions run riot and choke
out wholly his rational nature:

    "Is not the noble that which subjects the beast to the man, or
    rather to the god in man; and the ignoble that which subjects the
    man to the beast? He can hardly avoid admitting this,--can he now?
    Not if he has any regard for my opinion. But, if he admits this,
    we may ask him another question: How would a man profit if he
    received gold and silver on the condition that he was to enslave
    the noblest part of him to the worst? Who can imagine that a man
    who sold his son or daughter into slavery for money, especially if
    he sold them into the hands of fierce and evil men, would be the
    gainer, however large might be the sum which he received? And will
    any one say that he is not a miserable caitiff who sells his own
    divine being to that which is most atheistical and detestable and
    has no pity? Eriphyle took the necklace as the price of her
    husband's life, but he is taking a bribe in order to compass a
    worse ruin."[76]

=Necessity of a Standard for Pleasure.=--If, for the moment, we rule out
the question of what is noble or "kalon," and admit that the aim of life
is to live pleasantly, or if, in other words, it is urged as above that
justice is not profitable and that hence he who would seek the highest
good will seek it by some other than the thorny path, we must recognize
that the decision as to which kind of pleasure is preferable will depend
on the character of the man who judges:

    "Then we may assume that there are three classes of men,--lovers
    of wisdom, lovers of ambition, lovers of gain? Exactly. And there
    are three kinds of pleasure, which are their several objects?
    Very true. Now, if you examine the three classes and ask of them
    in turn which of their lives is pleasantest, each of them will be
    found praising his own and deprecating that of others; the
    money-maker will contrast the vanity of honor or of learning with
    the solid advantages of gold and silver? True, he said. And the
    lover of honor,--what will be his opinion? Will he not think that
    the pleasure of riches is vulgar, while the pleasure of learning,
    which has no need of honor, he regards as all smoke and nonsense?
    True, he said. But may we not suppose, I said, that philosophy
    estimates other pleasures as nothing in comparison with knowing
    the truth, and in that abiding, ever learning, in the pursuit of
    truth, not far indeed from the heaven of pleasure? The other
    pleasures the philosopher disparages by calling them necessary,
    meaning that if there were no necessity for them, he would not
    have them. There ought to be no doubt about that, he replied.
    Since, then, the pleasure of each class and the life of each is in
    dispute, and the question is not which life is most honorable, or
    better or worse, but which is the more pleasant or painless,--how
    shall we know? I cannot tell, he said. Well, but what ought to be
    the criterion? Is any better than experience and wisdom and
    reason? There cannot be a better, he said. If wealth and gain were
    the criterion, then what the lover of gain praised and blamed
    would surely be the truest? Assuredly. Of if honor or victory or
    courage, in that case the ambitions or contentments would decide
    best? Clearly. But since experience and wisdom and reason are the
    judges, the inference of course is, that the truest pleasures are
    those which are approved by the lover of wisdom and reason."[77]

It is thus evident that even if we start out to find the good in
pleasure, we need some kind of measuring art. We need a "standard for
pleasure," and this standard can be found only in wisdom. And this
forces us to maintain that wisdom is after all _the_ good. Not merely
intellectual attainment--a life of intellect without feeling would be
just as little a true human life as would the life of an oyster, which
has feeling with no intelligence. A life which includes sciences and
arts, and the pure pleasures of beauty, presided over by wisdom and
measure and symmetry,--this is Plato's vision of the life of the
individual, viewed from within.

=Eudaemonism.=--Aristotle's conception of the good is fundamentally the
same. It is a full development of man's capacities, culminating in a
rational and harmonious life. If, says Aristotle, we are to find the
ultimate good, we must try to find, if possible, some one end which is
pursued as an end in itself, and never as a means to something else, and
the most general term for this final end is "eudaimonia," or well-being,
"for we also choose it for itself and never for the sake of something
else." What is the essence of well-being? This, according to Aristotle,
is to be found by asking what is the function of man. The life of
nutrition and growth man has in common with the plants; the life of
sense in common with the animal. It is in the life of his rational
nature that we must find his especial function. "The good of man is
exercise of his faculties in accordance with their appropriate
excellence." External goods are valuable because they may be instruments
toward such full activity. Pleasure is to be valued because it "perfects
the activities, and therefore perfects life, which is the aim of human
desire"--rather than valued as an end in itself. No one would choose to
live on condition of having a child's intellect all his life, though he
were to enjoy in the highest possible degree all the pleasures of a

=The "Mean."=--The crowning importance of wisdom as the rational measure
of the ideal life is also illustrated in Aristotle's theory of
excellence (or virtue) as a "mean". This phrase is somewhat ambiguous,
for some passages would seem to indicate that it is merely striking an
average between two kinds of excesses, and finding, as it were, a
moderate amount of feeling or action; but there is evidently involved
here just the old thought of measure, and "the mean is what right reason
prescribes." It is not every one who can find the mean, but only he who
has the requisite knowledge. The supreme excellence or virtue is,
therefore, the wisdom which can find the true standard for action.[79]

=The Wise Man.=--Finally the conception of virtue as wisdom is
illustrated in the ideals of the three prominent schools in later Greek
thought,--the Sceptics, Epicureans, and Stoics. The wise man among
Sceptics is he who suspends judgment where it is impossible to be
certain. The wise man among Epicureans is he who chooses the finest and
surest and most lasting pleasures. The wise man among Stoics is he who
overcomes his emotions. But in every case the ideal is expressed in the
same phrase, "the wise man."

=Man and the Cosmos.=--We see thus how Greek thought, starting out to
challenge all society's laws and standards and bring them to the bar of
knowledge, has found a deeper value and higher validity in the true
social and moral order. The appeal was to the Cæsar of reason, and
reason taken in its full significance carries us beyond the immediate
and transient to the broader and more permanent good. Nor can reason in
its search for good be content, urges Plato, with the superficial facts
of life and society. He who would find and achieve his complete
function, his full development, must broaden his horizon still further.
As his own particular life is but a part of the ongoing of the larger
world, whose forces act upon him, limit him, and determine his
possibilities, it becomes absolutely necessary to study not merely his
own end and purpose, but the end and purpose of the universe. Human good
requires us to know the larger good, _the_ Good, in the full and
complete sense. And this perfect Good which is, in truth, the very
essence of the universe, is but another term for God, and Plato often
uses the two as interchangeable terms.

So the "Nature" which Greek life was seeking gets its deepest
significance and reinterprets the old religious demand for unity of the
life of man with the forces of the unseen. And the Stoic later, in his
maxim "Follow Nature," gives more explicit recognition to the return of
the circle. For the great work of Greek science had brought out into
complete clearness the idea of Nature as a system of law. The universe
is a rational universe, a cosmos, and man, as above all else a rational
being, finds thus his kinship to the universe. To follow Nature,
therefore, means to know the all-pervading law of Nature and submit to
it in calm acceptance or resignation.

"All is harmonious to me that is harmonious to thee, O universe; all is
fruit to me which thy seasons bring."[80]


=Contrast of Actual and Ideal.=--The two stages of Greek thought which
we have sketched did more than to readjust Greek life to deeper views of
the State and the individual; of the good and of nature. The very
challenge and process brought into explicit consciousness a new feature
of the moral life, which is fundamental to true moral consciousness,
viz., the factor of contrast between the actual and the ideal. We have
seen that the clash of one-sided interests and political institutions
and, in the case of Plato, the tragic execution of Socrates, obliged
Plato and Aristotle to admit that the actual State did not subserve the
real purpose which they were forced to seek in social organization. Both
Plato and Aristotle, therefore, draw the picture of a State that should
serve the complete purposes of human development. And again, in the
individual life, both the conception of the development of man's highest
possibilities and the conception of a measure or standard for the
conflicting desires and purposes lead on to a conception which shall
embody not merely the existing status but the goal of yet unrealized

=The Ideal as the True Reality.=--Various qualities and aspirations are
embodied by Plato in this conception, and with characteristic Greek
genius he has given to this conception of the ideal almost as concrete
and definite a form as the Greek sculptor of Apollo gave to his ideal of
light and clarity, or the sculptor of Aphrodite to the conception of
grace. As contrasted with the flux of transient emotions, or the
uncertain play of half-comprehended or futile goods, this ideal good is
conceived as eternal, unchanging, ever the same. It is superhuman and
divine. As contrasted with various particular and partial goods on which
the sons of men fix their affections, it is the one universal good which
is valid for all men everywhere and forever. In his effort to find
suitable imagery for this conception, Plato was aided by the religious
conceptions of the Orphic and Pythagorean societies, which had
emphasized the pre-existence and future existence of the soul, and its
distinction from the body. In its previous life, said Plato, the soul
has had visions of a beauty, a truth, and a goodness of which this life
affords no adequate examples. And with this memory within it of what it
has looked upon before, it judges the imperfect and finite goods of this
present world and longs to fly away again and be with God. This thought
of contrast between ideal and actual, to which Plato in some of his
writings gave the turn of a contrast between soul and body, passed on
with increased emphasis into Stoic and later Platonist schools, and
furnished a philosophic basis for the dualism and asceticism which is
found in Hellenistic and mediæval morality.

=Ethical Significance.=--While the true ethical contrast between the
actual and the ideal was thus shifted over into a metaphysical contrast
between soul and body, or between what is fixed and what is changing,
the fundamental thought is highly significant, for it merely symbolizes
in objective form the characteristic of every moral judgment, viz., the
testing and valuing of an act by some standard, and what is even more
important, the forming of a standard by which to do the testing. Even
Aristotle, who is frequently regarded as the mere describer of what is,
rather than the idealistic portrayer of what ought to be, is no less
insistent upon the significance of the ideal. In fact, his isolation of
reflection or _theoria_ from the civic virtues was used by the mediæval
church in its idealization of the "contemplative life." Like Plato, he
conceives the ideal as a divine element in human nature:

    "Nevertheless, instead of listening to those who advise us as men
    and mortals not to lift our thoughts above what is human and
    mortal, we ought rather, as far as possible, to put off our
    mortality and make every effort to live in the exercise of the
    highest of our faculties; for though it be but a small part of us,
    yet in power and value it far surpasses all the rest."[81]


=The Poets.=--Out of the fierce competition of individual desires, the
clashing of individual ambitions, the conflict between the individual
and the state, and the deepening of the conception of the individual's
"nature," emerged also another conception of fundamental importance for
the more highly developed reflective moral life, viz., that of the moral
personality, its character and its responsibility. We may trace the
development of this conception through the poets, as well as in the
philosophers. Æschylus set man over against the gods, subject to their
divine laws, but gave little play to human character or conscious
self-direction. With Sophocles, the tragic situation was brought more
directly into the field of human character, although the conception of
destiny and the limitations marked thereby were still the dominant note.
With Euripides, human emotions and character are brought into the
foreground. Stout-heartedness, the high spirit that can endure in
suffering or triumph in death, which shows not merely in his heroes but
in the women, Polyxena and Medea, Phædra and Iphigenia, evinces the
growing consciousness of the self--a consciousness which will find
further development in the proud and self-sufficient endurance of the
Stoic. In more directly ethical lines, we find increasing recognition of
the self in the motives which are set up for human action, and in the
view which is formed of human character. Conscience in the earlier poets
and moralists, was largely a compound of Nemesis, the external messenger
and symbol of divine penalty, on the one hand, and Aidos, the sense of
respect or reverence for public opinion and for the higher authority of
the gods, on the other. But already in the tragedians we find
suggestions of a more intimate and personal conception. Pains sent by
Zeus in dreams may lead the individual to meditate, and thus to better
life. Neoptolemus, in Sophocles, says,

  "All things are noisome when a man deserts
  His own true self and does what is not meet."

and Philoctetes replies,

  "Have mercy on me, boy, by all the gods,
  And do not shame thyself by tricking me."

The whole _Antigone_ of Sophocles is the struggle between obedience to
the political rulers and obedience to the higher laws which as "laws of
reverence" become virtually inner laws of duty:

  "I know I please the souls I ought to please."

=Plato.=--Here, as in the formulation of his conception of the ideal,
religious imagery helped Plato to find a more objective statement for
the conception of a moral judgment and a moral character. In the final
judgment of the soul after death, Plato sees the real self stripped bare
of all external adornments of beauty, rank, power, or wealth, and
standing as naked soul before the naked judge, to receive his just
reward. And the very nature of this reward or penalty shows the
deepening conception of the self, and of the intrinsic nature of moral
character. The true penalty of injustice is not to be found in anything
external, but in the very fact that the evil doers become base and

    "They do not know the penalty of injustice, which above all things
    they ought to know,--not stripes and death, as they suppose, which
    evil doers often escape, but a penalty which cannot be escaped.

    THEOD. What is that?

    SOC. There are two patterns set before them in nature; the one
    blessed and divine, the other godless and wretched; and they do
    not see, in their utter folly and infatuation, that they are
    growing like the one and unlike the other, by reason of their evil
    deeds; and the penalty is that they lead a life answering to the
    pattern which they resemble."[82]

=The Stoics.=--It is, however, in the Stoics that we find the conception
of inner reflection reaching clearest expression. Seneca and Epictetus
repeat again and again the thought that the conscience is of higher
importance than any external judgment,--that its judgment is inevitable.
In these various conceptions, we see attained the third stage of Adam
Smith's description of the formation of conscience.[83] Man who read
his duty at first in the judgments of his fellows, in the customs and
laws and codes of honor, and in the religious precepts of the gods, has
again come to find in gods and laws, in custom and authority, the true
rational law of life; but it is now a law of self. Not a particular or
individual self, but a self which embraces within it at once the human
and the divine. The individual has become social and has recognized
himself as such. The religious, social, and political judgments have
become the judgments of man upon himself. "Duty," what is binding or
necessary, takes its place as a definite moral conception.


Besides the writings of Plato (especially, the _Apology_, _Crito_,
_Protagoras_, _Gorgias_, and _Republic_), Xenophon (_Memorabilia_),
Aristotle (_Ethics_, _Politics_), Cicero (_On Ends, Laws, Duties_; _On
the Nature of the Gods_), Epictetus, Seneca, M. Aurelius, Plutarch, and
the fragments of various Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics, the tragedies
of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and the comedies of Aristophanes
(especially the _Clouds_) afford valuable material.

All the histories of philosophy treat the theoretical side; among them
may be mentioned Gompérz (_Greek Thinkers_, 1900-05), Zeller
(_Socrates_; _Plato_; _Aristotle_; _Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics_),
Windelband, Benn (_Philosophy of Greece_, 1898, chs. i., v.).

On the Moral Consciousness: Schmidt, _Ethik der alten Griechen_, 1882.
On the social conditions and theories: Pöhlmann, _Geschichte des antiken
Kommunismus und Sozialismus_, 1893-1901; Döring, _Die Lehre des Sokrates
als sociales Reformsystem_, 1895. On the religion: Farnell, _Cults of
the Greek States_, 3 vols., 1896; Rohde, _Psyche_, 1894.

On Political Conditions and Theory: Newman, Introd. to _Politics of
Aristotle_, 1887; Bradley, _Aristotle's Theory of the State in
Hellenica_; Wilamovitz-Möllendorf, _Aristotle und Athen_, 1900.

On Nature and Law of Nature: Ritchie, _Natural Rights_, 1895; Burnet,
_Int. Journal of Ethics_, vii., 1897, pp. 328-33; Hardy, _Begriff der
Physis_, 1884; Voigt, _Die Lehre vom jus naturale_, 1856-75.

General: Denis, _Histoire des Théories et des Idées Morales dans
l'Antiquité_, 1879; Taylor, _Ancient Ideals_, 1900; Caird, _Evolution of
Theology in the Greek Philosophers_, 1904; Janet, _Histoire de la
Science Politique dans ses Rapports avec la Morale_, 1887; Grote,
_History of Greece_, 4th ed., 1872; _Plato and the Other Companions of
Socrates_, 1888.


[64] Cf. Xenophon's account of the impressive appeal of Clearchus: "For,
first and greatest, the oaths which we have sworn by the gods forbid us
to be enemies to each other. Whoever is conscious of having transgressed
these,--him I could never deem happy. For if one were at war with the
gods, I know not with what swiftness he might flee so as to escape, or
into what darkness he might run, or into what stronghold he might
retreat and find refuge. For all things are everywhere subject to the
gods, and the gods rule all everywhere with equity."--_Anabasis_, II.,

[65] _Republic_, I., 343.

[66] _Republic_, II., 365.

[67] _Republic_, II., 365.

[68] _Republic_, I., 343 f.

[69] Windelband, _History of Philosophy_, p. 86.

[70] _Politics_, I., ii. Welldon's translation.

[71] _Politics_, I., ii. Welldon's translation.

[72] _Ethics_, VIII., i.; IX., vi.

[73] _Republic_, V., 473.

[74] _Ibid._, IX., 592.

[75] _Gorgias_, 491 ff.

[76] _Republic_, IX., 589 f.

[77] _Republic_, IX., 581 f.

[78] _Ethics_, X., ii.-iv.

[79] Among the various types of excellence which Aristotle enumerates as
exemplifying this principle, the quality of high-mindedness ([Greek:
megalopsychia]) is pre-eminent, and may be taken as embodying the trait
most prized in an Athenian gentleman. The high-minded man claims much
and deserves much; lofty in his standard of honor and excellence he
accepts tributes from good men as his just desert, but despises honor
from ordinary men or on trivial grounds; good and evil fortune are alike
of relatively small importance. He neither seeks nor fears danger; he is
ready to confer favors and forget injuries, slow to ask favors or cry
for help; fearless in his love and hatred, in his truth and his
independence of conduct; "not easily moved to admiration, for nothing is
great to him. He loves to possess beautiful things that bring no profit,
rather than useful things that pay; for this is characteristic of the
man whose resources are in himself. Further, the character of the
high-minded man seems to require that his gait should be slow, his voice
deep, his speech measured; for a man is not likely to be in a hurry when
there are few things in which he is deeply interested, nor excited when
he holds nothing to be of very great importance; and these are the
causes of a high voice and rapid movements" (_Ethics_, IV., vi.-viii.).

[80] Marcus Aurelius, _Thoughts_, IV., 23.

[81] _Ethics_, X., vii.

[82] _Theætetus_, 176.

[83] Smith held that we (1) approve or disapprove the conduct of others;
(2) see ourselves as others see us, judging ourselves from their
standpoint; (3) finally, form a true social standard, that of the
"impartial spectator." This is an inner standard--conscience.



The moral life of the modern western world differs from both Hebrew and
Greek morality in one respect. The Hebrews and Greeks were pioneers.
Their leaders had to meet new situations and shape new conceptions of
righteousness and wisdom. Modern civilization and morality, on the other
hand, received certain ideals and standards already worked out and
established. These came to it partly through the literature of Hebrews,
Greeks, and Latins, partly through Greek art and Roman civilization, but
chiefly, perhaps, through two institutions: (1) Roman government and law
embodied Stoic conceptions of a natural law of reason and of a world
state, a universal rational society. This not only gave the groundwork
of government and rights to the modern world; it was a constant
influence for guiding and shaping ideas of authority and justice. (2)
The Christian Church in its cathedrals, its cloisters, its ceremonials,
its orders, and its doctrines had a most impressive system of standards,
valuations, motives, sanctions, and prescriptions for action. These were
not of Hebrew origin solely. Greek and Roman philosophy and political
conceptions were fused with more primitive teaching and conduct. When
the Germans conquered the Empire they accepted in large measure its
institutions and its religion. Modern morality, like modern
civilization, shows the mingled streams of Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and
German or Celtic life. It contains also conceptions due to the peculiar
industrial, scientific, and political development of modern times. Thus
we have to-day such inherited standards as that of "the honor of a
gentleman" side by side with the modern class standard of business
honesty, and the labor union ideal of class solidarity. We have the
aristocratic ideals of chivalry and charity side by side with more
democratic standards of domestic and social justice. We find the
Christian equal standard for the two sexes side by side with another
which sets a high value on woman's chastity, but a trivial value on
man's. We find a certain ideal of self-sacrifice side by side with an
ideal of "success" as the only good. We cannot hope to disentangle all
the threads that enter this variegated pattern, or rather collection of
patterns, but we can point out certain features that at the same time
illustrate certain general lines of development. We state first the
general attitude and ideals of the Middle Ages, and then the three lines
along which individualism has proceeded to the moral consciousness of


The mediæval attitude toward life was determined in part by the
character of the Germanic tribes with their bold, barbaric strength and
indomitable spirit, their clan and other group organizations, their
customs or mores belonging to such a stock; and in part by the religious
ideals presented in the church. The presence of these two factors was
manifest in the strong contrasts everywhere present.

    "Associated with mail-clad knights whose trade is war and whose
    delight is to combat are the men whose sacred vocation forbids the
    use of force altogether. Through lands overspread with deeds of
    violence, the lonely wayfarer with the staff and badge of a
    pilgrim passes unarmed and in safety. In sight of castles, about
    whose walls fierce battles rage, are the church and the monastery,
    within the precincts of which quiet reigns and all violence is
    branded as sacrilege."[84]

The harsh clashes of the Venus music over against the solemn strains
from the Pilgrim's Chorus in Tannhäuser might well symbolize not only
the specific collision of the opera but the broader range of passions
opposed to the religious controls and values in this mediæval society.

=The Group and Class Ideal.=--The early Germans and Celts in general had
the clan system, the group ideals, and group virtues which belonged to
other Aryan peoples, but the very fact of the Germanic victories shows a
military spirit which included both personal heroism and good capacity
for organization. Group loyalty was strong, and the group valuation of
strength and courage was unbounded. A high value was also set on woman's
chastity. These qualities, particularly the loyalty to the clan and its
head, survived longest in Celtic peoples like the Scots and Irish who
were not subjected to the forces of political organization. Every reader
of Scott is familiar with the values and defects of the type; and the
problems which it causes in modern democracy have been acutely described
by Jane Addams.[85] Among the Germanic peoples, when the clan and tribal
systems were followed by the more thoroughgoing demarcation of classes,
free and serfs, lords and villains, chevalier or knight, and churl, the
old Latin terms "gentle" and "vulgar" found a fitting application. The
term "gentle" was indeed given in one of its usages the force of the
kindred term "kind" to characterize the conduct appropriate within the
kin, but in the compound "gentleman" it formed one of the most
interesting conceptions of class morality. The "honor" of a gentleman
was determined by what the class demanded. Above all else the gentleman
must not show fear. He must be ready to fight at any instant to prove
his courage. His word must not be doubted. This seems to have been on
the ground that such doubt would be a refusal to take the man at his
own estimate, rather than because of any superlative love of truth, for
the approved way to prove the point at issue was by fighting, not by any
investigation. But the class character appears in the provision that no
insult from one of a lower class need be noticed. Homicide was not
contrary to the character and honor of a gentleman. Nor did this require
any such standard in sex relations as a "woman's honor" requires of a
woman. In conduct toward others, the "courtesy" which expresses in
ceremony and manner respect for personal dignity was a fine trait. It
did not always prevent insolence toward inferiors, although there was in
many cases the feeling, _noblesse oblige_. What was needed to make this
ideal of gentleman a moral and not merely a class ideal, was that it
should base treatment of others on personal worth rather than on birth,
or wealth, or race, and that it should not rate reputation for courage
above the value of human life. This has been in part effected, but many
traits of the old conception live on to-day.

=The Ideal of the Church.=--The ideal of life which the church presented
contained two strongly contrasting elements, which have been frequently
found in religion and are perhaps inevitably present. On the one hand, a
spiritual religion implies that man in comparison with God is finite,
weak, and sinful; he should therefore be of "a humble and contrite
heart." On the other hand, as a child of God he partakes of the divine
and is raised to infinite worth. On the one hand, the spiritual life is
not of this world and must be sought in renouncing its pleasures and
lusts; on the other hand, if God is really the supreme governor of the
universe, then this world also ought to be subject to his rule. In the
mediæval view of life, the humility and withdrawal from the world were
assigned to the individual; the sublimity and the ruling authority to
the church. Ethically this distribution had somewhat the effect of
group morality in that it minimized the individual and magnified the
corporate body of which he was a part. Asceticism and humility go hand
in hand with the power of the hierarchy. Individual poverty--wealth of
the church; individual meekness and submission--unlimited power and
authority in the church; these antitheses reflect the fact that the
church was the heir both of a kingdom of God and of a Roman Empire. The
humility showed itself in extreme form in the ascetic type of
monasticism with its vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. It was
reflected in the art which took for its subjects the saints, conceived
not individually, but typically and according to tradition and
authority. Their thin attenuated figures showed the ideal prescribed.
The same humility showed itself in the intellectual sphere in the
preëminence given to faith as compared with reason, while the mystic
losing himself in God showed yet another phase of individual
renunciation. Even charity, with which the church sought to temper the
hardship of the time, took a form which tended to maintain or even
applaud the dependent attitude of the recipient. So far as life for the
individual had a positive value, this lay not in living oneself out, but
rather in the calm and the support afforded by the church:

    "A life in the church, for the church, through the church; a life
    which she blessed in mass at morning and sent to peaceful rest by
    the vesper hymn; a life which she supported by the constantly
    recurring stimulus of the sacraments, relieving it by confession,
    purifying it by penance, admonishing it by the presentation of
    visible objects for contemplation and worship--this was the life
    which they of the Middle Ages conceived of as the rightful life of
    man; it was the actual life of many, the ideal of all."[86]

On the other side, the church boldly asserted the right and duty of the
divine to control the world,--the religious symbol of the modern
proposition that conscience should dominate political and business
affairs. "No institution is apart from the authority of the church,"
wrote Ægidius Colonna. "No one can legitimately possess field or vine
except under its authority or by it. Heretics are not owners, but
unjustly occupy." Canossa symbolized the supremacy of the spiritual over
the temporal power, and there is a sublime audacity, moral as well as
political, in the famous Bull of Boniface VIII., "We declare that every
human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff."

The church as a corporate society expressed also the _community_ of its
members. It was indeed no mere collection of individual believers. As a
divine institution, the "body of Christ on earth," it gave to its
members rather than received from them. It invested them with new worth,
instead of getting its own worth from them. Nevertheless, it was not an
absolute authority; it represented the union of all in a common
fellowship, a common destiny, and a common cause against the powers of

The massive cathedrals which remain as the monuments of the ages of
faith, are fitting symbols of these aspects of mediæval life. They
dominate their cities architecturally, as the church dominated the life
of the ages which built them. They inspired within the worshipper, on
the one hand, a sense of finiteness in the presence of the sublime; on
the other, an elevation of soul as he became conscious of union with a
power and presence not his own. They awed the worshiping assembly and
united it in a common service.


We have seen that the mediæval life had two sets of standards and
values: one set by the tribal codes and the instinct of a warlike
people; the other set by a church which required renunciation while it
asserted control. Changes may be traced in both ideals. The group
morality becomes refined and broadened. The church standards are
affected in four ways: (a) The goods of the secular life, art, family,
power, wealth, claim a place in the system of values. (b) Human
authority asserts itself, at first in sovereign states with monarchs,
then in the growth of civil liberty and political democracy. (c) Instead
of faith, reason asserts itself as the agency for discovering the laws
of nature and of life. (d) As the result of the greater dignity and
worth of the individual which is worked out in all these lines, social
virtue tends to lay less value on charity and more on social justice.

It must not be supposed that the movements to be outlined have resulted
in the displacement or loss of the positive values in the religious
ideal. The morality of to-day does not ignore spiritual values; it aims
rather to use them to give fuller meaning to all experience. It does not
abandon law in seeking freedom, or ignore duty because it is discovered
by reason. Above all, it is seeking to bring about in more intimate
fashion that supremacy of the moral order in all human relations for
which the church was theoretically contending. And in recent times we
are appreciating more thoroughly that the individual cannot attain a
full moral life by himself. Only as he is a member of a moral society
can he find scope and support for full development of will. In concrete
phrase, it is just as necessary to improve the general social
environment in which men, women, and children are to live, in order to
make better individuals, as it is to improve the individuals in order to
get a better society. This was a truth which the religious conception of
salvation through the church taught in other terms.

To follow the development of the modern moral consciousness, we shall
rely not so much on the formal writings of moral philosophers as on
other sources. What men value most, and what they recognize as right, is
shown in what they work for and fight for and in how they spend their
leisure. This is reflected more immediately in their laws, their art and
literature, their religion, and their educational institutions, although
it finds ultimate expression in moral theories. The more concrete
aspects are suggested in this chapter, the theories in Chapter XII.


An interesting blending of the class ideal of the warrior and
"gentleman" with the religious ideals of devotion to some spiritual
service, and of protection to the weak, is afforded by _chivalry_. The
knights show their faith by their deeds of heroism, not by renunciation.
But they fight for the Holy Sepulcher, or for the weak and oppressed.
Their investiture is almost as solemn as that of a priest. Honor and
love appear as motives side by side with the quest of the Holy Grail.
Chevalier Bayard is the gallant fighter for country, but he is also the
passionate admirer of justice, the knight _sans peur et sans reproche_.
Moreover, the literature which embodies the ideal exhibits not only
feats of arms and religious symbolism. Parsifal is not a mere
abstraction; he has life and character. "And who will deny," writes
Francke,[87] "that in this character Wolfram has put before us, within
the forms of chivalrous life, an immortal symbol of struggling, sinning,
despairing, but finally redeemed, humanity?"

If chivalry represented in some degree a moralizing of the warrior
class, the mendicant orders represented an effort to bring religion into
secular life. The followers of St. Dominic and St. Francis were indeed
ascetic, but instead of maintaining the separate life of the cloister
they aimed to awaken a personal experience among the whole people.
Further, the Dominicans adopted the methods and conceptions of Greek
philosophy to support the doctrines of the church, instead of relying
solely on faith. The Franciscans on their part devoted an ecstatic type
of piety to deeds of charity and beneficence. They aimed to overcome the
world rather than to withdraw from it. A bolder appeal to the
individual, still within the sphere of religion, was made when Wyclif
asserted the right of every instructed man to search the Bible for
himself, and a strong demand for social justice found expression in
Wyclif's teaching as well as in the vision of Piers Plowman.

In the political world the growing strength of the empire sought
likewise a religious sanction in its claim of a divine right,
independent of the church. The claims of the civic life find also
increasing recognition with the spiritual teachers.

The State had been regarded by Augustine as a consequence of the fall of
man, but it now comes to claim and receive a moral value: first, with
Thomas Aquinas, as the institution in which man perfects his earthly
nature and prepares for his higher destiny in the realm of grace; then,
with Dante, as no longer subordinate to the church, but coördinate with

Finally, the rise of the universities shows a most significant
appearance of the modern spirit under the old sanctions. The range of
secular studies was limited and the subject-matter to be studied was
chiefly the doctrine of the Fathers. The teachers who drew thousands of
eager young men about them were clerics. But the very fact that
dialectics--the art of reasoning--was the focus of interest, shows the
dawn of a spirit of inquiry. Such a book as Abelard's _Sic et Non_,
which marshaled the opposing views of the Fathers in "deadly parallel,"
was a challenge to tradition and an assertion of reason. And it is not
without significance that the same bold thinker was the first of the
mediæval scholars to treat ethics again as a field by itself. The title
"_Know Thyself_" suggests its method. The essence of the moral act is
placed in the intent or resolve of the will; the criterion for judgment
is agreement or disagreement with conscience.


=Rights.=--It is not possible or necessary here to sketch the advance of
political and civil liberty. Finding its agents sometimes in kings,
sometimes in cities, sometimes in an aristocracy or a House of Commons,
and sometimes in a popular uprising, it has also had as its defenders
with the pen, Churchmen, Protestants, and freethinkers, lawyers,
publicists, and philosophers. All that can be done here is to indicate
briefly the moral significance of the movement. Some of its protagonists
have been actuated by conscious moral purpose. They have fought with
sword or pen not only in the conviction that their cause was just, but
because they believed it just. At other times, a king has favored a city
to weaken the power of the nobility, or the Commons have opposed the
king because they objected to taxation. What makes the process
significant morally is that, whatever the motives actuating those who
have fought its battles with sword or pen, they have nearly always
claimed to be fighting for "rights." They have professed the conviction
that they are engaged in a just cause. They have thus made appeal to a
moral standard, and in so far as they have sincerely sought to assert
rights, they have been recognizing in some sense a social and rational
standard; they have been building up a moral personality. Sometimes
indeed the rights have been claimed as a matter of "possession" or of
tradition. This is to place them on the basis of customary morality. But
in such great crises as the English Revolutions of the seventeenth
century, or the French and American Revolutions of the eighteenth, some
deeper basis has been sought. A Milton, a Locke, a Rousseau, a
Jefferson, has but voiced the sentiments of a people in formulating an
explicitly moral principle. Sometimes this has taken the form of an
appeal to God-given rights. All men are equal before God; why should one
man assume to command another because of birth? In this sense the
Puritans stood for liberty and democracy as part of their creed of life.
But often the appeal to a moral principle borrowed the conceptions of
Greek philosophy and Roman law, and spoke of "natural rights" or a "law
of nature."[88]

=Natural Rights.=--This conception, as we have noted, had its origin in
Greece in the appeal from custom or convention to Nature. At first an
appeal to the natural impulses and wants, it became with the Stoics an
appeal to the rational order of the universe. Roman jurists found in the
idea of such a law of nature the rational basis for the law of society.
Cicero had maintained that every man had its principles innate within
him. It is obvious that here was a principle with great possibilities.
The Roman law itself was most often used in the interest of absolutism,
but the idea of a natural law, and so of a natural right more
fundamental than any human dictate, proved a powerful instrument in the
struggle for personal rights and equality. "All men naturally were born
free," wrote Milton. "To understand political power right," wrote Locke,
"and derive it from its original, we must consider what state all men
are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their
actions and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit,
within the bounds of the law of nature; without asking leave or
depending on the will of any other man. A state also of equality,
wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal." These doctrines
found eloquent portrayal in Rousseau, and appear in the Declaration of
Independence of 1776. Finally, the effort to find in nature some basis
for independence and freedom is given a new turn by Herbert Spencer when
he points to the instinct for liberty in animals as well as in human
beings as the origin of the law of freedom.

By one of the paradoxes of history, the principle is now most often
invoked in favor of "vested interests." "Natural" easily loses the force
of an appeal to reason and to social good, and becomes merely an
assertion of ancient usage, or precedent, or even a shelter for mere
selfish interests. Natural rights in property may be invoked to thwart
efforts to protect life and health. Individualism has been so successful
in asserting rights that it is now apt to forget that there are no
rights morally except such as express the will of a good _member of
society_. But in recognizing possible excesses we need not forget the
value of the idea of rights as a weapon in the struggle in which the
moral personality has gradually won its way. The other side of the story
has been the growth of responsibility. The gain in freedom has not meant
an increase in disorder; it has been marked rather by gain in peace and
security, by an increasing respect for law, and an increasing stability
of government. The external control of force has been replaced by the
moral control of duty.


The development of industry, commerce, and art affects the moral life in
a variety of ways, of which three are of especial importance for our

(1) It gives new interests, and new opportunities for individual

(2) This raises the question of _values_. Are all the activities good,
and shall one satisfy whatever interest appeals to him, or are some
better than others?--the old question of "kinds of happiness."

(3) It raises further the question of sharing and distribution. How far
may one enjoy the goods of life in an exclusive way and how far is it
his duty to share with others? Do society's present methods of industry,
commerce, art, and education distribute these goods in a just manner?

The examination of these questions will be made in Part III. It is our
purpose at this point merely to indicate the trend of the moral
consciousness with regard to them.

=1. The Increasing Power and Interests of the Individual.=--Power for
the mediæval man could be sought in war or in the church; interests were
correspondingly limited. The Crusades, contact, through them and later
through commerce, with Arabian civilization, growing acquaintance with
the literature and art of Greece and Rome, were effective agencies in
stimulating the modern development. But when once started it needed but
the opportunities of sufficient wealth and freedom to go on. Art and
letters have depicted a variety and richness of experience which the
ancient world did not feel. Shakspere, Rembrandt, Bunyan, Beethoven,
Goethe, Balzac, Shelley, Byron, Hugo, Wagner, Ibsen, Thackeray, Eliot,
Tolstoy, to name almost at random, reflect a wealth of interests and
motives which show the range of the modern man. Commerce and the various
lines of industry have opened new avenues for power. No one can see the
palaces or dwellings of Venice or the old Flemish ports, or consider the
enormous factories, shops, and office buildings of to-day, without a
sense of the accession to human power over nature and over the
activities of fellow men which trade and industry have brought with
them. The use of money instead of a system of personal service--slavery
or serfdom--has not only made it possible to have men's labor without
owning the men, it has aided in a vastly more effective system than the
older method allowed. The industrial revolution of the past century has
had two causes: one the use of machinery; the other the combination of
human labor which this makes possible. So far this has greatly increased
the power of the few leaders, but not of the many. It is the present
problem to make possible a larger opportunity for individual freedom and

=2. The Values of Art and Industry.=--Are all these wider interests and
fuller powers good? The church ideal and the class ideal already
described gave different answers. The class ideal of gentleman really
expressed a form of self-assertion, of living out one's powers fully,
and this readily welcomed the possibilities which art and its enjoyment
afforded.[89] The gentleman of the Renaissance, the cavalier of England,
the noblesse of France, were patrons of art and letters. The Romanticist
urged that such free and full expression as art afforded was higher than
morality with its control and limitation. The church admitted art in the
service of religion, but was chary of it as an individual activity. The
Puritans were more rigorous. Partly because they associated its churchly
use with what they regarded as "idolatry," partly as a protest against
the license in manners which the freedom of art seemed to encourage,
they frowned upon all forms of art except sacred literature or music.
Their condemnation of the stage is still an element, though probably a
lessening element, and it is not long since fiction was by many regarded
with suspicion. On the whole, the modern moral consciousness accepts art
as having a place in the moral life, although it by no means follows
that art can be exempt from moral criticism as to its sincerity,
healthfulness, and perspective.

In the case of industry the church ideal has prevailed. The class ideal
of gentleman was distinctly opposed to industry, particularly manual
labor. "Arms" or the Court was the proper profession. This was more or
less bound up with the fact that in primitive conditions labor was
mainly performed by women or by slaves. It was the business, the
"virtue" of men to fight. So far as this class ideal was affected by the
models of ancient culture, the prejudice was strengthened. The classic
civilization rested on slave labor. The ideal of the gentleman of Athens
was the free employment of leisure, not active enterprise. The church,
on the other hand, maintained both the dignity and the moral value of
labor. Not only the example of the Founder of Christianity and his early
disciples, who were for the most part manual laborers, but the intrinsic
moral value of work, already referred to, entered into the
appraisal.[90] The Puritans, who have had a wide-reaching influence upon
the standards of the middle and lower classes of England, and upon the
northern and western portions of America, were insistent upon industry,
not merely for the sake of its products,--they were frugal in their
consumption,--but as expressing a type of character. Idleness and
"shiftlessness" were not merely ineffective, they were sinful. "If any
will not work, neither let him eat," commended itself thoroughly to this
moral ideal. That the laborer brought something to the common weal,
while the idler had to be supported, was a reënforcement to the motives
drawn from the relation of work to character. As the middle and lower
classes became increasingly influential, the very fact that they were
laborers and traders strengthened the religious ideal by a class motive.
It was natural that a laboring class should regard labor as "honest,"
though from the history of the word such a collocation of terms as
"honest labor" would once have been as absurd as "honest villain."[91] A
further influence effective in America has been the fluidity of class
distinctions in a new country. The "influence of the frontier" has been
all on the side of the value of work and the reprobation of idleness. At
least this is true for men. A certain tendency has been manifest to
exempt women of the well-to-do classes from the necessity of labor, and
even by training and social pressure to exclude them from the
opportunity of work, and make of them a "leisure class," but this is not
likely to establish itself as a permanent moral attitude. The woman will
not be content to live in "The Doll's House" while the man is in the
real work of the world.

=3. The Distribution of the Goods of Life.=--Mediæval society made
provision for both benevolence and justice. Charity, the highest of the
virtues, had come to mean specifically the giving of goods. The
monasteries relieved the poor and the infirm. Hospitals were
established. The gentleman felt it to be not only a religious duty, but
a tradition of his class to be liberal. To secure justice in the
distribution of wealth, various restrictions were imposed. Goods were
not to be sold for whatever they could bring, nor was money to be loaned
at whatever rate of interest the borrower was willing to pay. Society
aimed to find out by some means what was a "reasonable price" for
products. In the case of manufactured goods this could be fixed by the
opinion of fellow craftsmen. A "common estimation," where buyers and
sellers met and bargained in an open market, could be trusted to give a
fair value. A maximum limit was set for victuals in towns. Or, again,
custom prescribed what should be the money equivalent for payments
formerly made in kind, or in personal service.[92] Money-lending was
under especial guard. To ask interest for the use of money, provided the
principal was returned intact, seemed to be taking advantage of
another's necessity. It was usury. Class morality added a different
kind of restrictions. As embodied in the laws, it bound the tenants to
the soil and forbade the migration of laborers. The significant thing in
the whole mediæval attitude was that _society attempted to control
business and industry by a moral standard_. It did not trust the
individual to make his own bargains or to conduct his business as he

=Modern Theory: Free Contract.=--The distinctive feature of the modern
development has been the tendency to abandon moral restrictions and to
substitute a wage system, freedom of exchange, and free contract. It was
maintained by the advocates of the new method that it was both more
efficient and at least as just as the old. It was more efficient because
it stimulated every one to make the best possible bargain. Surely every
man is the most interested, and therefore the best promoter of his own
welfare. And if each is getting the best results for himself, the good
of the whole community will be secured. For--so ran the theory, when
individualism had so far advanced--society is simply the aggregate of
its members; the good of all is the sum of the goods of the members. The
system also claimed to provide for justice between buyer and seller,
capitalist and laborer, by the agencies noticed in the next paragraph.

=Competition.=--To prevent extortionate prices on the one hand, or
unduly low prices or wages on the other, the reliance was on
_competition_ and the general principle of supply and demand. If a baker
charges too high for his bread, others will set up shops and sell
cheaper. If a money-lender asks too high interest, men will not borrow
or will find a loan elsewhere. If a wage is too low, labor will go
elsewhere; if too high, capital will not be able to find a profit and so
will not employ labor--so runs the theory. Without analyzing the moral
value of the theory at this point, we notice only that, so far as it
assumes to secure fair bargains and a just distribution, it assumes the
parties to the free contract to be really free. This implies that they
are upon nearly equal footing. In the days of hand work and small
industries this was at least a plausible assumption. But a new face was
placed upon the situation by the _industrial revolution_.

=Problem Raised by the Industrial Revolution.=--The introduction of
machinery on a large scale near the end of the eighteenth century
brought about a change which has had extraordinary economic, social, and
moral effects. The revolution had two factors: (1) it used steam power
instead of human muscle; (2) it made possible the greater subdivision of
labor, and hence it made it profitable to organize large bodies of men
under a single direction. Both these factors contributed to an enormous
increase in productive power. But this increase made an overwhelming
difference in the status of capitalist and laborer. Without discussing
the question as to whether capital received more than a "fair" share of
the increased profit, it was obvious that if one "Captain of Industry"
were receiving even a small part of the profits earned by each of his
thousand workmen, he would be immeasurably better off than any one of
them. Like the mounted and armored knight of the Middle Ages, or the
baron in his castle, he was more than a match for a multitude of poorly
equipped footmen. There seemed to be in the nineteenth century an
enormous disproportion between the shares of wealth which fell to
capitalist and to laborer. If this was the result of "free contract,"
what further proof was necessary that "freedom" was a mere empty term--a
name with no reality? For could it be supposed that a man would _freely_
make an agreement to work harder and longer than any slave, receiving
scarcely the bare necessities of existence, while the other party was to
gain enormous wealth from the bargain?

The old class morality was not disturbed by such contrasts. Even the
religious morality was apt to consider the distinction between rich and
poor as divinely ordered, or else as insignificant compared with eternal
destiny of weal or woe. But the individualistic movements have made it
less easy to accept either the class morality or the religious
interpretation. The latter lends itself equally well to a justification
of disease because it is providentially permitted. Moreover, the old
group morality and religious ideal had this in their favor: they
recognized an obligation of the strong to the weak, of the group for
every member, of master for servant. The cash basis seemed to banish all
responsibility, and to assert the law of "each for himself" as the
supreme law of life--except so far as individuals might mitigate
suffering by voluntary kindness. Economic theory seemed to show that
wages must always tend toward a starvation level.

=Sympathy.=--Such tendencies inevitably called out response from the
sentiments of benevolence and sympathy. For the spread of civilization
has certainly made man more sensitive to pain, more capable of sympathy
and of entering by imagination into the situations of others. It is
noteworthy that the same Adam Smith who argued so forcibly the cause of
individualism in trade, made sympathy the basis of his moral system.
Advance in sympathy has shown itself in the abolition of judicial
torture, in prison reform, in the improved care of the insane and
defective; in the increased provision for hospitals, and asylums, and in
an innumerable multitude of organizations for relief of all sorts and
conditions of men. Missions, aside from their distinctly ecclesiastical
aims, represent devotion of human life and of wealth to the relief of
sickness and wretchedness, and to the education of children in all
lands. Sympathy has even extended to the animal world. And the notable
fact in modern sympathy and kindness, as contrasted with the mediæval
type, is that the growth in individuality has demanded and evoked a
higher kind of benevolence. Instead of fostering dependence and
relieving wants, the best modern agencies aim to promote independence,
to set the man upon his own feet and enable him to achieve self-respect.
"Social settlements" have been strong factors in bringing about this
change of attitude.

=Justice.=--Various movements looking toward greater justice in
distribution have likewise been called out by the conditions since the
industrial revolution. Naturally one reaction was to denounce the whole
individualistic tendency as represented in the "cash-payment" basis.
This found its most eloquent expositor in Carlyle. His _Past and
Present_ is a bitter indictment of a system "in which all working horses
could be well fed, and innumerable workingmen should die starved"; of a
_laissez-faire_ theory which merely says "impossible" when asked to
remedy evils supposedly due to "economic laws"; of a "Mammon Gospel"
which transforms life into a mutual hostility, with its laws-of-war
named "fair competition." The indictment is convincing, but the remedy
proposed--a return to strong leaders with a reëstablishment of personal
relations--has rallied few to its support. Another reaction against
individualistic selfishness has taken the form of communism. Numerous
experiments have been made by voluntary associations to establish
society on a moral basis by abolishing private property. "These new
associations," said Owen, one of the most ardent and generous of social
reformers, "can scarcely be formed before it will be discovered that by
the most simple and easy regulations all the natural wants of human
nature may be abundantly supplied; and the principle of selfishness will
cease to exist for want of an adequate motive to produce it."

In contrast with these plans for a return to earlier conditions, the two
most conspicuous tendencies in the thought of the past century have
claimed to be advancing toward freedom and justice along the lines which
we have just traced. The one, which we may call "individualistic"
reform, has sought justice by giving free play to individual action.
The other, socialism, has aimed to use the power of the State to secure
more adequate justice and, as it believes, a more genuine freedom. The
great reform movement in Great Britain during the nineteenth century
emphasized free trade and free contracts. It sought the causes of
injustice in the survival of some privilege or vested interest which
prevents the full working of the principles of free contract and
competition. Let every man "count as one"; make laws for "the greatest
good of the greatest number." The trouble is not that there is too much
individualism, but that there is too little. Tax reformers like Henry
George have urged the same principle. If land is monopolized by a few
who can levy a toll upon all the rest of society, how can justice
obtain? The remedy for injustice is to be found in promoting greater
freedom of industry and trade. Socialism on the other hand claims that
individualism defeats itself; it results in tyranny, not freedom. The
only way to secure freedom is through united action. The merits of some
of these programs for social justice will be examined in Part III. They
signify that the age is finding its moral problem set anew by the
collision between material interests and social good. Greek civilization
used the industry of the many to set free the higher life--art,
government, science--of a few. The mediæval ideal recognized the moral
value of industry in relation to character. The modern conscience,
resting back upon a higher appreciation of human dignity and worth, is
seeking to work out a social and economic order that shall combine both
the Greek and the mediæval ideas. It will require work and secure
freedom. These are necessary for the individual person. But it is
beginning to be seen that these values cannot be divided so that one
social class shall perform the labor and the other enjoy the freedom.
The growth of democracy means that all members of society should share
in the value and the service of work. It means that all should share
according to capacity in the values of free life, of intelligence and
culture. Can material goods be so produced and distributed as to promote
this democratic ideal?


The development of intelligence in the modern world, as in Greece, has
two sides: on the one hand, a working-free from the restrictions which
theology or the State or other social authorities imposed; on the other
hand, positive progress in knowledge of nature and of human life. Under
its first aspect it is known as the growth of rationalism; under its
second aspect, as the growth of science and education. We cannot
separate the development into two periods, the one negative, the other
positive, as was convenient in the case of Greece. The negative and the
positive in the modern world have gone on contemporaneously, although
the emphasis has sometimes been on one side and sometimes upon the
other. We may, however, indicate three periods as standing out with
clearly defined characteristics.

(1) The Renaissance, in which the Greek spirit of scientific inquiry
found a new birth; in which the discovery of new continents stimulated
the imagination; and in which new and more fruitful methods of
investigation were devised in mathematics and the natural sciences.

(2) The period of the Enlightenment, in which the negative aspect of the
process reached its sharpest definition. The doctrines of revealed
religion and natural religion were criticised from the standpoint of
reason. Mysteries and superstition were alike rejected. General
intelligence made rapid progress. It was the "Age of Reason."

(3) The Nineteenth Century, in which both the natural and social
sciences underwent an extraordinary development. The doctrine of
evolution has brought a new point of view for considering the organic
world and human institutions. Education has come to be regarded as both
the necessary condition for the safety of society and as the right of
every human being; Science, in large measure set free from the need of
fighting for its right to exist, is becoming constructive; it is
assuming increasingly the duty of preserving human life and health, of
utilizing and preserving natural resources, of directing political and
economic affairs.

=1. The Renaissance.=--It would be giving a wrong impression to imply
that there was no inquiry, no use of reason in the mediæval world. The
problems set by the inheritance of old-world religion and politics,
forced themselves upon the builders of castles and cathedrals,[93] of
law and of dogma. As indicated above, the universities were centers of
discussion in which brilliant minds often challenged received opinions.
Men like Roger Bacon sought to discover nature's secrets, and the great
scholastics mastered Greek philosophy in the interest of defending the
faith. But theological interest limited freedom and choice of theme. It
was not until the expansion of the individual along the lines already
traced--in political freedom, in the use of the arts, in the development
of commerce--that the purely intellectual interest such as had once
characterized Greece awoke. A new world of possibilities seemed dawning
upon the Italian Galileo, the Frenchman Descartes, the Englishman
Francis Bacon. The instruments of thought had been sharpened by the
dialectics of the schools; now let them be used to analyze the world in
which we live. Instead of merely observing nature Galileo applied the
experimental method, putting definite questions to nature and thus
preparing the way for a progress step by step toward a positive
knowledge of nature's laws. Descartes found in mathematics a method of
analysis which had never been appreciated before. What seemed the
mysterious path of bodies in curved lines could be given a simple
statement in his analytic geometry. Leibniz and Newton carried this
method to triumphant results in the analysis of forces. Reason appeared
able to discover and frame the laws of the universe--the "principles" of
nature. Bacon, with less of positive contribution in method, sounded
another note which was equally significant. The human mind is liable to
be clouded and hindered in its activities by certain inveterate sources
of error. Like deceitful images or obsessions the "idols" of the tribe,
of the cave, of the market, and of the theater--due to instinct or
habit, to language or tradition--prevent the reason from doing its best
work. It needs vigorous effort to free the mind from these idols. But
this can be done. Let man turn from metaphysics and theology to nature
and life; let him follow reason instead of instinct or prejudice.
"Knowledge is power." Through it may rise above the kingdom of nature
the "kingdom of man." In his _New Atlantis_, Bacon foresees a human
society in which skill and invention and government shall all contribute
to human welfare. These three notes, the experimental method, the power
of rational analysis through mathematics, and the possibility of
controlling nature in the interests of man, were characteristic of the

=2. The Enlightenment.=--A conflict of reason with authority went on
side by side with the progress of science. Humanists and scientists had
often set themselves against dogma and tradition. The Reformation was
not in form an appeal to reason, but the clash of authorities stimulated
men to reasoning upon the respective claims of Catholic and Protestant.
And in the eighteenth century, under the favoring influence of a broad
toleration and a general growth of intelligence, the conflict of reason
with dogma reached its culmination. The French call the period
"_l'Illumination_"--the illumination of life and experience by the light
of reason. The Germans call it the _Aufklärung_, "the clearing-up." What
was to be cleared up? First, ignorance, which limits the range of man's
power and infects him with fear of the unknown; then superstition, which
is ignorance consecrated by wont and emotion; finally, dogma, which
usually embodies irrational elements and seeks to force them upon the
mind by the power of authority, not of truth. Nor was it merely a
question of intellectual criticism. Voltaire saw that dogma was often
responsible for cruelty. Ignorance meant belief in witchcraft and magic.
From the dawn of civilization this had beset man's progress and quenched
many of the brightest geniuses of the past. It was time to put an end
once for all to the remnants of primitive credulity; it was time to be
guided by the light of reason. The movement was not all negative. Using
the same appeal to "nature," which had served so well as a rallying cry
in the development of political rights, the protagonists of the movement
spoke of a "natural light" which God had placed in man for his
guidance--"the candle of the Lord set up by himself in men's minds,
which it is impossible for the breath or power of man wholly to
extinguish." A natural and rational religion should take the place of
supposed revelation.

But the great achievement of the eighteenth century in the intellectual
development of the individual was that the human mind came to realize
the part it was itself playing in the whole realm of science and
conduct. Man began to look within. Whether he called his work an _Essay
concerning Human Understanding_, or a _Treatise of Human Nature_, or a
_Theory of Moral Sentiments_, or a _Critique of Pure Reason_, the aim
was to study human experience. For of a sudden it was dawning upon man
that, if he was then living upon a higher level of knowledge and conduct
than the animal or the savage, this must be due to the activity of the
mind. It appeared that man, not satisfied with "nature," had gone on to
build a new world with institutions and morality, with art and science.
This was no creation of instinct or habit; nor could it be explained in
terms of sense, or feeling, or impulse alone; it was the work of that
more active, universal, and creative type of intelligence which we call
reason. Man, as capable of such achievements in science and conduct,
must be regarded with new respect. As having political rights, freedom,
and responsibility, man has the dignity of a citizen, sovereign as well
as subject. As guiding and controlling his own life and that of others
by the power of ideas, not of force, he has the dignity of a moral
person, a moral sovereignty. He does not merely take what nature brings;
he sets up ends of his own and gives them worth. In this, Kant saw the
supreme dignity of the human spirit.

=3. The Present Significance and Task of Scientific Method.=--In the
thought that man is able to form ends which have value for all, to set
up standards which all respect, and thus to achieve worth and dignity in
the estimation of his fellows, the Individualism of the eighteenth
century was already pointing beyond itself. For this meant that the
individual attains his highest reach only as a member of a moral
society. But it is one thing to point out the need and meaning of a
moral society, it is another thing to bring such a society into being.
It has become evident during the past century that this is the central
problem for human reason to solve. The various social sciences,
economics, sociology, political science, jurisprudence, social
psychology, have either come into being for the first time, or have been
prosecuted with new energy. Psychology has assumed new significance as
their instrument. Not that the scientific progress of the century has
seen its greatest triumphs in these fields. The conspicuous successes
have been rather in such sciences as biology, or in the applications of
science to engineering and medicine. The social sciences have been
occupied largely in getting their problems stated and their methods
defined. But the discoveries and constructions of the nineteenth century
are none the less indispensable prerequisites for a moral society. For
the new conditions of city life, the new sources of disease, the new
dangers which attend every successive step away from the life of the
savage, demand all the resources of the sciences.[94] And as the natural
sciences overcome the technical difficulties which obstruct their work
of aiding human welfare, the demand will be more insistent that the
social sciences contribute their share toward enabling man to fulfil his
moral life. Some of the specific demands will become more evident, as we
study in subsequent chapters the present problems of political,
economic, and family life.

=Education.=--The importance for the moral life of the modern
development of science is paralleled by the significance of modern
education. The universities date from the Middle Ages. The classical
interest of humanism found its medium in the college or "grammar
school." The invention of printing and the growth of commerce promoted
elementary schools. Supposed necessities of popular government
stimulated a general educational movement in the United States. Modern
trade and industry have called out the technical school. Germany has
educated for national defense and economic advance; England has
concerned itself preëminently for the education of statesmen and
administrators; and the United States for the education of voters. But,
whatever the motive, education has been made so general as to constitute
a new element in the modern consciousness and a new factor to be
reckoned with. The moral right of every child to have an education,
measured not by his parents' abilities, but by his own capacity, is
gaining recognition. The moral value of a possession, which is not, like
material goods, exclusive, but common, will be more appreciated when we
have worked out a more social and democratic type of training.[95]

=Theoretical Interpretation of this Period in Ethical Systems.=--While
the theoretical interpretation of this period is to be treated in Part
II., we may point out here that the main lines of development which we
have traced find expression in the two systems which have been most
influential during the past century. These are the systems of Kant and
of the Utilitarians. The political and certain aspects of the
intellectual development are reflected in the system of Kant. He
emphasized freedom, the power and authority of reason, human dignity,
the supreme value of character, and the significance of a society in
which every member is at once sovereign and subject. The Utilitarians
represent the values brought out in the development of industry,
education, and the arts. They claimed that the good is happiness, and
happiness of the greatest number. The demands for individual
satisfaction and for social distribution of goods are voiced in this


The histories of philosophy and of ethics give the theoretical side. In
addition to those previously mentioned the works of Höffding,
Falckenberg, and Fischer may be named. Stephen, _English Thought in the
Eighteenth Century_, and _The Utilitarians_; Fichte, _Characteristics of
the Present Age_ (in _Popular Works_, tr. by Smith); Stein, _Die sociale
Frage im Lichte der Philosophie_, 1897; Comte, _Positive Philosophy_,
tr. by Martineau, 1875, Book VI. Tufts and Thompson, _The Individual and
His Relation to Society as Reflected in British Ethics_, 1896, 1904;
Merz, _History of European Thought in the 19th Century_, 1904;
Robertson, _A Short History of Free Thought_, 1899; Bonar, _Philosophy
and Political Economy in Some of Their Historical Relations_, 1893.

Morals_, 3rd ed., 1877; Adams, _Civilization during the Middle Ages_,
1895; Rashdall, _The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages_, 1895;
Eicken, _Geschichte und System der mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung_,
1877; Burckhardt, _The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy_, 1892;
Draper, _History of the Intellectual Development of Europe_, 1876.

ON THE INDUSTRIAL AND SOCIAL SIDE: Ashley, _English Economic History_;
Cunningham, _Western Civilization in Its Economic Aspects_, 1900; and
_Growth of English Industry and Commerce_, 3rd ed., 1896-1903; Hobson,
_The Evolution of Modern Capitalism_, 1894; Traill, _Social England_,
1894; Rambaud, _Histoire de Civilization Française_, 1897; Held, _Zwei
Bücher zur socialen Geschichte Englands_, 1881; Carlyle, _Past and
Present_; Ziegler, _Die Geistigen und socialen Strömungen des
neunzehnten Jahrhunderts_, 1901.

Responsibility in the Evolution of Democratic Government_, 1903;
Pollock, _The Expansion of the Common Law_, 1904; Ritchie, _Natural
Rights_, 1895; _Darwin and Hegel_, 1893, ch. vii.; Dicey, _Lectures on
the Relation of Law and Public Opinion in England during the Nineteenth
Century_, 1905.

ON THE LITERARY SIDE: Brandes, _The Main Currents in the Literature of
the Nineteenth Century_, 1905; Francke, _Social Forces in German
Literature_, 1895; Carriere, _Die Kunst im Zusammenhang der
Culturentwicklung und die Ideale der Menschheit_, 3rd ed., 1877-86.


[84] Fisher, _History of the Christian Church_, p. 227.

[85] _Democracy and Social Ethics_, pp. 222-77; _Newer Ideals of Peace_,
ch. v.

[86] Bryce, _Holy Roman Empire_, p. 367.

[87] _Social Forces in German Literature_, p. 93.

[88] Pp. 130 f., 136.

[89] Tolstoy, _What is Art?_

[90] P. 40.

[91] See p. 176.

[92] Cunningham, _An Essay on Western Civilization_, pp. 77 ff.

[93] The writer is indebted to his colleague Professor Mead for the
significance of this for the beginnings of modern science.

[94] "Civilized man has proceeded so far in his interference with
extra-human nature, has produced for himself and the living organisms
associated with him such a special state of things by his rebellion
against natural selection and his defiance of Nature's prehuman
dispositions, that he must either go on and acquire firmer control of
the conditions or perish miserably by the vengeance certain to fall on
the half-hearted meddler in great affairs.... We may think of him as the
heir to a vast and magnificent kingdom who has been finally educated so
as to fit him to take possession of his property, and is at length left
alone to do his best; he has wilfully abrogated, in many important
respects, the laws of his Mother Nature by which the kingdom was
hitherto governed; he has gained some power and advantage by so doing,
but is threatened on every hand by dangers and disasters hitherto
restrained: no retreat is possible--his only hope is to control, as he
knows that he can, the sources of these dangers and disasters. They
already make him wince: how long will he sit listening to the
fairy-tales of his boyhood and shrink from manhood's task?"--RAY
LANKESTER, _The Kingdom of Man_, 1907, pp. 31 f.

[95] John Dewey, _The School and Society_.



To eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil may
result in ultimate gain. A more conscious and individualistic attitude
may result in definite conceptions of duty and rights, of values and
ideals. At the same time, as humanity's eyes have been opened and its
wisdom increased, many forms of nakedness unknown in ruder conditions
have been disclosed. With every increase of opportunity and efficiency
for good there is a corresponding opportunity for evil. An immensely
more complex environment gives scope for correspondingly more capable
and subtle personalities. Some will react to the situation in such a way
as to rise to a higher moral level, both in personal integrity and in
public usefulness. Others will find in facilities for gratifying some
appetite or passion a temptation too strong for their control and will
become vicious, or will seize the chances to exploit others and become
unjust in their acquirement and use of power and wealth. There will be a
Nero as well as an Aurelius, a Cæsar Borgia as well as a Savonarola, a
Jeffreys as well as a Sidney, a Bentham, or a Howard. For an Eliot or a
Livingston or an Armstrong, there are the exploiters of lower races; and
for an Elizabeth Fry, the women who trade in the wretchedness of their
kind. By the side of those who use great abilities and resources
unselfishly are those who view indifferently the sacrifice of human
health or life, and pay no heed to human misery. Such contrasts show
that the "evolution of morality" is also an evolution of weakness,
wretchedness, evil, and crime. They suggest some general comparisons
between custom and reflective morality. They require from every age a
renewed analysis of conduct and the social system. As a preliminary to
such an analysis, we review in this chapter some of the general
relations between the morality of custom and the morality of reflection.


The moral life shows its continuity in two ways. First, the earlier type
of group and customary morality persists in part; in the second place,
when the moral is differentiated from the other spheres of life in which
it was embedded, it does not have to find entirely new conceptions. It
borrows its terms from the group life or from the various spheres,
religious, political, æsthetic, economic, which separate out from the
older group unity.

The following quotation from Grote will serve as a vivid restatement of
the régime of custom:

    "This aggregate of beliefs and predispositions to believe,
    Ethical, Religious, Æsthetical, and Social, respecting what is
    true or false, probable or improbable, just or unjust, holy or
    unholy, honorable or base, respectable or contemptible, pure or
    impure, beautiful or ugly, decent or indecent, obligatory to do or
    obligatory to avoid, respecting the status and relations of each
    individual in the society, respecting even the admissible fashions
    of amusement and recreation--this is an established fact and
    condition of things, the real origin of which is for the most part
    unknown, but which each new member of the group is born to and
    finds subsisting.... It becomes a part of each person's nature, a
    standing habit of mind, or fixed set of mental tendencies,
    according to which particular experience is interpreted and
    particular persons appreciated.... The community hate, despise or
    deride any individual member who proclaims his dissent from their
    social creed.... Their hatred manifests itself in different ways
    ... at the very least by exclusion from that amount of
    forbearance, good will and estimation without which the life of
    an individual becomes insupportable.... 'Nomos (Law and Custom),
    king of all' (to borrow the phrase which Herodotus cites from
    Pindar) exercises plenary power, spiritual and temporal, over
    individual minds; moulding the emotions as well as the intellect,
    according to the local type ... and reigning under the appearance
    of habitual, self-suggested tendencies."[96]

The important facts brought out are (1) the existence in a social group
of certain habits not only of acting, but of feeling and believing about
actions, of valuing or approving and disapproving. (2) The persistent
forcing of these mental habitudes upon the attention of each new member
of the group. The newcomer, whether by birth or adoption, is introduced
into a social medium whose conditions and regulations he can no more
escape than he can those of his physical environment. (3) Thus the
mental and practical habits of the newly introduced individual are
shaped. The current ways of esteeming and behaving in the community
become a "standing habit" of his own mind; they finally reign as
"habitual, self-suggested tendencies." Thus he becomes a full member of
the social group, interested in the social fabric to which he belongs,
and ready to do his part in maintaining it.

=1. Persistence of Group Morality.=--Comparing this state of affairs
with what obtains to-day in civilized communities, we find certain
obvious points of agreement. The social groups with which an individual
comes in touch are now more numerous and more loosely formed. But
everywhere there are customs not only of acting, but of thinking and
feeling about acting. Each profession, each institution, has a _code_ of
which the individual has to take account. The nature of this code,
unexpressed as well as formulated, is brought to the attention of the
individual in countless ways; by the approval and disapproval of its
public opinion; by his own failures and successes; by his own tendency
to imitate what he sees about him, as well as by deliberate, intentional

In other words, group morality does not vanish in order that conscious
and personal morality may take its place. Group and customary morality
is still the morality of many of us most of the time, and of all of us
for a good deal of the time. We do not any of us think out all of our
standards, weigh independently our values, make all our choices in a
rational manner, or form our characters by following a clearly conceived
purpose. As children we all start in a family group. We continue in a
school group and perhaps a church group. We enter an occupation group,
and later, it may be, family, political, social, and neighborhood
groups. In every one of these if we are members, we must to a certain
degree accept standards that are given. We have to play according to the
rules of the game. As children we do this unconsciously. We imitate, or
follow suggestions; we are made to conform by all the agencies of group
morality--group opinion, ritual, pleasure and pain, and even by
taboos;[97] above all, we act as the others act, and coöperate more or
less to a common end. We form habits which persist, many of them as long
as we live. We accept many of the traditions without challenge. Even
when we pass from the early family group to the new situations and
surroundings which make us repeat more or less of the experience of the
race, a large share of our conduct and of our judgments of others is
determined by the influences of group and custom. And it is fortunate
for progress that this is true. If every one had to start anew to frame
all his ideals and make his laws, we should be in as melancholy a plight
morally as we should be intellectually if we had to build each science
anew. The fundamental safeguards which the group provides against
individual impulse and passion, the condition of close association,
interdependence and mutual sympathy which the group affords, the
habituation to certain lines of conduct valued by the group--all this is
a root on which the stem and flower of personal morality may grow.
Individualism and intellectual activity, however necessary to man's
progress, would give no morality did they not start out of this deeper
level of common feeling and common destiny. The rational and personal
agencies of the "third level" come not to destroy, but to fulfill the
meaning of the forces and agencies of the first and second levels
described in Chapters III and IV.

=2. The Moral Conceptions.=--The conceptions for the moral are nearly
all taken from the group relations or from the jural and religious
aspects, as these have been gradually brought to clearer consciousness.
As already noted, the Greek term "ethical," the Latin "moral," the
German "_sittlich_," suggest this--_ethos_ meant the "sum of the
characteristic usages, ideas, standards, and codes by which a group was
differentiated and individualized in character from other groups."[98]

Some specific moral terms come directly from group relations. The "kind"
man acts as one of the kin. When the ruling or privileged group is
contrasted with the man of no family or of inferior birth, we get a
large number of terms implying "superiority" or "inferiority" in birth,
and so of general value. This may or may not be due to some inherent
superiority of the upper class, but it means at least that the upper
class has been most effectual in shaping language and standards of
approval. So "noble" and "gentle" referred to birth before they had
moral value; "duty" in modern usage seems to have been principally what
was due to a superior. Many words for moral disapproval are very
significant of class feeling. The "caitiff" was a captive, and the
Italians have their general term for morally bad, "_cattivo_," from the
same idea. The "villain" was a feudal tenant, the "blackguard" looked
after the kettles, the "rascal" was one of the common herd, the "knave"
was the servant; the "base" and "mean" were opposed to the gentle and
noble. Another set of conceptions reflects the old group _approvals_ or
combines these with conceptions of birth. We have noted the twofold root
of _kalokagathia_ in Greek. "Honor" and "honesty" were what the group
admired, and conversely "_aischros_" and "_turpe_" in Greek and Latin,
like the English "disgraceful" or "shameful," were what the group
condemned. "Virtue" was the manly excellence which called out the praise
of a warlike time, while one of the Greek terms for morally bad
originally meant cowardly, and our "scoundrel" has possibly the same
origin. The "bad" was probably the weak or the womanish. The economic
appears in "merit," what I have earned, and likewise in "duty" and
"ought," what is due or owed--though duty seems to have made itself felt
especially, as noted above, toward a superior. Forethought and skill in
practical affairs provided the conception of "wisdom," which was highest
of the virtues for the Greeks, and as "prudence" stood high in mediæval
systems. The conception of valuing and thus of forming some permanent
standard of a better and a worse, is also aided, if not created, by
economic exchange. It appears in almost identical terms in Plato and the
New Testament in the challenge, "What shall it profit a man if he gain
the whole world and lose his own life?"[99] From the processes of fine
or useful arts came probably the conceptions of measure, order, and
harmony. A whole mode of considering the moral life is jural. "Moral
law," "authority," "obligation," "responsibility," "justice,"
"righteousness," bring with them the associations of group control and
of the more definitely organized government and law. Finally the last
named terms bear also a religious imprint, and numerous conceptions of
the moral come from that sphere or get their specific flavor from
religious usage. The conceptions of the "soul" have contributed to the
ideal of a good which is permanent, and which is made rather by personal
companionship, than by sensuous gratification. "Purity" began as a
magical and religious idea; it came to symbolize not only freedom from
contamination but singleness of purpose. "Chastity" lends a religious
sacredness to a virtue which had its roots largely in the conception of
property. "Wicked" is from witch.

We have indeed certain conceptions drawn from individual experiences of
instinct, or reflection. From the sense recoil from what was disgusting
such conceptions as "foul," and from kindred imagery of what suits eye
or muscular sense come "straightforward," "upright," "steady." From the
thinking process itself we have "conscience." This word in Greek and
Latin was a general term for consciousness and suggests one of the
distinctive, perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of the moral.
For it implies a "conscious" thoughtful attitude, which operates not
only in forming purposes, but in measuring and valuing action by the
standards it approves. But it is evident that by far the larger part of
our ethical terms are derived from social relations in the broad sense.


=Differentiation of the Moral.=--The most obvious difference between the
present and the early attitude is that we now make a clear distinction
between the moral aspect of behavior and other aspects such as the
conventional, the political, the legal; while in customary morality all
activities esteemed by society were put upon the same level and enforced
with the same vigor. Matters which we should regard as purely matters of
fashion or etiquette, or as modes of amusement, such as styles of
wearing the hair, were imperative. To mutilate the body in a certain way
was as exigent as to observe certain marriage customs; to refrain from
speaking to the mother-in-law as binding as to obey the chieftain; not
to step over the shadow of the chief was even more important than not to
murder the member of another tribe. In general we make a clear
distinction between "manners" and morals, while in customary morality
manners _are_ morals, as the very words "ethical," "moral" still

When Grote speaks of "Ethical, Religious, Æsthetical, and Social"
beliefs, the term "ethical" belongs with the other terms only from a
modern standpoint. The characteristic thing about the condition of which
he is speaking is that the "religious, æsthetical, and social" beliefs
brought to bear upon the individual _constitute_ the ethical. We make
the distinction between them as naturally as the régime of custom failed
to make it. Only by imagining a social set in which failure to observe
punctiliously the fashions of the set as to the proper style of dress
makes the person subject to a disparagement which influences his
feelings and ideas as keenly _and in the same way_ as conviction of
moral delinquency, can we realize the frame of mind characteristic of
the ethics of custom.

=Observing versus Reflecting.=--Customs may be "observed." Indeed,
customary morality made goodness or rightness of character practically
identical with observing the established order of social estimations in
all departments. This word _observe_ is significant: it means to note,
or notice as matter of fact, by perception; and it means to yield
allegiance, to conform to, in action.[100] The element of intelligence,
of reason, is thus reduced to a minimum. The moral values are _there_,
so to speak, palpably, tangibly; and the individual has only to use his
mind enough to notice them. And since they are forced upon his notice by
drastic and unrelaxing methods of discipline, little initiative is
required for even the attitude of attention. But when the moral is
something which is in customs and habits, rather than those customs
themselves, the good and right do not stand out in so obvious and
external fashion. Recognition now demands thought, reflection; the power
of abstraction and generalization. A child may be shown in a pretty
direct and physical fashion the difference between _meum_ and _tuum_ in
its bearing upon his conduct: a fence may be pointed at which divides
his yard from that of a neighbor and which draws as well the moral line
between what is permissible and what is forbidden; a whipping may
intensify the observation. But modern business knows also of
"intangible" property--good will, reputation, credit. These, indeed, can
be bought and sold but the detection of their existence and nature
demands an intelligence which is more than perception. The greater
number of duties and rights of which present morality consists are of
just this type. They are relations, not just outward habits. Their
acknowledgment requires accordingly something more than just to follow
and reproduce existing customs. It involves power to see _why_ certain
habits are to be followed, what _makes_ a thing good or bad.
_Conscience_ is thus substituted for _custom_; _principles_ take the
place of external _rules_.

This is what we mean by calling present morality reflective rather than
customary. It is not that social customs have ceased to be, or even have
been reduced in number. The exact contrary is the case. It is not that
they have shrunk in importance, or that they have less significance for
the individual's activity, or claim less of his attention. Again, the
reverse is the case. But the individual has to grasp the _meaning_ of
these customs over and above the bare fact of their existence, and has
to guide himself by their _meaning_ and not by the mere fact noted.[101]

=Custom is Static.=--This difference introduces a second very important
difference. In customary morality, there is no choice between being
enmeshed in the net of social rules which control activity, and being an
outlaw--one beyond the pale, whose hand is against every man's, and
every man's against him. The extent to which social customs are regarded
as of divine origin and are placed under the protection of the gods,
i.e., the tendency of all sanctions to become religious and
supernatural, is evidence of the binding force of institutions upon the
individual. To violate them is impiety, sacrilege, and calls down the
wrath of gods, as well as of men. The custom cannot be questioned. To
inquire means uncertainty, and hence it is immoral, an attack upon the
very foundations of the life of the group. The apparent exception, which
after all exhibits the rule, is the case of great reforming heroes who
demarcate epochs of history even in customary societies. Such
individuals meet contemporary opposition and persecution; it is only by
victory, by signal success over a rival faction at home, over plague and
famine, or over an enemy abroad, that the hero is justified. Thereby it
is proved that the gods are with him and sanction his changes--indeed
that he is their own chosen instrument. Then the modified or new customs
and institutions have all the binding sacredness and supernatural
sanction of the old. It is not yet an outgrown story for the fathers to
kill the prophets, and for the sons to build and adorn their tombs, and
make them into shrines.

=Reflection Discovers a Higher Law.=--But in so far as the individual's
activity is directed by his comprehension of the _meaning_ of customs,
not by his apprehension of their _existence_, so far the notion of moral
progress or reform in social affairs becomes ethically important and
greater moral responsibility is put upon the individual just as greater
practical freedom is secured to him. For (a) the individual may set the
meaning of a custom _against_ its present form; or (b) he may find the
meaning of some custom much more commanding in value than that of
others, and yet find that its realization is hindered by the existence
of these other customs of less moral importance. On the basis of such
discrimination, the abolition or, at least, the modification of certain
social habits is demanded. So far as this sort of situation frequently
recurs, the individual (c) becomes more or less vaguely aware that he
_must not accept the current standard_ as justification of his own
conduct, unless _it also_ justify itself to his own moral intelligence.
The fact that it exists gives it indeed a certain _prima facie_ claim,
but no ultimate moral warrant. Perhaps the custom is itself wrong--and
the individual is responsible for bearing this possibility in mind.

=Consequent Transformation of Custom.=--Of course the plane of customary
morality still persists; no wholesale divergence of reflective from
customary morality exists. Practically, for example, many business men
do not bother themselves about the morality of certain ways of doing
business. Such and such is the custom of the trade, and if a man is
going to do business at all he must follow its customs--or get out. Law,
medicine, the ministry, journalism, family life, present, in
considerable extent, the same phenomenon. Customary morality persists,
almost as the core of present morality. But there is still a difference.
A few, at least, are actively engaged in a moral criticism of the
custom, in a demand for its transformation; and almost everybody is
sufficiently affected by the discussions and agitations thus called out
to have some lingering and uneasy idea of responsibility for his part in
the maintenance of a questionable custom. The duty of some exercise of
discriminating intelligence as to existing customs for the sake of
improvement and progress, is thus a mark of reflective morality--of the
régime of conscience as over against custom. In the morally more
advanced members of contemporary society, the need of fostering a habit
of examination and judgment, of keeping the mind open, sensitive, to the
defects and the excellences of the existing social order is recognized
as obligation. To reflect on one's own behavior in relation to the
existing order is a standing habit of mind.

=Deepening of Meaning.=--While the materials and conceptions of more
conscious morality are provided by the earlier stages, and taken from
other spheres of life, we find that these conceptions naturally undergo
a deepening of meaning when they are used to express the more intimate
and personal attitude. Take, for example, the conceptions borrowed from
the jural sphere. It is in the school of government and courts that man
has learned to talk and think of right and law, of responsibility and
justice. To make these moral instead of jural terms, the first thing
that is needed is that we make the whole process an inward one. The
person must himself set up a standard, recognize it as "law," judge his
conduct by it, hold himself responsible to himself, and seek to do
justice. It takes several persons to carry on these processes in the
realm of government. Legislators, judges, jury, executive officers, all
represent the State, organized society. That a single person can be
himself lawgiver, judge, and jury, as well as claimant or defendant,
shows that he is himself a complex being. He is a being of passions,
appetites, and individual interests, but he is also a being who has a
rational and social nature. As a member of society he not only feels his
individual interest but recognizes social interests. As a rational
being he not only feels the thrill of passion but responds to the
authority of a law and obeys the voice of duty. Like a member of a
democratic State he finds himself in the sphere of conduct, not only a
subject but a sovereign, and feels the dignity of a _person_. A
conscientious person is in so far one who has made the law of God or man
an inward law of life--a "moral law." But the act of making the process
inward makes possible a deepening of meaning. Governments and courts are
necessarily limited in purview and fallible in decisions. They are
sometimes too lenient, sometimes too severe. Conscience implies a
knowledge of the whole act--purpose, motive, and deed. Its authority
makes claim for absolute obedience. The laws of the State are felt to be
binding just because they are believed to be, on the whole, right and
just as measured by this moral court of appeal. When they conflict, the
power may be with the political sovereign, but the man whose conscience
is clear believes that he follows a "higher law." Much of the great
literature of the world draws its interest from its portrayal of this
fundamental fact of human experience. "Two things fill the mind with
ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and the more
steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law

The conceptions taken from the economic sphere show similar deepening.
In the economic world things are good or have value if people want them.
It is in the experience of satisfying wants that man has learned the
language of "good and evil," and to compare one good with another; it is
doubtless by the progress of science and the arts that objective
standards of more permanent, rational, and social "goods" are provided.
When this term is taken up to a higher level and given moral meaning,
two new factors appear. First the individual begins to consider his
various goods and values in relation to each other and to his life as a
whole. In the second place, in thus comparing the various goods and the
desires they satisfy, he begins to realize that in some way he is
himself more than the mere sum of his natural instincts and appetites.
He finds that he can take an interest in certain things, and is not
merely passive. He _gives_ value as well as measures it. He feels that
as such an active and organizing judge and creator of value, he himself
has a higher worth than any of the particular things that gratify
particular desires. "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the
things that he possesseth." "The life is more than meat." Or, to use the
phrase which will be explained later, moral good implies purpose,
character, "good will." In common language, it implies being, and not
merely having.

The term good where used in our judgments upon others (as in a "good"
man), may have a different history. As has been noted, it may come from
class feeling, or from the praise we give to acts as they immediately
please. It may be akin to noble or fine or admirable. All such
conceptions undergo a similar transformation as they pass from the
sphere of class or public opinion to become moral terms. As moral they
imply in the first place that we consider not merely outward acts, but
inward purpose and character. They imply in the second place that we who
judge are ourselves acting not as members of a class, not as merely
emotional beings, but as social and rational. Our moral judgments in
this sense are from a general, a universal standard; those of a class
are partial.


=Withdrawal from the Social Order.=--The development of reflection tends
to set up a moral opposition between the individual and society.
Sometimes "conscience" goes beyond the need of criticizing, of
discriminating, of interpreting social customs, of following their
spirit rather than their letter; it takes the form of an assertion of a
purely inner, personal morality, so distinct from the conditions of
social life that the latter are conceived to be totally lacking in
positive moral significance. The prescriptions of morality are thought
to be revealed in conscience, as a faculty of pure intuition or
revelation, receiving neither material nor warrant from social
conditions. The distinction already spoken of between the moral and the
economic, legal, or conventional, is conceived as a complete separation;
customs and institutions are external, indifferent, irrelevant, or even
hostile to the ideal and personally perceived demands of morality. Such
a conception of morality is especially likely to arise in a period when
through the clash of ways and standards of living, all customs, except
those maintained by force and authority, are disintegrating or relaxing.
Such a state existed in the early years of the Roman empire when, for
the first time in history, local boundaries were systematically
overstepped; when the empire was a seething mixture of alien and unlike
gods, beliefs, ideals, standards, practices. In the almost universal
flux and confusion, _external_ order was maintained by the crystallized
legislation and administration of Rome; but personal aims and modes of
behavior had to be ascertained by the individual thrown back upon
himself. Christian, Stoic, Epicurean, alike found the political order
wholly external to the moral, or in chronic opposition to it. There was
a withdrawal into the region of personal consciousness. In some cases
the withdrawal was pushed to the point where men felt that they could be
truly righteous only by going by themselves into the desert, to live as
hermits; or by forming separate communities of those who agreed in their
conceptions of life; mental and moral aloofness from prevailing social
standards and habitudes was preached by all.

=Individual Emancipation.=--In other cases, what takes place is a
consciousness of liberation; of assertion of personal rights and
privileges, claims for new modes of activity and new kinds of enjoyment.
The individual feels that he is his own end; that the impulses and
capacities which he finds in himself are sacred, and afford the only
genuine law for his behavior; that whatever restricts the full exercise
of these personal powers and hampers the satisfaction of personal
desires is coercive and morally abnormal. Existing social institutions
may be practically necessary, but they are morally undesirable; they are
to be used, or got around in the interests of personal gratifications.
As some feel that social conditions are hostile to the realization of
the highest moral _obligations_, so others feel that they are hostile to
the full possession of their _rights_, of that to which they are
properly entitled.

=Eventual Transformation of Social Values and Aims.=--In extreme cases,
the individual may come to believe that, either on the basis of his true
obligations or his true rights, the very principle of society is morally
indifferent or even unworthy; that the moral life is eventually or
intrinsically an individual matter, although it happens to be outwardly
led under social conditions. But in the main the opposition is not to
the social relations as such, but to existing institutions and customs
as inadequate. Then the reaction of the individual against the existing
social scheme, whether on the ground of ideals too high to be supported
by it or on the ground of personal claims to which it does not afford
free play, becomes a means to the reconstruction and transformation of
social habits. In this way, _reflective morality is a mark of a
progressive society, just as customary morality is of a stationary
society_. Reflection on values is the method of their modification.

The monastic Christian in his outward withdrawal from social life, still
maintained the conception of a perfected society, of a kingdom of God or
Heaven to be established. This ideal became to some extent the working
method for changing the existing order. The Stoics, who held in light
esteem existing community ties, had the conception of a universal
community, a cosmopolis, ruled by universal law, of which every rational
being was a member and subject. This notion became operative to some
extent in the development of judicial and administrative systems much
more generalized and equitable than the purely local customs, laws, and
standards which it swept away. The Epicurean had the ideal of friendship
on the basis of which were formed groups of congenial associates held
together neither by legal ties, nor by universal laws of reason, nor by
unity of religious aspiration and belief, but by friendship and
companionable intercourse. Thus were afforded other centers of social


=General Effects.=--The characteristic differences which have been
pointed out in the preceding section, when taken together with the
specific conditions of change--liberty of action and thought, incentives
to private acquisition, facilities for power and pleasure--enable us to
understand the contrasts referred to at the opening of the chapter. We
have, on the one hand, the inbred craving for power, for acquisition,
for excitement, for gratification of sense and appetite, enhanced by
what it feeds on. We have, on the other hand, the progressive
differentiation of the moral, tearing the individual loose from the
bonds of the external moral order and forcing him to stand on his own
feet--or fall. Note how each of the points brought out in the preceding
section operates.

(1) To separate out the moral as a distinct element from certain spheres
of life, allows the less seriously minded and the less sympathetic
individuals to live complacently a trivial or unscrupulous life.
Fashion, "social duties," amusements, "culture" emptied of all earnest
meaning, "business" and "politics" divorced from any humane or public
considerations, may be regarded as justifiable vocations. A "gentleman"
who no longer has the occupation of his fighting predecessors as an
excuse for a distinct type of life, may find the support of a large
leisure class in declining any useful service to the community and
devoting himself to "sport"; a "lady" may be so engaged by the
multifarious demands of "society" as never to notice what an utterly
worthless round she follows.

(2) The fact that the morality of conscience requires reflection,
progress, and a deeper meaning for its conception, makes it obvious why
many fail to grasp any moral meaning at all. They fail to put forth the
effort, or to break with habit. Under customary morality it was enough
to "observe" and to continue in the mores. It requires a higher degree
of insight and a greater initiative to get any moral attitude at all
when the forms have become mere forms and the habits mere habits. Hence
when a change in personal environment or in general social and economic
conditions comes, many fail to see the principles involved. They remain
completely satisfied with the "old-fashioned virtues" or intrench
themselves in the "righteousness" and "honesty" of a past generation.
This habitual and "painless" morality will often mean a "virtue" or
"righteousness" which involves no conflict with present conditions. A
man who feels honest because he does not break contracts or defraud in
old-fashioned ways, may be quite at ease about watering stock or
adulterating goods. A society which abhors murder with iron and
explosives in the form of daggers and bombs, may feel quite unconcerned
about the preventable homicides by iron machinery, or by explosives used
in coal mines.

(3) The conflict with society which reflective morality requires, works
to thrust some below the general level, while it raises others above it.
To criticize the general moral order may make a man a prophet, but it
may also make him a Pharisee. Practical reaction may make reformers, but
it is likely to make another set of men dissolute; to make them feel
superior to the morality of "Philistines" and therefore exempt from
social restraints.

=Vices Incident to Reflective Stage.=--The vices increase with
civilization, partly because of increased opportunity, partly because of
increased looseness in social restraint. There is a further element.
When any activity of man is cut off from its original and natural
relations and made the object of special attention and pursuit, the
whole adjustment is thrown out of balance. What was before a useful
function becomes pathological. The craving for excitement or stimulation
is normal within certain limits. In the chase or the battle, in the
venture of the explorer or the merchant, it functions as a healthy
incentive. When isolated as an end in itself, taken out of the objective
social situation, it becomes the spring of gambling or drunkenness. The
instincts and emotions of sex, possessing power and interest
necessitated by their place in the continuance of the race, become when
isolated the spring of passion or of obscenity or lubricity. Avarice and
gluttony illustrate the same law. The gladiatorial shows at Rome became
base and cowardly when the Romans were themselves no longer
fighters.[102] Even the aspiration for what is higher and better may
become an "otherworldliness" which leaves this world to its misery and
evil. Such a series of pictures as Balzac has given in his _Comédie
Humaine_, shows better than any labored description the possibilities of
modern civilization.

There is, moreover, in civilized society a further most demoralizing
agency unknown to earlier life. As the vices are specialized and pursued
they become economic and political interests. Vast capital is invested
in the business of ministering to the vicious appetites. It is
pecuniarily desirable that these appetites should be stimulated as
greatly as possible. It makes "business." The tribute levied by public
officials upon the illegal pursuits forms a vast fund for carrying
elections. The multitude engaged in the traffic or dependent upon it for
favors, can be relied upon to cast their votes as a unit for men who
will guarantee protection.

=Relations to Fellow Men.=--The motives and occasions for selfishness
and injustice have been indicated sufficiently perhaps in preceding
chapters. As the general process of increasing individuality and
reflection goes on, it is an increasingly easy matter to be indifferent
or even unjust. When all lead a common life it is easy to enter into the
situation of another, to appreciate his motives, his needs, and in
general to "put yourself in his place." The external nature of the
conduct makes it easy to hold all to a common standard. The game must be
shared; the property--so far as there is property--respected; the
religious rites observed. But when standards becomes more inward the
more intelligent or rigorous may find sympathy less easy. When they
attempt to be "charitable" they may easily become condescending. The
pure will not soil their skirts by contact with the fallen. The
"high-minded citizen" refuses to mix in politics. The scholar thinks the
business man materialistic. The man of breeding, wealth, and education
finds the uneducated laborer lacking in courtesy and refinement and
argues that it is useless to waste sympathy upon the "masses." The class
terms which have become moral terms are illustrations of this attitude.
Finally, the moral process of building up freedom and right easily leads
to a disposition to stand on rights and let other persons look out for
themselves. Kant's doctrine, that since all morality is personal I can
do nothing to promote my neighbor's perfection, is a _laissez faire_ in
ethics which he did not carry out, but it is a not unnatural corollary
of reflective morality. "Am I my brother's keeper?" is much more likely
to be the language of reflective, than of customary and group life.

=Reconstructive Forces.=--We have dwelt at length upon the
disintegrating forces, not because civilization necessarily grows worse,
but because, having pointed out in earlier chapters the positive
advances, it becomes necessary to allude also to the other aspect of the
process. Otherwise it might appear that there is no problem. If the
evolution were supposed to be all in one direction there would be no
seriousness in life. It is only in the pressure of constantly new
difficulties and evils that moral character adds new fiber, and moral
progress emerges. Individualism, self-seeking, and desire for property
force the establishment of governments and courts which protect poor as
well as rich. Luxury and ostentation have not only called out the
asceticism which renounces the world and sees in all gratification of
appetite an evil; they have brought into the fore the serious meaning of
life; they have served to emphasize the demand for social justice. The
countless voluntary associations for the relief of sickness, misfortune,
and poverty; for aiding the defective, dependent, and criminal; for
promoting numberless good causes--enlist a multitude in friendly
co-operation. The rising demand for legislation to embody the new
sentiments of justice is part of the process of reconstruction. And now
when all the arts and goods of civilization are becoming more and more
fully the work, not of any individual's labor or skill, but rather of
the combined labor and intelligence of many, when life in cities is
necessitating greater interdependence, finally when contrasts in
conditions are brought more forcibly to notice by the very progress of
knowledge and the means of knowledge,--the more thoroughly social use of
all that civilization produces becomes more insistent and compelling. It
is not a matter of sentiment but of necessity. If any one is disposed to
deny the claim, it becomes increasingly certain that Carlyle's Irish
widow will prove her sisterhood by infecting the denier with fever;[103]
that the ignorant, or criminal, or miserable will jeopardize his


Two processes went on side by side in the movement we have traced. (1)
The primitive group, which was at once a kinship or family, an economic,
a political, a religious, an educational, and a moral unit, was broken
down and replaced by several distinct institutions, each with its own
special character. (2) The moral, which was so largely unreflective that
it could be embodied in every custom and observance, became more
personal and subjective. The result of this was either that the moral
was now more consciously and voluntarily _put into_ the social
relations, thereby raising them all to a higher moral level, or that,
failing such a leavening of the distinct spheres of the social order,
the latter were emptied of moral value and lost moral restraints. We
notice very briefly certain illustrations of this, leaving a fuller
treatment for Part III.

=The Family.=--When the family was largely determined by status, when it
was an economic, a political, and a religious unit, it had a strong
support. But the support was largely external to the true purpose and
meaning of the family. Only as these other elements were separated, and
the family placed on a voluntary basis, could its true significance
emerge. Affection and mutual supplementation of husband and wife, love
and devotion to offspring, must stand the strains formerly distributed
over several ties. The best types of family life which have resulted
from this more moral basis are unquestionably far superior to the older
form. At the same time the difficulties and perversion or subversion of
the more voluntary type are manifest. When no personal attachment was
sought or professed, or when marriage by purchase was the approved
custom, the marriage contracted under these conditions might have all
the value which the general state of intelligence and civilization
allowed. When the essential feature which hallows the union has come to
be recognized as a union of will and affection, then marriage without
these, however "solemnized," almost inevitably means moral degradation.
And if the consent of the parties is regarded as the basis of the tie,
then it is difficult to make sure that this "consent" has within it
enough of steadfast, well-considered purpose and of emotional depth to
take the place of all the older sanctions and to secure permanent
unions. The more complete responsibility for the children which has been
gained by the separation of the family, has also proved susceptible of
abuse as well as of service. For while savages have often practiced
infanticide for economic reasons, it is doubtful if any savage family
ever equaled the more refined selfishness and cruelty of the child
labor which modern families have furnished and modern society has

=The Economic and Industrial.=--The economic lost powerful restraints
when it became a separate activity divorced from family, religious, and,
in the view of some, from moral considerations. It has worked out
certain important moral necessities of its own. Honesty, the keeping of
contracts, the steadiness and continuity of character fostered by
economic relations, are important contributions. Modern business, for
example, is the most effective agency in securing sobriety. It is far
more efficient than "temperance societies." Other values of the economic
and industrial process--the increase of production, the interchange of
services and goods, the new means of happiness afforded by the increase
of wealth--are obvious. On the other hand, the honesty required by
business is a most technical and peculiarly limited sort. It does not
interfere with adulteration of goods under certain conditions, nor with
corrupt bargains with public officials. The measurement of values on a
purely pecuniary basis tends to release a large sphere of activity from
any moral restraints. The maxim "Business is business" may be made the
sanction for any kind of conduct not excluded by commercial standards.
Unless there is a constant injection of moral valuation and control,
there is a tendency to subvert all other ends and standards to the
purely economic.

=Law and Government.=--To remove these functions from the kinship group
as such, is at once to bring the important principles of authority and
duty, and gradually of rights and freedom, to consciousness. Only by
such separation could the universality and impartiality of law be
established. And only by universality can the judgment of the society as
a whole be guaranteed its execution as over against the variations in
intelligence and right purpose of individual rulers and judges.
Moreover, the separation of law from morality has likewise its gain or
loss. On the one hand, to separate off a definite sphere of external
acts to which alone physical constraints or penalties may attach, is at
once to free a great sphere of inner thought and purpose and to enable
purely psychical values and restraints to attain far greater power in
conduct. Liberty of thought and religious belief, sincerity and thorough
responsibility, require such a separation. It is also to make possible a
general law which rises above the conscience of the lower even if it
does not always reach the level of the most enlightened and just. To
make a command a "universal law" is itself a steadying and elevating
influence, and it is only by a measure of abstraction from the
individual, inner aspect of conduct that this can be achieved. On the
other hand, the not infrequent contrast between law and justice, the
substitution of technicality for substantials, the conservatism which
made Voltaire characterize lawyers as the "conservators of ancient
barbarous usages," above all the success with which law has been used to
sanction or even facilitate nearly every form of oppression, extortion,
class advantage, or even judicial murder, is a constant attestation of
the twofold possibilities inherent in all institutions. Government in
other functions exhibits similar possibilities. At first it was tyranny
against which the subject had to defend himself. Now it is rather the
use of political machinery for private gain. "Eternal vigilance" is the
price not only of freedom, but of every moral value.

=The Religious Life.=--When freed from interdependence with kinship,
economic, and political association, religion has an opportunity to
become more personal and more universal. When a man's religious attitude
is not fixed by birth, when worship is not so closely bound up with
economic interests, when there is not only religious "toleration," but
religious liberty, the significance of religion as a personal, spiritual
relation comes to view. The kinship tie is sublimated into a conception
of divine fatherhood. It becomes credible that Job does serve God "for
naught." Faith and purity of heart are not secured by magistrates or

And the universality of religion is no less a gain. So far as religion
was of the group it tended to emphasize the boundary between Jew and
Gentile, Greek and Barbarian, between the "we-group" and the
"others-group." But when this group religion gave place to a more
universal religion, the kingdom of Israel could give place to the
kingdom of God; brotherhood could transcend family or national lines. In
the fierce struggles of the Middle Ages the church was a powerful agency
for restraining the powerful and softening the feuds of hostile clans
and peoples. The "peace of God" was not only a symbol of a far-off
ideal, but an actual relief. The universality might indeed be sought by
force in a crusade of Christian against Moslem, or in the horror of a
thirty years' war between Catholic and Protestant. But as the conception
of religion as a spiritual relation becomes clearer, the tendency must
inevitably be to disclose religion as essentially a unifying rather than
a divisive and discordant force. If any religion becomes universal it
will be because of its universal appeal. And so far as it does make
universal appeal, like science, like art, it invites its followers.

The differentiation of the moral from the religious is often difficult
to trace. For the religious has often been the agency through which
certain of the characteristics of the moral have been brought about. The
inward and voluntary aspect of the moral, as compared with the verdicts
of law or public opinion, has been emphasized. But this is often
developed by the religious conceptions of an all-seeing God, an all-wise
judge. "Man looketh on the outer appearance, but the Lord looketh upon
the heart" has its literary parallels in Xenophon and Plato and
Shakspere. The distinction between higher and lower values has received
its most impressive symbol in the conception of "another world," in
which there is neither pain nor sin, but eternal blessedness and eternal
life. Ideals of character, when embodied in divine persons, command
love, reverence, and devotion in supreme degree. A society in which love
and justice are the law of life has seemed more possible, more potent to
inspire sacrifice and enthusiasm, when envisaged as the Kingdom of God.
But in all these illustrations we have, not the religious as distinct
from the moral, but the religious as modified by the moral and embodying
the moral in concrete examples and imagery. We can see the two possible
types of development, however, in the concrete instances of the Hebrews
and the Greeks. In Israel religion was able to take up the moral ideals
and become itself more completely ethical. The prophets of religion were
at the same time the moral reformers. But in Greece, in spite of the
efforts of some of the great poets, the religious conceptions for the
most part remained set and hence became superstition, or emotional orgy,
or ecstasy, while the moral found a distinct path of its own. Religion
at present is confronting the problem of whether it will be able to take
up into itself the newer ethical values--the scientific spirit which
seeks truth, the enhanced value of human worth which demands higher
types of social justice.

       *       *       *       *       *

A brief characterization of the respective standpoints of religion and
morality may be added, as they both aim to control and give value to
human conduct. The religious has always implied some relation of man's
life to unseen powers or to the cosmos. The relation may be the social
relation of kin or friend or companion, the political of subject to a
sovereign, the cosmic relation of dependence, or that of seeking in the
divine completer meaning or more perfect fulfillment for what is
fragmentary and imperfect. In its aspect of "faith" it holds all these
ideals of power, wisdom, goodness, justice, to be real and effective.
The moral, on the other hand, concerns itself, not with unseen beings or
cosmic reality, but with human purposes and the relations of a man to
his fellows. For religion, conscience may be the "voice of God"; for
morality, it must be stated in terms of thought and feeling. The "moral
law" must be viewed as a law which is capable of being approved, at
least--and this implies that it may also be criticized--by the mind. The
difference which religion states as a choice between "God and mammon,"
between heaven and earth, morality must state in terms of good and evil,
right and wrong, ideal interests and natural appetites. Instead of
regarding its standards as laws established once for all by a divine
authority, morality seeks to reach _principles_. Instead of embodying
its ideals in persons, the moral seeks to reshape them continually. It
is for religion to hold that "God reigns," and therefore "All's right
with the world." The moral as such must be continually overcoming evil,
continually working out ideals into conduct, and changing the natural
order into a more rational and social order.


[96] Grote, _Plato and the Other Companions of Sokrates_, Vol. I., p.

[97] Nearly every railway journey or other occasion for observing family
discipline discloses the prevalence of this agency of savage morality.
"If you are not quiet I'll give you to the conductor," "the black man
will get you," "Santa Claus will not give presents to naughty children."
That persons who in many respects are kindly and decent should aim to
cultivate morality by a system of deliberate lying and more or less
brutal cruelty is one of the interesting phenomena of education. The
savages who used taboos believed what they said.

[98] Sumner, _Folkways_, p. 36.

[99] Plato's wording is given on p. 132.

[100] "Recognition" has the same double sense. So has "acknowledgment,"
with greater emphasis upon rendering allegiance in action.

[101] Logically, this means that intelligence works conceptually, not
perceptually alone.

[102] Sumner, _Folkways_, p. 570.

[103] "One of Dr. Alison's Scotch facts struck us much. A poor Irish
Widow, her husband having died in one of the Lanes of Edinburgh, went
forth with her three children, bare of all resources, to solicit help
from the Charitable Establishments of that City. At this Charitable
Establishment and then at that she was refused; referred from one to the
other, helped by none; till she had exhausted them all; till her
strength and heart failed her; she sank down in typhus-fever; died, and
infected her Lane with fever, so that 'seventeen other persons' died of
fever there in consequence.... The forlorn Irish Widow applies to her
fellow creatures, as if saying, 'Behold I am sinking, bare of help; ye
must help me! I am your sister, bone of your bone; one God made us; ye
must help me.' They answer, 'No, impossible; thou art no sister of
ours.' But she proves her sisterhood; her typhus fever kills _them_:"
(_Past and Present_, Book III., ch. ii.)

       *       *       *       *       *




Among the works which have had the most influence upon the development
of the theory of morals are: Plato, dialogues entitled _Republic, Laws_,
_Protagoras_ and _Gorgias_; Aristotle, _Ethics_; Cicero, _De Finibus_
and _De Officiis_; Marcus Aurelius, _Meditations_; Epictetus,
_Conversations_; Lucretius, _De Rerum Natura_; St. Thomas Aquinas
(selected and translated by Rickaby under title of _Aquinas Ethicus_);
Hobbes, _Leviathan_; Spinoza, _Ethics_; Shaftesbury, _Characteristics_,
and _Inquiry concerning Virtue_; Hutcheson, _System of Moral
Philosophy_; Butler, _Sermons_; Hume, _Essays, Principles of Morals_;
Adam Smith, _Theory of Moral Sentiments_; Bentham, _Principles of Morals
and Legislation_; Kant, _Critique of Practical Reason_, and _Foundations
of the Metaphysics of Ethics_; Comte, Social Physics (in his _Course of
Positive Philosophy_); Mill, _Utilitarianism_; Spencer, _Principles of
Ethics_; Green, _Prolegomena to Ethics_; Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_;
Selby-Bigge, _British Moralists_, 2 vols. (a convenient collection of
selections). For contemporary treatises, and histories consult the
literature referred to in ch. i. of Part I.



=Object of Part Two and of Present Chapter.=--From the history of
morals, we turn to the theoretical analysis of reflective morality. We
are concerned to discover (1) just what in conduct it is that we judge
good and evil, right and wrong (conduct being a complicated thing); (2)
what we mean by good and evil, right and wrong; (3) on what basis we
apply these conceptions to their appropriate objects in conduct. But
before we attempt these questions, we must detect and identify the
_moral situation_, the situation in which considerations of good and
evil, right and wrong, present themselves and are employed. For some
situations we employ the ideas of true and false; of beautiful and ugly;
of skilful and awkward; of economical and wasteful, etc. We may indeed
apply the terms right and wrong to these same situations; but if so, it
is to them in some other light. What then are the differentiating
traits, the special earmarks, presented by the situation which we
identify as distinctively moral? For we use the term moral in a broad
sense to designate that which is either moral or immoral: i.e., right or
wrong in the narrower sense. It is the moral situation in the broad
sense as distinct from the non-moral, not from the immoral, that we are
now concerned with.

=The Moral Situation Involves Voluntary Activity.=--It will be admitted
on all hands that the moral situation is one which, whatever else it may
or may not be, involves a voluntary factor. Some of the chief traits of
voluntary activity we have already become acquainted with, as in the
account by Aristotle, already noted (_ante_, p. 12). The agent must know
what he is about; he must have some idea of what he is doing; he must
not be a somnambulist, or an imbecile, or insane, or an infant so
immature as to have no idea of what he is doing. He must also have some
wish, some desire, some preference in the matter. A man overpowered by
superior force might be physically compelled by some ingenious device to
shoot a gun at another, knowing what he was doing, but his act would not
be voluntary because he had no choice in the matter, or rather because
his preference was not to do the act which he is aware he is doing. But
if he is ordered to kill another and told if he does not he will himself
be killed, he has _some_ will in the matter. He may do the deed, not
because he likes it or wishes it in itself, but because he wishes to
save his own life. The attendant circumstances may affect our judgment
of the kind and degree of morality attaching to the act; but they do not
take it entirely out of the moral sphere.[104] Aristotle says the act
must also be the expression of a disposition (a habit or [Greek:
hexis]), a more or less settled tendency on the part of the person. It
must bear some relation to his character. Character is not, we may say,
a third factor, It is making clear what is implied in deliberation and
wish. There may be little deliberation in a child's act and little in an
adult's, and yet we may regard the latter as much more voluntary than
the child's. With the child, the thought is superficial and casual,
because of the restricted stage of organization or growth reached (see
p. 10): his act flows from organic instinct or from accidental
circumstances--whim, caprice, and chance suggestion, or fancy. The
adult's act may flow from habitual tendencies and be accompanied by an
equally small amount of conscious reflection. But the tendencies
themselves are the outcome of prior deliberations and choices which have
finally got funded into more or less automatic habits. The child's act
is to a slight extent the expression of character; the adult's to a
large extent. In short, we mean by character whatever lies behind an act
in the way of deliberation and desire, whether these processes be
near-by or remote.

=Not Everything Voluntary is Morally Judged.=--A voluntary act may then
be defined as one _which manifests character_, the test of its presence
being the presence of desire and deliberation; these sometimes being
present directly and immediately, sometimes indirectly and remotely
through their effects upon the agent's standing habits. But we do not
judge all voluntary activity from the moral standpoint. Some acts we
judge from the standpoint of skill or awkwardness; others as amusing or
boring; others as stupid or highly intelligent, and so on. We do not
bring to bear the conceptions of right and wrong. And on the other hand,
there are many things called good and bad which are not voluntary. Since
what we are in search of must lie somewhere between these two limits, we
may begin with cases of the latter sort.

_(1) Not Everything Judged Good or Right is Moral._--We speak, for
example, of an ill-wind; of a good engine; of a watch being wrong; or of
a screw being set right. We speak of good and bad bread, money, or soil.
That is, from the standpoint of value, we judge things as _means_ to
certain results in themselves desirable or undesirable. A "good" machine
does efficiently the work for which it is designed; "bad" money does not
subserve the ends which money is meant to promote; the watch that is
wrong comes short of telling us time correctly. We have to use the
notion of value and of contribution to value; that is a positive
factor. But this contribution to valuable result is not, in inanimate
objects, something meant or intended by the things themselves. If we
thought the ill-wind had an idea of its own destructive effect and took
pleasure in that idea, we should attribute moral quality to it--just as
men did in early times, and so tried to influence its behavior in order
to make it "good." Among things that promote favorable or unfavorable
results a line is drawn between those which just do so as matter of
fact, and those in which meaning so to do, or intention, plays a part.

=(2) Good in Animal Conduct.=--Let us now consider the case of good and
bad animal conduct. We speak of a good watch-dog; of a bad saddle-horse,
and the like. Moreover, we _train_ the dog and the horse to the right or
desired kind of action. We make, we repair the watch; but we do not
_train_ it. Training involves a new factor: enlistment of the animal's
tendencies; of its own conscious attitudes and reactions. We pet, we
reward by feeding, we punish and threaten. By these means we induce
animals to exercise in ways that form the habits we want. We modify the
animal's behavior by modifying its own impulses. But we do not give
moral significance to the good and bad, for we are still thinking of
means to ends. We do not suppose that we have succeeded in supplying the
hunting dog, for example, with _ideas_ that certain results are more
excellent than others, so that henceforth he acts on the basis of his
own discrimination of the less and the more valuable. We just induce
certain habits by managing to make certain ways of acting _feel_ more
agreeable than do others. Thus James says: "Whether the dog has the
notion of your being angry or of your property being valuable in any
such abstract way as _we_ have these notions, is more than doubtful. The
conduct is more likely an impulsive result of a conspiracy of outward
stimuli; the beast _feels like_ acting so when these stimuli are
present, though conscious of no definite reason why"[105]
(_Psychology_, Vol. II., p. 350, note). Or putting it the other way: if
the dog has an idea of the results of guarding the house, and is
controlled in what he does by loyalty to this idea, by the satisfaction
which he takes in it, then in calling the dog good we mean that in being
good for a certain result, he is also morally good.

=(3) Non-moral Human Acts.=--There are also acts evoked by an idea of
value in the results to be reached, which are not judged as coming
within the moral sphere. "Conduct is three-fourths of life," but in some
sense it is more: it is four-fourths. All conscious human life is
concerned with ends, and with selecting, arranging, and employing the
means, intellectual, emotional, and practical, involved in these ends.
This makes _conduct_. But it does not follow that all conduct has
_moral_ import. "As currently conceived, stirring the fire, reading a
newspaper, or eating a meal, are acts with which morality has no
concern. Opening the window to air the room, putting on an overcoat when
the weather is cold, are thought of as having no ethical significance.
These, however, are all portions of conduct" (Spencer, _Principles of
Ethics_, Vol. I., p. 5). They all involve the idea of some result worth
reaching, and the putting forth of energy to reach the result--of
intelligently selected and adapted means. But this may leave the act
morally indifferent--innocent.

=Introduction of Moral Factor.=--A further quotation from Spencer may
introduce discussion of the needed moral qualification:

    "As already said, a large part of the ordinary conduct is
    indifferent. Shall I walk to the water fall today? or, shall I
    ramble along the sea shore? Here the ends are ethically
    indifferent. If I go to the water fall, shall I go over the moor
    or take the path through the wood? Here the means are ethically
    indifferent.... But if a friend who is with me has explored the
    sea shore, but has not seen the water fall, the choice of one or
    other end is no longer ethically indifferent. Again, if a probable
    result of making the one excursion rather than the other, is that
    I shall not be back in time to keep an appointment, or if taking
    the longer route entails this risk while the shorter does not, the
    decision in favor of one end or means acquires in another way an
    ethical character" (Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_, pp. 5-6).

This illustration suggests two differing types of conduct; two differing
ways in which activity is induced and guided by ideas of valuable
results. In one case the end presents itself directly as desirable, and
the question is only as to the steps or means of achieving this end.
Here we have conduct which, although excited and directed by
considerations of value, is still morally indifferent. Such is the
condition of things _wherever one end is taken for granted by itself
without any consideration of its relationship to other ends_. It is then
a technical rather than a moral affair. It is a question of taste and of
skill--of personal preference and of practical wisdom, or of economy,
expediency. There are many different roads to most results, and the
selection of this path rather than that, on the assumption that either
path actually leads to the end, is an intellectual, æsthetic, or
executive, rather than an ethical matter. I may happen to prefer a
marine view to that of the uplands--that is an æsthetic interest. I may
wish to utilize the time of the walk for thinking, and may find the moor
path less distracting; here is a matter of intellectual economy. Or I
may conclude that I shall best get the exercise I want by going to the
water fall. Here it is a question of "prudence," of expediency, or
practical wisdom. Let any one of the ends, æsthetic, intellectual,
hygienic, stand alone and it is a fit and proper consideration. The
moral issue does not arise. Or the various ends may be regarded as means
to a further unquestioned end--say a walk with the maximum of combined
æsthetic interest and physical exercise.

=(4) Criterion for Moral Factor.=--But let the value of one proposed end
be felt to be really incompatible with that of another, let it be felt
to be so opposed as to appeal to a different kind of interest and
choice, in other words, to different kinds of disposition and agency,
and we have a moral situation. This is what occurs when one way of
traveling means self-indulgence; another, kindliness or keeping an
engagement. There is no longer one end, nor two ends so homogeneous that
they may be reconciled by both being used as means to some more general
end of undisputed worth. We have alternative ends so heterogeneous that
choice has to be made; an end has to be developed out of conflict. The
problem now becomes what _is_ really valuable. It is the _nature_ of the
valuable, of the desirable, that the individual has to pass upon.[106]

Suppose a person has unhesitatingly accepted an end, has acquiesced in
some suggested purpose. Then, starting to realize it, he finds the
affair not so simple. He is led to review the matter and to consider
what really constitutes worth for him. The process of attainment calls
for toil which is disagreeable, and imposes restraints and abandonments
of accustomed enjoyments. An Indian boy, for example, thinks it
desirable to be a good rider, a skilful shot, a sagacious scout. Then he
"naturally," as we say, disposes of his time and energy so as to realize
his purpose. But in trying to become a "brave," he finds that he has to
submit to deprivation and hardship, to forego other enjoyments and
undergo arduous toil. He finds that the end does not mean in actual
realization what it meant in original contemplation--something that
often happens, for, as Goldsmith said: "In the first place, we cook the
dish to our own appetite; in the latter, nature cooks it for us."

This change in apparent worth raises a new question: Is the aim first
set up of the value it seemed to be? Is it, after all, so important, so
desirable? Are not other results, playing with other boys, convivial
companionship, which are reached more easily and pleasantly, really more
valuable? The labors and pains connected with the means employed to
reach an end, have thrown another and incompatible end into
consciousness. The individual no longer "naturally," but "morally,"
follows the selected end, whichever of the two it be, because it has
been chosen after conscious valuation of competing aims.

Such competitions of values for the position of control of action are
inevitable accompaniments of individual conduct, whether in civilized or
in tribal life. A child, for example, finds that the fulfillment of an
appetite of hunger is not only possible, but that it is desirable--that
fulfillment brings, or is, satisfaction, not mere satiety. Later
on, moved by the idea of this sort of value, he snatches at food.
Then he is made aware of other sorts of values involved in the act
performed--values incompatible with just the value at which he aimed. He
brings down upon himself social disapproval and reproach. He is termed
rude, unmannerly, greedy, selfish. He acted in accordance with an
unhesitatingly accepted idea of value. But while reaching one result he
accomplished also certain other results which he did not intend, results
in the way of being thought ill of, results which are disagreeable:
_negative values_. He is taught to raise the question of what, after
all, in such cases is the _really_ desirable or valuable. Before he is
free to deliberate upon means, he has to form an estimate of the
relative worth of various possible ends, and to be willing to forego
one and select the other. The chapters on Hebrew and Greek moral
development have shown this same process at work in the life of a

=Summary and Definition.=--If we sum up the three classes of instances
thus far considered, we get the following defining traits of a moral
situation, that is, of one which is an appropriate subject of
determinations of right and wrong: Moral experience is (1) a matter of
_conduct_, _behavior_; that is, of activities which are called out by
_ideas of the worth, the desirability of results_. This evocation by an
_idea_ discriminates it from the so-called behavior of a pump, where
there is no recognition of results; and from conduct attributed to the
lower animals, where there are probably feelings and even dim imagery,
but hardly ideas of the comparative desirability or value of various
ends. Moral experience is (2) that kind of conduct in which there are
ends so discrepant, so incompatible, as to require selection of one and
rejection of the other. This perception of, and selection from,
incompatible alternatives, discriminates moral experience from those
cases of conduct which are called out and directed by ideas of value,
but which do not necessitate passing upon the _real worth_, as we say,
of the value selected. It is incompatibility of ends which necessitates
consideration of the true worth of a given end; and such consideration
it is which brings the experience into the moral sphere. Conduct as
moral may thus be defined as _activity called forth and directed by
ideas of value or worth, where the values concerned are so mutually
incompatible as to require consideration and selection before an overt
action is entered upon_.

=End Finally at Issue.=--Many questions about ends are in reality
questions about means: the artist considers whether he will paint a
landscape or a figure; this or that landscape, and so on. The general
character of the end is unchanged: it is to paint. But let this end
persist and be felt as desirable, as valuable; let at the same time an
alternative end presents itself as also desirable (say keeping an
engagement), so that the individual does not find any way of adjusting
and arranging them into a common scheme (like doing first one and then
the other), and the person has a moral problem on his hands. Which shall
he decide for, and why? The appeal is to himself; what does _he_ really
think the desirable end? What makes the supreme appeal to him? What sort
of an agent, of a person, shall he be? This is the question finally at
stake in any genuinely moral situation: What shall the agent _be_? What
sort of a character shall he assume? On its face, the question is what
he shall _do_, shall he act for this or that end. But the
incompatibility of the ends forces the issue back into the question of
the kinds of selfhood, of agency, involved in the respective ends. The
distinctively moral situation is then one in which elements of value and
control are bound up with the processes of deliberation and desire; and
are bound up in a peculiar way: _viz._, they decide what kind of a
character shall control further desires and deliberations. When ends are
genuinely incompatible, no common denominator can be found except by
deciding what sort of character is most highly prized and shall be given

=The Moral and Indifferent Situations.=--This criterion throws lights
upon our earlier discussion of morally indifferent acts. Persons perform
the greater bulk of their activities without any conscious reference to
considerations of right and wrong, as any one may verify for himself by
recollecting the general course of his activity on any ordinary day from
the time he arises in the morning to the time he goes to bed at night.
His deliberations and wants are mostly concerned with the ends involved
in his regular vocation and recreations. But at any time the question of
his character as concerned with what he is doing may arise for
judgment. The person may later on realize that the type or kind of
character which is to prevail in his further activity was involved in
deeds which were performed without any such thought. He _then_ judges
them morally, approving or disapproving. On the other hand, a course of
action which at the time presented a moral crisis even, may afterwards
come to be followed as a matter of course. There is then no _fixed_ line
between the morally indifferent and the morally significant. Every act
is _potential_ subject-matter of moral judgment, for it strengthens or
weakens some habit which influences whole classes of judgments.


There are comparatively few distinct analyses of the moral situation,
the topic generally being treated as a running part of the theory of the
author, or in connection with an account of character or conduct (see
references at end of ch. xiii.). See, however, Mezes, _Ethics,
Descriptive and Explanatory_, ch. ii.; Martineau, _Types of Ethical
Theory_, Vol. II., pp. 17-54; Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_, Vol. I.;
_Studies in Logical Theory_, Stuart, essay on Valuation as a Logical
Process, pp. 237-241, 257-258, 273-275, 289-293; Dewey, _Logical
Conditions of a Scientific Treatment of Morality_; Mead, _Philosophical
Basis of Ethics_, International Journal of Ethics, April, 1908; Fite,
_Introductory Study of Ethics_, chs. ii., xviii., and xix.


[104] Aristotle illustrates by a man who throws his goods overboard in a
storm at sea. He does not wish absolutely to lose his goods, but he
prefers losing them to losing the ship or his own life: he wishes it
_under the circumstances_ and his act is so far voluntary.

[105] Of course, this is also true of a large part of human activity.
But these are also the cases in which we do not ascribe moral value; or
at least we do not except when we want to make the agent conscious of
some reason why.

[106] While we have employed Spencer's example, it should be noted that
incompatibility of ends is not the criterion of the distinctively moral
situation which Spencer himself employs.



We have identified in its framework and main outlines the sort of
voluntary activity in which the problem of good and evil appears and in
which the ideas of right and wrong are employed. This task, however, is
only preliminary to theoretical analysis. For it throws no light upon
just what we mean by good and bad; just what elements of complex
voluntary behavior are termed right or wrong; or why they are so termed.
It does not even indicate what must be discovered before such questions
can be answered. It only sets forth the limits of the subject-matter
within which such questions arise and in reference to which they must be
answered. What are the distinctive problems which must be dealt with in
the course of such a discussion?

=Growth of Theory from Practical Problems.=--Of one thing we may be
sure. If inquiries are to have any substantial basis, if they are not to
be wholly up in the air, the theorist must take his departure from the
problems which men actually meet in their own conduct. He may define and
refine these; he may divide and systematize; he may abstract the
problems from their concrete contexts in individual lives; he may
classify them when he has thus detached them; but if he gets away from
them he is talking about something which his own brain has invented, not
about moral realities. On the other hand, the perplexities and
uncertainties of direct and personal behavior invite a more abstract and
systematic impersonal treatment than that which they receive in the
exigencies of their occurrence. The recognition of any end or authority
going beyond what is embodied in existing customs, involves some appeal
to thought, and moral theory makes this appeal more explicit and more
complete. If a child asks why he should tell the truth, and is answered,
"because you ought to and that is reason enough"; or, "because it will
prove profitable for you to do so"; or, "because truth-telling is a
condition of mutual communication and common aims," the answer implies a
principle which requires only to be made explicit to be full-fledged
theory. And when this principle is compared with those employed in other
cases to see if they are mutually consistent; and if not, to find a
still more fundamental reconciling principle, we have passed over the
border into ethical system.

=Types of Theoretical Problems.=--The practical problems which a
thoughtful and progressive individual must consider in his own conduct
will, then, give the clue to the genuine problems of moral theory. The
framework of one is an outline of the other. The man who does not
satisfy himself with sheer conventional conformity to the customs, the
_ethos_, of his class will find such problems as the following forced
upon his attention:--(1) He must consider the _meaning_ of habits which
have been formed more or less unreflectively--by imitation, suggestion,
and inculcation from others--and he must consider the meaning of those
customs about him to which he is invited to conform till they have
become personal habits. This problem of discovering the meaning of these
habits and customs is the problem of stating what, after all, is
_really_ good, or worth while in conduct. (2) The one whose morality is
of the reflective sort will be faced by the problem of moral advance, of
progress beyond the level which has been reached by this more or less
unreflective taking on of the habits and ideas of those about him,
progress up to the level of his own reflective insight. Otherwise put,
he has to face the problem of what is to be the place and rôle in his
own conduct of ideals and principles generated not by custom but by
deliberation and insight. (3) The individual must consider more
consciously the relation between what is currently regarded as good by
the social groups in which he is placed and in which he has to act, and
that regarded as good by himself. The moment he ceases to accept
conformity to custom as an adequate sanction of behavior, he is met by
discrepancy between his personally conceived goods and those reigning in
the customs about him. Now while this detachment makes possible the
birth of higher and more ideal types of morality, and hence of
systematic effort for social reform and advance; it also makes possible
(as we have seen on the historical side, p. 189) a more generalized and
deliberate selfishness; a less instinctive and more intentional pursuit
of what the individual judges to be good _for himself_ against what
society exacts as good for itself. The same reflective attitude which
generates the conscientious moral reformer may generate also a more
deliberate and resolute anti-social egoism. In any case, the individual
who has acquired the habit of moral reflection, is conscious of a new
problem--the relation of public good to individual good. In short, the
individual who is thoughtfully serious and who aims to bring his habit
of reflection to bear on his conduct, will have occasion (1) to search
for the elements of good and bad, of positive and negative, value in the
situations that confront him; (2) to consider the methods and principles
by which he shall reach conclusions, and (3) to consider the relations
between himself, his own capacities and satisfactions, and the ends and
demands of the social situations in which he is placed.

=The Corresponding Problems of Theory.=--Theory will then have similar
problems to deal with. (1) What is the Good, the end in any voluntary
act? (2) How is this good known? Is it directly perceived, and if so,
how? Or is it worked out through inquiry and reflection? And if so,
how? (3) When the good is known, how is it _acknowledged_; how does it
acquire authority? What is the place of _law_, of control, in the moral
life? Why is it that some ends are attractive of themselves, while
others present themselves as _duties_, as involving subordination of
what is naturally attractive? (4) What is the place of selfhood in the
moral process? And this question assumes two forms: (a) What is the
relation of the good of the self to the good of others? (b) What is the
difference between the morally good and the morally bad in the self?
What are virtues and vices as dispositions of the self? These abstract
and formal questions will become more concrete if we consider them
briefly in the order of their development in the history of the moral

=Problem of Knowledge of Good Comes First in Theory.=--The clash and
overlapping of customs once so local as to be isolated, brought to
Athenian moral philosophers the problem of discovering the underlying
and final good to which all the conflicting values of customs might be
referred for judgment. The movement initiated by Socrates was precisely
the effort to find out what is the real good, the true end, of all the
various institutions, customs, and procedures current among men. The
explanation of conflict among men's interests, and of lack of
consistency and unity in any given person's behavior, of the division of
classes in the state, of the diverse recommendations of different
would-be moral teachers, was that they were ignorant of their own ends.
Hence the fundamental precept is "Know thyself," one's own end, one's
good and one's proper function. Different followers of Socrates gave
very different accounts of knowledge, and hence proposed very different
final aims. But they all agreed that the problem of knowing the good was
the central problem, and that if this were settled, action in accord
with good would follow of itself. Could it be imagined that man could
know his own good and yet not seek it? Ignorance of good is evil and
the source of evil; insight into the real good will clear up the
confusion and partiality which makes men pursue false ends and thus
straighten out and put in order conduct. Control would follow as a
matter of course from _knowledge_ of the end. Such control would be no
matter of coercion or external restriction, but of subordination and
organization of minor ends with reference to the final end.

=Problem of Motive Force.=[107]--The problem of attaining this knowledge
was seen to be attended, however, by peculiar obstructions and
difficulties, the growing recognition of which led to a shifting of the
problem itself. The dilemma, in brief, was this: The man who is already
good will have no difficulty in knowing the good both in general and in
the specific clothing under which it presents itself in particular
cases. But the one who does not yet know the good, does not know _how_
to know it. His ignorance, moreover, puts positive obstacles in his way,
for it leads him to delight in superficial and transitory ends. This
delight increases the hold of these ends upon the agent; and thus it
builds up an _habitual_ interest in them which renders it impossible for
the individual to get a glimpse of the final end, to say nothing of a
clear and persisting view. _Only if the individual is habituated,
exercised, practiced in good ends so as to take delight in them, while
he is still so immature as to be incapable of really knowing how and why
they are good, will he be capable of knowing the good when he is
mature._ Pleasure in right ends and pain in wrong must operate as a
motive force in order to give experience of the good, before knowledge
can be attained and operate as the motor force.

=Division of Problem.=--But the exercise and training requisite to form
the habits which make the individual rejoice in right activity before he
knows how and why it is right, presuppose adults who already have
knowledge of the good. They presuppose a social order capable not merely
of giving theoretic instruction, but of habituating the young to right
practices. But where shall such adults be found, and where is the social
order so good that it is capable of right training of its own immature
members? Hence the problem again shifts, breaking up into two parts. On
the one hand, attention is fixed upon the irrational appetites, desires,
and impulses, which hinder apprehension of the good; on the other, it is
directed to the political laws and institutions which are capable of
training the members of the State into a right manner of living. For the
most part, these two problems went their own way independently of each
other, a fact which resulted in the momentous breach between the inner
and "spiritual," and the outer and "physical" aspects of behavior.

=Problem of Control of Affections and Desires.=--If it is the lively
movements of natural appetites and desires which make the individual
apprehend false goods as true ones, and which present obstacles to
knowledge of the true good, the serious problem is evidently to check
and so far as possible to abolish the power of desire to move the mind.
Since it is anger, fear, hope, despair, sexual desire which make men
regard particular things instead of the final end as good, the great
thing is wholly to free attention and judgment from the influence of
such passions. It may be impossible to prevent the passions; they are
natural perturbations. But man can at least prevent his judgment of what
is good or bad from being modified by them. The Stoic moral philosophers
most emphasized the misleading influence of desire and passion, and set
up the ideal of apathy (lack of passion) and "ataraxy" (absence of
being stirred up). The other moral schools, the Sceptics and Epicureans,
also made independence of mind from influence of passion the immediate
and working end; the Sceptics because they emphasized the condition of
mental detachment and non-committal, which is the state appropriate to
doubt and uncertainty; the Epicureans because the pleasures of the mind
are the only ones not at the mercy of external circumstances. Mental
pleasures are equable, and hence are the only ones which do not bring
reactions of depression, exhaustion, and subsequent pain. The problem of
moral theory is now in effect, if not in name, that of _control_, of
authority and subordination, of checking and restraining desire and

=Problem of Control of Private Interests by Law.=--Such views could at
the best, however, affect only a comparatively small number, the
philosophers. For the great masses of men in the Roman Empire, the
problem existed on the other line: by what laws and what administration
of laws to direct the outward acts of men into right courses, courses at
least sufficiently right so as to maintain outward peace and unity
through the vast empire. In the Greek city-state, with its small number
of free citizens all directly participating in public affairs, it was
possible to conceive an ideal of a common good which should bind all
together. But in an Empire covering many languages, religions, local
customs, varied and isolated occupations, a single system of
administration and law exercised from a single central source could
alone maintain the requisite harmony. The problems of legislations,
codification, and administration were congenial to the Latin mind, and
were forced by the actual circumstances. From the external side, then,
as well as from the internal, the problem of control became dominant
over that of value and the good.

=Problem of Unification.=--It was the province of the moral
philosophers, of the theologians, of the church to attempt a fusion of
these elements of inner and outer control. It was their aim to connect,
to synthesize these factors into one commanding and comprehensive view
of life. But the characteristic of their method was to suppose that the
combination could be brought about, whether intellectually or
practically, only upon a supernatural basis, and by supernatural
resources. From the side of the natural constitution of both man and the
State, the various elements of behavior are so hopelessly at war with
one another that there is no health in them nor help from them. The
appetites and desires are directed only upon carnal goods and form the
dominant element in the person. Even when reason gets glimpses of the
good, the good seen is narrow in scope and temporal in duration; and
even then reason is powerless as an adequate motive. "We perceive the
better and we follow the worse." Moreover, it is useless to seek aid
from the habituation, the education, the discipline and restraint of
human institutions. They themselves are corrupt. The product of man's
lower nature cannot be capable of enlightening and improving that
nature; at most it can only restrain outer action by appealing to fear.
Only a divine revelation can make known man's true end; and only divine
assistance, embodied in the ordinances and sacraments of the
supernaturally founded and directed church, can bring this knowledge
home to erring individuals so as to make it effectual. In theory the
conception of the end, the good, was supreme; but man's true good is
supernatural and hence can be achieved only by supernatural assistance
and in the next world. In practice, therefore, the important thing for
man in his present condition is implicit reliance upon and obedience to
the requirements of the church. This represents on earth the divine
sovereign, ultimate source of all moral law. In effect, the moral law
became a net-work of ordinances, prescriptions, commands, rewards,
penalties, penances, and remissions. The jural point of view was
completely enthroned.[108] There was no problem; there was a final,
because a supernatural solution.

=The Problems of Individuality and Citizenship.=--With the Renaissance
began the revolt against the jural view of life. A sense of the joys and
delights which attend the free and varied exercise of human capacities
in this world was reborn. The first results were a demand for natural
satisfaction; the next a profound reawakening of the antique civic and
political consciousness. The first in its reaction against the Middle
Ages was more individualistic than the Greek ideal, to which it was in
some respects allied. The Greek had emphasized the notion of value, but
had conceived this as generic, as the fulfillment of the essential
nature of man as man. But with the moderns, satisfaction, the good,
meant something direct, specific, personal; something the individual as
an individual could lay hold of and possess. It was an individual right;
it was final and inalienable. Nothing had a right to intervene or
deprive the individual of it.

This extreme individualistic tendency was contemporaneous with a
transfer of interest from the supernatural church-state over to the
commercial, social, and political bodies with which the modern man found
himself identified. The rise of the free cities, and more especially the
development of national states, with the growth of commerce and
exchange, opened to the individual a natural social whole. With this his
connections were direct, in this he gained new outlets and joys, and yet
it imposed upon him definite responsibilities and exacted of him
specific burdens. If the individual had gained a new sense of himself as
an individual, he also found himself enmeshed in national states of a
power constantly increasing in range and intensity. The problem of the
moral theorists was to reconcile these two tendencies, the
individualistic and that of political centralization. For a time, the
individual felt the social organization in which he was set to be, with
whatever incidental inconveniences, upon the whole an outlet and
reënforcement of prized personal powers. Hence in observing its
conditions, he was securing the conditions of his own peace and
tranquillity or even of his own freedom and achievement. But the balance
was easily upset, and the problem of the relation of the individual and
the social, the private and the public, was soon forced into prominence;
a problem which in one form or other has been the central problem of
modern ethical theory.

=Individualistic Problem.=--Only for a short time, during the first
flush of new achievement and of hopeful adventure, did extreme
individualism and social interests remain naïvely combined. The
individualistic tendency found a convenient intellectual tool in a
psychology which resolved the individual into an association or series
of particular states of feeling and sensations; and the good into a like
collection of pleasures also regarded as particular mental states. This
psychological atomism made individuals as separate and disconnected as
the sensations which constituted their selves were isolated and mutually
exclusive. Social arrangements and institutions were, in theory,
justifiable only as they could be shown to augment the sum of
pleasurable states of feeling of individuals. And as, quite independent
of any such precarious theory, the demand for reform of institutions
became more and more imperative, the situation was packed by Rousseau
into a formula that man was naturally both free and good, and that
institutional life had enslaved and thereby depraved him. At the same
time, there grew up an enthusiastic and optimistic faith in "Nature," in
her kindly intentions for the happiness of humanity, and in her potency
to draw it to perfection when artificial restrictions were once out of
the way. Individuals, separate in themselves and in their respective
goods, were thereby brought into a complete coincidence and harmony of
interests. Nature's laws were such that if the individual obeyed them in
seeking his own good he could not fail to further the happiness of
others. While there developed in France (with original initiative from
England) this view of the internal isolation and external harmony of
men, a counterpart movement took place in Germany.

=The Rationalistic Problem.=--German thought inherited through both
Roman law and the natural theology and ethics of the church, the
conception that man's rational nature makes him sociable. Stoicism, with
its materialistic idealism, had taught that all true laws are natural,
while all laws of nature are diffusions and potencies of reason. As they
bind things together in the world, so they bind men together in
societies. Moral theory is "Natural Law" conceived in this sense. From
the laws of reason, regarded as the laws of man's generic and hence
sociable nature, all the principles of jurisprudence and of individual
morals may be deduced. But man has also a sensuous nature, an appetitive
nature which is purely private and exclusive. Since reason is higher
than sense, the authority of the State is magnified. The juristic point
of view was reinstated, but with the important change that the law was
that of a social order which is the realization of man's own rational
being.[109] If the laws of the State were criticized, the reply was that
however unworthy the civic regulations and however desirable their
emendation, still the State is the expression of the idea of reason,
that is of man in his true generic nature. Hence to attempt to overthrow
the government is to attack the fundamental and objective conditions of
moral or rational life. Without the State, the particularistic, private
side of man's nature would have free sway to express itself. Man's true
moral nature is within. We are then left, from both the English-French
and the German sides, with the problem of the relation of the individual
and the social; of the relation of the inner and outer, of the
psychological structure of the person and the social conditions and
results of his behavior.


See the references on the scope and methods of ethics at the end of ch.
i. of Part I., and also, Sorley, _Ethics of Naturalism_, ch. i., and his
_Recent Tendencies in Ethics_; Fite, _An Introductory Study of Ethics_,
ch. ii.; Bowne, _Principles of Ethics_, ch. i.; Seth, _Ethical
Principles_, ch. i.; Martineau, _Types of Ethical Theory_, Vol. I.,
Introduction; Hensel, _Problems of Ethics_, in Vol. I. of St. Louis
Congress of Arts and Science.


[107] On the _practical_ side, this was always, as we have seen, the
prominent problem of Hebrew thought. But we are concerned here with the
statement of the problem by Plato and Aristotle from the theoretical

[108] The Ten Commandments, divided and subdivided into all their
conceivable applications, and brought home through the confessional,
were the specific basis.

[109] The idealistic philosophic movement beginning with Kant is in many
important respects the outgrowth of the earlier _Naturrecht_ of the
moral philosophers from Grotius on.




=Problems and Theories.=--We were concerned in the last chapter with the
typical _problems_ of moral theory. But it was evident that theories
themselves developed and altered as now this, now that, problem was
uppermost. To regard the question of how to know the good as the central
problem of moral inquiry is already to have one type of theory; to
consider the fundamental problem to be either the subordination or the
satisfaction of desire is to have other types. A classification of types
of theory is rendered difficult, a thoroughly satisfactory
classification almost impossible, by the fact that the problems arrange
themselves about separate principles leading to cross-divisions. All
that we may expect to do is somewhat arbitrarily to select that
principle which seems most likely to be useful in conducting inquiry.

=(1) Teleological and Jural.=--One of the fundamental divisions arises
from taking either Value or Duty, Good or Right, as the fundamental
idea. Ethics of the first type is concerned above all with _ends_; hence
it is frequently called _teleological_ theory (Greek [Greek: telos],
end). To the other type of theory, obligations, imperatives, commands,
law, and authority, are the controlling ideas. By this emphasis, arise
the _jural_ theories (Latin, _jus_, law). At some point, of course, each
theory has to deal with the factor emphasized by its rival. If we start
with Law as central, the good resides in these acts which conform to
its obligations. The good is obedience to law, submission to its moral
authority. If we start from the Good, laws, rules, are concerned with
the means of defining or achieving it.

=(2) Individual and Institutional.=--This fundamental division is at
once cut across by another, arising from emphasizing the problem of the
individual and the social. This problem may become so urgent as to force
into the background the conflict between teleological and jural
theories, while in any case it complicates and subdivides them. We have
individualistic and institutional types of theory. Consider, for
example, the following representative quotations: "No school can avoid
taking for the ultimate moral aim a desirable _state of feeling_ called
by whatever name--gratification, enjoyment, happiness. Pleasure
somewhere, at some time, _to some being or beings_, is an element of the
conception";[110] and again,[110] "the good is universally the
pleasurable." And while the emphasis is here upon the good, the
desirable, the same type of statement, _as respects emphasis upon the
individual_, may be made from the side of duty. For example, "it is the
very essence of moral duty to be imposed by a man on himself."[111]
Contrast both of these statements with the following: "What a man ought
to do, or what duties he should fulfill in order to be virtuous, is in
an ethical community not hard to say. He has to do nothing except what
is presented, expressed, and recognized in his established
relations."[112] "The individual has his truth, real existence, and
ethical status only in being a member of the State. His particular
satisfactions, activities, and way of life have in this authenticated,
substantive principle, their origin and result."[113] And in another
connection: "The striving for a morality of one's own is futile and by
its very nature impossible of attainment. In respect to morality the
saying of one of the wisest men of antiquity is the true one. To be
moral is to live in accord with the moral tradition of one's
country."[114] Here both the good and the law of the individual are
placed on a strictly institutional basis.

=(3) Empirical and Intuitional.=--Another cross-division arises from
consideration of the method of ascertaining and determining the nature
of moral distinctions: the method of knowledge. From this standpoint,
the distinction of ethical theories into the _empirical_ ([Greek:
empeirikos]) and the _intuitional_ (Latin, _intueor_, to look at or
upon) represents their most fundamental cleavage. One view makes
knowledge of the good and the right dependent upon recollection of prior
experiences and their conditions and effects. The other view makes it an
immediate apprehension of the quality of an act or motive, a trait so
intrinsic and characteristic it cannot escape being seen. While in
general the empirical school has laid stress upon the consequences, the
consequences to be searched for were considered as either individual or
social. Some, like Hobbes, have held that it was directed upon law; to
knowledge of the commands of the state. And similarly the direct
perception or intuition of moral quality was by some thought to apply to
recognition of differences of value, and by others to acknowledgment of
law and authority, which again might be divine, social, or personal.
This division cleaves straight across our other bases of classification.
To describe a theory definitely, it would then be necessary to state
just where it stood with reference to each possible combination or
permutation of elements of all three divisions. Moreover, there are
theories which attempt to find a deeper principle which will bridge the
gulf between the two opposites.

=Complexity of Subject-matter and Voluntary Activity.=--This brief
survey should at least warn us of the complexity of the attempt to
discriminate types of theory, and put us on our guard against undue
simplification. It may also serve to remind us that various types of
theory are not arbitrary personal devices and constructions, but arise
because, in the complexity of the subject-matter, one element or another
is especially emphasized, and the other elements arranged in different
perspectives. As a rule, all the elements are recognized in some form or
other by all theories; but they are differently placed and accounted
for. In any case, it is voluntary activity with which we are concerned.
The problem of analyzing voluntary activity into its proper elements,
and rightly arranging them, must coincide finally with the problem of
the relation of good and law of control to each other, with the problem
of the nature of moral knowledge, and with that of the relation of the
individual and social aspects of conduct.


=The What and How of Activity.=--Starting from the side of the voluntary
act, we find in it one distinction which when forced into an extreme
separation throws light upon all three divisions in theory which have
been noted. This is the relation between desire and deliberation as
mental or private, and the deed, the doing, as overt and public. Is
there any intrinsic moral connection between the _mental_ and the
_overt_ in activity? We may analyze an act which has been accomplished
into two factors, one of which is said to exist within the agent's own
consciousness; while the other, the external execution, carries the
mental into operation, affects the world, and is appreciable by others.
Now on the face of the matter, these two things, while capable of
intellectual discrimination, are incapable of real separation. The
"mental" side, the desire and the deliberation, is for the sake of
determining what shall be _done_; the overt side is for the sake of
making real certain precedent mental processes, which are partial and
inadequate till carried into effect, and which occur for the sake of
that effect. The "inner" and "outer" are really only the "how" and the
"what" of activity, neither being real or significant apart from the
other. (See _ante_, p. 6).

=Separation into Attitude and Consequences.=--But under the strain of
various theories, this organic unity has been denied; the inner and the
outer side of activity have been severed from one another. When thus
divided, the "inner" side is connected exclusively with the will, the
disposition, the character of the person; the "outer" side is connected
wholly with the consequences which flow from it, the changes it brings
about. Theories will then vary radically according as the so-called
inner or the so-called outer is selected as the bearer and carrier of
moral distinctions. One theory will locate the moral quality of an act
in that _from_ which it issues; the other in that _into_ which it

The following quotations put the contrast in a nutshell, though
unfortunately the exact meaning of the second is not very apparent apart
from its context.

    "A motive is substantially nothing more than pleasure or pain
    operating in a certain manner. Now pleasure is in itself a good;
    nay, even setting aside immunity from pain, the only good.... It
    follows, therefore, immediately and incontestably that there is no
    such thing as any sort of motive that is in itself a bad one. If
    motives are good or bad, it is only on account of their effects"
    (Bentham, _Principles of Morals and Legislation_, ch. x., § 2).
    Over against this, place the following from Kant: "Pure reason is
    practical of itself alone, and gives to man a universal law which
    we call the Moral Law.... If this law determines the will directly
    [without any reference to objects and to pleasure or pain] the
    action conformed to it is good in itself; a will whose principle
    always conforms to this law is good absolutely in every respect
    and is the supreme condition of all good."

If now we recur to the distinction between the "what" and the "how" of
action in the light of these quotations, we get a striking result.
"What" one does is to pay money, or speak words, or strike blows, and so
on. The "how" of this action is the spirit, the temper in which it is
done. One pays money with a hope of getting it back, or to avoid arrest
for fraud, or because one wishes to discharge an obligation; one strikes
in anger, or in self-defense, or in love of country, and so on. Now the
view of Bentham says in effect that the "what" is significant, and that
the "what" consists ultimately only of the pleasures it produces; the
"how" is unimportant save as it incidentally affects resulting feelings.
The view of Kant is that the moral core of every act is in its "how,"
that is in its spirit, its actuating motive; and that the law of reason
is the only right motive. _What_ is aimed at is a secondary and (except
as determined by the inner spirit, the "how" of the action) an
irrelevant matter. In short the separation of the mental and the overt
aspects of an act has led to an equally complete separation of its
initial spirit and motive from its final content and consequence. And in
this separation, one type of theory, illustrated by Kant, takes its
stand on the actuating source of the act; the other, that of Bentham, on
its outcome. For convenience, we shall frequently refer to these types
of theories as respectively the "attitude" and the "content"; the formal
and the material; the disposition and the consequences theory. The
fundamental thing is that _both_ theories separate character and
conduct, disposition and behavior; which of the two is most emphasized
being a secondary matter.

=Different Ways of Emphasizing Results.=--There are, however, different
forms of the consequences or "content" theory--as we shall, for
convenience, term it. Some writers, like Spencer as quoted, say the only
consequences that are good are simply pleasures, and that pleasures
differ only in _intensity_, being alike in everything but degree. Others
say, pleasure is the good, but pleasures differ in quality as well as
intensity and that a certain _kind_ of pleasure is the morally good.
Others say that natural satisfaction is not found in any one pleasure,
or in any number of them, but in a more permanent mood of experience,
which is termed _happiness_. Happiness is different from a pleasure or
from a collection of pleasures, in being an abiding consequence or
result, which is not destroyed even by the presence of pains (while a
pain ejects a pleasure). The pleasure view is called Hedonism; the
happiness view, Eudaimonism.[115]

=Different Forms of the "Attitude" Theory.=--The opposite school of
theory holds that the peculiar character of "moral" good is precisely
that it is _not_ found in consequences of action. In this negative
feature of the definition many different writers agree; there is less
harmony in the positive statement of just what the moral good is. It is
an attribute or disposition of character, or the self, not a trait of
results experienced, and in general such an attribute is called
_Virtue_. But there are as many differences of opinion as to what
constitutes virtue as there are on the other side as to what pleasure
and happiness are. In one view, it merges, in its outcome at least, very
closely with one form of eudaimonism. If happiness be defined as the
fulfillment of satisfaction of the characteristic functions of a human
being, while a certain function, that of reason, is regarded as _the_
characteristic human trait whose exercise is _the_ virtue or supreme
excellence, it becomes impossible to maintain any sharp line of
distinction. Kant, however, attempted to cut under this union of
happiness and virtue, which under the form of _perfectionism_ has been
attempted by many writers, by raising the question of _motivation_. Why
does the person aim at perfection? Is it for the sake of the resulting
happiness? Then we have only Hedonism. Is it because the moral law, the
law of reason, requires it? Then we have law morally deeper than the end
aimed at.

We may now consider the bearing of this discussion upon theories of
moral knowledge and (2) of moral authority.[116]

=I. Characteristic Theories of Moral Knowledge.=--(1) Those who set
chief store by the goods naturally experienced, find that past
experiences supply all the data required for moral knowledge. Pleasures
and pains, satisfactions and miseries, are recurrent familiar
experiences. All we have to do is to note them and their occasions (or,
put the other way, to observe the tendency of some of our impulses and
acts to bring pleasure as a consequence, of others to effect misery),
and to make up our ends and aims accordingly. As a theory of moral
knowledge, Hedonism is thus almost always allied with _empiricism_,
understanding by empiricism the theory that particular past experiences
furnish the method of all ideas and beliefs.

(2) The theory that the good is some type of virtuous character requires
a special organ to give moral knowledge. Virtue is none the less the
Good, even when it is not attained, when it is not experienced, that is,
as we experience a pleasure. In any case, it is not good because it is
experienced, but because it _is_ virtue. Thus the "attitude" theory
tends to connect itself with some form of Intuitionalism, Rationalism,
or Transcendentalism, all of these terms meaning that there is something
in knowledge going beyond the particular experiences. Intuitionalism
holds there is a certain special faculty which reveals truths beyond the
scope of experience; Rationalism, that beside the particular elements of
experience there are universal and necessary conceptions which regulate
it; Transcendentalism, that within experience there is a factor derived
from a source transcending experience.[117]

=II. Characteristic Theories of Moral Control.=--The result school tends
to view authority, control, law, obligation from the standpoint of
_means to an end_; the moralistic, or virtue, school to regard the idea
of _law_ as more fundamental than that of the good. From the first
standpoint, the authority of a given rule lies in its power to regulate
desires so that after all pleasures--or a maximum of them, and a minimum
of pains--may be had. At bottom, it is a principle of expediency, of
practical wisdom, of adjustment of means to end. Thus Hume said: "Reason
is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions"--that is, the
principles and rules made known by reason are, at last, only instruments
for securing the fullest satisfaction of desires. But according to the
point of view of the other school, no satisfaction is _really_ (i.e.,
morally) good unless it is acquired in accordance with a law existing
independently of pleasurable satisfaction. Thus the good depends upon
the law, not the law upon the desirable end.


=The Opposition in Ordinary Life.=--To some extent, similar oppositions
are latent in our ordinary moral convictions, without regard to theory.
Indeed, we tend, at different times, to pass from one point of view to
the other, without being aware of it. Thus, as against the
identification of goodness with a _mere_ attitude of will; we say, "It
is not enough for a man to be good; he must be good for something." It
is not enough to mean well; one must mean to do well; to excuse a man by
saying "he _means_ well," conveys a shade of depreciation. "Hell is
paved with good intentions." Good "resolutions," in general, are
ridiculed as not modifying overt action. A tree is to be judged by its
fruits. "Faith without works is dead." A man is said "to be too good for
this world" when his motives are not effective. Sometimes we say, "So
and so is a _good_ man," meaning to say that that is about all that can
be said for him--he does not count, or amount to anything, practically.
The objection to identifying goodness with inefficiency also tends to
render suspected a theory which seems to lead logically to such
identification. More positively we dwell upon goodness as involving
_service_; "love is the fulfilling of the law," and while love is a
trait of character, it is one which takes immediate action in order to
bring about certain definite consequences. We call a man Pharisaical who
cherishes his own good character as an end distinct from the common good
for which it may be serviceable.

On the other hand, indicating the supremacy of the voluntary attitude
over consequences, we have, "What shall a man give in exchange for his
soul?" "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and
lose his own life?" "Let us do evil that good may come, whose damnation
is just." The deep-seated objection to the maxim that the end justifies
the means is hard to account for, except upon the basis that it is
possible to attain ends otherwise worthy and desirable at the expense of
conduct which is immoral. Again, compare Shakspere's "There's nothing
right or wrong, but thinking makes it so" with the Biblical "As a man
thinketh in his heart, so is he." And finally we have such sayings as,
"Take the will for the deed"; "His heart is in the right place"; _Pereat
mundus, fiat justitia_.

Passing from this popular aspect of the matter, we find the following
grounds for the "content" theory:

=1. It Makes Morality Really Important.=--Would there be any use or
sense in moral acts if they did not tend to promote welfare, individual
and social? If theft uniformly resulted in great happiness and security
of life, if truth-telling introduced confusion and inefficiency into
men's relations, would we not consider the first a virtue, and the
latter a vice?[118] So far as the identification of goodness with mere
motive (apart from results effected by acts) reduces morality to
nullity, there seems to be furnished a _reductio ad absurdum_ of the
theory that results are not the decisive thing.

=(2) It Makes Morality a Definite, Concrete Thing.=--Morality is found
in consequences; and consequences are definite, observable facts which
the individual can be made responsible for noting and for employing in
the direction of his further behavior. The theory gives morality an
objective, a tangible guarantee and sanction. Moreover, results are
something objective, common to different individuals because outside
them all. But the doctrine that goodness consists in motives formed by
and within the individual without reference to obvious, overt results,
makes goodness something vague or else whimsical and arbitrary. The
latter view makes virtue either something unattainable, or else attained
by merely cultivating certain internal states having no outward results
at all, or even results that are socially harmful. It encourages
fanaticism, moral crankiness, moral isolation or pride; obstinate
persistence in a bad course in spite of its demonstrable evil results.
It makes morality non-progressive, since by its assumption no amount of
experience of consequences can throw any light upon essential moral

=(3) The Content Theory Not Only Puts Morality Itself upon a Basis of
Facts, but Also Puts the Theory of Morality upon a Solid Basis.=--We
know what we mean by goodness and evil when we discuss them in terms of
results achieved or missed, and can therefore discuss them intelligibly.
We can formulate concrete ends and lay down rules for their attainment.
Thus there can be a science of morals just as there can be a science of
any body of observable facts having a common principle. But if morality
depends upon purely subjective, personal motives, no objective
observation and common interpretation are possible. We are thrown back
upon the capricious individual _ipse dixit_, which by this theory is
made final. Ethical theory is rendered impossible. Thus Bentham, who
brings these charges (and others) against the "virtue" theory of
goodness, says at the close of the preface to his _Principles of Morals
and Legislation_ (ed. of 1823):

    "Truths that form the basis of political and moral science are not
    to be discovered but by investigations as severe as mathematical
    ones, and beyond all comparison more intricate and extensive....
    They are not to be forced into detached and general propositions,
    unincumbered with explanations and exceptions. They will not
    compress themselves into epigrams. They recoil from the tongue and
    the pen of the declaimer. They flourish not in the same soil with
    sentiment. They grow among thorns; and are not to be plucked, like
    daisies, by infants as they run.... There is no _King's Road_ ...
    to legislative, any more than to mathematical science."[119]

Arguments not unlike, however, may be adduced in favor of the attitude

=1. It, and It Alone, Places Morality in the High and Authoritative
Place Which by Right Characterizes It.=--Morality is not just a means of
reaching other ends; it is an end in itself. To reduce virtue to a tool
or instrumentality for securing pleasure is to prostitute and destroy
it. Unsophisticated common sense is shocked at putting morality upon the
same level with prudence, policy, and expediency. Morality is morality,
just because it possesses an absolute authoritativeness which they lack.

=2. The Morally Good Must be Within the Power of the Individual to
Achieve.=--The amount of pleasure and pain the individual experiences,
his share of satisfaction, depends upon outward circumstances which are
beyond his control, and which accordingly have no moral significance.
Only the beginning, the willing, of an act lies with the man; its
conclusion, its outcome in the way of consequences, lies with the gods.
Accident, misfortune, unfavorable circumstance, may shut the individual
within a life of sickness, misery, and discomfort. They may deprive him
of external goods; but they cannot modify the moral good, for that
resides in the attitude with which one faces these conditions and
results. Conditions hostile to prosperity may be only the means of
calling forth virtues of bravery, patience, and amiability. Only
consequences within character itself, the tendency of an act to form a
habit or to cultivate a disposition, are really of moral significance.

=3. Motives Furnish a Settled and Workable Criterion by Which to Measure
the Rightness or Wrongness of Specific Acts.=--Consequences are
indefinitely varied; they are too much at the mercy of the unforeseen to
serve as basis of measurement. One and the same act may turn out in a
hundred different ways according to accidental circumstances. If the
individual had to calculate consequences before entering upon action, he
would engage in trying to solve a problem where each new term introduced
more factors. No conclusion would ever be reached; or, if reached, would
be so uncertain that the agent would be paralyzed by doubt. But since
the motives are within the person's own breast, the problem of knowing
the right is comparatively simple: the data for the judgment are always
at hand and always accessible to the one who sincerely wishes to know
the right.

=Conclusion.=--The fact that common life recognizes, under certain
conditions, both theories as correct, and that substantially the same
claims may be made for both, suggests that the controversy depends upon
some underlying misapprehension. Their common error, as we shall attempt
to show in the sequel, lies in trying to split a voluntary act which is
single and entire into two unrelated parts, the one termed "inner," the
other, "outer"; the one called "motive," the other, "end." A voluntary
act is always a disposition, or habit of the agent _passing into an
overt act_, which, so far as it can, produces certain consequences. A
"mere" motive which does not do anything, which makes nothing different,
is not a genuine motive at all, and hence is not a voluntary act. On the
other hand, consequences which are not intended, which are not
personally wanted and chosen and striven for, are no part of a voluntary
act. _Neither the inner apart from the outer, nor the outer apart from
the inner, has any voluntary or moral quality at all. The former is mere
passing sentimentality or reverie; the latter is mere accident or luck._

=Tendency of Each Theory to Pass into the Other.=--Hence each theory,
realizing its own onesidedness, tends inevitably to make concessions,
and to borrow factors from its competitor, and thus insensibly to bridge
the gap between them. Consequences are emphasized, but only _foreseen_
consequences; while to _foresee_ is a mental act whose exercise depends
upon character. It is disposition, interest, which leads an agent to
estimate the consequences at their true worth; thus an upholder of the
"content" theory ends by falling back upon the _attitude_ taken in
forecasting and weighing results. In like fashion, the representative of
the motive theory dwells upon the tendency of the motive to bring about
certain effects. The man with a truly benevolent disposition is not the
one who indulges in indiscriminate charity, but the one who considers
the effect of his gift upon its recipient and upon society. While
lauding the motive as the sole bearer of moral worth, the motive is
regarded as a force working towards the production of certain _results_.
When the "content" theory recognizes disposition as an inherent factor
in bringing about consequences, and the "attitude" theory views motives
as forces tending to effect consequences, an approximation of each to
the other has taken place which almost cancels the original opposition.
It is realized that a complete view of the place of motive in a
voluntary act will conceive motive as a motor force; as inspiring to
action which will inevitably produce certain results unless this is
prevented by superior external force. It is also realized that only
_those_ consequences are any part of voluntary behavior which are so
congenial to character as to appeal to it as good and stir it to effort
to realize them. _We may begin the analysis of a voluntary act at
whichever end we please, but we are always carried to the other end in
order to complete the analysis._ The so-called distinction between the
"inner" and "outer" parts of an act is in reality a distinction between
the _earlier_ and the _later_ period of its development.

In the following chapter we shall enter upon a direct discussion of the
relation of conduct and character to one another; we shall then apply
the results of the discussion, in successive chapters, to the problems
already raised: The Nature of Good; of Knowledge; of Moral Authority;
The Relation of the Self to Others and Society; The Characteristics of
the Virtuous Self.


Many of the references in ch. xi. trench upon this ground. Compare,
also, Lecky, _History of European Morals_, Vol. I., pp. 1-2, and
122-130; Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_, pp. 6-11, 77-88 and 494-507;
Wundt, _Ethics_, Vol. II., ch. iv.; Mackenzie, _Manual of Ethics_, Book
II., ch. ii.; Murray, _Introduction to Ethics_, p. 143; Paulsen, _System
of Ethics_, Introduction, and Book II., ch. i.


[110] Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_, Vol. I., p. 46, and p. 30.
(Italics not in original.)

[111] Green, _Prolegomena to Ethics_, p. 354.

[112] Hegel's _Philosophy of Right_, translated by Dyde, Part III., 150
(p. 159).

[113] Hegel's _Philosophy of Right_, translated by Dyde, Part III., 258
(p. 241).

[114] _Werke_, Book I., 389.

[115] The Greek words [Greek: êdonê], pleasure, and [Greek: eudaimonia],
happiness. The latter conception is due chiefly to Aristotle. Happiness
is, however, a good translation only when taken very vaguely. The Greek
term has a peculiar origin which influenced its meaning.

[116] The differences as regards self and society will be considered in
later chapters.

[117] For similar reasons, the "content" theories tend to ally
themselves with the positive sciences; the "attitude" theories with
philosophy as distinct from sciences.

[118] "Suppose that picking a man's pocket excited in him joyful
emotions, by brightening his prospects, would theft be counted among

[119] Mill in his _Autobiography_ has given a striking account of how
this phase of Utilitarianism appealed to him. (See pp. 65-67 of London
edition of 1874; see also his _Dissertations and Discussions_, Vol. I.,
Essay on Bentham, especially pp. 339 and ff.) Bentham "introduced into
morals and politics those habits of thought, and modes of investigation,
which are essential to the idea of science; and the absence of which
made these departments of inquiry, as physics had been before Bacon, a
field of interminable discussion, leading to no result. It was not his
_opinions_, in short, but his _method_, that constituted the novelty and
value of what he did.... Bentham's method may be shortly described as
the method of _detail_.... Error lurks in generalities."

Mill finally says: "He has thus, it is not too much to say, for the
first time introduced precision of thought in moral and political
philosophy. Instead of taking up their opinions by intuition, or by
ratiocination from premises adopted on a mere rough view, and couched in
language so vague that it is impossible to say exactly whether they are
true or false, philosophers are now forced to understand one another, to
break down the generality of their propositions, and join a precise
issue in every dispute. This is nothing less than a revolution in
philosophy." In view of the character of the larger amount of
discussions in moral and political philosophy still current, Mill
perhaps took a too optimistic view of the extent to which this
"revolution" had been accomplished.



=Problem of Chapter.=--We have endeavored in the preceding chapters (1)
to identify the sort of situation in which the ideas of good and evil,
right and wrong, in their moral sense, are employed; (2) to set forth
the typical problems that arise in the analysis of this situation; and
(3) to name and describe briefly the types of theory which have
developed in the course of the history of the problems. We have now to
return to the moral situation as described, and enter upon an
independent analysis of it. We shall commence this analysis, as was
indicated in the last chapter, by considering the question of the
relation of attitude and consequences to each other in voluntary
activity,--not that this is the only way to approach the problem, but
that it is the way which brings out most clearly the points at issue
among types of moral theory which since the early part of the nineteenth
century have had the chief currency and influence. Accordingly the
discussion will be introduced by a statement of the two most extreme
doctrines that separate the "inner" and the "outer," the "psychical" and
the "overt" aspects of activity: _viz._, the Kantian, exclusively
emphasizing the "how," the spirit, and motive of conduct; the
Utilitarian, dwelling exclusively upon its "what," its effects and
consequences. Our positive problem is, of course, by means of arraying
these two extreme views against each other, to arrive at a statement of
the mutual relations of attitude and act, motive and consequence,
character and conduct.

We shall begin with Kant as a representative of the attitude theory.


Kant says:

    "Nothing can possibly be conceived, in the world or out of it,
    which can be called Good without qualification, except a Good
    Will. Intelligence, wit, judgment, and the other talents of the
    mind, however they may be named, or courage, resolution,
    perseverance as qualities of temperament are individually good and
    desirable in many respects; but these gifts of nature may also
    become extremely bad and mischievous, if the will which is to make
    use of them and which, therefore, constitutes what is called
    character, is not good. It is the same with the gifts of fortune.
    Power, riches, honor, even health ... inspire pride and often
    presumption if there is not a Good Will to correct the influence
    of these on the mind. Moderation of the affections and passions,
    self-control and calm deliberation are not only good in many
    respects, but even seem to constitute part of the intrinsic worth
    of the person; but they are far from deserving to be called good
    without qualification ... for without the principles of a good
    will they may become extremely bad. The coolness of a villain
    makes him both more dangerous and more abominable" (Kant: _Theory
    of Ethics_, tr. by Abbott, pp. 9-10).

=Element of Truth in Statement.=--There can be no doubt that in some
respects these ideas of Kant meet a welcome in our ordinary convictions.
Gifts of fortune, talents of mind, qualities of temperament, are
regarded as desirable, as good, but we qualify the concession. We say
they are good, if a good use is made of them; but that, administered by
a bad character, they add to power for evil. Moreover, Kant's statement
of the _intrinsic_ goodness of the Good Will, "A jewel which shines by
its own light" (_Ibid._, p. 10), awakens ready response in us. Some
goods we regard as means and conditions--health, wealth, business, and
professional success. They afford moral opportunities and agencies, but
need not possess moral value in and of themselves; when they become
parts, as they may, of a moral good, it is because of their place and
context. Personality, character, has a dignity of its own, which forbids
that it be considered a simple means for the acquisition of other goods.
The man who makes his good character a simple tool for securing
political preferment, is, we should say, prostituting and so destroying
his own goodness.

=Ambiguity of Statement.=--The statement made by Kant, however, is
ambiguous and open to opposed interpretations. The notion that the Good
Will is good in and of itself may be interpreted in two different ways:
(i) We may hold, for example, that honesty is good as a trait of will
because it tends inevitably to secure a desirable relationship among
men; it removes obstructions between persons and keeps the ways of
action clear and open. Every man can count upon straightforward action
when all act from honesty; it secures for each singleness of aim and
concentration of energy. (ii) But we may also mean that honesty is
absolutely good as a trait of character just in and by itself, quite
apart from any influence this trait of character has in securing and
promoting desirable ends. In one case, we emphasize its goodness because
it arranges for and tends towards certain results; in the other case, we
ignore the factor of tendency toward results.

=Kant's Interpretation of Goodness of Will is Formal.=--Kant's further
treatment leaves us in no doubt in which of these two senses he uses the
term Good Will. He goes on (_Ibid._, p. 10):

    "A Good Will is good, not because of what it performs or effects,
    _not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end_, but
    simply by virtue of the volition; that is, it is good in
    itself.... Even if it should happen that, owing to the special
    disfavor of fortune, or the niggardly provision of a stepmotherly
    nature, this will should wholly lack power to accomplish its
    purpose, if with its greatest efforts it should yet achieve
    nothing, and there should remain only the Good Will (not, to be
    sure, a mere wish, but the assuming of all means in our power),
    then, like a jewel, it would still shine by its own light as a
    thing which has its whole value in itself. Its fruitfulness or
    fruitlessness can neither add nor take away anything from this

And again he says:

    "An action ... derives its moral worth not from the _purpose_
    which is to be attained by it, but from the maxim by which it is
    determined and therefore depends ... merely on the principle of
    volition by which the action has taken place, without regard to
    any _object of desire_.... The purposes which we may have in view
    in our actions or their effect regarded as ends and springs of
    will cannot give the actions an unconditional or moral worth....
    It cannot lie anywhere but in the principle of the Will, without
    regard to the ends which can be attained by the action" (_Ibid._,
    p. 16).

=Relation of Endeavor and Achievement to Will.=--Here, also, we find a
certain agreement with our every-day moral experience. It is undoubtedly
true that in many cases we ascribe moral worth or goodness to acts
without reference to the results actually attained by them; a man who
tries to rescue a drowning child is not judged only on the basis of
success. If he is prevented, because he is crippled, or because the
current is too rapid for him, we do not refuse hearty moral approbation.
We do not judge the goodness of the act or of the agent from the
standpoint of its attained result, which here is failure. We regard the
man as good because he proposed to himself a worthy end or aim, the
rescue of another, even at the risk of harm to himself. We should agree
with Kant in saying that the moral worth does not depend on the
_realization_ of the object of desire. But we should regard the worth of
the man to consist precisely in the fact that, so far as he was
concerned, he _aimed at a good result_. We do not rule out purpose, but
we approve because the purpose was good. By will we mean tendencies,
desires, and habits operating to realize results regarded as desirable.
Will is not the _sole_ condition of reaching a result--that is, of
making the aim an actual fact. Circumstances need to coöperate to insure
a successful issue; and if these fail, the best will in the world cannot
secure the transformation of desire for an end into that end. We know
that sometimes it is only by accident that the desirable end is not
effected, but we also know that without the proper disposition it is
only by accident that the results _are_ achieved. Moreover, we know that
our own attitude is not only an important condition of securing the
results, but that it is the only condition _constantly_ under our
control. What we mean by calling it "ours" is precisely that it is that
condition whose operation lies with us. Accordingly, it is the key and
clue to the results, so far as they concern us. So far, given desire and
endeavor, achievement is not necessary to volition.

="Meaning Well."=--On the other hand, can a man justify himself on the
ground that he "means well," if the "meaning well" does not _regulate
the overt acts_ that he performs, and hence the consequences that
proceed from them? Are we not justified in suspecting a person's good
faith when his good intentions uniformly bring suffering to others? If
we do not question his good faith, do we not regard him as needing moral
enlightenment, and a change of disposition? We distinguish in our
judgments of good between the fanatic and the thoroughly selfish man,
but we do not carry this distinction to the point of approving the
fanatic; of saying, "Let him alone; he means well, he has a good will,
he is actuated by a sense of duty." On the contrary, we condemn his
aims; and in so far we censure him for willingly entertaining ans
approving them. We may, indeed, approve of his character with respect to
its sincerity, singleness of aim, and its thoroughness of effort, for
such things, _taken by themselves_, or in the abstract, are good traits
of character. We esteem them highly, however, just because they have so
much to do with results; they are, _par excellence_, executive traits.
But we do not approve of the man's whole character in approving these
traits. There is something the matter with the man in whom good traits
are put to a bad use. It is not true in such cases that we approve the
_agent_ but condemn his _acts_. We approve certain phases of conduct,
and in so far regard the doer as praiseworthy; we condemn other features
of acts, and in so far disapprove him.[120]

=Overt Action Proves Will.=--Again, under what circumstances do we
actually "take the will for the deed"? When do we assume that so far as
the will was concerned it did aim at the result and aimed at it
thoroughly, without evasion and without reservation? Only when there is
_some_ action which testifies to the real presence of the motive and
aim.[121] The man, in our earlier instance, must have made some effort
to save the drowning child to justify either us or himself in believing
that he _meant_ to do it; that he had the right intent. The individual
who habitually justifies himself (either to others or to himself) by
insisting upon the rightness of his motives, lays himself open to a
charge of self-deception, if not of deliberate hypocrisy, if there are
no outward evidences of effort towards the realization of his pretended
motive. A habitually careless child, when blamed for some disorder or
disturbance, seeks to excuse himself by saying he "didn't mean to":
i.e., he had no intention or aim; the results did not flow morally from
him. We often reply, in effect, "that is just the trouble; you didn't
mean at all; you ought to have meant _not_ to do this." In other words,
if you had thought about what you were doing you would not have done
this and would not have brought about the undesirable results. With
adults there is such a thing as culpable carelessness and blameworthy
negligence. So far as the individual's conscious will was concerned,
everything he deliberately intended may have been entirely praiseworthy;
but we blame him because his character was such that the end appropriate
to the circumstances did not occur to him. We do not disapprove when the
failure to think of the right purpose is due to inexperience or to lack
of intellectual development; but we do blame when the man does not
employ his attained experience and intellectual capacity. Given these
factors, if the right end is not thought of or is quickly dismissed,
indisposition is the only remaining explanation. These two facts, that
we require effort or evidence of sincerity of good will and that the
character is disapproved for _not_ entertaining certain aims, are
sufficient to prove that we do not identify will and motive with
something which has nothing to do with "aptness for attaining ends."
Will or character _means intelligent forethought of ends and resolute
endeavor to achieve them_. It cannot be conceived apart from _ends_
purposed and desired.


=Emphasis of Utilitarians upon Ends.=--We are brought to the opposite
type of moral theory, the utilitarian, which finds moral quality to
reside in consequences, that is to say, in the ends achieved. To the
utilitarians, motive means simply certain states of consciousness which
happen to be uppermost in a man's mind as he acts. Not this subjective
feeling existing only in the inner consciousness, but the external
outcome, the objective change which is made in the common world, is
what counts. If we can get the act done which produces the right sort of
changes, which brings the right kind of result to the various persons
concerned, it is irrelevant and misleading to bother with the private
emotional state of the doer's mind. Murder would be none the less murder
even if the consciousness of the killer were filled with the most
maudlin sentiments of general philanthropy; the rescue of a drowning man
would be none the less approvable even if we happened to know that the
consciousness of the rescuer were irritable and grumpy while he was
performing the deed. Acts, not feelings, count, and acts mean changes
actually effected.[122]

=Distinction of Intention from Motive.=--The utilitarians make their
point by distinguishing between intention and motive, attributing moral
value exclusively to the former. According to them, intention is _what_
a man means to do; motive is the personal frame of mind which indicates
_why_ he means to do it. Intention is the concrete aim, or purpose; the
results which are foreseen and wanted. Motive is the state of mind which
renders these consequences, rather than others, interesting and
attractive. The following quotations are typical. Bentham says
concerning motives:

    "If they are good or bad, it is only on account of their effects:
    good, on account of their tendency to produce pleasure, or avert
    pain: bad, on account of their tendency to produce pain, or avert
    pleasure. Now the case is, that from one and the same motive, and
    from every kind of motive, may proceed actions that are good,
    others that are bad, and others that are indifferent."

Consequently the question of motive is totally irrelevant. He goes on to
give a long series of illustrations, from which we select one:

    "1. A boy, in order to divert himself, reads an inspiring book;
    the motive is accounted, perhaps, a good one: at any rate, not a
    bad one. 2. He sets his top a-spinning: the motive is deemed at
    any rate not a bad one. 3. He sets loose a mad ox among a crowd:
    his motive is now, perhaps, termed an abominable one. Yet in all
    three cases the motive may be the very same: it may be neither
    more nor less than curiosity."[123] Mill writes to the following
    effect: "The morality of the action depends entirely upon the
    _intention_----that is, upon _what_ the agent wills to do. But the
    motive, that is, the feeling which made him will so to do, when it
    makes no difference in the act, makes none in the morality."[124]

Now if motives were merely inert feelings or bare states of
consciousness happening to fill a person's mind apart from his desires
and his ideas, they certainly would not modify his acts, and we should
be compelled to admit the correctness of this position. But Mill gives
the whole case away when he says that the motive which makes a man will
something, "_when it makes no difference in the act_," makes none in its
morality. Every motive does make a difference in the act; it makes
precisely the difference between one act and another. It is a
contradiction in terms to speak of the motive as that _which makes a
man_ will to do an act or intend to effect certain consequences, and
then speak of the motive making no difference to the act! How can that
which makes an intention make no difference to it, and to the act which
proceeds from it?

=Concrete Identity of Motive and Intention.=--Ordinary speech uses
motive and intention interchangeably. It says, indifferently, that a
man's motive in writing a letter was to warn the person addressed or was
friendliness. According to Bentham and Mill, only so-called states of
consciousness in which one feels friendly can be called motive; the
object aimed at, the warning of the person, is intention, not motive.
Again ordinary speech says either that a doctor's intention was to
relieve his patient, or that it was kind and proper, although the act
turned out badly. But the utilitarians would insist that only the first
usage is correct, the latter confounding intent with motive. In general,
such large terms as ambition, revenge, benevolence, patriotism, justice,
avarice, are used to signify both motives and aims; both dispositions
_from_ which one acts and results _for_ which one acts. It is the gist
of the following discussion that common speech is essentially correct in
this interchangeable use of intention and motive. The same set of real
facts, _the entire voluntary act_, is pointed to by both terms.

=Ambiguity in Term "Feelings."=--There is a certain ambiguity in the
term "feelings" as employed by Mill and Bentham. It may mean feelings
apart from ideas, blind and vague mental states unenlightened by
thought, propelling and impelling tendencies undirected by either memory
or anticipation. Feelings then mean sheer instincts or impulses. In this
sense, they are, as Bentham claims, without moral quality. But also in
this sense there are no intentions with which motives may be contrasted.
So far as an infant or an insane person is impelled by some blind
impulsive tendency, he foresees nothing, has no object in view, means
nothing, in his act; he acts without premeditation and intention.
"Curiosity" of this sort may be the source of acts which are harmful or
useful or indifferent. But no consequences were intelligently foreseen
or deliberately wished for, and hence the acts in question lie wholly
outside the scope of morals, even according to the utilitarian point of
view. Morality is a matter of intent, and intent there was none.

=Motive as Intelligent.=--In some cases, then, motives have no moral
quality whatsoever, and, _in these cases_, it is true that intention has
no moral quality either, because there is none. Intention and motive
are morally on the same level, not opposed to one another. But motive
means not only blind feeling, that is, impulse without thought; it also
means a tendency which is aware of its own probable outcome when carried
into effect, and which is interested in the resulting effect. It is
perhaps conceivable that a child should let loose a bull in a crowd from
sheer innocent curiosity to see what would happen--just as he might pour
acid on a stone. But if he were a normal child, the next time the
impulse presented itself he would recall the previous result: the
fright, the damage, the injury to life and limb, and would foresee that
similar consequences are likely to happen if he again performs a like
act. He now has what Bentham and Mill call an intention. Suppose he
again lets loose the bull. Only verbally is motive now the same that it
was before. In fact, curiosity is a very different thing. If the child
is still immature and inexperienced and unimaginative, we might content
ourselves with saying that his motive is egoistic amusement; but we may
also say it is downright malevolence characteristic of a criminal. In no
case should we call it curiosity. When foresight enters, intent, purpose
enters also, and with it a change of motive from innocent, because
blind, impulse, to deliberate, and hence to virtuous or blameworthy
interest in effecting a certain result. Intention and motive are upon
the same moral level. Intention is the _outcome_ foreseen and wanted;
motive, this outcome _as_ foreseen and wanted. But the voluntary act, as
such, is an _outcome, forethought and desired_, and hence attempted.

This discussion brings out the positive truth for which Bentham and Mill
stand: _viz._, that _the moral quality of any impulse or active tendency
can be told only by observing the sort of consequences to which it leads
in actual practice_. As against those who insist that there are certain
feelings in human nature so sacred that they do not need to be measured
or tested by noting the consequences which flow from them, so sacred
that they justify an act _no matter what its results_, the utilitarians
are right. It is true, as Bentham says, that if motives are good or bad
it is on account of their effects. Hence we must be constantly
considering the effects of our various half-impulsive, half-blind,
half-conscious, half-unconscious motives, in order to find out what sort
of things they are--whether to be approved and encouraged, or
disapproved and checked.

=Practical Importance of Defining Springs to Action by Results.=--This
truth is of practical as well as of theoretical significance. Many have
been taught that certain emotions are inherently so good that they are
absolutely the justification of certain acts, so that the individual is
absolved from any attention whatsoever to results. Instance "charity,"
or "benevolence." The belief is engrained that the emotion of pity, of
desire to relieve the sufferings of others, is intrinsically noble and
elevating. Hence it has required much discussion and teaching to bring
home, even partially, the evils of indiscriminate giving. The fact is
that pity, sympathy, apart from forecast of specific results to be
reached by acting upon it, is a mere psychological reaction, as much so
as is shrinking from suffering, or as is a tendency to run away from
danger; in this blind form it is devoid of any moral quality whatsoever.
Hence to teach that the feeling is good in itself is to make its mere
discharge an end in itself. This is to overlook the evil consequences in
the way of fraud, laziness, inefficiency, parasitism produced in others,
and of sentimentality, pride, self-complacency produced in the self.
There is no doubt that the effect of some types of moral training is to
induce the belief that an individual may develop goodness of character
simply by cultivating and keeping uppermost in his consciousness certain
types of feelings, irrespective of the objective results of the acts
they lead to--one of the most dangerous forms of hypocrisy and of
weakened moral fiber. The insistence of utilitarianism that we must
become aware of the moral quality of our impulses and states of mind on
the basis of the results they effect, and must control them--no matter
how "good" they feel--by their results, is a fundamental truth of

=Existence and Influence of Idea of Consequences Depends upon
Disposition.=--But the converse is equally true. Behind every concrete
purpose or aim, as idea or thought of results, lies something, some
passion, instinct, impulse, habit, interest, which gives it a hold on
the person, which gives it motor and impelling force; and which confers
upon it the capacity to operate as motive, as spring to action.
Otherwise, foreseen consequences would remain mere intellectual entities
which thought might speculatively contemplate from afar, but which would
never possess weight, influence, power to stir effort. But we must go
further. Not only is some active tendency in the constitution of the man
responsible for the motive power, whether attractive or otherwise, which
foreseen consequences possess, but it is responsible for the fact that
this rather than that consequence is suggested. A man of consistently
amiable character will not be likely to have thoughts of cruelty to
weigh and to dismiss; a man of greed will be likely to have thoughts of
personal gain and acquisition constantly present to him. What an
individual is interested in occurs to him; what he is indifferent to
does not present itself in imagination or lightly slips away. Active
tendencies, personal attitudes, are thus in the end the determining
causes of our having certain intentions in mind, as well as the causes
of their active or moving influence. As Bentham says, motives _make_

=Influence of Interest on Ideas.=--"Purpose is but the slave of memory."
We can anticipate this or that only as from past experience we can
construct it. But recall, re-membering (rearticulation) is selective. We
pick out certain past results, certain formerly experienced results, and
we ignore others. Why? Because of our present interests. We are
interested in this or that, and accordingly it comes to mind and dwells
there; or it fails to appear in recollection, or if appearing, is
quickly dismissed. It is important that the things from the past, which
are relevant to our present activity, should come promptly to mind and
find fertile lodgment, and character decides how this happens.

Says James:[125]

    "What constitutes the difficulty for a man laboring under an
    unwise passion acting as if the passion were unwise?... The
    difficulty is mental; it is that of getting the idea of the wise
    action to stay before our mind at all. When any strong emotional
    state whatever is upon us the tendency is for no images but such
    as are congruous with it to come up. If others by chance offer
    themselves, they are instantly smothered and crowded out.... By a
    sort of self-preserving instinct which our passion has, it feels
    that these chill objects [the thoughts of what is disagreeable to
    the passion] if they once but gain a lodgment, will work and work
    until they have frozen the very vital spark from out of all our
    mood.... Passion's cue accordingly is always and everywhere to
    prevent their still small voice from being heard at all."

This quotation refers to a strong passion. It is important to note _that
every interest, every emotion, of whatever nature or strength, works in
precisely the same way_. Upon this hangs the entertaining of memories
and ideas about things. Hence interest is the central factor in the
development of any concrete intention, both as to what it is and as to
what it is not--that is, what the aim would have been if the emotional
attitude had been different. Given a certain emotional attitude, and the
consequences which are pertinent to it are thought of, while other and
equally probable consequences are ignored. A man of a truly kindly
disposition is sensitive to, aware of, probable results on other
people's welfare; a cautious person sees consequences with reference to
his own standing; an avaricious man feels results in terms of the
probable increase or decrease of his possessions; and so on. The
intimate relation of interest and attention forms the inseparable tie of
intention, _what_ one will, to motive, _why_ he so wills. When Bentham
says that "Motives are the causes of intentions," he states the fact,
and also reveals motive as the proper final object of moral judgment.


The discussion enables us to place conduct and character in relation to
each other. Mill, after the passage already quoted (see above, p. 248),
to the effect that motive makes no difference to the morality of the
act, says it "makes a great difference in our moral estimation of the
_agent_, especially if it indicates a good or a bad habitual
_disposition_--a bent of character from which useful, or from which
hurtful, actions are likely to arise." To like effect Bentham:

    "Is there nothing, then," he asks,[126] "about a man which can be
    termed good or bad, when on such or such an occasion, he suffers
    himself to be governed by such and such a motive? Yes, certainly,
    his _disposition_. Now disposition is a kind of fictitious
    entity,[127] feigned for the convenience of discourse, in order
    to express what there is supposed to be _permanent_ in a man's
    frame of mind, where, on such or such an occasion, he has been
    influenced by such or such a motive, to engage in an act, which,
    as it appeared to him, was of such or such a tendency." He then
    goes on to say that disposition is good or bad according to its
    effects. "A man is said to be of a mischievous[128] disposition,
    when by the influence of no matter what motives, he is _presumed_
    to be more apt to engage, or form intentions of engaging, in acts
    which are _apparently_ of a pernicious tendency than in such as
    are apparently of a beneficial tendency: of a meritorious or
    beneficent disposition in the opposite case."[129] And again: "It
    is evident that the nature of a man's disposition must depend upon
    the nature of the motives he is apt to be influenced by; in other
    words, upon the degree of his sensibility to the force of such and
    such motives. For his disposition is, as it were, the sum of his
    intentions.... Now, intentions, like everything else, are produced
    by the things that are their causes: _and the causes of intentions
    are motives_. If, on any occasion, a man forms either a good or a
    bad intention, it must be by the influence of some motive."[130]

=Rôle of Character.=--Here we have an explicit recognition of the
fundamental rôle of character in the moral life; and also of why it is
important. Character is that body of active tendencies and interests in
the individual which make him open, ready, warm to certain aims, and
callous, cold, blind to others, and which accordingly habitually tend to
make him acutely aware of and favorable to certain sorts of
consequences, and ignorant of or hostile to other consequences. A
selfish man need not consciously think a great deal of himself, nor need
he be one who, after deliberately weighing his own claims and others'
claims, consciously and persistently chooses the former. The number of
persons who after facing the entire situation, would still be
anti-social enough deliberately to sacrifice the welfare of others is
probably small. But a man will have a selfish and egoistic character
who, irrespective of any such conscious balancing of his own and others'
welfare, is habitually more accessible to the thought of those
consequences which affect himself than he is to those which bear upon
others. It is not so much that _after_ thinking of the effect upon
others he declines to give these thoughts any weight, as that he
habitually fails to think at all, or to think in a vivid and complete
way, of the interests of others. As we say, he does not care; he does
not consider, or regard, others.[131]

=Partial and Complete Intent.=--To Mill's statement that morality
depends on intention not upon motive, a critic objected that on this
basis a tyrant's act in saving a man from drowning would be good--the
intent being rescue of life--although his motive was abominable, namely
cruelty, for it was the reservation of the man for death by torture.
Mill's reply is significant. Not so, he answered; there is in this case
a difference of intention, not merely of motive. The rescue was not the
whole act, but "only the necessary first step of an act." This answer
will be found to apply to every act in which a superficial analysis
would seem to make intent different in its moral significance from
motive. Take into account the remote consequences in view as well as the
near, and the seeming discrepancy disappears. The intent of rescuing a
man and the motive of cruelty are both descriptions of the same act, the
same moral reality; the difference lying not in the fact, but in the
point of view from which it is named. Now there is in every one a
tendency to fix in his mind only a part of the probable consequences of
his deed; the part which is most innocent, upon which a favorable
construction may most easily be put, or which is temporarily most
agreeable to contemplate. Thus the person concentrates his thought, his
forecast of consequences upon external and indifferent matters, upon
distribution of commodities, increase of money or material resources,
and upon positively valuable results, at the expense of other
changes----changes for the worse in his disposition and in the
well-being and freedom of others. Thus he causes to stand out in strong
light all of those consequences of his activity which are beneficial and
right, and dismisses those of another nature to the dim recesses of
consciousness, so they will not trouble him with scruples about the
proper character of his act. Since consequences are usually more or less
mixed, such half-conscious, half-unconscious, half-voluntary,
half-instinctive selection easily becomes a habit. Then the individual
excuses himself with reference to the actual bad results of his behavior
on the ground that he "meant well," his "intention was good"! Common
sense disposes of this evasion by recognizing the reality of "willing."
We say a man is "willing" to have things happen when, in spite of the
fact that in and of themselves they are objectionable and hence would
not be willed in their isolation, they are consented to, because they
are bound up with something else the person wants. And to be "willing"
to have the harm follow is really to will it. _The agent intends or
wills all those consequences which his prevailing motive or character
makes him willing under the circumstances to accept or tolerate._

Exactly the same point comes out from the side of motive. Motives are
complex and "mixed"; ultimately the motive to an act is that _entire_
character of an agent on account of which one alternative set of
possible results appeal to him and stir him. Such motives as pure
benevolence, avarice, gratitude, revenge, are abstractions; we name the
motive from the _general trend of the issue_, ignoring contributing and
indirect causes. All _assigned_ motives are more or less _post-mortem_
affairs. No _actuating_ motive is ever as simple as reflection
afterwards makes it. But the justification of the simplification is that
it brings to light some factor which needs further attention. No one can
read his own motives, much less those of another, with perfect
accuracy;--though the more sincere and transparent the character the
more feasible is the reading. Motives which are active in the depths of
character present themselves only obscurely and subconsciously. Now if
one has been trained to think that motive apart from intention, apart
from view of consequences flowing from an act, is the source and
justification of its morality, a false and perverse turn is almost sure
to be given to his judgment. Such a person fosters and keeps uppermost
in the focus of his perceptions certain states of feeling, certain
emotions which he has been taught are good; and then excuses his act, in
face of bad consequences, on the ground that it sprang from a good
motive. Selfish persons are always being "misunderstood." Thus a man of
naturally buoyant and amiable disposition may unconsciously learn to
cultivate superficially certain emotions of "good-feeling" to others,
and yet act in ways which, judged by consequences that the man might
have foreseen if he had chosen to, are utterly hostile to the interests
of others. Such a man may feel indignant when accused of unjust or
ungenerous behavior, and calling others to account for uncharitableness,
bear witness in his own behalf that he never entertained any "feelings"
of unkindness, or any "feelings" except those of benevolence, towards
the individual in question.[132] Only the habit of reading "motives" in
the light of persistent, thorough, and minute attention to the
consequences which flow from them can save a man from such moral error.


=Subjective and Objective Morality.=--Finally we may discuss the point
at issue with reference to the supposed distinction between subjective
and objective morality--an agent may be good and his act bad or
_vice-versa_. Both of the schools which place moral quality either in
attitude or in content, in motive or intent independently of each other,
agree in making a distinction between the morality of an act and the
morality of the agent--between objective and subjective morality.[133]
Thus, as we have seen, Mill says the motive makes a difference in our
moral estimate of its doer, even when it makes none in our judgment of
his action. It is a common idea that certain acts are right no matter
what the motive of the doer, even when done by one with a bad
disposition in doing them. There can be no doubt that there is a serious
difficulty in the facts themselves. Men actuated by a harsh and narrow
desire for industrial power or for wealth produce social benefits,
stimulate invention and progress, and raise the level of social life.
Napoleon was doubtless moved by vanity and vainglory to an extent
involving immense disregard of others' rights. And yet in jurisprudence,
civil arrangements, and education he rendered immense social service.
Again, the "conscientious man" is often guilty of bringing great evils
upon society. His very conviction of his own rightness may only add to
the intense vigor which he puts into his pernicious acts. Surely, we
cannot approve the conduct, although we are not entitled morally to
condemn the conscientious doer, who does "the best he knows"--or

=Moral Quality of Doer and Deed Proportionate.=--If we rule out
irrelevant considerations, we find that we never, without qualification,
invert our moral judgments of doer and deed. So far as we regard
Napoleon's actions as _morally_ good (not merely as happening to effect
certain desirable results) we give Napoleon credit for interest in
bringing about those results, _and in so far forth_, call him good.
Character, like conduct, is a highly complex thing. No human being is
all good or all bad. Even if we were sure that Napoleon was an
evil-minded man, our judgment is of him as evil _upon the whole_. Only
if we suppose him to be bad and only bad all the time is there the
opposition of evil character and good actions. We may believe that even
in what Napoleon did in the way of legal and civic reform he was
actuated by mixed motives--by vanity, love of greater, because more
centralized, power, etc. But these interests in and of themselves could
not have effected the results he accomplished. He must have had some
insight into a better condition of affairs, and this insight evidences
an interest in so far good. Moreover, so far as we judge Napoleon bad as
to his character and motive in these acts, we are entitled to hold that
the actions and also the outward results were also partially evil. That
is, while to some extent, socially beneficial, they would have been
still more so if Napoleon had been actuated by less self-centred
considerations. If his character had been simpler, more sincere, more
straightforward, then certain evil results, certain offsets to the good
he accomplished, would not have occurred. The mixture of good and evil
in the results and the mixture of good and evil in the motives are
proportionate to each other. Such is the conclusion when we recognize
the complexities of character and conduct, and do not allow ourselves
to be imposed upon by a fictitious simplicity of analysis.

=Summary.=--The first quality which is the object of judgment primarily
resides then in intention: in the consequences which are foreseen and
desired. Ultimately it resides in that disposition or characteristics of
a person which are responsible for his foreseeing and desiring just such
consequences rather than others. The ground for judging an act on the
basis of consequences not foreseen is that the powers of a man are not
fixed, but capable of modification and redirection. It is only through
taking into account in _subsequent_ acts consequences of _prior_ acts
not intended in those prior acts that the agent learns the fuller
significance of his own power and thus of himself. Every builder builds
other than he knows, whether better or worse. In no case, can he foresee
all the consequences of his acts.

In subsequent experience these results, mere by-products of the original
volition, enter in. "Outer" and non-moral for the original act, they are
within subsequent voluntary activity, because they influence desire and
make foresight more accurate in detail and more extensive in range. This
translation of consequences once wholly unforeseeable into consequences
which have to be taken in account is at its maximum in the change of
impulsive into intelligent action. But there is no act so intelligent
that its actual consequences do not run beyond its foreseen ones, and
thus necessitate a subsequent revision of intention. Thus the
distinction of "inner" and "outer" is one involved in the _growth of
character and conduct_. Only if character were not in process of change,
only if conduct were a fixed because isolated thing, should we have that
separation of the inner and the outer which underlies alike the Kantian
and the utilitarian theories. In truth, there is no separation, but only
a contrast of the different levels of desire and forethought of earlier
and later activities. The great need of the moral agent is thus a
character which will make him as open, as accessible as possible, to the
recognition of the consequences of his behavior.


On CONDUCT AND CHARACTER in general, see Paulsen, _System of Ethics_,
pp. 468-472; Mackenzie, _Manual of Ethics_, Book I., ch. iii.; Spencer,
_Principles of Ethics_, Part I., chs. i.-viii.; Green, _Prolegomena to
Ethics_, pp. 110-117, 152-159; Alexander, _Moral Order and Progress_,
pp. 48-52; Stephen, _Science of Ethics_, ch. ii.; Mezes, _Ethics_, ch.
iv.; Seth, _Ethical Principles_, ch. iii.

Upon MOTIVE AND INTENTION consult Bentham, _Principles of Morals and
Legislation_, chs. viii. and x.; James Mill, _Analysis of Human Mind_,
Vol. II., chs. xxii. and xxv.; Austin, _Jurisprudence_, Vol. I., chs.
xviii.-xx.; Green, _Prolegomena_, pp. 315-325; Alexander, _Moral Order
and Progress_, pp. 36-47; Westermarck, _Origin and Development of the
Moral Ideas_, chs. viii., xi., and xiii.; Ritchie, _International
Journal of Ethics_, Vol. IV., pp. 89-94, and 229-238, where farther
references are given.

Upon FORMAL AND MATERIAL (or subjective and objective) RIGHTNESS see
Sidgwick, _History of Ethics_, p. 200; Rickaby, _Moral Philosophy_, p.
3, pp. 33-40; Bowne, _Principles of Ethics_, pp. 39-40; Brown,
_Philosophy of Mind_, Vol. III., p. 489 and pp. 499-500; Paulsen,
_System of Ethics_, pp. 227-233; Green, _Prolegomena_, pp. 317-323;
Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_, pp. 206-207.


[120] When Kant says that the coolness of a villain makes him "more
dangerous and more abominable," it is suggested that it is more
abominable _because_ it is more dangerous--surely a statement of the
value of will in terms of the results it tends to effect.

[121] Kant's distinction between a mere wish, and "assuming all the
means in our power," appears to recognize this fact, but he does not
apply the fact in his theory.

[122] But, as we shall see, the utilitarians make finally a distinction
between ends _achieved_ and ends _attempted_.

[123] Bentham, _Principles of Morals and Legislation_, ch. x., § 3.

[124] Mill, _Utilitarianism_.

[125] _Psychology_, Vol. II., pp. 562-563. The whole passage, pp.
561-569, should be thoroughly familiar to every ethical student; and
should be compared with what is said in Vol. I., pp. 284-290, about the
selective tendency of feelings; and Vol. I., ch. xi., upon attention,
and Vol. I., pp. 515-522, upon discrimination.

Höffding, _Psychology_ (translated), is also clear and explicit with
reference to the influence of our emotions upon our ideas. (See
especially pp. 298-307.) The development of this fact in some of its
aspects is one of the chief traits of the Ethics of Spinoza.

[126] _Principles of Morals and Legislation_, ch. xi., § 1.

[127] Bentham does not mean "unreal" by a fictitious entity. According
to his logic, all general and abstract terms, all words designating
relations rather than elements, are "fictitious entities."

[128] By mischievous he means pernicious, bad, vicious, or even depraved
in extreme cases.

[129] _Ibid._, ch. xi., § 3.

[130] _Ibid._, §§ 27 and 28.

[131] The fact that common moral experience, as embodied in common
speech, uses such terms as "think of," "consider," "regard," "pay
attention to" (in such expressions as he is thoughtful of, considerate
of, regardful of, mindful of, attentive to, the interests of others) in
a way implying both the action of intelligence and of the affections, is
the exact counterpart of the interchangeable use, already mentioned, of
the terms intention and motive.

[132] In short, the way an individual favors himself in reading his own
motives is as much an evidence of his egoism as the way he favors
himself in outward action. Criminals can almost always assign "good"

[133] "Formally" and "materially" good or bad are terms also employed to
denote the same distinction. (See Sidgwick, _History of Ethics_, pp.
199-200; so Bowne, _Principles of Ethics_, pp. 39-40.) "The familiar
distinction between the formal and the material rightness of action: The
former depends upon the attitude of the agent's will towards his ideal
of right; the latter depends upon the harmony of the act with the laws
of reality and its resulting tendency to produce and promote
well-being." Bowne holds that both are necessary, while formal rightness
is ethically _more_ important, though not all important.



We have reached a conclusion as to our first inquiry (p. 201), and have
decided that the appropriate subject-matter of moral judgment is the
disposition of the person as manifested in the tendencies which cause
certain consequences, rather than others, to be considered and
esteemed--foreseen and desired. Disposition, motive, intent are then
judged good or bad according to the consequences they tend to produce.
But what are the consequences by which we determine anything to be good
or bad? We turn from the locus or residence of the distinctions of good
and bad to the nature of the distinctions themselves. What do good and
bad mean as terms of voluntary behavior?

=Happiness and Misery as the Good and Bad.=--There is one answer to this
question which is at once so simple and so comprehensive that it has
always been professed by some representative ethical theory: the good is
happiness, well-being, pleasure; the bad is misery, woe, pain.[134] The
agreeableness or disagreeableness attending consequences differentiates
them into good and bad; and it is because some deeds are found to lead
to pleasure, while others lead to pain, that they are adjudged virtuous
or vicious. In its modern form, this theory is known as utilitarianism.
Bentham has given it a sweeping and clear formulation.

    "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign
    masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what
    we ought to do as well as to determine what we shall do. On the
    one hand, the standard of right and wrong, on the other chain of
    causes and effects, are fastened to their throne."

    "Strictly speaking nothing can be said to be good or bad but
    either in itself, which is the case only with pain or pleasure; or
    on account of its effects, which is the case only with things that
    are the cause or preventive of pain or pleasure." Again: "By the
    principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or
    disapproves of every action whatever according to the tendency it
    appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party
    whose interests are in question."[135] Once more: "The greatest
    happiness of all those whose interest is in question is the right
    and proper, and the only right and proper and universally
    desirable end of human action." "Only on the basis of this
    principle do the words 'right and wrong' and 'ought' have an
    intelligent meaning as applied to actions; otherwise they have

This last statement need not mean, however, that all judgments of right
and wrong are as matter of fact derived from a consideration of the
results of action in the way of pain and pleasure, but that upon this
ground alone _should_ our judgments be formed, since upon this basis
alone can they be justified.[136]

=Axiomatic Identification of Good with Happiness.=--The principle that
happiness is the ultimate aim of human action and the ultimate standard
of the moral value of that action is generally regarded by the
utilitarians as axiomatic and not susceptible of proof. As Bentham says,
"that which is used to prove everything else cannot itself be proved. A
chain of proofs must have their commencement somewhere." So Bain says
(_Moral Science_, p. 27), "Now there can be no proof offered for the
position that happiness is the proper end of all human procedures, the
criterion of all right conduct. It is an ultimate or final assumption to
be tested by reference to the individual judgments of mankind." Thus
also Mill (_Utilitarianism_): "The only proof capable of being given
that an object is visible is that people actually see it. In like manner
the sole proof that it is possible to produce that anything is desirable
is that people do actually desire it."[137]

=Extreme Opposition to Happiness Theory.=--In striking contrast to this
view of the self-evident character of happiness as the all-desirable, is
the view of those to whom it is equally self-evident that to make
pleasure the end of action is destructive of all morality. Carlyle is an
interesting illustration of a violent reaction against utilitarianism.
His more moderate characterization of it is "mechanical profit and loss"
theory. It is "an upholstery and cookery conception of morals." It never
gets above the level of considerations of comfort and expediency. More
vehemently, it is a "pig philosophy" which regards the universe as a
"swine trough" in which virtue is thought of as the attainment of the
maximum possible quantity of "pig's wash." Again, apostrophizing man, he
says: "Art thou nothing else than a Vulture that flies through the
Universe seeking after Somewhat to eat; shrieking dolefully because
Carrion enough is not given thee?" Of the attempt to make general
happiness the end, he says it proposes the problem of "Given a world of
Knaves, to produce honesty from their united action," the term "knave"
referring to the individualistic self-seeking character of pleasure and
"honesty" to the social outcome desired. As a political theory, he
thought that utilitarianism subordinated justice to benevolence, and in
that light he referred to it as a "universal syllabub of philanthrophic

=Ambiguity in Notion of Happiness.=--If to some it is self-evident that
happiness is the aim of action, and success in achieving it the test
both of the act and the disposition from which it proceeds; while to
others it is equally obvious that such a view means immorality or at
least a base and sordid morality, it is reasonable to suppose that the
"happiness" does not mean the same to both parties; that there is some
fundamental ambiguity in the notion.

=Source of Ambiguity.=--The nature of this ambiguity may be inferred
from the fact that Bentham himself--and in this he is typical of all the
utilitarians--combines in his statement two aspects of happiness, or two
views of pleasure. He says it is for pleasure and pain alone to "_point
out what we ought to do_," that they are the only basis upon which our
judgments of right and wrong _ought_ to be formed, or upon which they
can be justified. Other things _may_ be taken as pointing out what we
ought to do; other standards of judgment--caprice, sympathy, dogma--are
employed. But they are not the right and proper ones. Consideration of
consequences of the act in the way of effect upon the happiness and
misery of all concerned, furnishes the only proper way of regulating the
formation of right ends. A certain happiness, that of results, is the
standard. But this presupposes that, in any case there is some end, and
one which may be improper because not in accord with the standard. Yet
this end also must be pleasure. Pleasure and pain "determine what we
_shall_ do," whether we act for the maximum of pleasures or not. The
"chain of causes" as well as the "standard of right" is fastened to
them. We act for pleasure, even when we do not act for the pleasures
for which we ought to act. Pleasure or happiness thus appears in a
double rôle. Only in the case of _right_ ends, is it the same happiness
which serves as a moving spring and as standard of judgment. In other
cases, it is one pleasure which is the end in view, and another
pleasure, one not in view, or at least not influencing action, which
measures rightness. The essence, so to speak, of a wrong act is
precisely that the pleasures which produce it are not these pleasures
which measure its goodness; the agent is not moved to act by those
pleasures and pains which as consequences settle its moral value, but by
some pleasure or pain which happens to be strongly felt at the moment of

=Two Sorts of Good.=--Thus, even from Bentham's point of view, there is
a difference between real and apparent happiness, between the good which
moves to action and that which, being the standard, should move. If the
end of _all_ acts is happiness and yet we require a consideration of
results to show us _what_ happiness we are justified in seeking, then
"happiness" is in a highly ambiguous position. While from one
standpoint, it furnishes the standard of right and wrong; from another,
it furnishes the moving spring of all wrong action; it is that which so
solicits and tempts us that we fail to employ the right standard for the
regulation of our action, and hence go astray. It seems to some (as to
Carlyle) that this distinction is so fundamental that it is absurd to
say that one and the same thing can be the standard of all right action
and the moving spring of all wrong action. Hence they insist upon the
fundamental opposition of virtue and happiness.

Moreover, from Bentham's own point of view, there is a difference
between the good which _first_ presents itself, which _first_ stirs
desire and solicits to action, and the good which being formed _after
and upon the basis of consideration of consequences_, is the _right_
good. In calling the latter the _right_, we mean that it has authority
over the end which first appears; and hence has supreme claim over
action. So it is again evident that we are using happiness in two quite
different senses; so that if we call the first end that presents itself
happiness, the right end will be something else; or if we call the
consequences which measure the worth of the act happiness, then the
first end ought to be called something else. If happiness is the
_natural_ end of all desire and endeavor, it is absurd to say that the
same happiness ought to be the end. If all objects fall to the ground
any way, we do not say they ought to fall. If all our acts are moved any
way by pleasure and pain, this fact, just because it applies equally to
all acts, throws no lights upon the rightness or wrongness of any one of
them. Or, on the other hand, if that for which we _should_ act is a kind
of happiness which involves full consideration of consequences, it is
misleading to call that happiness from which we act "blindly" or without
proper forethought.

If happiness is to be the same as the moral good, it must be after the
right kind of happiness has been distinguished; namely, that which
commends itself after adequate reflection. Our criticism of Bentham will
be directed to showing that, so far as he conceives of happiness as
simply a sum of pleasures alike in quality, but differing only in
quantity, he cannot make this distinction. As an early critic (Hazlitt)
of Bentham said: "Pleasure is that which is so in itself. Good is that
which approves itself on reflection, or the _idea_ of which is a source
of satisfaction. All pleasure is not, therefore (morally speaking),
equally a good; for all pleasure does not equally bear reflecting upon."
We shall further try to show that the reason for Bentham's conceiving
happiness as simply a sum of pleasures is that he falls into the error
already discussed, of separating consequences from the disposition and
capacities or active tendencies of the agent. And that, when we correct
this error, the proper meaning of happiness turns out to be the
satisfaction, realization, or fulfillment of some _purpose and power of
the agent_. Thus we can distinguish between the false and unsatisfactory
happiness found in the expression of a more or less isolated and
superficial tendency of the self, and the true or genuine good found in
the adequate fulfillment of a fundamental and fully related capacity. We
shall first take up the discussion under the heads just brought out: I.
Happiness _as the Natural End or Object of Desire_; II. Happiness _as
Standard of Judgment_.


=Hedonistic Theory of Desire.=--That phase of utilitarianism which holds
that the object of desire is pleasure, is termed hedonism, or sometimes
psychological hedonism to distinguish it from ethical hedonism, the
theory that pleasure is the standard for judging acts. The fundamental
fallacy of psychological hedonism has been well stated by Green to be
supposing that a desire can be aroused or created by the anticipation of
its own satisfaction--i.e., in supposing that the idea of the pleasure
of exercise arouses desire for it, when in fact the idea of exercise is
pleasant only if there be already some desire for it (Green,
_Prolegomena to Ethics_, p. 168). Given a desire already in existence,
the idea of an object which is thought of as satisfying that desire will
always arouse pleasure, or be thought of as pleasurable. But hedonism
fails to consider the radical difference between an object's arousing
pleasure, because it is regarded as satisfying desire, and the thought
of a pleasure arousing a desire:--although the feeling of agreeableness
may intensify the movement towards the object. A hungry man thinks of a
beefsteak as that which would satisfy his appetite; his thought is at
once clothed with an agreeable tone and the conscious force of the
appetite is correspondingly intensified; the miser thinks of gold in a
similar way; the benevolent of an act of charity, etc. But in each case
the presence of the pleasurable element is dependent upon the thought of
an object which is not pleasure--the beefsteak, the gold. The thought of
the object _precedes_ the pleasure and excites it because it is felt to
promise the satisfaction of a desire.

=Pleasure is the Felt Concomitant of Imagining a Desire Realized in Its
Appropriate Object.=--The object of desire is not pleasure, but some
object is pleasurable because it is the congenial terminus of desire.
The pleasure felt is a _present_ pleasure, the pleasure which _now_
accompanies the idea of the satisfied desire. It intensifies the desire
in its present character, through opposition to the disagreeable tone of
the experienced lack and want.

=1. Pleasures and Original Appetites.=--Biological instincts and
appetites exist not for the sake of furnishing pleasure, but as
activities needed to maintain life--the life of the individual and the
species. Their adequate fulfillment is attended with pleasure. Such is
the undoubted biological fact. Now if the animal be gifted with memory
and anticipation, this complicates the process, but does not change its
nature. The animal in feeling hungry may now consciously anticipate the
getting of food and may feel pleasure in the idea of food. The pleasure
henceforth attends not merely upon attained satisfaction of appetite,
but also upon appetite prior to satisfaction, so far as that anticipates
its future satisfaction. But desire is still for the object, for the
food. If the desire is healthy, it will not depend for its origin upon
the recollection of a prior pleasure; the animal does not happen to
recall that it got pleasure from food and thus arouse a desire for more
food. The desire springs up naturally from the state of the organism.
Only a jaded and unhealthy appetite has to whip itself up by recalling
previous pleasures. But if there are many obstacles and discouragements
in the way of getting the object which satisfies want, the anticipation
of pleasure in its fulfillment may normally intensify the putting forth
of energy, may give an extra reënforcement to flagging effort. In this
way, the anticipation of pleasure has a normal place in the effective
direction of activities. But in any case, the desire and its own object
are primary; the pleasure is secondary.

=2. Pleasure and Acquired Desires.=--The same point comes out even more
clearly when we take into account the so-called higher desires and
sentiments--those which usually enter into distinctively moral
questions. In these cases it is no longer a matter of the original
instincts and appetites of the organism. Their place is taken by
acquired habits and dispositions. The object of a benevolent desire is
the supplying of another's lack, or the increase of his good. The
pleasure which accompanies the doing of a kindness to others is not the
object, for the individual thinks of the kindly act as pleasure-giving
only because he already has a benevolent character which naturally
expresses itself in amiable desires. So far as he is not benevolent, the
act will appear repulsive rather than attractive to him; and if it is
done, it will be not from a benevolent desire, but from a cowardly or an
avaricious desire, the pleasure in that case attending the thought of
some other objective consequence, such as escaping unpopularity. In like
manner, the aim to behave honestly, or to obey the civil law, or to love
one's country, leads to dwelling upon the acts and objects in which
these desires and intents may be fulfilled; and those objects which are
thought of as affording fulfillment are necessarily put in a favorable
and attractive light--they are regarded as sources of happiness. To a
patriot the thought even of possible death may arouse a glow of
satisfaction as he thinks of this act as strengthening his country's
existence. But to suppose that this attendant pleasure is the aim and
object of desire is to put the cart before the horse.

=3. Happiness and Desire.=--All men, then, may be said to desire
happiness. But this happiness is not dependent upon prior experiences of
pleasure, which, coming up in memory, arouse desire and rivet attention
upon themselves. To say that the desire of a man is for happiness is
only to say that happiness comes in the fulfillment of desire, the
desires arising on their own account as expressions of a state of lack
or incompletion in which the person finds himself. Happiness thus
conceived _is dependent upon the nature of desire and varies with it,
while desire varies with the type of character_. If the desire is the
desire of an honest man, then the prosperous execution of some honorable
intent, the payment of a debt, the adequate termination of a trust, is
conceived as happiness, as good. If it be the desire of a profligate,
then entering upon the riotous course of living now made possible by
inheritance of property is taken as happiness--the one consummation
greatly to be wished. If we know what any person really finds desirable,
what he stakes his happiness upon, we can read his nature. In happiness,
as the anticipation of the satisfaction of desire, there is, therefore,
no sure or unambiguous quality; for it may be a token of good or of bad
character, according to the sort of object which appeals to the person.
The present joy found in the idea of the completion of a purpose cannot
be the object of desire, for we desire only things absent. But the joy
is a mark of the congruity or harmony of the thought of the object,
whatever it be--health, dissipation, miserliness, prodigality, conquest,
helpfulness--with the character of the agent. It is an evidence of the
moving force, the influence, the weight, of the conceived end; it
registers the extent in which the end is not a mere intellectual
abstraction, but is a _motive_ (see p. 252). But the moral worth of this
motive depends upon the character of the end in which the person finds
his satisfaction.

=4. Confusion of Future and Present Pleasure.=--It is the confusion of
_present_ pleasure, attendant upon the thought of an object as
satisfying desire, with the pleasure that _will come when the desire is
satisfied_, that accounts for the persistence of the idea that pleasure
is the object of desire. The fact that the object of desire is _now_
pleasurable is distorted into the statement that we _seek_ for an absent
pleasure.[138] A good illustration of the confusion is seen in the
following quotation:

    "The love of happiness must express the sole possible motive of
    Judas Iscariot and of his Master; it must explain the conduct of
    Stylites on his pillar or Tiberius at Capræ or à Kempis in his
    cell or of Nelson in the cockpit of the Victory. It must be
    equally good for saints and martyrs, heroes, cowards, debauchés,
    ascetics, mystics, misers, prodigals, men, women and babes in
    arms" (Leslie Stephen, _Science of Ethics_, p. 44).

This statement is true, as we have just seen, in the sense that
different persons find different things good in accordance with their
different characters or habitually dominant purposes; that each finds
his happiness in whatever he most sets his affections upon. Where a
man's heart is, there will his treasure be also, and where that is which
a man regards as treasure, there also is the heart. A man's character is
revealed by the objects which make him happy, whether anticipated or

=Our Ends are Our Happiness, Not a Means to It.=--But the fallacy is in
the words "love of happiness." They suggest that all alike are seeking
for some one and the same thing, some one thing labeled "happiness,"
identical in all cases, differing in the way they look for it--that
saints and martyrs, heroes and cowards, all have just the same objective
goal in view--if they only knew it! In so far as it is true that there
are certain fundamental conditions of the self which have to be
satisfied in order that there shall be a _true self and a true
satisfaction_, happiness is the same for all, and is the ultimate good
of all. But this holds only of the _standard_ of happiness which makes
any particular conception of happiness right or wrong, not to the
conceptions actually entertained. To say that all are consciously and
deliberately after the same happiness is to pervert the facts. Happiness
as standard means the genuine fulfillment of whatever is necessary to
the development and integrity of the self. In this sense, it is what men
_ought_ to desire; it is what they do desire so far as they understand
themselves and the conditions of their satisfaction. But as natural or
psychological end, it means that in which a man happens at a given time
to find delectation, depending upon his uppermost wishes and strongest
habits. Hence the objection which almost every one, including the
hedonists, feels to the statement that happiness is the conscious aim of
conduct. It suggests that the objects at which we ordinarily aim are not
sought for themselves, but for some ulterior gratification to ourselves.
In reality these ends, so far as they correspond to our capacity and
intention, _are_ our happiness. All men love happiness--yes, in the
sense that, having desires, they are interested in the objects in which
the desires may be realized, no matter whether they are worthy or
degraded. No; if by this be meant that happiness is something other than
and beyond the conditions in which the powers of the person are brought
out, and made effective; no, or if it means that all love that which
really will bring happiness.

=Necessity for Standard.=--As many sorts of character, so many sorts of
things regarded as satisfactory, as constitutive of good. Not all
anticipations when realized are what they were expected to be. The good
in prospect may be apples of Sodom, dust and ashes, in attainment. Hence
some ends, some forms of happiness, are regarded as unworthy, not as
"real" or "true." While they appeared to be happiness during the
expectancy of desire, they are not approved as such in later reflection.
Hence the demand for some standard good or happiness by which the
individual may regulate the formation of his desires and purposes so
that the present and the permanent good, the good in desire and in
reflection, will coincide--so that the individual will find that to be
satisfactory in his present view which will also permanently satisfy
him. From happiness as a conceived good we turn to happiness as
_rightly_ conceived good; from happiness as result to happiness as
standard. As before, we begin with the narrower utilitarian conception.


=Utilitarian Method.=--Hedonism means that pleasure is the end of human
action, because the end of desire. Utilitarianism or universalistic
hedonism holds that the pleasure of all affected is the standard for
judging the worth of action,--not that conduciveness to happiness is the
sole measure actually employed by mankind for judging moral worth, but
that it is the sole standard that should be employed. Many other tests
may actually be used, sympathy, prejudice, convention, caprice, etc.,
but "utility" is the one which will enable a person to judge _truly_
what is right or wrong in any proposed course of action. The method laid
down by Bentham is as follows: Every proposed act is to be viewed with
reference to its probable consequences in (a) _intensity_ of pleasure
and pains; (b) their duration; (c) their certainty or uncertainty; (d)
their nearness or remoteness; (e) their fecundity--i.e., the tendency of
a pleasure to be followed by others, or a pain by other pains; (f) their
_purity_--i.e., the tendency of a pleasure to be followed by pains and
_vice versa_; (g) their extent, that is, the number or range of persons
whose happiness is affected--with reference to whose pleasures and pains
each one of the first six items ought also in strictness to be
calculated! Then sum up all the pleasures which stand to the credit side
of the account; add the pains which are the debit items, or liabilities,
on the other; then take their algebraic sum, and "the balance of it on
the side of pleasure will be the good tendency of the act upon the

=Circle in Method.=--Bentham's argument depends wholly upon the
possibility of both foreseeing and accurately measuring the amount of
future pleasures and pains that will follow from the intention if it is
carried into effect, and of being able to find their algebraic sum. Our
examination will be directed to showing that we have here the same
fallacy that we have just discussed; and that Bentham argues in a
circle. For the argument purports to measure present disposition or
intent by summing up future units of pleasure or pain; but there is no
way of estimating amounts of future satisfaction, the relative intensity
and weight of future possible pain and pleasure experiences, except upon
the basis of present tendencies, the habitual aims and interests, of the
person. (1) The only way to estimate the relative amount (bulk,
intensity, etc.) of a future "lot" of pleasure or pain, is by seeing how
agreeable to _present_ disposition are certain anticipated consequences,
themselves not pleasures or pains at all. (2) The only basis upon which
we can be sure that there is a _right_ estimate of future satisfactions,
is that we already have a good character as a basis and organ for
forming judgment.

=(1) How Pleasures and Pains are Measured.=--If we keep strictly to
Bentham's own conception of pleasures as isolated entities, all just
alike in quality, but differing in quantity--in the two dimensions of
intensity and duration--the scheme he recommends is simply impossible.
What does it mean to say that one pleasure, as an external and future
fact, is equal to another? What practical sense is there in the notion
that a pain may be found which is exactly equal to a pleasure, so that
it may just offset it or reduce it to zero? How can one weigh the amount
of pain in a jumping and long-continued toothache against, say, the
pleasure of some charitable deed performed under conditions which may
bring on the toothache? What relevancy has the quantitative comparison
to a judgment of moral worth? How many units of pleasure are contained
in the fulfillment of the intention to go to war for one's country? How
many in the fulfillment of the intention to remain at home with one's
family and secure profitable contracts from the government? How shall
the pains involved in each set be detected and have their exact
numerical force assigned them? How shall one set be measured over
against the other? If a man is already a patriot, one set of
consequences comes into view and has weight; if one is already a coward
and a money-grubber, another set of consequences looms up and its value
is measured on a rule of very different scale.

=Present Congeniality to Character Measures Importance.=--When we
analyze what occurs, we find that this process of comparing future
possible satisfactions, to see which is the greater, takes place on
exactly the opposite basis from that set forth by Bentham. We do not
compare results in the way of fixed amounts of pleasures and pains, but
we compare _objective_ results, changes to be effected in ourselves, in
others, in the whole social situation; during this comparison desires
and aversions take more definite form and strength, so that we find the
idea of one result more agreeable, more harmonious, to our present
character than another. _Then_ we say it is more satisfying, it affords
more pleasure than another. The satisfaction _now_ aroused in the mind
at the thought of getting even with an enemy may be stronger than the
painfulness of the thought of the harm or loss that will come to him or
than the thought of danger itself,--then the pleasures to follow from
vengeance are esteemed more numerous, stronger, more lasting, etc., than
those which would follow from abstinence. Or, to say that satisfactions
are about equal means that we are _now_ at a loss to choose between
them. But we are not at a loss to choose because certain future pains
and pleasures present themselves in and of themselves as fixed amounts
irrespective of our own wishes, habits, and plans of life. Similarly we
may speak of satisfactions being added to one another and the total sum
increased; or of dissatisfaction coming in as offsets and reducing the
amount of satisfaction. But this does not mean that pains and pleasures
which we expect to arrive in the future are added and subtracted--what
intelligible meaning can such a phrase possess? It means that as we
think first of this result and then of another, the present happiness
found in the anticipation of one is increased by the anticipation of the
other; or that the results are so incompatible that the present
satisfaction, instead of swelling and expanding as from one thought to
another, is chilled and lessened. Thus we might find the thought of
revenge sweet (and thus give a high valuation to the units of pleasure
to result from it), but be checked by the thought of the meanness of the
act, or of how we would feel if some one else, whose good opinion we
highly esteem, should hear of it.

=(2) Congeniality to a Good Character the Right Measure.=--The net
outcome of this discussion is that the practical value of our acts is
defined to us at any given time by the satisfaction, or displeasure, we
take in the ideas of changes we foresee in case the act takes place. The
present happiness or distaste, depending upon the harmony between the
idea in question and the character, defines for us the value of the
future consequences: which is the reverse of saying that a calculation
of future pains and pleasures determines for us the value of the act and
character. But this applies to any end as it happens to arise, not to
the end as we ought to form it; we are still without a standard. What
has been said applies to the criminal as well as to the saint; to the
miser and the prodigal and the wisely generous alike. The idea of a
certain result warms the heart of each, his heart being what it is. The
assassin would not be one if the thought of a murder had not been
entertained by him and if the thought had not been liked and
welcomed--made at home. Only upon the supposition that character is
already good can we trust judgment, first, to foresee all the
consequences that should be foreseen; and, secondly, to respond to each
foreseen consequence with the right emotional stamp of like and dislike,
pleasure and pain. The Greeks said it is the object of a moral education
to see that the individual finds his pleasure in the thought of noble
ends and finds his pain in the contemplation of base ends. Again, as
Aristotle said:

    "The good man wills the real object of intent, but what the bad
    man desires may be anything; just as physically those in good
    condition want things that are wholesome, while the diseased may
    take anything to be healthful; for the good man judges correctly"
    (_Ethics_, Book III., 4, 4). And again: "The good man is apt to go
    right about pleasure, and the bad man is apt to go wrong" (Book
    II., 3, 7), and, finally, "It is only to the good man that the
    good presents itself as good, for vice perverts us and causes us
    to err about the principle of action" (Book III., 12, 10).

=Principle of Quality of Pleasure as Criterion.=--Mill, still calling
himself a utilitarian, reaches substantially the same result by (a)
making the _quality_ of pleasure, not its bulk or intensity, the
standard; and (b) referring differences in quality to differences in the
_characters_ which experience them.

    "It is," he says, "quite compatible with the principle of utility
    to recognize the fact that some _kinds_ of pleasure are more
    desirable and more valuable than others. Human beings have
    faculties more elevated than the animal appetites, and, when once
    made conscious of them, do not regard anything as happiness that
    does not include their gratification."

The higher the capacity or faculty, the higher in quality the pleasure
of its exercise and fulfillment, irrespective of bulk. But how do we
know which faculty _is_ higher, and hence what satisfaction is more
valuable? By reference to the experience of the man who has had the best
opportunity to exercise all the powers in question.

    "Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the
    lower animals, for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast's
    pleasure; no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool,
    no instructed person would be an ignoramus, no person of feeling
    and conscience would be selfish and base, even though they should
    be persuaded that the fool, the dunce or the rascal is better
    satisfied with his lot than they are with theirs." And again, "It
    is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are
    low has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a
    highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he
    can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect.... It is
    better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied;
    better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if
    the fool or the pig is of a different opinion, it is because he
    only knows his own side of the question. The other party to the
    comparison knows both sides."

The net result of our discussion is, then, (1) that happiness consists
in the fulfillment in their appropriate objects (or the anticipation of
such fulfillment) of the powers of the self manifested in desires,
purposes, efforts; (2) true happiness consists in the satisfaction of
those powers of the self which are of higher quality; (3) that the man
of good character, the one in whom these high powers are already active,
is the judge, in the concrete, of happiness and misery. We shall now


Happiness consists in the agreement, whether anticipated or realized, of
the objective conditions brought about by our endeavors with our desires
and purposes. This conception of happiness is contrasted with the notion
that it is a sum or collection of separate states of sensation or

=1. One View Separates, while the Other Connects, Pleasure and Objective
Conditions.=--In one case, the agreeable feeling is a kind of psychical
entity, supposed to be capable of existence by itself and capable of
abstraction from the objective end of action. The pleasant _thing_ is
one thing; the pleasure, another; or, rather, the _pleasant thing_ must
be analyzed into two independent elements, the pleasure as _feeling_ and
the _thing_ with which it happens to be associated. It is the pleasure
alone, _when dissociated_, which is the real end of conduct, an object
being at best an external means of securing it. It is the pleasurable
feeling which happens to be _associated_ with food, with music, with a
landscape, that makes it good; health, art, are not good in themselves.
The other view holds that pleasure has no such existence by itself; that
it is only a name for the _pleasant object_; that by pleasure is meant
the agreement or congruity which exists between some capacity of the
agent and some objective fact in which this capacity is realized. It
expresses the way some object meets, fits into, responds to, an activity
of the agent. To say that food is agreeable, means that food satisfies
an organic function. Music is pleasant because by it certain capacities
or demands of the person with respect to rhythm of hearing are
fulfilled; a landscape is beautiful because it carries to fulfillment
the visual possibilities of the spectator.

=2. Qualities of Pleasure Vary with Objects, and with Springs to
Action.=--When happiness is conceived as an aggregate of states of
feeling, these are regarded as homogeneous in quality, differing from
one another only in intensity and duration. Their qualitative
differences are not intrinsic, but are due to the different objects with
which they are associated (as pleasures of hearing, or vision). Hence
they disappear when the pleasure is taken by itself as an end. But if
agreeableness is precisely the agreeableness or congruousness of some
objective condition with some impulse, habit, or tendency of the agent,
then, of course, pure pleasure is a myth. Any pleasure is qualitatively
unique, being precisely the harmony of one set of conditions with its
appropriate activity. The pleasure of eating is one thing; the pleasure
of hearing music, another; the pleasure of an amiable act, another; the
pleasure of drunkenness or of anger is still another. Hence the
possibility of absolutely different moral values attaching to pleasures,
according to the type or aspect of character which they express. But if
the good is only a sum of pleasures, any pleasure, so far as it goes, is
as good as any other--the pleasure of malignity as good as the pleasure
of kindliness, simply as pleasure. Accordingly Bentham said, the
pleasure of push-pin (a game) is as good as that of poetry. And as he
said again, since pleasure is the motive of every act, there is no
motive which _in itself_, and as far as it goes, is not good--it is bad
only if it turns out in the end to produce more pain than pleasure. The
pleasure of malignant gossip is so far as it is pleasure a mitigation of
the badness of the act. Not so, if happiness is the experience into
which pleasures enter so far as the tendencies of character that produce
them are approved of. An act may bring a pleasure and yet that pleasure
be no part of happiness, but rather a blot and blemish. Such would be
the case, for example, with the pleasure which one might take in an act
of charity because one had thereby put himself in a position superior to
that of the recipient. A good man who caught himself feeling pleasure
from this phase of the act would not regard this pleasure as a further
element of good attained, but as detracting from his happiness. A
pleasure may be accepted or reacted against. So far as not acquiesced in
it is, from the standpoint of happiness, positively disagreeable.
Surrender to a pleasure, taking it to be one's happiness, is one of the
surest ways of revealing or discovering what sort of a man one is. On
the other hand, the pain which a miserly man feels in his first acts of
generosity may be welcomed by him as, under the circumstances, an
element in his good, since it is a sign of and factor in the improvement
of character.

=3. The Unification of Character.=--Happiness as a sum of pleasures does
not afford a basis for unifying or organizing the various tendencies and
capacities of the self. It makes possible at best only a mechanical
compromise or external adjustment. Take, for example, the satisfaction
attendant upon acting from a benevolent or a malicious impulse. There
can be no question that some pleasure is found in giving way to either
impulse when it is strongly felt. Now if we regard the pleasure as a
fixed state in itself, and good or happiness as a sum of such states,
the only moral superiority that can attach to acting benevolently is
that, upon the whole, _more_ units of pleasure come from it than from
giving way to the opposite spring of action. It is simply a question of
greater or less quantity in the long run. Each trait of character, each
act, remains morally independent, cut off from others. Its only relation
to others is that which arises when its results in the way of units of
agreeable or painful feeling are compared, as to bulk, with analogous
consequences flowing from some other trait, or act. But if the
fundamental thing in happiness is the relation of the desire and
intention of the agent to its own successful outlet, there is an
inherent connection between our different tendencies. The satisfaction
of one tendency strengthens itself, and strengthens allied tendencies,
while it weakens others. A man who gives way easily to anger (and finds
gratification in it) against the acts of those whom he regards as
enemies, nourishes unawares a tendency to irritability in all directions
and thus modifies the sources and nature of all satisfaction. The man
who cherishes the satisfaction he derives from a landscape may increase
his susceptibility to enjoyment from poetry and pictures.

=The Final Question.=--The final question of happiness, the question
which marks off true and right happiness from false and wrong
gratification, comes to this: Can there be found ends of action,
desirable in themselves, which reënforce and expand not only the motives
from which they directly spring, but also the other tendencies and
attitudes which are sources of happiness? Can there be found powers
whose exercise confirms ends which are stable and weakens and removes
objects which occasion only restless, peevish, or transitory
satisfaction, and ultimately thwart and stunt the growth of happiness?
Harmony, reënforcement, expansion are the signs of a true or moral
satisfaction. What is the good which while good in direct enjoyment also
brings with it fuller and more continuous life?


For pleasure as the object of desire and the psychology of hedonism, see
Bain, _Emotions and Will_, Part II., ch. viii.; Rickaby, _Moral
Philosophy_, pp. 54-61, and _Aquinas Ethicus_, Vol. I., pp. 104-121;
Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_, pp. 34-47, and the whole of Book II., and
Book III., chs. xiii. and xiv.; Mackenzie, _Manual of Ethics_, Book II.,
ch. iv.; Muirhead, _Elements of Ethics_, Book III., ch. i.; Gizyeki, _A
Student's Manual of Ethical Philosophy_; Green, _Prolegomena to Ethics_,
pp. 163-177, 226-240, 374-388; James, _Principles of Psychology_, Vol.
II., pp. 549-559; Martineau, _Types of Ethical Theory_, Vol. II., Part
II., Book II., Branch iv.

For the history of hedonism, see Wallace, _Epicureanism_; Pater, _Marius
the Epicurean_; Sidgwick, _History of Ethics_, ch. ii., _passim_ and ch.
iv., § 14-17; Hume, _Treatise of Human Nature_, Book III., and the
references to Bentham and Mill in the text; Watson, _Hedonistic Theories
from Aristippus to Spencer_.

For the utilitarian standard, see Lecky, _History of European Morals_,
Vol. I., ch. i.; Stephen, _Science of Ethics_, chs. iv. and v.; Spencer,
_Principles of Ethics_, Part I.; Höffding, _Ethik_, ch. vii., and
_Monist_, Vol. I., p. 529; Paulsen, _System of Ethics_, pp. 222-286, and
404-414; Grote, _Examination of the Utilitarian Philosophy_; Wilson and
Fowler, _Principles of Morals_, Vol. I., pp. 98-112; Vol. II., pp.
262-273; Green, _Prolegomena_, pp. 240-255, 399-415; Martineau, _Types_,
pp. 308-334; Alexander, _Moral Order and Progress_, pp. 204-211; Seth,
_Principles of Ethics_, pp. 94-111; Sidgwick, _The Ethics of T. H.
Green, Herbert Spencer and J. Martineau_, Lectures I.-IV. of the
Criticism of Spencer. Compare the references _sub voce_ Happiness,
899-903, in Rand's _Bibliography_, Vol. III. of Baldwin's Dictionary of
Philosophy and Psychology.


[134] Later we shall see reasons for discriminating between happiness
and pleasure. But here we accept the standpoint of those who identify

[135] The context shows that this "party" may be either the individual,
or a limited social group or the entire community. Even the pleasures
and pains of animals, of the sentient creation generally, may come into
the account.

[136] These quotations are all taken from Bentham's _Principles of
Morals and Legislation_; the first, third, and fourth from ch. i.; the
second from ch. xiii.; and the last from ch. ii.

[137] With these statements may he compared Spencer, _Principles of
Ethics_, pp. 30-32: Stephen, _Science of Ethics_, pp. 42. Sidgwick, in
his _Methods of Ethics_, holds that the axiomatic character of happiness
as an end proves that the position is not empirical but intuitional or
_a priori_. Only as we base ourselves on certain ultimate deliverances
of conscience can we he said to know that happiness is the desirable end
and that the happiness of one is just as intrinsically desirable as the
happiness of another. (See his _Methods of Ethics_, Book III., chs.
xiii. and xiv.)

[138] This ambiguity affects the statement quoted from Bentham that
pleasure and pain determine what we shall do. His implication is that
pleasure as _object_ of desire moves us; the fact is that _present_
pleasure, aroused by the idea of some object, influences us.



In form, the true good is thus an inclusive or expanding end. In
substance, the only end which fulfills these conditions is the social
good. The utilitarian standard is social consequences. To repeat our
earlier quotation from Bentham (above, p. 264):

    "The greatest happiness of all those whose interest is in question
    is the right and proper, and the only right and proper and
    _universally desirable_ end of human action." Mill says, "To do as
    you would be done by, and to love your neighbor as yourself,
    constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality." And
    again: "The happiness which is the Utilitarian standard of what is
    right in conduct is not the agent's own happiness, but that of all
    concerned; as between his own happiness and that of others,
    Utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a
    disinterested and benevolent spectator." So Sidgwick (_Methods of
    Ethics_, p. 379): "By Utilitarianism is here meant the ethical
    theory, first distinctly formulated by Bentham, that the conduct
    which under any given circumstances is externally or objectively
    right is that which produces the greatest amount of happiness _on
    the whole_; that is taking into account all whose happiness is
    affected by the conduct. It would tend to clearness if we might
    call this principle, and the method based upon it, by some such
    name as Universalistic hedonism." And finally, Bain (_Emotions and
    Will_, p. 303): "Utility is opposed to the selfish principle, for,
    as propounded, it always implies the good of society generally and
    the subordination of individual interests to the general good."

=Social Purpose of Utilitarianism.=--Its aim, then, was the "greatest
possible happiness of the greatest possible number," a democratic,
fraternal aim. In the computation of the elements of this aim, it
insisted upon the principle of social and moral equality: "every one to
count for one, and only for one." The standard was the well-being of the
community conceived as a community of individuals, all of whom had equal
rights and none of whom had special privileges or exclusive avenues of
access to happiness. In a period in which the democratic spirit in
England was asserting itself against vested interests and
class-distinctions, against legalized inequalities of all sorts, the
utilitarian philosophy became the natural and perhaps indispensable
adjunct of the liberal and reforming spirit in law, education, and
politics. Every custom, every institution, was cross-questioned; it was
not allowed to plead precedent and prior existence as a basis for
continued existence. It had to prove that it conduced to the happiness
of the community as a whole, or be legislated out of existence or into
reform. Bentham's fundamental objection to other types of moral theories
than his own was not so much philosophic or theoretic as it was
practical. He felt that every intuitional theory tended to dignify
prejudice, convention, and fixed customs, and so to consecrate vested
interests and inequitable institutions.

=Recognition by an Opponent.=--The following remarks by T. H. Green are
the more noteworthy because coming from a consistent opponent of the

    "The chief theory of conduct which in Modern Europe has afforded
    the conscientious citizen a vantage ground for judging of the
    competing claims on his obedience, and enabled him to substitute a
    critical and intelligent for a blind and unquestioning conformity,
    has no doubt been the Utilitarian. ... Whatever the errors arising
    from its hedonistic psychology, no other theory has been available
    for the social or political reformer, combining so much truth with
    such ready applicability. No other has offered so commanding a
    point of view from which to criticize the precepts and
    institutions presented as authoritative."[140]

And again, speaking of the possibility of practical service from theory,
he says:

    "The form of philosophy which in the modern world has most
    conspicuously rendered this service has been the Utilitarian,
    because it has most definitely announced the interest of humanity
    without distinction of persons or classes, as the end by reference
    to which all claims upon obedience are ultimately to be
    measured.... Impartiality of reference to human well-being has
    been the great lesson which the Utilitarian has had to

=Irreconcilable Conflict of Motive and End.=--But unfortunately the
assertion that the happiness of all concerned is the "universally
_desirable_ end," is mixed up by early utilitarianism with an hedonistic
psychology, according to which the _desired_ object is private and
personal pleasure. What is _desirable_ is thus so different from what is
_desired_ as to create an uncrossable chasm between the true end of
action--the happiness of all,--and the moving spring of desire and
action--private pleasure. That there is a difference between what is
_naturally_ desired (meaning by "naturally" what first arouses interest
and excites endeavor) and what is morally desirable (understanding by
this the consequences which present themselves in adequate
deliberation), is certain enough. But the desirable must be _capable of
becoming_ desired, or else there is such a contradiction that morality
is impossible. If, now, the object of desire is always private pleasure,
how can the recognition of the consequences upon the happiness or misery
of others ever become an effective competitor with considerations of
personal well-being, when the two conflict?[142]

=Lack of Harmony among Pleasurable Ends.=--If it so happens that the
activities which secure the personal pleasure also manage to affect
others favorably, so much the better; but since, by the theory, the
individual _must_ be moved exclusively by desire for his own pleasure,
woe betide others if their happiness happens to stand in the way.[143]
It could only be by accident that activities of a large number of
individuals all seeking their own private pleasures should coincide in
effecting the desirable end of the common happiness. The outcome would,
more likely, be a competitive "war of all against all." It is of such a
situation that Kant says: "There results a harmony like that which a
certain satirical poem depicts as existing between a married couple bent
on going to ruin, 'Oh, marvelous harmony! what he wishes, she wishes
too'; or like what is said of the pledge of Francis I. to the Emperor
Charles V., 'What my brother wants, that I want too' (namely
Milan)."[144] The existence already noted of an unperceived and
unreconcilable division between happiness _in the form of future
consequences_, and pleasure _as object of desire and present moving
spring_, thus becomes of crucial and, for hedonistic utilitarianism, of
catastrophic importance. We shall first discuss the efforts of
utilitarianism to deal with the problem.

=Mill's Formal Method.=--We mention first a purely logical or formal
suggestion of Mill's, not because it is of very much significance one
way or the other, but because it helps to bring out the problem.

    "No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable,
    except that each person, so far as he believes it to be
    obtainable, desires his own happiness. This, however, being a
    fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but
    all which it is possible to require, that happiness is a good;
    that each person's happiness is a good to that person; and the
    general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all

It clearly does not follow that because the good of A and B and C, etc.,
is _collectively_, or aggregately, a good to A and B and C, etc., that
therefore the good of A and B and C, etc., or of anybody beyond A
himself, is regarded as a good by A--especially when the original
premise is that A seeks his own good. Because all men want to be happy
themselves, it hardly follows that each wants all to be so. It does
follow, perhaps, that that would be the _reasonable_ thing to want. If
each man desires happiness for himself, to an outside spectator looking
at the matter in the cold light of intelligence, there might be no
reason why the happiness of one should be any more precious or desirable
than that of another. From a mathematical standpoint, the mere fact that
the individual knows he wants happiness, and knows that others are like
himself, that they too are individuals who want happiness, might commit
each individual, theoretically, to the necessity of regarding the
happiness of every other as equally sacred with his own. But the
difficulty is that there is no chance, upon the hedonistic psychology of
desire, for this rational conviction to get in its work, even if it be
intellectually entertained. The intellectual perception and the
mechanism of human motivation remain opposed. Mill's statement, in other
words, puts the problem which hedonistic utilitarianism has to solve.

Materially, as distinct from this formal statement, utilitarianism has
two instrumentalities upon which it relies: one, internal, found in the
nature of the individual; the other, external, or in social

=I. Bentham's View of Sympathetic Pleasures.=--In the long list of
pleasures moving men to action which Bentham drew up, he included what
he called the social and the semi-social. The social are the pleasures
of benevolence; the semi-social, the pleasures of amity (peace with
one's fellows) and of reputation.

    "The pleasures of benevolence are the pleasures resulting from the
    view of any pleasures supposed to be possessed by the beings who
    may be the objects of benevolence" (_Principles of Morals and
    Legislation_). And if it be asked what motives lying within a
    man's self he has to consult the happiness of others, "in answer
    to this, it cannot but be admitted that the only interests which a
    man at all times and upon all occasions is sure to find _adequate_
    motives for consulting are his own. Notwithstanding this there are
    no occasions on which a man has not some motives for consulting
    the happiness of other men. In the first place, he has, on all
    occasions, the purely social motive of sympathy and benevolence;
    in the next place, he has, on most occasions, the semi-social
    motives of amity and love of reputation" (_Ibid._, ch. xix., § 1).
    So important finally are the sympathetic motives that he says "The
    Dictates of Utility are neither more nor less than the dictates of
    the most extensive and enlightened (that is, well advised)[146]
    benevolence" (_Ibid._, ch. x., § 4).

In short, we are so constituted that the happiness of others gives us
happiness, their misery creates distress in us. We are also so
constituted that, even aside from direct penalties imposed upon us by
others, we are made to suffer more or less by the knowledge that they
have a low opinion of us, or that we are not "popular" with them. The
more enlightened our activity, the more we shall see how by sympathy our
pleasures are directly bound up with others, so that we shall get more
pleasure by encouraging that of others. The same course will also
indirectly increase our own, because others will be likely to esteem and
honor us just in the degree in which our acts conduce to their pleasure.
A wise or enlightened desire for our own pleasure will thus lead us to
regard the pleasures of others in our activities.

=Limitations of Doctrine.=--To state the doctrine is almost to criticize
it. It comes practically to saying that a sensible and prudent self-love
will make us pay due heed to the effect of our activities upon the
welfare of others. We are to be benevolent, but the reason is that we
get more pleasure, or get pleasure more surely and easily, that way than
in any other. We are to be kind, because upon the whole the net return
of pleasure is greater that way. This does not mean that Bentham denied
the existence of "disinterested motives" in man's make-up; or that he
held that all sympathy is coldly calculating. On the contrary, he held
that sympathetic reactions to the well-being and suffering of others are
involved in our make-up. But as it relates to _motives_ for action he
holds that the sympathetic affections influence us only under the form
of desire for our own pleasure: they make us rejoice in the rejoicing of
others, and move us to act that others may rejoice so that we may
thereby rejoice the more. They do not move us to act as direct interests
in the welfare of others for their own sake.[147] We shall find that
just as Mill transformed the utilitarian theory of motives by
substituting quality of happiness for quantity of pleasures, so he also
transformed the earlier Benthamite conception of both the internal and
the external methods for relating the happiness of the individual and
the welfare of society.

=II. Mill's Criticism.=--Mill charges Bentham with overlooking the
motive in man which makes him love excellence for its own sake. "Even
under the head of sympathy," he says:

    "his recognition does not extend to the more complex forms of the
    feeling--the love of _loving_, the need of a sympathizing support,
    or of an object of admiration and reverence."[148] "Self culture,
    the training by the human being himself of his affections and will
    ... is a blank in Bentham's system. The other and co-equal part,
    the regulation of his outward actions, must be altogether halting
    and imperfect without the first; for how can we judge in what
    manner many an action will affect the worldly interests of
    ourselves or others unless we take in, as part of the question,
    its influence on the regulation of our or their affections and

In other words, Mill saw that the weakness of Bentham's theory lay in
his supposition that the factors of character, the powers and desires
which make up disposition, are of value only as moving us to seek
pleasure; to Mill they have a worth of their own or are _direct_ sources
and ingredients of happiness. So Mill says:

    "I regard any considerable increase of human happiness, through
    mere changes in outward circumstances, unaccompanied by changes in
    the state of desires, as hopeless."[150] And in his
    _Autobiography_ speaking of his first reaction against Benthamism,
    he says: "I, for the first time, gave its proper place, among the
    prime necessities of human well-being, to the internal culture of
    the individual. I ceased to attach almost exclusive importance to
    the ordering of outward circumstances.... The cultivation of the
    feelings became one of the cardinal points in my ethical and
    philosophical creed."[151]

=The Social Affections as Direct Interest in Others.=--The importance of
this changed view lies in the fact that it compels us to regard certain
desires, affections, and motives as inherently worthy, because intrinsic
constituent factors of happiness. Thus it enables us to _identify_ our
happiness with the happiness of others, to find our good in their good,
not just to seek their happiness as, upon the whole, the most effective
way of securing our own. Our social affections are direct interests in
the well-being of others; their cultivation and expression is at one and
the same time a source of good to ourselves, and, intelligently guided,
to others. Taken in this light, it is sympathetic emotion and
imagination which make the standard of general happiness not merely the
"desirable end," but the desired end, the effectively working object of

=Intrinsic Motivation of Regard for Others.=--If it is asked _why_ the
individual should thus regard the well-being of others as an inherent
object of desire, there is, according to Mill, but one answer: We cannot
think of ourselves save as to some extent _social_ beings. Hence we
cannot separate the idea of ourselves and of our own good from our idea
of others and of their good. The natural sentiment which is the basis of
the utilitarian morality, which gives the idea of the social good weight
with us, is the

    "desire to be in unity with our fellow creatures.... The social
    state is at once so natural, so necessary, and so habitual to man,
    that except in some unusual circumstances or by an effort of
    voluntary abstraction, _he never conceives himself otherwise than
    as a member of a body_.... Any condition, therefore, which is
    essential to a state of society becomes more and more an
    inseparable part of every person's conception of the state of
    things he is born into and which is the destiny of a human being."
    This strengthening of social ties leads the individual "to
    identify his _feelings_ more and more with the good" of others.
    "He comes, as though instinctively, to be conscious of himself as
    a being, who, _of course_, pays regard to others. The good of
    others becomes to him a thing naturally and necessarily to be
    attended to, like any of the physical conditions of our
    existence." This social feeling, finally, however weak, does not
    present itself "as a superstition of education, or a law
    despotically imposed from without, but as an attribute which it
    would not be well to be without.... Few but those whose mind is a
    moral blank could _bear_ to lay out their course of life on the
    line of paying no regard to others except so far as their own
    private interest compels."[152]

The transformation is tremendous. It is no longer a question of acting
for the general interest because that brings most pleasure or brings it
more surely and easily. It is a question of finding one's good in the
good of others.

=III. The Benthamite External Ties of Private and General
Interests.=--Aside from sympathy and love of peaceful relations and good
repute, Bentham relied upon law, changes in political arrangements, and
the play of economic interests which make it worth while for the
individual to seek his own pleasure in ways that would also conduce to
the pleasure of others. Penal law can at least make it painful for the
individual to try to get his own good in ways which bring suffering to
others. Civil legislation can at least abolish those vested interests
and class privileges which inevitably favor one at the expense of
others, and which make it customary and natural to seek and get
happiness in ways which disregard the happiness of others. In the
industrial life each individual seeks his own advantage under such
conditions that he can achieve his end only by rendering service to
others, that is, through exchange of commodities or services. The proper
end of legislation is then to make political and economic conditions
such that the individual while seeking his own good will at least not
inflict suffering upon others, and positively, so far as possible, will
promote their good.[153]

=IV. Mill's Criticism.=--Mill's criticism does not turn upon the
importance of legislation and of social economic arrangements in
promoting the identity of individual and general good. On the contrary,
after identifying (in a passage already quoted, _ante_, p. 286) the
ideal of utilitarian morality with love of neighbor, he goes on:

    "As the means of making the nearest approach to this ideal utility
    would enjoin, first, that laws and social arrangements should
    place the happiness of every individual as nearly as possible in
    harmony with the interest of the whole; and, secondly, that
    education and opinion, which have so vast a power over human
    character, should so use that power as to establish in the mind of
    every individual an indissoluble association between his own
    happiness and the good of the whole."

The criticism turns upon the fact that _unless_ the intrinsic social
idea, already discussed, be emphasized, any association of private and
general happiness which law and social arrangements can effect will be
external, more or less artificial and arbitrary, and hence dissoluble
either by intellectual analysis, or by the intense prepotency of
egoistic desire.

=Mill's Transformation.=--If, however, this idea of inherent social ties
and of oneself as a social being is presupposed, the various external
agencies have something internal to work upon; and their effect is
internal, not external. Their effect is not to establish a mere
_coincidence_ (as with Bentham) between pleasure to oneself and pleasure
to others, but to protect, strengthen, and foster the sense, otherwise
intermittent and feeble, of the social aspects and relations of one's
own being. It is for this reason that Mill lays more stress on
_education_ than on mere external institutional changes, and, indeed,
conceives of the ultimate moral value of the institutional arrangements
as itself educative. Their value to him is not that they are
contrivances or pieces of machinery for making the behavior of one
conduce more or less automatically to the happiness of others, but that
they train and exercise the individual in the recognition of the social
elements of his own character.

=Summary of Previous Discussion.=--We have carried on our discussion of
the relation between the common good as the standard for measuring
rightness, and pleasure as the end and spring of the individual's
activity, in terms of Mill's development of Bentham's utilitarianism.
But of course our results are general, and they may be detached not only
from this particular discussion, but from the truth or falsity of
utilitarianism as a technical theory. Put positively, our results are
these: (1) Moral quality is an attribute of character, of dispositions
and attitudes which express themselves in desires and efforts. (2) Those
attitudes and dispositions are morally good which aim at the production,
the maintenance, and development of ends in which the agent and others
affected alike find satisfaction. There is no difference (such as early
utilitarianism made) between good as standard and as aim, because _only
a voluntary preference for and interest in a social good is capable,
otherwise than by coincidence or accident, of producing acts which have
common good as their result_. Acts which are not motivated by it as aim
cannot be trusted to secure it as result; _acts which are motived by it
as a living and habitual interest are the guarantee, so far as
conditions allow, of its realization_. Those who care for the general
good for its own sake are those who are surest of promoting it.

=The Good Moral Character.=--The genuinely moral person is one, then, in
whom the habit of regarding all capacities and habits of self from the
social standpoint is formed and active. Such an one forms his plans,
regulates his desires, and hence performs his acts with reference to the
effect they have upon the social groups of which he is a part. He is one
whose dominant attitudes and interests are bound up with associated
activities. Accordingly he will find his happiness or satisfaction in
the promotion of these activities irrespective of the particular pains
and pleasures that accrue.

=Social Interests and Sympathy.=--A genuine social interest is then
something much broader and deeper than an instinctive sympathetic
reaction. Sympathy is a genuine natural instinct, varying in intensity
in different individuals. It is a precious instrumentality for the
development of social insight and socialized affection; but in and of
itself it is upon the same plane as any natural endowment. It may lead
to sentimentality or to selfishness; the individual may shrink from
scenes of misery just because of the pain they cause him, or may seek
jovial companions because of the sympathetic pleasures he gets. Or he
may be moved by sympathy to labor for the good of others, but, because
of lack of deliberation and thoughtfulness, be quite ignorant of what
their good really is, and do a great deal of harm. One may wish to do
unto others as he would they should do unto him, but may err egregiously
because his conception of what is desirable for himself is radically
false; or because he assumes arbitrarily that whatever he likes is good
for others, and may thus tyrannically impose his own standards upon
them. Again instinctive sympathy is partial; it may attach itself
vehemently to those of blood kin or to immediate associates in such a
way as to favor them at the expense of others, and lead to positive
injustice toward those beyond the charmed circle.[154]

=Transformation of Instinctive Sympathies.=--It still remains true that
the instinctive affectionate reactions in their various forms (parental,
filial, sexual, compassionate, sympathetic) are the sole portions of the
psychological structure or mechanism of a man which can be relied upon
to work the identification of other's ends with one's own interests.
What is required is a _blending_, a _fusing_ of the sympathetic
tendencies with all the other impulsive and habitual traits of the self.
When interest in power is permeated with an affectionate impulse, it is
protected from being a tendency to dominate and tyrannize; it becomes an
interest in _effectiveness of regard for common ends_. When an interest
in artistic or scientific objects is similarly fused, it loses the
indifferent and coldly impersonal character which marks the specialist
as such, and becomes an interest in the adequate æsthetic and
intellectual development of the conditions of a common life. Sympathy
does not merely _associate_ one of these tendencies _with_ another;
still less does it make one a means to the other's end. It so intimately
permeates them as to transform them both into a single new and moral
interest. This same fusion protects sympathy from sentimentality and
narrowness. Blended with interest in power, in science, in art, it is
liberalized in quality and broadened in range. In short, the fusion of
affectionate reactions with the other dispositions of the self
_illuminates, gives perspective and body to the former_, while it _gives
social quality and direction to the latter_. The result of this
reciprocal absorption is the disappearance of the natural tendencies in
their original form _and the generation of moral_, i.e., _socialized
interests_. It is sympathy transformed into a habitual standpoint which
satisfies the demand for a standpoint which will render the person
interested in foresight of all obscure consequences (_ante_, p. 262).

=1. Social Interest and the Happiness of the Agent.=--We now see what is
meant by a distinctively _moral_ happiness, and how this happiness is
supreme in quality as compared with other satisfactions, irrespective of
superior intensity and duration on the part of the latter. It is
impossible to draw any fixed line between the _content_ of the moral
good and of natural satisfaction. The end, the right and only right end,
of man, lies in the fullest and freest realization of powers in their
appropriate objects. The good consists of friendship, family and
political relations, economic utilization of mechanical resources,
science, art, in all their complex and variegated forms and elements.
There is no separate and rival moral good; no separate empty and rival
"good will."

=Nature of Moral Interest and Motivation.=--Yet _the interest_ in the
social or the common and progressive realization of these interests may
properly be called a distinctive moral interest. The degree of actual
objective realization or achievement of these ends, depends upon
circumstances and accidents over which the agent has little or no
control. The more happily situated individual who succeeds in realizing
these ends more largely we may call more fortunate; we cannot call him
morally better. The interest in all other interests, the voluntary
desire to discover and promote them within the range of one's own
capacities, one's own material resources, and the limits of one's own
surroundings, is, however, under one's control: _it is one's moral
self_. _The nature and exercise of this interest constitutes then the
distinctively moral quality in all good purposes._ They are morally good
not so far as objectively accomplished and possessed, but so far as
cherished in the dominant affections of the person.

=The Moral Interest as Final Happiness.=--Consequently the true or final
happiness of an individual, the happiness which is not at the mercy of
circumstance and change of circumstance, lies not in objective
achievement of results, but in the supremacy within character of an
alert, sincere, and persistent interest in those habits and institutions
which forward common ends among men. Mill insisted that quality of
happiness was morally important, not quantity. Well, that quality which
is most important is the peace and joy of mind that accompanies the
abiding and equable maintenance of socialized interests as central
springs of action. To one in whom these interests live (and they live to
some extent in every individual not completely pathological) their
exercise brings happiness because it fulfills his life. To those in whom
it is the supreme interest it brings supreme or final happiness. It is
not preferred because it is the greater happiness, but in being
preferred as expressing the only kind of self which the agent
fundamentally wishes himself to be, it constitutes a kind of happiness
with which others cannot be compared. It is unique, final,

=Identity of the Individual and General Happiness.=--No algebraic
summing up of sympathetic pleasures, utilities of friendship, advantages
of popularity and esteem, profits of economic exchange among equals,
over against pains from legal penalties and disapproving public opinion,
and lack of sympathetic support by others, can ever make it even
approximately certain that an individual's own interest, in terms of
quantity of pleasures and pains, is to regard the interest of
others.[156] Such a demonstration, moreover, if possible, would not
support but would weaken the moral life. It would reduce the
manifestation of character to selecting greater rather than less amounts
of homogeneous ends. It would degrade reflection and consideration to
ingenuity in detecting where larger quantities of pleasures lie, and to
skill in performing sums of addition and subtraction. Even if such a
scheme could be demonstrated, every one except the most languid and
phlegmatic of pleasure-seekers would reject a life built upon it. Not
only the "good," but the more vigorous and hearty of the "bad," would
scorn a life in which character, selfhood, had no significance, and
where the experimental discovery and testing of destiny had no place.
The identity of individual and general happiness is a _moral_ matter; it
depends, that is, upon the reflective and intentional development of
that type of character which identifies itself with common ends, and
which is happy in these ends just because it has made them its own.

=2. Social Ends and the Happiness of Others.=--The same principle holds
of the happiness of others. Happiness means the expression of the active
tendencies of a self in their appropriate objects. Moral happiness means
the satisfaction which comes when the dominant active tendencies are
made interests in the maintenance and propagation of the things that
make life worth living. Others, also, can be happy and should be happy
only upon the same terms. Regard for the happiness of others means
_regard for those conditions and objects which permit others freely to
exercise their own powers from their own initiative, reflection, and
choice_. Regard for their final happiness (i.e., for a happiness whose
_quality_ is such that it cannot be _externally_ added to or subtracted
from) demands that these others shall find the controlling objects of
preference, resolution, and endeavor in the things that are worth while.

=3. Happiness and Common Ends.=--For all alike, in short, the chief
thing is the discovery and promotion of those activities and active
relationships in which the capacities of all concerned are effectively
evoked, exercised, and put to the test. It is difficult for a man to
attain a point of view from which steadily to apprehend how his own
activities affect and modify those of others. It is hard, that is, to
learn to accommodate one's ends to those of others; to adjust, to give
way here, and fit in there with respect to our aims. But difficult as
this is, it is easy compared with the difficulty of acting _in such a
way_ for ends which are helpful to others as will call out and make
effective their activities.

=Moral Democracy.=--If the vice of the criminal, and of the coarsely
selfish man is to disturb the aims and the good of others; if the vice
of the ordinary egoist, and of every man, upon his egoistic side, is to
neglect the interests of others; the vice of the social leader, of the
reformer, of the philanthropist and the specialist in every worthy cause
of science, or art, or politics, is to seek ends which promote the
social welfare in ways which fail to engage the active interest and
coöperation of others.[157] The conception of conferring the good upon
others, or at least of attaining it for them, which is our inheritance
from the aristocratic civilization of the past, is so deeply embodied in
religious, political, and charitable institutions and in moral
teachings, that it dies hard. Many a man, feeling himself justified by
the social character of his ultimate aim (it may be economic, or
educational, or political), is genuinely confused or exasperated by the
increasing antagonism and resentment which he evokes, because he has not
enlisted in his pursuit of the "common" end the freely coöperative
activities of others. This coöperation must be the root principle of the
morals of democracy. It must be confessed, however, that it has as yet
made little progress.

Our traditional conceptions of the morally great man, the moral hero and
leader, the exceptionally good social and political character, all work
against the recognition of this principle either in practice or theory.
They foster the notion that it is somebody's particular business to
reach by his more or less isolated efforts (with "following," or
obedience, or unreflective subordination on the part of others) a needed
social good. Some genius is to lead the way; others are to adopt and
imitate. Moreover, the method of awakening and enlisting the activities
of all concerned in pursuit of the end seems slow; it seems to postpone
accomplishment indefinitely. But in truth a common end which is not made
such by common, free voluntary coöperation in process of achievement is
common in name only. It has no support and guarantee in the activities
which it is supposed to benefit, because it is not the fruit of those
activities. Hence, it does not stay put. It has to be continually
buttressed by appeal to external, not voluntary, considerations; bribes
of pleasure, threats of harm, use of force. It has to be undone and done
over. There is no way to escape or evade this law of happiness, that it
resides in the exercise of the active capacities of a voluntary agent;
and hence no way to escape or evade the law of a common happiness, that
it must reside in the congruous exercise of the voluntary activities of
all concerned. The inherent irony and tragedy of much that passes for a
high kind of socialized activity is precisely that it seeks a common
good by methods which forbid its being either common or a good.


See references upon utilitarianism at end of ch. xiv. For happiness, see
Aristotle, _Ethics_, Book I., and Book X., chs. vi.-ix.; Dickinson, _The
Meaning of Good_; Paulsen, _System of Ethics_, pp. 268-286; Rickaby,
_Aquinas Ethicus_, Vol. I., pp. 6-39; Mezes, _Ethics_, ch. xv.;
Santayana, _The Life of Reason_; Rashdall, _The Theory of Good and

The following histories of utilitarianism bring out the social side of
the utilitarian theory: Albee, _History of Utilitarianism_; Stephen,
_The English Utilitarians_; Halévy, _La Formation du Radicalisme
Philosophique_, especially Vols. I. and II.


[139] The discussion of altruism and egoism in ch. xviii. on the Self,
considers some aspects of this question from another point of view.

[140] _Prolegomena to Ethics_, p. 361.

[141] _Ibid._, pp. 365-66. Green then goes on to argue that this service
has been in spite of its hedonistic factor, and that if the theory were
generally applied with all the hedonistic implications to personal
behavior in private life, it would put impediments in the way of moral

[142] It will be noted that we have here the same double rôle of
pleasure that met us at the outset (see _ante_, p. 267): one sort of
happiness is the moving spring of action, because object of desire;
another and incompatible sort is the standard, and hence proper or right

[143] It is this hedonistic element of the object of desire and moving
spring which calls forth such denunciations as Carlyle's; on the other
hand, it is the assertion of the common happiness as the standard which
calls out the indignant denial of the utilitarians; which, for example,
leads Spencer to retort upon Carlyle's epithet of "pig-philosophy" with
a counter charge that Carlyle's epithet is a survival of
"devil-worship," since it assumes pain to be a blessing. (_Principles of
Ethics_, Vol. I., pp. 40-41).

[144] Abbott's _Kant's Theory of Ethics_, p. 116.

[145] _Utilitarianism_, third paragraph of ch. iv.

[146] By this phrase Bentham refers to the necessity of controlling this
spring to activity just as any other is regulated, by reference to its

[147] Bentham himself was not a psychologist, and he does not state the
doctrine in this extreme form. But those of the Benthamites who were
psychologists, being hedonistic in their psychology, gave the doctrine
this form.

[148] _Early Essays_, p. 354. (Reprint by Gibbs, London, 1897.)

[149] _Ibid._, p. 357.

[150] _Ibid._, p. 404.

[151] _Autobiography_, London, 1884, p. 143.

[152] _Utilitarianism_, ch. iii., _passim_.

[153] Some phases of this view as respects legislation, etc., are
touched upon later in ch. xviii.

[154] Mill in his article on Bentham says of him: "Personal affection,
he well knew, is as liable to operate to the injury of third parties,
and requires as much to be kept in check, as any other feeling whatever:
and general philanthropy ... he estimated at its true value when
divorced from the feeling of duty, as the very weakest and most unsteady
of all feelings" (_Op. cit._, p. 356).

[155] "It is only a poor sort of happiness that could ever come by
caring very much about our own narrow pleasures. We can only have the
highest happiness, such as goes along with being a great man, by having
wide thought and much feeling for the rest of the world as well as
ourselves; and this sort of happiness often brings so much pain with it,
that we can only tell it from pain by its being what we would choose
before everything else, because our souls see it is good."--GEORGE ELIOT
in _Romola_.

[156] The recognition of this by many utilitarian hedonists has caused
them to have recourse to the supernaturally inflicted penalties and
conferred delights of a future life to make sure of balancing up the
account of virtue as self-sacrificing action with happiness, its proper

[157] The recognition of this type of spiritual selfishness is modern.
It is the pivot upon which the later (especially) of Ibsen's tragedies




=Intelligence and Reason in a Moral Act.=--A voluntary act is one which
involves intention, purpose, and thus some degree of deliberateness. It
is this trait which marks off the voluntary act from a purely
unconscious one (like that of a machine) and from one which yields to
the superior urgency of present feeling, one which is pushed on from
behind, as an instinctive or impulsive act, instead of being called out
by some possibility ahead. This factor of forethought and of preference
after comparison for some one of the ends considered, is the factor of
intelligence involved in every voluntary act. To be intelligent in
action is, however, a far-reaching affair. To know what one is really
about is a large and difficult order to fill; so large and difficult
that it is the heart of morality.[158] The relevant bearings of any act
are subtler and larger than those which can be foreseen and than those
which will be _unless_ special care is taken. The tendencies which
strongly move one to a certain act are often exactly those which tend to
prevent one's seeing the effect of the act upon his own habits and upon
the well-being of others. The internal forces and the external
circumstance which evoke the idea of an end and of the means of
attaining it are frequently also those which deflect intelligence to a
narrow and partial view. The demand for a standard by which to regulate
judgment of ends is thus the demand not only for intelligence, but for a
certain kind of intelligence.

In short, a truly moral (or right) act is one which is intelligent in an
emphatic and peculiar sense; it is a _reasonable_ act. It is not merely
one which is thought of, and thought of as good, at the moment of
action, but one which will continue to be thought of as "good" in the
most alert and persistent reflection.[159] For by "reasonable" action we
mean such action as recognizes and observes all the necessary
conditions; action in which impulse, instinct, inclination, habit,
opinion, prejudice (as the case may be) are moderated, guided, and
determined by considerations which lie outside of and beyond them. Not
merely to form ends and select means, but to judge the _worth_ of these
means and ends by a standard, is then the distinctive province of reason
in morals. Its outcome is _moral knowledge_; that is judgments of right
and wrong, both in general, and in the particular and perplexing cases
as they arise. This is the topic of the present chapter.

=Typical Problems.=--The problem of moral knowledge is in its general
form: Is there a distinct and separate faculty of moral reason and
knowledge, or is there but one power of judgment which varies with its
object? The former view is the intuitional (from Latin, _intueor_: to
look at); it is associated with theories, which, like the Kantian,
emphasize attitudes, not results and intentions; while the view which
holds that there is but one form of thought which, in morals, concerns
itself with results, and with their association with the present aim, is
the empirical. There are two especial difficulties which lead to the
upholding of the intuitional point of view, difficulties which any
theory of moral knowledge has to meet. They are (I) The Relation of
Desire and Reason, and (II) the Knowledge of Private and General Good.

=1. Desire and Reason.=--Ordinary knowledge in practical matters follows
the line set by desire. Hunger makes us think of food and of how to get
it; sociable desire, of friends, and how to secure their companionship,
and so on. Now a surging mass of desires, vehement and bulky, may
concentrate itself upon the idea of any end; and as soon as it does so,
it tends to shut out wider considerations. As we have just seen, it is
the object of reason to give us a calm, objective, broad, and general
survey of the field. Desires work against this, and unless (so runs the
argument) there is a faculty which works wholly independent of desires,
as our ordinary practical knowledge does not, it is absurd to suppose
there can be a rational principle which will correct and curb desire.

=2. Private and General Good.=--Since the wide and permanent good is
social, it is urged that unless we have an independent faculty of moral
knowledge, our judgment will be subservient to the ends of private
desire, and hence will not place itself at the public point of view. Or,
if it does so, it will be simply as a matter of expediency to calculate
better the means for getting our own pleasure. In general, it is urged
that only a faculty of knowledge completely independent of personal
wishes, habits, purposes can secure judgments possessing inherent
dignity and authoritativeness; since these require an elevated,
impartial, universal, and necessary point of view. We shall in the
sequel attempt to show that this view of knowledge results from the
false conception of desire as having pleasure for its object, and from a
false conception of the relation of intent and motive. When these errors
are corrected, there is no ground to assume any special faculty of moral
intelligence, save as the one capacity of thought is specialized into a
particular mental habit by being constantly occupied in judging values.
We shall try to show that the broad and public point of view is secured
by fusion of impulses with sympathetic affections. We shall begin with
stating and criticizing the views of Kant, who upholds the doctrine of a
separate independent Moral Reason in its most extreme form.


Kant is at one with the hedonist as regards the natural object of
desire; it is pleasure. All purposes and ends that spring from
inclination and natural tendency come under one head: self-love. Hence,
the ordinary use of intelligence is confined to the matter of passing
upon what constitutes the individual's private happiness and how he
shall secure it. There are then fundamental contrasts between ordinary
practical activity and genuinely moral activity, contrasts which reflect
themselves in the theory of the nature and function of moral knowledge.
(1) The moral end is _unqualified_, absolute, categorical. It is not
something which we can pick or leave at our option. Morality is the
region of final ends, ends not to be disputed or questioned; and reason
must set forth such final ends. Since, however, happiness is not a
morally necessary end, intelligence in its behalf can only give
hypothetical counsel and advice: _if_ you would be happy, or happy in
this, or that way, then take such and such measures. Reason which
promulgates ends must be of a different sort from the intelligence which
simply searches for means.

(2) Morality is not qualified, but _certain_ in its requirements. The
most inexperienced, the humblest, the one most restricted in his
circumstances and opportunities, must know what is morally required as
surely as the wisest and most educated. Hence moral reason must utter
its precepts clearly and unambiguously. But no one can be _sure_ what
happiness is, or whether a given act will bring joy or sorrow. "The
problem of determining certainly what action would promote the
happiness of a rational being is insoluble." (Abbott's _Kant_, p. 36.)
The demand for _certainty_ of precepts in moral matters also requires a
special faculty.

(3) Morality, which is inexorable and certain in its demands, is also
_universal_ in its requirements. Its laws are the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever, the same for one as for another. Now happiness
notoriously varies with the condition and circumstances of a person, as
well as with the conditions of different peoples and epochs.
Intelligence with reference to happiness can only give counsel, not even
rules, so variable is happiness. It can only advise that upon the
average, under certain conditions, a given course of action has usually
promoted happiness. When we add that the commands of morality are also
universal with respect to the different inclinations of different
individuals, we are made emphatically aware of the necessity of a
rational standpoint, which in its impartiality totally transcends the
ends and plans that grow out of the ordinary experience of an

=An A Priori Reason Kant's Solution.=--The net outcome is that only a
reason which is separate and independent of all experience is capable of
meeting the requirements of morality. What smacks in its origin and aim
of experience is tainted with self-love; is partial, temporary,
uncertain, and relative or dependent. The moral law is unqualified,
necessary, and universal. Hence we have to recognize in man as a moral
being a faculty of reason which expresses itself in the law of conduct
_a priori_ to all experience of desire, pleasure, and pain. Besides his
sensuous nature (with respect to which knowledge is bound up with
appetite) man has a purely rational nature, which manifests itself in
the consciousness of the absolute authority of universal law.[160]

=Formal Character of Such Reason.=--This extreme separation of reason
from experience brings with it, however, a serious problem. We shall
first state this problem; and then show that its artificial and
insoluble character serves as a refutation of Kant's theory of a
transcendental, or wholly non-natural and non-empirical, mode of
knowledge. Reason which is wholly independent of experience of desires
and their results is, as Kant expressly declares, purely _formal_.
(Abbott's _Kant_, p. 33; p. 114.) That is to say, it is _empty_; it does
not point out or indicate anything particular to be done. It cannot say
be industrious, or prudent, generous; give, or refrain from giving, so
much money to this particular man at this particular time under just
these circumstances. All it says is that morality is rational and
requires man to follow the law of reason. But the law of reason is just
that a man should follow the law of reason. And to the inevitable
inquiry "What then is the law of reason?" the answer still is: To follow
the law of reason. How do we break out of this empty circle into
specific knowledge of the specific right things to be done? Kant has an
answer, which we shall now consider.

=Kant's Method.=--He proceeds as follows: The law is indeed purely
formal or empty (since, once more, all specific ends are "empirical" and
changeable), but it is so because it is universal. Now nothing which is
universal can contradict itself. All we need to do is to take any
proposed principle of any act and ask ourselves whether it can be
universalized without self-inconsistency. If it cannot be, the act is
wrong. If it can be, the act is right. For example:

    "May I, when in distress, make a promise with the intention not to
    keep it?... The shortest way, and an unerring one to discover the
    answer to the question whether a lying promise is consistent with
    duty, is to ask myself, Should I be content that my maxim (to
    extricate myself from trouble by a false promise) should hold good
    as a universal law, for myself as well as for others? And should I
    be able to say to myself, every one may make a deceitful promise
    when he finds himself in a difficulty from which he cannot
    otherwise extricate himself? Then I personally become aware that
    while I can will the lie, I can by no means will that lying should
    be a universal law. For with such a law there would be no such
    thing as a promise. No one should have any faith in the proffered
    intention, or, if they do so over hastily, would pay one back in
    one's own coin at the first opportunity" (_Op. cit._, p. 19).

The principle if made universal simply contradicts itself, and thus
reveals that it is no principle at all, not rational. Summing this up in
a formula, we get as our standard of right action the principle: "Act as
if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of
nature" (_Op. cit._, p. 39).

The procedure thus indicated seems simple. As long as an individual
considers the purpose or motive of his action as if it were merely a
matter of that one deed; as if it were an isolated thing, there is no
rationality, no consciousness of moral law or principle. But let the
individual imagine himself gifted with such power that, if he acts, the
motive of his act will become a fixed, a regular law in the constitution
of things. Would he, as a rational being, be willing to bring about such
a universalization,--can he, with equanimity as a reasonable being,
contemplate such an outcome? If he can, the act is right; if not (as in
the case of making a lying promise), wrong.

No sensible person would question the instructiveness of this scheme in
the concrete. It indicates that the value of reason--of abstraction and
generalization--in conduct is to help us escape from the partiality that
flows from desire and emotion in their first and superficial
manifestations, and to attain a more unified and permanent end. As a
method (though not the only one) of realizing the _full meaning_ of a
proposed course of action, nothing could be better than asking ourselves
how we should like to be committed forever to its principle; how we
should like to have others committed to it and to treat us according to
it? Such a method is well calculated to make us face our proposed end in
its impartial consequences; to teach the danger of cherishing merely
those results which are most congenial to our passing whim and our
narrow conception of personal profit. In short, by generalizing a
purpose we make its _general_ character evident.

But this method does not proceed (as Kant would have it) from a mere
consideration of moral law _apart from a concrete end, but from an end
in so far as it persistently approves itself to reflection after an
adequate survey of it in all its bearings_. It is the possibility of
_generalizing the concrete end_ that Kant falls back upon.

Other illustrations which Kant offers enforce the same lesson. He
suggests the following:

    (1) A man in despair from misfortune considers suicide. "Now he
    inquires whether the maxim of his action could become a universal
    law of nature." We see at once that a system of nature by which it
    should be a law to destroy life by means of the very
    feeling--self-love--whose nature it is to impel to the maintenance
    of life, would contradict itself and therefore could not exist.

    (2) A man who has a certain talent is tempted from sluggishness
    and love of amusement not to cultivate it. But if he applies the
    principle he sees that, while a system of nature might subsist if
    his motive became a law (so that all people devoted their lives to
    idleness and amusement), yet he cannot _will_ that such a system
    should receive absolute realization. As a rational being he
    necessarily also wills that faculties be developed since they
    serve for all sorts of possible purposes.

    (3) A prosperous man, who sees some one else to be wretched, is
    tempted to pay no attention to it, alleging that it is no concern
    of his. Now, if this attitude were made a universal law of nature,
    the human race might subsist and even get on after a fashion; but
    it is impossible to will that such a principle should have the
    validity of a law of nature. Such a will would contradict itself,
    for many cases would occur in which the one willing would need the
    love and sympathy of others; he could not then without
    contradicting himself wish that selfish disregard should become a
    regular, a fixed uniformity.

=The Social End is the Rational End.=--These illustrations make it clear
that the "contradiction" Kant really depends upon to reveal the
wrongness of acts, is the introduction of friction and disorder among
the various concrete ends of the individual. He insists especially that
the social relations of an act bring out its general purport. A right
end is one which can be projected harmoniously into the widest and
broadest survey of life which the individual can make. A "system of
nature" or of conduct in which love of life should lead to its own
destruction certainly contradicts itself. A course of action which
should include all the tendencies that make for amusement and
sluggishness would be inconsistent with a scheme of life which would
take account of other tendencies--such as interest in science, in music,
in friendship, in business achievement, which are just as real
constituents of the individual, although perhaps not so strongly felt at
the moment. A totally callous and cruel mode of procedure certainly
"contradicts" a course of life in which every individual is so placed as
to be dependent upon the sympathy and upon the help of others. It is the
province of reason to call up a sufficiently wide view of the
consequences of an intention as to enable us to realize such
inconsistencies and contradictions if they exist; to put before us, not
through any logical manipulation of the principle of contradiction, but
through memory and imagination a particular act, proposal, or suggestion
as a portion of a connected whole of life; to make real to us that no
man, no act, and no satisfaction of any man, falls or stands to itself,
but that it affects and is affected by others. Our conclusion is: the
right as the _rational_ good means that which is harmonious with all the
capacities and desires of the self, that which expands them into a
coöperative whole.

=Kant's Introduction of Social Factors.=--The further development which
Kant gives the formula already quoted (p. 312) goes far to remove the
appearance of opposition between the utilitarian social standard and his
own abstract rationalism. Kant points out that according to his view the
moral or rational will is its own end. Hence every rational person is
always an end, never a means:--this, indeed, is what we mean by a
person. But every normal human being is a rational person. Consequently
another formula for his maxim is: "So act as to treat humanity, whether
in thine own person or in that of any other, as an end, never as a means
merely." The man who contemplates suicide "uses a person merely as a
means to maintaining a tolerable condition of life." He who would make a
lying promise to another makes that other one merely a means to his
profit, etc. Moreover, since all persons are equally ends in themselves
and are to be equally regarded in behavior, we may say the standard of
right is the notion of a "Kingdom of Ends"--the idea of "the union of
different rational beings in a system by common laws."[161]

These propositions are rather formal, but the moment we put definite
meaning into them, they suggest that the good for any man is that in
which the welfare of others counts as much as his own. The right is that
action which, so far as in it lies, combines into a whole of common
interests and purposes the otherwise conflicting aims and interests of
different persons. So interpreted, the Kantian formula differs in words,
rather than in idea, from Bentham's happiness of all concerned "each
counting for one and only one"; from Mill's statement that the "deeply
rooted conception which every individual even now has of himself as a
social being tends to make him feel it as one of his natural wants, that
there should be harmony between his feelings and aims and those of his
fellow creatures." In all of these formulæ we find re-statements of our
conception that the good is the activities in which all men participate
so that the powers of each are called out, put to use, and reënforced.

=Consequent Transformation of Theory of Reason.=--Now if the common
good, in the form of a society of individuals, as a kingdom of ends, is
the object with reference to which the ends of desire have to be
rationalized, Kant's theory of an _a priori_ and empty Reason is
completely made over. In strict logic Kant contradicts himself when he
says that we are to generalize the end of desire, so as to see whether
it could become a universal law. For according to him no end of desire
(since it is private and a form of self-love) _can possibly be
generalized_. He is setting up as a method of enlightenment precisely
the very impossibility (impossible, that is, on his own theory that
private happiness is the end of desire) which made him first resort to
his _a priori_ and transcendental reason. No more complete contradiction
can be imagined.

On the other hand, if we neglect the concrete, empirical conditions and
consequences of the object of desire, there is no motive whatsoever that
may not be generalized. There is no _formal_ contradiction in acting
always on a motive of theft, unchastity, or insolence. All that Kant's
method can require, in strict logic, is that the individual always,
under similar circumstances, act from the same motive. Be willing to be
always dishonest, or impure, or proud in your intent; achieve
consistency in the badness of your motives, and you will be good!
Doubtless no one, not even the worst man, would be willing to be
universally consistent in his badness. But this is not in the least a
matter of a purely formal, logical inconsistency of the motive with
itself;[162] it is due rather to that _conflict among diverse desires,
and different objects for which one strives, which makes him aware that
at some time he should want to act kindly and fairly_.

=Organization of Desires from the Social Standpoint.=--What Kant is
really insisting upon at bottom is, then, the demand for such a revision
of desire as it casually and unreflectively presents itself as would
make the desire a consistent expression of the whole body of the
purposes of the self. What he demands is that a desire shall not be
accepted as an adequate motive till it has been organized into desire
for an end which will be compatible with the whole system of ends
involved in the capacities and tendencies of the agent. This is true
rationalization. And he further warns us that only when a particular
desire has in view a good which is social will it meet this requirement.
This brings us to our next problem. Just what is the process by which we
judge of the worth of particular proposals, plans, courses of actions,
desires? Granted that a generalized good, a socialized happiness, is the
point of view at which we must place ourselves to secure the reasonable
point of view, how does this point of view become an operative method?


So far, our conclusions are (1) that the province of reason is to enable
us to generalize our concrete ends; to form such ends as are consistent
with one another, and reënforce one another, introducing continuity and
force, where otherwise there would be division and weakness; and (2)
that only social ends are ultimately reasonable, since they alone permit
us to organize our acts into consistent wholes. We have now, however, to
consider how this conception takes effect in detail; how it is employed
to determine the right or the reasonable in a given situation. We shall
approach this problem by considering a form of intuitionalism
historically prior to that of Kant. This emphasizes the direct character
of moral knowledge in particular cases, and assimilates moral knowledge
to the analogy of sense perception, which also deals directly with
specific objects; it insists, however, that a different kind of faculty
of knowledge operates in the knowledge of acts from that which operates
in the knowledge of things. Our underlying aim here is to bring out the
relation of immediate appreciation to deliberate reflection, with a view
to showing that the reasonable standpoint, that of the common good,
becomes effective through the socialized attitudes and emotions of a
person's own character.

=Moral Sense.=--This theory holds that rightness is an intrinsic,
absolute quality of special acts, and as such is immediately known or
recognized for what it is. Just as a white color is known as white, a
high tone as high, a hard body as existent, etc., so an act which is
right is known as right. In each case, the quality and the fact are so
intimately and inherently bound together that it is absurd to think of
one and not know the other. As a theory of moral judgment,
intuitionalism is thus opposed to utilitarianism, which holds that
rightness is not an inherent quality but one relative to and borrowed
from external and more or less remote consequences. While some forms of
intuitionalism hold that this moral quality belongs to general rules or
to classes of ends, the form we are now to consider holds that the moral
quality of an individual act cannot be borrowed even from a moral law,
but shines forth as an absolute and indestructible part of the motive of
the act itself. Because the theory in question sticks to the direct
perception of the immediately present quality of acts, it is usually
called, in analogy with the direct perception of eye or ear, the moral
sense theory.

=Objections to Theory.=--The objections to this theory in the extreme
form just stated may be brought under two heads: (1) There is no
evidence to prove that all acts are directly characterized by the
possession of absolute and self-evident rightness and wrongness; there
is much evidence to show that this quality when presented by acts can,
as a rule, be traced to earlier instruction, to the pressure of
correction and punishment, and to association with other experiences.
(2) While in this way many acts, perhaps almost all, of the average
mature person of a good moral environment, have acquired a direct moral
coloring, making unnecessary elaborate calculation or reference to
general principles, yet there is nothing infallible in such intuitively
presented properties. An act may present itself as thoroughly right and
yet may be, in reality, wrong. The function of conscious deliberation
and reasoning is precisely to detect the existence of and to correct
such intuitive cases.[163]

=I. Direct Perception as Effect of Habits.=--It must be admitted, as a
result of any unprejudiced examination, that a large part of the acts,
motives, and plans of the adult who has had favorable moral surroundings
seem to possess directly, and in their own intrinsic make-up, rightness
or wrongness or moral indifference. To think of lying or stealing is one
with thinking of it as wrong; to recall or suggest an act of kindness is
the same as thinking of it as right; to think of going after mail is to
think of an act free from either rightness or wrongness. With the
average person it is probably rare for much time to be spent in figuring
out whether an act is right or wrong, after the idea of that act has
once definitely presented itself. So far as the facts of moral
experience in such cases are concerned, the "moral sense" theory appears
to give a correct description.

(1) But the conclusion that, therefore, moral goodness or badness is and
always has been an inherent, absolute property of the act itself,
overlooks well-known psychological principles. In all perception, in all
recognition, there is a funding or capitalizing of the results of past
experience by which the results are rendered available in new
experiences. Even a young child recognizes a table, a chair, a glass of
milk, a dog, as soon as he sees it; there is no analysis, no conscious
interpretation. Distance, direction, size, under normal circumstances,
are perceived with the same assurance and ease. But there was a time
when all these things were learning; when conscious experimentation
involving interpretation took place. Such perceptions, moreover, take
place under the guidance of others; pains are taken indelibly to stamp
moral impressions by associating them with intense, vivid, and
mysterious or awful emotional accompaniments.[164]

Anthropological and historical accounts of different races and peoples
tell the same story. Acts once entirely innocent of moral distinctions
have acquired, under differing circumstances and sometimes for trivial
and absurd reasons, different moral values:--one and the same sort of
act being stamped here as absolute guilt, there as an act of superior
and heroic virtue. Now it would be fallacious to argue (as some do) that
because distinctions of moral quality have been acquired and are not
innate, they are therefore unreal when they are acquired. Yet the fact
of gradual development proves that no fixed line exists where it can be
said the case is closed; that just this is henceforth forever right or
wrong; that there shall be no further observation of consequences, no
further correction and revision of present "intuitions."

(2) Our immediate moral recognitions take place, moreover, only under
usual circumstances. There is after all no such thing as complete moral
maturity; all persons are still more or less children--in process of
learning moral distinctions. The more intense their moral interests, the
more childlike, the more open, flexible, and growing are their minds. It
is only the callous and indifferent, or at least the conventional, who
find all acts and projects so definitely right and wrong as to render
reflection unnecessary. "New occasions teach new duties," but they teach
them only to those who recognize that they are not already in possession
of adequate moral judgments. Any other view destroys the whole meaning
of reflective morality and marks a relapse to the plane of sheer custom.
Extreme intuitionalism and extreme moral conservatism; dislike to
calculation and reflection, for fear of innovations with attendant
trouble and discomfort, are usually found to go together.

=II. Direct Perception No Guarantee of Validity.=--This suggests our
second objection. The existence of immediate moral quality, the direct
and seemingly final possession of rightness, as matter of fact, is not
adequate proof of validity. At best, it furnishes a presumption of
correctness, in the absence of grounds for questioning it, in fairly
familiar situations. (a) There is nothing more direct, more seemingly
self-evident, than inveterate prejudice. When class or vested interest
is enlisted in the maintenance of the custom or institution which is
expressed in a prejudice, the most vicious moral judgments assume the
guise of self-conscious sanctity. (b) A judgment which is correct under
usual circumstances may become quite unfit, and therefore wrong, if
persisted in under new conditions. Life, individual and social, is in
constant process of change; and there is always danger of error in
clinging to judgments adjusted to older circumstances. "The good is the
enemy of the better." It is not merely false ideas of the values of life
that have to be re-formed, but ideas once true. When economic,
political, and scientific conditions are modifying themselves as
rapidly and extensively as they are in our day, it is reconstruction of
moral judgment that needs emphasis, rather than the existence of a lot
of ready-made "intuitions." When readjustment is required, deliberate
inquiry is the only alternative to inconsiderate, undirected, and hence
probably violent changes:--changes involving undue relaxation of moral
ties on one side and arbitrary reactions on the other.

=Deliberation and Intuition.=--It is indeed absurd to set immediate
recognition of quality and indirect calculation of more or less remote
consequences, intuition and thought, over against each other as if they
were rivals. For they are mutually supplementary. As we saw in a
previous chapter, the foresight of future results calls out an
_immediate reaction_ of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, of happiness
or dislike. (See p. 272.) It is just as false to say that we calculate
only future pains and pleasures (instead of changes in the world of
things and persons) as it is to say that anticipations of the changes to
be wrought in the world by our act are not accompanied by an immediate
emotional appreciation of their value. The notion that deliberation upon
the various alternatives open to us is simply a cold-blooded setting
down of various items to our advantage, and various other items to our
disadvantage (as Robinson Crusoe wrote down in bookkeeping fashion his
miseries and blessings), and then striking an algebraic balance, implies
something that never did and never could happen. Deliberation is a
process of active, suppressed, rehearsal; of imaginative dramatic
performance of various deeds carrying to their appropriate issues the
various tendencies which we feel stirring within us. When we see in
imagination this or that change brought about, there is a direct sense
of the amount and kind of worth which attaches to it, as real and as
direct, if not as strong, as if the act were really performed and its
consequence really brought home to us.

=Deliberation as Dramatic Rehearsal.=--We, indeed, estimate the import
or significance of any present desire or impulse by forecasting what it
would come or amount to if carried out; literally its consequences
define its _consequence_, its meaning and importance. But if these
consequences were conceived _merely as remote_, if their picturing did
not at once arouse a present sense of peace, of fulfillment, or of
dissatisfaction, of incompletion and irritation, the process of thinking
out consequences would remain purely intellectual. It would be as barren
of influence upon behavior as the mathematical speculations of a
disembodied angel. Any actual experience of reflection upon conduct will
show that every foreseen result at once stirs our present affections,
our likes and dislikes, our desires and aversions. There is developed a
running commentary which stamps values at once as good or evil. It is
this direct sense of value, not the consciousness of general rules or
ultimate goals, which finally determines the worth of the act to the
agent. Here is the inexpugnable element of truth in the intuitional
theory. Its error lies in conceiving this immediate response of
appreciation as if it excluded reflection instead of following directly
upon its heels. Deliberation is actually an imaginative rehearsal of
various courses of conduct. We give way, _in our mind_, to some impulse;
we try, _in our mind_, some plan. Following its career through various
steps, we find ourselves in imagination in the presence of the
consequences that would follow: and as we then like and approve, or
dislike and disapprove, these consequences, we find the original impulse
or plan good or bad. Deliberation is dramatic and active, not
mathematical and impersonal; and hence it has the intuitive, the direct
factor in it. The advantage of a mental trial, prior to the overt trial
(for the act after all is itself also a trial, a proving of the idea
that lies back of it), is that it is retrievable, whereas overt
consequences remain. They cannot be recalled. Moreover, many trials may
mentally be made in a short time. The imagining of various plans carried
out furnishes an opportunity for many impulses which at first are not in
evidence at all, to get under way. Many and varied direct sensings,
appreciations, take place. When many tendencies are brought into play,
there is clearly much greater probability that the capacity of self
which is really needed and appropriate will be brought into action, and
thus a truly reasonable happiness result. The tendency of deliberation
to "polarize" the various lines of activity into opposed alternatives,
into incompatible "either this or that," is a way of forcing into clear
recognition the importance of the issue.

=The Good Man's Judgments as Standard.=--This explains the idea of
Aristotle that only the good man is a good judge of what is really good.
Such an one will take satisfaction in the thought of noble ends and will
recoil at the idea of base results. Because of his formed capacities,
his organized habits and tendencies, he will respond to a suggested end
with an emotion which confers its appropriate kind and shade of value.
The brave man is sensitive to all acts and plans so far as they involve
energy and endurance in overcoming painful obstacles; the kindly man
responds at once to the elements that affect the well-being of others.
The moral sense or direct appreciations of the good man may thus be said
to furnish the standard of right and wrong. There are few persons who,
when in doubt regarding a difficult matter of conduct, do not think of
some other person in whose goodness they believe, and endeavor to direct
and clinch their own judgment by imagining how such an one would react
in a similar situation--what he would find congenial and what
disagreeable. Or else they imagine what that other person would think of
them if he knew of their doing such and such an act. And while this
method cannot supply the standard of their own judgment, cannot
determine the right or wrong for their own situations, it helps
emancipate judgment from selfish partialities, and it facilitates a
freer and more flexible play of imagination in construing and
appreciating the situation.


Between such a highly generalized and formal principle as that of Kant,
and the judgment of particular cases, we have intermediate
generalizations; rules which are broad as compared with individual
deeds, but narrow as compared with some one final principle. What are
their rational origin, place, and function? We have here again both the
empirical and the intuitional theories of knowledge, having to deal with
the same fundamental difficulty: What is the relation of the special
rule to the general principle on one side and to the special case on the
other? The more general, the more abstractly rational the rule, the
vaguer and less applicable it is. The more definite and fixed it is, the
greater the danger that it will be a Procrustean bed, mutilating the
rich fullness of the individual act, or destroying its grace and freedom
by making it conform servilely to a hard and fast rule. Our analysis
will accordingly be devoted to bringing to light the conditions under
which a rule may be rational and yet be of specific help.

=I. Intuitionalism and Casuistry.=--Utilitarianism at least holds that
rules are derived from actual cases of conduct; hence there must be
points of likeness between the cases to be judged and the rules for
judging them. But rules which do not originate from a consideration of
special cases, which simply descend out of the blue sky, have only the
most mechanical and external relation to the individual acts to be
judged. Suppose one is convinced that the rule of honesty was made
known just in and of itself by a special faculty, and had absolutely
nothing to do with the recollection of past cases or the forecast of
possible future circumstances. How would such a rule apply itself to any
particular case which needed to be judged? What bell would ring, what
signal would be given, to indicate that just _this_ case is the
appropriate case for the application of the rule of honest dealing? And
if by some miracle this question were answered so one knows that here is
a case for the rule of honesty, how would we know just what course in
detail the rule calls for? For the rule, to be applicable to all cases,
must omit the conditions which differentiate one case from another; it
must contain only the very few similar elements which are to be found in
all honest deeds. Reduced to this skeleton, not much would be left save
the bare injunction to be honest whatever happens, leaving it to chance,
the ordinary judgment of the individual, or to external authority to
find out just _what_ honesty specifically means in the given case.

This difficulty is so serious that all systems which have committed
themselves to belief in a number of hard and fast rules having their
origin in conscience, or in the word of God impressed upon the human
soul or externally revealed, always have had to resort to a more and
more complicated procedure to cover, if possible, all the cases. The
moral life is finally reduced by them to an elaborate formalism and

=Illustration in Casuistry.=--Suppose, for example, we take the Ten
Commandments as a starting-point. They are only ten, and naturally
confine themselves to general ideas, and ideas stated mainly in negative
form. Moreover, the same act may be brought under more than one rule. In
order to resolve the practical perplexities and uncertainties which
inevitably arise under such circumstances, _Casuistry_ is built up (from
the Latin _casus_, case). The attempt is made to foresee all the
different cases of action which may conceivably occur, and provide in
advance the exact rule for each case. For example, with reference to the
rule "do not kill," a list will be made of all the different situations
in which killing might occur:--accident, war, fulfillment of command of
political superior (as by a hangman), self-defense (defense of one's own
life, of others, of property), deliberate or premeditated killing with
its different motives (jealousy, avarice, revenge, etc.), killing with
slight premeditation, from sudden impulse, from different sorts and
degrees of provocation. To each one of these possible cases is assigned
its exact moral quality, its exact degree of turpitude and innocency.
Nor can this process end with overt acts; all the inner springs of
action which affect regard for life must be similarly classified: envy,
animosity, sudden rage, sullenness, cherishing of sense of injury, love
of tyrannical power, hardness or hostility, callousness--all these must
be specified into their different kinds and the exact moral worth of
each determined. What is done for this one kind of case must be done for
every part and phase of the entire moral life until it is all
inventoried, catalogued, and distributed into pigeon-holes definitely

=Dangers of Casuistry.=--Now dangers and evils attend this way of
conceiving the moral life, (a) _It tends to magnify the letter of
morality at the expense of its spirit._ It fixes attention not upon the
positive good in an act, not upon the underlying agent's disposition
which forms its spirit, nor upon the unique occasion and context which
form its atmosphere, but upon its literal conformity with Rule A, Class
I., Species 1, sub-head (1), etc. The effect of this is inevitably to
narrow the scope and lessen the depth of conduct. (i.) It tempts some to
hunt for that classification of their act which will make it the most
convenient or profitable for themselves. In popular speech,
"casuistical" has come to mean a way of judging acts which splits hairs
in the effort to find a way of acting that conduces to personal
interest and profit, and which yet may be justified by some moral
principle. (ii.) With others, this regard for the letter makes conduct
formal and pedantic. It gives rise to a rigid and hard type of character
illustrated among the Pharisees of olden and the Puritans of modern
time--the moral schemes of both classes being strongly impregnated with
the notion of fixed moral rules.

(b) _This ethical system also tends in practice to a legal view of
conduct._--Historically it always has sprung from carrying over legal
ideas into morality. In the legal view, liability to blame and to
punishment inflicted from without by some superior authority, is
necessarily prominent. Conduct is regulated through specific injunctions
and prohibitions: Do this, Do not do that. Exactly the sort of analysis
of which we have spoken above (p. 327) in the case of killing is
necessary, so that there may be definite and regular methods of
measuring guilt and assigning blame. Now the ideas of liability and
punishment and reward are, as we shall see in our further discussion
(chs. xvii. and xxi.), important factors in the conduct of life, but any
scheme of morals is defective which puts the question of avoiding
punishment in the foreground of attention, and which tends to create a
Pharisaical complacency in the mere fact of having conformed to command
or rule.

(c) _Probably the worst evil of this moral system is that it tends to
deprive moral life of freedom and spontaneity_ and to reduce it
(especially for the conscientious who take it seriously) to a more or
less anxious and servile conformity to externally imposed rules.
Obedience as loyalty to principle is a good, but this scheme practically
makes it the only good and conceives it not as loyalty to ideals, but as
conformity to commands. Moral rules exist just as independent
deliverances on their own account, and the right thing is merely to
follow them. This puts the center of moral gravity outside the concrete
processes of living. All systems which emphasize the letter more than
the spirit, legal consequences more than vital motives, put the
individual under the weight of external authority. They lead to the kind
of conduct described by St. Paul as under the law, not in the spirit,
with its constant attendant weight of anxiety, uncertain struggle, and
impending doom.

=All Fixed Rules Have Same Tendencies.=--Many who strenuously object to
all of these schemes of conduct, to everything which hardens it into
forms by emphasizing external commands, authority and punishments and
rewards, fail to see that such evils are logically connected with any
acceptance of the finality of fixed rules. They hold certain bodies of
people, religious officers, political or legal authorities, responsible
for what they object to in the scheme; while they still cling to the
idea that morality is an effort to apply to particular deeds and
projects a certain number of absolute unchanging moral rules. They fail
to see that, if this were its nature, those who attempt to provide the
machinery which would render it practically workable deserve praise
rather than blame. In fact, the notion of absolute rules or precepts
cannot be made workable except through certain superior authorities who
declare and enforce them. Said Locke: "It is no small power it gives one
man over another to be the dictator of principles and teacher of
unquestionable truths."

=II. Utilitarian View of General Rules.=--The utilitarians escape the
difficulties inherent in the application to particular cases of a rule
which has nothing to do with particular cases. Their principles for
judging right and wrong in particular cases are themselves
generalizations from particular observations of the effect of certain
acts upon happiness and misery. But if we take happiness in the
technical sense of Bentham (as meaning, that is, an aggregate of
isolated pleasures) it is impossible for general rules to exist--there
is nothing to generalize. If, however, we take happiness in its
common-sense form, as welfare, a state of successful achievement,
satisfactory realization of purpose, there can be no doubt of the
existence of maxims and formulæ in which mankind has registered its
experience. The following quotations from Mill bring out the essential

    "We think utility or happiness much too complex and indefinite an
    end to be sought except through the medium of various secondary
    ends concerning which there may be, and often is, agreement among
    persons who differ in their ultimate standard; and about which
    there does in fact prevail a much greater unanimity among thinking
    persons, than might be supposed from their diametrical divergence
    on the great questions of moral metaphysics" (_Essay on Bentham_).

These secondary ends or principles are such matters as regard for
health, honesty, chastity, kindness, and the like. Concerning them he
says in his _Utilitarianism_ (ch. ii.):

    "Mankind must by this time have acquired positive beliefs as to
    the effects of some actions on their happiness; and the beliefs
    which have thus come down are rules of morality for the multitude
    and for the philosopher until he has succeeded in finding
    better.... To consider the rules of morality as improvable is one
    thing; to pass over the intermediate generalizations entirely and
    endeavor to test each individual action directly by the first
    principle, is another.... Nobody argues that the act of navigation
    is not founded on astronomy, because sailors cannot wait to
    calculate the nautical almanac. Being rational creatures, they go
    to sea with it already calculated; and all rational creatures go
    out upon the sea of life with their minds made up on the common
    questions of right and wrong, as well as on many of the far more
    difficult questions of wise and foolish."

=Empirical Rules Run into Fixed Customs.=--It cannot be denied that Mill
here states considerations which are of great value in aiding present
judgments on right and wrong. The student of history will have little
doubt that the rules of conduct which the intuitionalist takes as
ultimate deliverances of a moral faculty are in truth generalizations of
the sort indicated by Mill. But the truth brought out by Mill does not
cover the ground which needs to be covered. Such rules at best cover
customary elements; they are based upon past habits of life, past
natural economic and political environments. And, as the student of
customs knows, greater store is often set upon trivial, foolish, and
even harmful things than upon serious ones--upon fashions of
hair-dressing, ablutions, worship of idols. Coming nearer our own
conditions, past customs certainly tolerate and sanction many practices,
such as war, cruel business competition, economic exploitation of the
weak, and absence of coöperative intelligent foresight, which the more
sensitive consciences of the day will not approve.

=Hence are Unsatisfactory.=--Yet such things have been so identified
with happiness that to forego them means misery, to alter them painful
disturbance. To take the rules of the past with any literalness as
criteria of judgment in the present, would be to return to the
unprogressive morality of the régime of custom--to surrender the advance
marked by reflective morality. Since Bentham and Mill were both
utilitarians, it is worth noting that Bentham insisted upon the
utilitarian standard just because he was so convinced of the
unsatisfactory character of the kind of rules upon which Mill is
dwelling. The "Nautical Almanac" has been _scientifically_ calculated;
it is adapted rationally to its end; but the rules which sum up custom
are a confused mixture of class interest, irrational sentiment,
authoritative pronunciamento, and genuine consideration of welfare.

=Empirical Rules Also Differ Widely.=--The fact is, moreover, that it is
only when the "intermediate generalizations" are taken vaguely and
abstractly that there is as much agreement as Mill claims. All educated
and virtuous persons in the same country practically agree upon the
rules of justice, benevolence, and regard for life, so long as they are
taken in such a vague way that they mean anything in general and nothing
in particular. Every one is in favor of justice in the abstract; but
existing political and economic discussions regarding tariff, sumptuary
laws, monetary standards, trades unions, trusts, the relation of capital
and labor, the regulation or ownership of public utilities, the
nationalization of land and industry, show that large bodies of
intelligent and equally well-disposed people are quite capable of
finding that the principle of justice requires exactly opposite things.

Custom still forms the background of all moral life, nor can we imagine
a state of affairs in which it should not. Customs are not external to
individuals' courses of action; they are embodied in the habits and
purposes of individuals; in the words of Grote (quoted above, p. 173),
they "reign under the appearance of habitual, _self-suggested_
tendencies." Laws, formulated and unformulated, social conventions,
rules of manners, the general expectations of public opinion, are all of
them sources of instruction regarding conduct. Without them the
individual would be practically helpless in determining the right
courses of action in the various situations in which he finds himself.
Through them he has provided himself in advance with a list of
questions, an organized series of points-of-view, by which to approach
and estimate each state of affairs requiring action. Most of the moral
judgments of every individual are framed in this way.

=For Customs Conflict.=--If social customs, or individual habits, never
conflicted with one another, this sort of guidance would suffice for the
determination of right and wrong. But reflection is necessitated because
opposite habits set up incompatible ends, forms of happiness between
which choice has to be made. Hence the need of _principles in judging_.
Principles of judgment cannot simply reinstate past rules of behavior,
for the simple reason that as long as these rules suffice there is no
reflection and no demand for principles. Good and evil, right and wrong,
are embodied in the injunctions and prohibitions of customs and
institutions and are not thought about.

=Moral Import of Principles is Intellectual, Not Imperative.=--This
brings us to the essential point in the consideration of the value of
general principles. _Rules are practical; they are habitual ways of
doing things. But principles are intellectual; they are useful methods
of judging things._ The fundamental error of the intuitionalist and of
the utilitarian (represented in the quotation from Mill) is that they
are on the lookout for rules which will of themselves tell agents just
what course of action to pursue; _whereas the object of moral principles
is to supply standpoints and methods which will enable the individual to
make for himself an analysis of the elements of good and evil in the
particular situation in which he finds himself_. No genuine moral
principle prescribes a specific course of action; rules[165] like
cooking recipes, may tell just what to do and how to do it. A moral
principle, such as that of chastity, of justice, of the golden rule,
gives the agent a basis for looking at and examining a particular
question that comes up. It holds before him certain possible aspects of
the act; it warns him against taking a short or partial view of the act.
It economizes his thinking by supplying him with the main heads by
reference to which to consider the bearings of his desires and purposes;
it guides him in his thinking by suggesting to him the important
considerations for which he should be on the lookout.

=Golden Rule as a Tool of Analysis.=--A moral principle, then, is not a
command to act or forbear acting in a given way: _it is a tool for
analyzing a special situation_, the right or wrong being determined by
the situation in its entirety, and not by the rule as such. We sometimes
hear it stated, for example, that the universal adoption of the Golden
Rule would at once settle all industrial disputes and difficulties. But
supposing that the principle were accepted in good faith by everybody;
it would not at once tell everybody just what to do in all the
complexities of his relations to others. When individuals are still
uncertain of what their real good may be, it does not finally decide
matters to tell them to regard the good of others as they would their
own. Nor does it mean that whatever in detail we want for ourselves we
should strive to give to others. Because I am fond of classical music it
does not follow that I should thrust as much of it as possible upon my
neighbors. But the "Golden Rule" does furnish us a _point of view from
which to consider acts_; it suggests the necessity of considering how
our acts affect the interests of others as well as our own; it tends to
prevent partiality of regard; it warns against setting an undue estimate
upon a particular consequence of pain or pleasure, simply because it
happens to affect us. In short, the Golden Rule does not issue special
orders or commands; but it does simplify judgment of the situations
requiring intelligent deliberation.

=Sympathy as Actuating Principle of a Reasonable Judgment.=--We have had
repeated occasion (as in the discussion of intent and motive, of
intuition and deliberate calculation) to see how artificial is the
separation of emotion and thought from one another. As the only
effective thought is one fused by emotion into a dominant interest, so
the only truly general, the reasonable as distinct from the merely
shrewd or clever thought, is the _generous_ thought. Sympathy widens our
interest in consequences and leads us to take into account such results
as affect the welfare of others; it aids us to count and weigh these
consequences as counting for as much as those which touch our own honor,
purse, or power. To put ourselves in the place of another, to see from
the standpoint of his purposes and values, to humble our estimate of our
own claims and pretensions to the level they would assume in the eyes of
a sympathetic and impartial observer, is the surest way to attain
universality and objectivity of moral knowledge. Sympathy, in short, is
the general principle of moral knowledge, not because its commands take
precedence of others (which they do not necessarily), but because it
furnishes the most reliable and efficacious _intellectual_ standpoint.
It supplies the tool, _par excellence_, for analyzing and resolving
complex cases. As was said in our last chapter, it is the _fusion_ of
the sympathetic impulses with others that is needed; what we now add is
that in this fusion, sympathy supplies the _pou sto_ for an effective,
broad, and objective survey of desires, projects, resolves, and deeds.
It translates the formal and empty reason of Kant out of its abstract
and theoretic character, just as it carries the cold calculations of
utilitarianism into recognition of the common good.


For criticisms of Kant's view of reason, see Caird, _Philosophy of
Kant_, Vol. II., Book II., ch. ii.; Paulsen, _System of Ethics_, pp.
194-203 and 355-363; Fite, _Introductory Study_, pp. 173-188; Muirhead,
_Elements of Ethics_, pp. 112-124.

For intuitionalism, see Calderwood, _Handbook of Moral Philosophy_;
Maurice, _Conscience_; Whewell, _The Elements of Morality_; Martineau,
_Types of Ethical Theory_, Vol. II., pp. 96-115; Mezes, _Ethics_, ch.
iii.; Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_, Book I., chs. viii.-ix., and Book
III. entire, but especially ch. i.; _History of Ethics_, 170-204, and
224-236, and _Lectures on Ethics of Green, Spencer, and Martineau_,

For the moral sense theory, see Sidgwick, _History of Ethics_, p. 189;
Shaftesbury, _Characteristics_; Hutcheson, _System of Moral

For casuistry, see references in Rand's _Bibliography_, Vol. III., Part
II., p. 880.

For the variability of moral rules, see Locke, _Essay on the Human
Understanding_, Book I.; Bain, _Moral Science_, Part I., ch. iii.;
Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_, Vol. I., Part II.; Williams, _Review of
Evolutional Ethics_, pp. 423-465; Bowne, _Principles of Ethics_, ch. v.;
Schurman, _The Ethical Import of Darwinism_; the writings of Westermarck
and Hobhouse elsewhere referred to, and Darwin, _Descent of Man_, Part
I., chs. iv.-v.

For the nature of moral judgment and the function of reason in conduct,
see Aristotle, Book III., chs. ii.-iii., and Book VI.; Ladd, _Philosophy
of Conduct_, ch. vii.; Sharp, _Essay on Analysis of the Moral Judgment_,
in Studies in Philosophy and Psychology (Garman Commemorative Volume);
Santayana, _Life of Reason_, Vol. I., chs. x.-xii.; Bryant, _Studies in
Character_, Part II., chs. iv.-v.

For the social character of conscience, see Cooley, _Human Nature and
the Social Order_, ch. x.

For sympathy and conscience, see Adam Smith, _Theory of Moral
Sentiments_, especially Part III., chs. i. and iv., and Part IV., chs.
i.-iii.; Stephen, _Science of Ethics_, pp. 228-238.


[158] "Any one can be angry: that is quite easy. Any one can give money
away or spend it. But to do these things to the right person, to the
right amount, at the right time, with the right aim and in the right
manner--this is not what any one can easily do."--ARISTOTLE, _Ethics_,
Book II., ch. ix.

[159] Compare the sentence quoted on p. 268 from Hazlitt.

[160] This means Duty. This phase will be discussed in the next chapter.

[161] _Kant's Theory of Ethics_, trans. by Abbott, pp. 47-51.

[162] In last analysis Kant is trying to derive moral enlightenment from
the most abstract principle of formal logic, the principle of Identity,
that A is A!

[163] A student in an ethics class once made this remark: "Conscience is
infallible, but we should not always follow it. Sometimes we should use
our reason."

[164] Compare Locke, _Essay on the Human Understanding_, Book I., ch.

[165] Of course, the word "rule" is often used to designate a
principle--as in the case of the phrase "golden-rule." We are speaking
not of the words, but of their underlying ideas.



=Conflict of Ends as Attractive and as Reasonable.=--The previous
discussion has brought out the contrast between a Good or Satisfaction
which is such _directly_, immediately, by appealing attractively to
desire; and one which is such indirectly, through considerations which
reflection brings up. As we have seen, the latter must, if entertained
at all, arouse some direct emotional response, must be felt to be in
some way satisfactory. But the _way_ may be quite unlike that of the end
which attracts and holds a man irrespective of the principle brought to
light by reflection. The one may be intense, vivid, absorbing, passing
at once into overt action, unless checked by a contrary reason. The good
whose claim to be good depends mainly on projection of remote
considerations, may be theoretically recognized and yet the direct
appeal to the particular agent at the particular time be feeble and
pallid. The "law of the mind" may assert itself less urgently than the
"law of the members" which wars against it.

=Two Senses of Term Duty.=--This contrast gives rise to the fact of
Duty. On one side is the rightful supremacy of the reasonable but remote
good; on the other side is the aversion of those springs to action which
are immediately most urgent. Between them exists the necessity of
securing for the reasonable good efficacy in operation; or the necessity
of redirecting the play of naturally dominant desires. Duty is also
used, to be sure, in a looser and more external sense. To identify the
dutiful with the right apart from conflict, to say that a man did his
duty, may mean that he did right, irrespective of the prior state of his
inclinations. It frequently happens that the wider and larger good which
is developed through reflective memory and foresight is welcomed, is
directly appreciated as good, since it is thoroughly attractive. Without
stress and strain, without struggle, it just displaces the object which
unreflective impulse had suggested. It is the fit and proper, the only
sensible and wise thing, under the circumstances. The man does his duty,
but is glad to do it, and would be troubled by the thought of another
line of action. So far as calling the act "duty" brings in any new
meaning, it means that the right act is one which is found to meet the
demands, the necessities, of the situation in which it takes place. The
Romans thus spoke of duties as _offices_, the performance of those
functions which are appropriate to the status which every person
occupies because of his social relations.

=Conscious Conflict.=--But there are other cases in which the _right_
end is distinctly apprehended by the person as standing in opposition to
his natural inclinations, as a principle or law which _ought_ to be
followed, but which _can_ be followed only by constraining the
inclinations, by snubbing and coercing them. This state of affairs is
well represented by the following quotation from Matthew Arnold, if we
take it as merely describing the facts, not as implying a theory as to
their explanation:

    "All experience with conduct brings us at last to the fact of two
    selves, or instincts, or forces--name them, however we may and
    however we may suppose them to have arisen--contending for the
    mastery over men: one, a movement of first impulse and more
    involuntary, leading us to gratify any inclination that may
    solicit us and called generally a movement of man's ordinary or
    passing self, of sense, appetite, desire; the other a movement of
    reflection and more voluntary, leading us to submit inclination
    to some rule, and called generally a movement of man's higher or
    enduring self, of reason, spirit, will."[166]

We shall (I.) present what we consider the true account of this
situation of conflict in which the sense of duty is found; (II.) turn to
explanations which are one-sided, taking up (1) the intuitive, (2) the
utilitarian theory; and finally (III.) return with the results of this
criticism to a restatement of our own theory.


Ordinary language sets before us some main facts: duty suggests what is
due, a debt to be paid; ought is connected with owe; obligation implies
being bound to something--as we speak of "bounden duty." We speak
naturally of "meeting obligations"; of duties being "imposed," "laid
upon" one. The person who is habitually careless about his duties is
"unruly" or "lawless"; one who evades or refuses them is "unprincipled."
These ideas suggest there is something required, exacted, having the
sanction of law, or a regular and regulative principle; and imply
natural aversion to the requirements exacted, a preference for something
else. Hence duty as a conscious factor means constraint of inclination;
an unwillingness or reluctance which _should_ be overcome but which it
is difficult to surmount, requiring an effort which only adequate
recognition of the rightful supremacy of the dutiful end will enable one
to put forth. Thus we speak of interest conflicting with principle, and
desire with duty. While they are inevitably bound together, it will be
convenient to discuss separately (1) Inclination and impulse as averse
to duty, and (2) Duty as having authority, as expressing law.

=1. Inclination Averse to Duty.=--Directly and indirectly, all desires
root in certain fundamental organic wants and appetites. Conduct,
behavior, implies a living organism. If this organism were not equipped
with an intense instinctive tendency to keep itself going, to sustain
itself, it would soon cease to be amid the menaces, difficulties,
rebuffs, and failures of life. Life means appetites, like hunger,
thirst, sex; instincts like anger, fear, and hope, which are almost
imperious in their struggles for satisfaction. They do not arise from
reflection, but antedate it; their existence does not depend upon
consideration of consequences, but their existence it is which tends to
call out reflection. Their very presence in a healthy organism means a
certain reservoir of energy which overflows almost spontaneously. They
are impulsive. Such tendencies, then, constitute an essential and
fundamental part of the capacities of a person; their realization is
involved in one's happiness. In all this there is nothing abnormal nor
immoral. But a human being is something more than a mere demand for the
satisfaction of instincts of food, sex, and protection. If we admit (as
the theory of organic evolution requires) that all other desires and
purposes are _ultimately_ derived from these tendencies of the organism,
still it is true that the refined and highly developed forms exist side
by side with crude, organic forms, and that the simultaneous
satisfaction of the two types, just as they stand, is impossible.

=Organic and Reflectively Formed Tendencies Conflict.=--Even if it be
true, as it may well be, that the desires and purposes connected with
property were developed out of instincts having to do with food for self
and offspring, it is still true that the developed desires do not wholly
displace those out of which they developed. The presence of the purposes
elaborated by thought side by side with the more organic demands causes
strife and the need of resolution. The accumulation of property may
involve subordinating the immediate urgency of hunger; property as an
institution implies that one is not free to satisfy his appetite just as
he pleases, but may have to postpone or forego satisfaction, because the
food supply belongs to another; or that he can satisfy hunger only
through some labor which in itself is disagreeable to him. Similarly the
family springs originally out of the instinct of reproduction. But the
purposes and plans which go with family life are totally inconsistent
with the mere gratification of sexual desire in its casual and
spontaneous appearance. The refined, highly developed, and complex
purposes exact a checking, a regulation and subordination of
inclinations as they first spring up--a control to which the
inclinations are not of themselves prone and against which they may
rebelliously assert themselves.

=Duty May Reside on the More Impulsive Side.=--It would be a great
mistake, however, to limit the need of subordination simply to the
unruly agencies of appetite. Habits which have been consciously or
reflectively formed, even when in their original formation these habits
had the sanction and approval of reason, require control. The habits of
a professional man, of an investigator, or a lawyer, for example, have
been formed through careful and persistent reflection directed upon ends
adjudged right. Virtues of painstaking industry, of perseverance, have
been formed; untimely and unseemly desires have been checked. But as an
outcome these habits, and the desires and purposes that express them,
have perhaps become all-engrossing. Occupation is preoccupation. It
encroaches upon the attention needed for other concerns. The skill
gained tends to shut the individual up to narrow matters and to shut out
other "universes" of good which should be desired. Domestic and civic
responsibilities are perhaps felt to be insignificant details or
irritating burdens unworthy of attention. Thus a reflective habit,
legitimate in itself, right in its right place, may give rise to
desires and ends which involve a corrosive selfishness.

Moreover, that the insubordination does not reside in appetites or
impulses just as appetites and impulses, is seen in the fact that duty
may lie on the side of a purpose connected with them, and be asserted
against the force of a habit formed under the supervision of thought.
The student or artist may find his pursuit makes him averse to
satisfying the needful claims of hunger and healthy exercise. The
prudent business man may find himself undutifully cold to the prompting
of an impulse of pity; the student of books or special intellectual or
artistic ends may find duty on the side of some direct human impulse.

=Statement of Problem.=--Such considerations show that we cannot
attribute the conflict of duty and inclination simply to the existence
of appetites and unreflective impulses, as if these were in and of
themselves opposed to regulation by any principle. We must seek for an
explanation which will apply equally to appetites and to habits of
thought. What is there common to the situations of him who feels it his
duty to check the satisfaction of strong hunger until others have been
properly served, and of the scientific investigator who finds it his
duty to check the exercise of his habit of thinking in order that he may
satisfy the demands of his body?

=Statement of Explanation.=--Any habit, like any appetite or instinct,
represents something formed, set; whether this has occurred in the
history of the race or of the individual makes little difference to its
established urgency. Habit is second, if not first, nature. (1) Habit
represents _facilities_; what is set, organized, is relatively easy. It
_marks the line of least resistance_. A habit of reflection, so far as
it is a specialized habit, is as easy and natural to follow as an
organic appetite. (2) Moreover, the exercise of any easy, frictionless
habit is pleasurable. It is a commonplace that use and wont deprive
situations of originally disagreeable features. (3) Finally, a formed
habit is an active _tendency_. It only needs an appropriate stimulus to
set it going; frequently the mere absence of any strong obstacle serves
to release its pent-up energy. It is a propensity to act in a certain
way whenever opportunity presents. Failure to function is uncomfortable
and arouses feelings of irritation or lack.

Reluctance to the right end, an aversion requiring to be overcome, if at
all, by recognition of the superior value of the right end, is then to
be accounted for _on the ground of the inertia or momentum of any
organized, established tendency_. This momentum gives the common ground
to instinctive impulses and deliberately formed habits. The momentum
represents the _old_, an adaptation to familiar, customary conditions.
So far as similar conditions recur, the formed power functions
economically and effectively, supplying ease, promptness, certainty, and
agreeableness to the execution of an act.

But if new, changed conditions require a serious readjustment of the old
habit or appetite, the natural tendency will be to resist this demand.
Thus we have precisely the traits of reluctance and constraint which
mark the consciousness of duty. A self without habits, one loose and
fluid, in which change in one direction is just as easy as in another,
would not have the sense of duty. A self with no new possibilities,
rigidly set in conditions and perfectly accommodated to them, would not
have it. But definite, persistent, urgent tendencies to act in a given
way, occurring at the same time with other incompatible tendencies which
represent the self more adequately and yet are not organized into
habits, afford the conditions of the sense of restraint. If for any
reason the unorganized tendency is judged to be the truer expression of
self, we have also the sense of lawful constraint. _The constraint of
appetite and desire is a phenomenon of practical readjustment, within
the structure of character, due to conflict of tendencies so
irreconcilable in their existing forms as to demand radical

When an appetite is in accord with those habits of an individual which
enable him to perform his social functions, or which naturally accrue
from his social relations, it is legitimate and good; when it conflicts,
it is illicit, it is lust; we call it by hard names and we demand that
it be curbed; we regard its force as a menace to the integrity of the
agent and a threat to social order. When the reflective habits of an
individual come into conflict with natural appetites and impulses, the
manifestation of which would enlarge or make more certain the powers of
the individual in his full relations to others, it is the reflective
habits which have to be held in and redirected at the cost of whatever

=(2) The Authority of Duty.=--A duty, in Kant's words, is a
_categorical_ imperative--it claims the absolute right of way as against
immediate inclination. That which, on one side, is the constraint of
natural desire, is, on the other, the authoritative claim of the right
end to regulate. Over against the course of action most immediately
urgent, most easy and comfortable, so congenial as at once to motivate
action unless checked, stands another course, representing a wider and
more far-reaching point of view, and hence furnishing the rational end
of the situation. However lacking in intensity, however austere this
end, it stands for the whole self, and is therefore felt to be rightly
supreme over any partial tendency. But since it looks to realization in
an uncertain future, rather than permission just to let go what is most
urgent at the moment, it requires effort, hard work, work of attention
more or less repulsive and uncongenial. Hence that sense of stress and
strain, of being pulled one way by inclination and another by the claims
of right, so characteristic of an experience of obligation.

=Social Character of Duties.=--But this statement describes the
experience only on its formal side. In the concrete, that end which
possesses claim to regulate desire is the one which grows out of the
social position or function of the agent, out of _a course of action to
which he is committed by a regular, socially established connection
between himself and others_. The man who has assumed the position of a
husband and a parent has by that very fact entered upon a _line_ of
action, something continuous, running far into the future; something so
fundamental that it modifies and pervades his other activities,
requiring them to be coördinated or rearranged from its point of view.
The same thing holds, of course, of the calling of a doctor, a lawyer, a
merchant, a banker, a judge, or other officer of the State. Each social
calling implies a continuous, regular mode of action, binding together
into a whole a multitude of acts occurring at different times, and
giving rise to definite expectations and demands on the part of others.
Every relationship in life, is, as it were, _a tacit or expressed
contract with others_, committing one, by the simple fact that he
occupies that relationship, to a corresponding mode of action. Every
one, willy-nilly, occupies a social position; if not a parent, he is a
child; if not an officer, then a citizen of the State; if not pursuing
an occupation, he is in preparation for an occupation, or else is living
upon the results of the labors of others.

=Connection with Selfhood.=--Every one, in short, is in _general
relations to others_,--relationships which enter so internally and so
intimately into the very make-up of his being that he is not morally
free to pick and choose, saying, this good is really my affair, that
other one not. The mode of action which is required by the fact that the
person is a member of a complex social network is a more final
expression of his own nature than is the temporarily intense instinctive
appetite, or the habit which has become "second nature." It is not for
the individual to say, the latter is attractive and therefore really
mine, while the former is repellant and therefore an alien intruder, to
be surrendered to only if it cannot be evaded. From this point of view,
the conflict of desire and duty, of interest and principle, expresses
itself as a conflict between tendencies which have got organized into
one's _fixed character_ and which therefore appeal to him just as he is;
and those tendencies which relate to the development of a larger self, a
self which should take fuller account of social relations. The Kantian
theory emphasizes the fact brought out above: _viz._, that duty
represents the authority of an act expressing the reasonable and
"universal" self over a casual and partial self; while the utilitarian
theory emphasizes the part played by social institutions and demands in
creating and enforcing both special duties and the sense of duty in


="Accord with" Duty versus "from" Duty.=--Kant points out that acts
may be "in accordance with duty" and yet not be done "from duty."
"It is always, for example, a matter of duty that a dealer should not
overcharge an inexperienced purchaser, and wherever there is much
commerce the prudent tradesman does not overcharge.... Men are thus
honestly served; but this is not enough to prove that the tradesman so
acted from duty and from principles of honesty; his own advantage
required it" (_Kant's Theory of Ethics_, Abbott's translation, p. 13).
In such a case the act externally viewed is in _accordance_ with duty;
morally viewed, it proceeds from selfish calculation of personal profit,
not from duty. This is true in general of all acts which, though
outwardly right, spring from considerations of expediency, and are based
on the consideration that "honesty (or whatever) is the best policy."
Persons are naturally inclined to take care of their health, their
property, their children, or whatever belongs to them. Such acts, no
matter how much they accord with duty, are not done _from duty_, but
from inclination. If a man is suffering, unfortunate, desirous of death,
and yet cherishes his life with no love for it, but from the duty to do
so, his motive has truly moral value. So if a mother cares for her
child, _because_ she recognizes that it is her duty, the act is truly

=From Duty alone Moral.=--According to Kant, then, acts alone have moral
import that are consciously performed "from duty," that is, with
recognition of its authority as their animating spring. "_The idea of
good and evil (in their moral sense) must not be determined before the
moral law, but only after it and by means of it_" (_Ibid._, p. 154). All
our desires and inclinations seek naturally for an _end_ which is
good--for happiness, success, achievement. No one of them nor all of
them put together, then, can possibly supply the motive of acting _from_
duty. Hence duty and its authority must spring from another source, from
reason itself, which supplies the consciousness of a law which _ought_
to be the motive of every act, whether it is or not. The utilitarians
completely reverse the truth of morals when they say that the idea of
the good end comes first and the "right" is that which realizes the good

=Dual Constitution of Man.=--We are all familiar with the notion that
man has a dual constitution; that he is a creature both of sense and
spirit; that he has a carnal and an ideal nature; a lower and a higher
self, a self of appetite and of reason. Now Kant's theory of duty is a
peculiar version of this common notion. Man's special ends and purposes
all spring from desires and inclinations. These are all for personal
happiness and hence without moral worth. They form man's sensuous,
appetitive nature, which if not "base" in itself easily becomes so,
because it struggles with principle for the office of supplying motives
for action. The principle of a law absolutely binding, requires the
complete expulsion of the claim of desires to _motivate_ action. (See
_Kant's Theory_, pp. 70-79; 132-136; 159-163.) If a man were an animal,
he would have only appetite to follow; if he were a god or angel, he
would have only reason. Being man, being a peculiar compound of sense
and reason, he has put upon him the problem of resisting the natural
prompting of inclination and of accepting the duty of acting from
reverence for duty.

=Criticism of Kant's Theory.=--There is an undoubted fact back of Kant's
conception which gives it whatever plausibility it has--the fact that
inclinations which are not necessarily evil tend to claim a controlling
position, a claim which has to be resisted. The peculiarity of Kant's
interpretation lies in its complete and final separation of the two
aspects, "higher" and "lower," the appetitive and rational, of man's
nature, and it is upon this separation, accordingly, that our discussion
will be directed.

=I. Duty and the Affections.=--In the first place, Kant's absolute
separation of sense or appetite from reason and duty, because of its
necessary disparagement of the affections leads to a formal and pedantic
view of morality. It is one thing to say that desire as it _first_ shows
itself _sometimes_ prompts to a morally inadequate end; it is quite
another thing to say that _any_ acceptance of an end of desire as a
motive is morally wrong--that the act to be right must be first brought
under a conscious acknowledgment of some law or principle. Only the
exigencies of a ready-made theory would lead any one to think that
habitual purposes that express the habitually dominant tendencies and
powers of the agent, may not suffice to keep morally sound the main
tenor of behavior; that it is impossible for regard for right ends to
become organized into character and to be fused into working unity with
natural impulses. Only a metaphysical theory regarding the separation
of sense and reason in man leads to the denial of this fact.

Between the merchant who is honest in his weights and fixed in his
prices merely because he calculates that such a course is to his own
advantage, and the merchant (if such a person could exist) who should
never sell a spool of thread or a paper of pins without having first
reminded himself that his ultimate motive for so doing was respect for
the law of duty, there is the ordinary merchant who is honest because he
has the desires characteristic of an honest man. Schiller has made fun
of the artificial stringency of Kant's theory in some verses which
represent a disciple coming to Kant with his perplexity:

  "Willingly serve I my friends, but I do it, alas with affection.
  Hence I am plagued with this doubt, virtue I have not attained!"

to which he received the reply:

  "This is your only resource, you must stubbornly seek to abhor them;
  Then you can do with disgust that which the law may enjoin."

These verses are a caricature of Kant's position; he does not require
that affections should be crushed, but that they should be stamped with
acknowledgment of law before being accepted as motives. But the verses
bring out the absurd element in the notion that the affections and
inclinations may not of themselves be morally adequate springs to
action,--as if a man could not eat his dinner simply because he was
hungry, or be amiable to a companion because he wanted to be, or relieve
distress because his compassionate nature urged him to it.

It is worth while noting that some moralists have gone to the opposite
extreme and have held that an act is not right unless it expresses the
overflowing spontaneity of the affections; that a man's act is only
imperfectly right when he performs it not from affection, but from
coercion by duty. Thus Emerson speaks of men who "do by knowledge what
the stones do by structure." And again, "We love characters in
proportion as they are impulsive and spontaneous. When we see a soul
whose acts are all regal, graceful, and pleasant as roses, we must thank
God that such things can be and are, and not turn sourly on the angel
and say, 'Crump is a better man with his grunting resistance to all his
native devils.'" The facts seem to be that while, in a good man, natural
impulses and formed habits are adequate motive powers under ordinary
conditions, there are times when an end, somewhat weak in its motive
force because it does not express an habitually dominant power of the
self, needs to be reënforced by associations which have gathered at all
periods of his past around the experience of good. There is a certain
reservoir of emotional force which, while far from fluid, is capable of
transfer and application, especially in a conscientious person. Kant
criticizes the moral sense theory on the ground that "in order to
imagine the vicious man tormented with a sense of his transgressions, it
must first represent him as morally good in the main trend of his
character" (Abbott, p. 128). Well, a man who is capable of making appeal
to the sense of duty in general, is the one in whom love of good is
already dominant.

=II. Tendency to Fanaticism and Idealization of Authority.=--Kant's
theory of fixed and final separation between desire and reason leads us
into a fatal dilemma; either a right end is impossible, or any end is
right provided we fall back on a belief that it is our duty to perform
it. Kant holds that every concrete end, every definite purpose which we
entertain, comes from desire. Law utters no specific command except "do
your duty"; it stamps an end of desire as right only when it is pursued,
not because it is an end of desire, but "from duty." The actual end
which is before us is, in any case, supplied through inclination and
desire. Reason furnishes _principle_ as a _motive_. We have here, in
another form, the separation of end and motive which has already
occupied us (p. 248). End and motive are so disconnected, so irrelevant
to one another, that we have no alternative except either to condemn
every end, because, being prompted by desire, it falls so far short of
the majesty of duty; or else fanatically to persist in any course when
once we have formally brought it under the notion of duty.

The latter alternative would be the one chosen by a truly Kantian agent
because it is alone possible in practice. But the moral fanatic does
about as much evil in the world as the man of no moral principle.
Religious wars, persecutions, intolerance, harsh judgment of others,
obstinate persistence in a course of action once entered upon in spite
of the testimony of experience to the harm that results; blind devotion
to narrow and one-sided aims; deliberate opposition to art, culture,
social amenities, recreations, or whatever the "man of principle"
happens to find obnoxious: pharisaical conviction of superiority, of
being the peculiar, chosen instrument of the moral law;--these and the
countless ills that follow in their wake, are inevitable effects of
erecting the isolated conviction of duty into a sufficient motive of
action. So far as these evils do not actually flow from an acceptance of
the Kantian principle, it is because that has been promulgated and for
the most part adopted, where reverence for authority and law is strong.
In Germany the Kantian philosophy has, upon the whole, served as a help
in criticizing law and procedure on the basis of their rationality,
while it has also served as a convenient stamp of rational sanction upon
a politically authoritative régime, already fairly reasonable, as such
matters go, in the content of its legislation and administration.

=III. Meaning of Duty for Duty's Sake.=--It is a sound principle to do
our duty _as_ our duty, and not for the sake of something else. "Duty
for duty's sake" means, in truth, _an act for the act's own sake_; the
gift of cold water, the word of encouragement, the sweeping of the room,
the learning of the lesson, the selling of the goods, the painting of
the picture, because they are the things really called for at a given
time, and hence their own excuses for being. _No moral act is a means to
anything beyond itself,--not even to morality._ But, upon Kant's theory,
duty for duty's sake means a special act not for its own sake, but for
the sake of abstract principle. Just as the hedonists regard a special
act as a mere means to happiness, so Kant makes the concrete act a mere
means to virtue. As there is a "hedonistic paradox," namely that the way
to get happiness is to forget it, to devote ourselves to things and
persons about us; so there is a "moralistic" paradox, that the way to
get goodness is to cease to think of it--as something separate--and to
devote ourselves to the realization of the full value of the practical
situations in which we find ourselves. Men can really think of their
"duty" only when they are thinking of specific things to be done; to
think of Duty at large or in the abstract is one of the best ways of
avoiding doing it, or of doing it in a partial and perverted way.

=Summary of Criticism of Kant.=--To sum up, the theory which regards
duty as having its source in a rational self which is independent of and
above the self of inclination and affection (1) deprives the habitual
desires and affections, which make the difference between one concrete
character and another, of moral significance; (2) commits us to an
unenlightened performance of what is called duty irrespective of its
real goodness; and (3) makes moral principle a remote abstraction,
instead of the vivifying soul of a concrete deed. Its strongest point,
its insistence upon the _autonomous_ character of duty, or that duty is
organically connected with the self in some of its phases or functions,
will appear more clearly as we contrast it with the utilitarian theory.


=Problem of Duty on Hedonistic Basis.=--The utilitarians' explanation of
the constraint of desire by the authority of right is framed to meet the
peculiar difficulty in which their hedonistic theory places them. If
pleasure is the good, and if all desire is naturally for the good, why
should desire have to be constrained? How can such a thing as "duty"
exist at all? For to say that a man is obliged or bound to seek that
which he just can't help seeking is absurd. There is, according to the
utilitarian, a difference, however, between the pleasure which is the
object of desire and that which is the standard of judgment. The former
is the person's own pleasure; it is private. The happiness which
measures the rightness of the act is that of all persons who are
affected by it. In view of this divergence, there must, if right action
is to occur, be agencies which operate upon the individual so as to make
him find his personal pleasure in that which conduces to the general
welfare. These influences are the expectations and demands of _others so
far as they attach consequences in the way of punishment, of suffering,
and of reward and pleasure, to the deeds of an individual_.

In this way the natural inclination of an individual towards a certain
pleasure, or his natural revulsion from a certain pain, may be checked
and transformed by recognition that if he seeks the pleasure, others
will inflict more than an equivalent pain, or if he bears the pain,
others will reward him with more than compensating pleasures. In such
cases, we have the fact of duty or obligation. There is constraint of
first inclination through recognition of superior power, this power
being asserted in its expressly declared intention of rewarding and
penalizing according as its prescriptions are or are not followed. These
are the factors: (1) demands, expectations, rules externally imposed;
(2) consequences in the way of proffered reward of pleasure, and penalty
of pain; (3) resulting constraint of the natural manifestation of
desires. In the main, the theory is based on the analogy of legal

=(a) Bentham's Account.=--Bentham dislikes the very word duty; and
speaks preferably of the "sanctions" of an act. The following quotations
will serve to confirm the foregoing statements.

    "The happiness of the individuals of whom a community is composed
    is ... the sole standard, in conformity to which each individual
    _ought_ to be made to fashion his behavior. But whether it be
    this, or anything else that is to be done, there is nothing by
    which a man can ultimately be _made_ to do it, but either pain or

A kind of pain or pleasure which tends to _make_ an individual find his
own good in the good of the community is a _sanction_. Of these Bentham
mentions four kinds, of which the first alone is not due to the will of
others, but is _physical_. Thus the individual may check his inclination
to drink by a thought of the ills that flow from drunkenness.
Metaphorically, then, he may be said to have a duty not to drink;
strictly speaking, however, this is his own obvious interest. The
sanctions proper are (a) political, consequences in the way of pleasure
and pain (especially pain) attached to injunctions and prohibitions by a
legal superior; (b) popular, the consequences following from the more
indefinite influence of public opinion--such as being "sent to
Coventry," being shunned, rendered unpopular, losing reputation, or
honor, etc.; and (3) religious, penalties of hell and rewards of heaven
attached to action by a divine being, or similar penances and rewards
by the representatives on earth (church, priests, etc.) of this divine

=Value and Deficiencies of This View.=--The strong point of this
explanation of duty is obviously that it recognizes the large, the very
large, rôle played by social institutions, regulations, and demands in
bringing home to a person the fact that certain acts, whether he is
naturally so inclined or not, should be performed. But its weak point is
that it tends to identify duty with coercion; to change the "ought" if
not into a physical "must," at least into the psychological "must" of
fear of pain and hope of pleasure. Hope of reward and fear of penalty
are real enough motives in human life; but acts performed mainly or
solely on their account do not, in the unprejudiced judgment of mankind,
rank very high morally. Habitually to appeal to such motives is rather
to weaken than to strengthen the tendencies in the individual which make
for right action. The difficulty lies clearly in the purely _external_
character of the "sanctions," and this in turn is due to the fact that
the obligations imposed by the demands and expectancies of others do not
have any intrinsic connection with the character of the individual of
whom they are exacted. They are wholly external burdens and impositions.

The individual, with his desires and his pleasures, being made up out of
particular states of feeling, is complete in himself. Social
relationships must then be alien and external; if they modify in any way
the existing body of feelings they are artificial constraints. One
individual merely _happens_ to live side by side with other individuals,
who are in themselves isolated, and are complete in their isolation. If
their external acts conflict, it may be necessary to invade and change
the body of feelings which make up the self from which the act flows.
Hence duty.

The later development of utilitarianism tended to get away from this
psychical and atomic individualism; and to conceive the good of an
individual as including _within_ himself relations to others. So far as
this was done, the demands of others, public opinion, laws, etc., became
factors _in the development of the individual, and in arousing him to an
adequate sense of what his good is, and of interest in effecting it_.
Later utilitarianism dwells less than Bentham upon external sanctions,
and more upon an unconscious shaping of the individual's character and
motives through imitation, education, and all the agencies which mould
the individual's desires into natural agreement with the social type.
While it is John Stuart Mill who insists most upon the internal and
qualitative change of disposition that thus takes place,[169] it is Bain
and Spencer who give the most detailed account of the methods by which
it is brought about.

=(b) Bain's Account.=--His basis agrees with Bentham's: "The proper
meaning, or import, of the terms (duty, obligation) refers to that class
of action which is enforced by the sanction of punishment" (Bain,
_Emotions and Will_, p. 286). But he sets less store by political
legislation and the force of vague public opinion, and more by the
gradual and subtle processes of family education. The lesson of
obedience, that there are things to be done whether one wishes or no, is
impressed upon the child almost unremittingly from the very first moment
of life. There are three stages in the complete evolution of the sense
of duty. The first, the lowest and that beyond which some persons never
go, is that in which "susceptibility to pleasure and pain is made use
of to bring about obedience, and a mental association is rapidly formed
between the obedience and apprehended pain, more or less magnified by
fear." The fact that punishment may be kept up until the child desists
from the act "leaves on his mind a certain dread and awful impression as
connected with forbidden actions." Here we have in its germ conscience,
acknowledgment of duty, in its most external form.

A child in a good home (and a citizen in a good state) soon adds other
associations. The command is uttered, the penalty threatened, by those
whom he admires, respects, and loves. This element brings in a new
dread--the fear of giving pain to the beloved object. Such dread is more
disinterested. It centers rather about the point of view from which the
act is held wrong than about the thought of harm to self. As
intelligence develops, the person apprehends the positive ends, the
goods, which are protected by the command put on him; he sees the use
and reason of the prohibition to which he is subject, and approving of
what it safeguards, approves the restriction itself. "A new motive is
added on and begirds the action with a threefold fear.... If the duty
prescribed has been approved of by the mind as _protective of the
general interests of persons engaging our sympathies_, the violation of
this on our part affects us with all the pain that we feel from
inflicting _an injury upon those interests_."

=Transformation into an Internal Power.=--When the child appreciates
"_the reasons for the command, the character of conscience is entirely
transformed_." The fear which began as fear of the penalty that a
superior power may inflict, adds to itself the fear of displeasing a
beloved person; and is finally transformed into the dread of injuring
interests the worth of which the individual appreciates and in which he
shares. The sense of duty now "stands upon an independent foundation."
It is an internal "ideal resemblance of public authority," "an imitation
(or facsimile) within ourselves of the government without us." "Regard
is now had to the intent and meaning of the law and not to the mere fact
of its being prescribed by some power." Thus there is developed a sense
of obligation in general, which may be detached from the particular
deeds which were originally imposed under the sanction of penalty, and
transferred to new ends which have never even been socially imposed,
which the individual has perhaps for the first time conceived within
himself. "The feeling and habit of obligation" which was generated from
social pressure remains, but as a distinct individually cherished thing
(Bain, _Emotions and Will_, p. 319 n.). This view of the _final_ sense
of obligation thus approximates Kant's view of the autonomous character
of duty.

=(c) Spencer's Account.=--Herbert Spencer (like Bentham) lays emphasis
upon the restraining influence of various social influences, but lays
stress, as Bentham does not, upon the _internal_ changes effected by
long-continued, unremitting pressure exercised through the entire period
of human evolution. Taken in itself, the consciousness of duty--the
distinctively moral consciousness--is the control of proximate ends by
remote ones, of simple by complex aims, of the sensory or presentative
by the ideal or representative. An undeveloped individual or race lives
and acts in the present; the mature is controlled by foresight of an
indefinitely distant future. The thief who steals is actuated by a
simple feeling, the mere impulse of acquisition; the business man
conducts his acquisition in view of highly complex considerations of
property and ownership. A low-grade intelligence acts only upon sensory
stimulus, immediately present; a developed mind is moved by elaborate
intellectual constructions, by imaginations and ideas which far outrun
the observed or observable scene. Each step of the development of
intelligence, of culture, whether in the individual or the race, is
dependent upon ability to _subordinate_ the immediate simple,
physically present tendency and aim to the remote, compound, and only
ideally present intention (Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_, Vol. I.,
Part I, ch. vii.).

=Subordination of Near to Remote Good Dependent on Social
Influences.=--"The conscious relinquishment of immediate and special
good to gain distant and general good ... is a cardinal trait of the
self-restraint called moral." But this develops out of forms of
restraint which are not moral; where the "relinquishment" and
subordination of the present and temporary good is not consciously
willed by the individual in view of a conscious appreciation of a
distant and inclusive good; but where action in view of the latter is
forced upon the individual by outside authority, operating by menace,
and having the sanction of fear. These outside controls are three in
number: political or legal; supernatural, priestly, or religious; and
popular. All these external controls, working through dread of pain and
promise of reward, bring about, however, in the individual a habit of
looking to the remote, rather than to the proximate, end. At first the
thought of these extrinsic consequences, those which do not flow from
the act but from the reaction of others to it, is mixed up with the
thought of its own proper consequences. But this association causes
attention at least to be fixed upon intrinsic consequences that, because
of their remoteness and complexity, might otherwise escape attention.
Gradually the thought of them grows in clearness and efficacy and
dissociates itself as a motive from the externally imposed consequences,
and there is a control which alone is truly moral.

=The Internal Sanction.=--

    "The truly moral deterrent from murder, is not constituted by a
    representation of hanging as a consequence, or by a representation
    of tortures in hell as a consequence, or by a representation of
    the horror and hatred excited in fellow-men; but by a
    representation of the _necessary natural results_--the infliction
    of death agony on the victim, the destruction of all his
    possibilities of happiness, the entailed sufferings to his
    belongings" (Spencer, _Ibid._, p. 120).

The external constraints thus serve as a schoolmaster to bring the race
and the individual to internal restraint. Gradually the abstract sense
of coerciveness, authoritativeness, the need of controlling the present
by the future good is disentangled, and there arises the sense of duty
in general. But even this "is transitory and will diminish as fast as
moralization increases" (_Ibid._, p. 127). Persistence in performance of
a duty makes it a pleasure; an habitually exercised obligation is
naturally agreeable.

In the present state of evolutionary development, obligation, or the
demands made by the external environment, and spontaneous inclination,
or the demand of the organism, cannot coincide. But at the goal of
evolution, the organism and environment will be in perfect adjustment.
Actions congenial to the former and appropriate to the latter will
completely coincide. "In their proper times and places, and proportions,
the moral sentiments will guide men just as spontaneously and adequately
as now do the sensations" (_Ibid._, p. 129).

=Criticism of Utilitarianism.=--The utilitarian account of the
development of the consciousness of duty or its emphasis upon concrete
facts of social arrangements and education affords a much-needed
supplement to the empty and abstract formalism of Kant. (i.) The
individual is certainly brought to his actual recognition of specific
duties and to his consciousness of obligation or moral law in general
through social influences. Bain insists more upon the family training
and discipline of its immature members; Bentham and Spencer more upon
the general institutional conditions, or the organization of government,
law, judicial procedure, crystallized custom, and public opinion. In
reality, these two conditions imply and reënforce each other. It is
through the school of the family, for the most part, that the meaning
of the requirements of the larger and more permanent institutions are
brought home to the individual; while, on the other hand, the family
derives the aims and values which it enforces upon the attention of its
individual members mainly from the larger society in which it finds its
own setting. (ii.) The later utilitarianism, in its insistence upon an
"internal sanction," upon the ideal personal, or free facsimile of
public authority, upon regard for "intrinsic consequences," corrects the
weak point in Bentham (who relies so unduly upon mere threat of
punishment and mere fear of pain) and approximates in practical effect,
though not in theory, Kant's doctrine of the connection of duty with the
rational or "larger" self which is social, even if individual. Even in
its revised version utilitarianism did not wholly escape from the rigid
unreal separation between the selfhood of the agent and his social
surroundings forced upon it by its hedonistic psychology.

=Fictitious Theory of Nature of Self.=--The supposition that the
individual starts with mere love of private pleasure, and that, if he
ever gets beyond to consideration of the good of others, it is because
others have forced their good upon him by interfering with his private
pleasures, is pure fiction. The requirements, encouragements, and
approbations of others react not primarily upon the pleasures and
calculations of the individual, but upon his _activities_, upon his
inclinations, desires, habits. There is a common defect in the
utilitarian and Kantian psychology. Both neglect the importance of the
active, the organically spontaneous and direct tendencies which enter
into the individual. Both assume unreal "_states_ of consciousness,"
passive sensations, and feelings. Active tendencies may be internally
modified and redirected by the very conditions and consequences of their
own exercise. Family discipline, jural influences, public opinion, may
do little, or they may do much. But their educative influence is as far
from the mere association of feelings of pleasure and pain as it is
from Kant's purely abstract law. _Social influences enable an individual
to realize the weight and import of the socially available and helpful
manifestations of the tendencies of his own nature and to discriminate
them from those which are socially harmful or useless._ When the two
conflict, the perception of the former is the recognition of duties as
distinct from _mere_ inclinations.


=Duty and a Growing Character.=--Duty is what is owed by a partial
isolated self embodied in established, facile, and urgent tendencies, to
that ideal self which is presented in aspirations which, since they are
not yet formed into habits, have no organized hold upon the self and
which can get organized into habitual tendencies and interests only by a
more or less painful and difficult reconstruction of the habitual self.
For Kant's fixed and absolute separation between the self of inclination
and the self of reason, we substitute the relative and shifting
distinction between those factors of self which have become so
definitely organized into set habits that they take care of themselves,
and those other factors which are more precarious, less crystallized,
and which depend therefore upon conscious acknowledgment and
intentionally directed affection. The consciousness of duty grows out of
the complex character of the self; the fact that at any given time, it
has tendencies relatively set, ingrained, and embodied in fixed habits,
while it also has tendencies in process of making, looking to the
future, taking account of unachieved possibilities. The former give the
solid relatively formed elements of character; the latter, its ideal or
unrealized possibilities. Each must play into the other; each must help
the other out.

The conflict of duty and desire is thus an accompaniment of a _growing_
self. Spencer's complete disappearance of obligation would mean an
exhausted and fossilized self; wherever there is progress, tension
arises between what is already accomplished and what is possible. In a
being whose "reach should exceed his grasp," a conflict within the self
making for the readjustment of the direction of powers must always be
found. The value of continually _having to meet the expectations and
requirements of others is in keeping the agent from resting on his oars,
from falling back on habits already formed as if they were final_. The
phenomena of duty in all their forms are thus phenomena attendant upon
the expansion of ends and the reconstruction of character. So far,
accordingly, as the recognition of duty is capable of operating as a
distinct rëenforcing motive, it operates most effectively, not as an
interest in duty, or law in the abstract, but as an interest in progress
in the face of the obstacles found within character itself.


The most important references on the subject of duty are given in the
text. To these may be added: Ladd, _Philosophy of Conduct_, chs. v. and
xv.; Mackenzie, _Manual_, Part I., ch. iv.; Green, _Prolegomena_, pp.
315-320, 353-354 and 381-388; Sharp, _International Journal of Ethics_,
Vol. II., pp. 500-513; Muirhead, _Elements of Ethics_, Book II., ch.
ii.; McGilvary, _Philosophical Review_, Vol. XI., pp. 333-352; Stephen,
_Science of Ethics_, pp. 161-171; Sturt, _International Journal of
Ethics_, Vol. VII., 334-345; Schurman, _Philosophical Review_, Vol.
III., pp. 641-654; Guyau, _Sketch of Morals, without Obligation or


[166] _Last Essays on Church and Religion_, preface.

[167] Historically it has often taken theological form. Thus Paley
defined virtue as "doing good to mankind in obedience to the will of
God, and for the sake of everlasting happiness." Of obligation he said,
"A man is said to be obliged, when he is urged by a violent motive
resulting from the command of another."

[168] The earlier English utilitarians (though not called by that name),
such as Tucker and Paley, assert that upon this earth there is no exact
coincidence of the right and the pleasure-giving; that it is future
rewards and punishments which make the equilibrium. Sidgwick, among
recent writers, has also held that no complete identification of virtue
and happiness can be found apart from religious considerations. (See
_Methods of Ethics_, p. 505. For theological utilitarianism see Albee,

[169] See his _Utilitarianism_, ch. iii.



We have reached the conclusion that disposition as manifest in endeavor
is the seat of moral worth, and that this worth itself consists in a
readiness to regard the general happiness even against contrary
promptings of personal comfort and gain. This brings us to the problems
connected with the nature and functions of the self. We shall, in our
search for the moral self, pass in review the conceptions which find
morality in (1) Self-Denial or Self-Sacrifice, (2) Self-Assertion, (3)
Combination of Regard for Self and for Others, (4) Self-Realization.


=Widespread Currency of the Doctrine.=--The notion that real goodness,
or virtue, consists essentially in abnegation of the self, in denying
and, so far as may be, eliminating everything that is of the nature of
the self, is one of the oldest and most frequently recurring notions of
moral endeavor and religion, as well as of moral theory. It describes
Buddhism and, in large measure, the monastic ideal of Christianity,
while, in Protestantism, Puritanism is permeated with its spirit. It
characterized Cynicism and Stoicism. Kant goes as far as to say that
every rational being must wish to be wholly free from inclinations.
Popular morality, while not going so far as to hold that all moral
goodness is self-denial, yet more or less definitely assumes that
self-denial on its own account, irrespective of what comes out of it, is
morally praiseworthy. A notion so deeply rooted and widely flourishing
must have strong motives in its favor, all the more so because its
practical vogue is always stronger than any reasons which are
theoretically set forth.

=Origin of the Doctrine.=--The notion arises from the tendency to
identify the self with one of its own factors. It is one and the same
self which conceives and is interested in some generous and ideal good
that is also tempted by some near, narrow, and exclusive good. The force
of the latter resides in the _habitual_ self, in purposes which have got
themselves inwrought into the texture of ordinary character. Hence there
is a disposition to overlook the complexity of selfhood, and to identify
it with those factors in the self which resist ideal aspiration, and
which are recalcitrant to the thought of duty; to identify the self with
impulses that are inclined to what is frivolous, sensuous and sensual,
pleasure-seeking. All vice being, then, egoism, selfishness,
self-seeking, the remedy is to check it at its roots; to keep the self
down in its proper place, denying it, chastening it, mortifying it,
refusing to listen to its promptings. Ignoring the variety and subtlety
of the factors that make up the self, all the different elements of
right and of wrong are gathered together and set over against each
other. All the good is placed once for all in some outside source, some
higher law or ideal; and the source of all evil is placed within the
corrupted and vile self. When one has become conscious of the serious
nature of the moral struggle; has found that vice is easy, and to err
"natural," needing only to give way to some habitual impulse or desire;
that virtue is arduous, requiring resistance and strenuous effort, one
is apt to overlook the habitual tendencies which are the ministers of
the higher goods. One forgets that unless ideal ends were also rooted in
some natural tendencies of the self, they could neither occur to the
self nor appeal to the self. Hence everything is swept into the idea
that the self is inherently so evil that it must be denied, snubbed,
sacrificed, mortified.

In general, to point out the truth which this theory perverts, to
emphasize the demand for constant reconstruction and rearrangement of
the habitual powers of the self--is sufficient criticism of it. But in
detail the theory exercises such pervasive influence that it is worth
while to mention specifically some of the evils that accrue from it.

=1. It so Maims and Distorts Human Nature as to Narrow the Conception of
the Good.=--In its legitimate antagonism to pleasure-seeking, it becomes
a foe to happiness, and an implacable enemy of all its elements. Art is
suspected, for beauty appeals to the lust of the eye. Family life roots
in sexual impulses, and property in love of power, gratification, and
luxury. Science springs from the pride of the intellect; the State from
the pride of will. _Asceticism_ is the logical result; a purely negative
conception of virtue. But it surely does dishonor, not honor, to the
moral life to conceive it as mere negative subjection of the flesh, mere
holding under control the lust of desire and the temptations of
appetite. All positive content, all liberal achievement, is cut out and
morality is reduced to a mere struggle _against_ solicitations to sin.
While asceticism is in no danger of becoming a popular doctrine, there
is a common tendency to conceive self-control in this negative fashion;
to fail to see that the important thing is some positive good _for_
which a desire is controlled. In general we overemphasize that side of
morality which consists in abstinence and _not_ doing wrong.

=2. To Make so Much of Conflict with the "Flesh," is to Honor the Latter
too Much.=--It is to fix too much attention on it. It is an open lesson
of psychology that to oppose doing an act by mere injunction not to do
it, is to increase the power of the thing _not_ to be done, and to
weaken the spring and effectiveness of the other motives, which, if
positively attended to, might keep the obnoxious motive from gaining
supremacy. The "expulsive power" of a generous affection is more to be
relied upon than effort to suppress, which keeps alive the very thing to
be suppressed. The history of monks and Puritan saints alike is full of
testimony to the fact that withdrawal from positive generous and
wholesome aims reënforces the vitality of the lower appetites and
stimulates the imagination to play about them. Flagellation and fasting
work as long as the body is exhausted; but the brave organism reasserts
itself, and its capacities for science, art, the life of the family and
the State not having been cultivated, sheer ineradicable physical
instinct is most likely to come to the front.

=3. We Judge Others by Ourselves Because We Have No Other Way to
Judge.=--It is impossible for a man who conceives his own good to be in
"going without," in just restricting himself, to have any large or
adequate idea of the good of others. Unconsciously and inevitably a
hardening and narrowing of the conditions of the lives of others
accompanies the reign of the Puritanic ideal. The man who takes a high
view of the capacities of human nature in itself, who reverences its
possibilities and is jealous for their high maintenance in himself, is
the one most likely to have keen and sensitive appreciation of the needs
of others. There is, moreover, no selfishness, no neglect of others more
thoroughgoing, more effectively cruel than that which comes from
preoccupation with the attainment of personal goodness, and this
interest is an almost inevitable effect of devotion to the negative
ideal of self-denial.

=4. The Principle Radically Violates Human Nature.=--This indeed is its
claim--that human nature, just as human nature, requires to have
violence done it. But the capacities which constitute the self demand
fulfillment. The place, the time, the manner, the degree, and the
proportion of their fulfillment, require infinite care and pains, and to
secure this attention is the business of morals. Morals is a matter of
direction, not of suppression. The urgency of desires and capacities for
expression cannot be got rid of; nature cannot be expelled. If the need
of happiness, of satisfaction of capacity, is checked in one direction,
it will manifest itself in another. If the direction which is checked is
an unconscious and wholesome one, that which is taken will be likely to
be morbid and perverse. The one who is conscious of continually denying
himself cannot rid himself of the idea that it ought to be "made up" to
him; that a compensating happiness is due him for what he has
sacrificed, somewhat increased, if anything, on account of the unnatural
virtue he has displayed.[170] To be self-sacrificing is to "lay up"
merit, and this achievement must surely be rewarded with happiness--if
not now, then later. Those who habitually live on the basis of conscious
self-denial are likely to be exorbitant in the demands which they make
on some one near them, some member of their family or some friend;
likely to blame others if their own "virtue" does not secure for itself
an exacting attention which reduces others to the plane of servility.
Often the doctrine of self-sacrifice leads to an inverted hedonism: we
are to be good--that is, to forego pleasure--now, that we may have a
greater measure of enjoyment in some future paradise of bliss. Or, the
individual who has taken vows of renunciation is entitled by that very
fact to represent spiritual authority on earth and to lord it over


The idea that morality consists in an unbridled assertion of self, in
its forceful aggressive manifestation, rarely receives consistent
theoretical formulation--possibly because most men are so ready to act
upon it practically that explicit acknowledgment would be a hindrance
rather than a help to the idea. But it is a doctrine which tends to be
invoked more or less explicitly as a reaction from the impotency of the
self-denial dogma. In reference to some superior individual or class,
some leader or group of aristocratically ordained leaders, it is always
a more or less conscious principle. Concerning these it is held that
ordinary morality holds eventually only for the "common herd," the
activities of the leader being amenable to a higher law than that of
common morality.[171] Moreover, since the self-sacrifice morality is
almost never carried out consistently--that is, to the point of monastic
asceticism,--much popular morality is an unbalanced combination of
self-sacrifice in some regards and ruthless self-assertion in others. It
is not "practicable" to carry out the principle of self-denial
everywhere; it is reserved for the family life, for special religious
duties; in business (which is business, not morals), the proper thing is
aggressive and unremitting self-assertion. In business, the end is
success, to "make good"; weakness is failure, and failure is disgrace,
dishonor. Thus in practice the two conceptions of self-denial in one
region and self-assertion in another mutually support each other. They
give occasion for the more or less unformulated, yet prevalent, idea
that moral considerations (those of self-denial) apply to a limited
phase of life, but have nothing to do with other regions in which
accordingly the principle of "efficiency" (that is, personal success,
wealth, power obtained in competitive victory) holds supreme sway.

Recently, however, there has sprung up a so-called "naturalistic" school
of ethics which has formulated explicitly the principle of
self-assertion, and which claims to find scientific sanction for it in
the evolutionary doctrine of Darwin. Evolution, it says, is the great
thing, and evolution means the _survival of the fit in the struggle for
existence_. Nature's method of progress is precisely, so it is said,
ruthless self-assertion--to the strong the victory, to the victorious
the spoils, and to the defeated, woe. Nature affords a scene of egoistic
endeavor or pressure, suffer who may, of struggle to get ahead, that is,
ahead of others, even by thrusting them down and out. But the
justification of this scene of rapine and slaughter is that out of it
comes progress, advance, everything that we regard as noble and fair.
Excellence is the sign of excelling; the goal means outrunning others.
The morals of humility, of obedience to law, of pity, sympathy, are
merely a self-protective device on the part of the weak who try to
safeguard their weakness by setting fast limitations to the activities
of the truly strong (compare what was said of the not dissimilar
doctrine among the Greeks, pp. 120-22). But the truly moral man, in whom
the principle of progress is embodied, will break regardlessly through
these meshes and traps. He will carry his own plans through to
victorious achievement. He is the super-man. The mass of men are simply
food for his schemes, valuable as furnishing needed material and

=Practical Vogue of the Underlying Idea.=--Such a theory, in and of
itself, is a literary diversion for those who, not being competent in
the fields of outer achievement, amuse themselves by idealizing it in
writing. Like most literary versions of science, it rests upon a
pseudo-science, a parody of the real facts. But at a time when economic
conditions are putting an extraordinary emphasis upon outward
achievement, upon success in manipulating natural and social resources,
upon "efficiency" in exploiting both inanimate energies and the minds
and bodies of other persons, the underlying principle of this theory has
a sanction and vogue which is out of all proportion to the number of
those who consciously entertain it as a theory. For a healthy mind, the
frank statement and facing of the theory is its best criticism. Its bald
brutalism flourishes freely only when covered and disguised. But in view
of the forces at present, and especially in America, making for a more
or less unconscious acceptance of its principle in practice, it may be
advisable to say something (1) regarding its alleged scientific
foundation, and (2) the inadequacy of its conception of efficiency.

=1. The Theory Exaggerates the Rôle of Antagonistic Competitive Struggle
in the Darwinian Theory.=--(a) The initial step in any "progress" is
_variation_; this is not so much struggle _against_ other organisms, as
it is _invention_ or discovery of some _new_ way of acting, involving
better adaptation of hitherto merely latent natural resources, use of
some possible food or shelter not previously utilized. The struggle
against other organisms at work preserves from elimination a species
already fixed--quite a different thing from the variation which
occasions the introduction of a higher or more complex species. (b)
Moreover, so far as the Darwinian theory is concerned, the "struggle for
existence" may take any conceivable form; rivalry in generosity, in
mutual aid and support, may be the kind of competition best fitted to
enable a species to survive. It not only may be so, but it is so within
certain limits. The rage for survival, for power, must not be asserted
indiscriminately; the mate of the other sex, the young, to some extent
other individuals of the same kin, are spared, or, in many cases,
protected and nourished.[173] (c) The higher the form of life, the
_more_ effective the two methods just suggested: namely, the method of
intelligence in discovering and utilizing new methods, tools, and
resources as substituted for the direct method of brute conflict; and
the method of mutual protection and care substituted for mutual attack
and combat. It is among the lower forms of life, not as the theory would
require among the higher types, that conditions approximate its picture
of the gladiatorial show. The higher species among the vertebrates, as
among insects (like ants and bees), are the "sociable" kinds. It is
sometimes argued that Darwinism carried into morals would abolish
charity: all care of the hopelessly invalid, of the economically
dependent, and in general of all the weak and helpless except healthy
infants. It is argued that our current standards are sentimental and
artificial, aiming to make survive those who are unfit, and thus tending
to destroy the conditions that make for advance, and to introduce such
as make towards degeneration. But this argument (1) wholly ignores the
reflex effect of interest in those who are ill and defective in
strengthening social solidarity--in promoting those ties and reciprocal
interests which are as much the prerequisites of strong individual
characters as they are of a strong social group. And (2) it fails to
take into account the stimulus to foresight, to scientific discovery,
and practical invention, which has proceeded from interest in the
helpless, the weak, the sick, the disabled, blind, deaf, and insane.
Taking the most coldly scientific view, the gains in these two respects
have, through the growth of social pity, of care for the unfortunate,
been purchased more cheaply than we can imagine their being bought in
any other way. In other words, the chief objection to this
"naturalistic" ethics is that it overlooks the fact that, even from the
Darwinian point of view, the human _animal_ is a _human_ animal. It
forgets that the sympathetic and social instincts, those which cause the
individual to take the interests of others for his own and thereby to
restrain his sheer brute self-assertiveness, are the highest
achievements, the high-water mark of evolution. The theory urges a
systematic relapse to lower and foregone stages of biological

=2. Its Conception of "Power," "Efficiency," "Achievement" is
Perverse.=--Compared with the gospel of abstinence, of inefficiency,
preached by the self-denial school, there is an element of healthy
reaction in any ethical system which stresses positive power, positive
success, positive attainment. Goodness has been too much identified with
practical feebleness and ineptitude; strength and solidity of
accomplishment, with unscrupulousness. But power for the sake of power
is as unreal an abstraction as self-denial for the sake of sacrifice, or
self-restraint for the sake of the mere restraint. Erected into a
central principle, it takes means for end--the fallacy of all
materialism. It makes little of many of the most important and excellent
_inherent ingredients_ of happiness in its eagerness to master _external
conditions_ of happiness. Sensitive discrimination of complex and
refined distinctions of worth, such as good taste, the resources of
poetry and history, frank and varied social converse among intellectual
equals, the humor of sympathetic contemplation of the spectacle of life,
the capacity to extract happiness from solitude and society, from nature
and from art:--all of these, as well as the more obvious virtues of
sympathy and benevolence, are swept aside for one coarse
undiscriminating ideal of external activity, measured by sheer quantity
of external changes made and external results accumulated. Of such an
ideal we may say, as Mill said, that the judge of good, of happiness, is
the one who has experienced its various forms; and that as "no
intelligent person would consent to be a fool" on account of the
pleasures of the fool, so no man of cultivated spirit would consent to
be a lover of "efficiency" and "power" for the sake of brute command of
the external commodities of nature and man.

=Present Currency of This Ideal.=--In spite of the extraordinary
currency of this ideal at present, there is little fear that it will be
permanently established. Human nature is too rich and varied in its
capacities and demands; the world of nature and society is too fruitful
in sources of stimulus and interest for man to remain indefinitely
content with the idea of power for power's sake, command of means for
the mere sake of the means. Humanity has long lived a precarious and a
stunted life because of its partial and easily shaken hold on natural
resources. Starved by centuries of abstinence enforced through lack of
control of the forces and methods of nature, taught the gospel of the
merit of abstention, it is not surprising that it should be intoxicated
when scientific discovery bears its fruit of power in utilization of
natural forces, or that, temporarily unbalanced, it should take the
external conditions of happiness for happiness itself. But when the
values of material acquisition and achievement become familiar they will
lose the contrast value they now possess; and human endeavor will
concern itself mainly with the problem of rendering its conquests in
power and efficiency tributary to the life of intelligence and art and
of social communication.[174] Such a moral idealism will rest upon a
more secure and extensive natural foundation than that of the past, and
will be more equitable in application and saner in content than that
with which aristocracies have made us familiar. It will be a democratic
ideal, a good for all, not for a noble class; and it will include, not
exclude, those physical and physiological factors which aristocratic
idealisms have excluded as common and unclean.


For the last three centuries, the most discussed point in English
ethical literature (save perhaps whether moral knowledge is intuitive or
derived from experience) has been the relation of regard for one's own
self and for other selves as motives of action--"the crux of all ethical
speculation," Spencer terms it. All views have been represented: (a)
that man naturally acts from purely selfish motives and that morality
consists in an enforced subjection of self-love to the laws of a common
social order, (b) That man is naturally selfish, while morality is an
"enlightened selfishness," or a regard for self based upon recognition
of the extent to which its happiness requires consideration of others.
(c) That the tendencies of the agent are naturally selfish, but that
morality is the subjection of these tendencies to the law of duty.
(d) That man's interests are naturally partly egoistic and partly
sympathetic, while morality is a compromise or adjustment of these
tendencies. (e) That man's interests are naturally both, and morality a
subjection of both to conscience as umpire. (f) That they are both,
while morality is a subjection of egoistic to benevolent sentiments.
(g) That the individual's interests are naturally in objective ends
which primarily are neither egoistic nor altruistic; and these ends
become either selfish or benevolent at special crises, at which times
morality consists in referring them, equally and impartially for
judgment, to a situation in which the interests of the self and of
others concerned are involved: _to a common good_.

=Three Underlying Psychological Principles.=--We shall make no attempt
to discuss these various views in detail; but will bring into relief
some of the factors in the discussion which substantiate the view (g)
stated last. It will be noted that the theories rank themselves under
three heads with reference to the constitution of man's tendencies:
holding they (1) naturally have in view personal ends exclusively or all
fall under the principle of self-love or self-regard; that (2) some of
them contemplate one's own happiness and some of them that of others;
that (3) primarily they are not _consciously_ concerned with either
one's own happiness or that of others. Memory and reflection may show
(just as it shows other things) that their consequences affect both the
self and others, when the recognition of this fact becomes an additional
element, either for good or for evil, in the motivation of the act. We
shall consider, first, the various senses in which action occurs, or is
said to occur, in behalf of the person's own self; and then take up, in
similar fashion, its reference to the interests of others.

=I. Action in Behalf of Self.=--1. _Motives as Selfish_: The Natural
Selfishness of Man is maintained from such different standpoints and
with such different objects in view that it is difficult to state the
doctrine in any one generalized form. By some theologians, it has been
associated with an innate corruption or depravity of human nature and
been made the basis of a demand for supernatural assistance to lead a
truly just and benevolent life. By Hobbes (1588-1679) it was associated
with the anti-social nature of individuals and made the basis for a plea
for a strong and centralized political authority[175] to control the
natural "war of all against all" which flows inevitably from the
psychological egoism. By Kant, it was connected with the purely sense
origin of desires, and made the basis for a demand for the complete
subordination of desire to duty as a motive for action. Morals, like
politics, make strange bedfellows! The common factor in these diverse
notions, however, is that every act of a self must, when left to its
_natural_ or psychological course, have the interest of the self in
view; otherwise there would be no motive for the deed and it would not
be done. This theoretical and _a priori_ view is further supported by
pointing out, sometimes in reprobation of man's sinful nature, sometimes
in a more or less cynical vein, the lurking presence of some subtle
regard for self in acts that apparently are most generous and

=Ambiguity of the Psychological Basis.=--The notion that all action is
"for the self" is infected with the same ambiguity as the (analogous)
doctrine that all desire is for happiness. Like that doctrine, in one
sense it is a truism, in another a falsity--this latter being the sense
in which its upholders maintain it. Psychologically, any object that
moves us, any object in which we imagine our impulses to rest satisfied
or to find fulfillment, _becomes_, in virtue of that fact, a factor in
the self. If I am enough interested in collecting postage stamps, a
collection of postage stamps becomes a part of my "ego," which is
incomplete and restless till filled out in that way. If my habits are
such that I am not content when I know my neighbor is suffering from a
lack of food until I have relieved him, then relief of his suffering
becomes a part of my selfhood. If my desires are such that I have no
rest of mind until I have beaten my competitor in business, or have
demonstrated my superiority in social gifts by putting my fellow at some
embarrassing disadvantage, then that sort of thing constitutes my self.
Our instincts, impulses, and habits all demand appropriate objects in
order to secure exercise and expression; and these ends in their office
of furnishing outlet and satisfaction to our powers form a cherished
part of the "me." In this sense it is true, and a truism, that all
action involves the interest of self.

=True and False Interpretation.=--But this doctrine is the exact
opposite of that intended by those who claim that all action is from
self-love. The true doctrine says, _the self is constituted and
developed through instincts and interests which are directed upon their
own objects with no conscious regard necessarily for anything except
those objects themselves_. The false doctrine implies that the self
_exists by itself apart from these objective ends, and that they are
merely means for securing it a certain profit or pleasure_.

Suppose, for example, it is a case of being so disturbed in mind by the
thought of another in pain that one is moved to do something to relieve
him. This means that certain native instincts or certain acquired habits
demand relief of others as part of themselves. The well-being of the
other is an interest of the self: is a part of the self. This is
precisely what is meant ordinarily by unselfishness: not lack or absence
of a self, but _such_ a self as identifies itself in action with others'
interests and hence is satisfied only when they are satisfied. To find
pain in the thought of others pained and to take pleasure in the thought
of their relief, is to have and to be moved by personal motives, by
states which are "selfish" in the sense of making up the self; but which
are the exact opposite of selfish in the sense of being the thought of
some private advantage to self.[177] Putting it roundly, then, the
fallacy of the selfish motive theory is that it fails to see that
_instincts and habits directed upon objects are primary_, and that they
come before any conscious thought of self as end, since they are
necessary to the constitution of that thought.

The following quotation from James[178] states the true doctrine:

    "When I am led by selflove to keep my seat whilst ladies stand, or
    to grab something first and cut out my neighbor, what I really
    love is the comfortable seat; it is the thing itself which I grab.
    I love _them_ primarily, as the mother loves her babe, or a
    generous man an heroic deed. Wherever, as here, selfseeking is the
    outcome of simple instinctive propensity, it is but a name for
    certain reflex acts. Something rivets my attention fatally and
    fatally provokes the 'selfish' response.... It is true I am no
    automaton, but a thinker. But my thoughts, like my acts, are here
    concerned only with the outward things.... In fact the more
    utterly selfish I am in this primitive way, the more blindly
    absorbed my thought will be in the objects and impulses of my lust
    and the more devoid of any inward looking glance."

=2. Results as Selfish: Ambiguity in the Notion.=--We must then give up
the notion that motives are inherently self-seeking, in the sense that
there is in voluntary acts a thought of the self as the end for the sake
of which the act is performed. The self-seeking doctrine may, however,
be restated in these terms: Although there is no thought of self or its
advantage consciously entertained, yet our original instincts are such
that their objects do as _matter of result_ conduce primarily to the
well-being and advantage of the self. In this sense, anger, fear,
hunger, and thirst, etc., are said to be egoistic or self-seeking--not
that their _conscious_ object is the self, but that their inevitable
effect is to preserve and protect the self. The fact that an instinct
secures self-preservation or self-development does not, however, make it
"egoistic" or "selfish" in the moral sense; nor does it throw any light
upon the moral status of the instinct. _Everything depends upon the sort
of self which is maintained._ There is, indeed, some presumption (see
_ante_, p. 294) that the act sustains a _social_ self, that is, a self
whose maintenance is of social value. If the individual organism did not
struggle for food; strive aggressively against obstacles and
interferences; evade or shelter itself against menacing superior force,
what would become of children, fathers and mothers, lawyers, doctors and
clergymen, citizens and patriots--in short, of society? If we avoid
setting up a purely abstract self, if we keep in mind that every actual
self is a self which _includes_ social relations and offices, both
actual and potential, we shall have no difficulty in seeing that
self-preservative instincts _may_ be, and taken by and large, _must_ be,
socially conservative. Moreover, while it is not true that if "a man
does not look after his own interests no one else will" (if that means
that his interests are no one else's affair in any way), it is true that
no one has a right to neglect his own interests in the hope that some
one else will care for them. "His own interests," properly speaking, are
precisely the ends which concern him more directly than they concern any
one else. Each man is, so to say, nearer himself than is any one else,
and, therefore, has certain duties to and about himself which cannot be
performed by any other one. Others may present food or the conditions of
education, but the individual alone can digest the food or educate
himself. It is profitable for society, not merely for an individual,
that each of us should instinctively have his powers most actively and
intensely called out by the things that distinctively affect him and
his own welfare. Any other arrangement would mean waste of social
energy, inefficiency in securing social results.

The quotation from James also makes it clear, however, that under
certain circumstances the mere absorption in a thing, even without
conscious thought of self, is morally offensive. The "pig" in manners is
not necessarily thinking of himself; all that is required to make him a
pig is that he should have too narrow and exclusive an object of regard.
The man sees simply the seat, not the seat _and_ the lady. The boor in
manners is unconscious of many of the objects in the situation which
_should_ operate as stimuli. One impulse or habit is operating at the
expense of others; the self in play is too petty or narrow. Viewed from
the standpoint of results, the fact which constitutes selfishness in the
moral sense is not that certain impulses and habits secure the
well-being of the self, _but that the well-being secured is a narrow and
exclusive one_. The forms of coarse egoism which offend us most in
ordinary life are not usually due to a deliberate or self-conscious
seeking of advantage for self, but to such preoccupation with certain
ends as blinds the agent to the thought of the interests of others. Many
whose behavior seems to others most selfish would deny indignantly (and,
from the standpoint of their _definite_ consciousness, honestly) any
self-seeking motives: they would point to certain objective results,
which in the abstract are desirable, as the true ends of their
activities. But none the less, they _are_ selfish, because the
limitations of their interests make them overlook the consequences which
affect the freedom and happiness of others.

=3. There are also Cases in Which the Thought of the Resulting
Consequence to the Self Consciously Enters in and Modifies the Motive of
the Act.=--With increasing memory and foresight, one can no more ignore
the lesson of the past as to the consequences of an act upon himself
than he can ignore other consequences. A man who has learned that a
certain act has painful consequences to himself, whether to his body,
his reputation, his comfort, or his character, is quite likely to have
the thought of himself present itself as part of the foreseen
consequences when the question of a similar act recurs. In and of
itself, once more, this fact throws no light upon the moral status of
the act. Everything depends upon what sort of a self moves and how it
moves. A man who hesitated to rush into a burning building to rescue a
suit of clothes because he thought of the danger to himself, would be
sensible; a man who rushed out of the building just because he thought
of saving himself when there were others he might have assisted, would
be contemptible.

The one who began taking exercise because he thought of his own health,
would be commended; but a man who thought so continually of his own
health as to shut out other objects, would become an object of ridicule
or worse. _There is a moral presumption that a man should make
consideration of himself a part of his aim and intent._ A certain care
of health, of body, of property, of mental faculty, because they are
one's own is not only permissible, but obligatory. This is what the
older moral writers spoke of as "prudence," or as "reasonable

(i.) It is a stock argument of the universal selfishness theory to point
out that a man's acknowledgment of some _public need or benefit_ is
quite likely to coincide with his recognition of some private advantage.
A statesman's recognition of some measure of public policy happens to
coincide with perceiving that by pressing it he can bring himself into
prominence or gain office. A man is more likely to see the need of
improved conditions of sanitation or transportation in a given locality
if he has property there. A man's indignation at some prevalent public
ill may sleep till he has had a private taste of it. We may admit that
these instances describe a usual, though not universal, state of
affairs. But does it follow that such men are moved _merely_ by the
thought of gain to themselves? Possibly this sometimes happens; then the
act is selfish in the obnoxious sense. The man has isolated his thought
of himself as an end and made the thought of the improvement or reform
merely an external means. The latter is not truly his _end_ at all; he
has not identified it with himself. In other cases, while the individual
would not have recognized the end if the thought of himself had not been
implicated, yet _after_ he has recognized it, the two--the thought of
himself and of the public advantage--may blend. His thought of himself
may lend warmth and intimacy to an object which otherwise would have
been cold, _while, at the same time, the self is broadened and deepened
by taking in the new object of regard_.

(ii.) Take the case of amusement or recreation. To an adult usually
engaged in strenuous pursuits, the thought of a pleasure for the mere
sake of pleasure, of enjoyment, of having a "good time," may appeal as
an end. And if the pleasure is itself "innocent," only the requirements
of a preconceived theory (like the Kantian) would question its
legitimacy. Even its moral necessity is clear when relaxation is
conducive to cheerfulness and efficiency in more serious pursuits. But
if a man discriminates mentally between himself and the play or exercise
in which he finds enjoyment and relief, thinking of himself as a
distinct end to which the latter is merely means, he is not likely to
get the recreation. It is by forgetting the self, that is by taking the
light and easy activity _as_ the self of the situation, that the benefit
comes. To be a "lover of pleasure" in the bad sense is precisely to seek
amusements as excitements for a self which somehow remains outside them
as their fixed and ulterior end.

(iii.) Exactly the same analysis applies to the idea of the moral
culture of the self, of its moral perfecting. Every serious-minded
person has, from time to time, to take stock of his status and progress
in moral matters--to take thought of the moral self just as at other
times he takes thought of the health of the bodily self. But woe betides
that man who, having entered upon a course of reflection which leads to
a clearer conception of his own moral capacities and weaknesses,
maintains that thought as a distinct mental end, and thereby makes his
subsequent acts simply means to improving or perfecting his moral
nature. Such a course defeats itself. At the least, it leads to
priggishness, and its tendency is towards one of the worst forms of
selfishness: a habit of thinking and feeling that persons, that concrete
situations and relations, exist simply to render contributions to one's
own precious moral character. The worst of such selfishness is that
having protected itself with the mantle of interest in moral goodness,
it is proof against that attrition of experience which may always recall
a man to himself in the case of grosser and more unconscious absorption.
A sentimentally refined egoism is always more hopeless than a brutal and
naïve one--though a brutal one not infrequently protects itself by
adoption and proclamation of the language of the former.

=II. Benevolence or Regard for Others.=--_Ambiguity in Conception_:
There is the same ambiguity in the idea of sympathetic or altruistic
springs to action that there is in that of egoistic and self-regarding.
Does the phrase refer to their conscious and express intent? or to their
objective results when put into operation, irrespective of explicit
desire and aim? And, if the latter, are we to believe contribution to
the welfare of others to be the sole and exclusive character of some
springs of action, or simply that, under certain circumstances, the
_emphasis_ falls more upon the good resulting to others than upon other
consequences? The discussion will show that the same general principles
hold for "benevolent" as for self-regarding impulses: namely (1) that
there are none which from the start are consciously such; (2) that while
reflection may bring to light their bearing upon the welfare of others
so that it becomes an element in the conscious desire, this is a matter
of relative preponderance, not of absolute nature; and (3) that just as
conscious regard for self is not necessarily bad or "selfish," so
conscious regard for others is not necessarily good: the criterion is
the whole situation in which the desire takes effect.

=1. The Existence of Other-Regarding Springs to Action.=--Only the
preconceptions of hedonistic psychology would ever lead one to deny the
existence of reactions and impulses called out by the sight of others'
misery and joy and which tend to increase the latter and to relieve the
former. Recent psychologists (writing, of course, quite independently of
ethical controversies) offer lists of native instinctive tendencies such
as the following: Anger, jealousy, rivalry, secretiveness,
acquisitiveness, fear, shyness, sympathy, affection, pity, sexual love,
curiosity, imitation, play, constructiveness.[179] In this inventory,
the first seven may be said to be aroused specially by situations having
to do with the preservation of the self; the next four are responses to
stimuli proceeding especially from others and tending to consequences
favorable to them, while the last four are mainly impersonal. But the
division into self-regarding and other-regarding is not exclusive and
absolute. Anger _may_ be wholly other-regarding, as in the case of
hearty indignation at wrongs suffered by others; rivalry may be generous
emulation or be directed toward surpassing one's own past record. Love
between the sexes, which should be the source of steady, far-reaching
interest in others, and which at times expresses itself in supreme
abnegation of devotion, easily becomes the cause of brutal and
persistent egoism. In short, the division into egoistic and altruistic
holds only "other things being equal."

Confining ourselves for the moment to the native psychological
equipment, we may say that man is endowed with instinctive promptings
which naturally (that is, without the intervention of deliberation or
calculation) tend to preserve the self (by aggressive attack as in
anger, or in protective retreat as in fear); and to develop his powers
(as in acquisitiveness, constructiveness, and play); and which equally,
without consideration of resulting ulterior benefit either to self or to
others, tend to bind the self closer to others and to advance the
interests of others--as pity, affectionateness, or again,
constructiveness and play. Any given individual is _naturally_ an
erratic mixture of fierce insistence upon his own welfare and of
profound susceptibility to the happiness of others--different
individuals varying much in the respective intensities and proportions
of the two tendencies.

=2. The Moral Status of Altruistic Tendencies.=--We have expressly
devoted considerable space (ch. xiii.) to showing that there are no
motives which in and of themselves are right; that any tendency, whether
original instinct or acquired habit, requires sanction from the special
consequences which, in the special situation, are likely to flow from
it. The mere fact that pity in general tends to conserve the welfare of
others does not guarantee the rightness of giving way to an impulse of
pity, just as it happens to spring up. This might mean sentimentalism
for the agent, and weakening of the springs of patience, courage,
self-help, and self-respect in others. The persistence with which the
doctrine of the evils of indiscriminate charity has to be taught is
sufficient evidence that the so-called other-regarding impulses require
the same control by reason as do the "egoistic" ones. They have no
inherent sacredness which exempts them from the application of the
standard of the common and reasonable happiness.

=Evils of Unregulated Altruism.=--So much follows from the general
principles already discussed. But there are special dangers and evils
attendant upon an exaggeration of the altruistic idea. (i.) _It tends to
render others dependent_, and thus contradicts its own professed aim:
the helping of others. Almost every one knows some child who is so
continuously "helped" by others, that he loses his initiative and
resourcefulness. Many an invalid is confirmed in a state of helplessness
by the devoted attention of others. In large social matters there is
always danger of the substitution of an ideal of conscious "benevolence"
for justice: it is in aristocratic and feudal periods that the idea
flourishes that "charity" (conceived as conferring benefits _upon_
others, doing things _for_ them) is inherently and absolutely a good.
The idea assumes the continued and necessary existence of a dependent
"lower" class to be the recipients of the kindness of their superiors; a
class which serves as passive material for the cultivation in others of
the virtue of charity, the higher class "acquiring merit" at expense of
the lower, while the lower has gratitude and respect for authority as
its chief virtues.

(ii.) _The erection of the "benevolent" impulse into a virtue in and of
itself tends to build up egoism in others._ The child who finds himself
unremittingly the object of attention from others is likely to develop
an exaggerated sense of the relative importance of his own _ego_. The
chronic invalid, conspicuously the recipient of the conscious altruism
of others, is happy in nature who avoids the slow growth of an insidious
egoism. Men who are the constant subjects of abnegation on the part of
their wives and female relatives rarely fail to develop a self-absorbed
complacency and unconscious conceit.

(iii.) Undue emphasis upon altruism as a motive is quite likely to react
to form a _peculiarly subtle egoism in the person who cultivates it_.
Others cease to be _natural_ objects of interest and regard, and are
converted into excuses for the manifestation and nurture of one's own
generous goodness. Underlying complacency with respect to social ills
grows up because they afford an opportunity for developing and
displaying this finest of virtues. In our interest in the maintenance of
our own benign altruism we cease to be properly disturbed by conditions
which are intrinsically unjust and hateful.[180] (iv.) As present
circumstances amply demonstrate, there is the danger that the erection
of benevolence into a conscious principle in some things will serve to
supply rich persons with a cloak for selfishness in other directions.
Philanthropy is made an offset and compensation for brutal exploitation.
A man who pushes to the breaking-point of legality aggressively selfish
efforts to get ahead of others in business, squares it in his own
self-respect and in the esteem of those classes of the community who
entertain like conceptions, by gifts of hospitals, colleges, missions,
and libraries.

=Genuine and False Altruism.=--These considerations may be met by the
obvious retort that it is not true altruism, genuine benevolence,
sincere charity, which we are concerned with in such cases. This is a
true remark. We are not of course criticizing true but spurious interest
in others. But why is it counterfeit? What is the nature of the genuine
article? The danger is not in benevolence or altruism, but in that
conception of them which makes them equivalent to regard for others _as
others_, irrespective of a social situation to which all alike belong.
There is nothing in the selfhood of others, because they are others,
which gives it any supremacy over selfhood in oneself. Just as it is
exclusiveness of objective ends, the ignoring of relations, which is
objectionable in selfishness, so it is taking the part for the whole
which is obnoxious in so-called altruism. To include in our view of
consequences the needs and possibilities of others on the same basis as
our own, is to take the only course which will give an adequate view of
the situation. There is no situation into which these factors do not
enter. To have a generous view of others is to have a larger world in
which to act. To remember that they, like ourselves, are persons, are
individuals who are centers of joy and suffering, of lack and of
potentiality, is alone to have a just view of the conditions and issues
of behavior. Quickened sympathy means liberality of intelligence and
enlightened understanding.

=The Social Sense versus Altruism.=--There is a great difference in
principle between modern philanthropy and the "charity" which assumes a
superior and an inferior class. The latter principle tries to acquire
merit by employing one's superior resources to lessen, or to mitigate,
the misery of those who are fixed in a dependent status. Its principle,
so far as others are concerned, is negative and palliative merely. The
motive of what is vital in modern philanthropy is constructive and
expansive because it looks to the well-being of society as a whole, not
to soothing or rendering more tolerable the conditions of a class. It
realizes the interdependence of interests: that complex and variegated
interaction of conditions which makes it impossible for any one
individual or "class" really to secure, to assure, its own good as a
separate thing. Its aim is general social advance, constructive social
reform, not merely doing something kind for individuals who are rendered
helpless from sickness or poverty. Its aim is the equity of justice, not
the inequality of conferring benefits. That the sight of the misery that
comes from sickness, from insanity, from defective organic structure (as
among the blind and deaf), from poverty that destroys hope and dulls
initiative, from bad nutrition, should stimulate this general
quickening of the social sense is natural. But just as the activities of
the parent with reference to the welfare of a helpless infant are wisely
directed in the degree in which attention is mainly fixed not upon
weakness, but upon positive opportunities for growth, so the efforts of
those whose activities, by the nature of circumstances, have to be
especially remedial and palliative are most effective when centered on
the social rights and possibilities of the unfortunate individuals,
instead of treating them as separate individuals to whom, in their
separateness, "good is to be done."

The best kind of help to others, whenever possible, is indirect, and
consists in such modifications of the conditions of life, of the general
level of subsistence, as enables them independently to help
themselves.[181] Whenever conditions require purely direct and personal
aid, it is best given when it proceeds from a natural social
relationship, and not from a motive of "benevolence" as a separate
force.[182] The gift that pauperizes when proceeding from a
philanthropist in his special capacity, is a beneficent acknowledgment
of the relationships of the case when it comes from a neighbor or from
one who has other interests in common with the one assisted.

=The Private and the Social Self.=--The contrast between the narrow or
restrictive and the general or expansive good explains why evil presents
itself as a selfish end in contrast with an authoritative, but faint,
good of others. This is not, as we have seen, because regard for the
good of self is inherently bad and regard for that of others
intrinsically right; but because we are apt to identify the self with
the habitual, with that to which we are best adjusted and which
represents the customary occupation. Any moral crisis is thus fairly
pictured as a struggle to overcome selfishness. The tendency under such
circumstances is to contract, to secrete, to hang on to what is already
achieved and possessed. The habitual self needs to go out of the
narrowness of its accustomed grooves into the spacious air of more
generous behavior.


We now come to the theory which attempts to do justice to the one-sided
truths we have been engaged with, _viz._, the idea that the moral end is
_self-realization_. Like self-assertion in some respects, it differs in
conceiving the self to be realized as universal and ultimate, involving
the fulfillment of _all_ capacities and the observance of _all_
relations. Such a comprehensive self-realization includes also, it is
urged, the truth of altruism, since the "universal self" is realized
only when the relations that bind one to others are fulfilled. It avoids
also the inconsistencies and defects of the notion of self-sacrifice for
its own sake, while emphasizing that the present incomplete self must be
denied for the sake of attainment of a more complete and final self. A
discussion of this theory accordingly furnishes the means of gathering
together and summarizing various points regarding the rôle of the self
in the moral life.

=Ambiguity in the Conception.=--Is self-realization the end? As we have
had such frequent occasion to observe, "end" means either the
consequences actually effected, the closing and completing phase of an
act, or the aim held deliberately in view. Now realization of self is an
end (though not the only end) in the former sense. Every moral act in
its outcome marks a development or fulfillment of selfhood. But the very
nature of right action forbids that the self should be the end in the
sense of being the conscious aim of moral activity. For there is no way
of discovering the nature of the self except in terms of objective ends
which fulfill its capacities, and there is no _way_ of realizing the
self except as it is forgotten in devotion to these objective ends.

=1. Self-Realization as Consequence of Moral Action.=--Every good act
realizes the selfhood of the agent who performs it; every bad act tends
to the lowering or destruction of selfhood. This truth is expressed in
Kant's maxim that every personality should be regarded as always an end,
never as a means, with its implication that a wrong intent always
reduces selfhood to the status of a mere tool or device for securing
some end beyond itself--the self-indulgent man treating his personal
powers as mere means to securing ease, comfort, or pleasure. It is
expressed by ordinary moral judgment in its view that all immoral action
is a sort of prostitution, a lowering of the dignity of the self to base
ends. The destructive tendency of evil deeds is witnessed also by our
common language in its conception of wrong as dissipation,
dissoluteness, duplicity. The bad character is one which is shaky,
empty, "naughty," unstable, gone to pieces, just as the good man is
straight, solid, four-square, sound, substantial. This conviction that
at bottom and in the end, in spite of all temporary appearance to the
contrary, the right act effects a realization of the self, is also
evidenced in the common belief that virtue brings its own bliss. No
matter how much suffering from physical loss or from material and mental
inconvenience or loss of social repute virtue may bring with it, the
_quality of happiness_ that accompanies devotion to the right end is so
unique, so _invaluable_, that pains and discomforts do not weigh in the
balance. It is indeed possible to state this truth in such an
exaggerated perspective that it becomes false; but taken just for what
it is, it acknowledges that whatever harm or loss a right act may bring
to the self in some of its aspects,--even extending to destruction of
the bodily self,--the inmost moral self finds fulfillment and
consequent happiness in the good.

=2. Self-Realization as Aim of Moral Action.=--This realization of
selfhood in the right course of action is, however, not _the_ end of a
moral act--that is, it is not the only end. The moral act is one which
sustains a whole complex system of social values; one which keeps vital
and progressive the industrial order, science, art, and the State. The
patriot who dies for his country may find in that devotion his own
supreme realization, but none the less the aim of his act is precisely
that for which he performs it: the conservation of his nation. He dies
_for_ his country, not _for_ himself. He is what he would be in dying
for his country, not in dying for himself. To say that his conscious aim
is self-realization is to put the cart before the horse. That his
willingness to die for his country proves that his country's good is
taken by him to constitute himself and his own good is true; but his aim
is his country's good _as constituting_ his self-realization, not the
self-realization. It is impossible that genuine artistic creation or
execution should not be accompanied with the joy of an expanding
selfhood, but the artist who thinks _of_ himself and allows a view of
himself to intervene between his performance and its result, has the
embarrassment and awkwardness of "self-consciousness," which affects for
the worse his artistic product. And it makes little difference whether
it is the thought of himself as materially profiting, or as famous, or
as technical performer, or as benefiting the public, or as securing his
own complete artistic culture, that comes in between. In any case, there
is loss to the work, and loss in the very thing taken as end, namely,
development of his own powers. The problem of morality, upon the
intellectual side, is the discovery of, the finding of, the self, in the
objective end to be striven for; and then upon the overt practical side,
it is the losing of the self in the endeavor for the objective
realization. This is the lasting truth in the conception of
self-abnegation, self-forgetfulness, disinterested interest.

=The Thought of Self-Realization.=--Since, however, the realization of
selfhood, the strengthening and perfecting of capacity, is as matter of
fact one phase of the objective end, it may, _at times_, be definitely
present in thought as part of the foreseen consequences; and even, _at
times_, may be the most prominent feature of the conceived results. The
artist, for example a musician or painter, may practice for the sake of
acquiring skill, that is, of developing capacity. In this case, the
usual relationship of objective work and personal power is reversed; the
product or performance being subordinated to the perfecting of power,
instead of power being realized in the use it is put to. But the
development of power is not conceived as a final end, but as _desirable
because of an eventual more liberal and effective use_. It is matter of
temporary emphasis. Something of like nature occurs in the moral
life--not that one definitely rehearses or practices moral deeds for the
sake of acquiring more skill and power. At times the effect upon the
self of a deed becomes the conspicuously controlling element in the
forecast of consequences. (See p. 382.) For example, a person may
realize that a certain act is trivial in its effects upon others and in
the changes it impresses upon the world; and yet he may hesitate to
perform it because he realizes it would intensify some tendency of his
own in such a way as, in the delicate economy of character, to disturb
the proper balance of the springs to action. Or, on the other hand, the
agent may apprehend that some consequences that are legitimate and
important in themselves involve, in their attainment, an improper
sacrifice of personal capacity. In such cases, the consideration of the
effect upon self-realization is not only permissible, but imperative as
_a part or phase of the total end_.

=The Problem of Equating Personal and General Happiness.=--Much moral
speculation has been devoted to the problem of equating personal
happiness and regard for the general good. Right moral action, it is
assumed, consists especially of justice and benevolence,--attitudes
which aim at the good of others. But, it is also assumed, a just and
righteous order of the universe requires that the man who seeks the
happiness of others should also himself be a happy man. Much ingenuity
has been directed to explaining away and accounting for the seeming
discrepancies: the cases where men not conspicuous for regard for others
or for maintaining a serious and noble view of life seem to maintain a
banking-credit on the side of happiness; while men devoted to others,
men conspicuous for range of sympathetic affections, seem to have a
debit balance. The problem is the more serious because the respective
good and ill fortunes do not seem to be entirely accidental and
external, but to come as results from the moral factors in behavior. It
would not be difficult to build up an argument to show that while
extreme viciousness or isolated egoism is unfavorable to happiness, so
also are keenness and breadth of affections. The argument would claim
that the most comfortable course of life is one in which the man
cultivates enough intimacies with enough persons to secure for himself
their support and aid, but avoids engaging his sympathies too closely in
their affairs and entangling himself in any associations which would
require self-sacrifice or exposure to the sufferings of others: a course
of life in which the individual shuns those excesses of vice which
injure health, wealth, and lessen the decent esteem of others, but also
shuns enterprises of precarious virtue and devotion to high and
difficult ends.

=Real and Artificial Aspects of the Problem.=--The problem thus put
seems insoluble, or soluble only upon the supposition of some
prolongation of life under conditions very different from those of the
present, in which the present lack of balance between happiness and
goodness will be redressed. _But the problem is insoluble because it is
artificial._[183] It assumes a ready-made self and hence a ready-made
type of satisfaction of happiness. It is not the business of moral
theory to demonstrate the existence of mathematical equations, in this
life or another one, between goodness and virtue. It is the business of
men to develop such capacities and desires, such selves as render them
capable of finding their own satisfaction, their invaluable value, in
fulfilling the demands which grow out of their associated life. Such
happiness may be short in duration and slight in bulk: but that it
outweighs in quality all accompanying discomforts as well as all
enjoyments which may have been missed by not doing something else, is
attested by the simple fact that men do consciously choose it. Such a
person has found _himself_, and has solved the problem in the only place
and in the only way in which it can be solved: _in action_. To demand in
advance of voluntary desire and deliberate choice that it be
demonstrated that an individual shall get happiness in the measure of
the rightness of his act, is to demand the obliteration of the essential
factor in morality: the constant discovery, formation, and reformation
of the self in the ends which an individual is called upon to sustain
and develop in virtue of his membership in a social whole. The solution
of the problem through the individual's voluntary identification of
himself with social relations and aims is neither rare nor utopian. It
is achieved not only by conspicuous social figures, but by multitudes of
"obscure" figures who are faithful to the callings of their social
relationships and offices. That the conditions of life for all should be
enlarged, that wider opportunities and richer fields of activity should
be opened, in order that happiness may be of a more noble and variegated
sort, that those inequalities of status which lead men to find their
advantage in disregard of others should be destroyed--these things are
indeed necessary. But under the most ideal conditions which can be
imagined, if there remain any moral element whatsoever, it will be only
through personal deliberation and personal preference as to objective
and social ends that the individual will discover and constitute
himself, and hence discover the sort of happiness required as his good.

Our final word about the place of the self in the moral life is, then,
that the problem of morality is the formation, out of the body of
original instinctive impulses which compose the natural self, of a
voluntary self in which socialized desires and affections are dominant,
and in which the last and controlling principle of deliberation is the
love of the objects which will make this transformation possible. If we
identify, as we must do, the interests of such a character with the
virtues, we may say with Spinoza that happiness is not the reward of
virtue, but is virtue itself. What, then, are the virtues?


For asceticism, see Lecky, _History of European Morals_.

For self-denial, Mackenzie, _International Journal of Ethics_, Vol. V.,
pp. 273-295.

For egoism and altruism: Comte, _System of Positive Politics_,
Introduction, ch. iii., and Part II., ch. ii.; Spencer, _Principles of
Ethics_, Vol. I., Part I., chs. xi.-xiv.; Stephen, _Science of Ethics_,
ch. vi.; Paulsen, _System of Ethics_, pp. 379-399; Sorley, _Recent
Tendencies in Ethics_; Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_, pp. 494-507.

For the doctrine of self-interest, see Mandeville, _Fable of Bees_;
Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_, Book I., ch. vii., and Book II., ch. v.;
Stephen, _Science of Ethics_, ch. x.; Martineau, _Types of Ethical
Theory_, Part II., Book II., Branch I., ch. i.; Fite, _Introductory
Study_, ch. ii.

For historic development of sympathy, see Sutherland, _Origin and Growth
of the Moral Instinct_.

For the doctrine of self-realization, see Aristotle, _Ethics_; Green,
_Prolegomena to Ethics_; Seth, _Principles of Ethics_, Part I., ch.
iii.; Bradley, _Ethical Studies_, Essay II.; Fite, _Introductory Study_,
ch. xi.; Paulsen, _System of Ethics_, Book II., ch. i.; Taylor,
_International Journal of Ethics_, Vol. VI., pp. 356-371; Palmer, _The
Heart of Ethics_, and _The Nature of Goodness_; Calderwood,
_Philosophical Review_, Vol. V., pp. 337-351; Dewey, _Philosophical
Review_, Vol. II., pp. 652-664; Bryant, _Studies in Character_, pp.

For the ethics of success, besides the writings of Nietzsche, see Plato,
_Gorgias_ and _Republic_, Book I., and Sumner, _Folkways_, ch. xx.

For the social self: Cooley, _Human Nature and the Social Order_, chs.
v. and vi.; for the antagonistic self, chs. vii.-ix.

For a general discussion of the Moral Self, see Bosanquet, _Psychology
of the Moral Self_; Ladd, _Philosophy of Conduct_, ch. ix. (see also ch.
xviii. on the Good Man).


[170] Compare the opening words of Emerson's _Essay on Compensation_.

[171] The principle of a "higher law" for the few who are leaders was
first explicitly asserted in modern thought by Machiavelli.

[172] Some phases of the writings of Nietzsche supply relevant material
for this sketch. See especially his _Will for Power, Beyond Good and
Evil_, and such statements as: "The loss of force which suffering has
already brought upon life is still further increased and multiplied by
sympathy. Suffering itself becomes contagious through sympathy"
(overlooking the reaction of sympathy to abolish the source of suffering
and thus increase force). "Sympathy thwarts, on the whole, in general,
the law of development, which is the law of selection."--_Works_, Vol.
XI., p. 242.

[173] This phase of the matter has been brought out (possibly with some
counter-exaggeration) by Kropotkin in his _Mutual Aid_.

[174] Spencer puts the matter truly, if ponderously, in the following:
"The citizens of a large nation industrially organized, have reached
their possible ideal of happiness when the producing, distributing and
other activities, are such in their kinds and amounts, that each
individual finds in them a place for all his energies and aptitudes,
while he obtains the means of satisfying all his desires. Once more we
may recognize as not only possible, but probable, the eventual existence
of a community, also industrial, the members of which, having natures
similarly responding to these requirements, are also characterized by
dominant æsthetic faculties, and achieve complete happiness only when a
large part of life is filled with æsthetic activities" (_Principles of
Ethics_, Vol. I., p. 169).

[175] Machiavelli, transferring from theology to statecraft the notion
of the corruption and selfishness of all men, was the first modern to
preach this doctrine.

[176] See, for example, Hobbes, _Leviathan_; Mandeville, _Fable of the
Bees_; and Rochefoucauld, _Maxims_.

[177] Compare what was said above, p. 273, on the confusion of pleasure
as end, and as motive. Compare also the following from Leslie Stephen,
_Science of Ethics_, p. 241. It is often "insinuated that I dislike your
pain because it is painful to me in some special relation. I do not
dislike it as your pain, but in virtue of some particular consequence,
such, for example, as its making you less able to render me a service.
In that case I do not really object to your pain as your pain at all,
but only to some removable and accidental consequences." The entire
discussion of sympathy (pp. 230-245), which is admirable, should be

[178] _Psychology_, Vol. I., p. 320. The whole discussion, pp. 317-329,
is very important.

[179] See, for example, James, _Principles of Psychology_, Vol. II., ch.

[180] Measures of public or state activity in the extension, for
example, of education (furnishing free text-books, adequate medical
inspection, and remedy of defects), are opposed by "good people" because
there are "charitable" agencies for doing these things.

[181] Compare Spencer's criticisms of Bentham's view of happiness as a
social standard in contrast with his own ideal of freedom. See _Ethics_,
Vol. I., pp. 162-168.

[182] See Addams, _Democracy and Social Ethics_, ch. ii.

[183] Compare the following extreme words of Sumner (_Folkways_, p. 9):
"The great question of world philosophy always has been, what is the
real relation between happiness and goodness? It is only within a few
generations that men have found courage to say there is none." But when
Sumner, in the next sentence, says, "The whole strength of the notion
that they are correlated is in the opposite experience which proves that
no evil thing brings happiness," one may well ask what more relation any
reasonable man would want. For it indicates that "goodness" consists in
active interest in those things which really bring happiness; and while
it by no means follows that this interest will _bring_ even a
preponderance of pleasure over pain to the person, it is always open to
him to _find_ and _take_ his dominant happiness in making this interest
dominant in his life.




=Definition of Virtue.=--It is upon the self, upon the agent, that
ultimately falls the burden of maintaining and of extending the values
which make life reasonable and good. The worth of science, of art, of
industry, of relationship of man and wife, parent and child, teacher and
pupil, friend and friend, citizen and State, exists only as there are
characters consistently interested in such goods. Hence any trait of
character which makes for these goods is esteemed; it is given positive
value; while any disposition of selfhood found to have a contrary
tendency is condemned--has negative value. The habits of character whose
effect is to sustain and spread the rational or common good are virtues;
the traits of character which have the opposite effect are vices.

=Virtue and Approbation; Vice and Condemnation.=--The approbation and
disapprobation visited upon conduct are never purely intellectual. They
are also emotional and practical. We are stirred to hostility at
whatever disturbs the order of society; we are moved to admiring
sympathy of whatever makes for its welfare. And these emotions express
themselves in appropriate conduct. To disapprove and dislike is to
reprove, blame, and punish. To approve is to encourage, to aid, and
support. Hence the judgments express the character of the one who utters
them--they are traits of his conduct and character; and they react into
the character of the agent upon whom they are directed. They are part
of the process of forming character. The commendation is of the nature
of a reward calculated to confirm the person in the right course of
action. The reprobation is of the nature of punishment, fitted to
dissuade the agent from the wrong course. This encouragement and blame
are not necessarily of an external sort; the reward and the punishment
may not be in material things. It is not from ulterior design that
society esteems and respects those attributes of an agent which tend to
its own peace and welfare; it is from natural, instinctive response to
acknowledge whatever makes for its good. None the less, the social
esteem, the honor which attend certain acts inevitably educate the
individual who performs these acts, and they strengthen, emotionally and
practically, his interest in the right. Similarly, there is an
instinctive reaction of society against an infringement of its customs
and ideals; it naturally "makes it hot" for any one who disturbs its
values. And this disagreeable attention instructs the individual as to
the consequences of his act, and works to hinder the formation of
dispositions of the socially disliked kind.

=Natural Ability and Virtue.=--There is a tendency to use the term
virtue in an abstract "moralistic" sense--a way which makes it almost
Pharisaic in character. Hard and fast lines are drawn between certain
traits of character labeled "virtues" and others called talents, natural
abilities, or gifts of nature. Apart from deliberate or reflective
nurture, modesty or generosity is no less and no more a purely natural
ability than is good-humor, a turn for mechanics, or presence of mind.
Every natural capacity, every talent or ability, whether of inquiring
mind, of gentle affection or of executive skill, becomes a virtue when
it is turned to account in supporting or extending the fabric of social
values; and it turns, if not to vice at least to delinquency, when not
thus utilized. The important habits conventionally reckoned virtues are
barren unless they are the cumulative assemblage of a multitude of
anonymous interests and capacities. Such natural aptitudes vary widely
in different individuals. Their endowments and circumstances occasion
and exact different virtues, and yet one person is not more or less
virtuous than another because his virtues take a different form.

=Changes in Virtues.=--It follows also that the meaning, or content, of
virtues changes from time to time. Their abstract form, the man's
attitude towards the good, remains the same. But when institutions and
customs change and natural abilities are differently stimulated and
evoked, ends vary, and habits of character are differently esteemed both
by the individual agent and by others who judge. No social group could
be maintained without patriotism and chastity, but the actual meaning of
chastity and patriotism is widely different in contemporary society from
what it was in savage tribes or from what we may expect it to be five
hundred years from now. Courage in one society may consist almost wholly
in willingness to face physical danger and death in voluntary devotion
to one's community; in another, it may be willingness to support an
unpopular cause in the face of ridicule.

=Conventional and Genuine Virtue.=--When we take these social changes on
a broad scale, in the gross, the point just made is probably clear
without emphasis. But we are apt to forget that minor changes are going
on all the while. The community's formulated code of esteem and regard
and praise at any given time is likely to lag somewhat behind its
practical level of achievement and possibility. It is more or less
traditional, describing what used to be, rather than what are, virtues.
The "respectable" comes to mean tolerable, passable, conventional.
Accordingly the prevailing scheme of assigning merit and blame, while on
the whole a mainstay of moral guidance and instruction, is also a menace
to moral growth. Hence men must look behind the current valuation to the
real value. Otherwise, mere conformity to custom is conceived to be
virtue;[184] and the individual who deviates from custom in the interest
of wider and deeper good is censured.

=Moral Responsibility for Praise and Blame.=--The practical assigning of
value, of blame and praise, is a measure and exponent of the character
of the one from whom it issues. In judging others, in commending and
condemning, we judge ourselves. What we find to be praiseworthy and
blameworthy is a revelation of our own affections. Very literally the
measure we mete to others is meted to us. To be free in our attributions
of blame is to be censorious and uncharitable; to be unresentful to evil
is to be indifferent, or interested perhaps chiefly in one's own
popularity, so that one avoids giving offense to others. To engage
profusely in blame and approbation in speech without acts which back up
or attack the ends verbally honored or condemned, is to have a
perfunctory morality. To cultivate complacency and remorse apart from
effort to improve is to indulge in sentimentality. In short, to approve
or to condemn is itself a moral act for which we are as much responsible
as we are for any other deed.

=Impossibility of Cataloguing Virtues.=--These last three
considerations: (1) the intimate connection of virtues with all sorts of
individual capacities and endowments, (2) the change in types of habit
required with change of social customs and institutions, (3) the
dependence of judgment of vice and virtue upon the character of the one
judging,[185] make undesirable and impossible a catalogued list of
virtues with an exact definition of each. Virtues are numberless. Every
situation, not of a routine order, brings in some special shading, some
unique adaptation, of disposition.

=Twofold Classification.=--We may, however, classify the chief
institutions of social life--language, scientific investigation,
artistic production, industrial efficiency, family, local community,
nation, humanity--and specify the types of mental disposition and
interest which are fitted to maintain them flourishingly; or, starting
from typical impulsive and instinctive tendencies, we may consider the
form they assume when they become intelligently exercised habits. A
virtue may be defined, accordingly, either as _the settled intelligent
identification of an agent's capacity with some aspect of the reasonable
or common happiness_; or, as _a social custom or tendency organized into
a personal habit of valuation_. From the latter standpoint, truthfulness
is the social institution of language maintained at its best pitch of
efficiency through the habitual purposes of individuals; from the
former, it is an instinctive capacity and tendency to communicate
emotions and ideas directed so as to maintain social peace and
prosperity. In like fashion, one might catalogue all forms of social
custom and institution on one hand; and all the species and varieties of
individual equipment on the other, and enumerate a virtue for each. But
the performance is so formal as not to amount to much.

=Aspects of Virtue.=--Any virtuous disposition of character exhibits,
however, certain main traits, a consideration of which will serve to
review and summarize our analysis of the moral life.

=I. The Interest Must be Entire or Whole-hearted.=--The whole self,
without division or reservation, must go out into the proposed object
and find therein its own satisfaction. Virtue is integrity; vice
duplicity. Goodness is straight, right; badness is crooked, indirect.
Interest that is incomplete is not interest, but (so far as incomplete)
indifference and disregard. This totality of interest we call affection,
love; and love is the fulfilling of the law. A grudging virtue is next
to no virtue at all; thorough heartiness in even a bad cause stirs
admiration, and lukewarmness in every direction is always despised as
meaning lack of character. Surrender, abandonment, is of the essence of
identification of self with an object.

=II. The Interest Must be Energetic and Hence Persistent.=--One swallow
does not make a summer nor a sporadic right act a virtuous habit.
Fair-weather character has a proverbially bad name. Endurance through
discouragement, through good repute and ill, weal and woe, tests the
vigor of interest in the good, and both builds up and expresses a formed

=III. The Interest Must be Pure or Sincere.=--Honesty is, doubtless, the
best policy, and it is better a man should be honest from policy than
not honest at all. If genuinely honest from considerations of prudence,
he is on the road to learn better reasons for honesty. None the less, we
are suspicious of a man if we believe that motives of personal profit
are the only stay of his honesty. For circumstances might arise in
which, in the exceptional case, it would be clear that personal
advantage lay in dishonesty. The motive for honesty would hold in most
cases, in ordinary and routine circumstances and in the glare of
publicity, but not in the dark of secrecy, or in the turmoil of
disturbed circumstance. The eye single to the good, the "disinterested
interest" of moralists, is required. The motive that has to be coaxed or
coerced to its work by some promise or threat is imperfect.

=Cardinal or Indispensable Aspects of Virtue.=--Bearing in mind that we
are not attempting to classify various acts or habits, but only to state
traits essential to all morality, we have the "cardinal virtues" of
moral theory. As whole-hearted, as complete interest, any habit or
attitude of character involves justice and love; as persistently active,
it is courage, fortitude, or vigor; as unmixed and single, it is
temperance--in its classic sense. And since no habitual interest can be
integral, enduring, or sincere, save as it is reasonable, save, that is,
as it is rooted in the deliberate habit of viewing the part in the light
of the whole, the present in the light of the past and future, interest
in the good is also wisdom or conscientiousness:--interest in the
discovery of the true good of the situation. Without this interest, all
our interest is likely to be perverted and misleading--requiring to be
repented of.

Wisdom, or (in modern phrase) conscientiousness, is the nurse of all the
virtues. Our most devoted courage is in the will to know the good and
the fair by unflinching attention to the painful and disagreeable. Our
severest discipline in self-control is that which checks the exorbitant
pretensions of an appetite by insisting upon knowing it in its true
proportions. The most exacting justice is that of an intelligence which
gives due weight to each desire and demand in deliberation before it is
allowed to pass into overt action. That affection and wisdom lie close
to each other is evidenced by our language; thoughtfulness, regard,
consideration for others, recognition of others, attention to others.


The English word "temperance" (particularly in its local association
with agitation regarding use of intoxicating liquors) is a poor
substitute for the Greek _sophrosyne_ which, through the Latin
_temperantia_, it represents. The Athenian Greek was impressed with the
fact that just as there are lawless, despotically ruled, and
self-governed communities, so there are lawless, and servile, and
self-ruled individuals. Whenever there is a self-governed soul, there
is a happy blending of the authority of reason with the force of
appetite. The individual's diverse nature is tempered into a living
harmony of desire and intelligence. Reason governs not as a tyrant from
without, but as a guide to which the impulses and emotions are gladly
responsive. Such a well-attuned nature, as far from asceticism on one
side as from random indulgence on the other, represented the ideal of
what was fair and graceful in character, an ideal embodied in the notion
of _sophrosyne_. This was a _whole-mindedness_ which resulted from the
happy furtherance of all the elements of human nature under the
self-accepted direction of intelligence. It implied an _æsthetic_ view
of character; of harmony in structure and rhythm in action. It was the
virtue of judgment exercised in the estimate of pleasures:--since it is
the agreeable, the pleasant, which gives an end excessive hold upon us.

=Roman Temperantia.=--The Roman conceived this virtue under the term
_temperantia_, which conveys the same idea, but accommodated to the
Roman genius. It is connected with the word _tempus_, time, which is
connected also with a root meaning divide, distribute; it suggests a
consecutive orderliness of behavior, a freedom from excessive and
reckless action, first this way, and then that. It means seemliness,
decorum, decency. It was "moderation," not as quantity of indulgence,
but as a moderating of each act in a series by the thought of other and
succeeding acts--keeping each in sequence with others in a whole. The
idea of time involves time to think; the sobering second thought
expressed in seriousness and gravity. The negative side, the side of
restraint, of inhibition, is strong, and functions for the consistent
calm and gravity of life.

=Christian Purity.=--Through the Christian influence, the connotation
which is marked in the notion of control of sexual appetite, became most
obvious--_purity_. Passion is not so much something which disturbs the
harmony of man's nature, or which interrupts its orderliness, as it is
something which defiles the purity of spiritual nature. It is the
grossness, the contamination of appetite which is insisted upon, and
temperance is the maintenance of the soul spotless and unsullied.

=Negative Phase=:--Self-control. A negative aspect of self-control,
restraint, inhibition is everywhere involved.[186] It is not, however,
desire, or appetite, or passion, or impulse, which has to be checked
(much less eliminated); it is rather that tendency of desire and passion
so to engross attention as to destroy our sense of the other ends which
have a claim upon us. This moderation of pretension is indispensable for
every desire. In one direction, it is modesty, humility; the restraint
of the tendency of self-conceit to distort the relative importance of
the agent's and others' concerns; in another direction, it is chastity;
in another, "temperance" in the narrower sense of that word--keeping the
indulgence of hunger and thirst from passing reasonable bounds; in
another, it is calmness, self-possession--moderation of the transporting
power of excitement; in yet another, it is discretion, imposing limits
upon the use of the hand, eye, or tongue. In matters of wealth, it is
decent regulation of display and ostentation. In general, it is
prudence, control of the present impulse and desire by a view of the
"long run," of proximate by remote consequences.[187]

=Positive Phase: Reverence.=--The tendency of dominant passion is to
rush us along, to prevent our thinking. The one thing that desire
emphasizes is, for the time being, the most important thing in the
universe. This is necessary to heartiness and effectiveness of interest
and behavior. But it is important that the thing which thus absorbs
desire should be an end capable of justifying its power to absorb. This
is possible only if it expresses the entire self. Otherwise capacities
and desires which will occur later will be inconsistent and
antagonistic, and conduct will be unregulated and unstable. The
underlying idea in "temperance" is then a care of details for the sake
of the whole course of behavior of which they are parts; heedfulness,
painstaking devotion. Laxness in conduct means carelessness; lack of
regard for the whole life permits temporary inclinations to get a sway
that the outcome will not justify. In its more striking forms, we call
this care and respect _reverence_; recognition of the unique, invaluable
worth embodied in any situation or act of life, a recognition which
checks that flippancy of surrender to momentary excitement coming from a
superficial view of behavior. A sense of momentous issues at stake means
a sobering and deepening of the mental attitude. The consciousness that
every deed of life has an import clear beyond its immediate, or first
significance, attaches dignity to every act. To live in the sense of the
larger values attaching to our passing desires and deeds is to be
possessed by the virtue of temperance.

=Control of Excitement.=--What hinders such living is, as we have seen,
the exaggerated intensity, the lack of proportion and perspective, with
which any appetite or desire is likely to present itself. It is this
which moralists of all ages have attacked under the name of
pleasure--the alluring and distracting power of the momentarily
agreeable. Seeing in this the enemy which prevents the rational survey
of the whole field and the calm, steady insight into the true good, it
is hardly surprising that moralists have attacked "pleasure" as the
source of every temptation to stray from the straight path of reason.
But it is not pleasure, it is one form of pleasure, the _pleasure of
excitement_, which is the obstacle and danger.[188] Every impulse and
desire marks a certain disturbance in the order of life, an exaltation
above the existing level, a pressure beyond its existing limit. To give
way to desire, to let it grow, to taste to the full its increasing and
intensifying excitement, is the temptation. The bodily appetites of
hunger and thirst and sex, with which we associate the grossest forms of
indulgence and laxity, exemplify the principle of expanding waves of
organic stimulation. But so also do many of the subtler forms of
unrestraint or intemperate action. The one with a clever and lively
tongue is tempted to let it run away with him; the vain man feeds upon
the excitement of a personality heightened by display and the notice of
others; the angry man, even though he knows he will later regret his
surrender, gives away to the sense of expanding power coincident with
his discharge of rage. The shiftless person finds it easier to take
chances and let consequences take care of themselves, while he enjoys
local and casual stimulations. Trivialities and superficialities
entangle us in a flippant life, because each one as it comes promises to
be "thrilling," while the very fear that this promise will not be kept
hurries us on to new experiences. To think of alternatives and
consequences is not "thrilling," but serious.

=Necessity of Superior Interest.=--Now calculation of the utilitarian
type is not adequate to deal with this temptation. Those who are prone
to reflection upon results are just those who are least likely to be
carried away by excitement--unless, as is the case with some
specialists, thinking is itself the mode of indulgence in
excitement.[189] With those who are carried away habitually by some mode
of excitement, the disease and the incapacity to take the proffered
remedy of reflection are the same thing. Only some _other_ passion will
accomplish the desired control. With the Greeks, it was æsthetic
passion, love of the grace and beauty, the rhythm and harmony, of a
self-controlled life. With the Romans, it was the passion for dignity,
power, honor of personality, evidenced in rule of appetite. Both of
these motives remain among the strong allies of ordered conduct. But the
passion for purity, the sense of something degrading and foul in
surrender to the base, an interest in something spotless, free from
adulteration, are, in some form or other, the chief resource in
overcoming the tendency of excitement to usurp the governance of the


While love of excitement allures man from the path of reason, fear of
pain, dislike to hardship, and laborious effort, hold him back from
entering it. Dislike of the disagreeable inhibits or contracts the
putting forth of energy, just as liking for agreeable stimulation
discharges and exhausts it. Intensity of active interest in the good
alone subdues that instinctive shrinking from the unpleasant and hard
which slackens energy or turns it aside. Such energy of devotion is
courage. Its etymological connection with the Latin word for _heart_,
suggests a certain abundant spontaneity, a certain overflow of positive
energy; the word was applied to this aspect of virtue when the heart was
regarded as literally (not metaphorically) the seat of vital impulse and
abundant forcefulness.

=Courage and the Common Good.=--One of the problems of early Greek
thought was that of discriminating courage as virtuous from a sort of
animal keenness and alacrity, easily running into recklessness and
bravado. It was uniformly differentiated from mere overflow of
physical energy by the fact that it was exhibited in support of some
common or social good. It bore witness to its voluntary character
by abiding in the face of threatened evil. Its simplest form was
patriotism--willingness to brave the danger of death in facing the
country's enemy from love of country. And this basic largeness of spirit
in which the individual sinks considerations of personal loss and harm
in allegiance to an objective good remains a cardinal aspect of all
right disposition.

=Courage is Preëminently the Executive Side of Every Virtue.=--The good
will, as we saw, means endeavor, effort, towards certain ends; unless
the end stirs to strenuous exertion, it is a sentimental, not a moral or
practical end. And endeavor implies obstacles to overcome, resistance to
what diverts, painful labor. It is the degree of threatened harm--in
spite of which one does not swerve--which measures this depth and
sincerity of interest in the good.

=Aspects of Interest in Execution.=--Certain formal traits of courage
follow at once from this general definition. In its onset, willingness
in behalf of the common good to endure attendant private evils is
alacrity, promptness. In its abiding and unswerving devotion, it is
constancy, loyalty, and faithfulness. In its continual resistance to
evil, it is fortitude, patience, perseverance, willingness to abide for
justification an ultimate issue. The _totality_ of commitment of self
to the good is decision and firmness. Conviction and resolution
accompany all true moral endeavor. These various dimensions (intensity,
duration, extent, and fullness) are, however, only differing expressions
of one and the same attitude of vigorous, energetic identification of
agency with the object.

=Goodness and Effectiveness.=--It is the failure to give due weight to
this factor of morality (the "works" of theological discussion) which is
responsible for the not uncommon idea that moral goodness means loss of
practical efficacy. When inner disposition is severed from outer action,
wishing divorced from executive willing, morality is reduced to mere
harmlessness; outwardly speaking, the best that can then be said of
virtue is that it is innocent and innocuous. Unscrupulousness is
identified with energy of execution; and a minute and paralyzing
scrupulosity with goodness. It is in reaction from such futile morality
that the gospel of force and of shrewdness of selecting and adapting
means to the desired end, is preached and gains hearers--as in the Italy
of the Renaissance[192] in reaction against mediæval piety, and again in
our own day (see _ante_, p. 374).

=Moral Courage and Optimism.=--A characteristic modern development of
courageousness is implied in the phrase "moral courage,"--as if all
genuine courage were not moral. It means devotion to the good in the
face of the customs of one's friends and associates, rather than against
the attacks of one's enemies. It is willingness to brave for sake of a
new idea of the good the unpopularity that attends breach of custom and
convention. It is this type of heroism, manifested in integrity of
memory and foresight, which wins the characteristic admiration of
to-day, rather than the outward heroism of bearing wounds and undergoing
physical dangers. It is _attention_ upon which the stress falls.[193]
This supplies, perhaps, the best vantage point from which to survey
optimism and pessimism in their direct moral bearings. The individual
whose pursuit of the good is colored by honest recognition of existing
and threatening evils is almost always charged with being a pessimist;
with cynical delight in dwelling upon what is morbid, base, or sordid;
and he is urged to be an "optimist," meaning in effect to conceal from
himself and others evils that obtain. Optimism, thus conceived, is a
combination of building rosy-colored castles in the air and hiding,
ostrich-like, from actual facts. As a general thing, it will be those
who have some interest at stake in evils remaining unperceived, and
hence unremedied, who most clamor in the cause of such "optimism." Hope
and aspiration, belief in the supremacy of good in spite of all evil,
belief in the realizability of good in spite of all obstacles, are
necessary inspirations in the life of virtue. The good can never be
demonstrated to the senses, nor be proved by calculations of personal
profit. It involves a radical venture of the will in the interest of
what is unseen and prudentially incalculable. But such optimism of
_will_, such determination of the man that, so far as his choice is
concerned, only the good shall be recognized as real, is very different
from a sentimental refusal to look at the realities of the situation
just as they are. In fact a certain intellectual pessimism, in the sense
of a steadfast willingness to uncover sore points, to acknowledge and
search for abuses, to note how presumed good often serves as a cloak for
actual bad, is a necessary part of the moral optimism which actively
devotes itself to making the right prevail. Any other view reduces the
aspiration and hope, which are the essence of moral courage, to a
cheerful animal buoyancy; and, in its failure to see the evil done to
others in its thoughtless pursuit of what it calls good, is nextdoor to
brutality, to a brutality bathed in the atmosphere of sentimentality and
flourishing the catchwords of idealism.


=In Ethical Literature Justice Has Borne at Least Three Different
Senses.=[194]--In its widest sense, it means righteousness, uprightness,
rectitude. It sums up morality. It is not _a_ virtue, but it is virtue.
The just act is the _due_ act; justice is fulfillment of obligation. (2)
This passes over into fairness, equity, impartiality, honesty in all
one's dealing with others. (3) The narrowest meaning is that of
_vindication_ of right through the administration of law.[194] Since
Aristotle's time (and following his treatment) this has been divided
into (i.) the _distributive_, having to do with the assignment of honor,
wealth, etc., in proportion to desert, and (ii.) the _corrective_,
vindicating the law against the transgressor by effecting a requital,
redress, which restores the supremacy of law.

=A Thread of Common Significance Runs through These Various
Meanings.=--The rational good means a comprehensive or complete end, in
which are harmoniously included a variety of special aims and values.
The just man is the man who takes in the whole of a situation and reacts
to it in its wholeness, not being misled by undue respect to some
particular factor. Since the general or inclusive good is a common or
social good, reconciling and combining the ends of a multitude of
private or particular persons, justice is the preëminently social
virtue: that which maintains the due order of individuals in the
interest of the comprehensive or social unity.

Justice, as equity, fairness, impartiality, honesty, carries the
recognition of the whole over into the question of right distribution
and apportionment among its parts. The equitable judge or administrator
is the one who makes no unjustifiable distinctions among those dealt
with. A fair price is one which recognizes the rights of both buyer and
seller. An honest man is the one who, with respect to whatever he has to
distribute to others and to receive from them, is desirous of giving and
taking just what belongs to each party concerned. The fair-minded man is
not bribed by pleasure into giving undue importance to some element of
good nor coerced by fear of pain into ignoring some other. He
_distributes_ his attention, regard, and attachment according to the
reasonable or objective claims of each factor.

=Justice and Sympathy or Love.=--The most significant questions
regarding justice are as to its connection with love and with
condemnation and punishment. It is a common notion that justice is harsh
or hard in its workings and that it requires to be supplemented, if not
replaced, by mercy. Taken literally this would mean that justice is not
just in its workings. The truth contained is that what is frequently
regarded as justice is not justice, but an imperfect substitute for it.
When a legal type of morality is current, justice is regarded as the
working of some fixed and abstract law; it is the law as law which is to
be reverenced; it is law as law whose majesty is to be vindicated. It is
forgotten that the nobility and dignity of law are due to the place of
law in securing the order involved in the realization of human
happiness. Then the law instead of being a servant of the good is put
arbitrarily above it, as if man was made for law, not law for man. The
result is inevitably harshness; indispensable factors of happiness are
ruthlessly slighted, or ruled out; the loveliness and grace of behavior
responding freely and flexibly to the requirements of unique situations
are stiffened into uniformity. The formula _summum jus summa injuria_
expresses the outcome when abstract law is insisted upon without
reference to the needs of concrete cases. Under such conditions, there
arises a demand for tempering the sternness of justice with mercy, and
supplementing the severity of law with grace. This demand means that the
neglected human values shall be restored into the idea of what is just.

="Social Justice."=--Our own time has seen a generous quickening of the
idea of social justice due to the growth of love, or philanthropy, as a
working social motive. In the older scheme of morals, justice was
supposed to meet all the necessary requirements of virtue; charity was
doing good in ways not obligatory or strictly exacted. Hence it was a
source of peculiar merit in the doer, a means of storing up a surplus of
virtue to offset vice. But a more generous sense of inherent social
relationships binding the aims of all into one comprehensive good, which
is the result of increase of human intercourse, democratic institutions,
and biological science, has made men recognize that the greater part of
the sufferings and miseries which afford on the part of a few the
opportunity for charity (and hence superior merit), are really social
inequities, due to causes which may be remedied. That justice requires
radical improvement of these conditions displaces the notion that their
effects may be here and there palliated by the voluntary merit of
morally superior individuals. The change illustrates, on a wide scale,
the transformation of the conception of justice so that it joins hands
with love and sympathy. That human nature should have justice done it
under all circumstances is an infinitely complicated and difficult
requirement, and only a vision of the capacities and accomplishments of
human beings rooted in affection and sympathy can perceive and execute

=Transformation of Punitive Justice.=--The conception of punitive or
corrective justice is undergoing the same transformation. Aristotle
stated the rule of equity in the case of wrongdoing as an arithmetical
requital: the individual was to suffer according to his deed. Later,
through conjunction with the idea of a divine judge inflicting
retribution upon the sinner, this notion passed into the belief that
punishment is a form of justice restoring the balance of disturbed law
by inflicting suffering upon the one who has done wrong. The end and aim
of punishment was retribution, bringing back to the agent the evil
consequences of his own deed. That punishment is suffering, that it
inevitably involves pain to the guilty one, there can be no question;
this, whether the punishment is externally inflicted or is in the pangs
of conscience, and whether administered by parent, teacher, or civil
authority. But that suffering is for the sake of suffering, or that
suffering can in any way restore or affect the violated majesty of law,
is a different matter.

What erring human nature deserves or merits, it is just it should have.
But in the end, a moral agent deserves to _be_ a moral agent; and hence
deserves that punishments inflicted should be _corrective_, not merely
retributive. Every wrongdoer should have his due. But what is his due?
Can we measure it by his past alone; or is it due every one to regard
him as a man with a future as well? as having possibilities for good as
well as achievements in bad? Those who are responsible for the
infliction of punishment have, as well as those punished, to meet the
requirements of justice; and failure to employ the means and
instrumentalities of punishment in a way to lead, so far as possible,
the wrongdoer to reconsideration of conduct and re-formation of
disposition, cannot shelter itself under the plea that it vindicates
law. Such failure comes rather from thoughtless custom; from a lazy
unwillingness to find better means; from an admixture of pride with lack
of sympathy for others; from a desire to maintain things as they are
rather than go to the causes which generate criminals.


As we have repeatedly noted, the heart of a voluntary act is its
intelligent or deliberate character. The individual's _intelligent_
concern for the good is implied in his sincerity, his faithfulness, and
his integrity. Of all the habits which constitute the character of an
individual, the habit of _judging_ moral situations is the most
important, for this is the key to the _direction_ and to the _remaking_
of all other habits. When an act is overt, it is irretrievably launched.
The agent has no more control. The moral life has its center in the
periods of suspended and postponed action, when the energy of the
individual is spent in recollection and foresight, in severe inquiry and
serious consideration of alternative aims. Only through reflection can
habits, however good in their origin and past exercise, be readapted to
the needs of the present; only through reflection can impulses, not yet
having found direction, be guided into the haven of a reasonable

=Greek Emphasis upon Insight or Wisdom.=--It is not surprising that the
Greeks, the first seriously to inquire into the nature of behavior and
its end or good, should have eulogized _wisdom_, _insight_, as the
supreme virtue and the source of all the virtues. Now, indeed, it seems
paradoxical to say with Socrates that ignorance is the only vice; that
man is bad not voluntarily, from deliberate choice, but only from
ignorance. But this is largely because we discriminate between different
kinds of knowledge as the Greek did not, and as they had no occasion for
doing. We have a second-hand knowledge, a knowledge from books,
newspapers, etc., which was practically non-existent even in the best
days of Athens. Knowledge meant to them something more personal;
something like what we call a "realizing sense"; an intimate and
well-founded conviction. To us knowledge suggests information about what
others have found out, and hence is more remote in its meaning. Greek
knowledge was mostly directly connected with the affairs of their common
associated life. The very words for knowledge and art, understanding and
skill, were hardly separated. Knowledge was knowledge about the city,
its traditions, literature, history, customs, purposes, etc. Their
astronomy was connected with their civic religion; their geography with
their own topography; their mathematics with their civil and military
pursuits. Now we have immense bodies of impersonal knowledge, remote
from direct bearing upon affairs. Knowledge has accordingly subdivided
itself into theoretical or scientific and practical or moral. We use the
term knowledge usually only for the first kind; hence the Socratic
position seems gratuitously paradoxical. But under the titles of
_conscience_ and _conscientiousness_ we preserve the meaning which was
attached to the term knowledge. It is not paradoxical to say that
unconscientiousness is the fundamental vice, and genuine
conscientiousness is guarantee of all virtue.

=Conscientiousness.=--In this change from Greek wisdom to modern
conscientiousness there have been some loss and some gain. The loss lies
in a certain hardening of the idea of insight and deliberation, due to
the isolation of the moral good from the other goods of life. The good
man and the bad man have been endowed with the same faculty; and this
faculty has been treated as automatically delivering correct
conclusions. On the other hand, modern conscientiousness contains less
of the idea of intellectual accomplishment, and more of the idea of
interest in finding out the good in conduct. "Wisdom" tended to
emphasize achieved insight; knowledge which was proved, guaranteed, and
unchangeable. "Conscientiousness" tends rather to fix attention upon
that voluntary attitude which is interested in _discovery_.

This implies a pretty radical change in wisdom as virtue. In the older
sense it is an attainment; something possessed. In the modern, it
resides in the active desire and effort, in pursuit rather than in
possession. The _attainment_ of knowledge varies with original
intellectual endowment; with opportunity for leisurely reflection; with
all sorts of external conditions. Possession is a _class_ idea and tends
to mark off a moral aristocracy from a common herd. Since the activities
of the latter must be directed, on this assumption, by attained
knowledge, its practical outcome is the necessity of the regulation of
their conduct by the wisdom possessed by the superior class. When,
however, the morally important thing is the desire and effort to
discover the good, every one is on the same plane, in spite of
differences in intellectual endowment and in learning.

Moral knowing, as a fundamental or cardinal aspect of virtue, is
then the completeness of the interest in good exhibited in effort
to discover the good. Since knowing involves two factors, a direct
and an indirect, conscientiousness involves both _sensitiveness_ and

=(1) Moral Sensitiveness.=--The individual who is not directly aware of
the presence of values needing to be perpetuated or achieved, in the
things and persons about him, is hard and callous or tough. A "tender"
conscience is one which is immediately responsive to the presentation of
good and evil. The modern counterpart to the Socratic doctrine that
ignorance is the root of vice, is that being morally "cold" or "dead,"
being indifferent to moral distinctions, is the most hopeless of all
conditions. One who cares, even if he cares in the wrong way, has at
least a spring that may be touched; the one who is just irresponsive
offers no leverage for correction or improvement.

=(2) Thoughtfulness.=--While the possession of such an immediate,
unreflective responsiveness to elements of good and bad must be the
mainstay of moral wisdom, the character which lies back of these
intuitive apprehensions must be thoughtful and serious-minded. There is
no individual who, however morally sensitive, can dispense with cool,
calm reflection, or whose intuitive judgments, if reliable, are not
largely the funded outcome of prior thinking. Every voluntary act is
intelligent: i.e., includes an idea of the end to be reached or the
consequences to accrue. Such ends are ideal in the sense that they are
present to thought, not to sense. But special ends, because they are
limited, are not what we mean by ideals. They are specific. With the
growth of the habit of reflection, agents become conscious that the
values of their particular ends are not circumscribed, but extend far
beyond the special case in question; so far indeed that their range of
influence cannot be foreseen or defined. A kindly act may not only have
the particular consequence of relieving present suffering, but may make
a difference in the entire life of its recipient, or may set in
radically different directions the interest and attention of the one who
performs it. These larger and remoter values in any moral act transcend
the end which was consciously present to its doer. The person has always
to aim at something definite, but as he becomes aware of this penumbra
or atmosphere of far-reaching ulterior values the meaning of his special
act is thereby deepened and widened. An act is outwardly temporary and
circumstantial, but its meaning is permanent and expansive. The act
passes away; but its significance abides in the increment of meaning
given to further growth. To live in the recognition of this deeper
meaning of acts is to live in the ideal, in the only sense in which it
is profitable for man to dwell in the ideal.

_Our "ideals," our types of excellence, are the various ways in which we
figure to ourselves the outreaching and ever-expanding values of our
concrete acts._ Every achievement of good deepens and quickens our sense
of the inexhaustible value contained in every right act. With
achievement, our conception of the possible goods of life increases,
and we find ourselves called to live upon a still deeper and more
thoughtful plane. An ideal is not some remote all-exhaustive goal, a
fixed _summum bonum_ with respect to which other things are only means.
It is not something to be placed in contrast to the direct, local, and
tangible quality of our actual situations, so that by contrast these
latter are lightly esteemed as insignificant. On the contrary, an ideal
is the conviction that each of these special situations carries with it
a final value, a meaning which in itself is unique and inexhaustible. To
set up "ideals" of perfection which are other than the serious
recognition of the possibilities of development resident in each
concrete situation, is in the end to pay ourselves with
sentimentalities, if not with words, and meanwhile it is to direct
thought and energy away from the situations which need and which welcome
the perfecting care of attention and affection.

=Thoughtfulness and Progress.=--This sense of wider values than those
definitely apprehended or definitely attained is a constant warning to
the individual not to be content with an accomplishment.
Conscientiousness takes more and more the form of interest in
improvement, in progress. Conscientiousness as sensitiveness may rest
upon the plane of already secured satisfactions, upon discriminating
with accuracy their quality and degree. As thoughtfulness, it will
always be on the lookout for the better. The good man not only measures
his acts by a standard, but he is concerned to revise his standard. His
sense of the ideal, of the undefinable because ever-expanding value of
special deeds, forbids his resting satisfied with any formulated
standard; for the very formulation gives the standard a technical
quality, while the good can be maintained only in enlarging excellence.
The highest form of conscientiousness is interest in constant progress.

=Love and Courage Required for Thoughtfulness.=--We may close this
chapter by repeating what we have already noted, that genuine moral
knowledge involves the affections and the resolute will as well as the
intelligence. We cannot know the varied elements of value in the lives
of others and in the possibilities of our own, save as our affections
are strong. Every narrowing of love, every encroachment of egoism, means
just so much blindness to the good. The man who pleads "good motives" as
excuse for acts which injure others is always one whose absorption in
himself has wrought harm to his powers of perception. Every widening of
contact with others, every deepening of the level of sympathetic
acquaintance, magnifies in so much vision of the good. Finally, the
chief ally of moral thoughtfulness is the resolute courage of
willingness to face the evil for the sake of the good. Shrinking from
apprehension of the evil to others consequent upon our behavior, because
such realization would demand painful effort to change our own plans and
habits, maintains habitual dimness and narrowness of moral vision.


Upon the principle of virtue in general, see Plato, _Republic_, 427-443;
Aristotle, _Ethics_, Books II. and IV.; Kant, _Theory of Ethics_
(Abbott's trans.), pp. 164-182, 305, 316-322; Green, _Prolegomena_, pp.
256-314 (and for conscientiousness, 323-337); Paulsen, _System of
Ethics_, pp. 475-482; Alexander, _Moral Order and Progress_, pp.
242-253; Ladd, _Philosophy of Conduct_, chs. x. and xiv.; Stephen,
_Science of Ethics_, ch. v.; Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_, Vol. II.,
pp. 3-34 and 263-276; Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_, pp. 2-5 and 9-10;
Rickaby, _Aquinas Ethicus_, Vol. I., pp. 155-195; Mezes, _Ethics_, chs.
ix. and xvi.

For natural ability and virtue: Hume, _Treatise_, Part II., Book III.,
and _Inquiry_, Appendix IV.; Bonar, _Intellectual Virtues_.

For discussions of special virtues: Aristotle, _Ethics_, Book III., and
Book VII., chs. i.-x.; for justice: Aristotle, _Ethics_, Book V.;
Rickaby, _Moral Philosophy_, pp. 102-108, and _Aquinas Ethicus_ (see
Index); Paulsen, _System of Ethics_, pp. 599-637; Mezes, _Ethics_, ch.
xiii.; Mill, _Utilitarianism_, ch. v.; Sidgwick, _Methods of Ethics_,
Book III., ch. v., and see Index; also criticism of Spencer in his
_Lectures on the Ethics of Green, Spencer and Martineau_, pp. 272-302;
Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_, Vol. II.; Stephen, _Science of Ethics_,
ch. v.

For benevolence, see Aristotle, _Ethics_, Books VII.-IX. (on
friendship); Rickaby, _Moral Philosophy_, pp. 237-244, and _Aquinas
Ethicus_ (see charity and almsgiving in Index); Paulsen, _System_, chs.
viii. and x. of Part III.; Mezes, _Ethics_, ch. xii.; Sidgwick,
_Methods of Ethics_, Book II., ch. iv.; Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_,
Vol. II.; see also the references under sympathy and altruism at end of
ch. xviii. Courage and temperance are discussed in chs. x. and xi. of
Mezes; in pp. 485-504 of Paulsen; pp. 327-336 of Sidgwick; ch. xi. of
Ladd's _Philosophy of Conduct_.


[184] This is, of course, the point made in ch. iv. on "_Customs or
Mores_," save that there the emphasis was upon the epoch of customary as
distinct from the reflective morals, while here it is upon the customary
factor in the present.

[185] This fact might be employed to reënforce our prior conclusion that
moral rules, classifications, etc., are not of final importance but are
of value in clarifying and judging individual acts and situations. Not
the rule, but the use which the person makes of the rule in approving
and disapproving himself and others, is the significant thing.

[186] Less is said on this point because this phase of the matter has
been covered in the discussion of self-denial in the previous chapter.
See pp. 364-68.

[187] Strict hedonism would tend to reduce all virtue to prudence--the
calculation of subtler and remoter consequences and the control of
present behavior by its outcome.

[188] Says Hazlitt, "The charm of criminal life, like that of savage
life, consists in liberty, in hardship, in danger, and in the contempt
of death: in one word, in _extraordinary excitement_" (Essay on
Bentham). But this is equally true in principle (though not in degree)
of every temptation to turn from the straight and narrow path. Virtue
seems dull and sober, uninteresting, in comparison with the increasing
excitation of some desire. There are as many forms of excitement as
there are individual men.

[189] There is something of the nature of gambling, of taking chances on
future results for the sake of present stimulation, in all unrestraint
or intemperate action. And the reflection of the specialist--that is,
the one whose reflection is not subjected to responsible tests in social
behavior--is a more or less exciting adventure--a "speculation."

[190] In the last words of Spinoza's _Ethics_, "No one delights in the
good because he curbs his appetites, but because we delight in the good
we are able to curb our lusts."

[191] What has been said about Self-assertion, in the last chapter,
anticipates in some measure what holds of this virtue.

[192] See Sumner, _Folkways_, ch. xx.

[193] Upon this point see James, _Principles of Psychology_, Vol. II.,
pp. 561-567, and Royce, _World and Individual_, Vol. II., pp. 354-360.

[194] This receives more attention in ch. xxi. of Part III.

[195] Compare what was said concerning the intuitive and the discursive
factors in moral knowledge in ch. xvi.

       *       *       *       *       *




Addams, _Democracy and Social Ethics_, 1902, _Newer Ideals of Peace_,
1907; Santayana, _The Life of Reason_, Vol. II., 1905; Bergmann, _Ethik
als Kulturphilosophie_, 1904, especially pp. 154-304; Wundt, _Ethics_,
Vol. III., _The Principles of Morality and the Departments of the Moral
Life_ (trans. 1901); Spencer, _Principles of Ethics_, 1893, Vol. II.,
_Principles of Sociology_, 1882, Vol. I., Part II.; Ritchie, _Studies in
Political and Moral Philosophy_, 1888; Bosanquet, _Philosophical Theory
of the State_, 1899; Willoughby, _Social Justice_, 1900; Cooley, _Human
Nature and the Social Order_, 1902; Paulsen, _System der Ethik_, 5th
ed., 1900, Book IV.; Runze, _Praktische Ethik_, 1891; Janet, _Histoire
de la Science Politique dans ses Rapports avec la Morale_, 3d ed., 1887;
Plato, _The Republic_; Aristotle, _Ethics_, Book V., and _Politics_
(trans. by Welldon, 1883); Hegel, _Philosophy of Right_ (pub. 1820,
trans. by Dyde, 1896); Mackenzie, _An Introduction to Social
Philosophy_, 1890; Dunning, _History of Political Theories_, Vol. I.,
1902, Vol. II., 1905; Stein, _Die Sociale Frage im Licht der
Philosophie_, 1897.



=Object of Part and Chapter.=--The history of morals manifests a twofold
movement. It reveals, on one side, constantly increasing stress on
_individual_ intelligence and affection. The transformation of customary
into reflective morals is the change from "Do those things which our
kin, class, or city do" to "Be a person with certain habits of desire
and deliberation." The moral history of the race also reveals constantly
growing emphasis upon the _social_ nature of the objects and ends to
which personal preferences are to be devoted. While the agent has been
learning that it is his personal attitude which counts in his deeds, he
has also learnt that there is no attitude which is exclusively private
in scope, none which does not need to be socially valued or judged.
Theoretic analysis enforces the same lesson as history. It tells us that
moral quality _resides in_ the habitual dispositions of an agent; and
that it _consists of_ the tendency of these dispositions to secure (or
hinder) values which are sociably shared or sharable.

In Part One we sketched the historical course of this development; in
Part Two we traced its theoretic analysis. In the present and concluding
Part, our purpose is to consider the distinctively social aspects of
morality. We shall consider how social institutions and tendencies
supply value to the activities of individuals, impose the conditions of
the formation and exercise of their desires and aims; and, especially,
how they create the peculiarly urgent problems of contemporary moral
life. The present chapter will take up the general question, that of
the relation of social organization to individual life.


From one point of view, historic development represents the increasing
liberation of individual powers from rigid social control. Sir John
Lubbock remarks: "No savage is free. All over the world his daily life
is regulated by a complicated and apparently most inconvenient set of
customs (as forcible as laws), of quaint prohibitions and privileges."
Looked at from another point of view, emancipation from one sort of
social organization means initiation into some other social order; the
individual is liberated from a small and fixed (customary) social group,
to become a member of a larger and progressive society. The history of
setting free individual power in desire, thought, and initiative is,
upon the whole, the history of the formation of more complex and
extensive social organizations. Movements that look like the
disintegration of the order of society, when viewed with reference to
what has preceded them, are factors in the construction of a new social
order, which allows freer play to individuals, and yet increases the
number of social groupings and the depth of social combinations.

This fact of historical development is well summed up in the following
words of Hobhouse, set forth as a summary of a comprehensive survey of
the historic development of law and justice, of the family including the
status of women and children, of the relations between communities, and
between classes, the rich and the poor.

    He says: "Amid all the variety of social institutions and the ebb
    and flow of historical change, it is possible in the end to detect
    a double movement, marking the transition from the lower to the
    higher levels of civilized law and custom. On the one hand, the
    social order is strengthened and extended.... On this side the
    individual human being becomes more and more subject to social
    constraint, and, as we have frequently seen, the changes making
    for the tightening of the social fabric may diminish the rights
    which the individual or large classes of individuals can claim....
    In this relation liberty and order become opposed. But the
    opposition is not essential. From the first the individual relies
    on social forces to maintain him in his rights, and in the higher
    form of social organization we have seen order and liberty drawing
    together again.... The best ordered community is that which
    gives most scope to its component members to make the best of
    themselves, while the 'best' in human nature is that which
    contributes to the harmony and onward movement of society....
    The responsible human being, man or woman, is the center of
    modern ethics as of modern law, free so far as custom and law are
    concerned to make his own life.... The social nature of man is not
    diminished either on the side of its needs or its duties by the
    fuller recognition of personal rights. The difference is that,
    so far as rights and duties are conceived as attaching to human
    beings as such, they become universalized, _and are therefore the
    care of society as a whole rather than of any partial group

With this statement may be compared the words of Green and Alexander.
According to Green, moral progress consists in the _extension_ of the
area or range of persons whose common good is concerned, and in the
deepening or _intensification_ in the individual of his social interest:
"the settled disposition on each man's part to make the most and best of
humanity in his own person and in the person of others."[197]
Alexander's formulæ for moral growth are the "laws of differentiation
and of comprehension." The first means diversification, specialization,
differentiating the powers of an individual with increased refinement of
each. The law of comprehension means the steady enlargement of the size
and scope of the social group (as from clan to modern national state)
with its increased complexity of ways in which men are brought into
contact with one another.[198]

=Social Life Liberates and Directs Individual Energies.=--Breadth in
extent of community life goes hand in hand with multiplication of the
stimuli which call out an individual's powers. Diversification of social
activities increases opportunities for his initiative and endeavor.
Narrow and meager social life means limitation of the scope of
activities in which its members may engage. It means little occasion for
the exercise of deliberation and choice, without which character is both
immature and fossilized; it means, in short, restricted personality. But
a rich and varied society, one which liberates powers otherwise torpid
and latent, also exacts that they be employed in ways consistent with
its own interests. A society which is extensive and complex would
dissolve in anarchy and confusion were not the activities of its various
members upon the whole mutually congruent. The world of action is a
world of which the individual is one limit, and humanity the other;
between them lie all sorts of associative arrangements of lesser and
larger scope, families, friendships, schools, clubs, organizations for
making or distributing goods, for gathering and supplying commodities;
activities politically organized by parishes, wards, villages, cities,
countries, states, nations. Every maladjustment in relations among these
institutions and associated activities means loss and friction in the
relations between individuals; and thereby introduces defect, division,
and restriction into the various powers which constitute an individual.
All harmonious coöperation among them means a fuller life and greater
freedom of thought and action for the individual person.

O=rder and Laws.=--The world of action as a scene of organized
activities going on in regular ways[199] thus presents a public or
common order and authority, with its established modes of operation, its
laws. Organized institutions, from the more permanent to the more
casual, with their orderly rules of conduct, are not, of course, prior
to individual activity; for their elements are individual activities
related in certain ways. But with respect to _any one_ individual in his
separate or distributive capacity, there is a genuine and important
sense in which the institution comes first. A child is born into an
already existing family with habits and beliefs already formed, not
indeed rigid beyond readaptation, but with their own order
(arrangements). He goes to schools which have their established methods
and aims; he gradually assumes membership in business, civic, and
political organizations, with their own settled ways and purposes. Only
in participating in already fashioned systems of conduct does he
apprehend his own powers, appreciate their worth and realize their
possibilities, and achieve for himself a controlled and orderly body of
physical and mental habits. He finds the value and the principles of his
life, his satisfaction and his norms of authority, in being a member of
associated groups of persons and in playing his part in their
maintenance and expansion.

=The Social and the Moral.=--In customary society, it does not occur to
any one that there is a difference between what he ought to do, i.e.,
the moral, and what those about him customarily do, i.e., the social.
The socially established is the moral. Reflective morality brings with
it, as we have seen, a distinction. A thoughtfully minded person reacts
against certain institutions and habits which obtain in his social
environment; he regards certain ideas, which he frames himself and which
are not embodied in social habits, as more moral than anything existing
about him. Such reactions against custom and such projections of new
ideas are necessary if there is to be progress in society. But
unfortunately it has often been forgotten that this distinctly
_personal_ morality, which takes its stand against some established
usage, and which, therefore, for the time being has its abode only in
the initiative and effort of an individual, is simply the means of
_social_ reconstruction. It is treated as if it were an end in itself,
and as if it were something higher than any morality which is or can be
socially embodied.

At some periods, this view has led to a monastic retreat from all social
affairs for the sake of cultivating personal goodness. At other times,
it has led to the political indifference of the Cynic and Stoic. For
ages, it led to a morality of "other worldliness"; to the belief that
true goodness can be attained only in another kind of life and world--a
belief which carried with it relative contempt and neglect of concrete
social conditions in this life. Social affairs at best were only
"secular" and temporal, and, in contrast with the eternal and spiritual
salvation of the individual's own soul, of little account. After the
Renaissance and the Protestant Revolt, this kind of moral individualism
persisted in different forms. Among the hedonists, it took the form of
assuming that while social arrangements are of very great importance,
their importance lies in the fact that they hinder or help individuals
in the attainment of their own private pleasures. The transcendentalists
(such as Kant) asserted that, since morality is wholly a matter of the
inner motive, of the personal attitude towards the moral law, social
conditions are wholly external. Good or evil lies wholly inside the
individual's own will. Social institutions may help or hinder the
outward _execution_ of moral purpose; they may be favorable or hostile
to the successful outward display of virtue. But they have nothing to do
with originating or developing the moral purpose, the Good Will, and
hence, in themselves, are lacking in moral significance. Thus Kant made
a sharp and fast distinction between _morality_, appertaining solely to
the individual's own inner consciousness, and _legality_, appertaining
to the social and political conditions of outward behavior. Social
institutions and laws may indeed regulate men's outer acts. So far as
men externally conform, their conduct is legal. But laws cannot regulate
or touch men's motives, which alone determine the morality of their

We shall not repeat here our prior criticisms of hedonism and
utilitarianism in order to point out the falsity of this division of
moral action into unrelated inner (or private) and outer (or social)
factors. We may recall to memory, however, that Kant himself virtually
passed beyond his own theory of moral individualism in insisting upon
the promotion of a "Kingdom of Ends," in which every person is to be
treated as an end in himself. We may recall that the later utilitarians
(such as Mill, Leslie Stephen, Bain, and Spencer) insisted upon the
_educative_ value of social institutions, upon their importance in
forming certain interests and habits in the individual. Thus social
arrangements were taken out of the category of mere means to private
good, and made the necessary factors and conditions of the development
of an individuality which should have a reasonable and just conception
of its own nature and of its own good. We may also enumerate some of the
more fundamental ways in which social institutions determine individual

1. Apart from the social medium, the individual would never "know
himself"; he would never become acquainted with his own needs and
capacities. He would live the life of a brute animal, satisfying as best
he could his most urgent appetites of hunger, thirst, and sex, but
being, as regards even that, handicapped in comparison with other
animals. And, as we have already seen, the wider and the richer the
social relationships into which an individual enters, the more fully are
his powers evoked, and the more fully is he brought to recognize the
possibilities latent in them. It is from seeing noble architecture and
hearing harmonious music that the individual learns to know to what his
own constructive and rhythmic tendencies, otherwise blind and inchoate,
may come. It is from achievement in industrial, national, and family
life that he is initiated into perception of his own energy, loyalty,
and affection.

2. Social conditions not only evoke what is latent, and bring to
conscious recognition what is blind, but they select, encourage, and
confirm certain tendencies at the expense of others. They enable the
individual to discriminate the better and the worse among his tendencies
and achievements. There is no limit in the power of society to awaken
and strengthen this habit of discrimination, of choice after comparison,
in its individual members. A small social group with fixed habits, a
clan, a gang, a narrow sect, a dogmatic party, will restrict the
formation of critical powers--i.e., of conscientiousness or moral
thoughtfulness. But an individual who _really_ becomes a member of
modern society, with its multiple occupations, its easy intercourse, its
free mobility, its rich resources of art and science, will have only too
many opportunities for reflective judgment and personal valuation and
preference. _The very habits of individual moral initiative, of personal
criticism of the existent order, and of private projection of a better
order, to which moral individualists point as proofs of the purely
"inner" nature of morality, are themselves effects of a variable and
complex social order._

=The Moral Value of the State.=--If then we take modern social life in
its broadest extent, as including not only what has become
institutionalized and more or less fossilized, but also what is still
growing (forming and re-forming), we may justly say that it is as true
of progressive as of stationary society, that the moral and the social
are one. The virtues of the individual in a progressive society are more
reflective, more critical, involve more exercise of comparison and
selection, than in customary society. But they are just as socially
conditioned in their origin and as socially directed in their

In rudimentary societies, customs furnish the highest ends of
achievement; they supply the principles of social organization and
combination; and they form binding laws whose breach is punished. The
moral, political, and legal are not differentiated. But village
communities and city-states, to say nothing of kingdoms and empires and
modern national States, have developed special organs and special
regulations for maintaining social unity and public order. Small groups
are usually firmly welded together and are exclusive. They have a narrow
but intense social code:--like a patriarchal family, a gang, a social
set, they are clannish. But when a large number of such groups come
together within a more inclusive social unity, some institution grows up
to represent the interests and activities of the whole as against the
narrow and centrifugal tendencies of the constituent factors. A society
is then _politically_ organized; and a true public order with its
comprehensive laws is brought into existence. The moral importance of
the development of this public point of view, with its extensive common
purposes and with a general will for maintaining them, can hardly be
overestimated. Without such organization, society and hence morality
would remain sectional, jealous, suspicious, unfraternal. Sentiments of
intense cohesion within would have been conjoined with equally strong
sentiments of indifference, intolerance, and hostility to those without.
In the wake of the formation of States have followed more widely
co-operative activities, more comprehensive and hence more reasonable
principles of judgment and outlook. The individual has been emancipated
from his relative submergence in the local and fixed group, and set upon
his own feet, with varied fields of activity open to him in which to try
his powers, and furnished with principles of judging conduct and
projecting ideals which in theory, at least, are as broad as the
possibilities of humanity itself.


The more comprehensive and diversified the social order, the greater the
responsibility and the freedom of the individual. His freedom is the
greater, because the more numerous are the effective stimuli to action,
and the more varied and the more certain the ways in which he may
fulfill his powers. His responsibility is greater because there are more
demands for considering the consequences of his acts; and more agencies
for bringing home to him the recognition of consequences which affect
not merely more persons individually, but which also influence the more
remote and hidden social ties.

=Liability.=--Freedom and responsibility have a relatively superficial
and negative meaning and a relatively positive central meaning. In its
external aspect, responsibility is _liability_. An agent is free to act;
yes, but--. He must stand the consequences, the disagreeable as well as
the pleasant, the social as well as the physical. He may do a given act,
but if so, let him look out. His act is a matter that concerns others as
well as himself, and they will prove their concern by calling him to
account; and if he cannot give a satisfactory and credible account of
his intention, subject him to correction. Each community and
organization informs its members what it regards as obnoxious, and
serves notice upon them that they have to answer if they offend. The
individual then is (1) likely or liable to have to explain and justify
his behavior, and is (2) liable or open to suffering consequent upon
inability to make his explanation acceptable.

=Positive Responsibility.=--In this way the individual is made aware of
the stake the community has in his behavior; and is afforded an
opportunity to take that interest into account in directing his desires
and making his plans. If he does so, he is a responsible person. The
agent who does not take to heart the concern which others show that they
have in his conduct, will note his liability only as an evil to which he
is exposed, and will take it into consideration only to see how to
escape or evade it. But one whose point of view is sympathetic and
reasonable will recognize the justice of the community interest in his
performances; and will recognize the value to him of the instruction
contained in its assertions of its interest. Such an one responds,
answers, to the social demands made; he is not merely called to answer.
He holds himself responsible for the consequences of his acts; he does
not wait to be held liable by others. When society looks for responsible
workmen, teachers, doctors, it does not mean merely those whom it may
call to account; it can do that in any case. It wants men and women who
habitually form their purposes after consideration of the social
consequences of their execution. Dislike of disapprobation, fear of
penalty, play a part in generating this responsive habit; but fear,
operating directly, occasions only cunning or servility. Fused, through
reflection, with other motives which prompt to action, it helps bring
about that apprehensiveness, or susceptibility to the rights of others,
which is the essence of responsibility, which in turn is the sole
_ultimate_ guarantee of social order.

=The Two Senses of Freedom.=--In its external aspect, freedom is
negative and formal. It signifies freedom _from_ subjection to the will
and control of others; exemption from bondage; release from servitude;
capacity to act without being exposed to direct obstructions or
interferences from others. It means a clear road, cleared of
impediments, for action. It contrasts with the limitations of prisoner,
slave, and serf, who have to carry out the will of others.

=Effective Freedom.=--Exemption from restraint and from interference
with overt action is only a condition, though an absolutely
indispensable one, of effective freedom. The latter requires (1)
positive control of the resources necessary to carry purposes into
effect, possession of the means to satisfy desires; and (2) mental
equipment with the trained powers of initiative and reflection requisite
for free preference and for circumspect and far-seeing desires. The
freedom of an agent who is merely released from direct external
obstructions is formal and empty. If he is without resources of personal
skill, without control of the tools of achievement, he must inevitably
lend himself to carrying out the directions and ideas of others. If he
has not powers of deliberation and invention, he must pick up his ideas
casually and superficially from the suggestions of his environment and
appropriate the notions which the interests of some class insinuate into
his mind. If he have not powers of intelligent self-control, he will be
in bondage to appetite, enslaved to routine, imprisoned within the
monotonous round of an imagery flowing from illiberal interests, broken
only by wild forays into the illicit.

=Legal and Moral.=--Positive responsibility and freedom may be regarded
as moral, while liability and exemption are legal and political. A
particular individual at a given time is possessed of certain secured
resources in execution and certain formed habits of desire and
reflection. In so far, he is positively free. Legally, his sphere of
activity may be very much wider. The laws, the prevailing body of rules
which define existing institutions, would protect him in exercising
claims and powers far beyond those which he can actually put forth. He
is exempt from interference in travel, in reading, in hearing music, in
pursuing scientific research. But if he has neither material means nor
mental cultivation to enjoy these legal possibilities, mere exemption
means little or nothing. It does, however, create a moral demand that
the practical limitations which hem him in should be removed; that
practical conditions should be afforded which will enable him
effectively to take advantage of the opportunities formally open.
Similarly, at any given time, the liabilities to which an individual is
actually held come far short of the accountability to which the more
conscientious members of society hold themselves. The morale of the
individual is in advance of the formulated morality, or legality, of the

=Relation of Legal to Moral.=--It is, however, absurd to separate the
legal and the ideal aspects of freedom from one another. It is only as
men are held liable that they become responsible; even the conscientious
man, however much in some respects his demands upon himself exceed those
which would be enforced against him by others, still needs in other
respects to have his unconscious partiality and presumption steadied by
the requirements of others. He needs to have his judgment balanced
against crankiness, narrowness, or fanaticism, by reference to the
sanity of the common standard of his times. It is only as men are exempt
from external obstruction that they become aware of possibilities, and
are awakened to demand and strive to obtain more positive freedom. Or,
again, it is the possession by the more favored individuals in society
of an effectual freedom to do and to enjoy things with respect to which
the masses have only a formal and legal freedom, that arouses a sense of
inequity, and that stirs the social judgment and will to such reforms of
law, of administration and economic conditions as will transform the
empty freedom of the less favored individuals into constructive


=The Individual and Social in Rights and Obligations.=--That which,
taken at large or in a lump, is called freedom breaks up in detail into
a number of specific, concrete abilities to act in particular ways.
These are termed _rights_. Any right includes within itself in intimate
unity the individual and social aspects of activity upon which we have
been insisting. As a capacity for exercise of power, it resides in and
proceeds from some special agent, some individual. As exemption from
restraint, a secured release from obstruction, it indicates at least the
permission and sufferance of society, a tacit social assent and
confirmation; while any more positive and energetic effort on the part
of the community to guarantee and safeguard it, indicates an active
acknowledgment on the part of society that the free exercise by
individuals of the power in question is positively in its own interest.
Thus a right, individual in residence, is social in origin and intent.
The social factor in rights is made explicit in the demand that the
power in question be exercised in certain ways. A right is never a claim
to a wholesale, indefinite activity, but to a _defined_ activity; _to
one carried on_, that is, _under certain conditions_. This limitation
constitutes the _obligatory_ phases of every right. The individual is
free; yes, that is his right. But he is free to act only according to
certain regular and established conditions. That is the obligation
imposed upon him. He has a right to use public roads, but he is obliged
to turn in a certain way. He has a right to use his property, but he is
obliged to pay taxes, to pay debts, not to harm others in its use, and
so on.

=Correspondence of Rights and Obligations.=--Rights and obligations are
thus strictly correlative. This is true both in their external
employment and in their intrinsic natures. Externally the individual is
under obligation to use his right in a way which does not interfere with
the rights of others. He is free to drive on the public highways, but
not to exceed a certain speed, and on condition that he turns to right
or left as the public order requires. He is entitled to the land which
he has bought, but this possession is subject to conditions of public
registration and taxation. He may use his property, but not so that it
menaces others or becomes a nuisance. Absolute rights, if we mean by
absolute those not relative to any social order and hence exempt from
any social restriction, there are none. But rights correspond even more
intrinsically to obligations. The right is itself a social outcome: it
is the individual's in so far as he is himself a social member not
merely physically, but in his habits of thought and feeling. He is under
obligation to use his rights in social ways. The more we emphasize the
free right of an individual to his property, the more we emphasize what
society has done for him: the avenues it has opened to him for
acquiring; the safeguards it has put about him for keeping; the wealth
achieved by others which he may acquire by exchanges themselves socially
buttressed. So far as an individual's own merits are concerned these
opportunities and protections are "unearned increments," no matter what
credit he may deserve for initiative and industry and foresight in using
them. The only fundamental anarchy is that which regards rights as
private monopolies, ignoring their social origin and intent.

=Classes of Rights and Obligations.=--We may discuss freedom and
responsibility with respect to the social organization which secures and
enforces them; or from the standpoint of the individual who exercises
and acknowledges them. From the latter standpoint, rights are
conveniently treated as physical and mental: not that the physical and
mental can be separated, but that emphasis may fall primarily on control
of the conditions required to execute ideas and intentions, or upon the
control of the conditions involved in their personal formation and
choice. From the standpoint of the public order, rights and duties are
civil and political. We shall consider them in the next chapter in
connection with the organization of society in the State. Here we
consider rights as inhering in an individual in virtue of his membership
in society.

=I. Physical Rights.=--These are the rights to the free unharmed
possession of the body (the rights to life and limb), exemption from
homicidal attack, from assault and battery, and from conditions that
threaten health in more obscure ways; and positively, the right to free
movement of the body, to use its members for any legitimate purpose, and
the right to unhindered locomotion. Without the exemption, there is no
security in life, no assurance; only a life of constant fear and
uncertainty, of loss of limb, of injury from others, and of death.
Without some positive assurance, there is no chance of carrying ideas
into effect. Even if sound and healthy and extremely protected, a man
lives a slave or prisoner. Right to the control and use of physical
conditions of life takes effect then in property rights, command of the
natural tools and materials which are requisite to the maintenance of
the body in a due state of health and to an effective and competent use
of the person's powers. These physical rights to life, limb, and
property are so basic to all achievement and capability that they have
frequently been termed "natural rights." They are so fundamental to the
existence of personality that their insecurity or infringement is a
direct menace to the social welfare. The struggle for human liberty and
human responsibility has accordingly been more acute at this than at any
other point. Roughly speaking, the history of personal liberty is the
history of the efforts which have safeguarded the security of life and
property and which have emancipated bodily movement from subjection to
the will of others.

=Unsolved Problems: War and Punishment.=--While history marks great
advance, especially in the last four or five centuries, as to the
negative aspect of freedom or release from direct and overt tyranny,
much remains undone on the positive side. It is at this point of free
physical control that all conflicts of rights concentrate themselves.
While the limitation by war of the right to life may be cited as
evidence for the fact that even this right is not absolute but is
socially conditioned, yet that kind of correspondence between individual
activity and social well-being which exacts exposure to destruction as
its measure, is too suggestive of the tribal morality in which the
savage shows his social nature by participation in a blood feud, to be
satisfactory. Social organization is clearly defective when its
constituent portions are so set at odds with one another as to demand
from individuals their death as their best service to the community.
While one may cite capital punishment to enforce, as if in large type,
the fact that the individual holds even his right to life subject to the
social welfare, the moral works the other way to underline the failure
of society to socialize its members, and its tendency to put undesirable
results out of sight and mind rather than to face responsibility for
causes. The same limitation is seen in methods of imprisonment, which,
while supposed to be protective rather than vindictive, recognize only
in a few and sporadic cases that the sole sure protection of society is
through education and correction of individual character, not by mere
physical isolation under harsh conditions.

=Security of Life.=--In civilized countries the blood feud, infanticide,
putting to death the economically useless and the aged, have been
abolished. Legalized slavery, serfdom, the subjection of the rights of
wife and child to the will of husband and father, have been done away
with. But many modern industries are conducted with more reference to
financial gain than to life, and the annual roll of killed, injured, and
diseased in factory and railway practically equals the list of dead and
wounded in a modern war.[200] Most of these accidents are preventable.
The willingness of parents on one side and of employers on the other,
conjoined with the indifference of the general public, makes child-labor
an effective substitute for exposure of children and other methods of
infanticide practiced by savage tribes. Agitation for old-age pensions
shows that faithful service to society for a lifetime is still
inadequate to secure a prosperous old age.

=Charity and Poverty.=--Society provides assistance and remedial
measures, poorhouses, asylums, hospitals. The exceedingly poor are a
public charge, supported by taxes as well as by alms. Individuals are
not supposed to die from starvation nor to suffer without any relief or
assistance from physical defects and disease. So far, there is growth in
positive provision for the right to live. But the very necessity for
such extensive remedial measures shows serious defects farther back. It
raises the question of social responsibility for the causes of such
wholesale poverty and widespread misery. Taken in conjunction with the
idleness and display of the congested rich, it raises the question how
far we are advanced beyond barbarism in making organic provision for an
effective, as distinct from formal, right to life and movement. It is
hard to say whether the heavier indictment lies in the fact that so many
shirk their share of the necessary social labor and toil, or in the fact
that so many who are willing to work are unable to do so, without
meeting recurrent crises of unemployment, and except under conditions of
hours, hygiene, compensation, and home conditions which reduce to a low
level the positive rights of life. The social order protects the
property of those who have it; but, although historic conditions have
put the control of the machinery of production in the hands of a
comparatively few persons, society takes little heed to see that great
masses of men get even that little property which is requisite to secure
assured, permanent, and properly stimulating conditions of life. Until
there is secured to and imposed upon all members of society the right
and the duty of work in socially serviceable occupations, with due
return in social goods, rights to life and free movement will hardly
advance much beyond their present largely nominal state.

=II. Rights to Mental Activity.=--These rights of course are closely
bound up with rights to physical well-being and activity. The latter
would have no meaning were it not that they subserve purposes and
affections; while the life of mind is torpid or remote, dull or
abstract, save as it gets impact in physical conditions and directs
them. Those who hold that the limitations of physical conditions have no
_moral_ signification, and that their improvement brings at most an
increase of more or less materialistic comfort, not a moral advance,
fail to note that the development of concrete purposes and desires is
dependent upon so-called outward conditions. These conditions affect the
execution of purposes and wants; and this influence reacts to determine
the further arrest or growth of needs and resolutions. The sharp and
unjustifiable antithesis of spiritual and material in the current
conception of moral action leads many well-intentioned people to be
callous and indifferent to the moral issues involved in physical and
economic progress. Long hours of excessive physical labor, joined with
unwholesome conditions of residence and work, restrict the growth of
mental activity, while idleness and excess of physical possession and
control pervert mind, as surely as these causes modify the outer and
overt acts.

=Freedom of Thought and Affection.=--The fundamental forms of the right
to mental life are liberty of judgment and sympathy. The struggle for
spiritual liberty has been as prolonged and arduous as that for physical
freedom. Distrust of intelligence and of love as factors in concrete
individuals has been strong even in those who have proclaimed most
vigorously their devotion to them as abstract principles. Disbelief in
the integrity of mind, assertion that the divine principles of thought
and love are perverted and corrupt in the individual, have kept
spiritual authority and prestige in the hands of the few, just as other
causes have made material possessions the monopoly of a small class. The
resulting restriction of knowledge and of the tools of inquiry have kept
the masses where their blindness and dullness might be employed as
further evidence of their natural unfitness for personal illumination by
the light of truth and for free direction of the energy of moral
warmth.[201] Gradually, however, free speech, freedom of communication
and intercourse, of public assemblies, liberty of the press and
circulation of ideas, freedom of religious and intellectual conviction
(commonly called freedom of conscience), of worship, and to some extent
the right to education, to spiritual nurture, have been achieved. In the
degree the individual has won these liberties, the social order has
obtained its chief safeguard against explosive change and intermittent
blind action and reaction, and has got hold of the method of graduated
and steady reconstruction. Looked at as a mere expedient, liberty of
thought and expression is the most successful device ever hit upon for
reconciling tranquillity with progress, so that peace is not sacrificed
to reform nor improvement to stagnant conservatism.[202]

=Right and Duty of Education.=--It is through education in its broadest
sense that the right of thought and sympathy become effective. The
final value of all institutions is their educational influence; they are
measured morally by the occasions they afford and the guidance they
supply for the exercise of foresight, judgment, seriousness of
consideration, and depth of regard. The family, the school, the church,
art, especially (to-day) literature, nurture the affections and
imagination, while schools impart information and inculcate skill in
various forms of intellectual technique. In the last one hundred years,
the right of each individual to spiritual self-development and
self-possession, and the interest of society as a whole in seeing that
each of its members has an opportunity for education, have been
recognized in publicly maintained schools with their ladder from
kindergarten through the college to the engineering and professional
school. Men and women have had put at their disposal the materials and
tools of judgment; have had opened to them the wide avenues of science,
history, and art that lead into the larger world's culture. To some
extent negative exemption from arbitrary restriction upon belief and
thought has been developed into positive capacities of intelligence and

=Restrictions from Inadequate Economic Conditions.=--Freedom of thought
in a developed constructive form is, however, next to impossible for the
masses of men so long as their economic conditions are precarious, and
their main problem is to keep the wolf from their doors. Lack of time,
hardening of susceptibility, blind preoccupation with the machinery of
highly specialized industries, the combined apathy and worry consequent
upon a life maintained just above the level of subsistence, are
unfavorable to intellectual and emotional culture. Intellectual
cowardice, due to apathy, laziness, and vague apprehension, takes the
place of despotism as a limitation upon freedom of thought and speech.
Uncertainty as to security of position, the welfare of a dependent
family, close men's mouths from expressing their honest convictions,
and blind their minds to clear perception of evil conditions. The
instrumentalities of culture--churches, newspapers, universities,
theatres--themselves have economic necessities which tend to make them
dependent upon those who can best supply their needs. The congestion of
poverty on one side and of "culture" on the other is so great that, in
the words of a distinguished economist, we are still questioning
"whether it is really impossible that all should start in the world with
a fair chance of leading a cultured life free from the pains of poverty
and the stagnating influences of a life of excessive mechanical
toil."[203] We provide free schools and pass compulsory education acts,
but actively and passively we encourage conditions which limit the mass
of children to the bare rudiments of spiritual nurture.

=Restriction of Educational Influences.=--Spiritual resources are
practically as much the possession of a special class, in spite of
educational advance, as are material resources. This fact reacts upon
the chief educative agencies--science, art, and religion. Knowledge in
its ideas, language, and appeals is forced into corners; it is
overspecialized, technical, and esoteric because of its isolation. Its
lack of intimate connection with social practice leads to an intense and
elaborate over-training which increases its own remoteness. Only when
science and philosophy are one with literature, the art of successful
communication and vivid intercourse, are they liberal in effect; and
this implies a society which is already intellectually and emotionally
nurtured and alive. Art itself, the embodiment of ideas in forms which
are socially contagious, becomes what it is so largely, a development of
technical skill, and a badge of class differences. Religious emotion,
the quickening of ideas and affections by recognition of their
inexhaustible signification, is segregated into special cults,
particular days, and peculiar exercises, and the common life is left
relatively hard and barren.

In short, the limitations upon freedom both of the physical conditions
and the mental values of life are at bottom expressions of one and the
same divorce of theory and practice,--which makes theory remote,
sterile, and technical, while practice remains narrow, harsh, and also
illiberal. Yet there is more cause for hope in that so much has been
accomplished, than for despondency because mental power and service are
still so limited and undeveloped. The intermixture and interaction of
classes and nations are very recent. Hence the opportunities for an
effective circulation of sympathetic ideas and of reasonable emotions
have only newly come into existence. Education as a public interest and
care, applicable to all individuals, is hardly more than a century old;
while a conception of the richness and complexity of the ways in which
it should touch any one individual is hardly half a century old. As
society takes its educative functions more seriously and comprehensively
into account, there is every promise of more rapid progress in the
future than in the past. For education is most effective when dealing
with the immature, those who have not yet acquired the hard and fixed
directing forms of adult life; while, in order to be effectively
employed, it must select and propagate that which is common and hence
typical in the social values that form its resources, leaving the
eccentric, the partial, and exclusive gradually to dwindle. Upon some
generous souls of the eighteenth century there dawned the idea that the
cause of the indefinite improvement of humanity and the cause of the
little child are inseparably bound together.


Kant, _Philosophy of Law_, 1796 (trans. by Hastie, 1887); Fichte, _The
Science of Rights_, 1798 (trans. by Kroeger, 1869); Rousseau, _Social
Contract_, 1762 (trans. by Tozer, 1893); Bonar, _Philosophy and
Political Economy_, 1893; Stephen, _Science of Ethics_, ch. iii. (on
Social Motives); Caird, _Social Philosophy of Comte_, 1885; Sidgwick,
_Practical Ethics_, 1898, Essay on Public Morality; Sidgwick, _Elements
of Politics_, 1891, ch. iv. on Individualism, vi. on Contract, x. on
Socialistic Interferences, xiii. on Law and Morality; Maine, _Ancient
Law_, 1861, Pollock's ed., 1906, chs. iii. and iv. on law of nature and
equity; Stephen, _Essays in Political and Moral Philosophy_, 1888;
Rickaby, _Political and Moral Essays_, 1902; Hobhouse, _Morals in
Evolution_, Vol. II., ch. vii. (on the general relation of the social
and the moral). On the development of rights to life, limb, and freedom
of movement, see Westermarck, chs. xiv.-xxii., and Sumner, _Folkways_,
chs. vi., vii., and viii.; Hobhouse, Vol. I., ch. vii. (on slavery);
Spencer, _Ethics_, Vol. II., Part IV. For charity, see Loch on Charity
and Charities, _Encyclopædia Britannica_; Uhlhorn, _Christian Charity in
the Ancient Church_; L'Allemand, _Histoire de la Charité_; Nicholl,
_History of the English Poor Law_, 2 vols., 1898.


[196] Vol. I., pp. 367-368, italics not in original.

[197] P. 262 of _Prolegomena to Ethics_; see chs. iii. and iv. of Book

[198] Alexander, _Moral Order and Progress_, pp. 384-898.

[199] This does not of course exclude change and reform. It means that,
so far as a society is organized, these changes themselves occur in
regular and authorized ways.

[200] It is stated, upon good authority, that a street railway system in
a large American city declined to adopt an improved fender, which made
it practically impossible to kill persons, because the annual cost would
be $5,000 more than the existing expense for damages. This same system
declined to adopt improved brakes which would reduce accidents to life
and limb; and it was discovered that one of its directors was largely
interested in the manufacture of the old brakes.

[201] Said Emerson: "If a man is sick, is unable, is mean-spirited and
odious, it is because there is so much of his nature which is unlawfully
withholden from him."

[202] Recent suppression by the police in the larger American cities of
public meetings called to discuss unemployment or other matters deemed
by some dangerous to vested interests, shows that the value of free
speech as a "safety-valve" has not even yet been thoroughly learned. It
also shows how the victories of freedom in the past have to be fought
and won over again under new conditions, if they are to be kept alive.

[203] Marshall, _Principles of Economics_.



We have been considering responsible freedom as it centers in and
affects individuals in their distinctive capacities. It implies a public
order which guarantees, defines, and enforces rights and obligations.
This public order has a twofold relation to rights and duties: (1) As
the social counterpart of their exercise by individuals, it constitutes
_Civil Society_. It represents those forms of associated life which are
orderly and authorized, because constituted by individuals in the
exercise of their rights, together with those special forms which
protect and insure them. Families, clubs, guilds, unions, corporations
come under the first head; courts and civil administrative bodies, like
public railway and insurance commissions, etc., come under the second.
(2) The public order also fixes the fundamental terms and conditions on
which at any given time rights are exercised and remedies secured; it is
organized for the purpose of defining the basic methods of exercising
the activities of its constituent elements, individual and corporate. In
this aspect it is the _State_.


Every act brings the agent who performs it into association with others,
whether he so intends or not. His act takes effect in an organized world
of action; in social arrangement and institutions. So far as such
combinations of individuals are recurrent or stable, their nature and
operations are definitely formulated and definitely enforceable.
Partnerships, clubs, corporations, guilds, families are such stable
unions, with their definite spheres of action. Buying and selling,
teaching and learning, producing and consuming, are recurrent activities
whose legitimate methods get prescribed. These specific provinces and
methods of action are defined in Civil Rights. They express the
guaranteed and regular ways in which an individual, through action,
voluntarily enters into association or combination with others for the
sake of a common end. They differ from political rights and obligations
in that the latter concern modes of social organization which are so
fundamental that they are not left to the voluntary choice and purpose
of an individual. As a social being, he must have political
relationships, must be subject to law, pay taxes, etc.

=1. Contract Rights.=--Modes of association are so numerous and variable
that we can only select those aspects of civil rights which are morally
most significant. We shall discriminate them according as they have to
do (1) with the more temporary and casual combinations of individuals,
for limited and explicit purposes; and (2) with more permanent,
inclusive, and hence less definable ends; and (3) with the special
institutions which exist for guaranteeing individuals the enjoyment of
their rights and providing remedies if these are infringed upon. (1)
Contract rights. Rights of the first type are rights resulting from
express or implied agreements of certain agents to do or refrain from
doing specific acts, involving exchange of services or goods to the
mutual benefit of both parties in the transaction. Every bargain entered
into, every loaf of bread one buys or paper of pins one sells, involves
an implied and explicit contract. A genuinely free agreement or contract
means (i.) that each party to the transaction secures the benefit he
wants; (ii.) that the two parties are brought into coöperative or
mutually helpful relations; and that (iii.) the vast, vague, complex
business of conducting social life is broken up into a multitude of
specific acts to be performed and of specific goods to be delivered, at
definite times and definite places. Hence it is hardly surprising that
one school of social moralists has found in the conception of free
contract its social ideal. Every individual concerned assumes
obligations which it is to his interest to perform so that the
performance is voluntary, not coerced; while, at the same time, some
other person is engaged to serve him in some way. The limitations of the
contract idea will concern us later.

=2. The Permanent Voluntary Associations.=--Partnerships, limited
liability corporations, guilds, trades unions, churches, schools, clubs,
are more permanent and comprehensive associations, involving more
far-reaching rights and obligations. Societies organized for
conversation and sociability or conviviality, "corporations not for
profit," but for mutual enjoyment or for benevolent ends, come under the
same head. Most significant are the associations which, while entered
only voluntarily and having therefore a basis in contract, are for
generic ends. Thus they are permanent, and cover much more than can be
written in the contract. Marriage, in modern society, is entered into by
contract; but married life is not narrowed to the exchange of specific
services at specific times. It is a union for mutual economic and
spiritual goods which are coextensive with all the interests of the
parties. In its connection with the generation and rearing of children,
it is a fundamental means of guarding all social interests and of
directing their progress. Schools, colleges, churches, federations of
labor, organizations of employers, and of both together, represent other
forms of permanent voluntary organizations which may have the most
far-reaching influence both upon those directly concerned and upon
society at large.

=3. Right to Use of Courts.=--All civil rights get their final
application and test in the right to have conflicting rights defined
and infringed rights remedied by appeal to a public authority having
general and final jurisdiction. "The right to sue and be sued" may seem
too legal and external a matter to be worthy of much note in an ethical
treatise; but it represents the culmination of an age-long
experimentation with the problem of reconciling individual freedom and
public order. No civil right is effective unless it carries with it a
statement of a method of enforcement and, if necessary, of redress and
remedy. Otherwise it is a mere name. Moreover, conflicts of civil rights
are bound to occur even when there is good faith on the part of all
concerned, just because new situations arise. Unless there is a way of
defining the respective rights of each party in the new situation, each
will arbitrarily and yet in good faith insist upon asserting his rights
on the old basis: private war results. A new order is not achieved and
the one already attained is threatened or disrupted. The value of rights
to the use of courts resides, then, to a comparatively small degree, in
the specific cases of deliberate wrong which are settled. What is more
important is that men get instruction as to the proper scope and limits
of their activities, through the provision of an effective mechanism for
amicable settlement of disputes in those cases in which rights are vague
and ambiguous because the situations are novel.

=Classes of Wrongs and Remedies.=--Infringements upon rights, such as
murder, theft, arson, forgery, imply a character which is distinctly
anti-social in its bent. The wrong, although done to one, is an
expression of a disposition which is dangerous to all. Such a wrong is a
crime; it is a matter for the direct jurisdiction of public authority.
It is the business of all to coöperate in giving evidence, and it may
render one a criminal accomplice to conceal or suppress evidence, just
as it is "compounding a felony" for the wronged individual to settle the
wrong done him by arranging privately for compensation. The penalty in
such cases is generally personal; imprisonment or at least a heavy fine.
The violation may, however, be of the nature of a wrong or "tort,"
rather than of a crime; it may indicate a disposition indifferent to
social interests or neglectful of them rather than one actively hostile
to them. Such acts as libels, trespasses upon the land of another, are
illustrations. In such cases, the machinery of justice is put in motion
by the injured individual, not by the commonwealth. This does not mean
that society as a whole has no interest in the matter; but that under
certain circumstances encouraging individuals to look out for their own
rights and wrongs is socially more important than getting certain wrongs
remedied irrespective of whether men stand up for their own rights or
not. Then again, there are civil disputes which indicate neither a
criminal nor a harmful disposition, but rather uncertainty as to what
the law really is, leading to disputes about rights--interpretations of
a contract, express or implied. Here the interest of society is to
provide a method of settlement which will hinder the growth of ill will
and private retaliation; and which also will provide precedents and
principles that will lessen uncertainty and conflict in like cases in
the future.

Peace and tranquillity are not merely the absence of open friction and
disorder. They mean specific, easily-known, and generally recognized
principles which determine the province and limits of the legitimate
activity of every person. Publicity, standards, rules of procedure,
remedies acknowledged in common, are their essence. _Res publica_, the
common concern, remains vague and latent till defined by impartial,
disinterested social organs. Then it is expressed in regular and
guaranteed modes of activity. In the pregnant phrase of Aristotle, the
administration of justice is also its determination: that is, its
discovery and promulgation.


=Contrast of Primitive with Present Justice.=--The significance of the
accomplishments and the defects of the present administration of law may
be brought out by a sketch of its contrast with primitive methods. In
savage and barbarian society, on account of the solidarity of the
kin-group, any member of the group is likely to be attacked for the
offense of any other (see p. 28). He may not have participated in the
act, or have had complicity in planning it. His guilt is that the same
blood runs in his veins.[204] The punitive attack, moreover, is made
directly and promiscuously by the injured man and by his
blood-relatives; it is made in the heat of passion or in the vengeance
of stealth as custom may decree. Says Hearn, the state "did not
interfere in the private quarrels of its citizens. Every man took care
of his own property and his own household, and every hand guarded its
own head. If any injury were done to any person, he retaliated, or made
reprisals, or otherwise sought redress, as custom prescribed."[205] The
reprisal may itself have called for another, and the blood-feud was on.
In any case, the state of affairs was one literally, not metaphorically,
described as "private war."

=Changes Now Effected.=--This state of affairs has been superseded by
one in which a third, a public and impartial authority (1) takes
cognizance of offenses against another individual as offenses against
the commonwealth; (2) apprehends the supposed offender; (3) determines
and applies an objective standard of judgment, the same for all, the
law; (4) tries the supposed offender according to rules of procedure,
including rules of evidence or proof, which are also publicly
promulgated; and (5) takes upon itself the punishment of the offender,
if found guilty. The history of this change, important and interesting
as it is, does not belong here. We are concerned here only with the
relation of public authority, public law, and public activity to the
development of the freedom of the individual on one side and of his
responsibility on the other.[206] We shall point out in a number of
particulars that the evolution of freedom and responsibility in
individuals has coincided with the evolution of a public and impartial

=1. Good and Evil as Quasi-Physical.=--There are two alternatives in the
judgment of good and evil. (1) They may be regarded as having _moral_
significance, that is, as having a voluntary basis and origin. (2) Or
they may be considered as substantial properties of things, as a sort of
essence diffused through them, or as a kind of force resident in them,
in virtue of which persons and things are noxious or helpful, malevolent
or kindly. Savage tribes, for instance, cannot conceive either sickness
or death as natural evils; they are attributed to the malicious magic of
an enemy. Similarly the evil which follows from the acts of a man is
treated as a sign of some metaphysical tendency inherent in him. Some
men bring bad luck upon everything and everybody they have anything to
do with. A curse is on their doings. No distinction is made between
such evils and those which flow from intention and character. The notion
of the moral or voluntary nature of good and evil hardly obtains. The
quasi-physical view, bordering upon the magical, prevails. The result is
that evil is thought of as a contagious matter, transmitted from
generation to generation, from class or person to class or person; and
as something to be got rid of, if at all, by devices which are equally
physical. Natural evils, plagues, defeats, earthquakes, etc., _are
treated as quasi-moral, while moral evils are treated as more than half
physical_. Sins are infectious diseases, and natural diseases are
malicious interferences of a human or divine enemy. Morals are
materialized, and nature is moralized or demoralized.[207]

Now it is hardly necessary to point out the effect of such conceptions
in restricting the freedom and responsibility of the individual person.
Man is hemmed in as to thought and action on all sides by all kinds of
mysterious forces working in unforeseeable ways. This is true enough in
his best estate. When to this limitation is added a direction of energy
into magical channels, away from those controllable sources of evil
which reside in human disposition, the amount of effective freedom
possible is slight. This same misplacing of liability holds men
accountable for acts they have not committed, because some magic
tendency for evil is imputed to them. Famine, pestilence, defeat in war
are evils to be remedied by sacrifice of goods or persons or by
ritualistic ceremonies; while the remediable causes of harm in human
ignorance and negligence go without attention.

=2. Accident and Intention.=--Under such circumstances, little
distinction can be made between the good and evil which an individual
_meant_ to do and that which he _happened_ to do. The working
presumption of society, up to a comparatively late stage of its history,
was that every harmful consequence is an evidence of evil disposition in
those who were in any way concerned. This limitation of freedom was
accompanied by a counterpart limitation of responsibility. Where no harm
actually resulted, there was thought to be no harmful intent. Animals
and even inanimate objects which do injury are baleful things and come
under disapprobation and penalty. Even in civilized Athens there was a
survival of the practice of holding inanimate things liable. If a tree
fell on a man and killed him, the tree was to be brought to trial, and
after condemnation cast beyond the civic borders, i.e., outlawed.[208]
Anyhow, the owner of an offending article was almost always penalized.
Westermarck,[209] with reference to the guilt of animals, cites an
instance, dated in 1457, "when a sow and her six young ones were tried
on a charge of their having murdered and partly eaten a child; the sow,
being found guilty, was condemned to death, the young pigs were
acquitted on account of their youth and the bad example of their
mother." When sticks, stones, and animals are held accountable for evil
results, there is little chance of discriminating intent and accident or
misadventure in the case of personal agents. "The devil himself knoweth
not the intent, the 'thought' of man" was the mediæval maxim; all that
can be certain is that harm has come and the one who caused it must
suffer; or else no overt harm has come and no one is to blame.[210] Harm
has been done and any one concerned, even remotely, in the injurious
situation, is _ex officio_ guilty; it will not do to take chances. The
remoteness of an implication which may involve liability is seen in the
condition of English law in the thirteenth century: "At your request I
accompany you when you are about your own affairs: my enemies fall upon
and kill me: you must pay for my death. You take me to see a wild-beast
show, or that interesting spectacle a madman: beast or madman kills me;
you must pay. You hang up your sword; some one else knocks it down so
that it cuts me; you must pay."[211] Only gradually did intent clearly
evolve as the central element in an act, and thus lead to the idea of a
voluntary or free act.

That the limitation upon the side of responsibility was equally great is
obvious. If a man is held liable for what he did not and could not
foresee or desire, there is no ground for his _holding himself_
responsible for anticipating the consequences of his acts, and forming
his plans according as he foresees. This comes out clearly in the
obverse of what has just been said. If no harm results from a willful
attempt to do evil, the individual is not blamed. He goes scot free. "An
attempt to commit a crime is no crime."[212]

=3. Character and Circumstances.=--Even in law, to say nothing of
personal moral judgments, we now almost as a matter of course take into
account, in judging an agent's intent, both circumstances, and character
as inferred from past behavior. We extend our view of consequences,
taking into account in judging the moral quality of a particular deed,
consequences its doer is _habitually_ found to effect. We blame the
individual less for a deed if we find it contrary to his habitual
course. We blame him more, if we find he has a character given to that
sort of thing. We take into account, in short, the permanent attitude
and disposition of the agent. We also discriminate the conditions and
consequences of a deed much more carefully. Self-defense, protection of
others or of property, come in as "extenuating circumstances"; the
degree of provocation, the presence of immediate impulsive fear or
anger, as distinct from a definitely formed, long-cherished idea, are
considered. The questions of first or of repeated offense, of prior
criminality or good behavior, enter in. Questions of heredity, of early
environment, of early education and opportunity are being brought to-day
into account.

We are still very backward in this respect, both in personal and in
public morals; in private judgment and in legal procedure and penalty.
Only recently have we, for example, begun to treat juvenile delinquents
in special ways; and the effort to carry appropriate methods further
meets with strong opposition and the even stronger inertia of
indifference. It is regarded by many good people as lowering the bars of
responsibility to consider early training and opportunity, just as in
its day it was so regarded to plead absence of intent in cases where
evil had actually resulted. It is not "safe" to let any one off from the
rigor of the law. The serious barrier, now as earlier, is upon the
scientific or intellectual side. There was a time when it did not seem
feasible to pass upon intent; it was hidden, known only to God. But we
have now devised ways, adequate in principle, though faulty in detail,
to judge immediate intent; similarly, with the growth of anthropology,
psychology, statistics, and the resources of publicity in social
science, we shall in time find it possible to consider the effects of
heredity, early environment, and training upon character and so upon
intent. We shall then regard present methods of judging intent to be
almost as barbarous as we now consider the earlier disregard of accident
and provocation. Above all we shall learn that increased, not relaxed
responsibility, comes with every increase of discrimination of causes
lying in character and conditions.[213]

=4. Intellectual Incapacity and Thoughtlessness.=--With increasing
recognition of character as the crucial element in voluntary action, we
now take into account such matters as age, idiocy, and insanity as
factors of judgment. But this also has been a slow growth. If we take
the one question of insanity, for example, in 1724 exculpation for harm
resulting from a madman's acts required that the person excused "be a
man that is totally deprived of his understanding and memory, and doth
not know what he is doing, no more than an infant, than a brute, or a
wild beast." At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the excuse was
no longer that of being such a raving lunatic as is here implied; but of
knowing right and wrong from each other _in the abstract_. By a
celebrated case in 1843, the rule was changed, in English law, to
knowledge of the difference between right and wrong in the particular
case. Further advance waits upon progress of science which will make it
more possible to judge the specific mental condition of the person
acting; and thus do away with the abuses of the present system which
tend, on the one hand, to encourage the pleading of insanity where none
may exist; and, on the other hand (by a rigid application of a technical
rule), to condemn persons really irresponsible.[214] Popular judgment
still inclines to impute clear and definite intention on the basis of
results; and to ignore conditions of intellectual confusion and
bewilderment, and justifies itself in its course on the ground that such
is the only "safe" course.[215]

=Responsibility for Thoughtlessness.=--But the release from
responsibility for deeds in which the doer is intellectually
incapacitated, is met on the other side by holding individuals of normal
mental constitution responsible for some consequences which were not
thought of at all. We even hold men accountable for _not_ thinking to do
certain acts. The former are acts of heedlessness or carelessness, as
when a mason on top of a building throws rubbish on to a street below
which injures some one, without any thought on his part of this result,
much less any deliberate desire to effect it. The latter are acts of
negligence, as when, say, an engineer fails to note a certain signal. In
such cases even when no harm results, we now hold the agent morally
culpable. Similarly we blame children for _not_ thinking of the
consequences of their acts; we blame them for _not_ thinking to do
certain things at a certain time--to come home when told, and so on.
This is not merely a matter of judgment by others. The more
conscientious a person is, the more occasions he finds to judge
_himself_ with respect to results which _happened because he did not
think or deliberate or foresee at all_--provided he has reason to
believe he would have thought of the harmful results if he had been of a
different character. Because we were absorbed in something else we did
not think, and while, in the abstract, this something else may have
been all right, in the concrete it may be proof of an unworthy
character. The very fact that we permitted ourselves to become so
absorbed that the thought of an engagement, or of an opportunity to help
some friend whom we knew to be in need, did not occur to us, is evidence
of a selfish, i.e., inconsiderate, character.

The case seems paradoxical and is crucial. Others hold us responsible
because we _were_ irresponsible in action and _in order_ that we may
_become_ responsible. We blame ourselves precisely because we discover
that an unconscious preference for a private or exclusive good led us to
be careless of the good of others. The effect (if the regret is genuine,
not simulated) is to develop a habit of greater thoughtfulness in the
future. Less and less do men accept for others or for themselves
ignorance as an excuse for bad consequences, when the ignorance itself
flows from character. Our chief moral business is to become acquainted
with consequences. Our moral character surely does not depend in this
case, then, upon the fact that we had alternatives clearly in mind and
chose the worse; the difficulty is that we had only one alternative in
mind and did not _consciously_ choose at all. Our freedom lies in the
_capacity_ to alter our mode of action, through having our ignorance
enlightened by being held for the neglected consequences when brought to
accountability by others, or by holding ourselves accountable in
subsequent reflection. Cases of careless acts and of acts omitted
through negligence are thus crucial for any theory of freedom and
responsibility. Either we are all wrong in blaming ourselves or others
in such cases, because there is no free or voluntary element in them; or
else there is responsibility when deliberate comparison of alternatives
and conscious preference are absent. There is responsibility for the
absence of deliberation. Nature does not forbear to attach consequences
to acts because of the ignorance of the one who does the deed. The evil
results that follow in the wake of a thoughtless act are precisely the
reminders that make one take thought the next time. Similarly, to be
held liable by others or to take ourselves to task for forgetfulness,
inconsiderateness, and negligence, is the way in which to build up
conscientious foresight and deliberate choice. The increased complexity
and danger of modern industrial activity, the menace of electric power,
of high explosives, of railway trains and trolley cars, of powerful
machines, have done much to quicken recognition that negligence may be
criminal, and to reawaken the conviction of Greek thought that
thoughtless ignorance, where knowledge is possible, is the worst of
evils. The increased interdependence of men, through travel and
transportation, collective methods of production, and crowding of
population in cities, has widened the area of the harm likely to result
from inconsiderate action, and has strengthened the belief that adequate
thoughtfulness is possible only where there is sympathetic interest in

=5. The Conflict of Form and Substance.=--The technical forms of
procedure concerned in establishing and remedying rights were, for long
ages, more important than the substantial ends by which alone the forms
may be justified. Any effort for a remedy was nullified if the minutiæ
of complicated formulæ (largely magical or ritualistic in their origin)
were deviated from. Almost any obligation might be escaped by some quirk
or turn in some slight phrase or motion, without which no agreement was
binding, so sacramental was the importance of the very words. In early
days the rigidity of these semi-ritualistic performances doubtless
served to check arbitrary and reckless acts, and to impress the sense of
the value of a standard.[216] But they survived as "rudimentary organs"
long after they had done their work in this respect; and after they had
been eliminated from legal procedure they survived as habits of judging

=Survivals of Spirit of Individualistic Litigation.=--The fact that the
procedure of justice originated as methods of supplying impartial
umpires for conflicts waged between individuals, has had serious
consequences. It has had indeed the desirable consequence of quickening
men to the perception of their rights and to their obligation as social
members to maintain them intact. But it has also had the undesirable
result of limiting the function of the public interest to the somewhat
negative one of securing fair play between contentious individuals. The
battle is not now fought out with fists or spears or oaths or ordeals:
but it is largely a battle of wits and of technical resources between
the opposite parties and their lawyers, with the State acting the part
of a benevolently neutral umpire. The ignorant, the poor, the foreign,
and the _merely_ honest are almost inevitably at a discount in this
battle.[217] And, in any case, the technical aspect of justice, that is,
the question of proper forms gets out of true perspective. The
"legally-minded" man is likely to be one with whom technical precedents
and rules are more important than the goods to be achieved and the evils
to be avoided. With increase of publicity and scientific methods of
determining and interpreting facts, and with a public and professional
criticism which is impartial and wise, we may anticipate that the
supremacy of the general good will be increasingly recognized in cases
of litigation, and that the courts, as organs of public justice, will
take a more active and substantial part in the management of all legal

=Legal and Moral.=--But, at the best, definitions of rights and of
remedial procedures only (1) lay down general, not individual
conditions, and (2), so far as they are strict, register precedent and
custom rather than anticipate the novel and variable. They can state
what shall not be done. Except in special cases, they cannot state what
shall be done, much less the spirit and disposition in which it shall be
done. In their formulations, they present a sort of minimum limit of
morality not to be overstepped by those inclined to ill. They throw
little light on the positive capacities and responsibilities of those
who are socially minded. They have a moral purpose: they free energy
from the friction attendant upon vague, obscure, and uncertain
situations, by enlightening men as to what they may do and how they may
do it. But the exaggeration of form at the expense of the substantial
end and good, leads to misplaced emphasis and false perspective. The
rules are treated as ends; they are employed not to get insight into
consequences, but as justifying, apart from consequences, certain acts.
The would-be conscientious agent is led into considering goodness as a
matter of obeying rules, not of fulfilling ends. The average individual
conceives he has satisfied the requirements of morality when he has
conformed to the average level of legal definition and prescription.
Egoistic, self-seeking men regard their actions as sanctioned if they
have _not_ broken the laws; and decide this question by success in
evading penalties. The intelligence that should go to employing the
spirit of laws to enlighten behavior is spent in ingenious inventions
for observing their letter. The "respectable" citizen of this type is
one of the unsocialized forces that social reformers find among their
most serious obstacles.

This identification of morality with the legal and jural leads to a
reaction which is equally injurious: the complete separation of the
legal and the moral, the former conceived as merely "outer," concerned
entirely with acts, not at all with motive and character. The effect of
this divorce is perhaps more serious upon the moral than upon the legal.
The separation makes morals sentimental and whimsical, or else
transcendental and esoteric. It leads to neglect of the social and
institutional realities which form a world of action as surely as
natural objects and energies form a physical world, and ends in the
popular conception of morals as just a matter of "goodness" (the
goody-goodiness) of individuals. One of the most fundamental of moral
duties is that of making the legal order a more adequate expression of
the common good.

=Special Problems.=--Civil Society thus imposes upon its members not
only specific obligations, but it also imposes upon all who enjoy its
benefits the supreme obligation of seeing that the civic order is itself
intelligently just in its methods of procedure. The peculiar moral
problems which men have to face as members of civil society change, of
course, from time to time with change of conditions; among the more
urgent of present problems, we may mention:

=1. Reform of Criminal Procedure.=--The negative side of morality is
never so important as the positive, because the pathological cannot be
as important as the physiological of which it is a disturbance and
perversion. But no fair survey of our methods, either of locating
criminality or of punishing it, can fail to note that they contain far
too many survivals of barbarism. Compared with primitive times we have
indeed won a precious conquest. Even as late as 1813, a proposal to
change the penalty for stealing five shillings from death to
transportation to a remote colony, was defeated in England.[219] But we
are likely in flattering ourselves upon the progress made to overlook
that which it remains to make. Our trials are technical rather than
human: they assume that just about so much persistent criminality must
persist in any case. They endeavor, in rather routine and perfunctory
ways, to label this and that person as criminal in such and such
degrees, or, by technical devices and resources, to acquit. In many
American states, distrust of government, inherited from days of
tyrannical monarchy or oligarchy, protects the accused in all sorts of
ways. For fear the government will unjustly infringe upon the liberty of
the individual, the latter is not only--as is just--regarded as innocent
till proved guilty; but is provided with every possible technical
advantage in rules of evidence, postponements and appeals, advantages
backed up, in many cities, by association with political bosses which
gives him a corrupt "pull."

On the other hand, there is as yet no general recognition of the
possibility of an unbiased scientific investigation into all the
antecedents (hereditary and environmental) of evildoers; an
investigation which would connect the wrong done with the _character of
the individual_ committing it, and not merely with one of a number of
technical degrees of crime, laid down in the statute books in the
abstract, without reference to particular characters and circumstances.
Thus while the evildoer has in one direction altogether too much of a
chance to evade justice, he has in another direction a chance at only
technical, rather than at moral, justice--justice as an individual human
being. It is not possible to discuss here various methods which have
been proposed for remedying these defects. But it is clearly the
business of the more thoughtful members of society to consider the evils
seriously and to interest themselves actively in their reform. We need,
above all, a change in two respects: (a) recognition of the
possibilities of new methods of judgment which the sciences of
physiology, psychology, and sociology have brought about; and (b)
surrender of that feudal conception according to which men are divided,
as it were essentially, into two classes: one the criminal and the other
the meritorious. We need to consider the ways in which the pressure and
the opportunities of environment and education, of poverty and
comfortable living, of extraneous suggestion and stimulation, make the
differences between one man and another; and to recognize how
fundamentally one human nature is at bottom. Juvenile courts, probation
officers, detention officers, mark the beginnings of what is possible,
but only the beginnings. For the most part crime is still treated
sordidly and by routine, except when, being sensational, it is the
occasion for a great battle of wits between keen prosecuting attorney
and clever "criminal lawyer," with the world through the newspapers
watching the display.

=2. Reform of Punishment.=--Emerson's bitter words are still too
applicable. "Our distrust is very expensive. The money we spend for
courts and prisons is very ill laid out. We make, by distrust, the thief
and burglar and incendiary, and by our court and jail we keep him
so."[220] Reformatories, whose purpose is change of disposition, not
mere penalization, have been founded; but there are still many more
prisons than reformatories. And, if it be argued that most criminals are
so hardened in evil-doing that reformatories are of no use, the answer
is twofold. We do not know, because we have never systematically and
intelligently tried to find out; and, even if it were so, nothing is
more illogical than to turn the unreformed criminal, at the end of a
certain number of months or years, loose to prey again upon society.
Either reform or else permanent segregation is the logical alternative.
Indeterminate sentences, release on probation, discrimination of classes
of offenders, separation of the first and more or less accidental and
immature offender from the old and experienced hand, special matrons for
women offenders, introduction of education and industrial training into
penitentiaries, the finding of employment for those released--all mark
improvements. They are, however, as yet inchoate. Intelligent members of
society need to recognize their own responsibility for the promotion of
such reforms and for the discovery of new ones.

=3. Increase of Administrative Efficiency.=--In the last one hundred
years, society has rapidly grown in internal complexity. Commercial
changes have brought about an intense concentration of population in
cities; have promoted migratory travel and intercourse, with destruction
of local ties; have developed world markets and collective but
impersonal (corporate) production and distribution. Many new problems
have been created, while at the same time many of the old agencies for
maintaining order have been weakened or destroyed, especially such as
were adapted to small groups with fixed habits. A great strain has thus
been put upon the instrumentalities of justice. Pioneer conditions
retarded in America the development of the problems incident upon
industrial reconstruction. The possibility of moving on, of taking up
new land, finding unutilized resources of forest and mine, the
development of new professions, the growth of population with new needs
to be met, stimulated and rewarded individual enterprise. Under such
circumstances there could be no general demand for public agencies of
inspection, supervision, and publicity. But the pioneer days of America
are practically ended. American cities and states find themselves
confronted with the same problems of public health, poverty and
unemployment, congested population, traffic and transportation,
charitable relief, tramps and vagabondage, and so forth, that have
troubled older countries.

We face these problems, moreover, with traditions which are averse to
"bureaucratic" administration and public "interference." Public
regulation is regarded as a "paternalistic" survival, quite unsuited to
a free and independent people. It would be foolish, indeed, to overlook
or deny the great gains that have come from our American individualistic
convictions: the quickening of private generosity, the growth of a
generalized sense of _noblesse oblige_--of what every successful
individual owes to his community; of personal initiative, self-reliance,
and versatile "faculty"; of interest in all the voluntary agencies which
by education and otherwise develop the individuality of every one; and
of a demand for equality of opportunity, a fair chance, and a square
deal for all. But it is certain that the country has reached a state of
development, in which these individual achievements and possibilities
require new civic and political agencies if they are to be maintained as
realities. Individualism means inequity, harshness, and retrogression to
barbarism (no matter under what veneer of display and luxury), unless it
is a _generalized_ individualism: an individualism which takes into
account the real good and effective--not merely formal--freedom of
_every_ social member.

Hence the demand for civic organs--city, state, and federal,--of expert
inquiry, inspection, and supervision with respect to a large number of
interests which are too widespread and too intricate to be well cared
for by private or voluntary initiative. The well-to-do in great cities
may segregate themselves in the more healthful quarters; they may rely
upon their automobiles for local transportation; they may secure pure
milk and unadulterated foods from personal resources; they may, by their
combined "pull," secure good schools, policing, lighting, and well-paved
streets for their own localities. But the great masses are dependent
upon public agencies for proper air, light, sanitary conditions of work
and residence, cheap and effective transportation, pure food, decent
educative and recreative facilities in schools, libraries, museums,

The problems which fall to the lot of the proper organs of
administrative inspection and supervision are essentially _scientific_
problems, questions for expert intelligence conjoined with wide
sympathy. In the true sense of the word political, they are political
questions: that is, they relate to the welfare of society as an
organized community of attainment and endeavor. In the cant sense of the
term political, the sense of conventional party-issues and party-lines,
they have no more to do with politics than have the multiplication table
and the laws of hygiene. Yet they are at present almost hopelessly
entangled with irrelevant "political" issues, and are almost hopelessly
under the heel of party-politicians whose least knowledge is of the
scientific questions involved, just as their least interest is for the
human issues at stake. So far "civil service reform" has been mainly
negative: a purging away of some of the grosser causes which have
influenced appointments to office. But now there is needed a
constructive reform of civil administration which will develop the
agencies of inquiry, oversight, and publicity required by modern
conditions; and which will necessitate the selection of public servants
of scientifically equipped powers.


No hard and fast line can be drawn between civil society and the State.
By the State, however, we denote those conditions of social organization
and regulation which are most fundamental and most general:--conditions
which are summed up in and expressed through the general will as
manifested in legislation and its execution. As a civil right is
technically focused in the right to use the courts, "to sue and be
sued," that is in the right to have other claims adjudicated and
enforced by a public, impartial authority, so a political right is
technically summed up in the power to vote--either to vote directly upon
laws or to vote for those who make and carry out laws. To have the right
in a legislative assembly to speak for or against a certain measure; to
be able to say "yea" or "nay" upon a roll-call; to be able to put into a
ballot-box a piece of paper with a number of names written thereon, are
not acts which of themselves possess the inherent value of many of the
most ordinary transactions of daily life. But the representative and
potential significance of political rights exceeds that of any other
class of rights. Suffrage stands for direct and active participation in
the regulation of the terms upon which associated life shall be
sustained, and the pursuit of the good carried on. Political freedom and
responsibility _express an individual's power and obligation to make
effective all his other capacities by fixing the social conditions of
their exercise_.

=Growth of Democracy.=--The evolution of democratically regulated
States, as distinct from those ordered in the interests of a small
group, or of a special class, is the social counterpart of the
development of a comprehensive and common good. Externally viewed,
democracy is a piece of machinery, to be maintained or thrown away, like
any other piece of machinery, on the basis of its economy and efficiency
of working. Morally, it is the effective embodiment of the moral ideal
of a good which consists in the development of all the social capacities
of every individual member of society.

=Present Problems: 1. Distrust of Government.=--Present moral problems
connected with political affairs have to do with safeguarding the
democratic ideal against the influences which are always at work to
undermine it, and with building up for it a more complete and extensive
embodiment. The historic antecedent of our own governmental system was
the exercise of a monopoly by a privileged class.[221] It became a
democratic institution partly because the King, in order to secure the
monopoly, had to concede and guarantee to the masses of the people
certain rights as against the oligarchical interests which might rival
his powers; and partly because the centralization of power, with the
arbitrary despotism it created, called out protests which finally
achieved the main popular liberties: safety of life and property from
arbitrary forfeiture, arrest, or seizure by the sovereign; the rights of
free assembly, petition, a free press, and of representation in the
law-making body.

Upon its face, the struggle for individual liberty was a struggle
against the overbearing menace of despotic rulers. This fact has
survived in an attitude towards government which cripples its usefulness
as an agency of the general will. Government, even in the most
democratic countries, is still thought of as an external "ruler,"
operating from above, rather than as an organ by which people associated
in pursuit of common ends can most effectively coöperate for the
realization of their own aims. Distrust of government was one of the
chief traits of the situation in which the American nation was born. It
is embodied not only in popular tradition, and party creeds, but in our
organic laws, which contain many provisions expressly calculated to
prevent the corporate social body from effecting its ends freely and
easily through governmental agencies.[222]

There can be no doubt that the movement to restrict the functions of
government, the _laissez-faire_ movement, was in its time an important
step in human freedom, because so much of governmental action was
despotic in intention and stupid in execution. But it is also a mistake
to continue to think of a government which is only the people associated
for the assuring of their own ends as if it were the same sort of thing
as a government which represented the will of an irresponsible class.
The advance of means of publicity, and of natural and social science,
provides not only protection against ignorant and unwise public action,
but also constructive instrumentalities of intelligent administrative
activities. One of the chief moral problems of the present day is, then,
that of making governmental machinery such a prompt and flexible organ
for expressing the _common_ interest and purpose as will do away with
that distrust of government which properly must endure so long as
"government" is something imposed from above and exercised from without.

=2. Indifference to Public Concerns.=--The multiplication of private
interests is a measure of social progress: it marks the multiplication
of the sources and ingredients of happiness. But it also invites neglect
of the fundamental general concerns which, seeming very remote, get
pushed out of sight by the pressure of the nearer and more vivid
personal interests. The great majority of men have their thoughts and
feelings well occupied with their family and business affairs; with
their clubs for recreation, their church associations, and so on.
"Politics" becomes the trade of a class which is especially expert in
the manipulation of their fellows and skilled in the "acceleration" of
public opinion. "Politics" then gets a bad name, and the aloofness from
public matters of those best fitted, theoretically, to participate in
them is further promoted. The saying of Plato, twenty-five hundred years
ago, that the penalty good men pay for not being interested in
government is that they are then ruled by men worse than themselves, is
verified in most of our American cities.

=3. Corruption.=--This indifference of the many, which throws the
management of political affairs into the hands of a few, leads
inevitably to corruption. At the best, government is administered by
human beings possessed of ordinary human frailties and partialities;
and, at the best, therefore, its ideal function of serving impartially
the common good must be compromised in its execution. But the control of
the inner machinery of governmental power by a few who can work in
irresponsible secrecy because of the indifference and even contempt of
the many, incites to deliberate perversion of public functions into
private advantages. As embezzlement is appropriation of trust funds to
private ends, so corruption, "graft," is prostitution of public
resources, whether of power or of money, to personal or class interests.
That a "public office is a public trust" is at once an axiom of
political ethics and a principle most difficult to realize.

In our own day, a special field has been opened within which corruption
may flourish, in the development of public utility companies. Railways,
city transportation systems, telegraph and telephone systems, the
distribution of water and light, require public franchises, for they
either employ public highways or they call upon the State to exercise
its power of eminent domain. These enterprises can be carried on
efficiently and economically only as they are either monopolies, or
quasi-monopolies. All modern life, however, is completely bound up with
and dependent upon facilities of communication, intercourse, and
distribution. Power to control the various public-service corporations
carries with it, therefore, power to control and to tax all industries,
power to build up and cast down communities, companies, and individuals,
to an extent which might well have been envied by royal houses of the
past. It becomes then a very special object for great corporations to
control the agencies of legislation and administration; and it becomes a
very special object for party leaders and bosses to get control of
party machinery in order to act as brokers in franchises and in special
favors--sometimes directly for money, sometimes for the perpetuation and
extension of their own power and influence, sometimes for the success,
through influential support and contribution to party funds, of the
national party with which they are identified.

=4. Reforms in Party Machinery.=--The last decade or so of our history
has been rife with schemes to improve political conditions. It has
become clear, among other things, that our national growth has carried
with it the development of secondary political agencies, not
contemplated by the framers of our constitutions, agencies which have
become primary in practical matters. These agencies are the "machines"
of political parties, with their hierarchical gradation of bosses from
national to ward rulers, bosses who are in close touch with great
business interests at one extreme, and with those who pander to the
vices of the community (gambling, drink, and prostitution) at the other;
parties with their committees, conventions, primaries, caucuses,
party-funds, societies, meetings, and all sorts of devices for holding
together and exciting masses of men to more or less blind acquiescence.

It is not necessary to point out the advantages which parties have
subserved in concentrating and defining public opinion and
responsibility in large issues; nor to dwell upon their value in
counteracting tendencies which break up and divide men into a multitude
of small groups having little in common with one another. But behind
these advantages a vast number of abuses have sheltered themselves.
Recent legislation and recent discussion have shown a marked tendency
formally to recognize the part actually played by party machinery in the
conduct of the State, and to take measures to make this factor more
responsible in its exercise. Since these measures directly affect the
conditions under which the government as the organ of the general will
does its work of securing the fundamental conditions of equal
opportunity for all, they have a direct moral import. Such questions as
the Australian ballot, the recognition of party emblems and party
groupings of names; laws for direct primary nominations; the registering
of voters for primary as well as for final elections; legal control of
party committees and party conventions; publicity of accounts as to the
reception and use of party funds; forbidding of contributions by
corporations, are thus as distinctly moral questions as are bribery and
ballot-box stuffing.

=5. Reforms in Governmental Machinery.=--Questions that concern the
respective advantages of written versus unwritten constitutions are in
their present state problems of technical political science rather than
of morals. But there are problems, growing out of the fact that for the
most part American constitutions were written and adopted under
conditions radically unlike those of the present, which have a direct
ethical import. As already noted, our constitutions are full of
evidences of distrust of popular coöperative action. They did not and
could not foresee the direction of industrial development, the increased
complexity of social life, nor the expansion of national territory. Many
measures which have proved indispensable have had therefore to be as it
were smuggled in; they have been justified by "legal fictions" and by
interpretations which have stretched the original text to uses undreamed
of. At the same time, the courts, which are the most technical and legal
of our political organs, are supreme masters over the legislative
branch, the most popular and general. The distribution of functions
between the states and the nation is curiously ill-adapted to present
conditions (as the discussions regarding railway regulation indicate);
and the distribution of powers between the state and its municipalities
is hardly less so, resting in theory upon the idea of local
self-government, and in practice doing almost everything possible to
discourage responsible initiative for the conduct of their own affairs
on the part of municipalities.

These conditions have naturally brought forth a large crop of
suggestions for reforms. It is not intended to discuss them here, but
the more important of them, so far as involving moral questions, may be
briefly noted. The proposals termed the initiative and the referendum
and the "recall" (this last intended to enable the people to withdraw
from office any one with whose conduct of affairs they are dissatisfied)
are clearly intended to make the ideal of democratic control more
effective in practice. Proposals for limited or complete woman's
suffrage call attention to the fact that one-half of the citizenship
does the political thinking for the other half, and emphasize the
difficulty under such conditions of getting a comprehensive social
standpoint (which, as we have already seen, is the sympathetic and
reasonable standpoint) from which to judge social issues. Many sporadic
propositions from this and that quarter indicate a desire to revise
constitutions so as to temper their cast-iron quality and increase their
flexible adaptation to the present popular will, and so as to emancipate
local communities from subjection to State legislatures in such a way as
to give them greater autonomy and hence greater responsibility, in the
management of their own corporate affairs. It is not the arguments _pro_
and _con_ that we are here concerned with; but we are interested to
point out that moral issues are involved in the settlement of these
questions. It may, moreover, be noted that dividing lines in the
discussion are generally drawn, consciously or unconsciously, on the
basis of the degree of faith which exists in the democratic principle
and ideal, as against the class idea in some of its many forms.

=6. Constructive Social Legislation.=--The rapid change of economic
methods, the accumulation and concentration of wealth, the aggregation
of capital and labor into distinct bodies of corporations and trusts, on
one side, and federated labor unions, on the other; the development of
collective agencies of production and distribution, have brought to the
focus of public attention a large number of proposals for new
legislation, almost all of which have a direct moral import. These
matters are discussed at length in subsequent chapters (chs.
xxii.-xxv.); and so are passed over here with the reminder that, while
on one side they are questions of the ethics of industry, they are also
questions of the right and wrong use of political power and authority.
We may also note that the theoretical principle at issue, the extension
versus the restriction of governmental agencies, so far as it is not
simply a question of what is expedient under the given circumstances, is
essentially a question of a _generalized_ versus a _partial_
individualism. The democratic movement of emancipation of personal
capacities, of securing to each individual an _effective_ right to count
in the order and movement of society as a whole (that is, in the common
good), has gone far enough to secure to many, more favored than others,
peculiar powers and possessions. It is part of the irony of the
situation that such now oppose efforts to secure equality of opportunity
to _all_ on the ground that these efforts would effect an invasion of
individual liberties and rights: i.e., of privileges based on
inequality. It requires perhaps a peculiarly sympathetic imagination to
see that the question really involved is not one of magnifying the
powers of the State against individuals, but is one of making individual
liberty a more extensive and equitable matter.

=7. The International Problem.=--The development of national States
marks a tremendous step forward in the realization of the principle of a
truly inclusive common good. But it cannot be the final step. Just as
clans, sects, gangs, etc., are intensely sympathetic within and
intensely exclusive and jealous without, so States are still arrayed
against States, with patriotism, loyalty, as an internal virtue, and the
distrust and hatred of divisive hostility as the counterpart vice. The
idea of humanity in the abstract has been attained as a moral ideal. But
the political organization of this conception, its embodiment in law and
administrative agencies, has not been achieved. International law,
arbitration treaties, and even a court like the Hague tribunal, whose
power is sentimental rather than political, mark steps forward. Nothing
could be more absurd, from the historic point of view, than to regard
the conception of an international State of federated humanity, with its
own laws and its own courts and its own rules for adjudicating disputes,
as a mere dream, an illusion of sentimental hope. It is a very slight
step to take forward compared with that which has substituted the
authority of national States for the conflict of isolated clans and
local communities; or with that which has substituted a publicly
administered justice for the régime of private war and retaliation. The
argument for the necessity (short of the attainment of a federated
international State with universal authority and policing of the seas)
of preparing in peace by enlarged armies and navies for the possibility
of war, must be offset at least by recognition that the possession of
irresponsible power is always a direct temptation to its irresponsible
use. The argument that war is necessary to prevent moral degeneration of
individuals may, under present conditions, where every day brings its
fresh challenge to civic initiative, courage, and vigor, be dismissed as
unmitigated nonsense.


The moral criterion by which to try social institutions and political
measures may be summed up as follows: The test is whether a given custom
or law sets free individual capacities in such a way as to make them
available for the development of the general happiness or the common
good. This formula states the test with the emphasis falling upon the
side of the individual. It may be stated from the side of associated
life as follows: The test is whether the general, the public,
organization and order are promoted in such a way as to equalize
opportunity for all.

=Comparison with the Individualistic Formula.=--The formula of the
individualistic school (in the narrow sense of that term--the
_laissez-faire_ school) reads: The moral end of political institutions
and measures is the maximum possible freedom of the individual
consistent with his not interfering with like freedom on the part of
other individuals. It is quite possible to interpret this formula in
such a way as to make it equivalent to that just given. But it is not
employed in that sense by those who advance it. An illustration will
bring out the difference. Imagine one hundred workingmen banded together
in a desire to improve their standard of living by securing higher
wages, shorter hours, and more sanitary conditions of work. Imagine one
hundred other men who, because they have no families to support, no
children to educate, or because they do not care about their standard of
life, are desirous of replacing the first hundred at lower wages, and
upon conditions generally more favorable to the employer of labor. It is
quite clear that in offering themselves and crowding out the others,
they are not interfering with the _like_ freedom on the part of others.
The men already engaged are "free" to work for lower wages and longer
time, if they want to. But it is equally certain that they are
interfering with the _real_ freedom of the others: that is, with the
effective expression of their _whole_ body of activities.

The formula of "_like_ freedom" artificially isolates some one power,
takes that in the abstract, and then inquires whether _it_ is interfered
with. The one truly moral question is what relation this particular
power, say the power to do a certain work for a certain reward, sustains
to all the other desires, purposes, and interests of the individual. How
are _they_ affected by the way in which some one activity is exercised?
It is in them that the concrete freedom of the man resides. We do not
know whether the freedom of a man is interfered with or is assisted
until we have taken into account his whole system of capacities and
activities. The maximum freedom of one individual consistent with equal
_concrete_ or _total_ freedom of others, would indeed represent a high
moral ideal. But the individualistic formula is condemned by the fact
that it has in mind only an abstract, mechanical, external, and hence
formal freedom.

=Comparison with the Collectivistic Formula.=--There is a rival formula
which may be summed up as the subordination of private or individual
good to the public or general good: the subordination of the good of the
part to the good of the whole. This notion also _may_ be interpreted in
a way which renders it identical with our own criterion. But it is
usually not so intended. It tends to emphasize quantitative and
mechanical considerations. The individualistic formula tends in practice
to emphasize the freedom of the man who has power at the expense of his
neighbor weaker in health, in intellectual ability, in worldly goods,
and in social influence. The collectivistic formula tends to set up a
static social whole and to prevent the variations of individual
initiative which are necessary to progress. An individual variation may
involve opposition, not conformity or subordination, to the existing
social good taken statically; and yet may be the sole means by which the
existing State is to progress. Minorities are not always right; but
every advance in right begins in a minority of one, when some individual
conceives a project which is at variance with the social good as it
_has_ been established.

A true public or social good will accordingly not subordinate individual
variations, but will encourage individual experimentation in new ideas
and new projects, endeavoring only to see that they are put into
execution under conditions which make for securing responsibility for
their consequences. A just social order promotes in all its members
habits of criticizing its attained goods and habits of projecting
schemes of new goods. It does not aim at intellectual and moral
subordination. Every form of social life contains survivals of the past
which need to be reorganized. The struggle of some individuals _against_
the existing subordination of their good to the good of the whole is the
method of the reorganization of the whole in the direction of a more
generally distributed good. Not order, but orderly progress, represents
the social ideal.


Green, _Principles of Political Obligation_, 1888; Ritchie, _Principles
of State Interference_, 1891, _Natural Rights_, 1895; Lioy, _Philosophy
of Right_, 2 vols., 1901; Willoughby, _An Examination of the Nature of
the State_, 1896; Wilson, _The State_, 1889; Donisthorpe,
_Individualism_, 1889; Giddings, _Democracy and Empire_, 1900; Mulford,
_The Nation_, 1882; Spencer, _Principles of Sociology_, Vol. II., Part
V., 1882, on Political Institutions; Bentham, _Fragment on Government_,
1776; Mill, _Considerations on Representative Government_, 1861, _On
Liberty_, 1859, and _The Subjection of Women_, 1859; Austin,
_Jurisprudence_, 2 vols., 4th ed., 1873; Hadley, _The Relations between
Freedom and Responsibility in the Evolution of Democratic Government_,
1903; Pollock, _Expansion of the Common Law_, 1904; Hall, _Crime in Its
Relations to Social Progress_, 1901; _Philanthropy and Social Progress_,
Seven Essays, 1893; Stephen (J. F.), _Liberty, Equality, Fraternity_,
1873 (a criticism of Mill's _Liberty_); Tufts, _Some Contributions of
Psychology to the Conception of Justice_, Philosophical Review, Vol.
XV., p. 361.


[204] A traveler tells of overhearing children in Australia, when one of
their kin had injured some one in another clan, discuss whether or no
they came within the degree of nearness of relationship which made them
liable to suffer.

[205] Hearn, _The Aryan Household_, p. 431. Hearn is speaking, moreover,
of a later and more advanced condition of society, one lying well within

[206] Those interested in this important history, as every student of
morals may well be, will find easily accessible material in the
following references: Hobhouse, _Morals in Evolution_, ch. iii. of Vol.
I.; Hearn, _The Aryan Household_, ch. xix.; Westermarck, _The Origin and
Development of the Moral Ideas_, Vol. I., pp. 120-185, and parts of ch.
xx.; Sutherland, _Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct_, chs. xx. and
xxi.; Pollock and Maitland, _History of of English Law_, Vol. II., pp.
447-460 and ch. ix.; Pollock, _Oxford Lectures_ (The King's Peace);
Cherry, _Criminal Law in Ancient Communities_; Maine, _Ancient Law_.
References to anthropological literature, dealing with savage and
barbarian customs, will be found especially in Westermarck and Hobhouse.

[207] For facts regarding the importance and nature of these
conceptions, see Westermarck, _op. cit._, pp. 52-72; Robertson Smith,
_The Religion of the Semites_, pp. 427-435 and 139-149; Jevons,
_Introduction to the History of Religion_; Hobhouse, _op. cit._, Vol.
II., chs. i. and ii.; and in general facts bearing on the relations
between taboos, holiness, and uncleanness; ablutions, purifications by
fire, transference by scapegoats; also the evil power of curses, and the
early conceptions of doom and fate. For a suggestive interpretation of
the underlying facts, see Santayana, _The Life of Reason_, Vol. III.,
chs. iii. and iv.

[208] See Plato, _Laws_, IX., 873. Compare Holmes, _Common Law_. In
mediæval and early modern Europe, offending objects were "deodand," that
is, devoted to God. They were to be appropriated by the proper civil or
ecclesiastical authority, and used for charity. In theory, this lasted
in England up to 1846. See Tylor, _Primitive Culture_, Vol. I., pp.
286-287; and Pollock and Maitland, _op. cit._, II., pp. 471-472.

[209] _Op. cit._, p. 257.

[210] The very words cause and to blame are closely connected in their
origin. Cf. the Greek [Greek: aitia].

[211] Pollock and Maitland, _op. cit._, II., p. 469; I., 30. For the
history of the idea of accident in English law with reference to
homicide, see also pp. 477-483. Also Stephen, _History of the Criminal
Law in England_, Vol. III., pp. 316-376.

[212] Pollock and Maitland, II., p. 473; see Westermarck, pp. 240-247.

[213] The slowness and indirectness of change throw light upon the
supposed distinction of justice and mercy (see _ante_, p. 415). When the
practical injustice of regarding accidental homicide or killing in
self-defense as murder began to be felt, the theory was still that the
man in justice was guilty, but that he was to be recommended to the
crown for mercy or pardon. This was a mean term in the evolution of our
present notion of justice.

[214] For some of the main historic facts on intellectual disability,
see Westermarck, pp. 264-277.

[215] Popular judgment, we may say, tends to be as grossly utilitarian
in its practice as it is grossly intuitional in its theoretical
standpoint. In assuming the possibility of an almost infallible,
offhand, pat perception of right and wrong, it commits itself
practically to judging in an offhand, analyzed way, on the basis of the
evils which overtly result.

[216] See Pollock and Maitland, Vol. II., p. 561, who quote from
Ihering: "Formulation is the sworn enemy of arbitrariness, the
twin-sister of liberty"; and who add: "As time goes on there is always a
larger room for discretion in the law of procedure: but discretionary
powers can only be safely entrusted to judges whose impartiality is
above suspicion and whose every act is exposed to public and
professional criticism."

[217] A lawyer, asked if the poor were not at a disadvantage in the
legal maintenance of their rights, replied: "_Not any more than they are
in the other relations of life._"

[218] The devices of "equity" as distinct from strict legality are of
course in part intended to secure this result.

[219] Robinson and Beard, _Development of Modern Europe_, Vol. II., p.

[220] "Man the Reformer."

[221] The term "the King's Peace," as the equivalent in England for the
peace and order of the commonwealth, goes back to a time when literally
it meant a private possession. Pollock says that the desire to collect
larger revenues was the chief motive for pushing the royal jurisdiction
against lesser local authorities. Essay on the King's Peace in _Oxford

[222] Says President Hadley: "The fundamental division of powers in the
Constitution of the United States is between voters on the one hand, and
property-owners on the other. The forces of democracy on one side,
divided between the executive and the legislature, are set over against
the forces of property on the other side, with the judiciary as arbiter
between them.... The voter could elect what officers he pleased, so long
as these officers did not try to do certain duties confided by the
Constitution to the property-holders. Democracy was complete as far as
it went, but constitutionally it was bound to stop short of _social_



In considering the ethics of the economic life and of property, so far
as this latter topic has not received treatment elsewhere, we give (1) a
general analysis of the ethical questions involved, (2) a more specific
account of the problems raised by the present tendencies of industry,
business, and property; we follow these analyses with (3) a statement of
principles, and (4) a discussion of unsettled problems.


Both the economic process and property have three distinct ethical
aspects corresponding respectively to the ethical standpoint of
happiness, character, and social justice. (1) The economic process
supplies men with goods for their bodily wants and with many of the
necessary means for satisfying intellectual, æsthetic, and social needs;
property represents permanence and security in these same values. (2)
Through the difficulties it presents, the work it involves, and the
incitements it offers, the economic process has a powerful influence in
evoking skill, foresight, and scientific control of nature, in forming
character, and stimulating ambition to excel. Property means power,
control, and the conditions for larger freedom. (3) The economic process
has an important social function. Through division of labor,
coöperation, and exchange of goods and services, it affords one of the
fundamental expressions of the organic nature of society in which
members are reciprocally ends to each other. Property, likewise, is not
only a possessing, but a "right," and thus, like all rights, involves
the questions why and how far society should support the individual in
his interests and claims. Let us examine each of these aspects further.

=1. The Economic in Relation to Happiness.=--Subject to the important
qualifications to be made below under this and the succeeding sections,
we note first that the supply of needs and wants by industry and
commerce is ethically a good. A constant increase in production and
consumption is at least a possible factor in a fuller life. Wealth is a
possible condition of weal, even if it is not to be gratuitously
identified with it. Rome is frequently cited as an example of the evil
effects of material wealth. But it was not wealth _per se_, but wealth
(a) gained by conquest, and exploitation, rather than by industry; (b)
controlled by a minority; and (c) used in largesses or in crude
spectacles--rather than democratically distributed and used to minister
to higher wants. The present average income in the United States is
about two hundred dollars a year per capita, too small a sum to permit
comfortable living, sufficient education for children, and the
satisfaction which even a very moderate taste may seek. From this point
of view we may then ask of any industrial process or business method
whether it is an economical and efficient method of production, and
whether it naturally tends to stimulate increased production. To do this
is--so far as it goes--ethically as well as economically desirable.

If wealth is a good, it might seem that property must be judged by the
same standard, since it represents security in the satisfactions which
wealth affords. But there is an important distinction. Wealth means
enjoyment of goods and satisfaction of wants. Property means the title
to the exclusive use or possession of goods. Hence the increase of
property may involve increasing exclusion of part of the community from
wealth, although the owners of the property may be increasing their own
enjoyments. For, as pointed out very forcibly by Hadley in the first
chapter of his _Economics_, the public wealth of a community is by no
means equal to the sum of its private property. If all parks were
divided up into private estates, all schoolhouses controlled by private
owners, all water supplies and highways given into private control, the
sum of private property might be very much increased; but the public
wealth would be decreased. Property is one of the means of dealing with
public wealth. It is important to bear in mind, however, that it is only
one means. Wealth may be (1) privately owned and privately used; (2)
privately owned and publicly or commonly used; (3) publicly owned, but
privately used; (4) publicly owned and publicly or commonly used.
Illustrations of these four methods are, for the first, among
practically all peoples, clothing and tools; of the second, a private
estate opened to public use--as a park; of the third, public lands or
franchises leased to individuals; of the fourth, public highways, parks,
navigable rivers, public libraries. Whether property in any given case
is a means to happiness will depend, then, largely upon whether it
operates chiefly to increase wealth or to diminish it. The view has not
been infrequent that the wealth of the community is the sum of its
private property. From this it is but a step to believe "that the
acquisition of property is the production of wealth, and that he best
serves the common good who, other things equal, diverts the larger share
of the aggregate wealth to his own possession."[223] The ethical
questions as to the relation of property to happiness involve
accordingly the problem of justice and can be more conveniently
considered under that head.

=2. Relation to Character.=--Even in its aspect of satisfying human
wants, quantity of production is not the only consideration. As was
pointed out in the chapters on Happiness, the satisfaction of any and
every want is not necessarily a moral good. It depends upon the nature
of the wants; and as the nature of the wants reflects the nature of the
man who wants, the moral value of the economic process and of the wealth
it provides must depend upon the relation of goods to persons. As
economists we estimate values in terms of external goods or commodities;
as ethical students we estimate values in terms of a certain quality of
life. We must ask first how the satisfaction of wants affects the

=Moral Cost of Production.=--Consider next the producers. It is
desirable to have cheap goods, but the price of goods or service is not
measurable solely in terms of other commodities or service; the price of
an article is also, as Thoreau has said, what it costs in terms of human
life. There is cheap production which by this standard is dear. The
introduction of machinery for spinning and weaving cotton cheapened
cotton cloth, but the child labor which was supposedly necessary as a
factor in cheap production, involving disease, physical stunting,
ignorance, and frequently premature exhaustion or death, made the
product too expensive to be tolerated. At least, it was at last
recognized as too expensive in England; apparently the calculation has
to be made over again in every community where a new system of child
labor is introduced. What is true of child labor is true of many other
forms of modern industry--the price in human life makes the product
dear. The minute subdivision of certain parts of industry with the
consequent monotony and mechanical quality of the labor, the accidents
and diseases due to certain occupations, the devices to cheapen goods by
ingredients which injure the health of the consumer, the employment of
women under unsanitary conditions and for excessive hours with
consequent risk to the health of themselves and their offspring--all
these are part of the moral price of the present processes of industry
and commerce.

Moreover, the relation of production to physical welfare is only one
aspect of its effects upon life and character. We may properly ask of
any process or system whether it quickens intelligence or deadens it,
whether it necessitates the degradation of work to drudgery, and whether
it promotes freedom or hampers it. To answer this last question we shall
have to distinguish formal from real freedom. It might be that a system
favorable to the utmost formal freedom--freedom of contract--would
result in the most entire absence of that real freedom which implies
real alternatives. If the only alternative is, this or starve, the real
freedom is limited.

=Property and Character.=--Viewed on its positive side, property means
an expansion of power and freedom. To seize, master, and possess is an
instinct inbred by the biological process. It is necessary for life; it
is a form of the _Wille zum Leben_ or _Wille zur Macht_ which need not
be despised. But in organized society possession is no longer mere
animal instinct; through expression in a social medium and by a social
person it becomes a _right_ of property. This is a far higher capacity;
like all rights it involves the assertion of personality and of a
rational claim upon fellow members of society for their recognition and
backing. Fichte's doctrine, that property is essential to the effective
exercise of freedom, is a strong statement of its moral importance to
the individual.

Over against these positive values of property are certain evils which
moralists have always recognized, evils both to the property owner and
to society. Avarice, covetousness, hardness toward others, seem to be
the natural effects of the enormous possibilities of power offered by
property, joined with its exclusive character. The prophets of Israel
denounced the rich, and Jesus's image of the difficulty found by the
rich man in entering the kingdom of God--a moral society--has met
general acceptance. Plato's portrayal of the State in which the wealthy
rule sketches the perversion and disobedience of laws, the jealousies
and class hatred, the evasion of taxes for public defense, and gives the
moral outcome:--

    "And henceforth they press forward on the path of money-getting,
    losing their esteem for virtue as the esteem for wealth grows upon
    them. For can you deny that there is such a gulf between wealth
    and virtue, that when weighed as it were in the two scales of a
    balance one of the two always falls, as the other rises?"[224]

Even apart from questions of just distribution, the moral question
arises as to whether an unlimited power should be given to individuals
in this form, and whether there should be unlimited right of
inheritance. But all these tend to pass over at once into questions of

=3. Social Aspects.=--The various relations of man to man, political,
friendly, kindred, are developed forms of the interdependence implicit
in the early group life. A group of units, each independent of the
others, would represent mass only, but such a group as is made up of
men, women, and children, sustaining all the relations found in present
human life, represents something vastly more than a mass of individuals.
Every life draws from the rest. Man without friendship, love, pity,
sympathy, communication, coöperation, justice, rights, or duties, would
be deprived of nearly all that gives life its value.

The necessary help from others is obtained in various ways. Parental,
filial, and other kinship ties, friendship and pity, give rise to
certain services, but they are necessarily limited in their sphere and
exact in return a special attitude that would be intolerable if made
universal. The modern man does not want to be cousin to every one, to
give every one his personal friendship, to be in a perpetual attitude of
receiving favors, or of asking and not receiving. Formerly the way of
getting service from men outside these means was by slavery. The
economic relation provides for the mutual exchange of goods and services
on a basis of self-respect and equality. Through its system of contracts
it provides for future as well as present service. It enables each to
obtain the services of all the rest, and in turn to contribute without
incurring any other claims or relations. Nor does it at all diminish the
moral value of these mutual exchanges of goods and services that they
may be paid for. It used to be the theory that in every bargain one
party gained and the other lost. It is now recognized that a normal
transaction benefits both parties. The "cash payment basis," which was
at first denounced as substituting a mechanical nexus for the old
personal tie, is in reality a means for establishing a greater
independence instead of the older personal relation of "master" and
"servant." It enabled a man, as Toynbee puts it, to sell his labor like
any other commodity without selling himself.

But while the economic process has these moral possibilities, the
morality of any given system or practice will depend on how far these
are actually realized.

First of all, we may fairly ask of a process, Does it give to each
member the kind of service needed by him? In economic terms, Does it
produce the kinds of goods which society needs and desires? A method
which provides for this successfully will in so far be providing against
scarcity of some goods and oversupply of others, and thus against one of
the sources of crises, irregularity of work and wages, and ultimately
against suffering and want.

Secondly, if the process is an expression of the mutual dependence and
service of members who as persons all have, as Kant puts it, intrinsic
worth, and who in our political society are recognized as equal, we may
fairly ask how it distributes the results of services rendered. Does
the process tend to a broad and general distribution of goods in return
for services rendered, or to make "the rich richer and the poor poorer?"
Or, from another point of view, we might ask, Does the process tend to
reward members on a moral or equitable basis, or upon a basis which is
non-moral if not immoral or unjust.

Thirdly, the problem of _conflicting services_ presents itself under
several forms. There is, first, the ever-present conflict between
producer and consumer. Higher wages and shorter hours are good for the
carpenter or the weaver, until he pays his rent or buys clothes, when he
is interested in cheaper goods. What principle can be employed to adjust
such a question? Again, service to the consumer may lead a producer to a
price-list implying a minimum of profits. One producer can afford this
because of his larger business, but it will drive his competitor from
the field. Shall he agree to a higher price at which all can do
business, or insist on the lower which benefits the consumer and also
himself? The labor union is a constant embodiment of the problem of
conflicting services. How far shall it serve a limited group, the union,
at the expense of other workers in the same trade--non-unionists? Does
it make a difference whether the union is open to all, or whether the
dues are fixed so high as to limit the membership? Shall the apprentices
be limited to keep up the wage by limiting the supply? If so, is this
fair to the boys or unskilled laborers who would like to enter? And
granting that it is a hardship to these, is it harder or is it kinder to
them than it would be to leave the issue to the natural weeding out or
starving-out procedure of natural selection in case too many enter the
trade? Shall the hours be reduced and wages raised as high as possible,
or is there a "fair" standard--fair to both consumer and laborer? How
far may the union combine with the capitalist to raise prices to the

=Private Property and Social Welfare.=--The social value of property is
obviously indirect, just as in law, private rights are regarded as
indirectly based on social welfare. It is society's aim to promote the
worth of its members and to favor the development of their personal
dignity and freedom. Property may, therefore, claim social value in so
far as it serves these ends, unless it interferes with other social
values. The effect of private property has seemed to some disastrous to
community of interest and feeling. Plato, for example, in his ideal
state would permit his guardians no private property. There would, then,
be no quarrels over "meum" and "tuum," no suits or divisions, no petty
meanness or anxieties, no plundering of fellow-citizens, no flattery of
rich by poor. The mediæval church carried out his theory. Even modern
society preserves a certain trace of its spirit. For the classes that
Plato called guardians--soldiers, judges, clergy, teachers--have
virtually no property, although they are given support by society. It
would probably be generally agreed that it is better for the public that
these classes should not have large possessions. But it is obvious that
private property is not the sole cause of division between individuals
and classes. Where there is a deep-going unity of purpose and feeling,
as in the early Christian community, or in various other companies that
have attempted to practice communism, common ownership of wealth may be
morally valuable as well as practically possible. But without such
unity, mere abolition of property is likely to mean more bitter
divisions, because there is no available method for giving to each the
independence which is necessary to avoid friction and promote happiness.

Granting, however, the general position that some parts of wealth should
be privately owned, we must recognize that a great number of moral
problems remain as to the precise conditions under which society will
find it wise to entrust the control of wealth to private ownership. For
it must be clearly kept in mind that there is no absolute right of
private property. Every right, legal or moral, derives from the social
whole, which in turn, if it is a moral whole, must respect the
individuality of each of its members. On this basis moral problems, such
as the following, must be considered. What kind of public wealth should
be given into absolute control of private individuals or impersonal
corporations? Does the institution in its present form promote the good
of those who have no property as well as of those who have it, or only
of those who own? Would the welfare of society as a whole be promoted by
giving a larger portion of public wealth into private control, or by
retaining a larger proportion than at present under public ownership?
Should there be any limit to the amount of land or other property which
an individual or corporation may own? Are there any cases in which
private ownership operates rather to exclude the mass of society from
the benefits of civilization than to give them a share of those
benefits? Should a man be allowed to transmit all his property to his
heirs, or should it be in part reserved by society?

The preceding analysis has aimed to state some of the problems which
belong necessarily to the economic life. At the present time, however,
the moral issues assume a new and puzzling aspect because of the changes
in economic conditions. It will be necessary to consider briefly these
changed conditions.


=The Collective and Impersonal Organizations.=--Two changes have come
over a large part of the economic and industrial field. The first is the
change from an individual to a collective basis. The second, which is in
part a consequence of the first, is a change from personal to
impersonal or corporate relations. Corporations are of course composed
of persons, but when organized for economic purposes they tend to become
simply economic purpose incorporate, abstracted from all other human
qualities. Although legally they may be subjects of rights and duties,
they have but one motive, and are thus so abstract as to be morally
impersonal. They tend to become machines for carrying on business,
and, as such, may be as powerful--and as incapable of moral
considerations--as other machines.

=Ethical Readjustment.=--Both these changes require readjustment of our
ethical conceptions. Our conceptions of honesty and justice, of rights
and duties, got their present shaping largely in an industrial and
business order when mine and thine could be easily distinguished; when
it was easy to tell how much a man produced; when the producer sold to
his neighbors, and an employer had also the relations of neighbor to his
workmen; when responsibility could be personally located, and conversely
a man could control the business he owned or make individual contracts;
when each man had his own means of lighting, heating, water supply, and
frequently of transportation, giving no opportunity or necessity for
public service corporations. Such conceptions are inadequate for the
present order. The old honesty could assume that goods belonged to their
makers, and then consider exchanges and contracts. The new honesty will
first have to face a prior question, _Who owns what is collectively
produced_, and are the present "rules of the game" distributing the
returns honestly and fairly? The old justice in the economic field
consisted chiefly in securing to each individual his rights in property
or contracts. The new justice must consider how it can secure for each
individual a standard of living, and such a share in the values of
civilization as shall make possible a full moral life. The old virtue
allowed a man to act more as an individual; the new virtue requires him
to act in concerted effort if he is to achieve results. Individualist
theories cannot interpret collectivist facts.

The changes in the economic and industrial processes by which not only
the associated powers of present human knowledge, skill, and endurance,
but also the combined results of past and future skill and industry are
massed and wielded, depend on several concurrent factors. We shall
notice the social agency, the technique of industry, the technique of
business, the means of fixing value, and the nature of property.


=Early Agencies.=--The early agencies for carrying on trade and industry
were not organized purely for economic purposes. The kindred or family
group engaged in certain industries, but this was only part of its
purpose. So in the various territorial groups. The Athenian city-state
owned the mines; the German village had its forest, meadow, and water as
a common possession; and the "common" survived long in English and
American custom, though the cattle pastured on it might be individually
owned. In the United States certain land was reserved for school
purposes, and if retained would now in some cases be yielding an almost
incredible amount for public use; but it has usually been sold to
private individuals. The national government still retains certain land
for forest reserve, but until the recent movement toward municipal
ownership, the civic community had almost ceased to be an economic
factor in England and America, except in the field of roads, canals, and
the postoffice. In both family and territorial or community control of
industry, we have the economic function exercised as only one among
several others. The economic helped to strengthen the other bonds of
unity. On the other hand, the economic motive could not disentangle
itself and stand out in all its naked force. Within either family or
civic group the effects of the acquisitive instincts were limited by the
fact that individuals in their industrial relations were also kin or

=The Business Enterprise.=--In the business enterprise--partnership,
company, corporation, "trust,"--on the other hand, men are organized
solely for economic purposes. No other interests or ends are regarded.
Corporations organized for this purpose "have no souls," because they
consist of merely the abstract economic interests. While in domestic and
territorial agencies the acquisitive forces were to some degree
beneficially controlled, they were also injuriously hampered. With the
rise of business enterprise as a distinct sphere of human action, the
way was opened for a new force to manifest itself. This brought with it
both advantages and disadvantages for the moral and social life as a
whole. On the one hand, it increased tremendously the possibilities of
economic and industrial efficiency. The size of the enterprise could be
as large or as small as was needed for the most efficient production,
and was not, as in family or community agency, sometimes too small and
sometimes too large. The enterprise could group men according to their
capacity for a particular task, and not, as in the other forms, be
compelled to take a group already constituted by other than economic or
industrial causes. Further, it could without difficulty dispense with
the aged or those otherwise unsuited to its purposes. When, moreover, as
is coming to be increasingly the case, great corporations, each
controlling scores or even hundreds of millions of capital, are linked
together in common control, we have a tremendous force which may be
wielded as a unit. It is easy to assume--indeed it is difficult for
managers not to assume--that the interests of such colossal
organizations are of supreme importance, and that diplomacy, tariffs,
legislation, and courts should be subordinate. The moral dangers
attaching to such corporations formed solely for economic purposes are
obvious, and have found frequent illustration in their actual workings.
Knowing few or none of the restraints which control an individual, the
corporation has treated competitors, employees, and the public in a
purely economic fashion. This insures certain limited species of
honesty, but does not include motives of private sympathy or public

=The Labor Union.=--Correlative to these corporate combinations of
capital are Labor Unions of various types. They are usually when first
organized more complex in motive, including social and educational ends,
and are more emotional, or even passionate in conduct. With age they
tend to become more purely economic. In the United States they have
sought to secure better wages, to provide benefits or insurance in case
of sickness and death, and to gain better conditions in respect of
hours, of child-labor, and of protection against dangerous machinery,
explosions, and occupational diseases. In Great Britain they have also
been successful in applying the coöperative plan to the purchase of
goods for consumption. The organizations have been most successful among
the skilled trades. For so far as the aim is collective bargaining, it
is evident that the union will be effective in proportion as it controls
the whole supply of labor in the given trade. In the unskilled forms of
labor, especially with a constant flow of immigration, it is difficult,
if not impossible, to maintain organizations comparable with the
organizations of capital. Hence in conflicts it is natural to expect the
moral situations which frequently occur when grossly unequal combatants
are opposed. The stronger has contempt for the weaker and refuses to
"recognize" his existence. The weaker, rendered desperate by the
hopelessness of his case when he contends under rules and with weapons
prescribed by the stronger, refuses to abide by the rules and resorts to
violence--only to find that by this he has set himself in opposition to
all the forces of organized society.

=Group Morality Again.=--The striking feature of the new conditions is
that it means a _reversion to group morality_. That is, it has meant
this so far. Society is struggling to reassert a general moral standard,
but it has not yet found a standard, and has wavered between a rigid
insistence upon outgrown laws on the one hand, and a more or less
emotional and unreasoned sympathy with new demands, upon the other.[225]
Group morality meant impersonal, collective life. It meant loyalty to
one's own group, little regard for others, lack of responsibility, and
lack of a completely social standard. There is, of course, one important
difference. The present collective, impersonal agencies are not so naïve
as the old kinship group. They can be used as effective agencies to
secure definite ends, while the manipulators secure all the advantages
of the old solidarity and irresponsibility.

=Members and Management.=--The corporation in its idea is democratic.
For it provides for the union of a number of owners, some of them it may
be small owners, under an elected management. It would seem to be an
admirable device for maintaining concentration of power with
distribution of ownership. But the very size of modern enterprises and
unions prevents direct control by stockholders or members. They may
dislike a given policy, but they are individually helpless. If they
attempt to control, it is almost impossible, except in an extraordinary
crisis, to unite a majority for common action.[226] The directors can
carry on a policy and at the same time claim to be only agents of the
stockholders, and therefore not ultimately responsible. What influence
can the small shareholders in a railway company, or a great industrial
corporation, or labor union, have? They unite with ease upon one point
only: they want dividends or results. When an illegal policy is to be
pursued, or a legislature or jury is to be bribed, or a non-union man is
to be "dealt with," the head officials likewise seek only "results."
They turn over the responsibility to the operating or "legal"
department, or to the "educational committee," and know nothing further.
These departments are "agents" for the stockholders or union, and
therefore, feel quite at ease. The stockholders are sure they never
authorized anything wrong. Some corporations are managed for the
interest of a large number of owners; some, on the other hand, by
ingenious contracts with side corporations formed from an inner circle,
are managed for the benefit of this inner circle. The tendency,
moreover, in the great corporations is toward a situation in which
boards of directors of the great railroad, banking, insurance, and
industrial concerns are made up of the same limited group of men. This
aggregate property may then be wielded as absolutely as though owned by
these individuals. If it is used to carry a political election the
directors, according to New York courts, are not culpable.

=Employer and Employed.=--The same impersonal relation often prevails
between employer and employed. The ultimate employer is the stockholder,
but he delegates power to the director, and he to the president, and he
to the foreman. Each is expected to get results. The employed may
complain about conditions to the president, and be told that he cannot
interfere with the foreman, and to the foreman and be told that such is
the policy of the company. The union may serve as a similar buffer.
Often any individual of the series would act humanely or generously, if
he were acting for himself. He cannot be humane or generous with the
property of others, and hence there is no humanity or generosity in the
whole system. This system seems to have reached its extreme in the
creation of corporations for the express purpose of relieving employers
of any personal responsibility. Companies organized to insure employers
against claims made by employees on account of injuries may be regarded
as a device for distributing the burden. But as the company is
organized, not primarily to pay damages, as are life insurance
companies, but to avoid such payment, it has a powerful motive in
contesting every claim, however just, and in making it so expensive to
prosecute a claim that the victims may prefer not to make the attempt.
The "law's delay" can nearly always be counted upon as a powerful
defense when a poor man is plaintiff and a rich corporation is

=Relations to the Public.=--The relations of corporations to the public,
and of the public to corporations, are similarly impersonal and
non-moral. A convenient way of approach to this situation is offered by
the ethical, or rather non-ethical, status of the various mechanical
devices which have come into use in recent years for performing many
economic services. The weighing machines, candy machines, telephones,
are supposed to give a certain service for a penny or a nickel. But if
the machine is out of order, the victim has no recourse. His own
attitude is correspondingly mechanical. He regards himself as dealing,
not with a person, but with a thing. If he can exploit it or "beat" it,
so much the better. Now a corporation, in the attitude which it takes
and evokes, is about half-way between the pure mechanism of a machine
and the completely personal attitude of a moral individual. A man is
overcharged, or has some other difficulty with an official of a railroad
company. It is as hopeless to look for immediate relief as it is in the
case of a slot machine. The conductor is just as much limited by his
orders as the machine by its mechanism. The man may later correspond
with some higher official, and if patience and life both persist long
enough, he will probably recover. But to prevent fraud, the company is
obliged to be more rigorous than a person would be who was dealing with
the case in a personal fashion. Hence the individual with a just
grievance is likely to entertain toward the corporation the feeling that
he is dealing with a machine, not with an ethical being, even as the
company's servants are not permitted to exercise any moral consideration
in dealing with the public. They merely obey orders. Public sentiment,
which would hold an individual teamster responsible for running over a
child, or an individual stage owner responsible for reckless or careless
conduct in carrying his passengers, feels only a blind rage in the case
of a railroad accident. It cannot fix moral responsibility definitely
upon either stockholder or management or employee, and conversely
neither stockholder, nor manager, nor employee[227] feels the moral
restraint which the individual would feel. He is not wholly responsible,
and his share in the collective responsibility is so small as often to
seem entirely negligible.

=Relations to the Law.=--The collective business enterprises, when
incorporated, are regarded as "juristic persons," and so gain the
support of law as well as become subject to its control. If the great
corporation can thus gain the right of an individual, it can enter the
field of free contract with great advantage. Labor unions have not
incorporated, fearing, perhaps, to give the law control over their
funds. They seek a higher standard of living, but private law does not
recognize this as a right. It merely protects contracts, but leaves it
to the individual to make the best contract he can. As most wage-earners
have no contracts, but are liable to dismissal at any time, the unions
have seen little to be gained by incorporation. They have thus missed
contact with the institution in which society seeks to embody, however
tardily, its moral ideas and have been, in a sense, outlaws. They were
such at first by no fault of their own, for the law treated such
combinations as conspiracies. And they are still at two decided
disadvantages. First, the capitalistic or employing corporation acting
as a single juristic person may refuse to buy the labor of a union;
indeed, according to a recent decision, it cannot be forbidden to
discharge its employees because of their membership in a union. As the
corporation may employ scores of thousands, and be practically the only
employer of a particular kind of labor, it can thus enforce a virtual
boycott and prevent the union from selling its labor. It does not need
to use a "blacklist" because the employers are all combined in one
"person." On the other hand, the union is adjudged to act in restraint
of interstate commerce if it boycotts the employing corporation. The
union is here treated as a combination, not as a single person. The
second point in which the employing body has greatly the legal advantage
appears in the case of a strike. Men are allowed to quit work, but this
is not an effective method of exerting pressure unless the employer is
anxious to keep his plant in operation and can employ no one else. If he
can take advantage of an open labor market and hire other workmen, the
only resource of the strikers is to induce these to join their ranks.
But they have been enjoined by the courts, not only from intimidating,
but even from persuading[228] employees to quit work. The method of
procedure in enforcing the injunction, which enables the judge to fix
the offense, eliminate trial by jury, determine the guilt, and impose
any penalty he deems fit, has all the results of criminal process with
none of its limitations, and forms a most effective agency against the
unions. Where persuasion is enjoined it is difficult to see how a union
can exert any effective pressure except in a highly skilled trade, where
it can control all the labor supply. In the field of private rights and
free contract, the labor unions are then at a disadvantage because they
have no rights which are of any value for their purposes, except, under
certain conditions, the right to refuse to work. And since this is, in
most cases, a weapon that injures its wielder far more than his
opponent, it is not effective.

Disappointed in the field of free contract, the labor unions seek to
enlist public agency in behalf of better sanitary conditions and in
prevention of child-labor, long hours for women, unfair contracts, and
the like. Capitalistic corporations frequently resist this change of
venue on the ground that it interferes with free contract or takes away
property without "due process of law," and many laws have been set aside
as unconstitutional on these grounds,[229] several of them no doubt
because so drawn as to appear to be in the interest of a class, rather
than in that of the public. The trend in the direction of asserting
larger public control both under the police power and over corporations
in whose service the public has a direct interest, will be noted later.
Against other corporations the general public or the unsuccessful
competitor has sought legal aid in legislation against "trusts," but
this has mainly proved to be futile. It has merely induced a change in
form of organization. Nor has it been easy as yet for the law to
exercise any effective control over the business corporation on any of
the three principles invoked--namely: to prevent monopoly, to secure the
public interest in the case of public service corporations, and to
assert police power. For penalties by fine frequently fail to reach the
guilty persons, and it is difficult to fix any personal responsibility.
Juries are unwilling to convict subordinate officials of acts which
they believe to have been required by the policy of the higher
officials, while, on the other hand, the higher officials are seldom
directly cognizant of criminal acts. Gradually, however, we may believe
that the law will find a way to make both capital and labor
organizations respect the public welfare, and to give them support in
their desirable ends. The coöperative principle cannot be outlawed; it
must be more fully socialized.


=The Machine.=--The technique of production has shown a similar progress
from individual to collective method. The earlier method was that of
handicraft. The present method in most occupations, aside from
agriculture, is that of the machine. But the great economic advantage of
the machine is not only in the substitution of mechanical power for
muscle; it is also in the substitution of collective for individual
work. It is the machine which makes possible on a tremendously effective
basis the division of labor and its social organization. The
extraordinary increase in wealth during the past century depends upon
these two factors. The machine itself moreover, in its enormous
expansion, is not only a social tool, but a social product. The
invention and discovery which gave rise to the new processes in industry
of every sort were largely the outcome of scientific researches carried
on at public expense to a great extent by men other than those who
finally utilize their results. They become in turn the instruments for
the production of wealth, which is thus doubly social in origin.

This machine process has an important bearing upon the factors of
character mentioned in our analysis. It standardizes efficiency; it
calls for extraordinary increase of speed; it requires great
specialization of function and often calls for no knowledge of the whole
process. On the other hand, it gives a certain sense of power to
control and direct highly complicated machinery. In the more skilled
trades there is more time and resource for intellectual, æsthetic, or
social satisfactions. The association of workmen favors discussion of
common interests, sympathy, and coöperation; this may evoke a readiness
to sacrifice individual to group welfare, which is quite analogous to
patriotic sentiment at its best, even if it is liable to such violent
expressions as characterize patriotic sentiment at its worst. The
association of workmen is one of the most significant features of modern

=Capital and Credit.=--The technique of exchange of services and goods
has undergone a transformation from an individual and limited to a
collective and almost unlimited method. The earlier form of exchange and
barter limited the conduct of business to a small area, and the simpler
form of personal service involved either slavery or some personal
control which was almost as direct. With the use of money it became
possible to make available a far greater area for exchange and to
accumulate capital which represented the past labors of vast numbers of
individuals. With the further discovery of the possibilities of a credit
system which business enterprise now employs, it is possible to utilize
in any enterprise not merely the results of the labor of the past, but
the anticipated income of the future. A corporation, as organized at
present, issues obligations in the form of bonds and stock which
represent no value as yet produced, but only the values of labor or
privilege anticipated. The whole technique, therefore, of capital and
credit means a collective business enterprise. It masses the work and
the abilities of thousands and hundreds of thousands in the past and the
future, and wields the product as an almost irresistible agency to
achieve new enterprises or to drive from the field rival enterprises.

=Basis of Valuation.=--The whole basis for value and prices has also
been changed. The old basis, employed for the most part through the
Middle Ages in fixing the value of labor or goods, was the amount of
labor and material which had been expended. The modern basis is that of
supply and demand. This proceeds on the theory that it is human wants
which after all give value to any product. I may have expended time and
labor upon a book or carving, or in the cultivation of a new vegetable,
or in the manufacture of an article for apparel, but if no one cares to
read the book or look at the carving, if the vegetable is one that no
one can eat, or the garment is one that no one will wear, it has no
value. Starting then from this, we can see how the two elements in
valuation--namely, demand and supply--are affected by social factors.
The demand for an article depends upon the market: i.e., upon how many
buyers there are, and what wants they have. Modern methods of
communication and transportation have made the market for goods as large
as the civilized world. Education is constantly awakening new wants. The
facilities for communication, for travel, and for education are
constantly leading one part of the world to imitate the standards or
fashions set by other parts. We have, therefore, a social standard for
valuation which is constantly extending in area and in intensity.

The other factor in valuation, namely, the supply, is likewise being
affected in an increasing degree by social forces. With many, if not
with most, of the commodities which are of greatest importance, it has
been found that there is less profit in an unrestricted supply than in a
supply regulated in the interest of the producers. The great coal mines,
the iron industries, the manufacturers of clothing, find it more
profitable to combine and produce a limited amount. The great
corporations and trusts have usually signalized their acquisition of a
monopoly or an approximate control of any great field of production by
shutting down part of the factories formerly engaged. The supply of
labor is likewise limited by the policies of labor unions in limiting
the number of apprentices allowed, or by other means of keeping the
union small. Tariffs, whether in the interest of capital or of labor,
are a social control of the supply. Franchises, whether of steam
railroads, street transportation, gas, electric lighting, or other
public utilities so-called, are all of them in the nature of monopolies
granted to a certain group of individuals. Their value is dependent upon
the general need of these utilities, coupled with the public limitation
of supply. In many cases the services are so indispensable to the
community that the servant does not need to give special care or thought
to the rendering of especially efficient service. The increase in
population makes the franchises enormously profitable without any
corresponding increase of risk or effort on the part of the utility

But the most striking illustration of the creation of values by society
is seen in the case of land. That an acre of land in one part of the
country is worth fifty dollars, and in another part two hundred thousand
dollars,[230] is not due to any difference in the soil, nor for the most
part to any labor or skill or other quality of the owner. It is due to
the fact that in the one case there is no social demand, whereas, in the
other, the land is in the heart of a city. In certain cases, no doubt,
the owner of city real estate may help by his enterprise to build up the
city, but even if so this is incidental. The absentee owner profits as
much by the growth of the city as the foremost contributor to that
growth. The owner need not even improve the property by a building. This
enormous increase in land values has been called the "unearned
increment." In America it is due very largely to features of natural
location and transportation. It has seemed to some writers, such as
Henry George, not only a conspicuous injustice, but the root of all
economic evil. It is, no doubt, in many cases, a conspicuous form of
"easy money," but the principle is not different from that which is
involved in nearly all departments of modern industry. The wealth of
modern society is really a gigantic pool. No individual knows how much
he creates; it is a social product. To estimate what any one should
receive by an attempted estimate of what he has individually contributed
is absolutely impossible.


The two distinctive features of the modern economic situation, its
collective character and its impersonal character, are themselves
capable of supplying valuable aid toward understanding the ethical
problems and in making the reconstruction required. For _the very
magnitude of modern operations and properties serves to bring out more
clearly the principles involved_. _The impersonal character allows
economic forces pure and simple to be seen in their moral bearings._