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Title: The Basis of Morality
Author: Schopenhauer, Arthur, 1788-1860
Language: English
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- Cornell University)




_Translated with Introduction and Notes by_













COPENHAGEN, 30 _January_, 1840.

"To preach Morality is easy, to found it difficult.--"

(SCHOPENHAUER: _Ueber den Willen in der Natur_; p. 128)




















This translation was undertaken in the belief that there are many
English-speaking people who feel more than a merely superficial
interest in ethical research, but who may not read German with
sufficient ease to make them care to take up the original. The
present Essay is one of the most important contributions to Ethics
since the time of Kant, and, as such, is indispensable to a thorough
knowledge of the subject. Moreover, from whatever point of view it be
regarded,--whether the reader find, when he closes the book, that his
conviction harmonises with the conclusion reached, or not; it would
be difficult to find any treatise on Moral Science more calculated
to stimulate thought, and lift it out of infantile imitation of some
prescribed pattern. The believer in the Kantian, or any other, basis of
Ethics, could hardly measure the strength or the weakness of his own
position more surely than by comparing it with the Schopenhauerian;
while he who is yet in search of a foundation will find much in the
following pages to claim his attention.

Those acquainted with the luminous imagery, the subtle irony, the
brusque and penetrating vigour of the German, will doubtless admit that
it is no easy task to reduce Schopenhauer to adequate English prose;
and if this has been attempted by the present writer, no one can be
more conscious than he of the manifold shortcomings discoverable. But
such as it is, the work is heartily offered to all who still follow the
true student's rule, "Gladig wolde he lerne und gladig teche," with
the single hope that it may help, however slightly, to widen their
knowledge, and ripen their judgment.

My friend, R. E. Candy, Esq., I.C.S., has kindly given me information
concerning several Indian names.

ROME: _June_, 1902.


 Ὃν δὲ θεοὶ τιμῶσιν, ὁ καὶ μωμεύμενος αἰνεῑ.
                                 --Theognis: 169.

In 1837 the Danish Royal Society of Sciences propounded, as subject
for a prize competition, the question with which this treatise opens;
and Schopenhauer, who was glad to seize the opportunity of becoming
better known, prepared, and sent to Copenhagen, the earliest form of
"The Basis of Morality." In January, 1840, the work was pronounced
unsuccessful, though there was no other candidate. In September of the
same year it was published by the author, with only a few unimportant
additions, but preceded by a long introduction, which, cast in the form
of an exceedingly caustic philippic, is, in its way, a masterpiece. In
1860, (only a month before Schopenhauer's death,) the second edition
was printed with many enlargements and insertions, the short preface,
dated August being one of the last things he wrote.[1]

The reason why the prize was withheld is not far to seek, and need not
detain us. At that time the philosophical atmosphere was saturated with
Hegel, and, to a certain extent, with Fichte; hence it is easy to
imagine with what ruffled, not to say, scandalised feelings the Academy
must have risen from its perusal of the work. Moreover, putting Hegel
and Fichte out of the question, the position advanced was in 1840 so
new, indeed so paradoxical (as Schopenhauer himself admits); there is
at times such an aggressiveness in the style; the whole essay is so
much more calculated to startle than to conciliate; that we cannot feel
much surprise at the official decision.

In the Judgment published by the Society three reasons are given for
its unfavourable attitude. The second is declared to be not only
dissatisfaction with the mode of discussion (_ipsa disserendi forma_),
but also inability to see that Schopenhauer proves his case. As the
third is alleged the "unseemly" language employed in connection with
certain "_summi philosophi_" (Hegel and Fichte). These two objections
are of course in themselves perfectly legitimate, and how far the
Academy was right or wrong may be left for the reader to determine.

But the first reason stated is of a different kind, and affords as neat
an instance of self-stultification proceeding _ex cathedra_ as can well
be found. It is true that the question is worded vaguely enough, but
if it means anything, it asks where the "_philosophiae moralis fons
et fundamentum_"--the foundation of moral science--is to be sought
for, _i.e._, where it is to be found. Turning to the Judgment we read:
"He" (Schopenhauer) "has omitted to deal with the essential part of
the question, apparently thinking that he was required to establish
some fundamental principle of Ethics": which he was required to do,
unless the Society's Latin is borrowed from _Νεϕαλοκοκκυγία._ And then
it goes on to declare that he treated as secondary, indeed as an _opus
supererogationis,_ the very thing which the Academy intended should
occupy the first place, namely, the connection between Metaphysics
and Ethics.[2] But the "_metaphysicae et ethicae nexus_," so far from
being formulated in the question as the chief point to be considered,
is not even mentioned! The Society thus denies having asked what it
actually did ask, while the discussion, which it asserts was specially
indicated, is not suggested by a single word. Its embarrassment is
sufficiently shown by this unworthy shifting, to enlarge upon which
would here be out of place.[3]

It is not intended to offer any criticism either on Schopenhauer's main
position in this essay, or on the various side-issues involved. The
reader is supposed to be accurately acquainted with the fundamentals of
his philosophy, as contained in _Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_,
and is invited to be the critic himself. But perhaps a few remarks on
the structure and general trend of the work may not be amiss.

After preliminary considerations, partly to show the difficulty of the
subject, partly to clear the ground (Part I.), the treatise opens with
a searching critique of Kant's Ethical Basis, of the Leading Principle
of his system, and of its derived forms. (Part II., Chapters I.-VI.)[4]
Schopenhauer's conclusion is that the Categorical Imperative is a very
cleverly woven web, yet in reality nothing but the old theological
basis in disguise, the latter being the indispensable, if invisible,
clothes' peg for the former; and that Kant's _tour de main_ of deducing
his Moral Theology from Ethics is like inverting a pyramid. The theory
of Conscience is next discussed (Chapter VII.). The half-supernatural
element which Kant introduced under the highly dramatic form of a court
of justice holding secret session in the breast, is examined, and
eliminated; and Conscience is defined as the knowledge that we have of
ourselves through our acts.

But if, so far, the result obtained is distinctly unfavourable to
Kant, Schopenhauer is glad to agree with him on one point, namely, the
theory of Freedom, to a brief notice of which he now passes (Chapter
VIII.). He points out that the solution of this question is found in
the doctrine of the co-existence of Liberty and Necessity: according to
which the basis of our nature, the so-called Intelligible Character,
that lies outside the forms attaching to phaenomena, namely, Time,
Space, and Causality, is transcendentally free; while the Empirical
Character, together with the whole person, being, as a phaenomenon,
the transient objectivation of the Intelligible Character, under the
laws of the _principium individuationis_, is strictly determined.[5]
Part II. closes with a sufficiently amusing examination of Fichte
(Chapter IX.). His proper function is shown to be that of a magnifying
glass for Kant. By means of this powerful human lens we can see the
monstrous shapes into which the Kantian pet creations are capable of
developing. Thus we find the Categorical Imperative become a Despotic
Imperative, the "Absolute Ought" grown into a fathomless inscrutable
_Εἱμαρμένη_, etc.

With Part III. we reach the positive part of the work. Schopenhauer
begins (Chapter I.) by emphasising the necessity of finding a basis
for Ethics that appeals, not to the intellect, but to the intuitive
perception. Such (he says) can never be any artificial formula, which
surely crumbles to powder beneath the rough touch of real life;
rather must it be something springing out of the heart of things, and
therefore lying at the root of man's nature. But is there, he asks
(Chapter II.), after all, such a thing as natural morality? Is anything
good ever done absolutely without an egoistic motive? The conclusion
arrived at is that, although much may be, and has been, at all times,
said in favour of the Sceptical View, and although this view is in
fact true as regards the greater number of apparently unselfish
acts, yet there can be no doubt that truly moral conduct does occur,
that deeds of justice and loving-kindness are occasionally performed
without the smallest hope of reward, or fear of punishment involved
in their omission. The last paragraph of chis chapter is important
because it puts in the clearest light what, according to Schopenhauer,
is the end of Ethics. Its aim, he says, is =not= to treat of that
which people =ought to do= (for "ought" has no place except in
theological Morals, whether explicit, or implicit); but "to point out
all the varied moral lines of human conduct; to explain them; and to
trace them to their ultimate source." This definition, which assigns no
educative function to Ethics, strictly agrees with the doctrine of the
unchangeableness of character. (_V_. Chapter IX. of this Part.)

Our philosopher then proceeds to show (Chapter III.) that there are two
fundamental "antimoral" incentives in man's nature: Egoism and Malice.
Be it, however, here remarked that a still simpler classification would
reduce these two to one. Malice may well be regarded as nothing but
Egoism carried to its extreme, developed to gigantic proportions. It is
a distinct source of gratification to certain natures to witness the
suffering of another; because a diminution of the latter's capacity
for action, whether effected by itself, or not, is regarded by an ego
of this kind as an increase of its own power to do as it likes,--as an
enhancement of its own glorification.

In Chapter IV. the ultimate test of truly moral conduct is explained to
be the absence of all egoistic motivation; and in Chapters V.-VII.,
by a process of careful reasoning, every human act is traced to one
of three original springs, namely, (1) Egoism, (2) Malice, and (3)
Compassion; or to a combination of (1) and (3), or (1) and (2).[6] Of
these the third is shown to be the only counter-motive to the first
and second, and in fact the sole source of the two cardinal virtues,
justice and loving-kindness, which are explained as the manifestation
of Compassion in a lower, and a higher, degree, respectively. In
the course of the demonstration the question as to how far a lie is
legitimate comes incidentally under discussion; as also the theory of
Duty; duties being defined as "actions, the simple omission of which
constitutes a wrong." (Cf. Part II., Chapter III.)

The position now reached, namely, that Compassion is the one and only
fount of true morality, because it is the sole non-egoistic source of
action, is (says Schopenhauer) a strange paradox; hence the testimony
of experience and of universal human sentiment is appealed to, in
confirmation of it, under nine different considerations (Chapter
VIII.). They are as follows:--

(1) An imaginary case.

(2) Cruelty, which means the maximum deficiency in Compassion, is the
mark of the deepest moral depravity. Therefore the real moral incentive
must be Compassion.

(3) Compassion is the only thoroughly effective spring of moral conduct.

(4) Limitless Compassion for all living things is the surest and most
certain token of a really good man.

(5) The evidence of separate matters of detail.

(6) Compassion is more easily discerned in its higher power; it is more
obviously the root of loving-kindness than of justice.

(7) Compassion does not stop short with men; it includes all living

(8) Considered simply from the empirical point of view, Compassion is
the best possible antidote to Egoism, no less than the most soothing
balsam for the world's inevitable suffering.

(9) Rousseau's testimony is quoted, as well as passages from the
Paṅća-tantra, Pausanias, Lucian, Stobaeus, and Lessing; and reference
is made to Chinese Ethics and Hindu customs.

Part III. closes (Chapter IX.) with an inquiry into the Ethical
Difference of Character. The theory that this difference is innate
and immutable is supported by numerous extracts from various writers
of all periods, and illustrated in many ways. But all the evidence
accumulated hardly amounts to more than so many hints and indications,
and the matter (says Schopenhauer) was only satisfactorily explained
by Kant's doctrine of the Intelligible and Empirical Character. (Cf.
Part II., Chapter VIII.) According to this, the ethical difference
between man and man is an original and ultimate datum, caused by
the transcendentally free act of the Intelligible Character, that
is, the Will, as Thing in itself, outside phaenomena; the Empirical
Character being, so to say, the reflection of the Intelligible,
mirrored through the functions of our perceptive faculty, namely,
Time, Space, and Causality. Hence the former, while manifested in
plurality and difference of acts, yet necessarily always wears the same
unchangeable features, inasmuch as it is but the appearance-form of
the unity behind. If the reader asks why "the essential constitution
of the Thing in itself underlying the phaenomenon" is so enormously
different in different individuals, it can only be said that our
intellect, conditioned, as it is, by the laws of Causality, Space, and
Time, has no power to deal with noumena, its range being limited to
phaenomena; and that therefore this question is one of those which have
no conceivable answer. (Cf. _Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_, vol.
ii., chap. 50., Epiphilosophie.)[7]

The discussion now terminated points to the conclusion that
nine-tenths, or perhaps nineteen-twentieths, of what we do is, more
or less, due to Egoism, conscious or unconscious; while acts of real
morality, that is, of unselfish justice and pure loving-kindness
(admitting that they occur) are to be attributed to Compassion, that
is, the sense of =suffering with= another. Nor is the principle of
Altruism new. It is as old as man himself. All the rare and sensitive
natures in the world have given utterance to it, each in his own way.
Like a golden thread it runs from the earliest Indian literature to
George Eliot, to Tolstoï; and every day, for unnumbered ages, "from
youth to eld, from sire to son," in lowly dwellings and in princes'
palaces, it has been unawares translated into action.

And if we may forecast the future from the past, it would appear that
in all the stormy seas yet to be traversed by the human race, before
its little day is spent, Compassion will ever be the surest guide to
better things; and that the light of knowledge illuminating the path,
whereby the world may become relatively happier, will always vary
directly as man's susceptibility to its promptings: for "=Durch
Mitleid wissend=" is not truer of Parsifal than of all other

In the fourth Part of the treatise Schopenhauer attempts the
metaphysical explanation of Compassion, which for those, who still
think that Metaphysics is something more than a pseudo-science of the
past--like Alchemy or Astrology--will have special interest.

It should be observed (as is pointed out in our author's Preface
to the first edition) that the line of thought followed does not
belong to any particular metaphysical school, but to many; being in
fact a principle at the root of the oldest systems in the world, and
traceable in one form or another down to Kant. As in the dawn of
history it was our own Aryan forefathers, who divined with subtle
intuition the ideality of Time and Space; so in the fulness of the
ages it was reserved for another Aryan of Scotch descent to formulate
the same in exact language. Now, by the vast majority of men the
ideality of the _principium individuationis_ is undoubtedly either
not consciously realised at all, or else but dimly perceived under
the form of allegories and mythologies. Yet, if this theory be true,
if individuation be only a phaenomenon depending on the subjectivity
of Time and Space, then Compassion, and its external expression, the
_ἀγάπη_ that is greater than Faith and Hope, receive their final
explanation. And every _εὐθανασία_; every word that vibrates in
harmony with the inspired rhapsody of 1 Corinthians xiii.; every act
of genuine justice, or of true loving-kindness, done by man to man, as
well as the uplifting emotion which stirs our hearts at the sight of
such conduct:--all these things become fraught with a new and luminous
significance: the secret writing is interpreted, its deepest meaning

Moreover, the "thou shalt," and the "thou shalt not," no less of the
various theologies than of the Categorical Imperative, may from this
point of view be accounted for, on the ground of the =identity=
of man, so far as he is =noumenal=, with the transcendental
Reality behind phaenomena. The crude threats of punishment and promises
of reward, the stern Moral Law, poised in mid air,--these hypotheses,
and all their varieties (whose function is in reality nothing
else but to check Egoism), are seen to be due to the intellect's
imperfect comprehension of, or rather, its vague groping after, the
transcendental unity of life, however individualised and differentiated
as a phaenomenon in Time and Space.[8] It thus becomes apparent
that the position developed by Schopenhauer in the third and fourth
parts of the Essay is not so much destructive, as explanatory, of
the usual theories, which, if once the former be fully grasped, lose
themselves in it as stars and moon in the light of day. They are at
once interpreted, and shown to be no longer of importance. Similarly,
all the religions of the world, "which are the Metaphysics of the
people," find their _raison d'être_ in the same doctrine. The theory
of an =external= _δημιουργὸς_ takes its place as the natural mode
of denoting, in children's language, the =internal= metaphysical
Entity, whose appearance-form, in terms of our consciousness, is
called the Universe. The circle is completed; the discords vanish,
and an ultimate harmony is reached. And so over the thrice-tangled
skein of phaenominal existence a simplifying and integrating light
is shed, showing that the _πᾱν_ is but the reflection of the _ἕν_,
under the forms of our faculty of perception, namely, Time, Space, and
Causality--forms, which necessarily imply plurality and change, on
which, again, in the last resort the _Welt-Schmerz_ depends.

    "The One remains, the many change and pass;
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
       Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
       Until Death tramples it to fragments."

"What an unspeakable gain," says Richard Wagner,[9] "we should bring
to those who are terrified by the threats of the Church, and, on the
other hand, to those who are reduced to despair by our physicists, if
we could quicken the noble edifice of 'Love, Faith, and Hope,' with a
clear consciousness of the ideality of the world, conditioned by the
laws of Space and Time, which form the sole basis of our perceptive
capacity! In that case all anxious inquiries as to a 'Where' and 'When'
of the 'other world' would be understood to be only answerable by a
blissful smile. For, if there is a solution to these questions, which
seem of such boundless importance, our philosopher has given it with
incomparable precision and beauty in the following sentence, which, to
a certain extent, is only a corollary to the definition of the ideality
of Time and Space: 'Peace, Rest, and Bliss dwell only there where there
is =no where, and no when=.'" (_V_. Schopenhauer: _Parerga and
Paralipomena,_ vol. ii., chap. 3, § 30 bis.)

[1] He died September 21st.

[2] It should be noticed that this "essential part of the question," a
few lines before, is said to have been passed over altogether (_omisso
enim eo, quod potissimum postulabatur_).

[3] Any one who cares to see how this Judgment, the Danish Royal
Society of Sciences, Hegel, Fichte, and "Professors of Philosophy" in
general, are all pulverised together under our sage's withering wrath
and trenchant irony, should read his Introduction to each Edition.

[4] Incidentally (Chapter III.), duties towards ourselves, properly
so called, are shown to be non-existent from the Schopenhauerian
standpoint. Cf. the definition of Duty in Part III., Chapter VI.

[5] Schopenhauer treated this subject exhaustively in his Essay on
"The Freedom of the Will," which, written immediately before, and more
fortunate than, the present treatise, was awarded the prize by the
Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in January, 1839.

[6] If, as above suggested, Malice be taken as a form of Egoism, we may
simplify as follows:--

Egoism. Compassion. (_a_) Lower power: seen in (_a_) Lower power: seen
in selfishness, covetousness, etc. justice. (_b_) Higher power: seen in
(_d_) Higher power: seen in malice, cruelty, etc. loving-kindness.

Egoism (not in its higher power) may be simultaneously operative with
Compassion in every possible proportion.

[7] _V_. Also the _Neue Paralipomena_, chap. vii.; _Zur Ethik,_ §
248, where Schopenhauer calls this "the hardest of all problems." On
the one hand, we have the metaphysical unity of the Will, as Thing in
itself, which, as the Intelligible Character, is present, whole and
undivided, in all phaenomena, in every individual; on the other hand,
we find, as a fact of experience, the widest possible difference in the
Empirical Character, no less of animals than of men. That is to say,
"_difference_" must be predicated of the Thing in itself! It is obvious
that we here touch a contradiction, which, for the rest, lies at the
root of the Schopenhauerian doctrine of the Will.

[8] The reader will remember the fine poetic presentment of this view
of things, which Goethe with intuitive perception gives in the Faust,
Part I., where the Erdgeist says:

"_So schaff' ich am sausenden_ WEBSTUHL DER ZEIT, _Und wirke_ DER

[9] V. _Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen_ von Richard Wagner. Zweite
Auflage, vol. x. "Was nützt diese Erkenntnis?" p. 361:--_Welchen
unsäglichen Gewinn würden wir aber den einerseits von den Drohungen
der Kirche Erschreckten, andererseits den durch unsere Physiker zur
Verzweiflung Gebrachten zuführen, wenn wir dein erhabenen Gebäude von
"Liebe, Glaube und Hoffnung" eine deutliche Erkenntnis der, durch die
unserer Wahrnehmung einzig zu Grunde liegenden Gesetze des Raumes
und der Zeit bedingten, Idealität der Welt einfügen könnten, durch
welche dann alle die Fragen des beängstigten Gemüthes nach einem
"Wo" und "Wann" der "anderen Welt" als nur durch ein seliges Lächeln
beantwortbar erkannt werden müssten? Denn, giebt es auf diese, so
grenzenlos wichtig dünkenden Fragen eine Antwort, so hat sie unser
Philosoph, mit unübertrefflicher Präzision und Schönheit, mit diesem,
gewissermaassen nur der Definition der Idealität von Zeit und Raum
beigegebenen Ausspruche ertheilt: "Frieda, Ruhe, und Glückseligkeit
wohnt allein da, wo es_ KEIN WO UND KEIN WANN _giebt."_


The question advanced by the Royal Society, together with the
considerations leading up to it, is as follows:--

_Quum primitiva,', moralitatis idea, sive de summa lege morali
principalis notio, sua quadam 'propria eaque minime logica necessitate,
turn in ea disciplina appareat, cui propositum est cognitionem_ τοῡ
ἠθικοῡ _explicare, turn in vita, partim in conscientiae judicio de
nostris actionibus, partim in censura morali de actionibus aliorum
hominum; quumque complures, quae ab illa ider inseparables sunt,
eamque tanquam originem respiciunt, notiones principales ad_ τὸ ἠθικόν
_spectantes, velut officii notio et imputationis, eadem necessitate
eodemque ambitu vim suam exserant,--et tamen inter eos cursus viasque,
quas nostrae aetatis meditatio philosophica persequitur, magni momenti
esse videatur, hoc argumentum ad disputationem revocare,--cupit
Societas, ut accurate haec quaestio perpendatur et pertractetur:_

_=Philosophiae moralis fons et fundamentum= utrum in idea
moralitatis, quae immediate conscientia contineatur, et ceteris
notionibus fundamentalibus, quae ex illa prodeant, explicandis
=quaerenda sunt=, an in alio cognoscendi principio?_

(The original idea of morality, or the leading conception of the
supreme moral law, occurs by a necessity which seems peculiar to the
subject, but which is by no means a logical one, both in that science,
whose object it is to set forth the knowledge of what is moral, and
also in real life, where it shows itself partly in the judgment passed
by conscience on our own actions, partly in our moral estimation of the
actions of others; moreover, most of the chief conceptions in Ethics,
springing as they do out of that idea, and inseparable from it (as,
for instance, the conception of duty, and the ascription of praise
or blame) assert themselves with the same necessity, and under the
same conditions. In view of these facts and because it appears highly
desirable, considering the trend of philosophic investigation in our
time, to submit this matter to further scrutiny; the Society desires
that the following question be carefully considered and discussed:--

=Is the fountain and basis of Morals to be sought for= in an idea
of morality which lies directly in the consciousness (or conscience),
and in the analysis of the other leading ethical conceptions which
arise from it? or is it to be found an some other source of knowledge?)





"Why do philosophers differ so widely as to the first principles of
Morals, but agree respecting the conclusions and duties which they
deduce from those principles?"

This is the question which was set as subject for a prize essay by
the Royal Society of Holland at Harlem, 1810, and solved by J.C.F.
Meister; and in comparison with the task before us, the inquiry
presented no extraordinary difficulty. For:--

(1) The present question of the Royal Society has to do with nothing
less important than the objectively true basis of morals, and
consequently of morality. It is an Academy, be it observed, which
invites this inquiry; and hence, from its position, it has no practical
purpose in view; it asks for no discourse inculcating the exercise of
uprightness and virtue, with arguments based on evidence, of which
the plausibility is dwelt on, and the sophistry evaded, as is done
in popular manuals. Rather, as its aim is not practical, but only
theoretical, it desires nothing but the purely philosophical, that
is, the objective, undisguised, and naked exposition of the ultimate
basis of all good moral conduct, independent of every positive law, of
every improved assumption, and hence free from all groundwork, whether
metaphysical or mythical. This, however, is a problem whose bristling
difficulties are attested by the circumstance that all philosophers in
every age and land have blunted their wits on it, and still more by
the fact that all gods, oriental and occidental, actually derive their
existence therefrom. Should therefore this opportunity serve to solve
it, assuredly the Royal Society will not have expended its money amiss.

(2) Apart from this, a peculiar disadvantage will be found to attach
to any theoretical examination of the basis of morals, because such
an investigation is suspiciously like an attempt to undermine, and
occasion the collapse of, the structure itself. The fact is, that in
this matter we are apt to so closely associate practical aims with
theory, that the well-meant zeal of the former is with difficulty
restrained from ill-timed intervention. Nor is it within the power
of every one to clearly dissociate the purely theoretical search for
objective truth, purged of all interest, even of that of morality as
practised, from a shameless attack on the heart's sacred convictions.
Therefore he, who here puts his hand to the plough, must, for his
encouragement, ever bear in mind that from the doings and affairs of
the populace, from the turmoil and bustle of the market-place, nothing
is further removed than the quiet retreat and sanctuary of the Academy,
where no noise of the world may enter, and where the only god raised on
a pedestal is Truth, in solitary, naked sublimity.

The conclusion from these two premises is that I must be allowed
complete freedom of speech, as well as the right of questioning
everything; and furthermore, that if I succeed in really contributing
something, however small, to this subject, then that contribution will
be of no little importance.

But there are still other difficulties obstructing my path. The
Royal Society asks for a short monograph setting forth the basis of
Ethics entirely by itself; which means to say, independent of its
connection with the general system, _i.e._, the actual metaphysics of
any philosophy. Such a demand must not only render the accomplishment
of the task more difficult, but necessarily make it imperfect. Long
ago Christian Wolff, in his _Philosophia Practica_ (P. II., § 28)
observed: "_Tenebrae in philosophia practica non dispelluntur, nisi
luce metaphysica effulgente_" (Darkness in practical philosophy is
only dispersed, when the light of metaphysics shines on it;) and Kant
in the Preface to his _Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten_ remarks:
"Metaphysics must precede, and is in every case indispensable to,
moral philosophy." For, just as every religion on earth, so far as
it prescribes morality, does not leave the latter to rest on itself,
but backs it by a body of dogmas (the chief end of which is precisely
to be the prop of the moral sense); so with philosophy, the ethical
basis, whatever it be, must itself attach to, and find its support in,
one system of metaphysics or another, that is to say, in a presupposed
explanation of the world, and of existence in general. This is so,
because the ultimate and true conclusion concerning the essential
nature of the Universe must necessarily be closely connected with that
touching the ethical significance of human action; and because, in any
case, that which is presented as the foundation of morality, if it is
not to be merely an abstract formula, floating in the clouds, and out
of contact with the real world, must be some fact or other discoverable
either in the objective kosmos, or else in man's consciousness; but,
as such, it can itself be only a phaenomenon; and consequently, like
all other phaenomena, it requires a further explanation; and this
explanation is supplied by Metaphysics. Philosophy indeed is such a
connected whole that it is impossible to exhaustively discuss any one
part without all the others being involved. Thus Plato says quite
correctly: _ψυχῆs oὗν ϕύσιν ἀξίως λόγου κατανοῆσαι oἴει δυνατὸν εἷναι,
ἄνευ τῆς τοῡ ὅλον ϕυσεως_; (Phaedr., p. 371, Ed. Bip.) (Do you think
then it is possible to understand at all adequately the nature of
the soul, without at the same time understanding the nature of the
Whole, _i.e._, the totality of things?) The metaphysics of nature, the
metaphysics of morals, and the metaphysics of the beautiful mutually
presuppose each other, and only when taken as connected together do
they complete the explanation of things as they really are, and of
existence in general. So that whoever should exactly trace one of
these three to its ultimate origin, would be found to have necessarily
brought the others into his solution of the problem; just as an
absolutely clear and exhaustive understanding of any single thing in
the world would imply a perfect comprehension of everything else.

Now if we were to start from a given system of metaphysics, which is
assumed to be true, we should reach synthetically a basis of morals,
and this basis, being, so to say, built up from below, would provide
the resulting ethical structure with a sure foundation. But in the
present case, since the terms of the question enforce the separation
of ethics from all metaphysics, there remains nothing but the analytic
method, which proceeds from facts either of external experience, or of
consciousness. It is true that thus the ultimate origin of the latter
may be traced back to the human spirit, a source which then, however,
must be taken as a fundamental fact, a primary phaenomenon, underivable
from anything else, with the result that the whole explanation remains
simply a psychological one. At best its connection with any general
metaphysical standpoint can only be described as accessory. On the
other hand, the fundamental datum, the primary phaenomenon of Ethics,
so found in man's nature, could itself in its turn be accounted for
and explained, if we might first treat of metaphysics, and then by
the synthetic method deduce Ethics from it. This would mean, however,
nothing less than the construction of a complete system, of philosophy,
whereby the limits of the given question would be far exceeded. I
am, therefore, compelled to answer it within the lines which its own
isolated narrowness has laid down.

And lastly, there is the following consideration. The basis on which
it is here intended to place Ethics will prove to be a very small
one; and the consequence is that of the many lawful, approvable, and
praiseworthy actions of mankind, only the minority will be found to
spring from purely moral motives, while the majority will have to be
attributed to other sources. This gives less satisfaction, has not such
a specious glitter as, let us say, a Categorical Imperative, which
always stands ready for commands, only that itself in its turn may
command what ought to be done, and what ought to be left undone;[1] not
to mention other foundations that are entirely material.

I can only, therefore, remind the reader of the saying in Ecclesiastes
(iv. 6): "Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full
with travail and vexation of spirit." In all knowledge the genuine,
proof-resisting, indestructible coefficient is never large; just as in
the earth's metallic strata a hundredweight of stone hides but a few
ounces of gold. But whether others will prefer--as I do--the assured
to the bulky possession, the small quantity of gold which remains in
the crucible to the big lump of matter that was brought along with
it; or whether I shall rather be charged with having removed from
Ethics its basis, instead of providing one, in so far as I prove that
the lawful and commendable actions of mankind often do not contain a
particle of pure moral worth, and in most cases only a very little,
resting, as they do, otherwise on motives, the sufficiency of which
must ultimately be referred to the egoism of the doer; all this I must
leave undecided; and I do so, not without anxiety, nay, rather with
resignation, because I have long since been of the same mind as Johann
Georg von Zimmermann, when he said: "Rest assured until your dying day,
that nothing in the world is so rare as a good judge." (_Ueber die
Einsamkeit_; Pt. I., Ch. iii., p. 93.)

For all true and voluntary righteousness, for all loving-kindness, for
all nobleness, wherever these qualities may be found, my theory can
only point to a very small foundation; whereas my opponents confidently
construct broad bases for Morals, which are made strong enough for
every possible burden, and are at the same time thrust upon every
doubter's conscience, accompanied with a threatening side-glance at his
own morality. As contrasted with these, my own position is indeed in
sore and sorry plight. It is like that of Cordelia before King Lear,
with her weakly worded assurance of dutiful affection, compared with
the effusive protestations of her more eloquent sisters. So that there
seems to be need of a cordial that may be furnished by some maxim taken
from intellectual hunting grounds, such as, _Magna est vis veritatis,
et praevalebit_. (Great is the strength of truth, and it will prevail.)
But to a man who has lived and laboured even this fails to give much
encouragement. Meanwhile, I will for once make the venture with truth
on my side; and what opposes me will at the same time oppose truth.

[1] That is, the Categorical Imperative appears at first as your
"obedient humble servant," ready to perform any useful service, _e.g._,
the solving of ethical riddles; while it ends by gaining the upper
hand, and commanding.--(_Translator_.)



For the people morality comes through, and is founded on, theology, as
the express will of God. On the other hand, we see philosophers, with
few exceptions, taking special pains to entirely exclude this kind of
foundation; indeed, so they may but avoid it, they prefer even to find
a refuge in sophistry. Whence comes this antithesis? Assuredly no more
efficient basis for Ethics can be imagined than the theological; for
who would be so bold as to oppose the will of the Almighty and the
Omniscient? Unquestionably, no one; if only this will were proclaimed
in an authentic, official manner (if one may say so), whereby no
possible room for doubt could be left. This, however, is precisely the
condition which does not admit of being realised. It is rather the
inverse process which is attempted. The law declared to be the will of
God men try to accredit as such, by demonstrating its agreement with
our own independent, and hence, natural moral views, and an appeal
is consequently made to these as being more direct and certain. But
this is not all. We perceive that an action performed solely through
threat of punishment and promise of reward would be moral much more
in appearance than in reality; since, after all, it would have its
root in Egoism, and in the last resort the scale would be turned by
the greater or less amount of credulity evinced in each case. Now it
was none other than Kant who destroyed the foundations of Speculative
Theology, which up to his time were accounted unshakable. Speculative
Theology had hitherto sustained Ethics, and in order to procure for the
former an existence of some sort, if only an imaginary one, his wish
was to proceed inversely, and make Ethics sustain Speculative Theology.
So that it is now more than ever impossible to think of basing Ethics
on Theology; for no one knows any longer which of the two is to be the
supporter, and which the supported, and the consequence is a _circulus

It is precisely through the influence of Kant's philosophy; through the
contemporaneous effect of the unparalleled progress made in all the
natural sciences, with regard to which every past age in comparison
with our own appears childish; and lastly, through the knowledge of
Sanskrit literature, and of those most ancient and widest spread
faiths, Brahmanism and Buddhism, which, as far as time and space go,
are the most important religions systems of mankind, and, as a matter
of fact, are the original native religions of our own race, now well
known to be of Asiatic descent--our race, to which in its new strange
home they once more send a message across the centuries;--it is because
of all this, I say, that the fundamental philosophical convictions of
learned Europe have in the course of the last fifty years undergone a
revolution, which perhaps many only reluctantly admit, but which cannot
be denied. The result of this change is that the old supports of Ethics
have been shown to be rotten, while the assurance remains that Ethics
itself can never collapse; whence the conviction arises that for it
there must exist a groundwork different from any hitherto provided,
and adaptable to the advanced views of the age. The need of such is
making itself felt more and more, and in it we undoubtedly find the
reason that has induced the Royal Society to make the present important
question the subject of a prize essay.

In every age much good morality has been preached; but the explanation
of its _raison d'être_ has always been encompassed with difficulties.
On the whole we discern an endeavour to get at some objective truth,
from which the ethical injunctions could-be logically deduced; and
it has been sought for both in the nature of things, and in the
nature of man; but in vain. The result was always the same. The will
of each human unit was found to gravitate solely towards its own
individual welfare, the idea of which in its entirety is designated
by the term "blissfulness" (_Glückseligkeit_); and this striving
after self-satisfaction leads mankind by a path very, different to
the one morality would fain point out. The endeavour was next made
now to identify "blissfulness" with virtue, now to represent it as
virtue's consequence and effect. Both attempts have always failed; and
this for no want of sophistry. Then recourse was had to artificial
formulas, purely objective and abstract, as well _a posteriori_ as
_a priori_, from which correct ethical conduct undoubtedly admitted
of being deduced. But there was nothing found in man's nature to
afford these a footing, whereby they might have availed to guide the
strivings of his volition, in face of its egoistic tendency. It appears
to me superfluous to verify all this by describing and criticising
every hitherto existing foundation of morality; not only because I
share Augustine's opinion, _non est pro magno habendum quid homines
senserint, sed quae sit rei veritas_ (It is the truth about a thing,
not men's opinions thereon, that is of importance); but also because it
would be like _γλαύκας εἰς 'Aθήνας κομίζειν_ (_i.e._, carrying coals to
Newcastle); for previous attempts to give a foundation to Ethics are
sufficiently well-known to the Royal Society, and the very question
proposed shows that it is also convinced of their inadequateness.
Any reader less well-informed will find a careful, if not complete,
presentment of the attempts hitherto made, in Garve's _Uebersicht der
vornehmsten Principien der Sittenlehre_, and again, in Stäudlin's
_Geschichte der Moralphilosophie._ It is of course very disheartening
to reflect that Ethics, which so directly concerns life, has met with
the same unhappy fate as the abstruse science of Metaphysics, and that
its first principle, though perpetually sought for ever since the time
of Socrates, has still to be found. Moreover, we must remember that
in Ethics, much more than in any other science, what is essential
is contained in its fundamental propositions; the deductions are so
simple that they come of themselves. For all are capable of drawing
a conclusion, but few of judging. And this is exactly the reason why
lengthy text-books and dissertations on Morals are as superfluous as
they are tedious. Meantime, if I may postulate an acquaintance with all
the former foundations of Ethics, my task will be lightened. Whoever
observes how ancient as well as modern philosophers (the Church creed
sufficed for the middle ages) have had recourse to the most diverse
and extraordinary arguments, in order to provide for the generally
recognised requirements of morality a basis capable of proof, and how
notwithstanding they admittedly failed; he will be able to measure the
difficulty of the problem, and estimate my contribution accordingly.
And he who has learned to know that none of the roads hitherto struck
on lead to the goal, will be the more willing to tread with me a very
different path from these--a path which up to now either has not been
noticed, or else has been passed over with contempt; perhaps because
it was the most natural one.[1] As a matter of fact my solution of the
question will remind many of Columbus' egg.

It is solely to the latest attempt at giving, a basis to Ethics--I mean
the Kantian--that a critical examination will be devoted. I shall make
it all the more exhaustive, partly because the great ethical reform of
Kant gave to this science a foundation having a real superiority to
previous ones and partly because it still remains the last important
pronouncement in this domain; for which reason it has obtained general
acceptance up to the present day, and is universally taught, although
differently garnished by certain changes in the demonstration and in
the terminology. It is the ethical system of the last sixty years,
which must be removed ere we enter on another path. Furthermore, my
criticism of the Kantian basis will give me occasion to examine and
discuss most of the fundamental conceptions of Ethics, and the outcome
of this investigation I shall later on be able to postulate. Besides,
inasmuch as opposites illustrate each other, it is exactly this course
which will be the best preparation and guide, indeed the direct way, to
my own position, which in its essential points is diametrically opposed
to Kant's. It would therefore be a very perverse beginning to skip
the following criticism, and turn at once to the positive part of my
exposition, which then would remain only half intelligible.

In any case the time has assuredly arrived for once to cite Ethics
before the bar of a searching scrutiny. During more than half a century
it has been lying comfortably on the restful cushion which Kant
arranged for it--the cushion of the Categorical Imperative of Practical
Reason. In our day this Imperative is mostly introduced to us under
a name which, being smoother and less ostentatious, has obtained more
currency. It is called "the Moral Law"; and thus entitled, with a
passing bow to reason and experience, it slips through unobserved into
the house. Once inside, there is no end to its orders and commands; nor
can it ever afterwards be brought to account. It was proper, indeed
inevitable, that Kant, as the inventor of the thing, should remain
satisfied with his creation, particularly as he shelved by its means
errors still more glaring. But to be obliged to look on and see asses
disporting themselves on the comfortable cushion which he prepared, and
which since his time has been more and more trampled on and flattened
out--this truly is hard. I allude to the daily hackney compilers, who,
with the ready confidence born of stupidity, imagine that they have
given a foundation to Ethics, if they do but appeal to that "Moral
Law" which Is alleged to be inherent in our reason; and then they
complacently weave upon this such a confused and wide-reaching tissue
of phrases that they succeed in rendering unintelligible the clearest
and simplest relations of life: and all this, without ever once
seriously asking themselves whether in point of fact there really does
exist such a "Moral Law," as a convenient code of morality, graven in
our heads or hearts.

Hence I admit the especial pleasure I feel in proceeding to remove
from Ethics its broad cushion of repose, and I unreservedly
declare my intention of proving that Kant's Practical Reason and
Categorical Imperative are completely unwarrantable, baseless,
and fabricated assumptions; and I shall further show that Kant's
whole system, like those of his predecessors, is in want of a solid
foundation. Consequently Ethics will again be consigned to its
former entirely helpless condition, there to remain, until I come to
demonstrate the true moral principle of human nature--a principle
which is incontestably efficient, and has its root in our very
being. The latter, however, has no such broad basis to offer as the
above-mentioned cushion; so that, doubtless, those who are accustomed
to take things easily, will not abandon their comfortable old seat,
before they are thoroughly aware how deeply the ground on which it
stands is undermined.


_Io dir non vi saprei per qual sventura,_
   _O piuttosto per qual fatalità,_
_Da noi credito ottien più l'impostura,_
   _Che la semplice e nuda verità._

[I cannot tell what mischief sly,
   Or rather what fatality,
Leads man to credit more the lie
   Than truth in naked purity.] (_Translator_)





It is Kant's great service to moral science that he purified it of all
Eudaemonism. With the ancients, Ethics was a doctrine of Eudaemonism;
with the moderns for the most part it has been a doctrine of salvation.
The former wished to prove that virtue and happiness are identical;
but this was like having two figures which never coincide with each
other, no matter how they may be placed. The latter have endeavoured
to connect the two, not by the principle of identity, but by that of
causation, thus making happiness the result of virtue; but to do this,
they were obliged to have recourse to sophisms, or else to assume the
existence of a world beyond any possible perception of the senses.

Among the ancients Plato alone forms an exception: his system is not
eudaemonistic; it is mystic, instead. Even the Ethics of the Cynics
and Stoics is nothing but a special form of Eudaemonism, to prove
which, there is no lack of evidence and testimony, but the nature of my
present task forbids the space.[1]

The ancients, then, equally with the moderns, Plato being the single
exception, agree in making virtue only a means to an end. Indeed,
strictly speaking, even Kant banished Eudaemonism from Ethics more in
appearance than in reality, for between virtue and happiness he still
leaves a certain mysterious connection;--there is an obscure and
difficult passage in his doctrine of the Highest Good, where they occur
together; while it is a patent fact that the course of; virtue runs
entirely counter to that of happiness. But, passing over this, we may
say that with Kant the ethical principle appears as something quite
independent of experience and its teaching; it is transcendental, or
metaphysical. He recognises that human conduct possesses a significance
that oversteps all possibility of experience, and is therefore actually
the bridge leading to that which he calls the "intelligible"[2] world,
the _mundus noumenôn_, the world of Things in themselves.

The fame, which the Kantian Ethics has won, is due not only to this
higher level, which it reached, but also to the moral purity and
loftiness of its conclusions. It is by the latter that most people have
been attracted, without paying much attention to the foundation, which
is propounded in a very complex, abstract and artificial form; and Kant
himself required all his powers of acumen and synthesis to give it an
appearance of solidity. Fortunately, he separated his Ethics from the
exposition of its basis, devoting to the latter a special work entitled
the _Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten_, the theme of which will
be found to be precisely the same as that of our prize essay. For on
page xiii of the preface he says: "The present treatise is nothing
else but an attempt to find out and establish the supreme principle of
morality. This is an investigation, whose scope is complete in itself,
and which should be kept apart from all other moral researches.". It
is in this book that we find the basis, that is to say, the essentials
of his Ethics set forth with an acute penetration and systematic
conciseness, as in no other of his writings. It has, moreover, the
great advantage of being the first of Kant's moral works, appearing,[3]
as it did, only four years later than the _Kritik der Reinen Vernunft_,
and consequently it dates from the period when, although he was
sixty-one, the detrimental effect of old age on his intellect was not
yet perceptible. On the other hand, this is distinctly traceable in
the _Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_, which was published in 1788, or
one year later than the unhappy remodelling of the _Kritik der Reinen
Vernunft_ in the second edition, whereby the latter, his immortal
master-piece, was obviously marred. An analysis of this question is
to be found in the preface to the new edition by Rosenkranz,[4] from
which my own investigation makes it impossible for me to dissent. The
_Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_ contains in its essentials the same
material as the above-mentioned--_Grundlegung_; only the latter has
a more concise and rigorous form, while in the former the subject is
handled with greater prolixity, interspersed with digressions and even
padded with some pieces of moral rhetoric, to heighten the impression.
When Kant wrote it, he had at last, and late in life, become deservedly
famous; hence, being certain of boundless attention, he allowed greater
play to the garrulity of old age.

But the _Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_ contains two sections
which are peculiar to itself. First: the exposition of the relation
between Freedom and Necessity (pp. 169-179 of the fourth edition,
and pp. 223-231 in Rosenkranz). This passage is above all praise,
and undoubtedly was framed earlier in his life, as it is entirely
in harmony with his treatment of the same subject in the _Kritik
der Reinen Vernunft_ (pp. 560-586; Rosenkranz, p. 438, sqq.). And
secondly: the _Moraltheologie_, which will more and more come to be
recognised as the real object Kant had in view. In his _Metaphysische
Anfangsgründe der Tugendlehre_ this _pendant_ to the deplorable
_Rechtslehre_, written in 1797, the debility of old age is at length
fully pre-ponderant. For all these reasons the present criticism will
mainly deal with the treatise first mentioned, _viz.,_ the _Grundlegung
zur Metaphysik der Sitten_, and the reader will please understand
that all the page numbers given by themselves refer to it. Both the
other works will only be considered as accessory and secondary. For a
proper comprehension of the present criticism, which, in probing the
Kantian Ethics to its depths, bears directly and principally on this
_Grundlegung_, it is very desirable that the latter be carefully read
through again, so that the mind may have a perfectly clear and fresh
presentment of what it contains. It is but a matter of 128 and xiv
pages (in Rosenkranz only 100 pages altogether). I shall quote from
the third edition of 1792, adding the page number of the new complete
publication by Rosenkranz, with an R. prefixed.

[1] For a complete demonstration v. _Die Welt als Wille und
Vorstellung_, Vol. I., § 16, p. 103, sqq., and Vol. II., Chap. 16, p.
166, sqq. of the third edition. _Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_,
that is, _The World as Will and Idea_; "Idea" being used much as
_εἵδωλον_ sometimes is (cf. Xen. _Sym.,_ 4, 21), in the sense of "an
image in the mind," "a mental picture."--(_Translator_.)

[2] It seems better to keep this technical word than to attempt a
cumbrous periphrasis. The meaning is perfectly clear. The _sensibilia_
(_phaenomena_) are opposed to the _intelligibilia_ (_noumena_), which
compose the transcendental world. So the individual, in so far as he
is a phaenomenon, has an empirical character; in so far as he is a
noumenôn, his character is intelligible (_intelligibilis_). The _mundus
intelligibilis,_ or _mundus noumenôn_ is the _κόσμος νοητὸς_ of New

[3] It was published in 1785: _The Kritik der Reinen Vernunft,_ first
edition, in 1781.--(_Translator_.)

[4] His analysis is really derived from myself, but in this place I am
speaking incognito.



Kant's _πρῶτον ψεῡδος_ (first false step) lies in his conception of
Ethics itself, and this is found very clearly expressed on page 62
(R., p. 54): "In a system of practical philosophy we are not concerned
with adducing reasons for that which takes place, but with formulating
laws regarding that which =ought to take place, even if it never
does take place=." This is at once a distinct _petitio principii._
Who tells you that there are laws to which our conduct =ought= to
be subject? Who tells you that that =ought to take place, which in
fact never does take place=? What justification have you for making
this assumption at the outset, and consequently for forcing upon us,
as the only possible one, a system of Ethics couched in the imperative
terms of legislation? I say, in contradistinction to Kant, that the
student of Ethics, and no less the philosopher in general, must content
himself with explaining and interpreting that which is given, in
other words, that which really is, or takes place, so as to obtain an
=understanding= of it, and I maintain furthermore that there is
plenty to do in this direction, much more than has hitherto been done,
after the lapse of thousands of years. Following the above _petitio
principii_, Kant straightway, without any previous investigation,
assumes in the preface (which is entirely devoted to the subject),
that purely moral laws exist; and this assumption remains thenceforth
undisturbed, and forms the very foundation of his whole system. We,
however, prefer first of all to examine the conception denoted by the
word "law." The true and original meaning of the term is limited to
law as between citizens; it is the _lex_, _νόμος_, of the Romans and
Greeks, a human institution, and depending on human volition. It has
a secondary, derived, figurative, metaphorical meaning, when applied
to Nature, whose operations, partly known _a priori_, partly learnt
by experience, and which are always constant, we call natural laws.
Only a very small portion of these natural laws can be discerned _a
priori_, and with admirable acuteness, Kant set them apart, and classed
them under the name "Metaphysics of Nature." There is also undoubtedly
a law for the human will, in so far as man belongs to Nature; and
this law is strictly provable, admits of no exception, is inviolable,
and immovable as the mountains, and does not, like the Categorical
Imperative, imply a quasi-necessity, but rather a complete and absolute
one. It is the law of motivation, a form of the law of causation; in
other words, it is the causation which is brought about by the medium
of the understanding. It is the sole demonstrable law to which the
human will =as such= is subject. It means that every action can
only take place in consequence of a sufficient motive. Like causality
in general, it is a natural law. On the other hand, moral laws, apart
from human institution, state ordinance, or religious doctrine, cannot
rightly be assumed as existing without proof. Kant, therefore, by
taking such laws for granted, is guilty of a _petitio principii_, which
is all the bolder, in that he at once adds (page vi of the preface)
that a moral law ought to imply "=absolute necessity=." But
"absolute necessity" is everywhere characterised by an inevitable chain
of consequence; how, then, can such a conception be attached to these
alleged moral laws (as an instance of which he adduces "thou shalt
not lie"[1])? Every one knows, and he himself admits, that no such
consecution for the most part takes place; the reverse, indeed, is the

In scientific Ethics before we admit as controlling the will other laws
besides that of motivation-laws which are original and independent of
all human ordinance--we must first prove and deduce their existence;
that is, provided in things ethical we are concerned not merely with
recommending honesty, but with practising it. Until that proof be
furnished, I shall recognise only one source to which is traceable
the importation into Ethics of the conception =Law, Precept,
Obligation=. It is one which is foreign to philosophy. I mean the
Mosaic Decalogue. Indeed the spelling "=du sollt="[2] in the
above instance of a moral law, the first put forward by Kant, naïvely
betrays this origin. A conception, however, which can\ point to no
other source than this, has no right, without undergoing further
scrutiny, thus to force its way into philosophical Ethics. It will
be rejected, until introduced by duly accredited proof. Thus on the
threshold of the subject Kant makes his first _petitio principii_, and
that no small one.

Our philosopher, then, by begging the question in his preface, simply
assumes the conception of =Moral Law= as given and existing
beyond all doubt; and he treats the closely related conception of Duty
(page 8, R., p. 16) exactly in the same way. Without subjecting it
to any further test, he admits it forthwith as a proper appurtenance
of Ethics. But here, again, I am compelled to enter a protest. This
conception, equally with the kindred notions of =Law, Command,
Obligation=, etc., taken thus unconditionally, has its source in
theological morals, and it will remain a stranger to philosophical
morals, so long as it fails to furnish sufficient credentials drawn
either from man's nature, or from the objective world. Till then, I
can only recognise the Decalogue as the origin of all these connected
conceptions. Since the rise of Christianity there is no doubt that
philosophical has been unconsciously moulded by theological ethics.
And since the latter is essentially dictatorial, the former appears in
the shape of precepts and inculcation of Duty, in all innocence, and
without any suspicion that first an ulterior sanction is needful for
this _rôle_; rather does she suppose it to be her proper and natural
form. It is true that all peoples, ages, and creeds, and indeed all
philosophers (with the exception of the materialists proper) have
undeniably recognised that the ethical significance of human conduct is
a metaphysical one, in other words, that it stretches out beyond this
phaenomenal existence and reaches to eternity; but it is equally true
that the presentment of this fact in terms of Command and Obedience, of
Law and Duty, is no part of its essence. Furthermore, separated from
the theological hypotheses whence they have sprung, these conceptions
lose in reality all meaning, and to attempt a substitute for the
former by talking with Kant of =absolute= obligation and of
=unconditioned= duty, is to feed the reader with empty words, nay
more, is to give him a _contradictio in adjecto_[3] to digest.

Every obligation derives all sense and meaning; simply and solely from
its relation to threatened punishment or promised reward. Hence, long
before Kant was thought of, Locke says: "For since it would be utterly
in vain, to suppose a rule set to the free actions of man, without
annexing to it some enforcement of good and evil to determine his
will; we must, wherever we suppose a law, suppose also some reward or
punishment annexed to that law." (_Essay on the Human Understanding_,
Bk. II., ch. 33, § 6). What =ought= to be done is therefore
necessarily conditioned by punishment or reward; consequently, to use
Kant's language, it is essentially and inevitably =hypothetical=,
and never, as he maintains, =categorical=. If we think away these
conditions, the conception of obligation becomes void of sense; hence
absolute obligation is most certainly a _contradictio in adjecto._
A commanding voice, whether it come from within, or from without,
cannot possibly be imagined except as threatening or promising.
Consequently obedience to it, which may be wise or foolish according
to circumstances, is yet always actuated by selfishness, and therefore
morally worthless.

The complete unthinkableness and nonsense of this conception of an
=unconditioned obligation=, which lies at the root of the Kantian
Ethics, appears later in the system itself, namely in the _Kritik der
Praktischen Vernunft_: just as some concealed poison in an organism
cannot remain hid, but sooner or later must come out and show itself.
For this =obligation=, said to be so =unconditioned=,
nevertheless postulates; more than one condition in the background; it
assumes a rewarder, a reward, and the immortality of the person to be

This is of course unavoidable, if one really makes Duty and Obligation
the fundamental conception of Ethics; for these ideas are essentially
relative, and depend for their significance on the threatened penalty
or the promised reward. The guerdon which is assumed to be in store
for virtue shows clearly enough that only in appearance she works
for nothing. It is, however, put forward modestly veiled, under the
name of the =Highest Good=, which is the union of Virtue and
Happiness. But this is at bottom nothing else but a morality that
derives its origin from Happiness, which means, a morality resting on
selfishness. In other words, it is Eudaemonism, which Kant had solemnly
thrust out of the front door of his system as an intruder, only to
let it creep in again by the postern under the name of the =Highest
Good=. This is how the assumption of =unconditioned absolute
obligation=, concealing as it does a contradiction, avenges itself.
=Conditioned= obligation, on the other hand, cannot of course be
any first principle for Ethics, since everything done out of regard for
reward or punishment is necessarily an egoistic transaction, and as
such is without any real moral value. All this makes it clear that a
nobler and wider view of Ethics is needed, if we are in earnest about
our endeavour to truly account for the significance of human conduct--a
significance which extends beyond phaenomena and is eternal.

As all obligation is entirely dependent on a condition, so also is
all duty. Both conceptions are very closely related, indeed almost
identical. The only difference between them might be said to be that
obligation in general may rest on mere force, whereas duty involves
the sense of obligation deliberately undertaken, such as we see
between master and servant, principal and subordinate, rulers and the
ruled. And since no one undertakes a duty _gratis,_ every duty implies
also a right. The slave has no duties, because he has no rights; but
he is subject to an obligation which rests on sheer force. In the
following Part I shall explain the only meaning which the conception
"=Duty=" has in Ethics.

If we put Ethics in an =imperative= form, making it a Doctrine of
Duties, and regard the moral worth or worthlessness of human conduct
as the fulfilment or violation of duties, we must remember that this
view of Duty, and of Obligation in general, is undeniably derived
solely from theological Morals, and primarily from the Decalogue,
and consequently that it rests essentially and inseparably on the
assumption of man's dependence on another will which gives him commands
and announces reward or punishment. But the more the assumption of
such a will is in Theology positive and precise, the less should it
be quietly and unsuspectingly introduced into philosophical Morals.
Hence we have no right to assume beforehand that for the latter the
=imperative Form=, the ordaining of commands, laws, and duties
is an essential and a matter of course; and it is a very poor shift
to substitute the word "absolute" or "categorical" for the external
condition which is indissolubly attached to such conceptions by
their very nature: for this gives rise, as explained above, to a
_contradictio in adjecto_.

Kant, then, without more ado or any close examination, borrowed
this =imperative Form= of Ethics from theological Morals. The
hypotheses of the latter (in other words, Theology) really lie at
the root of his system, and as these alone in point of fact lend
it any meaning or sense, so they cannot be separated from, indeed
are implicitly contained in, it. After this, when he had expounded
his position the task of developing in turn a Theology out of his
Morals--the famous _Moraltheologie_--was easy enough. For the
conceptions which are implicitly involved in his Imperative, and which
lie hidden at the base of his Morals, only required to be brought
forward and expressed explicitly as postulates of Practical Reason. And
so it was that, to the world's great edification, a Theology appeared
depending simply on Ethics, indeed actually derived therefrom. But
this came about because the ethical system itself rests on concealed
theological hypotheses. I mean no derisive comparison, but in its form
the process is analogous to that whereby a conjurer prepares a surprise
for us, when he lets us find something where he had previously employed
his art to place it. Described in the abstract, Kant's procedure is
this: what ought to have been his first principle, or hypothesis
(_viz_., Theology) he made the conclusion, and what ought to have been
deduced as the conclusion (_viz_., the Categorical Command) he took as
his hypothesis.[4] But after he had thus turned the thing upside down,
nobody, not even he himself, recognised it as being what it really was,
namely the old well-known system of theological Morals. How this trick
was accomplished we shall consider in the sixth and seventh chapters of
the present Part.

Ethics was of course frequently put in the imperative form, and treated
as a doctrine of duties also in pre-Kantian philosophy; but it was
always then based upon the will of a God whose existence had been
otherwise proved, and so there was no inconsequence. As soon, however,
as the attempt was made, as Kant attempted, to give a foundation to
Ethics independent of this will, and establish it without metaphysical
hypotheses, there was no longer any justification for taking as its
basis the words "thou shalt," and "it is thy duty" (that is, the
imperative form), without first deducing the truth thereof from some
other source.

[1] Du sollt (_sic_) nicht lügen.

[2] Sollt is the old form for "_sollst_." Cf. Eng., _shalt_: Icel;

[3] A contradiction in the adjective. This occurs when the epithet
applied to a noun contradicts its essential meaning.--(_Translator_.)

[4] Like the converse of a geometrical proposition, this Kantian
inversion is not necessarily true; its validity, in fact, depends
on the conclusion being implicitly contained in the hypothesis.



This form of the doctrine of duties was very acceptable to Kant,
and in working out his position he left it untouched; for, like his
predecessors, along with the duties towards others he ranged also
duties towards ourselves. I, however, entirely reject this assumption,
and, as there will be no better opportunity, I shall here incidentally
explain my view.

Duties towards ourselves must, just as all others, be based either
on right or on love. Duties towards ourselves based on right are
impossible, because of the self-evident fundamental principle _volenti
non fit injuria_ (where the will assents, no injury is done). For what
I do is always what I will; consequently also what I do to myself is
never anything but what I will, therefore it cannot be unjust. Next, as
regards duties towards ourselves based on love. Ethics here finds her
work already done, and comes too late. The impossibility of violating
the duty of self-love is at once assumed by the first law of Christian
Morals: "Love thy neighbour as thyself." According to this, the love
which each man cherishes for himself is postulated as the _maximum_,
and as the condition of all other love; while the converse, "Love
thyself as thy neighbour" is never added; for every one would feel that
the latter does not claim enough. Moreover, self-love would be the sole
duty regularly involving an _opus supererogationis_. Kant himself says
in the _Metaphysische Anfangsgründe zur Tugendlehre_, p. 13 (R., p.
230): "That which each man inevitably wills of himself, does not belong
to the conception of Duty." This idea of duties towards ourselves is
nevertheless still held in repute, indeed it enjoys for the most part
special favour; nor need we feel surprise. But it has an amusing effect
in cases where people begin to show anxiety about their persons, and
talk quite earnestly of the duty of self-preservation; the while it is
sufficiently clear that fear will lend them legs soon enough, and that
they have no need of any law of duty to help them along.

First among the duties towards ourselves is generally placed that of
not committing suicide, the line of argument taken being extremely
prejudiced and resting on the shallowest basis. Unlike animals, man is
not only a prey to =bodily= pain limited to the passing moment,
but also to those incomparably greater =mental= sufferings, which,
reaching forwards and backwards, draw upon the future and the past; and
nature, by way of compensation, has granted to man alone the privilege
of being able to end his life at his own pleasure, before she herself
sets a term to it; thus, while animals necessarily live so long as they
can, man need only live so long as he =will=.

Whether he ought on ethical grounds to forego this privilege is a
difficult question, which in any case cannot be decided by the usual
superficial reasoning. The arguments against suicide which Kant does
not deem unworthy of adducing (p. 53, R., p. 48 and p. 67, R., p.
57), I cannot conscientiously describe as other than pitiable, and
quite undeserving of an answer. It is laughable indeed to suppose that
reflections of such a kind could have wrested the dagger from the hands
of Cato, of Cleopatra, of Cocceius Nerva (Tac. _Ann_., vi. 26) or of
Arria the wife of Paetus (Plin., _Ep_., iii. 16). If real moral motives
for not committing suicide actually exist, it is certain that they lie
very deep, and cannot be reached by the plummet of ordinary Ethics.
They belong to a higher view of things than is adaptable even to the
standpoint of the present treatise.[1]

That which generally comes next on the rubric of duties towards
ourselves may be divided partly into rules of worldly wisdom, partly
into hygienic prescriptions; but neither class belongs to Morals in the
proper sense. Last on the catalogue comes the prohibition of unnatural
lust--onanism, _paederastia,_ and bestiality. Of these onanism is
mainly a vice of childhood, and must be fought against much more with
the weapon of dietetics than with that of ethics; hence we find that
the authors of books directed against it are physicians (_e.g._,
Tissot and others) rather than moralists. After dietetics and hygiene
have done their work, and struck it down by irrefutable reasoning, if
Ethics desires to take up the matter, she finds little left for her to
do. Bestiality, again, is of very rare occurrence; it is thoroughly
abnormal and exceptional, and, moreover, so loathsome and foreign to
human nature, that itself, better than all arguments of reason, passes
judgment on itself, and deters by sheer disgust. For the rest, as being
a degradation of human nature, it is in reality an offence against the
species as such, and in the abstract; not against human units. Of the
three sexual perversions of which we are speaking it is consequently
only with _paederastia_ that Ethics has to do, and in treating of
Justice this vice finds its proper place. For Justice is infringed by
it, in face of which fact, the dictum _volenti non fit injuria_ is
unavailing. The injustice consists in the seduction of the younger and
inexperienced person, who is thereby ruined physically and morally.

[1] There are ascetic reasons, which may be found in the Fourth Book,
Vol. I., § 69, of my chief work (_Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_).



With the imperative Form of Ethics, which in Chapter II. we proved to
be a _petitio principii_, is directly connected a favourite idea of
Kant's, that may be excused, but cannot be adopted. Sometimes we see
a physician, after having employed a certain remedy with conspicuous
success, henceforth prescribing it for almost all diseases; to such
a one Kant may be likened. By separating the _a priori_ from the
_a posteriori_ in human knowledge he made the most brilliant and
pregnant discovery that Metaphysics can boast of. What wonder then
that thereafter he should try to apply this method, this sundering of
the two forms, everywhere, and should consequently make Ethics also
consist of two parts, a pure, _i.e._ an _a priori_ knowable part, and
an empirical? The latter of these he rejects as unreliable for the
purpose of founding Ethics. To trace out the former and; exhibit it by
itself is his purpose in the _Grundlegung der Metaphysik der Sitten_,
which he accordingly represents as a science purely _a priori_, exactly
in the same way as he sets forth the _Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der
Naturwissenschaft_. He asserts in fact that the =Moral Law=,
which without warrant, without deduction, or proof of any sort, he
postulates as existing, is furthermore a Law knowable _a priori_ and
independent of all =internal= or =external experience=; it
"_rests_" (he says) "=solely on conceptions of pure Reason; and is
to be taken as a synthetic proposition a priori=" (_Kritik der
Praktischen Vernunft_: p. 56 of fourth Edition; R., p. 142). But
from this definition the implication immediately follows that such a
Law can only be formal, like everything else known _a priori_, and
consequently has only to do with the =Form= of actions, not
with their =Essence=. Let it be thought what this means! He
emphatically adds (p. vi of the preface to the _Grundlegung;_ R., p. 5)
that it is "useless to look for it either subjectively in man's nature,
or objectively in the accidents of the external world," and (preface
of the same, page vii; R., p. 6) that "nothing whatever connected
with it can be borrowed from knowledge relating to man, _i.e._, from
anthropology." On page 59 (R., p. 52) he repeats, "That one ought on no
account to fall into the mistake of trying to derive one's principle of
morality from the special constitution of human nature"; and again, on
page 60 (R., p. 52), he says that, "Everything derived from any natural
disposition peculiar to man, or from certain feelings and propensities,
or indeed from any special trend attaching solely to human nature,
and not necessarily to be taken as the Will of =every rational
being=," is incapable of affording a foundation for the moral law.
This shows beyond all possibility of contradiction that Kant does not
represent the alleged moral law as a _fact of consciousness_, capable
of empirical proof--which is how the later would-be philosophers, both
individually and collectively, wish to pass it off. In discarding every
empirical basis for Morals, he rejects all internal, and still more
decidedly all external, experience., Accordingly he founds--and I call
special attention to this--his moral principle not on any provable
_fact of consciousness_, such as an inner natural disposition, nor yet
upon any objective relation of things in the external world. No! That
would be an empirical foundation. Instead of this, _pure conceptions
a priori_, _i.e._, conceptions, which so far contain nothing derived
from internal or external experience, and thus are simply shells
without kernels--these are to be made the basis of Morals. Let us
consider the full meaning of such a position. Human consciousness as
well as the whole external world, together with all the experience and
all the facts they comprise, are swept from under our feet. We have
nothing to stand upon. And what have we to hold to? Nothing but a few
entirely abstract, entirely unsubstantial conceptions, floating in the
air equally with ourselves. It is from these, or, more correctly, from
the mere form of their connection with judgments made, that a _Law_ is
declared to proceed, which by so-called =absolute necessity= is
supposed to be valid, and to be strong enough to lay bit and bridle on
the surging throng of human desires, on the storm of passion, on the
giant might of _egoism_. We shall see if such be the case.

With this preconceived notion that the basis of Morals must be
necessarily and strictly a priori, and entirely free from everything
empirical, another of Kant's favourite ideas is closely connected.
The moral principle that he seeks to establish is, he says, a
=synthetic proposition a priori, of merely formal contents=, and
hence exclusively a matter of =Pure Reason=; and accordingly,
as such, to be regarded as valid =not only for men=, but for
=all possible rational beings=; indeed he declares it to hold
good for man "on this account alone," _i.e._, because _per accidens_
man comes under the category of rational beings. Here lies the cause
of his basing the Moral principle not on any feeling, but on =pure
Reason= (which knows nothing but itself and the statement of its
antithesis). So that this =pure Reason= is taken, not as it
really and exclusively is--an intellectual faculty of man--but =as
a self-existent hypostatic essence=, yet without the smallest
authority; the pernicious effects of such example and precedent being
sufficiently shown in the pitiful philosophy of the present day.
Indeed, this view of Morals as existing not for men, as men, but for
all rational beings, as such, is with Kant a principle so firmly
established, an idea so favourite, that he is never tired of repeating
it at every opportunity.

I, on the contrary, maintain that we are never entitled to raise
into a _genus_ that which we only know of in a single species. For
we could bring nothing into our idea of the _genus_ but what we had
abstracted from this one species; so that what we should predicate of
the _genus_ could after all only be understood of the single species.
While, if we should attempt to think away (without any warrant) the
particular attributes of the species, in order to form our _genus_,
we should perhaps remove the exact condition whereby the remaining
attributes, hypostatised as a _genus_, are made possible. Just as we
recognise =intelligence in general= to be an attribute of animal
beings alone, and are therefore never justified in thinking of it as
existing outside, and independent, of animal nature; so we recognise
=Reason= as the exclusive attribute of the human race, and have
not the smallest right to suppose that Reason exists externally to
it, and then proceed to set up a _genus_ called "Rational Beings,"
differing from its single known species "Man"; still less are we
warranted in laying down laws for such imaginary =rational beings
in the abstract=. To talk of rational beings external to men is
like talking of =heavy beings= external to bodies. One cannot
help suspecting that Kant was thinking a little of the dear cherubim,
or at any rate counted on their presence in the conviction of the
reader. In any case this doctrine contains a tacit assumption of an
_anima rationalis,_ which as being entirely different from the _anima
sensitiva_, and the _anima vegetativa_, is supposed to persist after
death, and then to be indeed nothing else but _rationalis_. But in the
_Kritik der Reinen Vernunft_ Kant himself has expressly and elaborately
made an end of this most transcendent hypostasis. Nevertheless, in
his ethics generally, and in the _Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_
especially, there seems always to hover in the background the thought
that the inner and eternal essence, of man consists of =Reason=.
In this connection, where the matter only occurs incidentally, I must
content myself with simply asserting the contrary. Reason, as indeed
the intellectual faculty as a whole, is secondary, is an attribute of
phaenomena, being in point of fact conditioned by the organism; whereas
it is the =Will= in man which is his very self, the only part of
him which is metaphysical, and therefore indestructible.

The success with which Kant had applied his method to the theoretical
side of philosophy led him on to extend it to the practical. Here
also he endeavoured to separate pure _a priori_ from empirical _a
posteriori_ knowledge. For this purpose he assumed that just as
we know _a priori_ the laws of Space, of Time, and of Causality,
so in like manner, or at any rate analogously, we have the moral
plumb-line for our conduct given us prior to all experience, and
revealed in a Categorical Imperative, an absolute "Ought." But how
wide is the difference between this alleged moral law _a priori_, and
our theoretical knowledge _a priori_ of Space, Time, and Causality!
The latter are nothing but the expression of the forms, _i.e._, the
functions of our intellect, whereby alone we are capable of grasping
an objective world, and wherein alone it can be mirrored; so that the
world (as we know it) is absolutely conditioned by these forms, and all
experience =must= invariably and exactly correspond to them--just
as everything that I see through a blue glass must appear blue. While
the former, the so-called moral law, is something that experience pours
ridicule on at every step; indeed, as Kant himself says, it is doubtful
whether in practice it has ever really been followed on any single
occasion. How completely unlike are the things which are here classed
together under the conception of =apriority=! Moreover, Kant
overlooked the fact that, according to his own teaching, in theoretical
philosophy, it is exactly the =Apriority= of our knowledge of
Time, Space, and Causality--independent as this is of experience--that
limits it strictly to phaenomena, _i.e._, to the picture of the world
as reflected in our consciousness, and makes it entirely invalid as
regards the real nature of things, _i.e._, as regards whatever exists
independently of our capacity to grasp it.

Similarly, when we turn to practical philosophy, his alleged moral
law, if it have an _a priori_ origin in ourselves, must also be only
phaenomenal, and leave entirely untouched the essential nature of
things. Only this conclusion would stand in the sharpest contradiction
as much to the facts themselves, as to Kant's view of them. For it is
precisely the moral principle in us that he everywhere (_e.g., Kritik
der Praktischen Vernunft_, p. 175; R., p. 228) represents as being in
the closest connection with the real essence of things, indeed, as
directly in contact with it; and in all passages in the _Kritik der
Reinen Vernunft,_ where the mysterious Thing in itself comes forward a
little more clearly, it shows itself as the =moral principle= in
us, as =Will=. But of this he failed to take account.

In Chapter II. of this Part, I explained how Kant took over bodily
from theological Morals the =imperative form= of Ethics, _i.e._,
the conception of obligation, of law, and of duty; and how at the same
time he was constrained to leave behind that which in the realm of
theology alone lends force and significance to these ideas. But he
felt the need of some basis for them, and accordingly went so far as
to require that the _conception of duty_ itself should be also the
_ground of its fulfilment_; in other words, that it should itself be
its own enforcement. An action, he says (p. 11; R., p. 18), has no
genuine moral worth, unless it be done simply as a matter of duty,
and for duty's sake, without any liking for it being felt; and the
character only begins to have value, if a man, who has no sympathy in
his heart, and is cold and indifferent to others' sufferings, and who
is =not by nature a lover of his kind=, is nevertheless a doer of
good actions, solely out of a pitiful sense of duty. This assertion,
which is revolting to true moral sentiment; this apotheosis of
lovelessness, the exact opposite, as it is, of the Christian doctrine
of Morals, which places love before everything else, and teaches that
without it nothing profiteth (1 Cor. xiii. 3); this stupid moral
pedantry has been ridiculed by Schiller in two apposite epigrams,
entitled _Gewissensskrupel_ (Scruples of Conscience) and _Entscheidung_

It appears that some passages in the _Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_,
which exactly suit this connection, were the immediate occasion of the
verses. Thus, for instance, on p. 150 (R., p. 211) we find: "Obedience
to the moral law, which a man feels incumbent on him, is based not on
voluntary inclination, nor on endeavour willingly put forth, without
any authoritative command, but on a sense of duty." Yes, it must be
commanded! What slavish morality! And again on p. 213 (R., p. 257):
"Feelings of compassion, and of tender-hearted sympathy would be
actually troublesome to persons who think aright, because through such
emotions their well weighed maxims would become confused, and so the
desire would grow up to be rid of them, and to be subject solely to
the lawgiver--Reason." Now I maintain without hesitation that what
opens the hand of the above-described (p. 11; R., p. 18) loveless doer
of good, who is indifferent to the sufferings of other people, cannot
(provided he have no secondary motives) be anything else than a slavish
_δεισιδαιμονία_ (fear of the gods), equally whether he calls his fetich
"Categorical Imperative" or Fitzlipuzli.[2] For what but fear can move
a hard heart?

Furthermore, on p. 13 (R., p. 19), in accordance with the above view,
we find that the moral worth of an action is supposed to lie, by
no means in the =intention= which led to it, but in the maxim
which was followed. Whereas I, on the contrary, ask the reader to
reflect that it is the =intention alone= which decides as to the
moral worth, or worthlessness, off an action, so that the same act
may deserve condemnation or praise according to the intention which
determined it. Hence it is that, whenever men discuss a proceeding
to which some moral importance is attached, the =intention= is
always investigated, and by this standard alone the matter is judged;
as, likewise, it is in the _intention_ alone that every one seeks
justification, if he see his conduct misinterpreted or excuse, if its
consequence be mischievous.

On p. 14 (R., p. 20) we at last reach the definition of Duty, which
is the fundamental conception of Kant's entire ethical system. It is:
"The necessity of an action out of respect for the law." But what is
=necessary= takes place with absolute certainty while conduct
based on pure duty generally does not come off at all. And not only
this; Kant himself admits (p. 25; R., p. 28) that there are =no
certain instances= on record of conduct determined solely by pure
duty; and on p. 26 (R., p. 29) he says: "It is utterly impossible to
know with certainty from experience whether there has ever really
been one single case in which an action, however true to duty, has
rested simply on its idea."--And similarly on p. 28 (R., p. 30)
and p. 49 (R., p. 50). In what sense then can =necessity= be
attributed to such an action? As it is only fair always to put the
most favourable interpretation on an author's words, we will suppose
him to mean that an act true to duty is =objectively= necessary,
but =subjectively= accidental. Only it is precisely this that
is more easily said than thought for where is the =Object= of
this =objective= necessity, the consequence of which for the
most part, perhaps indeed always, fails to be realised in objective
reality! With every wish to be unbiassed, I cannot but think that
the expression--=necessity of an action=--is nothing but an
artificially concealed, very forced paraphrase of the word "ought."[3]
This will become clearer if we notice that in the same definition the
word _Achtung_ (respect) is employed, where _Gehorsam_ (obedience) is
meant. Similarly in the note on p. 16 (R., p. 20) we read: "_Achtung_
signifies simply the subordination of my will to a law. The direct
determination of the will by a law, and the consciousness that it is
so determined--this is what is denoted by _Achtung_" In what language?
In German the proper term is _Gehorsam_. But the word _Achtung_, so
unsuitable as it is, cannot without a reason have been put in place of
the word _Gehorsam._ It must serve some purpose; and this is obviously
none other than to veil the derivation of the imperative form, and of
the conception of duty, from theological Morals; just as we saw above
that the expression "necessity of an action," which is such a forced
and awkward substitute for the word "shall," was only chosen because
"shall" is the exact language of the Decalogue. The above definition:
"Duty is the necessity of an action out of respect for the law," would
therefore read in natural, undisguised, plain language: "Duty signifies
an action which =ought= to be done out of obedience to a law."
This is "the real form of the poodle."[4]

But now as to the Law, which is the real foundation stone of the
Kantian Ethics. =What does it contain? And where is it inscribed?=
This is the chief point of inquiry. In the first place, be it observed
that we have two questions to deal with: the one has to do with the
=Principle=, the other with the =Basis= of Ethics--two
entirely different things, although they are frequently, and sometimes
indeed intentionally, confused.

The principle or main proposition of an ethical system is the shortest
and most concise definition of the line of conduct which it prescribes,
or, if it have no imperative form, of the line of conduct to which it
attaches real moral worth. It thus contains, in the general terms of
a single enunciation, the direction for following the path of virtue,
which is derived from that system: in other words, it is the _ὅ,τι_[5]
of virtue. Whereas the =Basis= of any theory of Ethics is the
_διότι_[6] of virtue, the =reason= of the obligation enjoined,
of the exhortation or praise given, whether it be sought in human
nature, or in the external conditions of the world, or in anything
else. As in all sciences, so also in Ethics the _ὅ,τι_ must be clearly
distinguished from the _διότι_. But most teachers of Morals wilfully
confound this difference: probably because the _ὅ,τι_ is so easy, the
_διότι_ so exceedingly difficult, to give. They are therefore glad to
try to make up for the poverty on the one hand, by the riches on the
other, and to bring about a happy marriage between _Πενία_ (poverty)
and _Πόρος_ (plenty), by putting them together in one proposition.[7]
This is generally done by taking the familiar _ὅ,τι_ out of the simple
form in which it can be expressed, and forcing it into an artificial
formula, from which it is only to be deduced as the conclusion of
given premises; and the reader is led by this performance to feel
as if he had grasped not only the thing, but its cause as well. We
may easily convince ourselves of this by recalling all the most
familiar principles of Morals. As, however, in what follows I have
no intention of imitating acrobatic tricks of this sort, but purpose
proceeding with all honesty and straightforwardness, I cannot make the
principle of Ethics equivalent to its basis, but must keep the two
quite separate. Accordingly, this _ὅ,τι_--_i.e._, the principle, the
fundamental proposition--as to which in its essence all teachers of
Morals are really at one, however much they may clothe it in different
costumes, I shall at once express in the form which I take to be
the simplest and purest possible, _viz.: Neminem laede, immo omnes,
quantum potes, juva_. (Do harm to no one; but rather help all people,
as far as lies in your power.) This is in truth the proposition which
all ethical writers expend their energies in endeavouring to account
for. It is the common result of their manifold and widely differing
deductions; it is the _ὅ,τι_ for which the _διότι_ is still sought
after; the consequence, the cause of which is wanting. Hence it is
itself nothing but the _Datum_ (the thing given), in relation to which
the _Quaesitum_ (the thing required) is the problem of every ethical
system, as also of the present prize essay. The solution of this
riddle will disclose the real foundation of Ethics, which, like the
philosopher's stone, has been searched for from time immemorial. That
the _Datum_, the _ὅ,τι_, the principle is most purely expressed by the
enunciation I have given, can be seen from the fact that it stands to
every other precept of Morals as a conclusion to given premises, and
therefore constitutes the real goal it is desired to attain; so that
all other ethical commandments can only be regarded as paraphrases, as
indirect or disguised statements, of the above simple proposition. This
is true, for instance, even of that trite and apparently elementary
maxim: _Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris_[8] (Do not to
another what you are unwilling should be done to yourself.) The defect
here is that the wording only touches the duties imposed by law, not
those required by virtue;--a thing which can be easily remedied by
the omission of _non_ and _ne_. Thus changed, it really means nothing
else than: _Neminem laede, immo omnes, quantum potes, juva._ But as
this sense is only reached by a periphrasis, the formula gains the
appearance of having also revealed its own ultimate foundation, its
_διότι_; which, however, is not the case, because it does not in the
least follow that, if I am unwilling that something be done to myself,
I ought not to do it to others. The same is true of every other
principle or leading proposition of Ethics that has hitherto been put

If we now return to the above question:--how does the law read, in
obeying which, according to Kant, duty consists? and on what is it
based?--we shall find that our philosopher, like most others, has in an
extremely artificial manner closely connected the principle of Morals
with its basis. I again call attention to what I have already examined
at the outset--I mean, the Kantian claim that the principle of Ethics
must be purely _a priori_ and purely formal, indeed an _a priori_
synthetical proposition, which consequently may not contain anything
material, nor rest upon anything empirical, whether objectively in
the external world, or subjectively in consciousness, such as any
feeling, inclination, impulse, and the like. Kant was perfectly aware
of the difficulty of this position; for on p. 60 (R., p. 53) he says:
"It will be seen that philosophy has here indeed reached a precarious
standpoint, which yet is to be immovable, notwithstanding that it
is neither dependent on, nor supported by, anything in heaven or on
earth." We shall therefore with all the greater interest and curiosity
await the solution of the problem he has set himself, namely, how
something is to arise out of nothing, that is, how out of purely _a
priori_ conceptions, which contain nothing empirical or material, the
laws of material human action are to grow up. This is a process which
we may find symbolised in chemistry, where out of three invisible gases
(Azote, Hydrogen, and Chlorine[9]), and thus in apparently empty space,
solid sal-ammoniac is evolved before our eyes.

I will, however, explain, more clearly than Kant either would or
could, the method whereby he accomplishes this difficult task. The
demonstration is all the more necessary because what he did appears
to be seldom properly understood. Almost all Kant's disciples have
fallen into the mistake of supposing that he presents his Categorical
Imperative directly as a fact of consciousness. But in that case
its origin would be anthropological, and, as resting on experience,
although internal, it would have an empirical basis: a position which
runs directly counter to the Kantian view, and which he repeatedly
rejects. Thus on p. 48 (R., p. 44) he says: "It cannot be empirically
determined whether any such Categorical Imperative exists everywhere";
and again, on p. 49 (R., p. 45): "The possibility of the Categorical
Imperative must be investigated entirely on _a priori_ grounds,
because here we are not helped by any testimony of experience as to
its reality." Even Reinhold, his first pupil, missed this point; for
in his _Beitrage zur Uebersicht der Philosophie am Anfange des_ 19.
_Jahrhunderts_, No. 2, p. 21, we find him saying: "Kant assumes the
moral law to be a direct and certain reality, an original fact of the
moral consciousness." But if Kant had wished to make the Categorical
Imperative a fact of consciousness, and thus give it an empirical
foundation, he certainly would not have failed at least to put it
forward as such. And this is precisely what he never does. As far as
I know, the Categorical Imperative appears for the first time in the
_Kritik der Reinen Vernunft_ (p. 802 of the first, and p. 830 of the
fifth edition), entirely ex nunc (unexpectedly), without any preamble,
and merely connected with the preceding sentence by an altogether
unjustifiable "therefore."; It is only in the _Grundlage zur Metaphysik
der Sitten_--a book to which we here devote especial attention--that
it is first introduced expressly and formally, as a deduction from
certain concepts. Whereas in Reinhold's _Formula concordiae des
Kriticismus_,[10] we actually read on p. 122 the following sentence:
"We distinguish moral self-consciousness from the =experience=
with which it, as an original fact transcending all knowledge, is
bound up in the human consciousness; and we understand by such
self-consciousness the =direct consciousness of duty=, that is, of
the =necessity= we are under of admitting the legitimacy--whether
pleasurable or the reverse--of the will, as the stimulus and as the
measure of its own operations."

This would of course be "a charming _thesis_, with a very pretty
_hypothesis_ to boot."[11] But seriously: into what an outrageous
_petitio principii_ do we find Kant's moral law here developed! If
=that= were true, Ethics would indubitably have a basis of
incomparable solidity, and there would be no need of any questions
being set for prize essays, to encourage inquiry in this direction.
But the greatest marvel would be, that men had been so slow in
discovering such a fact of consciousness, considering that for the
space of thousands of years a basis for Morals has been sought after
with zealous patient toil. How Kant himself is responsible for this
deplorable mistake, I shall explain further on; nevertheless, one
cannot but wonder at the undisputed predominance of such a radical
error among his disciples. Have they never, whilst writing all their
numberless books on the Kantian philosophy, noticed the disfigurement
which the _Kritik der Reinen Vernunft_ underwent in the second
edition, and which made it an incoherent, self-contradictory work?
It seems that this has only now come to light; and, in my opinion,
the fact has been quite correctly analysed in Rosenkranz's preface to
the second volume of his complete edition of Kant's works. We must,
however, remember that many scholars, being unceasingly occupied as
teachers and authors, find very little time left for private and exact
research. It is certain that _docendo disco_ (I learn by teaching) is
not unconditionally true; sometimes indeed one is tempted to parody
it by saying: _semper docendo nihil disco_ (by always teaching I
learn nothing); and even what Diderot puts into the mouth of Rameau's
nephew is not altogether without reason: "'And as for these teachers,
do you suppose they understand the sciences they give instruction
in? Not a bit of it, my dear sir, not a bit of it. If they possessed
sufficient knowledge to be able to teach them, they would not do so.'
'Why?' 'Because they would have devoted their lives to the study of
them.'"--(Goethe's translation, p. 104.) Lichtenberg too says: "I have
rather observed that professional people are often exactly those who
do not know best." But to return to the Kantian Ethics: most persons,
provided only the conclusion reached agrees with their moral feelings,
immediately assume that there is no flaw to be found in its derivation;
and if the process of deduction looks difficult, they do not trouble
themselves much about it, but are content to trust the faculty.

Thus the foundation which Kant gave to his moral law by no means
consists in its being proved empirically to be a fact of consciousness;
neither does he base it on an appeal to moral feeling, nor yet on
a _petitio principii_, under its fine modern name of an "absolute
Postulate." It is formed rather of a very subtle process of thought,
which he twice advances, on p. 17 and p. 51 (R., p. 22, and p. 46), and
which I shall now proceed to make clear.

Kant, be it observed, ridiculed all empirical stimuli of the will,
and began by removing everything, whether subjective or objective, on
which a law determining the will's action could be empirically based.
The consequence is, that he has nothing left for the substance of his
law but simply its =Form=. Now this can only be the abstract
conception of =lawfulness=. But the conception of lawfulness
is built up out of what is valid for all persons equally. Therefore
the substance of the law consists of the conception of what is
universally valid, and its contents are of course nothing else than its
=universal validity=. Hence the formula will read as follows: "Act
only in accordance with that precept which you can also wish should
be a general law for all rational beings." This, then, is the real
foundation--for the most part so greatly misunderstood--which Kant
constructed for his principle of Morals, and therefore for his whole
ethical system. Compare also the _Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_, p.
61 (R., p. 147); the end of Note 1.

I pay Kant a tribute of sincere admiration for the great acumen he
displayed in carrying out this dexterous feat, but I continue in
all seriousness my examination of his position according to the
standard of truth. I will only observe--and this point I shall take
up again later on--that here =reason=, because, and in so far
as, it works out the above explained special ratiocination, receives
the name of =practical reason=. Now the Categorical Imperative
of Practical Reason is the law which results from this process of
thought. Consequently Practical Reason is not in the least what most
people, including even Fichte, have regarded it--a special faculty
that cannot be traced to its source, a _qualitas occulta_, a sort of
moral instinct, like Hutcheson's "moral sense"; but it is (as Kant
himself in his preface, p. xii. [R., p. 8], and elsewhere, often enough
declares) one and the same with =theoretical reason=--is, in fact,
=theoretical reason= itself, in so far as the latter works out the
ratiocinative process I have described. It is noticeable that Fichte
calls the Categorical Imperative of Kant an =absolute Postulate=
(_Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre_, Tübingen, 1802, p.
240, Note). This is the modern, more showy, expression for _petitio
principii_, and thus we see that he, too, regularly accepted the
Categorical Imperative, and consequently must be included among those
who have fallen into the mistake above criticised.

The objection, to which this Kantian basis of Morals is at once and
directly exposed, lies in the fact that such an origin of a moral law
in us is impossible, because of its assumption that man would quite
of his own accord hit on the idea of looking about for, and inquiring
after, a law to which his will should be subject, and which should
shape its actions. This procedure, however, cannot possibly occur to
him of itself; at best it could only be after another moral; stimulus
had supplied the first impulse and motive thereto; and such a stimulus
would have to be positively operative, and real; and show itself to be
such, as well as spontaneously influence, indeed force its presence
upon, the mind. But anything of this sort would run counter to Kant's
assumption, which, according to the chain of reasoning above described,
is to be regarded as itself the origin of all moral conceptions--in
fact, the _punctum saliens_ of Morality. Consequently, as long as there
is no such antecedent incentive (because, _ex hypothesi_, there exists
no other moral stimulus but the process of thought already explained),
so long Egoism alone must remain as the plumb-line of human conduct,
as the guiding thread of the law of motivation; so long the entirely
empirical and egoistic motives of the moment, alone and unchecked,
must determine, in each separate case, the conduct of a man; since,
on this assumption, there is no voice to arrest him, neither does any
reason whatever exist, why he should be minded to inquire after, to
say nothing of anxiously searching for, a law which should limit and
govern his will. And yet it is only possible on this supposition that
he should think out the above remarkable piece of mental legerdemain.
It matters not how far we may care to put a strict and exact
interpretation on this Kantian process, or whether we choose to tone it
down to some dim, obscurely felt operation of thought. No modification
of it can attack the primary truths that out of nothing, nothing
comes, and that an effect requires a cause. The moral stimulus, like
every motive that effects the will, must in all cases make itself felt
spontaneously, and therefore have a positive working, and consequently
be real. And because for men the only thing which has reality is the
empirical, or else that which is supposed to have a possibly empirical
existence, therefore it follows that the moral stimulus cannot but
be empirical, and show itself as such of its own accord; and without
waiting for us to begin our search, it must come and press itself upon
us, and this with such force that it may, at least possibly, overcome
the opposing egoistic motives in all their giant strength. For Ethics
has to do with actual human conduct, and not with the _a priori_
building of card houses--a performance which yields results that no man
would ever turn to in the stern stress and battle of life, and which,
in face of the storm of our passions, would be about as serviceable as
a syringe in a great fire.

I have already noticed above how Kant considered it a special merit of
his moral law that it is founded solely on abstract, pure _a priori_
conceptions, consequently on =pure reason=; whereby its validity
obtains (he says) not only for men, but for all rational beings as
such. All the more must we regret that pure, abstract conceptions _a
priori_, without real contents, and without any kind of empirical
basis can never move, at any rate, men; of other rational beings
I am of course incapable of speaking. The second defect, then, in
Kant's ethical basis is its lack of real substance. So far this has
escaped notice, because the real nature of his foundation has in all
probability been thoroughly understood only by an exceedingly small
number of those who were its enthusiastic propagandists. The second
fault, I repeat, is entire want of reality, and hence of possible
efficacy. The structure floats in the air, like a web of the subtlest
conceptions devoid of all contents; it is based on nothing, and can
therefore support nothing, and move nothing. And yet Kant loaded it
with a burden of enormous weight, namely, the hypothesis of the Freedom
of the Will. In spite of his oft declared conviction that freedom in
human action has absolutely no place; that theoretically not even its
possibility is thinkable (_Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_, p. 168;
R., p. 223); that, if the character of a man, and all the motives which
work on him were exactly known, his conduct could be calculated as
certainly and as precisely as an eclipse of the moon (_ibidem_, p. 177;
R., p. 230): he nevertheless makes an assumption of freedom (although
only _idealiter_, and as a postulate) by his celebrated conclusion:
"You can, because you ought"; and this on the strength of his precious
ethical basis, which, as we see, floats in the air incorporeal. But if
it has once been clearly recognised that a thing =is not=, and
=cannot be=, what is the use of all the postulates in the world?
It would be much more to the purpose to cast away that on which the
postulate is based, because it is an impossible supposition; and this
course would be justified by the rule _a non posse ad non esse valet
consequentia_;[12] and by a _reductio ad absurdum_, which would at the
same time be fatal to the Categorical Imperative. Instead of which one
false doctrine is built up on the other.

The inadmissibility of a basis for Morals consisting of a few entirely
abstract and empty conceptions must have been apparent to Kant himself
in secret. For in the _Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_, where (as I
have already said) he is not so strict and methodical in his work, and
where we find him becoming bolder on account of the fame he had gained,
it is remarkable how the ethical basis gradually changes its nature,
and almost forgets that it is a mere web of abstract ideas; in fact,
it seems distinctly desirous of becoming more substantial. Thus, for
instance, on p. 81 (R., p. 163) of the above work are the words: "The
Moral Law =in some sort a fact of Pure Reason=." What is one to
think of this extraordinary expression? In every other place that which
is fact is opposed to what is knowable by pure reason. Similarly on
p. 83 (R., p. 164) we read of "a Reason which directly determines the
Will"; and so on.

Now let us remember that in laying his foundation Kant expressly and
repeatedly rejects every anthropological basis, everything that
could prove the Categorical Imperative to be a fact of consciousness,
because such a proof would be empirical. Nevertheless, his successors
were so emboldened by incidental utterances like the above that
they went to much greater lengths. Fichte in his work, _System der
Sittenlehre_, p. 49, warns us expressly "not to allow ourselves to be
misled into trying to explain, and derive from external sources, the
consciousness that we have duties, because this would be detrimental
to the dignity and absoluteness of the law." A very nice excuse! Again
on p. 66 he says: "The principle of Morality is a thought which is
based on the =intellectual intuition= of the absolute activity
of the intelligence, and which is directly conceived by the pure
intelligence of its own accord." What a fine flourish to conceal the
helplessness of this clap-trap! Whoever may like to convince himself
how Kant's disciples, little by little, totally forgot and ignored
the real nature of the foundation and derivation which their master
originally gave to the moral law, should read a very interesting essay
in Reinhold's _Beitrage zur Uebersicht der Philosophie im Anfange des_
19. _Jahrhunderts_, No. 2, 1801. In it, on pp. 105 and 106, it is
maintained "that in the Kantian philosophy Autonomy (which is the same
thing as the Categorical Imperative) is a fact of consciousness, and
cannot be traced further back, inasmuch as it declares itself by means
of a direct consciousness."

But in this case, it would have an anthropological, and consequently
empirical, foundation--a position which is diametrically opposed to
Kant's explicit and repeated utterances. Again, on p. 108 we find:
"Both in the practical philosophy of criticism, and in the whole of the
purified or higher transcendental philosophy, Autonomy is that which
is founded, and which founds, by itself alone; and which is neither
capable of, nor requires, any other foundation; it is that which is
absolutely original, true and certain _per se;_ the primal truth; the
_prius κατ' ἐξοχήν (par excellence)_; the absolute principle. Whoever,
therefore, imagines, requires, or seeks any basis for this Autonomy
external to itself, can only be regarded by the Kantian School as
wanting in moral consciousness;[13] or else as failing to interpret
this consciousness correctly, through the employment of false first
principles in his speculations. The School of Fichte and Schelling
declares him to be afflicted with a dulness of intellect that renders
him incapable of being a philosopher, and forms the characteristic of
the unholy _canaille_, and the sluggish brute, or (to use Schelling's
more veiled expression) of the _profanum vulgus_ and the _ignavum
pecus_." Every one will understand how much truth there can be in a
doctrine which it is sought to uphold by such defiant and dogmatic
rhetoric. Meanwhile, we must doubtless explain by the respect that this
language inspired, the really childish credulity with which Kant's
followers accepted the Categorical Imperative, and at once treated
it as a matter beyond dispute. The truth is that in this case any
objections raised to a theoretical assertion might easily be confounded
with moral obliquity; so that every one, although he had no very clear
idea in his own mind of the Categorical Imperative, yet preferred to
be silent, believing, as he did, in secret, that others were probably
better off, and had succeeded in evolving a clearer and more definite
mental picture of it. For no one likes to turn his conscience inside

Thus in the Kantian School Practical Reason with its Categorical
Imperative appears more and more as a hyperphysical fact, as a Delphian
temple in the human soul, out of whose dark recesses proceed oracles
that infallibly declare not, alas! what will, but what ought to,
happen. This doctrine of Practical Reason, as a direct and immediate
fact, once it had been adopted, or rather introduced by artifice
combined with defiance, was unhappily later on extended also to
Theoretical Reason; and not unnaturally: for Kant himself had often
said that both are but one and the same Reason (_e.g_., Preface, p.
xii; R., p. 8). After it had been once admitted that in the domain of
the Practical there is a Reason which dictates _ex tripode_,[14] it was
an easy step to concede the same privilege to Theoretical Reason also,
closely related as the latter is to the former--indeed, consubstantial
with it. The one was thus pronounced to be just as immediate as the
other, the advantage of this being no less immense than obvious.

Then it was that all philosophasters and fancy-mongers, with J.H.
Jacobi--the denouncer of atheists--at their head, came crowding to
this postern which was so unexpectedly opened to them. They wanted
to bring their small wares to market, or at least to save what they
most valued of the old heirlooms which Kant's teaching threatened
to pulverise. As in the life of the individual a single youthful
mistake often ruins the whole career; so when Kant made that one
false assumption of a Practical Reason furnished with credentials
exclusively transcendent, and (like the supreme courts of appeal)
with powers of decision "without grounds," the result was that out of
the austere gravity of the Critical Philosophy was evolved a teaching
utterly heterogeneous to it. We hear of a Reason at first only dimly
"surmising," then clearly "comprehending" the "Supersensuous," and
at last endowed with a perfect "intellectual intuition" of it. Every
dreamer could now promulgate his mental freaks as the "absolute,"
_i.e._, officially issued, deliverances, and revelations of this
Reason. Nor need we be surprised if the new privilege was fully taken
advantage of.

Here, then, is the origin of that philosophical method which appeared
immediately after Kant, and which is made up of clap-trap, of
mystification, of imposture, of deception, and of throwing dust in the
eyes. This era will be known one day in the History of Philosophy as
"The Period of Dishonesty." For it was signalised by the disappearance
of the characteristic of honesty, of searching after truth in common
with the reader, which was well marked in the writings of all previous
philosophers. The philosophaster's object was not to instruct, but
to befool his hearers, as every page attests. At first Fichte and
Schelling shine as the heroes of this epoch; to be followed by the man
who is quite unworthy even of them, and greatly their inferior in point
of talent--I mean the stupid and clumsy charlatan Hegel. The Chorus is
composed of a mixed company of professors of philosophy, who in solemn
fashion discourse to their public about the Endless, the Absolute, and
many other matters of which they can know absolutely nothing.

As a stepping-stone to raise Reason to her prophetic throne a
wretched _jeu d'esprit_ was actually dragged in, and made to serve.
It was asserted that, as the word _Vernunft_ (Reason) comes from
_vernehmen_ (to comprehend), therefore _Vernunft_ means a capacity
to =comprehend= the so-called "Supersensuous," _i.e._,
_Νεϕελοκοκκυγία_,[15] or Cloud-cuckoo-town. This pretty notion met
with boundless, approval, and for the space of thirty years was
constantly repeated in Germany with immense satisfaction; indeed, it
was made the foundation of philosophic manuals. And yet it is as clear
as noon-day that of course _Vernunft_ (Reason) comes from. _vernehmen_
(to comprehend), but only because Reason makes man superior to animals,
so that he not only hears, but also =comprehends= (_vernimmt_)--by
no means, what is going on in Cloud-cuckoo-town--but what is said,
as by one reasonable person to another, the words spoken being
=comprehended= (_vernommen_) by the listener; and this capacity is
called _Reason_ (_Vernunft_).

Such is the interpretation that all peoples, ages, and languages
have put on the word Reason. It has always been understood to mean
the possession of general, abstract, non-intuitive ideas, named
=concepts=, which are denoted and fixed by means of words. This
faculty alone it is which in reality gives to men their advantage
over animals. For these abstract ideas, or concepts, that is, mental
impressions formed of the sum of many separate things, are the
condition of =language= and through it of actual =thought=;
through which again they determine the consciousness not only of the
present (which animals also have), but of the past and the future as
such; whence it results that they are the _modulus_, so to say, of
clear recollection, of circumspection, of foresight, and of intention;
the constant factor in the evolution of systematic co-operation, of
the state, of trades, arts, sciences, religions, and philosophies,
in short, of everything that so sharply distinguishes human from
animal life. Beasts have only intuitive ideas, and therefore also
only intuitive motives; consequently the dependence of their volition
ou motives is manifest. With man this dependence is no less a fact;
he, too (with due allowance for individual character), is affected
by motives under the strictest law of necessity. Only these are
for the most part not _intuitive_ but _abstract_ ideas, that is,
conceptions, or thoughts, which nevertheless are the result of previous
intuitions, hence of external influences. This, however, gives him
a relative freedom--relative, that is, as compared with an animal.
For his action is not determined (as it is in all other creatures) by
the surroundings of the moment as intuitively perceived, but by the
thoughts he has derived from experience, or gained by instruction.
Consequently the motive, by which he, too, is necessarily swayed, is
not always at once obvious to the looker-on simultaneously with the
act; it lies concealed in the brain. It is this that lends: to all his
movements, as well as to his conduct and work as a whole, a character
manifestly different from that observable in the habits of beasts. He
seems as though guided by finer, invisible threads; whence all his
acts bear the stamp of deliberation and premeditation, thus gaining
an appearance of independence, which sufficiently distinguishes them
from those of animals. All these great differences, however, spring
solely out of the capacity for =abstract ideas, concepts=. This
capacity is therefore the essential part of =Reason=, that is,
of the faculty peculiar to man, and it is called _το λόγιμον_,[16]
_το λογιστικον,_ =ratio, la ragione, il discorso, raison, reason,
discourse of reason=. If I were asked what the distinction is
between it and =Verstand=, _νοῡς_, =intellectus, entendement,
understanding=; I should reply thus: The latter is that capacity
for knowledge which animals also possess in varying degrees, and which
is seen in us at its highest development; in other words, it is the
direct consciousness of the law of =Causality=--a consciousness
which precedes £ill experience, being constituted by the very form
of the understanding, whose essential nature is, in fact, therein
contained. On it depends in the first place the intuitive perception of
the external world; for the senses by themselves are only capable of
=impression=, a thing which is very far from being =intuitive
perception=; indeed, the former is nothing but the material of the
latter: _νοῡς ὁρᾷ, καὶ νοῡς ἀκούει, τ'ἄλλα κωϕὰ καὶ τυϕλά._ (The mind
sees, the mind hears; everything else is deaf and blind.) =Intuitive
perception= is the result of our directly referring the impressions
of the sense-organs to their cause, which, exactly because of this
act of the intelligence, presents itself as an =external object=
under the mode of intuition proper to us, _i.e._, in =space=.
This is a proof that the Law of Causality is known to us _a priori_,
and does not arise from experience, since experience itself, inasmuch
as it presupposes intuitive perception, is only possible through the
same law. All the higher qualities of the intellect, all cleverness,
sagacity, penetration, acumen are directly proportional to the
exactness and fulness with which the workings of Causality in all its
relations are grasped; for all knowledge of the =connection=
of things, in the widest sense of the word, is based on the
comprehension of this law, and the clearness and accuracy with which
it is understood is the measure of one man's superiority to another
in =understanding=, shrewdness, cunning. On the other hand, the
epithet =reasonable= has at all times been applied to the man who
does not allow himself to be guided by intuitive impressions, but by
=thoughts= and =conceptions=, and who therefore always sets
to work logically after due reflection and forethought. Conduct of this
sort is everywhere known as =reasonable=. Not that this by any
means implies uprightness and love for one's fellows. On the contrary,
it is quite possible to act in the most reasonable way, that is,
according to conclusions scientifically deduced, and weighed with the
nicest exactitude; and yet to follow the most selfish, unjust, and even
iniquitons maxims. So that never before Kant did it occur to any one
to identify just, virtuous, and noble conduct with =reasonable=;
the two lines of behaviour have always been completely separated, and
kept apart. The one depends on the =kind of motivation=; the
other on the difference in fundamental principles. Only after Kant
(because he taught that virtue has its source in Pure Reason) did the
virtuous and the reasonable become one and the same thing, despite the
usage of these words which all languages have adopted--a usage which
is not fortuitous, but the work of universal, and therefore uniform,
human judgment. "Reasonable" and "vicious" are terms that go very
well together; indeed great, far-reaching crimes are only possible
from their union. Similarly, "unreasonable" and "noble-minded" are
often found associated; _e.g._, if I give to-day to the needy man
what I shall myself require to-morrow more urgently than he; or,
if I am so far affected as to hand over to one in distress the sum
which my creditor is waiting for; and such cases could be multiplied

We have seen that this exaltation of Reason to be the source of all
virtue rests on two assertions. First, as =Practical Reason=,
it is said to issue, like an oracle, peremptory Imperatives purely
_a priori._ Secondly, taken in connection with the false explanation
of =Theoretical Reason=, as given in the _Kritik der Reinen
Vernunft_, it is presented as a certain faculty essentially concerned
with the =Unconditioned=, as manifested in three alleged Ideas[17]
(the impossibility of which the intellect at the same time recognises
_a priori_). And we found that this position, as an _exemplar vitiis
imitabile_,[18] led our muddy-headed philosophers, Jacobi at their
head, from bad to worse. They talked of =Reason= (_Vernunft_)
as directly comprehending (_vernehmend_) the "=Supersensuous=,"
and absurdly declared that it is a certain mental property which has
to do essentially with things transcending all experience, _i.e._,
with metaphysics; and that it perceives directly and intuitively the
ultimate causes of all things, and of all Being, the Supersensuous,
the Absolute, the Divine, etc. Now, had it been wished to use Reason,
instead of deifying it, such assertions as these must long ago have
been met by the simple remark that, if man, by virtue of a special
organ, furnished by his Reason, for solving the riddle of the world,
possessed an innate metaphysics that only required development; in
that case there would have to be just as complete agreement on
metaphysical matters as on the truths of arithmetic and geometry; and
this would make it totally impossible that there should exist on the
earth a large number of radically different religions, and a still
larger number of radically different systems of philosophy. Indeed,
we may rather suppose that, if any one were found to differ from the
rest in his religious or philosophical views, he would be at once
regarded as a subject for mental pathology. Nor would the following
plain reflection have failed to present itself. If we discovered a
species of apes which intentionally prepared instruments for fighting,
or building, or for any other purpose; we should immediately admit
that it was endowed with Reason. On the other hand, if we meet with
savages destitute of all metaphysics, or of all religion (and there are
such); it does not occur to us to deny them Reason on that account.
The Reason that =proves= its pretended supersensuous knowledge
was duly brought back to bounds by Kant's critique; but Jacobi's
wonderful Reason, that directly =comprehends= the supersensuous,
he must indeed have thought =beneath= all criticism. Meanwhile, a
certain imperious and oracular Reason of the same kind is still, at the
Universities, fastened on the shoulders of our innocent youth.


If we wish to reach the real origin of this hypothesis of Practical
Reason, we must trace its descent a little further back. We shall find
that it is derived from a doctrine, which Kant totally confuted,
but which nevertheless, in this connection, lies secretly (indeed
he himself is not aware of it) at the root of his assumption of a
Practical Reason with its Imperatives and its Autonomy--a reminiscence
of a former mode of thought. I mean the so-called Rational Psychology,
according to which man is composed of two entirely heterogeneous
substances--the material body, and the immaterial soul. Plato was
the first to formulate this dogma, and he endeavoured to prove it
as an objective truth. But it was Descartes who, by working it out
with scientific exactness, perfectly developed and completed it. And
this is just what brought its fallacy to light, as demonstrated by
Spinoza, Locke, and Kant successively. It was demonstrated by Spinoza;
because his philosophy consists chiefly in the refutation of his
master's twofold dualism, and because he entirely and expressly denied
the two Substances of Descartes, and took as his main principle the
following proposition: "_Substantia cogitans et substantia externa
una eademque est substantia, quae jam sub hoc, jam sub illo attribute
comprehenditur._"[19] It was demonstrated by Locke; for he combated
the theory of innate ideas, derived all knowledge from the sensuous,
and taught that it is not impossible that Matter should think. And
lastly, it was demonstrated by Kant, in his _Kritik der Rationalen
Psychologie_, as given in the first edition. Leibnitz and Wolff were
the champions on the bad side; and this brought Leibnitz the undeserved
honour of being compared to the great Plato, who was really so unlike

But to enter into details here would be out of place. According to
this Rational Psychology, the soul was originally and in its essence
a =perceiving= substance, and only as a consequence thereof did
it become possessed of volition. According as it carried on these two
modes of its activity, Perception and Volition, conjoined with the
body, or incorporeal, and entirely _per se_, so it was endowed with a
lower or higher faculty of perception, and of volition in like kind.
In its higher faculty the immaterial soul was active solely by itself,
and without co-operation of the body. In this case it was _intellectus
purus_, being composed of concepts, belonging exclusively to itself,
and of the corresponding acts of will, both of which were absolutely
spiritual, and had nothing sensuous about them--the sensuous being
derived from the body.[20] So that it perceived nothing else but pure
Abstracts, Universals, innate conceptions, _aeternae veritates_,
etc.; wherefore also its volition was entirely controlled by purely
spiritual ideas like these. On the other hand, the soul's =lower=
faculty of Perception and Volition was the result of its working in
concert and close union with the various organs of the body, whereby a
prejudicial effect was produced on its an mixed spiritual activity.
Here, _i.e._, to this =lower= faculty, was supposed to belong
every =intuitive= perception, which consequently would have
to be obscure and confused, while the =abstract=, formed by
separating from objects their qualities, would be clear! The will,
which was determined by preceptions thus sensuously conditioned, formed
the lower Volition, and it was for the most part bad; for its acts
were guided by the impulse of the senses; while the other will (the
higher) was untrammelled, was guided by Pure Reason, and appertained
only to the immaterial soul. This doctrine of the Cartesians has been
best expounded by De la Forge, in his _Tractatus de Mente Humana_,
where in chap. 23 we read:[21] _Non nisi eadem voluntas est, quae
appellatur appetitus sensitivus, quando excitatur per judicia, quae
formantur consequenter ad perceptiones sensuum; et quae appetitus
rationalis nominatur, cum mens judicia format de propriis suis ideis,
independenter a cogitationibus sensuum confusis, quae inclinationum
ejus sunt causae.... Id, quod occasionem dedit, ut duae istae diversae
voluntatis propensiones pro duobus diversis appetitibus sumerentur,
est, quod saepissime unus alteri opponatur, quia propositum, quod mens
superaedificat propriis suis perceptionibus, non semper consentit cum
cogitationibus, quae menti a corporis dispositione suggeruntur, per
quam saepe obligatur ad aliquid volendum, dum ratio ejus earn aliud
optare facit._

Out of the dim reminiscence of such views there finally arose Kant's
doctrine of the Autonomy of the Will, which, as the mouth-piece of
Pure, Practical Reason, lays down the law for all rational beings as
such, and recognises nothing but =formal= motives, as opposed
to =material=; the latter determining only the lower faculty of
desires, to which the higher is hostile. For the rest, this whole
theory, which was not really systematically set forth till the time
of Descartes, is nevertheless to be found as far back as Aristotle.
In his _De Anima_ I. 1, it is sufficiently clearly stated; while
Plato in the _Phaedo_ (pp. 188 and 189, edit. Bipont.) had already
paved the way, with no uncertain hints. After being elaborated to
great perfection by the Cartesian doctrine, we find it a hundred
years later waxed bold and strong, and occupying the foremost place;
but precisely for this reason forced to reveal its true nature. An
excellent _résumé_ of the view which then prevailed is presented in
Muratori's _Della Forza della Fantasia,_ chaps. 1-4 and 13. In this
work the imagination is regarded as a parely material, corporeal organ
of the brain (the lower faculty of perception), its function being to
intuitively apprehend the external world on the data of the senses;
and nought remains for the immaterial soul but thinking, reflecting,
and determining. It must have been felt how obviously this position
involves the whole subject in doubt. For if Matter is capable of the
intuitive apprehension of the world in all its complexity, it is
inconceivable that it should not also be capable of abstracting this
intuition; wherefrom everything else would follow. Abstraction is of
course nothing else than an elimination of the qualities attaching to
things which are not necessary for general purposes, in other words,
the individual and special differences. For instance, if I disregard,
or abstract, that which is peculiar to the sheep, ox, stag, camel,
etc., I reach the conception of ruminants. By this operation the ideas
lose their intuitiveness, and as merely abstract, non-intuitive notions
or concepts, they require words to fix them in the consciousness, and
allow of their being adequately handled. All this shows that Kant
was still under the influence of the after-effect of that old-time
doctrine, when he propounded his Practical Reason with its Imperatives.

[1] These epigrams form the close of Schiller's poem "Die Philosophen,"
which is worth reading in this connection--(_Translator_.)

[2] More correctly, Huitzilopochtli: a Mexican deity.

[3] Or "shall," as in the "thou shall," of the Decalogue

[4] "_Des Pudels Kern_"; _V._ Goethe's _Faust_, Part I. _Studirzimmer._
Schopenhauer means that his analysis has forced the real meaning
out of Kant's language, just as Faust by his exorcism compels
Mephistopheles, who was in the form of a poodle, to resume his true

[5] _ὅ,τι_: _i.e._, the "what" a thing is; its principle, or

[6] _διότι_: _i.e._, the "wherefore" of a thing; its _raison d'être,_
its underlying cause.--(_Translator_.)

[7] Schopenhauer was doubtless thinking of the famous myth in
Plato's _Symposium_ Chap. 23 (Teubner's edition, Leipzig, 1875),
where Eros is represented as the offspring of _Πόρος_ and _Πενία_,
who on the birthday of Aphrodite were united in the garden of

[8] Hugo Grotius attributes it to the Emperor Severus.

[9] Azote=Nitrogen. The formula for Ammonium Chloride or Sal-ammoniac
is NH4Cl.--(_Translator_).

[10] To be found in the fifth number of the _Beiträge zur Uebersicht
der Philosophie am Anfange des_ 19. _Jahrhunderts_--a journal of the
greatest importance for critical philosophy.

[11] "_Einen erklecklichen_ SATZ, _ja, und der auch was_ SETZT."

[12] To argue from impossibility to non-existence is valid--_i.e._
the impossibility of a thing makes its non-existence a safe


_Dacht' ich's doch! Wissen sie nichts Vernünftiges mehr_
    _zu erwidern,_
_Schieben sie's Einem geschwind in das Gewissen hinein_.
                                  --SCHILLER, _Die Philosophen._

_Just as I thought! Can they give no more any answer of reason,_
_Quickly the ground is changed: Conscience, they say, is at fault._

[14] As from the Pythian tripod: _i.e._,--with official authority, _ex

[15] _V_. Aristoph., _Aves_, 819 _et alibi_.--(_Translator_.)

[16] _λόγιμος_ means "remarkable," being never used in the sense of
"rational." _Tὸ logikὸn_ is perhaps a possible expression; the right
word is _λόγος_.--(_Translator_.)

[17] The three Ideas are: (1) The Psychological; (2) The Cosmological;
(3) The Theological. _V_. The Paralogisms of Pure Reasons, in the
Dialectics: _Kritik der Reinen Vernunft,_ Part I.--(_Translator_.)

[18] An example easy to be imitated in its faults. _V_. Horace, _Ep._
Lib. I., xix. 17.--(_Translator_.)

[19] The thinking substance, and substance in extension are one and the
self-same substance, which is contained now under the latter attribute
(_i.e._, extension), now under the former (_i.e._, the attribute of
thinking).--_Ethica_, Part II., Prop. 7. Corollary.

[20] _Intellectio pura est intellectio, quae circa nullas imagines
corporeas versatur_. (Pure intelligence is intelligence that has
nothing to do with any bodily forms.)--Cart., _Medit_., p. 188.

[21] It is nothing but one and the same will, which at one time is
called sensuous desire, when it is stimulated by acts of judgment,
formed in consequence of perceptions of the senses; and which at
another time is called rational desire (_i.e._ desire of the reason),
when the mind forms acts of judgment about its own proper ideas,
independently of the thoughts belonging to, and mixed up with, the
senses; which thoughts are the causes of the mind's tendencies....
That these two diverse propensities of the will should be regarded as
two distinct desires is occasioned by the fact that very often the
one is opposed to the other, because the intention, which is built
up by the mind on the foundation of its own proper perceptions, does
not always agree with the thoughts which are suggested to the mind by
the body's disposition; whereby it (the mind) is often constrained
to will something, while its reason makes it choose something



After having tested in the preceding chapter the actual basis of Kant's
Ethics, I now turn to that which rests on it--his =leading principle
of Morals=. The latter is very closely connected with the former;
indeed, in a certain sense, they both grew up together. We have seen
that the formula expressing the principle reads as follows: "Act only
in accordance with that precept which you can also wish should be a
general law for all rational beings." It is a strange proceeding for a
man, who _ex hypothesi_ is seeking a law to determine what he should
do, and what he should leave undone, to be instructed first to search
for one fit to regulate the conduct of all possible rational beings;
but we will pass over that. It is sufficient only to notice the fact
that in the above guiding rule, as put forth by Kant, we have obviously
not reached the moral law itself, but only a finger-post, or indication
where it is to be looked for. The money, so to say, is not yet paid
down, but we hold a safe draft for it. And who, then, is the cashier?
To say the truth at once: a paymaster in this connection surely very
unexpected, being neither more nor less than =Egoism=, as I shall
now demonstrate.

The precept, it is said, which =I can wish= were the guide of all
men's conduct, is itself the real moral principle. That which =I can
wish= is the hinge on which the given direction turns. But what can
I truly wish, and what not? Clearly, in order to determine what I can
wish in the matter under discussion, I require yet another criterion;
for without such I could never find the key to the instruction which
comes to me like a sealed order. Where, then, is this criterion to
be discovered? Certainly nowhere else but in my Egoism, which is the
nearest, ever ready, original, and living standard of all volition, and
which has at any rate the _jus primi occupantis_ before every moral
principle. The direction for finding the real moral law, which is
contained in the Kantian rule, rests, as a matter of fact, on the tacit
assumption that I can only wish for that which is most to my advantage.
Now because, in framing a precept to be generally followed, I cannot
regard myself as always active, but must contemplate my playing a
=passive= part _eventualiter_ and at times; therefore from this
point of view my =egoism= decides for justice and loving-kindness;
not from any wish to =practise= these virtues, but because it
desires to =experience= them. We are reminded of the miser, who,
after listening to a sermon on beneficence, exclaims:

    "_Wie gründlich ausgeführt, wie schön!_--
       _Fast möcht' ich betteln gehn."_
    (How well thought out, how excellent!--
         Almost I'd like to beg.)

This is the indispensable key to the direction in which Kant's leading
principle of Ethics is embedded; nor can he help supplying it
himself. Only he refrains from doing so at the moment of propounding
his precept, lest we should feel shocked. It is found further on in
the text, at a decent distance, so as to prevent the fact at once
leaping to light, that here, after all, in spite of his grand _a
priori_ edifice, =Egoism= is sitting on the judge's seat, scales
in hand. Moreover, it does not occur, till after he has decided,
from the point of view of the _eventualiter_ passive side, that this
position holds good for the active _rôle_ as well. Thus, on p. 19 (R.,
p. 24) we read: "That I could not =wish= for a general law to
establish lying, because people would no longer believe me, or else
pay me back in the =same coin=." Again on p. 55 (R., p. 49): "The
universality of a law to the effect that every one could promise what
he likes, without any intention of keeping his word, would make the
promise itself, together with the object in view, whatever that might
be, impossible; for no one would =believe= it." On p. 56 (R., p.
50), in connection with the maxim of =hard-heartedness=, we find
the following: "A will, which should determine this, would contradict
itself; for cases can occur, in which a man needs the love and sympathy
of others, and in which he, by virtue of such a natural law, evolved
from his own will, would deprive himself of all hope of the help,
which he desires." Similarly in the _Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_
(Part I., vol. i., chap. 2, p. 123; R., p. 192): "If every one were to
regard others' distress with total indifference, and you were to belong
to such an order of things; would you be there with the concurrence
of your will?" _Quam temere in nosmet legem sancimus iniquam_![1]
one could reply. These passages sufficiently show in what sense the
phrase, "to be able to wish," in Kant's formula is to be understood.
But it is in the _Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Tugendlehre_, that
this real nature of his ethical principle is most clearly stated. In
§ 30 we read: "For every one wishes to be helped. If, however, a man
were to give utterance to his rule of unwillingness to help others,
all people would be justified in refusing him assistance. Thus this
rule of selfishness contradicts itself." =Would be justified=,
he says, =would be justified=! Here, then, it is declared, as
explicitly as anything can be, that moral obligation rests solely and
entirely on presupposed =reciprocity=; consequently it is utterly
selfish, and only admits of being interpreted by egoism, which, under
the condition of =reciprocity=, knows how to make a compromise
cleverly enough. Such a course would be quite in place if it were a
question of laying down the fundamentals of state-organisation, but
not, when we come to construct those of ethics. In the _Grundlegung_,
p. 81 (R., p. 67), the following sentence occurs: "The principle of
always acting in accordance with that precept which you can also wish
were universally established as law--this is the only condition under
which a man's will can never be in antagonism with itself." From what
has been said above, it will be apparent that the true meaning of the
word "antagonism" may be thus explained: if a man should sanction the
precept of injustice and hard-heartedness, he would subsequently, in
the event of his playing a =passive= part, recall it, and so his
will would =contradict= itself.

From this analysis it is abundantly clear that Kant's famous leading
principle is not--as he maintains with tireless repetition--a
=categorical=, but in reality a =hypothetical= Imperative;
because it tacitly presupposes the condition that the law to be
established for what I do--inasmuch as I make it universal--shall
also be a law for what is done to me; and because I, under this
condition, as the _eventualiter_ non-active party, =cannot=
possibly =wish= for injustice and hard-heartedness. But if I
strike out this proviso, and, trusting perhaps to my surpassing
strength of mind and body, think of myself as always =active=,
and never =passive=; then, in choosing the precept which is to
be universally valid, if there exists no basis for ethics other than
Kant's, I can perfectly well wish that injustice and hard-heartedness
should be the general rule, and consequently order the world

                        Upon the simple plan,
    That they should take, who have the power,
    And they should keep, who can.

In the foregoing chapter we showed that the Kantian leading principle
of Ethics is devoid of all real foundation. It is now clear that to
this singular defect must be added, notwithstanding Kant's express
assertion to the contrary, its concealed hypothetical nature, whereby
its basis turns out to be nothing else than Egoism, the latter being
the secret interpreter of the direction which it contains. Furthermore,
regarding it solely as a formula, we find that it is only a
periphrasis, an obscure and disguised mode of expressing the well-known
rule: _Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris_ (do not to another
what you are unwilling should be done to yourself); if, that is, by
omitting the _non_ and _ne_, we remove the limitation, and include the
duties taught by love as well as those prescribed by law. For it is
obvious that this is the only precept which I can wish should regulate
the conduct of all men (speaking, of course, from the point of view of
the possibly =passive part= I may play, where my =Egoism=
is touched). This rule, _Quod tibi fieri, etc._, is, however, in its
turn, merely a circumlocution for, or, if it be preferred, a premise
of, the proposition which I have laid down as the simplest and purest
definition of the conduct required by the common consent of all ethical
systems; namely, _Neminem laede, immo omnes, quantum potes, juva_ (do
harm to no one; but rather help all people, as far as lies in your
power). The true and real substance of Morals is this, and never can
be anything else. But on what is it based? What is it that lends force
to this command? This is the old and difficult problem with which man
is still to-day confronted. For, on the other side, we hear Egoism
crying with a loud voice: _Neminem juva, immo omnes, si forte conducit,
laede_ (help nobody, but rather injure all people, if it brings you any
advantage); nay more, Malice gives us the variant: _Immo omnes, quantum
potes, laede_ (but rather injure all people as far as you can). To
bring into the lists a combatant equal, or rather superior to Egoism
and Malice combined--this is the task of all Ethics. _Heic Rhodus, heic

The division of human duty into two classes has long been recognised,
and no doubt owes its origin to the nature of morality itself. We
have. (1) the duties ordained by law (otherwise called the--perfect,
obligatory, narrower duties), and (2) those prescribed by virtue
(otherwise called imperfect, wider, meritorious, or, preferably, the
duties taught by love). On p. 57 (R., p. 60) we find Kant desiring
to give a further confirmation to the moral principle, which he
propounded, by undertaking to derive this classification from it. But
the attempt turns out to be so forced, and so obviously bad, that
it only testifies in the strongest way against the soundness of his
position. For, according to him, the duties laid down by statutes rest
on a precept, the contrary of which, taken as a general natural law, is
declared to be quite =unthinkable= without contradiction; while
the duties inculcated by virtue are made to depend on a maxim, the
opposite of which can (he says) be conceived as a general natural law,
but cannot possibly be wished for. I beg the reader to reflect that the
rule of injustice, the reign of might instead of right, which in the
Kantian view is not even thinkable as a natural law, is in reality,
and in point of fact, the dominant order of things not only in the
animal kingdom, but among men as well. It is true that an attempt has
been made among civilised peoples to obviate its injurious effects by
means of all the machinery of state government; but as soon as this,
wherever, or of whatever kind, it be, is suspended or eluded, the
natural law immediately resumes its sway. Indeed between nation and
nation it never ceases to prevail; the customary jargon about justice
is well known to be nothing but diplomacy's official style; the real
arbiter is brute force. On the other hand, genuine, _i.e._, voluntary,
acts of justice, do occur beyond all doubt, but always only as
exceptions to the rule. Furthermore: wishing to give instances by way
of introducing the above-mentioned classification, Kant establishes the
duties prescribed by law first (p. 53; R., p. 48) through the so-called
duty towards oneself,--the duty of not ending one's life voluntarily,
if the pain outweigh the pleasure. Accordingly, the rule of suicide is
held to be not even =thinkable= as a general natural law. I, on
the contrary, maintain that, since here there can be no intervention
of state control, it is exactly this rule which is proved to be an
actually existing, unchecked natural law. For it is absolutely certain
(as daily experience attests) that men in the vast majority of cases
turn to self-destruction directly the gigantic strength of the innate
instinct of self-preservation is distinctly overpowered by great
suffering. To suppose that there is any thought whatever that can have
a deferring effect, after the fear of death, which is so strong and
so closely bound up with the nature of every living thing, has shown
itself powerless; in other words, to suppose that there is a thought
still mightier than this fear--is a daring assumption, all the more so,
when we see, that it is one which is so difficult to discover that the
moralists are not yet able to determine it with precision. In any case,
it is certain that arguments against suicide of the sort put forward
by Kant in this connection (p. 53: R., p. 48, and p. 67; R., p. 57)
have never hitherto restrained any one tired of life even for a moment.
Thus a natural law, which incontestably exists, and is operative every
day, is declared by Kant to be simply =unthinkable= without
contradiction, and all for the sake of making his Moral Principle the
basis of the classification of duties! At this point it is, I confess,
not without satisfaction that I look forward to the groundwork which I
shall give to Ethics in the sequel. From it the division of Duty into
what is prescribed by law, and what is taught by love, or, better,
into justice and loving-kindness, results quite naturally though a
principle of separation which arises from the nature of the subject,
and which entirely of itself draws a sharp line of demarkation; so that
the foundation of Morals, which I shall present, has in fact ready to
hand that confirmation, to which Kant, with a view to support his own
position, lays a completely groundless claim.

[1] How rashly do we sanction an unjust law, which will come home to
ourselves!--(Hor., _Sat_., Lib. I., iii. 67.)

[2] "Here is Rhodes, here make your leap!" _I.e._, "Here is the place
of trial, here let us see what you can do!" This Latin proverb is
derived from one of Aesop's fables. A braggart boasts of having once
accomplished a wonderful jump in Rhodes, and appeals to the evidence
of the eye-witnesses. The bystanders then exclaim: "Friend, if this
be true, you have no need of witnesses; for this is Rhodes, and your
leap you can make here." The words are: _ἀλλ', ὦ ϕίλε, εἰ τοῡtο ἀληθές
ἐστιν, oὐδὲν δεῑ σοι μαρτύρων αὕtη γὰρ 'Rόδος καὶ πήδημα_. _V._
_Fabulae Aesopicae Collectae_. Edit. Halm, Leipzig: Teubner. 1875. Nr.
203b, p. 102. The other version of the fable (Nr. 203, p. 101) gives:
_ὦ oὗtos, eἰ ἀlêthès τoῡτ ἐstin, oὐdὲn deῑ soi martyrôn ἰdoὺ ἡ Ρόδος,
ἰdoὺ kaὶ τὸ πήδημα._--(_Translator_.)



It is well known that Kant put the leading principle of his Ethics
into another quite different shape, in which it is expressed directly;
the first being indirect, indeed nothing more than an indication as
to how the principle is to be sought for. Beginning at p. 63 (R.,
p. 55), he prepares the way for his second formula by means of very
strange, ambiguous, not to say distorted,[1] definitions of the
conceptions =End= and =Means=, which may be much more simply
and correctly denoted thus: an =End= is the direct motive of an
act of the Will, a =Means= the indirect: _simplex sigillum veri_
(simplicity is the seal of truth). Kant, however, slips through his
wonderful enunciations to the statement: "=Man=, indeed every
rational being, exists =as an end in himself=." On this I must
remark that "to exist as an end in oneself==" is an unthinkable
expression, a _contradictio in adjecto_.[2] To be an end means to
be an object of volition. Every end can only exist in relation to a
will, whose end, _i.e._, (as above stated), whose direct motive it is.
Only thus can the idea, "end" have any sense, which is lost as soon as
such connection is broken. But this relation, which is essential to
the thing, necessarily excludes every "in itself." "End in oneself"
is exactly like saying: "Friend in oneself;--enemy in oneself;--uncle
in oneself;--north or east in itself;--above or below in itself;"
and so on. At bottom the "end in itself" is in the same case as the
"absolute ought"; the same thought--the theological--secretly, indeed,
unconsciously lies at the root of each as its condition. Nor is the
"absolute worth," which is supposed to be attached to this alleged,
though unthinkable, "end in itself," at all better circumstanced.
It also must be characterised, without pity, as a _contradictio in
adjecto_. Every "worth" is a valuation by comparison, and its bearing
is necessarily twofold. First, it is =relative=, since it exists
for some one; and secondly, it is =comparative=, as being compared
with something else, and estimated accordingly. Severed from these two
conditions, the conception, "worth," loses all sense and meaning, and
so obviously, that further demonstration is needless. But more: just
as the phrases "end in itself" and "absolute worth" outrage logic, so
true morality is outraged by the statement on p. 65 (R., p. 56), that
irrational beings (that is, animals) are =things=, and should
therefore be treated simply as =means=, which are not at the same
time ends. In harmony with this, it is expressly declared in the
_Metaphysische Anfanggründe der Tugendlehre,_ § 16: "A man can have no
duties towards any being, except towards his fellow-men;" and then, §
17, we read: "To treat animals cruelly runs counter to the duty of man
=towards himself=; because it deadens the feeling of sympathy for
them in their sufferings, and thus weakens a natural tendency which
is very serviceable to morality in relation to =other men=." So
one is only to have compassion on animals for the sake of practice,
and they are as it were the pathological phantom on which to train
one's sympathy with men! In common with the whole of Asia that is not
tainted by Islâm (which is tantamount to Judaism), I regard such tenets
as odious and revolting. Here, once again, we see withal how entirely
this philosophical morality, which is, as explained above, only a
theological one in disguise, depends in reality on the biblical Ethics.
Thus, because Christian morals leave animals out of consideration
(of which more later on); therefore in philosophical morals they
are of course at once outlawed; they are merely "things," simply
=means= to ends of any sort; and so they are good for vivisection,
for deer-stalking, bull-fights, horse-races, etc., and they may be
whipped to death as they struggle along with heavy quarry carts.
Shame on such a morality which is worthy of Pariahs, Chandalas and
Mlechchas[3]; which fails to recognise the Eternal Reality immanent
in everything that has life, and shining forth with inscrutable
significance from all eyes that see the sun! This is a morality which
knows and values only the precious species that gave it birth; whose
characteristic--=reason=--it makes the condition under which a
being may be an object of moral regard.

By this rough path, then,--indeed, _per fas et nefas_ (by fair means
and by foul), Kant reaches the second form in which he expresses the
fundamental principle of his Ethics: "Act in such a way that you at
all times treat mankind, as much in your own person, as in the person
of every one else, not only as a Means, but also as an End." Such a
statement is a very artificial and roundabout way of saying: "Do not
consider yourself alone, but others also;" this in turn is a paraphrase
for: _Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris_ (do not to another
what you are unwilling should be done to yourself); and the latter,
as I have said, contains nothing but the premises to the conclusion,
which is the true and final goal of all morals and of all moralising;
_Neminem laede, immo omnes, quantum potes juva_ (do harm to no one;
but rather help all people as far as lies in your power). Like all
beautiful things, this proposition looks best unveiled. Be it only
observed that the alleged duties towards oneself are dragged into this
second Kantian edict intentionally and not without difficulty. Some
place of course had to be found for them.[4]

Another objection that could be raised against the formula is that the
malefactor condemned to be executed is treated merely as an instrument,
and not as an end, and this with perfectly good reason; for he is
the indispensable means of upholding the terror of the law by its
fulfilment, and of thus accomplishing the law's end--the repression of

But if this second definition helps nothing towards laying a foundation
for Ethics, if it cannot even pass muster as its leading principle,
that is, as an adequate and direct summary of ethical precepts; it
has nevertheless the merit of containing a fine _aperçu_ of moral
psychology, for it marks =egoism= by an exceedingly characteristic
token, which is quite worth while being here more closely considered.
This =egoism=, then, of which each of us is full, and to conceal
which, as our _partie honteuse_, we have invented =politeness=,
is perpetually peering through every veil cast over it, and may
especially be detected in the fact that our dealings with all those,
who come across our path, are directed by the one object of trying
to find, before everything else, and as if by instinct, a possible
=means= to any of the numerous =ends= with which we are
always engrossed. When we make a new acquaintance, our first thought,
as a rule, is whether the man can be useful to us in some way. If he
can do =nothing= for our benefit, then as soon as we are convinced
of this, he himself generally becomes nothing to us. To seek in all
other people a possible means to our ends, in other words, to make
them our instruments, is almost part of the very nature of human
eyes; and whether the instrument will have to suffer more or less
in the using, is a thought which comes much later, sometimes not at
all. That we assume others to be similarly disposed is shown in many
ways; _e.g._, by the fact that, when we ask any one for information
or advice, we lose all confidence in his words directly we discover
that he may have some =interest= in the matter, however small or
remote. For then we immediately take for granted that he will make us
a means to his ends, and hence give his advice not in accordance with
his =discernment=, but with his =desire=, and this, no matter
how exact the former may be, or how little the latter seem involved;
since we know only too well that a cubic inch of desire weighs much
more than a cubic yard of discernment. Conversely, when we ask in such
cases: "What ought I to do?" as a rule, nothing else will occur to our
counsellor, but how we should shape our action to suit his own ends;
and to this effect he will give his reply immediately, and as it were
mechanically, without so much as bestowing a thought on our ends;
because it is his Will that directly dictates the answer, or ever the
question can come before the bar of his real judgment. Hence he tries
to mould our conduct to his own benefit, without even being conscious
of it, and while he supposes that he is speaking out of the abundance
of his discernment, in reality he is nothing but the mouth-piece of
his own desire; indeed, such self-deception may lead him so far as to
utter lies, without being aware of it. So greatly does the influence of
the Will preponderate that of the Intelligence. Consequently, it is not
the testimony of our own consciousness, but rather, for the most part,
that of our interest, which avails to determine whether our language be
in accordance with what we discern, or what we desire. To take another
case. Let us suppose that a man pursued by enemies and in danger of
life, meets a pedlar and inquires for some by-way of escape; it may
happen that the latter will answer him by the question: "Do you need
any of my wares?" It is not of course meant that matters are always
like this. On the contrary, many a man is found to show a direct and
real participation in another's weal and woe, or (in Kant's language)
to regard him as an end and not as a means. How far it seems natural,
or the reverse, to each one to treat his neighbour for once in the way
as an end, instead of (as usual) a means,--this is the criterion of the
great ethical difference existing between character and character; and
that on which the mental attitude of sympathy rests in the last resort
will be the true basis of Ethics, and will form the subject of the
third part of this Essay.

Thus, in his second formula, Kant distinguishes Egoism and its opposite
by a very characteristic trait; and this point of merit I have all the
more gladly brought out into strong light and illustrated, because in
other respects there is little in the groundwork of his Ethics that I
can admit.

The third and last form in which Kant put forward his Moral Principle
is the =Autonomy= of the Will: "The Will of every rational
being is universally legislative for all rational beings." This of
course follows from the first form. As a consequence of the third,
however, we are asked to believe (see p. 71; R., p. 60) that the
specific characteristic of the Categorical Imperative lies in the
=renunciation of all interest= by the Will when acting from a
sense of duty. All previous moral principles had thus (he says) broken
down, "because the latter invariably attributed to human actions at
bottom a certain interest, whether originating in compulsion, or
in pleasurable attraction--an interest which might be one's own,
or another's" (p. 73; R., p. 62). (=Another's=: let this be
particularly noticed.) "Whereas a universally legislative Will must
prescribe actions which are =not= based on any =interest= at
all, but solely on a feeling of duty." I beg the reader to think what
this really means. As a matter of fact, nothing less than volition
without motive, in other words, effect without cause. Interest and
Motive are interchangeable ideas; what is interest but _quod mea
interest_, that which is of importance to me? And is not this, in one
word, whatever stirs and sets in motion my Will? Consequently, what is
an interest other than the working of a motive upon the Will? Therefore
where a motive moves the Will, there the latter has an interest; but
where the Will is affected by no motive, there in truth it can be as
little active, as a stone is able to leave its place without being
pushed or pulled. No educated person will require any demonstration of
this. It follows that every action, inasmuch as it necessarily must
have a motive, necessarily also presupposes an interest. Kaut, however,
propounds a second entirely new class of actions which are performed
without any interest, _i.e._, without motive. And these actions
are--all deeds of justice and loving-kindness! It will be seen that
this monstrous assumption, to be refuted, needed only to be reduced to
its real meaning, which was concealed through the word "interest" being
trifled with. Meanwhile Kant celebrates (p. 74 sqq.; R., p. 62) the
triumph of his Autonomy of the Will by setting up a moral Utopia called
the Kingdom of Ends, which is peopled with nothing but =rational
beings= _in abstracto_. These, one and all, are always willing,
without willing any actual =thing= (_i.e._, without interest):
the only thing that they will is that they may all perpetually will in
accordance with one maxim (_i.e._, Autonomy). _Difficile est satiram
non scribere_[5] (it is difficult to refrain from writing a satire).

But there is something else to which Kant is led by his autonomy of
the will; and it involves more serious consequences than the little
innocent Kingdom of Ends, which is perfectly harmless and may be left
in peace. I mean the conception of =human dignity=. Now this
"dignity" is made to rest solely on man's autonomy, and to lie in the
fact that the law which he ought to obey is his own work, his relation
to it thus being the same as that of the subjects of a constitutional
government to their statutes. As an ornamental finish to the Kantian
system of morals such a theory might after all be passed over. Only
this expression "=Human Dignity=," once it was uttered by Kant,
became the shibboleth of all perplexed and empty-headed moralists. For
behind that imposing formula they concealed their lack, not to say,
of a real ethical basis, but of any basis at all which was possessed
of an intelligible meaning; supposing cleverly enough that their
readers would be so pleased to see themselves invested with such a
"dignity" that they would be quite satisfied.[6] Let us, however,
look at this conception a little more carefully, and submit it to
the test of reality. Kant (p. 79; R., p. 66) defines =dignity=
as "an unconditioned, incomparable value." This is an explanation
which makes such an effect by its magnificent sound that one does
not readily summon up courage to examine it at close quarters; else
we should find that it too is nothing but a hollow hyperbole, within
which there lurks like a gnawing worm, the _contradictio in adjecto_.
Every value is the estimation of one thing compared with another; it
is thus a conception of comparison, and consequently relative; and
this relativity is precisely that which forms the essence of the idea.
According to Diogenes Laertius (Book VII., chap. 106),[7] this was
already correctly taught by the Stoics. He says: _τὴn δὲ ἀξίαν εἶναι
ἀμοιβὴν δοκιμάστου, ἢν ἂν ὁ ἔμπειρος τῶν Πραγμάτων τάξῃ ὅμοιον εἐπεῑν,
ἀμείβεσθαι πυροὺς πρὸς τὰς σὺν ἡμιονô κριθάς._[8] An =incomparable,
unconditioned, absolute value=, such as "dignity" is declared by
Kant to be, is thus, like so much else in Philosophy, the statement in
words of a thought which is really unthinkable; just as much as "the
highest number," or "the greatest space."

       "_Doch eben wo Begriffe fehlen_,
    _Da stellt ein WORT zu rechter Zeit sich ein._"
           (But where conceptions fail,
    Just there a WORD comes in to fill the blank.)

So it was with this expression, "=Human Dignity=." A most
acceptable phrase was brought into currency. Thereon every system of
Morals, that was spun out through all classes of duty, and all forms of
casuistry, found a broad basis; from which serene elevation it could
comfortably go on preaching.

At the end of his exposition (p. 124; E., p. 97), Kant says: "But how
it is that =Pure Reason= without other motives, that may have
their derivation elsewhere, can by itself be =practical=; that is,
how, without there being any object for the Will to take an antecedent
interest in, the simple principle of the universal validity of all the
precepts of Pure Reason, as laws, can of itself provide a motive and
bring about an interest which may be called purely moral; or, in other
words, how it is that Pure Reason can be practical;--to explain this
problem, all human reason is inadequate, and all trouble and work spent
on it are vain." Now it should be remembered that, if any one asserts
the existence of a thing which cannot even be conceived as possible, it
is incumbent ou him to prove that it is an actual reality; whereas the
Categorical Imperative of Practical Reason is expressly not put forward
as a fact of consciousness, nor otherwise founded on experience. Rather
are we frequently cautioned not to attempt to explain it by having
recourse to empirical anthropology. (Cf. _e.g._, p. vi. of the preface;
R., p. 5; and pp. 59, 60; R., p. 52). Moreover, we are repeatedly
(_e.g._, p. 48; R., p. 44) assured "that no instance can show, and
consequently there can be no empirical proof, that an Imperative of
this sort exists everywhere." And further, on p. 49 (R., p. 45), we
read, "that the reality of the Categorical Imperative is not a fact of
experience." Now if we put all this together, we can hardly avoid the
suspicion that Kant is jesting at his readers' expense. But although
this practice may be allowed by the present philosophical public of
Germany, and seem good in their eyes, yet in Kant's time it was not so
much in vogue; and besides, Ethics, then, as always, was precisely the
subject that least of all could lend itself to jokes. Hence we must
continue to hold the conviction that what can neither be conceived as
possible, nor proved as actual, is destitute of all credentials to
attest its existence. And if, by a strong effort of the imagination,
we try to picture to ourselves a man, possessed, as it were, by a
_daemon_, in the form of an =absolute Ought=, that speaks only in
Categorical Imperatives, and, confronting his wishes and inclinations,
claims to be the perpetual controller of his actions; in this figure
we see no true portrait of human nature, or of our inner life; what we
=do= discern is an artificial substitute for theological Morals,
to which it stands in the same relation as a wooden leg to a living one.

Our conclusion, therefore, is, that the Kantian Ethics, like all
anterior systems, is devoid of any sure foundation. As I showed at
the outset, in my examination of its =imperative Form=, the
structure is at bottom nothing but an inversion of theological Morals,
cloaked in very abstract formulae of an apparently _a priori_ origin.
That this disguise was most artificial and unrecognisable is the more
certain, from the fact that Kant, in all good faith, was actually
himself deceived by it, and really believed that he could establish,
independently of all theology, and on the basis of pure intelligence _a
priori_, those conceptions of the Law and of the hests of Duty, which
obviously have no meaning except in =theological Ethics=; whereas
I have sufficiently proved that with him they are destitute of all real
foundation, and float loosely in mid air. However, the mask at length
falls away in his own workshop, and theological Ethics stands forth
unveiled, as witness his doctrine of the Highest Good, the Postulates
of Practical Reason; and lastly, his Moral Theology. But this
revelation freed neither Kant nor the public from their illusion as to
the real state of things; on the contrary, both he and they rejoiced to
see all those precepts, which hitherto had been sanctioned by Faith,
now ratified and established by Ethics (although only _idealiter_, and
for practical purposes). The truth is that they, in all sincerity, put
the effect for the cause, and the cause for the effect, inasmuch as
they failed to perceive that at the root of this system of Morals there
lay, as absolutely necessary assumptions, however tacit and concealed,
all the alleged consequences that had been drawn from it.

At the end of this severe investigation, which must also have been
tiring to my readers, perhaps I may be allowed, by way of diversion, to
make a jesting, indeed frivolous comparison. I would liken Kant, in his
self-mystification, to a man who at a ball has been flirting the whole
evening with a masked beauty, in hopes of making a conquest; till at
last, throwing off her disguise, she reveals herself--as his wife.

[1] To keep the play of words in "_geschrobene," "verschrobene,"_ we
may perhaps render them: "twisted ... mistwisted."--(_Translator._)

[2] A contradiction in that which is added. A term applied to two ideas
which cannot be brought into a thinkable relationship.--(_Translator._)

[3] A Chaṇḍāla (or Ćaṇḍāla) means one who is born of a Brahman woman
by a Śūdra husband, such a union being an abomination. Hence it is a
term applied to a low common person. Mlechcha (or Mleććha) means a
foreigner; one who does not speak Sanskṛit, and is not subject to Hindu
institutions. The transition from a "a barbarian" to a bad or wicked
man, is easy.--(_Translator_.)

[4] These so-called duties have been discussed in Chapter III. of this

[5] Juvenal, _Sat_. I. 30.

[6] It appears that G. W. Block in his _Neue Grundlegung der
Philosophie der Sitten_, 1802, was the first to make "Human Dignity"
expressly and exclusively the foundation-stone of Ethics, which he then
built up entirely on it.

[7] _V_. Diogenes Laertius, _de Clarorum Philosophorum Vitis, etc._,
edit. O. Gabr. Cobet. Paris; Didot, 1862. In this edition the passage
quoted is in chap. 105 _ad fin.,_, p. 182.--(_Translator_.)

[8] They teach that "worth" is the equivalent value of a thing
which has been tested, whatever an expert may fix that value to
be; as, for instance, to take wheat in exchange for barley and a



The alleged Practical Reason with its Categorical Imperative, is
manifestly very closely connected with Conscience, although essentially
different from it in two respects. In the first place, the Categorical
Imperative, as commanding, necessarily speaks =before= the
act, whereas Conscience does not till afterwards. =Before=
the act Conscience can at best only speak =indirectly=, that
is, by means of reflection, which holds up to it the recollection
of previous cases, in which similar acts after they were committed
received its disapproval. It is on this that the etymology of the word
=Gewissen= (Conscience) appears to me to rest, because =only
what has already taken place is gewiss=[1] (certain). Undoubtedly,
through external inducement and kindled emotion, or by reason of the
internal discord of bad humour, impure, base thoughts, and evil desires
rise up in all people, even in the best. But for these a man is not
morally responsible, and need not load his conscience with them;
since they only show what the genus _homo,_ not what the individual,
who thinks them, would be capable of doing. Other motives, if not
simultaneously, yet almost immediately, come into his consciousness,
and confronting the unworthy inclinations prevent them from ever being
crystallised into deeds; thus causing them to resemble the out-voted
minority of an acting committee. By deeds alone each person gains an
empirical knowledge no less of himself than of others, just as it is
deeds alone that burden the conscience. For, unlike thoughts, these are
not problematic; on the contrary, they are certain (_gewiss_), they are
unchangeable, and are not only thought, but =known= (_gewusst_).
The Latin _conscientia_,[2] and the Greek _συνείδησις_[3] have the same
sense. Conscience is thus the =knowledge= that a man has about
what he has done.

The second point of difference between the alleged Categorical
Imperative and Conscience is, that the latter always draws its
material from experience; which the former cannot do, since it is
purely _a priori_. Nevertheless, we may reasonably suppose that Kant's
Doctrine of Conscience will throw some light on this new conception
of an =absolute Ought= which he introduced. His theory is
most completely set forth in the _Metaphysische Anfangsgründe zur
Tugendlehre_, § 13, and in the following criticism I shall assume that
the few pages which contain it are lying before the reader.

The Kantian interpretation of Conscience makes an exceedingly imposing
effect, before which one used to stand with reverential awe, and
all the less confidence was felt in demurring to it, because there
lay heavy on the mind the ever-present fear of having theoretical
objections construed as practical, and, if the correctness of Kant's
view were denied, of being regarded as devoid of conscience. I,
however, cannot be led astray in this manner, since the question
here is of theory, not of practice; and I am not concerned with the
preaching of Morals, but with the exact investigation of the ultimate
ethical basis.

We notice at once that Kant employs exclusively Latin legal
terminology, which, however, would seem little adapted to reflect the
most secret stirrings of the human heart. Yet this language, this
judicial way of treating the subject, he retains from first to last,
as though it were essential and proper to the matter. And so we find
brought upon the stage of our inner self a complete Court of justice,
with indictment, judge, plaintiff, defendant, and sentence;--nothing is
wanting. Now if this tribunal, as portrayed by Kant, really existed in
our breasts, it would be astonishing if a single person could be found
to be, I do not say, =so bad=, but =so stupid=, as to act
against his conscience. For such a supernatural assize, of an entirely
special kind, set up in our consciousness, such a secret court--like
another Fehmgericht[4]--held in the dark recesses of our inmost being,
would inspire everybody with a terror and fear of the gods strong
enough to really keep him from grasping at short transient advantages,
in face of the dreadful threats of superhuman powers, speaking in tones
so near and so clear. In real life, on the contrary, we find, that
the efficiency of conscience is generally considered such a vanishing
quantity that all peoples have bethought themselves of helping it out
by means of positive religion, or even of entirely replacing it by the
latter. Moreover, if Conscience were indeed of this peculiar nature,
the Royal Society could never have thought of the question put for the
present Prize Essay.

But if we look more closely at Kant's exposition, we shall find
that its imposing effect is mainly produced by the fact that he
attributes to the moral verdict passed on ourselves, as its peculiar
and essential characteristic, a form which in fact is not so at all.
This metaphorical bar of judgment is no more applicable to moral
self-examination than it is to every other reflection as regards
what we have done, and might have done otherwise, where no ethical
question is involved. For it is not only true that the same procedure
of indictment, defence, and sentence is occasionally assumed by that
obviously spurious and artificial conscience which is based on mere
superstition; as, for instance, when a Hindu reproaches himself with
having been the murderer of a cow, or when a Jew remembers that he has
smoked his pipe at home on the Sabbath; but even the self-questioning
which springs from no ethical source, being indeed rather unmoral than
moral, often appears in a shape of this sort, as the following case
may exemplify. Suppose I, good-naturedly, but thoughtlessly, have made
myself surety for a friend, and suppose there comes with evening the
clear perception of the heavy responsibility I have taken on myself--a
responsibility that may easily involve me in serious trouble, as the
wise old saying, _ἐγγύα παρά δ' ἃτα_![5] predicts; then at once there
rise up within me the Accuser and the Counsel for the defence, ready
to confront each other. The latter endeavours to palliate my rashness
in giving bail so hastily, by pointing out the stress of circumstance
or of obligation, or, it may be, the simple straightforwardness of
the transaction; perhaps he even seeks excuse by commending my kind
heart. Last of all comes the Judge who inexorably passes the sentence:
"A fool's piece of work!" and I am overwhelmed with confusion So much
for this judicial form of which Kant is so fond; his other modes of
expression are, for the most part, open to the same criticism. For
instance, that which he attributes to conscience, at the beginning of
the paragraph, as its peculiar property, applies equally to all other
scruples of an entirely different sort. He says: "It (conscience)
follows him like his shadow, try though he may to escape. By pleasures
and distractions he may be stupefied and billed to sleep, but he
cannot avoid occasionally waking up and coming to himself; and then he
is immediately aware of the terrible voice," etc. Obviously, this may
be just as well understood, word for word, of the secret consciousness
of some person of private means, who feels that his expenses far exceed
his income, and that thus his capital is being affected, and will
gradually melt away.

We have seen that Kant represents the use of legal terms as essential
to the subject, and that he keeps to them from beginning to end; let
it now be noted how he employs the same style for the following finely
devised sophism. He says: "That a person accused by his conscience
should be identified with the judge is an absurd way of portraying a
court of justice; for in that case the accuser would invariably lose."
And he adds, by way of elucidating this statement, a very ambiguous
and obscure note. His conclusion is that, if we would avoid falling
into a contradiction, we must think of the judge (in the judicial
conscience-drama that is enacted in our breasts) as different from us,
in fact, as another person; nay more, as one that is an omniscient
knower of hearts, whose hests are obligatory on all, and who is
almighty for every purpose of executive authority.[6] He thus passes by
a perfectly smooth path from conscience to superstition, making the
latter a necessary consequence of the former; while he is secretly sure
that he will be all the more willingly followed because the reader's
earliest training will have certainly rendered him familiar with such
ideas, if not have made them his second nature. Here, then, Kant finds
an easy task,--a thing he ought rather to have despised; for he
should have concerned himself not only with preaching, but also with
practising truthfulness. I entirely reject the above quoted sentence,
and all the conclusions consequent thereon, and I declare it to be
nothing but a shuffling trick. It is =not true= that the accuser
must always lose, when the accused is the same person as the judge;
at least not in the court of judgment in our hearts. In the instance
I gave of one man going surety for another, did the accuser lose? Or
must we in this case also, if we wish to avoid a contradiction, really
assume a personification after Kant's fashion, and be driven to view
objectively as =another person= that voice whose deliverance would
have been those terrible words: "A fool's piece of work!"? A sort of
Mercury, forsooth, in living flesh? Or perhaps a prosopopoeia of the
_Μῆτις_ (cunning) recommended by Homer (_Il._ xxiii. 313 sqq.)?[7]
But thus we should only be landed, as before, on the broad path of
superstition, aye, and pagan superstition too.

It is in this passage that Kant indicates his Moral Theology, briefly
indeed, yet not without all its vital points. The fact that he takes
care, not to attribute to it any objective validity, but rather to
present it merely as a form subjectively unavoidable, does not free him
from the arbitrariness with which he constructs it, even though he only
claims its necessity for human consciousness. His fabric rests, as we
have seen, on a tissue of baseless assumptions.

So much, then, is certain. The entire imagery--that of a judicial
drama--whereby Kant depicts conscience is wholly unessential and in
no way peculiar to it; although he keeps this figure, as if it were
proper to the subject, right through to the end, in order finally
to deduce certain conclusions from it. As a matter of fact it is a
sufficiently common form, which our thoughts easily take when we
consider any circumstance of real life. It is due for the most part to
the conflict of opposing motives which usually spring up, and which
are successively weighed and tested by our reflecting reason. And no
difference is made whether these motives are moral or egoistic in their
nature, nor whether our deliberations are concerned with some action in
the past, or in the future. Now if we strip from Kant's exposition its
dress of legal metaphor, which is only an optional dramatic appendage,
the surrounding nimbus with all its imposing effect immediately
disappears as well, and there remains nothing but the fact that
sometimes, when we think over our actions, we are seized with a certain
self-dissatisfaction, which is marked by a special characteristic.
It is with our conduct _per se_ that we are discontented, not with
its result, and this feeling does not, as in every other case in
which we regret the stupidity of our behaviour, rest on egoistic
grounds. For on these occasions the cause of our dissatisfaction is
precisely because we have been too egoistic, because we have taken
too much thought for ourselves, and not enough for our neighbour; or
perhaps even because, without any resulting advantage, we have made
the misery of others an object in itself. That we may be dissatisfied
with ourselves, and saddened by reason of sufferings which we have
inflicted, not undergone, is a plain fact and impossible to be denied.
The connection of this with the only ethical basis that can stand an
adequate test we shall examine further on. But Kant, like a clever
special pleader, tried by magnifying and embellishing the original
_datum_ to make all that he possibly could of it, in order to prepare a
very broad foundation for his Ethics and Moral Theology.

[1] Both words are, of course, derived from _wissen = scire_ =

[2] Cf. Horace's _conscire sibi, pallescere culpa: Epist_. I. 1, 61. To
be conscious of having done wrong, to turn pale at the thought of the

[3] _Συνείδησις = consciousness_ (of right or wrong

[4] The celebrated Secret Tribunal of Westphalia, which came into
prominence about A.D. 1220. In A.D. 1335 the Archbishop of Cologne was
appointed head of all the Fehme benches in Westphalia by the Emperor
Charles IV. The reader will remember the description of the trial scene
in Scott's _Anne of Geierstein_. Perhaps the Court of Star Chamber
comes nearest to it in English History.--(_Translator._)

[5] If you give a pledge, be sure that Ate (the goddess of mischief)
is beside you; _i.e._, beware of giving pledges.--Thales ap. Plat.
_Charm_. 165 A.

[6] Kant leads up to this position with great ingenuity, by having
recourse to the theory of the two characters coexistent in man--the
_noumenal_ (or _intelligible_) and the _empirical_; the one being in
time, the other, timeless; the one, fast bound by the law of causality,
the other free.--(_Translator._)

[7] Greek: _Άλλ' ἄγε δὴ σύ, ϕίλος, μêτιν ἐμβάλλεο θυμῷ, κ.τ.λ._



The attack I have made, in the cause of truth, on Kant's system of
Morals, does not, like those of my predecessors, touch the surface
only, but penetrates to its deepest roots. It seems, therefore,
only just that, before I leave this part of my subject, I should
bring to remembrance the brilliant and conspicuous service which he
nevertheless rendered to ethical science. I allude to his doctrine of
the co-existence of Freedom and Necessity. We find it first in the
_Kritik der Reinen Vernunft_ (pp. 533-554 of the first, and pp. 561-582
of the fifth, edition); but it is still more clearly expounded in the
_Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft_ (fourth edition, pp. 169-179; R., pp.

The strict and absolute necessity of the acts of Will, determined by
motives as they arise, was first shown by Hobbes, then by Spinoza,
and Hume, and also by Dietrich von Holbach in his _Système de la
Nature_; and lastly by Priestley it was most completely and precisely
demonstrated. This point, indeed, has been so clearly proved, and
placed beyond all doubt, that it must be reckoned among the number of
perfectly established truths, and only crass ignorance could continue
to speak of a freedom, of a _liberum arbitrium indifferentiae_ (a
free and indifferent choice) in the individual acts of men. Nor did
Kant, owing to the irrefutable reasoning of his predecessors, hesitate
to consider the Will as fast bound in the chains of Necessity, the
matter admitting, as he thought, of no further dispute or doubt. This
is proved by all the passages in which he speaks of freedom only from
the =theoretical= standpoint. Nevertheless, it is true that our
actions are attended with a consciousness of independence and original
initiative, which makes us recognise them as our own work, and every
one with ineradicable certainty feels that he is the real author
of his conduct, and morally =responsible= for it. But since
responsibility implies the possibility of having acted otherwise,
which possibility means freedom in some sort or manner; therefore
in the consciousness of responsibility is indirectly involved also
the consciousness of freedom. The key to resolve the contradiction,
that thus arises out of the nature of the case, was at last found by
Kant through the distinction he drew with profound acumen, between
phaenomena and the Thing in itself (_das Ding an sich_). This
distinction is the very core of his whole philosophy, and its greatest

The individual, with his immutable, innate character strictly
determined in all his modes of expression by the law of Causality,
which, as acting through the medium of the intellect, is here called
by the name of Motivation,--the individual so constituted is only the
=phaenomenon= (_Erscheinung_). The =Thing= in itself which
underlies this phaenomenon is outside of Time and Space, consequently
free from all succession and plurality, one, and changeless. Its
constitution in itself is the =intelligible character=, which
is equally present in all the acts of the individual, and stamped on
every one of them, like the impress of a signet on a thousand seals.
The empirical character of the phaenomenon--the character which
manifests itself in time, and in succession of acts--is thus determined
by the intelligible character; and consequently, the individual, as
phaenomenon, in all his modes of expression, which are called forth
by motives, must show the invariableness of a natural law. Whence it
results that all his actions are governed by strict necessity. Now
it used to be commonly maintained that the character of a man may
be transformed by moral admonitions and remonstrances appealing to
reason; but when the distinction between the intelligible and empirical
character had once been drawn, it followed that the unchangeableness,
the inflexible rigidity of the empirical character, which thinking
people had always observed, was explained and traced to a rational
basis, and consequently accepted as an established fact by Philosophy.
Thus the latter was so far harmonised with experience, and ceased to
stand abashed, before popular wisdom, which long before had spoken the
words of truth in the Spanish proverb: _Lo que entra con el capillo,
sale con la mortaja_ (that which comes in with the child's cap, goes
out with the winding-sheet); or: _Lo que en la leche se mama, en la
mortaja se derrama_ (what is imbibed with the milk, is poured out again
in the winding-sheet).

This doctrine of the co-existence of Freedom and Necessity I regard
as the greatest of all the achievements of human sagacity. With the
Transcendental Aesthetics it forms the two great diamonds in the crown
of Kant's fame, which will never pass away. In his Treatise on Freedom,
Schelling obviously served up the Kantian teaching in a paraphrase,
which by reason of its lively colouring and graphic delineation, is for
many people more comprehensible. The work would deserve praise if its
author had had the honesty to say that he is drawing on Kant's wisdom,
not on his own. As it is, a certain part of the philosophic public
still credits him with the entire performance.

The theory itself, and the whole question regarding the nature of
Freedom, can be better understood if we view them in connection with
a general truth, which I think, is most concisely expressed by a
formula frequently occurring in the scholastic writings: _Operari
sequitur esse_.[2] In other words, everything in the world operates in
accordance with what it is, in accordance with its inherent nature, in
which, consequently, all its modes of expression are already contained
potentially, while actually they are manifested when elicited by
external causes; so that external causes are the means whereby the
essential constitution of the thing is revealed. And the modes of
expression so resulting form the =empirical= character; whereas
its hidden, ultimate basis, which is inaccessible to experience, is
the =intelligible= character, that is, the real nature _per se_
of the particular thing in question. Man forms no exception to the
rest of nature; he too has a changeless character, which, however,
is strictly individual and different in each case. This character is
of course =empirical= as far as we can grasp it, and therefore
only =phaenomenal=; while the =intelligible= character is
whatever may be the real nature in itself of the person. His actions
one and all, being, as regards their external constitution, determined
by motives, can never be shaped otherwise than in accordance with the
unchangeable individual character. As a man is, so he his bound to act.
Hence for a given person in every single case, there is absolutely only
one way of acting possible: _Operari sequitur esse_[3] Freedom belongs
only to the intelligible character, not to the empirical. The _operari_
(conduct) of a given individual is necessarily determined externally
by motives, internally by his character; therefore everything that he
does necessarily takes place. But in his _esse_ (_i.e._, in what he
is), =there=, we find Freedom. He =might have been= something
different; and guilt or merit attaches to that which he is. All that
he does follows from what he is, as a mere corollary. Through Kant's
doctrine we are freed from the primary error of connecting Necessity
with _esse_ (what one is), and Freedom with _operari_ (what one does);
we become aware that this is a misplacement of terms, and that exactly
the inverse arrangement is the true one. Hence it is clear that the
moral responsibility of a man, while it, first of all, and obviously,
of course, touches what he does, yet at bottom touches what he is;
because, what he is being the original =datum=, his conduct, as
motives arise, could never take any other course than that which it
actually does take. But, however strict be the necessity, whereby,
in the individual, acts are elicited by motives, it yet never occurs
to anybody--not even to him who is convinced of this necessity--to
exonerate himself on that account, and cast the blame on the motives;
for he knows well enough that, objectively considered, any given
circumstance, and its causes, perfectly admitted quite a different,
indeed, a directly opposite course of action; nay, that such a course
would actually have taken place, =if only he had been a different
person=. That he is precisely such a one as his conduct proclaims
him to be, and no other--this it is for which he feels himself
responsible; in his _esse_ (what he is) lies the vulnerable place,
where the sting of conscience penetrates. For Conscience is nothing
but acquaintance with one's own self--an acquaintance that arises out
of one's actual mode of conduct, and which becomes ever more intimate.
So that it is the _esse_ (what one is) which in reality is accused
by conscience, while the _operari_ (what one does) supplies the
incriminating evidence. Since we are only conscious of =Freedom=
through the sense of =responsibility=; therefore where the latter
lies the former must also be; in the _esse_ (in one's being). It is
the _operari_ (what one does) that is subject to necessity. But we can
only get to know ourselves, as well as others =empirically=; we
have no _a priori_ knowledge of our character. Certainly our natural
tendency is to cherish a very high opinion of it, because the maxim:
_Quisque praesumitur bonus, donec probetur contrarium_ (every one is
presumed to be good, until the contrary is proved), is perhaps even
more true of the inner court of justice than of the world's tribunals.


He who is capable of recognising the essential part of a thought,
though clothed in a dress very different from what he is familiar with,
will see, as I do, that this Kantian doctrine of the intelligible and
empirical character is a piece of insight already possessed by Plato.
The difference is, that with Kant it is sublimated to an abstract
clearness; with Plato it is treated mythically, and connected with
metempsychosis, because, as he did not perceive the ideality of Time,
he could only represent it under a temporal form. The identity of the
one doctrine with the other becomes exceedingly plain, if we read the
explanation and illustration of the Platonic myth, which Porphyrius has
given with such clear exactitude, that its agreement with the abstract
language of Kant comes out unmistakably. In the second book of his
Eclogues, chap. 8, §§ 37-40,[4] Stobaeus has preserved for us _in
extenso_ that part of one of Porphyrius' lost writings which specially
comments on the myth in question, as Plato gives it in the second half
of the tenth book of the Republic.[5] The whole section is eminently
worth reading. As a specimen I shall quote the short § 39, in the hope
of inducing any one who cares for these things to study Stobaeus for
himself. It will then immediately become apparent that this Platonic
myth is nothing less than an allegory of the profound truth which Kant
stated in its abstract purity, as the doctrine of the intelligible and
empirical character, and consequently that the latter had been reached,
in its essentials, by Plato thousands of years ago. Indeed, this view
seems to go back much further still, for Porphyrins is of opinion that
Plato took it from the Egyptians. Certainly we already find the same
theory in the Brahmanical doctrine of metempsychosis, and it is from
this Indian source that the Egyptian priests, in all probability,
derived their wisdom. § 39 is as follows:--

_Τὸ γὰρ ὅλον βούλημα τοιοῡτ' ἔοικεν εἶναι τὸ τοῡ Πλάτωνος ἔχειν μὲν τὸ
αὐτεξουσιον τὰς ψυχὰς, πρὶν εἰς σώματα καὶ βίους διαϕέρους ἐμπεσεῖν,
εἰς τὸ ἢ τοῡτoν τὸν βίον ἕλεσθαι, ἢ ἄλλον, ὅν, μετὰ ποιᾱς ζωῆς καὶ
σώματος οἰκείον τῇ ζωῇ, κτέλεσειν μέλλει (καὶ γὰρ λέοντος βίον ἐπ'
αὐτῇ εἶνai ἔλεσθαι, καὶ ἀνδρὸς). Kakeῑνο μέντοι τὸ αὐτeξoύσιον, ἅμα
τῇ πρός τινα τῶν τοιούτων βίων πτώσει, ἐμπεπόδισται. Κατελθοῡσαι
γὰρ εἰς τὰ σώματα, καὶ ἀντὶ ψυχῶν aπολυτῶν γεγονῑυαι ψυχαὶ ζώων, τὸ
αὐτεξούσιον ϕέρουσιν οἰκείον τῇ τοῡ ζώον κατασκευῇ, καὶ ἐϕ' ὧν μὲν
εἶνai πολύνουν καὶ πολυκίνητον, ὡς ἐπ' ἀνθρώπον, ἐϕ' ὡν δὲ λυγοκίνηττον
καὶ μονότροπον, ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλον σχεδὸν πάντων ζώων. Ήρτῆσθαι δὲ
τὸ αὐτeξoύσιον τοῡτo ἀπὸ τῆς κατασκετῆς, κινούμενον μὲν ἐξ αὐτοῡ,
ϕερόμενον δὲ κατὰ τὰς ἐκ τῆς κατασκευῇς γυγνομένας προθυμίας._[6]

[1] _V_. Note on "intelligible" in Chapter I. of this

[2] _I.e._, what is done is a consequence of that which is.

[3] _I.e._, his acts are a consequence of what he is.

[4] _V_. Joannes Stobaeus. _Eclogae Physicae et Ethicae_, edit.
Curtius Wachsmuth et Otto Hense; Weidmann, Berlin, 1884. Vol. II., pp.

[5] _V_. Plat., _Rep_., edit. Stallbaum, 614 sqq. It is the _ἀπόλoγos
Ήρὸς τοῡ Άρμενίον_.--(_translator._)

[6] To sum up. What Plato meant seems to be this. Souls (he said) have
free power, before passing into bodies and different modes of being,
to choose this or that form of life, which they will pass through in a
certain kind of existence, and in a body adapted thereto. (For a soul
may choose a lion's, equally with a man's, mode of being.) But this
free power of choice is removed simultaneously with entrance into one
or other of such forms of life. For when once they have descended into
bodies, and instead of unfettered souls have become the souls of living
things, then they take that measure of free power which belongs in each
case to the organism of the living thing. In some forms this power
is very intelligent and full of movement, as in man; in some it has
but little energy, and is of a simple nature, as in almost all other
creatures. Moreover, this free power depends on the organism in such a
way that while its capability of action is caused by itself alone, its
impulses are determined by the desires which have their origin in the



Just as in Anatomy and Zoology, many things are not so obvious to the
pupil in preparations and natural products as in engravings where there
is some exaggeration; so if there is any one who, after the above
criticism, is still not entirely satisfied as to the worthlessness
of the Kantian foundation of Ethics, I would recommend him Fichte's
_System der Sittenlehre_, as a sure means of freeing him from all doubt.

In the old German Marionnettes a fool always accompanied the emperor,
or hero, so that he might afterwards give in his own way a highly
coloured version of what had been said or done In like manner behind
the great Kant there stands the author of the _Wissenschaftslehre_,[1]
a true _Wissenschaftsleere[2]._ In order to secure his own, and his
family's welfare, Fichte formed the idea of creating a sensation by
means of subtle mystification. It was a very suitable and reasonable
plan, considering the nature of the German philosophic public, and he
executed it admirably by outdoing Kant in every particular. He appeared
as the latter's living superlative, and produced a perfect caricature
of his philosophy by magnifying all its salient points. Nor did the
Ethics escape similar treatment? In his _System der Sittenlehre_, we
find the Categorical Imperative grown into a Despotic Imperative; while
the absolute "Ought," the law-giving Reason, and the Hest of Duty
have developed into a =moral Fate=, an unfathomable Necessity,
requiring mankind to act strictly in accordance with certain maxims.
To judge (pp. 308, 309) from the pompous show made, a great deal must
depend on these formulae, although one never quite discovers what.
So much only seems clear. As in bees there is implanted an instinct
to build cells and a hive for life in common, so men (it is alleged)
are endowed with an impulse leading them to play in common a great,
strictly moral, world-embracing Comedy, their part being merely to
figure as puppets--nothing else. But there is this important difference
between the bees and men. The hive is really brought to completion;
while instead of a moral World-Comedy, as a matter of fact, an
exceedingly immoral one is enacted. Here, then, we see the imperative
form of the Kantian Ethics, the moral Law, and the absolute "Ought"
pushed further and further till a system of ethical =Fatalism= is
evolved, which, as it is worked out, lapses at times into the comic.[3]

If in Kant's doctrine we trace a certain moral pedantry; with Fichte
this pedantry reaches the absurd, and furnishes abundant material
for satire. Let the reader notice, for example (pp. 407-409), how he
decides the well-known instance of casuistry, where of two human lives
one must be lost. We find indeed all the errors of Kant raised to the
superlative. Thus, on p. 199, we read: "To act in accordance with
the dictates of sympathy, of compassion, and of loving-kindness is
distinctly unmoral; indeed this line of conduct, as such, is contrary
to morality." Again, on p. 402: "The impulse that makes us ready to
serve others must never be an inconsiderate good-nature, but a clearly
thought-out purpose; that, namely, of furthering as much as possible
the causality of Reason." However, between these sallies of ridiculous
pedantry, Fichte's real philosophic crudeness peeps out clearly
enough, as we might only expect in the case of a man whose teaching
left no time for learning. He seriously puts forward the _liberum
arbitrium indifferentiae_ (a free and indifferent choice), giving as
its foundation the most trivial and frivolous reasons. (Pp. 160, 173,
205, 208, 237, 259, 261.) There can be no doubt that a motive, although
working through the medium of the intelligence, is, nevertheless, a
cause, and consequently involves the same necessity of effect as all
other causes; the corollary being that all human action is a strictly
necessary result. Whoever remains unconvinced of this, is still,
philosophically speaking, barbarous, and ignorant of the rudiments
of exact knowledge. The perception of the strict necessity governing
man's conduct forms the line of demarcation which separates philosophic
heads from all others; arrived at this limit Fichte clearly showed that
he belonged to the others. Moreover, following the footsteps of Kant
(p. 303), he proceeds to make various statements which are in direct
contradiction to the above mentioned passages; but this inconsistency,
like many more in his writings, only proves that he, being one
who was never serious in the search for truth, possessed no strong
convictions to build on; as indeed for his purpose they were not in
the least necessary. Nothing is more laughable than the fact that this
man has received so much posthumous praise for strictly consequential
reasoning; his pedantic style full of loud declamation about trifling
matters being actually mistaken for such.

The most complete development of Fichte's system of =moral
Fatalism= is found in his last work: _Die Wissenschaftslehre in
ihrem Allgemeinen Umrisse Dargestellt_, Berlin, 1810. It has the
advantage of being only forty-six pages (duodecimo) long, while it
contains his whole philosophy in a nutshell. It is therefore to be
recommended to all those who consider their time too precious to be
wasted on his larger productions, which are framed with a length and
tediousness worthy of Christian Wolff, and with the intention, in
reality, of deluding, not of instructing the reader. In this little
treatise we read on p. 32: "The intuitive perception of a phaenomenal
world only came about, to the end that in such a world the Ego as the
=absolute Ought= might be visible to itself." On p. 33 we actually
find: "The =ought=," (_i.e._, the moral necessity,) "of the
=Ought's= visibility;" and on p. 36: "An =ought=," (_i.e._, a
moral necessity,) "of the perception that I =ought=." This, then,
is what we have come to so soon after Kant! =His imperative Form=,
with its unproved =Ought=, which it secured as a most convenient
_ποῡ στῶ_ (standpoint), is indeed an _exemplar vitiis imitabile_!

For the rest, all that I have said does not overthrow the service
Fichte rendered. Kant's philosophy, this late masterpiece of human
sagacity, in the very land where it arose, he obscured, nay, supplanted
by empty, bombastic superlatives, by extravagances, and by the nonsense
which is found, in his _Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre,_
appearing under the disguise of profound penetration. His merit was
thus to show the world unmistakably what the capacity of the German
philosophical public is; for he made it play the part of a child who
is coaxed into giving up a precious gem in exchange for a Nürnberg
toy. The fame he obtained in this fashion still lives on credit; and
still Fichte is always mentioned in the same breath with Kant as being
another such _Ἡραkλῆς καὶ πίθηêκος!_[4] Indeed his name is often
placed above the latter's.[5] It was, of course, Fichte's example that
encouraged his successors in the art of enveloping the German people,
in philosophic fog. These were animated by the same spirit, and crowned
with the same prosperity. Every one knows their names; nor is this the
place to consider them at length. Needless to say, their different
opinions, down to the minutest details, are still set forth, and
seriously discussed, by the Professors of Philosophy; as if one had
really to do with philosophers! We must, then, thank Fichte for lucid
documents now existing, which will have to be revised one day before
the Tribunal of posterity, that Court of Appeal from the verdicts of
the present, which--like the Last Judgment looked forward to by the
Saints--at almost all periods, has been left to give to true merit its
just award.

[1] _I.e._ Scientific Doctrine.

[2] _I.e._ Scientific Blank. Perhaps we might translate:--"Scientific
Instruction" and "Scientific Misinstruction."--(_Translator._)

[3] As evidence of the truth of my words, space prevents me from
quoting more than a few passages. P. 196: "The moral instinct is
absolute, and its requirements are peremptory, without any object
outside itself." P. 232: "In consequence of the Moral Law, the
empirical Being in Time must be an exact copy of the original Ego." P.
308: "The whole man is a vehicle of the Moral Law." P. 342: "I am only
an instrument, a mere tool of the Moral Law, not in any sense an end."
P. 343: "The end laid before every one is to be the means of realising
Reason: this is the ultimate purpose of his existence; for this alone
he has his being, and if this end should not be attained, there is not
the least occasion for him to live." P. 347: "I am an instrument of the
Moral Law in the phaenomenal world." P. 360: "It is an ordinance of the
Moral Law to nourish one's body, and study one's health; this of course
should be done in no way, and for no other purpose, except to provide
an _efficient instrument_ for furthering the end decreed by Reason,
_i.e._, its realisation,"--(cf. p. 371.) P. 376: "Every human body is
an instrument for furthering the end decreed by Reason, _i.e._, its
realisation; therefore the greatest possible fitness of each instrument
must constitute for me an end: consequently I must take thought for
every one."--This is Fichte's derivation of loving-kindness! P. 377: "I
can and dare take thought for myself, solely because, and is so far as
I am, _an instrument of the Moral Law_." P. 388: "To defend a hunted
man at the risk of one's own life, is an absolute duty; whenever the
life of another human being is in danger, you have no right to think
of the safety of your own." P. 420: "In the province of the Moral
Law there is no way whatever of regarding my fellow-man except as an
_instrument_ of Reason."

[4] _I.e._, Hercules and an ape. A Greek proverb denoting the
juxtaposition of the sublime and the ridiculous. _V_. Greg. Cypr.
_M._3, 66; Macar. 4, 53; Luc. _pisc._ 37; and _Schol. Bachm. An._ 2,

[5] My proof for this is a passage from the latest philosophical
literature. Herr Feuerbach, an Hegelian (_c'est tout dire!_) in his
book, _Pierre Bayle: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Philosophie_, 1838,
p. 80, writes as follows: "But still more sublime than Kant's are
Fichte's ideas as expressed in his Doctrine of Morals and elsewhere.
Christianity has nothing in sublimity that could bear comparison with





Thus the foundation which Kant gave to Ethics, which for the last sixty
years has been regarded as a sure basis, proves to be an inadmissible
assumption, and merely theological Morals in disguise; it sinks
therefore before our eyes into the deep gulf of philosophic error,
which perhaps will never be filled up. That the previous attempts to
lay a foundation are still less satisfactory, I take for granted, as
I have already said. They consist, for the most part, of unproved
assertions, drawn from the impalpable world of dreams, and at the
same time--like Kant's system itself--full of an artificial subtlety
dealing with the finest distinctions, and resting on the most abstract
conceptions. We find difficult combinations; rules invented for the
purpose; formulae balanced on a needle's point; and stilted maxims,
from which it is no longer possible to look down and see life as it
really is with all its turmoil. Such niceties are doubtless admirably
adapted for the lecture-room, if only with a view to sharpening
the wits; but they can never be the cause of the impulse to act
justly and to do good, which is found in every man; as also they are
powerless to counterbalance the deep-seated tendency to injustice and
hardness of heart. Neither is it possible to fasten the reproaches of
conscience upon them; to attribute the former to the breaking of such
hair-splitting precepts only serves to make the same ridiculous. In a
word, artificial associations of ideas like these cannot possibly--if
we take the matter seriously--contain the true incentive to justice and
loving-kindness. Rather must this be something that requires but little
reflection, and still less abstraction and complicated synthesis;
something that, independent of the training of the understanding,.
speaks to every one, even to the rudest,--a something resting simply on
intuitive perception, and forcing its way home as a direct emanation
from the reality of things. So long as Ethics cannot point to a
foundation of this sort, she may go on with her discussions, and make
a great display in the lecture-rooms; but real life will only pour
contempt upon her. I must therefore give our moralists the paradoxical
advice, first to look about them a little among their fellow-men.



But when we cast a retrospect over the attempts made, and made in vain,
for more than two thousand years, to find a sure basis for Ethics,
ought we not perhaps to think that after all there is no natural
morality, independent of human institution? Shall we not conclude that
all moral systems are nothing but artificial products, means invented
for the better restraint of the selfish and wicked race of men; and
further, that, as they have no internal credentials and no natural
basis, they would fail in their purpose, if without the support of
positive religion? The legal code and the police are not sufficient in
all cases; there are offences, the discovery of which is too difficult;
some, indeed, where punishment is a precarious matter; where, in short,
we are left without public protection. Moreover, the civil law can at
most enforce justice, not loving-kindness and beneficence; because,
of course, these are qualities as regards which every one would like
to play the passive, and no one the active, part. All this has given
rise to the hypothesis that morality rests solely on religion, and that
both have the same aim--that of being complementary to the necessary
inadequacy of state machinery and legislation. Consequently, there
cannot be (it is said) a natural morality, _i.e._, one based simply
on the nature of things, or of man, and the fruitless search of
philosophers for its foundation is explained. This view is not without
plausibility; and we find it as far back as the Pyrrhonians:

    _οὔτε ἀγάθον ἐστί ϕύσει, oὔτε κακόν,_
       _ἀλλὰ πρὸς ἀνθροπών ταὒτα νό κέκριται,_
    _κατὰ τὸν Tίρωνα_[1]
                   --_Sext. Emp. adv. Math_., XI., 140.

Also in modern times distinguished thinkers have given their adherence
to it. A careful examination therefore it deserves; although the easier
course would be to shelve it by giving an inquisitorial glance at the
consciences of those in whom such a theory could arise.

We should fall into a great, a very childish blunder, if we believed
all the just and legal actions of mankind to have a moral origin. This
is far from being the case. As a rule, between the justice, which men
practise, and genuine singleness of heart, there exists a relation
analogous to that between polite expressions, and the true love of
one's neighbour, which, unlike the former, does not ostensibly overcome
Egoism, but really does so. That honesty of sentiment, everywhere
so carefully exhibited, which requires to be regarded as above all
suspicion; that deep indignation, which is stirred by the smallest
sign of a doubt in this direction, and is ready to break out into
furions anger;--to what are we to attribute these symptoms? None but
the inexperienced and simple will take them for pure coin, for the
working of a fine moral feeling, or conscience. In point of fact, the
general correctness of conduct which is adopted in human intercourse,
and insisted on as a rule no less immovable than the hills, depends
principally on two external necessities; first, on legal ordinance,
by virtue of which the rights of every man are protected by public
authority; and secondly, on the recognised need of possessing civil
honour, in other words, a good name, in order to advance in the world.
This is why the steps taken by the individual are closely watched by
public opinion, which is so inexorably severe that it never forgives
even a single false move or slip, but remembers it against the guilty
person as an indelible blot, all his life long. As far as this goes,
public opinion is wise enough; for, starting from the fundamental
principle: _Operari sequitur esse_ (what one does is determined by what
one is), it shows its conviction that the character is unchangeable,
and that therefore what a man has once done, he will assuredly do
again, if only the circumstances be precisely similar. Such are the two
custodians that keep guard on the correct conduct of people, without
which, to speak frankly, we should be in a sad case, especially with
reference to property, this central point in human life, around which
the chief part of its energy and activity revolves. For the purely
ethical motives to integrity, assuming that they exist, cannot as a
rule be applied, except very indirectly, to the question of ownership
as guaranteed by the state. These motives, in fact, have a direct and
essential bearing only on =natural= right; with =positive=
right their connection is merely indirect, in so far as the latter
is based on the former. Natural right, however, attaches to no other
property than that which has been gained by one's own exertion;
because, when this is seized, the owner is at the same time robbed of
all the efforts he expended in acquiring it. The theory of preoccupancy
I reject absolutely, but cannot here set forth its refutation.[2]
Now of course all estate based on positive right ought ultimately
and in the last instance (it matters not how many intermediate links
are involved) to rest on the natural right of possession. But what
a distance there is, in most cases, between the title-deeds, that
belong to our civil life, and this natural right--their original
source! Indeed their connection with the latter is generally either
very difficult, or else impossible, to prove. What we hold is ours by
inheritance, by marriage, by success in the lottery; or if in no way
of this kind, still it is not gained by our own work, with the sweat
of the brow, but rather by shrewdness and bright ideas (_e.g._, in the
field of speculation), yes, and sometimes even by our very stupidity,
which, through a conjunction of circumstances, is crowned and glorified
by the _Deus eventus._ It is only in a very small minority of cases
that property is the fruit of real labour and toil; and even then
the work is usually mental, like that of lawyers, doctors, civilians,
teachers, etc.; and this in the eyes of the rude appears to cost but
little effort.

Now, when wealth is acquired in any such fashion, there is need of
considerable education before the ethical right can be recognised and
respected out of a purely moral impulse. Hence it comes about that
not a few secretly regard the possessions of others as held merely by
virtue of positive right. So, if they find means to wrest from another
man his goods, by using, or perhaps by evading, the laws, they feel
no scruples; for in their opinion he would lose what he holds, in the
same way in which he had previously obtained it, and they consequently
regard their own claims as equal to his. From their point of view, the
right of the stronger in civil society is superseded by the right of
the cleverer.

Incidentally we may notice that the =rich= man often shows an
inflexible correctness of conduct. Why? Because with his whole heart
he is attached to, and rigidly maintains, a rule, on the observance of
which his entire wealth, and all its attendant advantages, depend. For
this reason his profession of the principle: _Suum cuique_ (to each his
own), is thoroughly in earnest, and shows an unswerving consistency.
No doubt there is an =objective= loyalty to sincerity and good
faith, which avails to keep them sacred; but such loyalty is based
simply on the fact that sincerity and good faith are the foundation of
all free intercourse among men; of good order; and of secure ownership.
Consequently they very often benefit =ourselves=, and with this
end in view they must be preserved even at some cost: just as a good
piece of land is worth a certain outlay. But integrity thus derived
is, as a rule, only to be met with among wealthy people, or at least
those who are engaged in a lucrative business. It is an especial
characteristic of tradesmen; because they have the strongest conviction
that for all the operations of commerce the one thing indispensable
is mutual trust and credit; and this is why mercantile honour stands
quite by itself. On the other hand, the _poor_ man, who cannot make
both ends meet, and who, by reason of the unequal division of property,
sees himself condemned to want and hard work, while others before his
eyes are lapped in luxury and idleness, will not easily perceive that
the _raison d'être_ of this inequality is a corresponding inequality of
service and honest industry. And if he does =not= recognise this,
how is he to be governed by the purely ethical motive to uprightness,
which should keep him from stretching out his hand to grasp the
superfluity of another? Generally, it is the order of government
as established by law that restrains him. But should ever the rare
occasion present itself when he discovers that he is beyond the reach
of the police, and that he could by a single act throw off the galling
burden of penury, which is aggravated by the sight of others' opulence;
if he feels this, and realises that he could thus enter into the
possession and enjoyment of all that he has so often coveted: what is
there then to stay his hand? Religions dogmas? It is seldom that faith
is so firm. A purely moral incentive to be just and upright? Perhaps
in a few isolated cases. But in by far the greater number there is in
reality nothing but the anxiety a man feels to keep his good name,
his civil honour--a thing that touches closely even those in humble
circumstances. He knows the imminent danger incurred of having to pay
for dishonest conduct by being expelled from the great Masonic Lodge
of honourable people who live correct lives. He knows that property
all over the world is in their hands, and duly apportioned among
themselves, and that they wield the power of making him an outcast for
life from good society, in case he commit a single disgraceful action.
He knows that whoever takes one false step in this direction is marked
as a person that no one trusts, whose company every one shuns, and from
whom all advancement is cut off; to whom, as being "a fellow that has
stolen," the proverb is applied: "He who steals once is a thief all his

These, then, are the guards that watch over correct behaviour between
man and man, and he who has lived, and kept his eyes open, will admit
that the vast majority of honourable actions in human intercourse must
be attributed to them; nay, he will go further, and say that there are
not wanting people who hope to elude even their vigilance, and who
regard justice and honesty merely as an external badge, as a flag,
under the protection of which they can carry out their own freebooting
propensities with better success. We need not therefore break out into
holy wrath, and buckle on our armour, if a moralist is found to suggest
that perhaps all integrity and uprightness may be at bottom only
conventional. This is what Holbach, Helvetius, d'Alembert, and others
of their time did; and, following out the theory, they endeavoured
with great acumen to trace back all moral conduct to egoistic motives,
however remote and indirect. That their position is literally true of
most just actions, as having an ultimate foundation centred in the
Self, I have shown above. That it is also true to a large extent of
what is done in kindness and humanity, there can be no doubt; acts of
this sort often arise from love of ostentation, still oftener from
belief in a retribution to come, which may be dealt out in the second
or even the third power;[3] or they can be explained by other egoistic
motives. Nevertheless, it is equally certain that there occur actions
of disinterested good-will and entirely voluntary justice. To prove
the latter statement, I appeal only to the facts of experience, not
to those of consciousness. There are isolated, yet indisputable cases
on record, where not only the danger of legal prosecution, but also
all chance of discovery, and even of suspicion has been excluded, and
where, notwithstanding, the poor man has rendered to the rich his own.
For example, things lost, and found, have been given back without any
thought or hope of reward; a deposit made by a third person has been
restored after his death to the rightful owner; a poor man, secretly
intrusted with a treasure by a fugitive, has faithfully kept, and
then returned, it. Instances of this sort can be found, beyond all
doubt; only the surprise, the emotion, and the high respect awakened,
when we hear of them, testify to the fact that they are unexpected
and very exceptional. There are in truth really honest people: like
four-leaved clover, their existence is not a fiction. But Hamlet uses
no hyperbole when he says: "To be honest, as this world goes, is to be
one man pick'd out of ten thousand." If it be objected that, after all,
religious dogmas, involving rewards and penalties in another world,
are at the root of conduct as above described; cases could probably be
adduced where the actors possessed no religions faith whatever. And
this is a thing by no means so infrequent as is generally maintained.

Those who combat the =sceptical view= appeal specially to the
testimony of =conscience=. But conscience itself is impugned,
and doubts are raised about its natural origin. Now, as a matter of
fact, there is a _conscientia spuria_ (false conscience), which is
often confounded with the true. The regret and anxiety which many a
man feels for what he has done is frequently, at bottom, nothing but
fear of the possible consequences. Not a few people, if they break
external, voluntary, and even absurd rules, suffer from painful
searchings of heart, exactly similar to those inflicted by the real
conscience. Thus, for instance, a bigoted Jew, if on Saturday he
should smoke a pipe at home, becomes really oppressed with the sense
of having disobeyed the command in Exodus xxxv. 3: "Ye shall kindle
no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day." How often
it happens that a nobleman or officer is the victim of self-reproach,
because on some occasion or other he has not properly complied with
that fools' codex, which is called knightly honour! Nay more: there
are many of this class, who, if they see the impossibility of merely
doing enough in some quarrel to satisfy the above-named code--to say
nothing of keeping their pledged word of honour--are ready to shoot
themselves. (Instances of both have come under my knowledge.) And this,
while the self-same man would with an easy mind break his promise every
day, if only the shibboleth "Honour" be not involved. In short, every
inconsequent, and thoughtless action, all conduct contrary to our
prejudices, principles, or convictions, whatever these may be; indeed,
every indiscretion, every mistake, every piece of stupidity rankles
in us secretly, and leaves its sting behind. The average individual,
who thinks his conscience such an imposing structure, would be
surprised, could he see of what it actually consists: probably of about
one-fifth, fear of men; one-fifth, superstition; one-fifth, prejudice;
one-fifth, vanity; and one-fifth, habit. So that in reality he is no
better than the Englishman, who said quite frankly: "I cannot afford
to keep a conscience." Religious people of every creed, as a rule,
understand by conscience nothing else than the dogmas and injunctions
of their religion, and the self-examination based thereon; and it
is in this sense that the expressions =coercion of conscience=
and =liberty of conscience= are used. The same interpretation
was always given by the theologians, schoolmen, and casuists of the
middle ages and of later times. Whatever a man knew of the formulae and
prescriptions of the Church, coupled with a resolution to believe and
obey it, constituted his conscience. Thus we find the terms "a doubting
conscience," "an opinionated conscience," "an erring conscience," and
the like; and councils were held, and confessors employed, for the
special purpose of setting such irregularities straight. How little the
conception of conscience, just as other conceptions, is determined by
its own object; how differently it is viewed by different people; how
wavering and uncertain it appears in books; all this is briefly but
clearly set forth in Stäudlin's _Geschichte der Lehre vom Gewissen_.
These facts taken in conjunction are not calculated to establish the
reality of the thing; they have rather given rise to the question
whether there is in truth a genuine, inborn conscience. I have already
had occasion in Part II., Chapter VIII., where the theory of Freedom is
discussed, to touch on my view of conscience, and I shall return to it

All these sceptical objections added together do not in the least avail
to prove that no true morality exists, however much they may moderate
our expectations as to the moral tendency in man, and the natural basis
of Ethics. Undoubtedly a great deal that is ascribed to the ethical
sense can be proved to spring from other incentives; and when we
contemplate the moral depravity of the world, it is sufficiently clear
that the stimulus for good cannot be very powerful, especially as it
often does not work even in cases where the opposing motives are weak,
although then the individual difference of character makes itself fully

It should be observed that this moral depravity is all the more
difficult to discern, because its manifestations are checked and
cloaked by public order, as enforced by law; by the necessity of
having a good name; and even by ordinary polite manners. And this is
not all. People commonly suppose that in the education of the young
their moral interests are furthered by representing uprightness and
virtue as principles generally followed by the world. Later on, it is
often to their great harm that experience teaches them something else;
for the discovery, that the instructors of their early years were the
first to deceive them, is likely to have a more mischievous effect on
their morality than if these persons had given them the first example
of ingenuous truthfulness, by saying frankly: "The world is sunk in
evil, and men are not what they ought to be; but be not misled thereby,
and see that you do better." All this, as I have said, increases the
difficulty of recognising the real immorality of mankind. The state
--this masterpiece, which sums up the self-conscious, intelligent
egoism of all--consigns the rights of each person to a power, which,
being enormously superior to that of the individual, compels him to
respect the rights of all others. This is the leash that restrains
the limitless egoism of nearly every one, the malice of many, the
cruelty of not a few. The illusion thus arising is so great that,
when in special cases, where the executive power is ineffective, or
is eluded, the insatiable covetousness, the base greed, the deep
hypocrisy, or the spiteful tricks of men are apparent in all their
ugliness, we recoil with horror, supposing that we have stumbled on
some unheard-of monster: whereas, without the compulsion of law, and
the necessity of keeping an honourable name, these sights would be of
every day occurrence. In order to discover what, from a moral point
of view, human beings are made of, we must study anarchist records,
and the proceedings connected with criminals. The thousands that
throng before our eyes, in peaceful intercourse each with the other,
can only be regarded as so many tigers and wolves, whose teeth are
secured by a strong muzzle. Let us now suppose this muzzle cast off,
or, in other words, the power of the state abolished; the contemplation
of the spectacle then to be awaited would make all thinking people
shudder; and they would thus betray the small amount of trust they
really have in the efficiency either of religion, or of conscience, or
of the natural basis of Morals, whatever it be. But if these immoral,
antinomian forces should be unshackled and let loose, it is precisely
then that the true moral incentive, hidden before, would reveal its
activity, and consequently be most easily recognised. And nothing
would bring out so clearly as this the prodigious moral difference of
character between man and man; it would be found to be as great as the
intellectual, which is saying much.

The objection will perhaps be raised that Ethics is not concerned with
what men actually do, but that it is the science which treats of what
their conduct =ought= to be. Now this is exactly the position
which I deny. In the critical part of the present treatise I have
sufficiently demonstrated that the conception of =ought=, in
other words, the =imperative form= of Ethics, is valid only in
theological morals, outside of which it loses all sense and meaning.
The end which I place before Ethical Science is to point out all the
varied moral lines of human conduct; to explain them; and to trace
them to their ultimate source. Consequently there remains no way of
discovering the basis of Ethics except the empirical. We must search
and see whether we can find any actions to which we are obliged to
ascribe =genuine moral worth=: actions, that is, of voluntary
justice, of pure loving-kindness, and of true nobleness. Such conduct,
when found, is to be regarded as a given phaenomenon, which has to
be properly accounted for; in other words, its real origin must be
explored, and this will involve the investigation and explanation of
the peculiar motives which lead men to actions so radically distinct
from all others, that they form a class by themselves. These motives,
together with a responsive susceptibility for them, will constitute
the ultimate basis of morality, and the knowledge of them will be
the foundation of Ethics. This is the humble path to which I direct
the Science of Morals. It contains no construction _a priori_, no
absolute legislation for all rational beings _in abstracto_; it lacks
all official, academic sanction. Therefore, whoever thinks it not
sufficiently fashionable, may return to the Categorical Imperative;
to the Shibboleth of "Human Dignity"; to the empty phrases, the
cobwebs, and the soap-bubbles of the Schools; to principles on which
experience pours contempt at every step, and of which no one, outside
the lecture-rooms knows anything, or has ever had the least notion. On
the other hand, the foundation which is reached by following my path
is upheld by experience; and it is experience which daily and hourly
delivers its silent testimony in favour of my theory.

[1] _I.e._, there is nothing either good or bad by nature, but these
things are decided by human judgment, as Timon says. _V_. Sexti
Empirici _Opera Quae Exstant: Adversus Mathematicos;_ p. 462 A _ad
fin_. Aurelianae: Petrus et Jacobus Chouët, 1621. _V_. also: Sexti
Empirici _Opera_, edit. Jo. Albertus Fabricius: Lipsiae, 1718, Lib.
XI., 140, p. 716.

[2] See _Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_, Vol I., § 62, p. 396
sqq., and Vol. II., chap. 47, p. 682.

[3] In other words: If _a_ be a given offence, or virtuous act, and _x_
the punishment, or reward, proportional to it; then the punishment,
or reward, actually inflicted, instead of being _x_, may be _x_^2 or



The chief and fundamental incentive in man, as in animals, is
=Egoism=, that is, the urgent impulse to exist, and exist under
the best circumstances. The German word _Selbstsucht_ (self-seeking)
involves a false secondary idea of disease (_Sucht_).[2] The term
_Eigennutz_ (self-interest) denotes Egoism, so far as the latter
is guided by reason, which enables it, by means of reflection, to
prosecute its purposes systematically; so that animals may be called
egoistic, but not self-interested (_eigennutzig_). I shall therefore
retain the word =Egoism= for the general idea. Now this Egoism
is, both in animals and men, connected in the closest way with their
very essence and being; indeed, it is one and the same thing. For this
reason all human actions, as a rule, have their origin in Egoism, and
to it, accordingly, we must always first turn, when we try to find the
explanation of any given line of conduct; just as, when the endeavour
is made to guide a man in any direction, the means to this end are
universally calculated with reference to the same all-powerful motive.
Egoism is, from its nature, limitless. The individual is filled with
the unqualified desire of preserving his life, and of keeping it free
from all pain, under which is included all want and privation. He
wishes to have the greatest possible amount of pleasurable existence,
and every gratification that he is capable of appreciating; indeed,
he attempts, if possible, to evolve fresh capacities for enjoyment.
Everything that opposes the strivings of his Egoism awakens his
dislike, his anger, his hate: this is the mortal enemy, which he tries
to annihilate. If it were possible, he would like to possess everything
for his own pleasure; as this is impossible, he wishes at least to
control everything. "All things for me, and nothing for others" is his
maxim. Egoism is a huge giant overtopping the world. If each person
were allowed to choose between his own destruction and that of the
rest of mankind, I need not say what the decision would be in most
cases. Thus, it is that every human unit makes himself the centre of
the world, which he views exclusively from that standpoint. Whatever
occurs, even, for instance, the most sweeping changes in the destinies
of nations, he brings into relation first and foremost with his own
interests, which, however slightly and indirectly they may be affected,
he is sure to think of before anything else. No sharper contrast can
be imagined than that between the profound and exclusive attention
which each person devotes to his own self, and the indifference with
which, as a rule, all other people regard that self,--an indifference
precisely like that with which he in turn looks upon them. To a
certain extent it is actually comic to see how each individual out of
innumerable multitudes considers himself, at least from the practical
point of view, as the only real thing, and all others in some sort
as mere phantoms. The ultimate reason of this lies in the fact that
every one is =directly= conscious of himself, but of others only
_indirectly_, through his mind's eye; and the direct impression asserts
its right. In other words, it is in consequence of the subjectivity
which is essential to our consciousness that each person is himself
the whole world; for all that is objective exists only indirectly, as
simply the mental picture of the subject; whence it comes about that
everything is invariably expressed in terms of self-consciousness. The
only world which the individual really grasps, and of which he has
certain knowledge, he carries in himself, as a mirrored image fashioned
by his brain; and he is, therefore, its centre. Consequently he is all
in all to himself; and since he feels that he contains within his ego
all that is real, nothing can be of greater importance to him than his
own self.[3] Moreover this supremely important self, this microcosm,
to which the macrocosm stands in relation as its mere modification
or accident,--this, which is the individual's whole world, he knows
perfectly well must be destroyed by death; which is therefore for him
equivalent to the destruction of all things.

Such, then, are the elements out of which, on the basis of the Will to
live, Egoism grows up, and like a broad trench it forms a perennial
separation between man and man. If on any occasion some one actually
jumps across, to help another, such an act is regarded as a sort of
miracle, which calls forth amazement and wins approval. In Part II.,
Chapter VI., where Kant's principle of Morals is discussed, I had
the opportunity of describing how Egoism behaves in everyday life,
where it is always peering out of some corner or other, despite
ordinary politeness, which, like the traditional fig-leaf, is used
as a covering. In point of fact, politeness is the conventional and
systematic disavowal of Egoism in the trifles of daily intercourse,
and is, of course, a piece of recognised hypocrisy. Gentle manners are
expected and commended, because that which they conceal--Egoism--is so
odious, that no one wishes to see it, however much it is known to be
there; just as people like to have repulsive objects hidden at least by
a curtain. Now, unless external force (under which must be included
every source of fear whether of human or superhuman powers), or else
the real moral incentive is in effective operation, it is certain that
Egoism always pursues its purposes with unqualified directness; hence
without these checks, considering the countless number of egoistic
individuals, the _bellum omnium contra omnes_[4] would be the order
of the day, and prove the ruin of all. Thus is explained the early
construction by reflecting reason of state government, which, arising,
as it does, from a mutual fear of reciprocal violence, obviates the
disastrous consequences of the general Egoism, as far as it is possible
to do by =negative= procedure. Where, however, the two forces
that oppose Egoism fail to be operative, the latter is not slow to
reveal all its horrible dimensions, nor is the spectacle exactly
attractive. In order to express the strength of this antimoral power
in a few words, to portray it, so to say, at one stroke, some very
emphatic hyperbole is wanted. It may be put thus: many a man would
be quite capable of killing another, simply to rub his boots over
with the victim's fat. I am only doubtful whether this, after all, is
any exaggeration. =Egoism=, then, is the first and principal,
though not the only, power that the =moral Motive= has to contend
against; and it is surely sufficiently clear that the latter, in order
to enter the lists against such an opponent, must be something more
real than a hair-splitting sophism or an _a priori_ soap-bubble. In war
the first thing to be done is to know the enemy well; and in the shock
of battle, now impending, =Egoism=, as the chief combatant on its
own side, is best set against the virtue of =Justice=, which, in
my opinion, is the first and original cardinal virtue.

The virtue of =loving-kindness=, on the other hand, is rather to
be matched with =ill-will=, or =spitefulness=, the origin
and successive stages of which we will now consider. Ill-will, in
its lower degrees, is very frequent, indeed, almost a common thing;
and it easily rises in the scale. Goethe is assuredly right when
he says that in this world indifference and aversion are quite at
home.--(_Wahlverwandtschaften,_ Part I., chap. 3.) It is very fortunate
for us that the cloak, which prudence and politeness throw over this
vice, prevents us from seeing how general it is, and how the _bellum
omnium contra omnes_ is constantly waged, at least in thought. Yet
ever and anon there is some appearance of it: for instance, in the
relentless backbiting so frequently observed; while its clearest
manifestation is found in all out-breaks of anger, which, for the most
part, are quite disproportional to their cause, and which could hardly
be so violent, had they not been compressed--like gunpowder--into the
explosive compound formed of long cherished brooding hatred. Ill-will
usually arises from the unavoidable collisions of Egoism which occur
at every step. It is, moreover, objectively excited by the view of
the weakness, the folly, the vices, failings, shortcomings, and
imperfections of all kinds, which every one more or less, at least
occasionally, affords to others. Indeed, the spectacle is such, that
many a man, especially in moments of melancholy and depression, may
be tempted to regard the world, from the aesthetic standpoint, as a
cabinet of caricatures; from the intellectual, as a madhouse; and
from the moral, as a nest of sharpers. If such a mental attitude be
indulged, misanthropy is the result. Lastly, one of the chief sources
of ill-will is envy; or rather, the latter is itself ill-will, kindled
by the happiness, possessions, or advantages of others. No one is
absolutely free from envy; and Herodotus (III. 80) said long ago:
_ϕθόνος ἀρχῆθεν ἐμϕύεται ἀνθρώπῳ_ (envy is a natural growth in man from
the beginning). But its degrees vary considerably. It is most poisonous
and implacable when directed against personal qualities, because then
the envious have nothing to hope for. And precisely in such cases
its vilest form also appears, because men are made to hate what they
ought to love and honour. Yet so "the world wags," even as Petrarca

_Di lor par più, che d'altri, invidia s'abbia,_
_Che per se stessi son levati a volo,_
_Uscendo fuor della commune gabbia._
(For envy fastens most of all on those,
Who, rising on their own strong wings, escape
The bars wherein the vulgar crowd is cag'd.)

The reader is referred to the Parerga, vol. ii., § 114, for a more
complete examination of envy.

In a certain sense the opposite of envy is the habit of gloating over
the misfortunes of others, At any rate, while the former is human, the
latter is diabolical. There is no sign more infallible of an entirely
bad heart, and of profound moral worthlessness than open and candid
enjoyment in seeing other people suffer. The man in whom this trait is
observed ought to be for ever avoided: _Hic niger est, hunc tu, Romane,
caveto_.[5] These two vices are in themselves merely theoretical; in
practice they become malice and cruelty. It is true that Egoism may
lead to wickedness and crime of every sort; but the resulting injury
and pain to others are simply the means, not the end, and are therefore
involved only as an accident. Whereas malice and cruelty make others'
misery the end in itself, the realisation of which affords distinct
pleasure. They therefore constitute a higher degree of moral turpitude.
The maxim of Egoism, at its worst is: _Neminem juva, immo omnes, si
forte conducit_ (thus there is always a condition), _laede_ (help no
body, but rather injure all people, if it brings you any advantage).
The guiding rule of malice is: _Omnes, quantum potes, laede_ (injure
all people as far as you can). As malicious joy is in fact theoretical
cruelty, so, conversely, cruelty is nothing but malicious joy put into
practice; and the latter is sure to show itself in the form of cruelty,
directly an opportunity offers.

An examination of the special vices that spring from these two primary
antimoral forces forms no part of the present treatise: its proper
place would be found in a detailed system of Ethics. From =Egoism=
we should probably derive greed, gluttony, lust, selfishness, avarice,
covetousness, injustice, hardness of heart, pride, arrogance, etc.;
while to =spitefulness= might be ascribed disaffection, envy,
ill-will, malice, pleasure in seeing others suffer, prying curiosity,
slander, insolence, petulance, hatred, anger, treachery, fraud, thirst
for revenge, cruelty, etc. The first root is more bestial, the second
more devilish; and according as either is the stronger; or according
as the moral incentive, to be described below, predominates, so
the salient points for the ethical classification of character are
determined. No man is entirely free from some traces of all three.

Here I bring to an end my review of these terrible powers of evil;
it is an array reminding one of the Princes of Darkness in Milton's
Pandemonium. But my plan, which in this respect of course differs from
that of all other moralists, required me to consider at the outset
this gloomy side of human nature, and, like Dante, to descend first to

It will now be fully apparent how difficult our problem is. We have
to find a motive capable of making a man take up a line of conduct
directly opposed to all those propensities which lie deeply ingrained
in his nature; or, given such conduct as a fact of experience, we must
search for a motive capable of supplying an adequate and non-artificial
explanation of it. The difficulty, in fact, is so great that, in order
to solve it, for the vast majority of mankind, it has been everywhere
necessary to have recourse to machinery from another world. Gods have
been pointed to, whose will and command the required mode of behaviour
was said to be, and who were represented as emphasising this command
by penalties and rewards either in this, or in another world, to
which death would be the gate. Now let us assume that belief in a
doctrine of this sort took general root (a thing which is certainly
possible through strenuous inculcation at a very early age); and let
us also assume that it brought about the intended effect,--though this
is a much harder matter to admit, and not nearly so well confirmed
by experience; we should then no doubt succeed in obtaining strict
legality of action, even beyond the limits that justice and the police
can reach; but every one feels that this would not in the least imply
what we mean by morality of the heart. For obviously, every act arising
from motives like those just mentioned is after all derived simply from
pure Egoism. How can I talk of unselfishness when I am enticed by a
promised guerdon, or deterred by a threatened punishment? A recompense
in another world, thoroughly believed in, must be regarded as a bill
of exchange, which is perfectly safe, though only payable at a very
distant date. It is thus quite possible that the profuse assurances,
which beggars so constantly make, that those, who relieve them, will
receive a thousandfold more for their gifts in the next world, may lead
many a miser to generous alms-giving; for such a one complacently views
the matter as a good investment of money, being perfectly convinced
that he will rise again as a Croesus. For the mass of mankind, it
will perhaps be always necessary to continue the appeal to incentives
of this nature, and we know that such is the teaching promulgated by
the different religions, which are in fact the =metaphysics of the
people=. Be it, however, observed in this connection that a man is
sometimes just as much in error as to the true motives that govern
his own acts, as he is with regard to those of others. Hence it is
certain that many persons, while they can only account to themselves
for their noblest actions by attributing them to motives of the kind
above described, are, nevertheless, really guided in their conduct by
far higher and purer incentives, though the latter may be much more
difficult to discover. They are doing, no doubt, out of direct love
of their neighbour, that which they can but explain as the command of
their God. On the other hand, Philosophy, in dealing with this, as with
all other problems, endeavours to extract the true and ultimate cause
of the given phaenomena from the disclosures which the nature itself
of man yields, and which, freed as they must be from all mythical
interpretation, from all religious dogmas, and transcendent hypostases,
she requires to see confirmed by external or internal experience. Now,
as our present task is a philosophical one, we must entirely disregard
all solutions conditioned by any religion; and I have here touched on
them merely in order to throw a stronger light on the magnitude of the

[1] I venture to use this word although irregularly formed, because
"antiethical" would not here give an adequate meaning. _Sittlich_
(in accordance with good manners) and _unsittlich_ (contrary to good
manners), which have lately come into vogue, are bad substitutes
for _moralisch_ (moral) and _unmoralisch_ (immoral): first, because
_moralisch_ is a scientific conception, which, as such, requires to be
denoted by a Greek or Latin term, for reasons which may be found in
_Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_, vol. ii., chap. 12, p. 134 sqq.;
and secondly, because _sittlich_ is a weaker and tamer expression,
difficult to distinguish from _sittsam_ (modest) which in popular
acceptation means _zimperlich_ (simpering). No concessions must be made
to this extravagant love of germanising!

[2] In _Sucht_ (_siech_ = sick) and _Selbst-sucht_ (_suchen_=
seek) there is an apparent confusion between the two bases SUK
(_seuka_) to be ill, and SÔKYAN, to seek. _V_. Skeat's _Etymological

[3] It should be noticed that while from the _subjective_ side a man's
self assumes these gigantic proportions, _objectively_ it shrinks to
almost nothing--namely, to about the one-thousand-millionth part of the
human race.

[4] The war of all against all. Hobbes uses this expression.

[5] This man is black; of him shalt thou, O Roman, beware. _V_. Horace,
_Sat_., Lib. I. 4. 85.--(_Translator_.)



There is first the empirical question to be settled, whether actions
of voluntary justice and unselfish loving-kindness, which are capable
of rising to nobleness and magnanimity, actually occur in experience.
Unfortunately, this inquiry cannot be decided altogether empirically,
because it is invariably only the act that experience gives, the
=incentives= not being apparent. Hence the possibility always
remains that an egoistic motive may have had weight in determining a
just or good deed. In a theoretical investigation like the present,
I shall not avail myself of the inexcusable trick of shifting the
matter on to the reader's conscience. But I believe there are few
people who have any doubt about the matter, and who are not convinced
from their own experience that just acts are often performed simply
and solely to prevent a man suffering from injustice. Most of as, I
do not hesitate to say, are persuaded that there are persons in whom
the principle of giving others their due seems to be innate, who
neither intentionally injure any one, nor unconditionally seek their
own advantage, but in considering themselves show regard also for the
rights of their neighbours; persons who, when they undertake matters
involving reciprocal obligations, not only see that the other party
does his duty, but also that he gets his own, because it is really
against their will that any one, with whom they have to do, should be
shabbily treated. These are the men of true probity, the few _aequi_
(just) among the countless number of the _iniqui_ (unjust). Such
people exist. Similarly, it will be admitted, I think, that many help
and give, perform services, and deny themselves, without having any
further intention in their hearts than that of assisting another, whose
distress they see. When Arnold von Winkelried exclaimed: "_Trüwen,
lieben Eidgenossen, wullt's minem Wip und Kinde gedenken_,"[1] and then
clasped in his arms as many hostile spears as he could grasp; can any
one believe that he had some selfish purpose? I cannot. To cases of
voluntary justice, which cannot be denied without deliberate and wilful
trifling with facts, I have already drawn attention in Chapter II. of
this Part. Should any one, however, persist in refusing to believe that
such actions ever happen, then, according to his view, Ethics would
be a science without any real object, like Astrology and Alchemy, and
it would be waste of time to discuss its basis any further. With him,
therefore, I have nothing to do, and address myself to those who allow
that we are dealing with something more than an imaginary citation.

It is, then, only to conduct of the above kind that genuine moral worth
can be ascribed. Its special mark is that it rejects and excludes
the whole class of motives by which otherwise all human action is
prompted: I mean the =self-interested= motives, using the word in
its widest sense. Consequently the moral value of an act is lowered by
the disclosure of an accessory selfish incentive; while it is entirely
destroyed, if that incentive stood alone. The absence of all egoistic
motives is thus the =Criterion= of an action of moral value. It
may, no doubt, be objected that also acts of pure malice and cruelty
are not selfish.[2] But it is manifest that the latter cannot be
meant, since they are, in kind, the exact opposite of those now being
considered. If, however, the definition be insisted on in its strict
sense, then we may expressly except such actions, because of their
essential token--the compassing of others' suffering.

There is also another characteristic of conduct having real moral
worth, which is entirely internal and therefore less obvious. I allude
to the fact that it leaves behind a certain self-satisfaction which
is called the approval of conscience: just as, on the other hand,
injustice and unkindness, and still more malice and cruelty, involve
a secret self-condemnation. Lastly, there is an external, secondary,
and accidental sign that draws a clear line between the two classes.
Acts of the former kind win the approval and respect of disinterested
witnesses: those of the latter incur their disapproval and contempt.

Those actions that bear the stamp of moral value, so determined,
and admitted to be realities, constitute the phaenomenon that lies
before us, and which we have to explain. We must accordingly search
out what it is that moves men to such conduct. If we succeed in our
investigation, we shall necessarily bring to light the true moral
incentive; and, as it is upon this that all ethical science must
depend, our problem will then be solved.

[1] Comrades, true and loyal to our oath, care for my wife and child in
remembrance of this.

[2] Acts of malice and cruelty are so many gratifications of the ego,
and are therefore, in a certain sense, selfish. _V_. Introduction, pp.
xvi. and xvii.--(_Translator._)



The preceding considerations, which were unavoidably necessary in order
to clear the ground, now enable me to indicate the true incentive
which underlies all acts of real moral worth. The seriousness, and
indisputable genuineness, with which we shall find it is distinguished,
removes it far indeed from the hair-splittings, subtleties,
sophisms, assertions formulated out of airy nothings, and _a priori_
soap-bubbles, which all systems up to the present have tried to make
at once the source of moral conduct and the basis of Ethics. This
incentive I shall not put forward as an hypothesis to be accepted or
rejected, as one pleases; I shall actually =prove= that it is
the only possible one. But as this demonstration requires several
fundamental truths to be borne in mind, the reader's attention is first
called to certain propositions which we must presuppose, and which may
properly be considered as axioms; except the last two, which result
from the analysis contained in the preceding chapter, and in Part II.,
Chapter III.

(1) No action can take place without a sufficient motive; as little as
a stone can move without a sufficient push or pull.

(2) Similarly, no action can be left undone, when, given the character
of the doer, a sufficient motive is present; unless a stronger
counter-motive necessarily prevents it.

(3) Whatever moves the Will,--this, and this alone, implies the sense
of weal and woe, in the widest sense of the term; and conversely, weal
and woe signify "that which is in conformity with, or which is contrary
to, a Will." Hence every motive must have a connection with weal and

(4) Consequently every action stands in relation to, and has as its
ultimate object, a being susceptible of weal and woe.

(5) This being is either the doer himself; or another, whose position
as regards the action is therefore =passive=; since it is done
either to his harm, or to his benefit and advantage.

(6) Every action, which has to do, as its ultimate object, with the
weal and woe of the agent himself, is =egoistic=.

(7) The foregoing propositions with regard to what is done apply
equally to what is left undone, in all cases where motive and
counter-motive play their parts.

(8) From the analysis in the foregoing chapter, it results that
=Egoism= and the =moral worth= of an action absolutely
exclude each other. If an act have an =egoistic= object as its
motive, then no moral value can be attached to it; if an act is to
have moral value, then no egoistic object, direct or indirect, near or
remote, may be its motive.

(9) In consequence of my elimination in Part II., Chapter III., of
alleged duties towards ourselves, the moral significance of our conduct
can only lie in the effect produced upon others; its relation to the
latter is alone that which lends it moral worth, or worthlessness, and
constitutes it an act of justice, loving-kindness, etc., or the reverse.

From these propositions the following conclusion is obvious: The
=weal and woe=, which (according to our third axiom) must, as its
ultimate object, lie at the root of everything done, or left undone,
is either that of the doer himself, or that of some other person,
whose _rôle_ with reference to the action is passive. Conduct in the
first case is necessarily =egoistic=, as it is impelled by an
interested motive. And this is not only true when men--as they nearly
always do--plainly shape their acts for their own profit and advantage;
it is equally true when from anything done we expect some benefit to
ourselves, no matter how remote, whether in this or in another world.
Nor is it less the fact when our honour, our good name, or the wish
to win the respect of some one, the sympathy of the lookers on, etc.,
is the object we have in view; or when our intention is to uphold a
rule of conduct, which, if generally followed, would occasionally be
useful to ourselves, for instance, the principle of justice, of mutual
succour and aid, and so forth. Similarly, the proceeding is at bottom
egoistic, when a man considers it a prudent step to obey some absolute
command issued by an unknown, but evidently supreme power; for in such
a case nothing can be the motive but =fear= of the disastrous
consequences of disobedience, however generally and indistinctly these
may be conceived. Nor is it a whit the less Egoism that prompts us
when we endeavour to emphasise, by something done or left undone,
the high opinion (whether distinctly realised or not) which we have
of ourselves, and of our value or dignity; for the diminution of
self-satisfaction, which might otherwise occur, would involve the
wounding of our pride. Lastly, it is still Egoism that is operative,
when a man, following Wolff's principles, seeks by his conduct to work
out his own perfection. In short, one may make the ultimate incentive
to an action what one pleases; it will always turn out, no matter by
how circuitous a path, that in the last resort what affects the actual
weal and woe of the agent himself is the real motive; consequently what
he does is =egoistic=, and therefore =without moral worth=.
There is only a single case in which this fails to happen: namely,
when the ultimate incentive for doing something, or leaving it undone,
is precisely and exclusively centred in the weal and woe of some one
else, who plays a passive part; that is to say, when the person on the
active side, by what he does, or omits to do, simply and solely regards
the weal and woe of another, and has absolutely no other object than
to benefit him, by keeping harm from his door, or, it may be, even
by affording help, assistance, and relief. It is this aim alone that
gives to what is done, or left undone, the stamp of moral worth; which
is thus seen to depend exclusively on the circumstance that the act
is carried out, or omitted, purely for the benefit and advantage of
another. If and when this is not so, then the question of weal and woe
which incites to, or deters from, every action contemplated, can only
relate to the agent himself; whence its performance, or non-performance
is entirely egoistic, and without moral value.

But if what I do is to take place solely on account of some one else;
then it follows that =his= weal and woe must directly constitute
=my= motive; just is, ordinarily, =my own= weal and woe
form it. This narrows the limits of our problem, which may now be
stated as follows: How is it possible that another's weal and woe
should influence my will directly, that is, exactly in the same way
as otherwise my own move it? How can that which affects another for
good or bad become my immediate motive, and actually sometimes assume
such importance that it more or less supplants my own interests, which
are, as a rule, the single source of the incentives that appeal to me?
Obviously, only because that other person becomes the ultimate object
of my will, precisely as usually I myself am that object; in other
words, because I directly desire weal, and not woe, for him, just as
habitually I do for myself. This, however, necessarily implies that I
suffer with him, and feel his woe, exactly as in most cases I feel only
mine, and therefore desire his weal as immediately as at other times I
desire only my own. But, for this to be possible, I must in some way
or other be =identified= with him; that is, the =difference=
between myself and him, which is the precise _raison d'être_ of my
Egoism, must be =removed=, at least to a certain extent. Now,
since I do not live in his skin, there remains only the knowledge, that
is, the mental picture, I have of him, as the possible means whereby
I can so far identify myself with him, that my action declares the
difference to be practically effaced. The process here analysed is not
a dream, a fancy floating in the air; it is perfectly real, and by
no means infrequent. It is, what we see every day,--the phaenomenon
of =Compassion=; in other words, the direct participation,
independent of all ulterior considerations, in the sufferings of
another, leading to sympathetic assistance in the effort to prevent
or remove them; whereon in the last resort all satisfaction and all
well-being and happiness depend. It is this Compassion alone which is
the real basis of all =voluntary= justice and all =genuine=
loving-kindness. Only so far as an action springs therefrom, has it
moral value; and all conduct that proceeds from any other motive
whatever has none. When once compassion is stirred within me, by
another's pain, then his weal and woe go straight to my heart, exactly
in the same way, if not always to the same degree, as otherwise I feel
only my own. Consequently the difference between myself and him is no
longer an absolute one.

No doubt this operation is astonishing, indeed hardly comprehensible.
It is, in fact, the great mystery of Ethics, its original phaenomenon,
and the boundary stone, past which only transcendental speculation
may dare to take a step. Herein we see the wall of partition,
which, according to the light of nature (as reason is called by old
theologians), entirely separates being from being, broken down, and
the non-ego to a certain extent identified with the ego. I wish
for the moment to leave the metaphysical explanation of this enigma
untouched, and first to inquire whether all acts of voluntary justice
and true loving-kindness really arise from it. If so, our problem will
be solved, for we shall have found the ultimate basis of morality, and
shown that it lies in human nature itself. This foundation, however,
in its turn cannot form a problem of Ethics, but rather, like every
other ultimate fact as such, of Metaphysics. Only the solution, that
the latter offers of the primary ethical phaenomenon, lies outside
the limits of the question put by the Danish Royal Society, which is
concerned solely with the basis; so that the transcendental explanation
can be given merely as a voluntary and unessential appendix.

But before I turn to the derivation of the Cardinal virtues from
the original incentive, as here disclosed, I have still to bring to
the notice of the reader two observations which the subject renders

(1) For the purpose of easier comprehension I have simplified the
above presentation of compassion as the sole source of truly moral
actions, by intentionally leaving out of consideration the incentive
of =Malice=, which while it is equally useless to the self as
compassion, makes the =pain= of others its ultimate purpose. We
are now, however, in a position, by including it, to state the above
proof more completely, and rigorously, as follows:--

There are only =three= fundamental springs of human conduct, and
all possible motives arise from one or other of these. They are:

(_a_) Egoism; which desires the weal of the self, and is limitless.

(_b_) Malice; which desires the woe of others, and may develop to the
utmost cruelty.

(_c_) Compassion; which desires the weal of others, and may rise to
nobleness and magnanimity.

Every human act is referable to one of these springs; although two of
them may work together. Now, as we have assumed that actions of moral
worth are in point of fact realities; it follows that they also must
proceed from one of these primal sources. But, by the eighth axiom,
they cannot arise from the first, and still less from the second; since
all conduct springing from the latter is morally worthless, while the
offshoots of the former are in part neither good nor bad in themselves.
Hence they must have their origin in the third incentive; and this will
be established _a posteriori_ in the sequel.

(2) Direct sympathy with another is limited to his sufferings, and is
not immediately awakened by his well-being: the latter _per se_ leaves
us indifferent. J. J. Rousseau in his _Émile_ (Bk. IV.) expresses the
same view: "_Première maxime: il n'est pas dans le cœur humain, de
se mettre à la place des gens, qui sont plus heureux que nous, mais
seulement de ceux, qui sont plus à plaindre_,"[1] etc.

The reason of this is that pain or suffering, which includes all
want, privation, need, indeed every wish, is =positive=, and
works =directly= on the consciousness. Whereas the nature of
satisfaction, of enjoyment, of happiness, and the like, consists solely
in the fact that a hardship is done away with, a pain lulled: whence
their effect is =negative=. We thus see why need or desire is the
condition of every pleasure. Plato understood this well enough, and
only excepted sweet odours, and intellectual enjoyment. (_De Rep.,_
IX., p. 264 sq., edit. Bipont.)[2] And Voltaire says: "_Il n'est pas
de vrais plaisirs, qu'avec de vrais besoins_."[3] Pain, then, is
=positive=, and makes itself known by itself: satisfaction or
pleasure is =negative=--simply the removal of the former. This
principle explains the fact that only the suffering, the want, the
danger, the helplessness of another awakens our sympathy directly
and as such. The lucky or contented man, =as such=, leaves us
indifferent--in reality because his state is negative; he is without
pain, indigence, or distress. We may of course take pleasure in the
success, the well-being, the enjoyment of others: but if we do, it is
a secondary pleasure, and caused by our having previously sorrowed
over their sufferings and privations. Or else we share the joy and
happiness of a man, not =as such=, but because, and in so far as,
he is our child, father, friend, relation, servant, subject, etc. In a
word, the good fortune, or pleasure of another, =purely as such=,
does not arouse in us the same direct sympathy as is certainly elicited
by his misfortune, privation, or misery, =purely as such=. If
even on =our own behalf= it is only suffering (under which must
be reckoned all wants, needs, wishes, and even ennui) that stirs our
activity; and if contentment and prosperity fill us with indolence and
lazy repose; why should it not be the same when others are concerned?
For (as we have seen) our sympathy rests on an identification of
ourselves with them. Indeed, the sight of success and enjoyment,
=purely as such=, is very apt to raise the envy, to which every
man is prone, and which has its place among the antimoral forces
enumerated above.

In connection with the exposition of Compassion here given, as the
coming into play of motives directly occasioned by another's calamity,
I take the opportunity of condemning the mistake of Cassina,[4] which
has been so often repeated. His view is that compassion arises from
a sudden hallucination, which makes us put ourselves in the place
of the sufferer, and then imagine that we are undergoing =his=
pain in =own own person=. This is not in the least the case. The
conviction never leaves us for a moment that he is the sufferer, not
we; and it is precisely in his person, not in ours, that we feel the
distress which afflicts us. We suffer =with= him, and therefore in
him; we feel his trouble as =his=, and are not under the delusion
that it is ours; indeed, the happier we are, the greater the contrast
between our own state and his, the more we are open to the promptings
of Compassion. The explanation of the possibility of this extraordinary
phaenomenon is, however, not so easy; nor is it to be reached by the
path of pure psychology, as Cassina supposed. The key can be furnished
by Metaphysics alone; and this I shall attempt to give in the last Part
of the present treatise.

I now turn to consider the derivation of actions of real moral worth
from the source which has been indicated. The general rule by which to
test such conduct, and which, consequently, is the leading principle
of Ethics, I have already enlarged upon in the foregoing Part, and
enunciated as follows: _Neminem laede; immo omnes, quantum potes,
juva._ (Do harm to no one; but rather help all people, as far as lies
in your power.) As this formula contains two clauses, so the actions
corresponding to it fall naturally into two classes.

[1] First maxim: it is not in our hearts to identify ourselves with
those who are happier than we are, but only with those who are less

[2] Stallbaum: p. 584, sq.--(_Translator._)

[3] There are no real pleasures, without real needs.

[4] _V_. his _Saggio Analitico sulla Compassione_, 1788; German
translation by Pockels, 1790.



If we look more closely at this process called Compassion, which we
have shown to be the primary ethical phaenomenon, we remark at once
that there are two distinct degrees in which another's suffering may
become directly my motive, that is, may urge me to do something, or
to leave it undone. The first degree of Compassion is seen when,
by counter-acting egoistic and malicious motives, it keeps me from
bringing pain on another, and from becoming myself the cause of
trouble, which so far does not exist. The other higher degree is
manifested, when it works positively, and incites me to active help.
The distinction between the so-called duties of law and duties of
virtue, better described as justice and loving-kindness, which was
effected by Kant in such a forced and artificial manner, here results
entirely of itself; whence the correctness of the principle is
attested. It is the natural, unmistakable, and sharp separation between
negative and positive, between doing no harm, and helping. The terms in
common use--namely, "the duties of law," and "the duties of virtue,"
(the latter being also called "duties of love," or "imperfect duties,")
are in the first place faulty because they co-ordinate the _genus_
with the _species_; for justice is one of the virtues. And next, they
owe their origin to the mistake of giving a much too wide extension to
the idea "Duty"; which I shall reduce to its proper limits below. In
place, therefore, of these duties I put two virtues; the one, justice,
and the other, loving-kindness; and I name them cardinal virtues,
since from them all others not only in fact proceed, but also may be
theoretically derived.... Both have their root in natural Compassion.
And this Compassion is an undeniable fact of human consciousness,
is an essential part of it, and does not depend on assumptions,
conceptions, religions, dogmas, myths, training, and education. On
the contrary, it is original and immediate, and lies in human nature
itself. It consequently remains unchanged under all circumstances, and
reveals itself in every land, and at all times. This is why appeal is
everywhere confidently made to it, as to something necessarily present
in every man; and it is never an attribute of the "strange gods." [1]
As he, who appears to be without compassion, is called inhuman; so
"humanity" is often used as its synonyme.

The first degree, then, in which this natural and genuine moral
incentive shows itself is only =negative=. Originally we are all
disposed to injustice and violence, because our need, our desire, our
anger and hate pass into the consciousness directly, and hence have
the _Jus primi occupantis_. (The right of the first occupant.) Whereas
the sufferings of others, caused by our injustice and violence, enter
the consciousness indirectly, that is, by the secondary channel of a
mental picture, and not till they are understood by experience. Thus
Seneca (_Ep._ 50) says: _Ad neminem ante bona mens venit, quam mala_.
(Good feelings never come before bad ones.) In its first degree,
therefore, Compassion opposes and baffles the design to which I am
urged by the antimoral forces dwelling within me, and which will bring
trouble on a fellow-being. It calls out to me: "Stop!" and encircles
the other as with a fence, so as to protect him from the injury which
otherwise my egoism or malice would lead me to inflict on him. So
arises out of this first degree of compassion the rule: _Neminem
laede_. (Do harm to no one.) This is the fundamental principle of the
virtue of justice, and here alone is to be found its origin, pure and
simple,--an origin which is truly moral, and free from all extraneous
admixture. Otherwise derived, justice would have to rest on Egoism,--a
_reductio ad absurdum_. If my nature is susceptible of Compassion up
to this point, then it will avail to keep me back, whenever I should
like to use others' pain as a means to obtain my ends; equally, whether
this pain be immediate, or an after-consequence, whether it be effected
directly, or indirectly, through intermediate links. I shall therefore
lay hands on the property as little as on the person of another, and
avoid causing him distress, no less mental than bodily. I shall thus
not only abstain from doing him physical injury, but also, with equal
care I shall guard against inflicting on him the suffering of mind,
which mortification and calumny, anxiety and vexation so surely work.
The same sense of Compassion will check me from gratifying my desires
at the cost of women's happiness for life, or from seducing another
man's wife, or from ruining youths morally and physically by tempting
them to _paederastia_. Not that it is at all necessary in each single
case that Compassion should be definitely excited; indeed it would
often come too late; but rather the rule: _Neminem laede_, is formed by
noble minds out of the knowledge, gained once for all, of the injury
which every unjust act necessarily entails upon others, and which is
aggravated by the feeling of having to endure wrong through a _force
majeure_. Such natures are led by reflecting reason to carry out this
principle with unswerving resolution. They respect the rights of every
man, and abstain from all encroachment on them; they keep themselves
free from self-reproach, by refusing to be the cause of others'
trouble; they do not shift on to shoulders not their own, by force or
by trickery, the burdens and sorrows of life, which circumstances bring
to every one; they prefer to bear themselves the portions allotted
to them, so as not to double those of their neighbours. For although
generalising formulae, and abstract knowledge of whatever kind, are
not in the least the cause, or the real basis of morality; these are
nevertheless indispensable for a moral course of life. They are the
cistern or reservoir, in which the habit of mind, that springs from
the fount of all morality (a fount not at all moments flowing), may
be stored up, thence to be drawn off, as occasion requires. There is
thus an analogy between things moral and things physiological; among
many instances of which we need only mention that of the gall-bladder,
which is used for keeping the secretion of the liver. Without
firmly held principles we should inevitably be at the mercy of the
antimoral incentives, directly they are roused to activity by external
influences; and =self-control= lies precisely in steadfast
adherence and obedience to such principles, despite the motives which
oppose them.

In general, the feminine half of humanity is inferior to the
masculine in the virtue of justice, and its derivatives, uprightness,
conscientiousness, etc.; the explanation is found in the fact that,
owing to the weakness of its reasoning powers the former is much less
capable than the latter of understanding and holding to general laws,
and of taking them as a guiding thread. Hence injustice and falseness
are women's besetting sins, and lies their proper element. On the
other hand, they surpass men in the virtue of loving-kindness; because
usually the stimulus to this is =intuitive=, and consequently
appeals directly to the sense of Compassion, of which females are
much more susceptible than males. For the former nothing but what
is intuitive, present, and immediately real has a true existence;
that which is knowable only by means of concepts, as for instance,
the absent, the distant, the past, the future, they do not readily
grasp. We thus find compensation here, as in so much else; justice
is more the masculine, loving-kindness more the feminine virtue.
The mere idea of seeing women sitting on the judges' bench raises a
smile; but the sisters of mercy far excel the brothers of charity.
Now animals, as they have no power of gaining knowledge by reason,
that is, of forming abstract ideas, are entirely incapable of fixed
resolutions, to say nothing of principles; they consequently totally
lack =self-control=, and are helplessly given over to external
impressions and internal impulses. This is why they have no conscious
morality; although the different species show great contrasts of good
and evil in their characters, and as regards the highest races these
are traceable even in individuals.

From the foregoing considerations we see that in the single acts of
the just man Compassion works only indirectly through his formulated
principles, and not so much _actu_ as _potentiâ_; much in the same way
as in statics the greater length of one of the scale-beams, owing to
its greater power of motion, balances the smaller weight attached to
it with the larger on the other side, and works, while at rest, only
_potentiâ,_ not _actu_; yet with the same efficiency.

Nevertheless, Compassion is always ready to pass into active operation.
Therefore, whenever, in special cases, the established rule shows signs
of breaking down, the one incentive (for we exclude of course those
based on Egoism), which is capable of infusing fresh life into it, is
that drawn from the fountain-head itself--Compassion. This is true
not only where it is a question of personal violence, but also where
property is concerned, for instance, when any one feels the desire to
keep some valuable object which he has found. In such cases,--if we set
aside all motives prompted by worldly wisdom, and by religion--nothing
brings a man back so easily to the path of justice, as the realisation
of the trouble, the grief, the lamentation of the loser. It is because
this is felt to be true, that, when publicity is given to the loss of
money, the assurance is so often added that the loser is a poor man, a
servant, etc.

It is hoped that these considerations have made it clear that, however
contrary appearances may be at first sight, yet undoubtedly justice, as
a genuine and voluntary virtue has its origin in Compassion. But if any
one should suppose such a soil too barren and meagre to bear this great
cardinal virtue, let him reflect on what is said above, and remember
how small is the amount of true, spontaneous, unselfish, unfeigned
justice among men; how the real thing only occurs as a surprising
exception, and how, to its counterfeit,--the justice that rests on mere
worldly wisdom and is everywhere published abroad--it is related, both
in quality and quantity, as gold is to copper. I should like to call
the one _δικαιοσύνη πάνδημος_ (common, ordinary justice), the other
_οὐρανία_ (heavenly justice).[2] For the latter is she, who, according
to Hesiod,[3] leaves the earth in the iron age, to dwell with the
celestial gods. To produce such a rare exotic as this the root we have
indicated is surely vigorous enough.

It will now be seen that =injustice= or =wrong= always
consists in =working harm= on another. Therefore the conception of
wrong is =positive=, and antecedent to the conception of right,
which is =negative=, and simply denotes the actions performable
without injury to others; in other words, without wrong being done.
That to this class belongs also whatever is effected with no other
object than that of warding off from oneself meditated mischief is
an easy inference. For no participation in another's interests, and
no sympathy for him, can require me to let myself be harmed by him,
that is, to undergo wrong. The theory that right is negative, in
contradistinction to wrong as positive, we find supported by Hugo
Grotius, the father of philosophical jurisprudence. The definition of
justice which he gives at the beginning of his work, _De Jure Belli et
Pacis_ (Bk. I., chap. 1., § 3), runs as follows:--_Jus hic nihil aliud,
quam quod justum est, significant, idque negante magis sensu, quam
aiente, ut jus sit, quod injustum non est._[4] The negative character
of justice is also established, little as it may appear, even by the
familiar formula: "Give to each one his own." Now, there is no need
to give a man his own, if he has it. The real meaning is therefore:
"Take from none his own." Since the requirements of justice are only
negative, they may be effected by coercion; for the _Neminem laede_
can be practised by all alike. The coercive apparatus is the state,
whose sole _raison d'être_ is to protect its subjects, individually
from each other, and collectively from external foes. It is true that
a few German would-be philosophers of this venal age wish to distort
the state into an institution for the spread of morality, education,
and edifying instruction. But such a view contains, lurking in the
background, the Jesuitical aim of doing away with personal freedom
and individual development, and of making men mere wheels in a huge
Chinese governmental and religious machine. And this is the road that
once led to Inquisitions, to Autos-da-fé, and religious wars. Frederick
the Great showed that he at least never wished to tread it, when he
said: "In my land every one shall care for his own salvation, as he
himself thinks best." Nevertheless, we still see everywhere (with the
more apparent than real exception of North America) that the state
undertakes to provide for the metaphysical needs of its members. The
governments appear to have adopted as their guiding principle the tenet
of Quintus Curtius: _Nulla res efficacius multitudinem regit, quam
superstitio: alioquin impotens, saeva, mutabilis; ubi vana religione
capta est, melius vatibus, quam ducibus suis paret._[5]

We have seen that "wrong" and "right" are convertible synonymes of "to
do harm" and "to refrain from doing it," and that under "right" is
included the warding off of injury from oneself. It will be obvious
that these conceptions are independent of, and antecedent to, all
positive legislation. There is, therefore, a pure ethical right, or
natural right, and a pure doctrine of right, detached from all positive
statutes. The first principles of this doctrine have no doubt an
empirical origin, so far as they arise from the idea of harm done,
but _per se_ they rest on the pure understanding, which _a priori_
furnishes ready to hand the axiom: _causa causae est causa effectus_.
(The cause of a cause is the cause of the effect.) Taken in this
connection the words mean: if any one desires to injure me, it is
not I, but he, that is the cause of whatever I am obliged to do in
self-defence; and I can consequently oppose all encroachments on his
part, without wronging him. Here we have, so to say, a law of moral
repercussion. Thus it comes about that the union of the empirical idea
of injury done with the axiom supplied by the pure understanding, gives
rise to the fundamental conceptions of wrong and right, which every one
grasps _a priori_, and learns by actual trial to immediately adopt.
The empiric, who denies this, and refuses to accept anything but the
verdict of experience, may be referred to the testimony of the savage
races, who all distinguish between wrong and right quite correctly,
often indeed with nice precision; as is strikingly manifested when
they are engaged in bartering and other transactions with Europeans,
or visit their ships. They are bold and self-assured, when they are in
the right; but uneasy, when they know they are wrong. In disputes a
just settlement satisfies them, whereas unjust procedure drives them to
war. The Doctrine of Eight is a branch of Ethics, whose function is to
determine those actions which may not be performed, unless one wishes
to injure others, that is, to be guilty of wrong-doing; and here the
=active= part played is kept in view. But legislation applies this
chapter of moral science conversely, that is, with reference to the
=passive= side of the question, and declares that the same actions
need not be endured, since no one ought to have wrong inflicted on him.
To frustrate such conduct the state constructs the complete edifice
of the law, as positive Right. Its intention is that no one shall
=suffer= wrong; the intention of the Doctrine of Moral Right is
that no one shall =do= wrong.[6]

If by unjust action I molest some one, whether in his person,
his freedom, his property, or his honour, the wrong as regards
=quality= remains the same. But with respect to =quantity=
it may vary very much. This difference in the amount of wrong effected
appears not to have been as yet investigated by moralists, although it
is everywhere recognised in real life, because the censure passed is
always proportional to the harm inflicted. So also with just actions,
the right done is constant in quality, but not in quantity. To explain
this better: he, who when dying of starvation steals a loaf, commits
a wrong; but how small is this wrong in comparison with the act of an
opulent proprietor, who, in whatever way, despoils a poor man of his
last penny! Again: the rich person who pays his hired labourer, acts
justly; but how insignificant is this piece of justice when contrasted
with that of a penniless toiler, who voluntarily returns to its wealthy
owner a purse of gold which he has found! The measure, however, of this
striking difference in the quantity of justice, and injustice (the
=quality= being always constant), is not direct and absolute, as
on a graduated scale; it is indirect and relative, like the ratio of
sines and tangents. I give therefore the following definition: the
amount of injustice in my conduct varies as the amount of evil, which
I thereby bring on another, divided by the amount of advantage, which
I myself gain; and the amount of justice in my conduct varies as the
amount of advantage, which injury done to another brings me, divided by
the amount of harm which he thereby suffers.

We have further to notice a =double= form of injustice which is
specifically different from the simple kind, be it never so great. This
variety may be detected by the fact that the amount of indignation
shown by disinterested witnesses, which is always proportional to the
amount of wrong inflicted, never reaches the =maximum= except
when it is present. We then see how the deed is loathed, as something
revolting and heinous, as an _ἄγος_ (_i.e._, abomination), before
which, as it were, the gods veil their faces. =Double= injustice
occurs when some one, after definitely undertaking the obligation of
protecting his friend, master, client, etc., in a special way, not
only is guilty of non-fulfilment of that duty (which of itself would
be injurious to the other, and therefore a wrong); but when, in
addition, he turns round, and attacks the man, and strikes at the very
spot which he promised to guard. Instances are: the appointed watch,
or guide, who becomes an assassin; the trusted caretaker, who becomes
a thief; the guardian, who robs his ward of her property; the lawyer,
who prevaricates; the judge, who is corruptible; the adviser, who
deliberately gives some fatal counsel. All such conduct is known by the
name of =treachery=, and is viewed with abhorrence by the whole
world. Hence Dante puts traitors in the lowest circle of Hell, where
Satan himself is found (_Inferno_: xi, 61-60).

As we have here had occasion to mention the word "obligation," this
is the place to determine the conception of =Duty=, which is so
often spoken of both in Ethics and in real life, but with too wide
an extension of meaning. We have seen that wrong always signifies
injury done to another, whether it be in his person, his freedom, his
property, or his honour. The consequence appears to be that every wrong
must imply a positive aggression, and so a definite act. Only there are
actions, the simple omission of which constitutes a wrong; and these
are Duties. This is the true philosophic definition of the conception
"Duty,"--a term which loses its characteristic note, and hence becomes
valueless, if it is used (as hitherto it has been in Moral Science)
to designate all praiseworthy conduct. It is forgotten that "Duty"[7]
necessarily means a =debt= which is owing, being thus an action,
by the simple omission of which another suffers harm, that is, a wrong
comes about. Clearly in this case the injury only takes place through
the person, who neglects the duty, having distinctly pledged or bound
himself to it. Consequently all duties depend on an obligation which
has been entered into. This, as a rule, takes the form of a definite,
if sometimes tacit, agreement between two parties: as for instance,
between prince and people, government and its servants, master and
man, lawyer and client, physician and patient; in a word, between any
and every one who undertakes to perform some task, and his employer
in the widest sense of the word. Hence every duty involves a right;
since no one undertakes an obligation without a motive, which means,
in this case, without seeing some advantage for himself. There is
only =one= obligation that I know of which is not subject to an
agreement, but arises directly and solely through an act; this is
because one of the persons with whom it has to do was not in existence
when it was contracted. I refer to the duty of parents towards their
children. Whoever brings a child into the world, has incumbent on him
the duty of supporting his offspring, until the latter is able to
maintain himself; and should this time never come, owing to incapacity
from blindness, deformity, cretinism, and the like, neither does the
duty ever come to an end. It is clear that merely by failing to provide
for the needs of his son, that is, by a simple omission, the father
would injure him, indeed jeopardise his life. Children's duty towards
their parents is not so direct and imperative. It rests on the fact
that, as every duty involves a right, parents also must have some just
claim on their issue. This is the foundation of the duty of filial
obedience, which, however, in course of time ceases simultaneously
with the right out of which it sprang. It is replaced by gratitude for
that which was done by father and mother over and above their strict
duty. Nevertheless, although ingratitude is a hateful, often indeed a
revolting vice, gratitude cannot be called a =duty=; because its
omission inflicts no injury on the other side, and is therefore no
=wrong=. Otherwise we should have to suppose that in his heart
of hearts the benefactor aims at making a good bargain. It should be
noticed that reparation made for harm done may also be regarded as a
duty arising directly through an action. This, however, is something
purely negative, as it is nothing but an attempt to remove and blot out
the consequences of an unjust deed, as a thing that ought never to have
taken place. Be it also observed that equity[8] is the foe of justice,
and often comes into harsh collision with it; so that the former ought
only to be admitted within certain limits. The German is a friend of
equity, while the Englishman holds to justice.

The law of motivation is just as strict as that of physical causality,
and hence involves the same irresistible necessity. Consequently
wrong may be compassed not only by violence, but also by cunning. If
by violence I am able to kill or rob another, or compel him to obey
me, I can equally use cunning to accomplish the same ends; that is, I
can place false motives before his intellect, by reason of which he
must do what otherwise he would not. These false motives are effected
by lies. In reality lies are unjustifiable solely in so far as they
are instruments of cunning, in other words, of compulsion, by means of
motivation.[9] And this is precisely their function, as a rule. For,
in the first place, I cannot tell a falsehood without a motive, and
this motive will certainly be, with the rarest exceptions, an unjust
one; namely, the intention of holding others, over whom I have no
power, under my will, that is, of coercing them through the agency of
motivation. Also in mere exaggerations and untruthful bombast there
is the same purpose at work; for, by employing such language, a man
tries to place himself higher in the sight of others than is his due.
The binding force of a promise or a compact is contained in the fact
that, if it be not observed, it is a deliberate lie, pronounced in the
most solemn manner,--a lie, whose intention (that of putting others
under moral compulsion) is, in this case, all the clearer, because
its motive, the desired performance of something on the other side,
is expressly declared. The contemptible part of the fraud is that
hypocrisy is used to disarm the victim before he is attacked. The
highest point of villainy is reached in =treachery=, which, as we
have seen, is a =double= injustice, and is always, regarded with

It is, then, obvious that, just as I am not wrong, that is, right in
resisting violence by violence, so where violence is not feasible,
or it appears more convenient, I am at liberty to resort to cunning;
accordingly, whenever I am entitled to use force, I may, if I please,
employ falsehood; for instance, against robbers and miscreants of
every sort, whom in this way I entice into a trap. Hence a promise
which is extorted by violence is not binding. But, as a matter of
fact, the right to avail myself of lies extends further. It occurs
whenever an unjustifiable question is asked, which has to do with my
private, or business affairs, and is hence prompted by curiosity; for
to answer it, or even to put it off by the suspicion-awakening words,
"I can't tell you," would expose me to danger. Here an untruth is
the indispensable weapon against unwarranted inquisitiveness, whose
motive is hardly ever a well-meaning one. For, just as I have the
right to oppose the apparent bad will of another, and to anticipate
with physical resistance, to the danger of my would-be aggressor, the
physical violence presumably thence resulting; so that, for instance,
as a precaution, I can protect my garden wall with sharp spikes, let
loose savage dogs in my court at night, and even, if circumstances
require it, set man-traps and spring-guns, for the evil consequences of
which the burglar has only himself to thank:--if I have the right to do
this, then I am equally authorised in keeping secret, at any price,
that which, if known, would lay me bare to the attack of others. And I
have good reason for acting thus, because, in moral, no less than in
physical, relations, I am driven to assume that the bad will of others
is very possible, and must therefore take all necessary preventive
measures beforehand. Whence Ariosto says:--

    _Quantunque il similar sia le più volte_
    _Ripreso, e dia di mala mente indict,_
    _Si trova pure in molte cose e molte_
    _Avere fatti evidenti benefici,_
    _E danni e biasmi e morti avere tolte:_
    _Che non conversiam' sempre con gli amici,_
    _In questa assai più oscura che serena_
    _Vita mortal, tutta d'invidia piena_[10]
                           _--Orl. Fur._, IV., 1.

I may, then, without any injustice match cunning with cunning, and
anticipate all crafty encroachments on me, even if they be only
probable; and I need neither render an account to him who unwarrantably
pries into my personal circumstances, nor by replying: "I cannot
answer this," show him the spot where I have a secret, which perilous
to me, and perhaps advantageous to him, in any case puts me in his
power, if divulged: _Scire volunt secreta domus, atque inde timeri_.
(They wish to know family secrets, and thus become feared.) On the
contrary, I am justified in putting him off with a lie, involving
danger to himself, in case he is thereby led into a mistake that
works him harm. Indeed, a falsehood is the only means of opposing
inquisitive and suspicious curiosity; to meet which it is the one
weapon of necessary self-defence. "Ask me no questions, and I'll tell
you no lies" is here the right maxim. For among the English, who regard
the reproach of being a liar as the deepest insult, and who on that
account are really more truthful than other nations, all unjustifiable
questions, having to do with another's affairs, are looked upon as
a piece of ill-breeding, which is denoted by the expression, "to
ask questions." Certainly every sensible person, even when he is
of the strictest rectitude, follows the principle above set forth.
Suppose, for instance, such a one is returning from a remote spot,
where he has raised a sum of money; and suppose an unknown traveller
joins him, and after the customary "whither" and "whence" gradually
proceeds to inquire what may have taken him to that place; the former
will undoubtedly give a false answer in order to avoid the danger
of robbery. Again: if a man be found in the house of another, whose
daughter he is wooing; and he is asked the cause of his unexpected
presence; unless he has entirely lost his head, he will not give the
true reason, but unhesitatingly invent a pretext. And the cases are
numberless in which every reasonable being tells an untruth, without
the least scruple of conscience. It is this view of the matter alone
that removes the crying contradiction between the morality which is
taught, and that which is daily practised, even by the best and most
upright of men. At the same time, the restriction of a falsehood to
the single purpose of self-defence must be rigidly observed; for
otherwise this doctrine would admit of terrible abuse, a lie being in
itself a very dangerous instrument. But just as, even in time of public
peace, the law allows every one to carry weapons and to use them, when
required for self-defence, so Ethics permits lies to be employed for
the same purpose, and--be it observed--for this one purpose only. Every
mendacious word is a wrong, excepting only when the occasion arises of
defending oneself against violence or cunning. Hence justice requires
truthfulness towards all men. But the entirely unconditional and
unreserved condemnation of lies, as properly involved in their nature,
is sufficiently refuted by well known facts. Thus, there are cases
where a falsehood is a =duty=, especially for doctors; and there
are =magnanimous= lies, as, for instance, that of the Marquis
Posa in _Don Carlos_[11] or that in the _Gerusalemme Liberata_, II.,
22;[12] they occur, indeed, whenever a man wills to take on himself
the guilt of another; and lastly, Jesus Christ himself is reported
(_John_ vii. 8; cf. ver. 10) on one occasion to have intentionally
told an untruth. The reader will remember that Campanella, in his
_Poesie Filosofiche_ (Delia Bellezza: Madr. 9), does not hesitate to
say: "_Bello è il mentir, se a fare gran ben' si trova_."[13] On the
other hand, the current teaching as regards necessary falsehoods is a
wretched patch on the dress of a poverty-stricken morality. Kant is
responsible for the theory found in many text-books, which derives
the unjustifiableness of lies from man's faculty of speech; but the
arguments are so tame, childish and absurd that one might well be
tempted, if only to pour contempt on them, to join sides with the
devil, and say with Talleyrand: _l'homme a reçu la parole pour pouvoir
cacher sa pensée_[14]. The unqualified and boundless horror shown by
Kant for falsehoods, whenever he has the opportunity, is due either to
affectation, or to prejudice. In the chapter of his "_Tugendlehre_,"
dealing with lies, he loads them with every kind of defamatory epithet,
but does not adduce a single adequate reason for their condemnation;
which would have been more to the point. Declamation is easier than
demonstration, and to moralise less difficult than to be sincere. Kant
would have done better to open the vials of his wrath on that vice
which takes pleasure in seeing others suffer; it is the latter, and not
a falsehood, which is truly fiendish. For malignant joy is the exact
opposite of Compassion, and nothing else but powerless cruelty, which,
unable itself to bring about the misery it so gladly beholds others
enduring, is thankful to _Τύχη_ for having done so instead. According
to the code of knightly honour, the reproach of being a liar is of
extreme gravity, and only to be washed out with the accuser's blood.
Now this obtains, not because the lie is wrong in itself, since, were
such the reason, to accuse a man of an injury done by violence would
certainly be regarded as equally outrageous,--which is not the case,
as every one knows; but it is due to that principle of chivalry, which
in reality bases right on might; so that whoever, when trying to work
mischief, has recourse to falsehood, proves that he lacks either power,
or the requisite courage. Every untruth bears witness of his fear; and
this is why a fatal verdict is passed on him.

[1] Thus, when the first gleam of _Mitleid_ stole into her heart,
Brünhilde could no longer remain a Walküre; and Wotan's end comes, when
by the same solvent he is at length set free from the delusion of the
_principium individuationis._--(_Translator._)

[2] There is here an allusion to the _πάνδημος Ἓρως_ and _Oὐρανία_ in
Plato's _Symposium. V_. Chap. 8, sq. Edit. Schmelzer: Weidmann, Berlin,

[3] _V_. Hesiod, _Opera et Dies_, 174-201.--(_Translator._)

[4] Justice here denotes nothing else than that which is just, and
this, rather in a negative than in a positive sense; so that what is
not unjust is to be regarded as justice.

[5] There is no more efficient instrument in ruling the masses than
superstition. Without this they have no self-control; they are brutish;
they are changeable; but once they are caught by some vain form of
religion, they lend a more willing ear to its soothsayers than to their
own leaders.

[6] The Doctrine of Eight in detail may be found in _Die Welt als Wille
und Vorstellung_, vol. i., § 62.

[7] Duty = _τὸ δέον_ = le devoir = Pflicht [cf. _plight_, O. H. G.

[8] The word here translated "equity" (_Billigkeit_: Lat. _aequitas_)
means the sense of fairness, or of natural justice which determines
what is fitting and due in all human relations, as opposed to justice
(_Gerechtigkeit_) taken as positive written law.--(_Translator._)

[9] Motivation is defined in Part II., Chapter VIII., as "the law of
Causality acting through the medium of the intellect." It is thus the
law of the determination of conduct by motives.--(_Translator._)


However much we're won't to blame a lie,
As index of a mind estranged from right,
Yet times unnumber'd it hath shap'd results
Of good most evident; disgrace and loss,
It chang'd; e'en death it cheated. For with friends,
Alas! not always in this mortal life,
Where envy fills all hearts, and gloom prevails
Much more than light, are we in converse join'd.

[11] _Vide_, Schiller's _Don Carlos_: Act V., Sc. 3.--(_Translator._)


    "_Magnanima menzogna, or quando è il vero_
    _Si hello che si possa a te preporre?"_

Cf. also the Horatian _splendid mendax. Carm._ III., 11, 35.--(_Translator._)

[13] 'Tis well to lie, an there result much good therefrom. _Vide,
Opere_ di Tommaso Campanella, da Alessandro d'Ancona, Torino,

[14] Man has received the gift of language, so as to be able to conceal
his thoughts.



Thus justice is the primary and essentially cardinal virtue. Ancient
philosophers recognised it as such, but made it co-ordinate with three
others unsuitably chosen.[1] Loving-kindness (_caritas, ἀγάπη_) was not
as yet ranked as a virtue. Plato himself, who rises highest in moral
science, reaches only so far as voluntary, disinterested justice. It
is true that loving-kindness has existed at all times in practice and
in fact; but it was reserved for Christianity,--whose greatest service
is seen in this--to theoretically formulate, and expressly advance it
not only as a virtue, but as the queen of all; and to extend it even
to enemies. We are thinking of course only of Europe. For in Asia, a
thousand years before, the boundless love of one's neighbour had been
prescribed and taught, as well as practised: the Vedas[2] are full
of it; while in the Dharma-Śāstra,[3] Itihāsa,[4] and Purāna[5] it
constantly recurs, to say nothing of the preaching of Śakya-muni, the
Buddha. And to be quite accurate we must admit that there are traces
to be found among the Greeks and Romans of a recommendation to follow
loving-kindness; for instance, in Cicero, _De Finibus_, V., 23;[6] and
also in Pythagoras, according to Iamblichus, _De vita Pythagorae_,
chap. 33.[7] My task is now to give a philosophical derivation of this
virtue from the principle I have laid down.

It has been demonstrated in Chapter V. of this Part, that the sense of
Compassion, however much its origin is shrouded in mystery, is the one
and sole cause whereby the suffering I see in another, of itself, and
as such, becomes directly my motive; and we have seen that the first
stage of this process is =negative=. The second degree is sharply
distinguished from the first, through the =positive= character
of the actions resulting therefrom; for at this point Compassion
does more than keep me back from injuring my neighbour; it impels me
to help him. And according as, on the one hand, my sense of direct
participation is keen and deep, and, on the other hand, the distress
is great and urgent, so shall I be constrained by this motive, which
(be it noted) is purely and wholly moral, to make a greater or less
sacrifice in order to meet the need or the calamity which I observe;
and this sacrifice may involve the expenditure of my bodily or mental
powers, the loss of my property, freedom, or even life. So that in
this direct =suffering with= another, which rests on no arguments
and requires none, is found the one simple origin of loving-kindness,
_caritas, aγάπη_ in other words, that virtue whose rule is: _Omnes,
quantum potes, juva_ (help all people, as far as lies in your power);
and from which all those actions proceed which are prescribed by
Ethics under the name of duties of virtue, otherwise called duties of
love, or imperfect duties. It is solely by direct and, as it were,
instinctive participation in the sufferings which we see, in other
words, by Compassion, that conduct so defined is occasioned; at least
when it can be said to have moral worth, that is, be declared free
from all egoistic motives, and when on that account it awakens in us
that inward contentment which is called a good, satisfied, approving
conscience, and elicits from the spectator (not without making him
cast a humiliating glance at himself), that remarkable commendation,
respect, and admiration which are too well-known to be denied.

But if a beneficent action have any other motive whatever, then it
must be egoistic, if not actually malicious. For as the fundamental
springs of all human conduct (_v_. Chapter V. of this Part), are three,
namely, Egoism, Malice, Compassion; so the various motives which are
capable of affecting men may be grouped under three general heads: (1)
one's own weal; (2) others' woe; (3) others' weal. Now if the motive
of a kind act does not belong to the third class, it must of course
be found in the first or second. To the second it is occasionally to
be ascribed; for instance, if I do good to some one, in order to vex
another, to whom I am hostile; or to make the latter's sufferings more
acute; or, it may be, to put to shame a third person, who refrained
from helping; or lastly, to inflict a mortification on the man whom I
benefit. But it much more usually springs from the first class. And
this is the case whenever, in doing some good, I have in view my own
weal, no matter how remote or indirect it may be; that is, whenever
I am influenced by the thought of reward whether in this, or in
another, world, or by the hope of winning high esteem, and of gaining
a reputation for nobleness of character; or again, when I reflect that
the person, whom I now aid, may one day be able to assist me in return,
or otherwise be of some service and benefit; or when, lastly, I am
guided by the consideration that I must keep the rules of magnanimity
and beneficence, because I too may on some occasion profit thereby. In
a word, my motive is egoistic as soon as it is anything other than
the purely objective desire of simply knowing, without any ulterior
purpose, that my neighbour is helped, delivered from his distress and
need, or freed from his suffering. If such an aim--shorn, as it is, of
all subjectivity--be really mine, then, and then only, have I given
proof of that loving-kindness, _caritas, ἀγάπη_, which it is the great
and distinguishing merit of Christianity to have preached. It should
be observed, in this connection, that the injunctions which the Gospel
adds to its commandment of love, _e.g., μὴ γνώτω ἡ ἀρίστερα σου, τί
ποιεῑ ἡ δεξιά σου_ (let not thy left hand know what thy right hand
doeth), and the like, are, in point of fact, based on a consciousness
of the conclusion I have here reached,--namely, that another's
distress, of itself alone, without any further consideration, must be
my motive, if what I do is to be of moral value. And in the same place
(_Matth_. vi. 2) we find it stated with perfect truth that ostentations
almsgivers _ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν_. (Get in full--exhaust their
reward.) Although, in this respect too, the Vedas shed on us the light
of a higher teaching. They repeatedly declare that he, who desires any
sort of recompense for his work, is still wandering in the path of
darkness, and not yet ripe for deliverance. If any one should ask me
what he gets from a charitable act, my answer in all sincerity would
be: "This, that the lot of the poor man you relieve is just so much the
lighter; otherwise absolutely nothing. If you are not satisfied, and
feel that such is not a sufficient end, then your wish was not to give
alms, but to make a purchase; and you have effected a bad bargain.
But if the one thing you are concerned with is that he should feel the
pressure of poverty less; then you have gained your object; you have
diminished his suffering, and you see exactly how far your gift is

Now, how is it possible that trouble which is not mine, and by which
I am untouched, should become as direct a motive to me as if it were
my own, and incite me to action? As already explained, only through
the fact that, although it comes before me merely as something outside
myself, by means of the external medium of sight or hearing; I am,
nevertheless, sensible of it with the sufferer; I feel it as my own,
not indeed in myself, but in him And so what Calderon said comes to

                    _que entre el ver_
           _Padecer y el padecer_
           _Ninguna distancia habia_.
  (_No Siempre lo Peor es Cierto_. Jorn. II., Esc. 9.)[8]

This, however, presupposes that to a certain extent I have become
identified with the other, and consequently that the barrier between
the ego and the non-ego is, for the moment, broken down. It is then,
and then only, that I make his interests, his need, his distress, his
suffering directly my own; it is then that the empirical picture I have
of him vanishes, and I no longer see the stranger, who is entirely
unlike myself, and to whom I am indifferent; but I share his pain in
him, despite the certainty that his skin does not enclose my nerves.
Only in this way is it possible for =his= woe, =his= distress
to become a motive =for me=; otherwise I should be influenced
solely by my own. This process is, I repeat, =mysterious=. For it
is one which Reason can give no direct account of, and its causes lie
outside the field of experience. And yet it is of daily occurrence.
Every one has often felt its working within himself; even to the most
hard-hearted and selfish it is not unknown. Each day that passes brings
it before our eyes, in single acts, on a small scale; whenever a man,
by direct impulse, without much reflection, helps a fellow-creature and
comes to his aid, sometimes even exposing himself to the most imminent
peril for the sake of one he has never seen before, and this, without
once thinking of anything but the fact that he witnesses another's
great distress and danger. It was manifested on a large scale, when
after long consideration, and many a stormy debate, the noble-hearted
British nation gave twenty millions of pounds to ransom the negroes in
its colonies, with the approbation and joy of a whole world. If any one
refuses to recognise in Compassion the cause of this deed, magnificent
as it is in its grand proportions, and prefers to ascribe it to
Christianity; let him remember that in the whole of the New Testament
not one word is said against slavery, though at that time it was
practically universal; and further, that as late as A.D. 1860, in North
America, when the question was being discussed, a man was found who
thought to strengthen his case by appealing to the fact that Abraham
and Jacob kept slaves!

What will be in each separate case the practical effect of this
mysterious inner process may be left to Ethics to analyse, in chapters
and paragraphs entitled "Duties of Virtue," "Duties of Love,"
"Imperfect Duties," or whatever other name be used. The root, the
basis of all these is the one here indicated; for out of it arises
the primary precept: _Omnes, quantum potes, juva_; from which in turn
everything else required can very easily be deduced; just as out of the
_Neminem laede_--the first half of my principle--all duties of justice
are derivable. Ethics is in truth the easiest of all sciences. And
this is only to be expected, since it is incumbent on each person to
construct it for himself, and himself form the rule for every case, as
it occurs, out of the fundamental law which lies deep in his heart; for
few have leisure and patience enough to learn a ready-made system of
Morals. From justice and loving-kindness spring all the other virtues;
for which reason these two may properly be called cardinal, and the
disclosure of their origin lays the corner-stone of Moral Science. The
entire ethical content of the Old Testament is justice; loving-kindness
being that of the New. The latter is the _καινὴ ἐντολὴ_ (the new
commandment [_John_ xiii. 34]), which according to Paul (_Romans_ xiii.
8-10) includes all Christian virtues.

[1] Plato taught that Justice (_δικαιοσύνη_) includes in itself the
three other virtues of Wisdom (σοϕία), Fortitude (_ἀνδρεία,_) and
Temperance (_σωϕρούυν_). With Aristotle, too, Justice is the chief
of virtues; while the Stoic doctrine is that Virtue is manifested
in four leading co-ordinate forms: Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude, and

[2] There are four Vedas: the _Big-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sāma-Veda,_ and

[3] _Dharma-Śāstra_ ("a law book"): the body or code of Hindu

[4] _Itihāsa_ (iti-ha-āsa, "so indeed it is"): talk, legend,
traditional accounts of former events, heroic history; _e.g._, the

[5] _Purāna_ (ancient, legendary): the name given to certain
well-known sacred works, eighteen in number, comprising the whole
body of modern Hindu mythology. _V_. Monier Williams' _Sanskrit

[6] _Ipsa_ CARITAS _generis humani, quae nata a primo satu, quod a
procreatoribus nati diliguntur, et tota domus conjugio et stirpe
conjungitur, serpit sensim foras, cognationibus primum, tum
affinitatibus, deinde amicitiis, post vicinitatibus tum civibus et iis,
qui publice socii atque amici sunt, deinde_ TOTIUS COMPLEXU GENTIS

[7] This chapter describes the Pythagorean ϕίλια πάντων πρὸς ἃπαντας,
which comes very near to loving-kindness. It contains also certain
_καλὰ τῆς ϕίλιας τεκήρια_.--(_Translator_.)


For between the view Of pain, and pain itself, I never knew A distance

It is not Always the Worst that is Certain: Act II., Sc.



The truth I have here laid down, that Compassion is the sole
non-egoistic stimulus, and therefore the only really moral one, is
a strange, indeed almost incomprehensible paradox. I shall hope,
therefore, to render it less extraordinary to the reader, if I show
that it is confirmed by experience, and by the universal testimony of
human sentiment.

(1) For this purpose I shall, in the first place, state an imaginary
case, which in the present investigation may serve as an _experimentum
crucis_[1] (a crucial test). But not to make the matter too easy, I
shall take no instance of loving-kindness, but rather a breach of
lawful right, and that of the worse kind. Let us suppose two young
people, Caius and Titus, to be passionately in love, each with a
different girl, and that both are completely thwarted by two other men
who are preferred because of certain external circumstances. They have
both resolved to put their rivals out of the way, and are perfectly
secure from every chance of detection, even from all suspicion. But
when they come to actually prepare for the murder, each of them, after
an inward struggle, draws back. They are now to give us a truthful
and clear account of the reasons why they abandoned their project. As
for Caius, I leave it entirely to the reader to choose what motive he
likes. It may be that religions grounds checked him; for instance, the
thought of the Divine Will, of future retribution, of the judgment to
come, etc. Or perhaps he may say: "I reflected that the principle I
was going to apply in this case would not be adapted to provide a rule
universally valid for all possible rational beings; because I should
have treated my rival only as a means, and not at the same time as an
end." Or, following Fichte, he may deliver himself as follows: "Every
human life is a means towards realising the moral law; consequently,
I cannot, without being indifferent to this realisation, destroy a
being ordained to do his part in effecting it."--(_Sittenlehre_, p.
373.) (This scruple, be it observed in passing, he might well overcome
by the hope of soon producing a new instrument of the moral law, when
once in possession of his beloved.) Or, again, he may speak after the
fashion of Wollaston: "I considered that such an action would be the
expression of a false tenet." Or like Hutcheson: "The Moral Sense,
whose perceptions, equally with those of every other sense, admit
of no final explanation, forbade me to commit such a deed." Or like
Adam Smith: "I foresaw that my act would awaken no sympathy with me
in the minds of the spectators." Or his language may be borrowed from
Christian Wolff: "I recognised that I should thereby advance neither
the work of making myself perfect, nor the same process in any one
else." Or from Spinoza: "_Homini nihil utilius homine: ergo hominem
interimere nolui_." (To man nothing is more useful than man: therefore
I was unwilling to destroy a man.) In short, he may say what one
pleases. But Titus, whose explanation is supplied by myself, will speak
as follows: "When I came to make arrangements for the work, and so, for
the moment, had to occupy myself not with my own passion, but with my
rival; then for the first time I saw clearly what was going to happen
to him. But simultaneously I was seized with compassion and pity;
sorrow for him laid hold upon me, and overmastered me: I could not
strike the blow." Now I ask every honest and unprejudiced reader: Which
of these two is the better man? To which would he prefer to entrust his
own destiny? Which is restrained by the purer motive? Consequently,
where does the basis of morality lie?

(2) There is nothing that revolts our moral sense so much as cruelty.
Every other offence we can pardon, but not cruelty. The reason is found
in the fact that cruelty is the exact opposite of Compassion. When we
hear of intensely cruel conduct, as, for instance, the act, which
has just been recorded in the papers, of a mother, who murdered her
little son of five years, by pouring boiling oil into his throat, and
her younger child, by burying it alive; or what was recently reported
from Algiers: how a casual dispute between a Spaniard and an Algerine
ended in a fight; and how the latter, having vanquished the other, tore
out the whole of his lower jaw bone, and carried it off as a trophy,
leaving his adversary still alive;--when we hear of cruelty like this,
we are seized with horror, and exclaim: "How is it possible to do such
a thing?" Now, let me ask what this question signifies. Does it mean:
"How is it possible to fear so little the punishments of the future
life?" It is difficult to admit this interpretation. Then perhaps it
intends to say: "How is it possible to act according to a principle
which is so absolutely unfitted to become a general law for all
rational beings?" Certainly not. Or, once more: "How is it possible to
neglect so utterly one's own perfection as well as that of another?"'
This is equally unimaginable. The sense of the question is assuredly
nothing but this: "How is it possible to be so utterly bereft of
compassion?" The conclusion is that when an action is characterised by
an extraordinary absence of compassion, it bears the certain stamp of
the deepest depravity and loathsomeness. Hence Compassion is the true
moral incentive.

(3) The ethical basis, or the original moral stimulus, which I have
disclosed, is the only one that can be justly said to have a real
and extended sphere of effective influence. No one will surely
venture to maintain as much of all the other moral principles that
philosophers have set up; for these are composed of abstract, sometimes
even of hair-splitting propositions, with no foundation other than
an artificial combination of ideas; such that their application to
actual conduct would often incline to the comic. A good action,
inspired solely by Kant's Moral Principle, would be at bottom the
work of philosophic pedantry; or else would lead the doer into
self-deception, through his reason interpreting conduct, which had
other, perhaps nobler, incentives, as the product of the Categorical
Imperative, and of the conception of Duty, which, as we have seen,
rests on nothing. But not only is it true that the =philosophic=
moral principles, purely theoretical as they are, have seldom any
operative power; of those established by =religion=, and expressly
framed for practical purposes, it is equally difficult to predicate
any marked efficiency. The chief evidence of this lies in the fact
that in spite of the great religious differences in the world, the
amount of morality, or rather of immorality, shows no corresponding
variation, but in essentials is pretty much the same everywhere. Only
it is important not to confound rudeness and refinement with morality
and immorality. The religion of Hellas had an exceedingly small moral
tendency,--it hardly went further than respect for oaths. No dogma was
taught, and no system of Ethics publicly preached; nevertheless, all
things considered, it does not appear that the Greeks were morally
inferior to the men of the Christian era. The morality of Christianity
is of a much higher kind than that of any other religion which
previously appeared in Europe. But if any one should believe for this
reason that European morals have improved proportionally, and that
now at any rate they surpass what obtains elsewhere, it would not be
difficult to demonstrate that among the Mohammedans, Gnebres, Hindus,
and Buddhists, there is at least as much honesty, fidelity, toleration,
gentleness, beneficence, nobleness, and self-denial as among Christian
peoples. Indeed, the scale will be found rather to turn unfavourably
for Christendom, when we put into the balance the long list of inhuman
cruelties which have constantly been perpetrated within its limits
and often in its name. We need only recall for a moment the numerous
religious wars; the crusades that nothing can justify; the extirpation
of a large part of the American aborigines, and the peopling of that
continent by negroes, brought over from Africa, without the shadow of
a right, torn from their families, their country, their hemisphere,
and, as slaves, condemned for life to forced labour;[2] the tireless
persecution of heretics; the unspeakable atrocities of the Inquisition,
that cried aloud to heaven; the Massacre of St. Bartholomew; the
execution of 18,000 persons in the Netherlands by the Duke of Alva; and
these are but a few facts among many. Speaking generally, however,
if we compare with the performances of its followers the excellent
morality which Christianity, and, more or less, every creed preaches,
and then try to imagine how far theory would become practice, if crime
were not impeded by the secular arm of the state; nay more, what would
probably happen, if, for only one day all laws should be suspended; we
shall be obliged to confess that the effect of the various religions
on Morals is in fact very small. This is of course due to weakness of
faith. Theoretically, and so long as it is only a question of piety in
the abstract, every one supposes his belief to be firm enough. Only
the searching touch-stone of all our convictions is--what we do. When
the moment for acting arrives, and our faith has to be tested by great
self-denial and heavy sacrifices, then its feebleness becomes evident.
If a man is seriously planning some evil, he has already broken the
bounds of true and pure morality. Thenceforward the chief restraint
that checks him is invariably the dread of justice and the police.
Should he be so hopeful of escaping detection as to cast such fears
aside, the next barrier that meets him is regard for his honour. If
this second rampart be crossed, there is very little likelihood, after
both these powerful hindrances are withdrawn, that any religious dogma
will appeal to him strongly enough to keep him back from the deed. For
if he be not frightened by near and immediate dangers, he will hardly
be curbed by terrors which are distant, and rest merely on belief.
Moreover, there is a positive objection that may be brought against
all good conduct proceeding solely from religions conviction; it is
not purged of self-interest, but done out of regard for reward and
punishment, and hence can have no purely moral value. This view we find
very clearly expressed in a letter of the celebrated Grand-Duke of
Weimar, Karl August. He writes: "Baron Weyhers was himself of opinion
that he, who is good through religion, and not by natural inclination,
must be a bad fellow at heart. _In vino veritas."[3]--(Letters to
J. H. Merck_; No. 229.) But now let us turn to the moral incentive
which I have disclosed. Who ventures for a moment to deny that it
displays a marked and truly wonderful influence at all times, among all
peoples, in all circumstances of life; even when constitutional law is
suspended, and the horrors of revolutions and wars fill the air; in
small things and in great, every day and every hour? Who will refuse
to admit that it is constantly preventing much wrong, and calling into
existence many a good action, often quite unexpectedly, and where there
is no hope of reward? Is there any one who will gainsay the fact that,
where it and it alone has been operative, we all with deep respect and
emotion unreservedly recognise the presence of genuine moral worth?

(4) Boundless compassion for all living beings is the surest and most
certain guarantee of pure moral conduct, and needs no casuistry.
Whoever is filled with it will assuredly injure no one, do harm to
no one, encroach on no man's rights; he will rather have regard for
every one, forgive every one, help every one as far as he can, and
all his actions will bear the stamp of justice and loving-kindness.
On the other hand, if we try to say: "This man is virtuous, but he is
a stranger to Compassion"; or: "he is an unjust and malicious man,
yet very compassionate;" the contradiction at once leaps to light. In
former times the English plays used to finish with a petition for the
King. The old Indian dramas close with these words: "May all living
beings be delivered from pain." Tastes differ; but in my opinion there
is no more beautiful prayer than this.

(5) Also from separate matters of detail it may be inferred that
the original stimulus of true morality is Compassion. For instance,
to make a man lose a hundred thalers, by legal tricks involving no
danger, is equally unjust, whether he be rich or poor; but in the
latter case the rapping of conscience is much louder, the censure of
disinterested witnesses more emphatic. Aristotle was well aware of
this, and said: _δεινότερον δέ εστι τὸν ἀτυχοῡντα, ἢ τον ετὐχοῡντα,
ἀδικεῑν_. (It is worse to injure a man in adversity than one who is
prosperous.)--(_Probl._ xxix. 2.) If the man have wealth, self-reproach
is proportionally faint, and grows still fainter, if it be the treasury
that has been overreached; for state coffers can form no object of
Compassion. It thus appears that the grounds for self-accusation as
well as for the spectators' blame are not furnished directly by the
infringement of the law, but chiefly by the suffering thereby brought
upon others. The violation of right, by itself and as such, which is
involved in cheating the exchequer, (to take the above instance,)
will be disapproved by the conscience alike of actor and witness; but
only because, and in so far as, the rule of respecting =every=
right, which forms the _sine qua non_ of all honourable conduct, is in
consequence broken. The stricture passed will, in fact, be indirect and
limited. If, however, it be a confidential _employé_ in the service
that commits the fraud, the case assumes quite another aspect; it
then has all the specific attributes of, and belongs to, that class
of actions described above, whose characteristic is a =double
injustice=. The analysis here given explains why the worst charge
which can ever be brought against rapacious extortioners and legal
sharpers is, that they appropriate for themselves the goods of widows
and orphans. The reason appears in the fact that the latter, more
than others, owing to their helplessness, might be expected to excite
Compassion in the most callous heart. Hence we conclude that the entire
absence of this sense is sufficient to lower a man to the last degree
of villainy.

(6) Compassion is the root no less of justice than of loving-kindness;
but it is more clearly evidenced in the latter than in the former.
We never receive proofs of genuine loving-kindness on the part of
others, so long as we are in all respects prosperous. The happy man
may, no doubt, often hear the words of good-will on his relations'
and friends' lips; but the expression of that pure, disinterested,
objective participation in the condition and lot of others, which
loving-kindness begets, is reserved for him who is stricken with some
sorrow or suffering, whatever it be. For the fortunate =as such=
we do not feel sympathy; unless they have some other claim on us, they
remain alien to our hearts: _habeant sibi sua._ (They may keep their
own affairs, pleasures, etc., to themselves.) Nay, if a man has many
advantages over others, he will easily become an object of envy, which
is ready, should he once fall from his height of prosperity, to turn
into malignant joy. Nevertheless this menace is, for the most part,
not fulfilled; the Sophoclean _γελῶσι δ' ἐχθροί _ (his enemies laugh)
does not generally become an actual fact. As soon as the day of ruin
comes to one of fortune's spoiled children, there usually takes place
a great transformation in the minds of his acquaintances, which for us
in this connection is very instructive. In the first place this change
clearly reveals the real nature of the interest that the friends of his
happiness took in him: _diffugiunt cadis cum faece siccatis amici._
(When the casks are drained to the dregs, one's friends run away.)[4]
On the other hand, the exultation of those who envied his prosperity,
the mocking laugh of malicious satisfaction, which he feared more than
adversity itself, and the contemplation of which he could not face,
are things usually spared him. Jealousy is appeased, and disappears
with its cause; while Compassion which takes its place is the parent
of loving-kindness. Those who were envious of, and hostile to, a man
in the full tide of success, after his downfall, have not seldom
become his friends, ready to protect, comfort, and help. Who has not,
at least in a small way, himself experienced something of the sort?
Where is the man, who, when overtaken by some calamity, of whatever
nature, has not noticed with surprise how the persons that previously
had displayed the greatest coldness, nay, ill-will towards him, then
came forward with unfeigned sympathy? For misfortune is the condition
of Compassion, and Compassion the source of loving-kindness. When our
wrath is kindled against a person, nothing quenches it so quickly, even
when it is righteous, as the words: "He is an unfortunate man." And the
reason is obvious: Compassion is to anger as water to fire. Therefore,
whoever would fain have nothing to repent of, let him listen to my
advice. When he is inflamed with rage, and meditates doing some one a
grievous injury, he should bring the thing vividly before his mind,
as a _fait accompli_; he should clearly picture to himself this other
fellow-being tormented with mental or bodily pain, or struggling with
need and misery; so that he is forced to exclaim: "This is my work!"
Such thoughts as these, if anything, will avail to moderate his wrath.
For Compassion is the true antidote of anger; and by practising on
oneself this artifice of the imagination, one awakes beforehand, while
there is yet time,

                 _la pitié, dont la voix,_
_Alors qu'on est vengé, fait entendre ses lois_.[5]
                   --(Voltaire, _Sémiramis_, V. 6.)

And in general, the hatred we may cherish for others is overcome by
nothing so easily as by our taking a point of view whence they can
appeal to our Compassion. The reason indeed why parents, as a rule,
specially love the sickly one of their children is because the sight of
it perpetually stirs their Compassion.

(7) There is another proof that the moral incentive disclosed by me
is the true one. I mean the fact that animals also are included under
its protecting aegis. In the other European systems of Ethics no place
is found for them,--strange and inexcusable as this may appear. It is
asserted that beasts have no rights; the illusion is harboured that our
conduct, so far as they are concerned, has no moral significance, or,
as it is put in the language of these codes, that "there are no duties
to be fulfilled towards animals." Such a view is one of revolting
coarseness, a barbarism of the West, whose source is Judaism. In
philosophy, however, it rests on the assumption, despite all evidence
to the contrary, of the radical difference between man and beast,--a
doctrine which, as is well known, was proclaimed with more trenchant
emphasis by Descartes than by any one else: it was indeed the necessary
consequence of his mistakes. When Leibnitz and Wolff, following out
the Cartesian view, built up out of abstract ideas their Rational
Psychology, and constructed a deathless _anima rationalis_ (rational
soul); then the natural claims of the animal kingdom visibly rose up
against this exclusive privilege, this human patent of immortality, and
Nature, as always in such circumstances, entered her silent protest.
Our philosophers, owing to the qualms of their intellectual conscience,
were soon forced to seek aid for their Rational Psychology from the
empirical method; they accordingly tried to reveal the existence of
a vast chasm, an immeasurable gulf between animals and men, in order
to represent them, in the teeth of opposing testimony, as existences
essentially different. These efforts did not escape the ridicule of
Boileau; for we find him saying:

_Les animaux ont-ils des universités?_
_Voit-on fleurir chez eux des quatre facultés?_[6]

Such a supposition would end in animals being pronounced incapable
of distinguishing themselves from the external world, and of having
any self-consciousness, any ego! As answer to such absurd tenets, it
would only be necessary to point to the boundless Egoism innate in
every animal, even the smallest and humblest; this amply proves how
perfectly they are conscious of their self, as opposed to the world,
which lies outside it. If any one of the Cartesian persuasion, with
views like these in his head, should find himself in the claws of a
tiger, he would be taught in the most forcible manner what a sharp
distinction such a beast draws between his ego and the non-ego.
Corresponding to these philosophical fallacies we notice a peculiar
sophism in the speech of many peoples, especially the Germans. For the
commonest matters connected with the processes of life,--for food,
drink, conception, the bringing forth of young; for death, and the dead
body; such languages have special words applicable only to animals,
not to men. In this way the necessity of using the same terms for
both is avoided, and the perfect identity of the thing concealed under
verbal differences. Now, since the ancient tongues show no trace of
such a dual mode of expression, but frankly denote the same things
by the same words; it follows that this miserable artifice is beyond
all doubt the work of European priestcraft, which, in its profanity,
knows no limit to its disavowal of, and blasphemy against, the Eternal
Reality that lives in every animal. Thus was laid the foundation of
that harshness and cruelty towards beasts which is customary in Europe,
and on which a native of the Asiatic uplands could not look without
righteous horror. In English this infamous invention is not to be
found; assuredly because the Saxons, when they conquered England, were
not yet Christians. Nevertheless the English language shows something
analogous in the strange fact that it makes all animals of the neuter
gender, the pronoun "it" being employed for them, just as if they
were lifeless things. This idiom has a very objectionable sound,
especially in the case of dogs, monkeys, and other Primates, and is
unmistakably a priestly trick, designed to reduce beasts to the level
of inanimate objects. The ancient Egyptians, who dedicated all their
days to religion, were accustomed to place in the same vault with a
human mummy that of an ibis, a crocodile, etc.; in Europe it is a
crime, an abomination to bury a faithful dog beside the resting-place
of his master, though it is there perhaps that he, with a fidelity
and attachment unknown to the sons of men, awaited his own end. To a
recognition of the identity, in all essentials, of the phaenomena
which we call "man" and "beast," nothing leads more surely than the
study of zoology and anatomy. What shall we say then, when in these
days (1839) a canting dissector has been found, who presumes to insist
on an absolute and radical difference between human beings and animals,
and who goes so far as to attack and calumniate honest zoologists that
keep aloof from all priestly guile, eye-service, and hypocrisy, and
dare to follow the leading of nature and of truth?

Those persons must indeed be totally blind, or else completely
chloroformed by the _foetor Judaicus_ (Jewish stench), who do not
discern that the truly essential and fundamental part in man and beast
is identically the same thing. That which distinguishes the one from
the other does not lie in the primary and original principle, in the
inner nature, in the kernel of the two phaenomena (this kernel being
in both alike the Will of the individual); it is found in what is
secondary, in the intellect, in the degree of perceptive capacity. It
is true that the latter is incomparably higher in man, by reason of
his added faculty of abstract knowledge, called Reason; nevertheless
this superiority is traceable solely to a greater cerebral development,
in other words, to the corporeal difference, which is quantitative,
not qualitative, of a single part, the brain. In all other respects
the similarity between men and animals, both psychical and bodily, is
sufficiently striking. So that we must remind our judaised friends
in the West, who despise animals, and idolise Reason, that if they
were suckled by their mothers, so also was the dog by his. Even Kant
fell into this common mistake of his age, and of his country, and I
have already administered the censure[7] which it is impossible to
withhold. The fact that Christian morality takes no thought for beasts
is a defect in the system which is better admitted than perpetuated.
One's astonishment is, however, all the greater, because, with this
exception, it shows the closest agreement with the Ethics of Brahmanism
and Buddhism, being only less strongly expressed, and not carried to
the last consequences imposed by logic. On the whole, there seems
little room for doubting that, in common with the idea of a god become
man, or Avatar,[8] it has an Asiatic origin, and probably came to
Judaea by way of Egypt; so that Christianity would be a secondary
reflection of the primordial light that shone in India, which,
falling first on Egypt, was unhappily refracted from its ruins upon
Jewish soil. An apt symbol of the insensibility of Christian Ethics
to animals, while in other points its similarity to the Indian is so
great, may be found in the circumstance that John the Baptist comes
before us in all respects like a Hindu Sannyasin,[9] except that he
is clothed in skins: a thing which would be, as is well known, an
abomination in the eyes of every follower of Brahmanism or Buddhism.
The Royal Society of Calcutta only received their copy of the Vedas
on their distinctly promising that they would not have it bound in
leather, after European fashion. In silken binding, therefore, it is
now to be seen on the shelves of their library. Again: the Gospel story
of Peter's draught of fishes, which the Saviour blesses so signally
that the boats are overladen, and begin to sink (_Luke_ v. 1-10),
forms a characteristic contrast to what is related of Pythagoras. It
is said that the latter, initiated as he was in all the wisdom of the
Egyptians, bought the draught from the fishermen, while the net was
still under water, in order to at once set at liberty the captive
denizens of the sea. (Apuleius: _De Magia_, p. 36: edit. Bipont.)[10]
Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of
character, and it may be confidently asserted that he, who is cruel
to living creatures, cannot be a good man. Moreover, this compassion
manifestly flows from the same source whence arise the virtues of
justice and loving-kindness towards men. Thus, for instance, people
of delicate sensitiveness, on realising that in a fit of ill-humour,
or anger, or under the influence of wine, they punished their dog,
their horse, their ape undeservedly, or unnecessarily, or excessively,
are seized with the same remorse, feel the same dissatisfaction with
themselves, as when they are conscious of having done some wrong to
one of their fellows. The only difference--a purely nominal one--is
that in the latter case this remorse, this dissatisfaction is called
the voice of conscience rising in rebuke. I remember having read of
an Englishman, who, when hunting in India, had killed a monkey, that
he could not forget the dying look which the creature cast on him; so
that he never fired at these animals again. Another sportsman, William
Harris by name, a true Nimrod, has much the same story to tell. During
the years 1836-7 he travelled far into the heart of Africa, merely to
indulge his passion for the chase. A passage in his book, published at
Bombay in 1838, describes how he shot his first elephant, a female.
Next morning on going to look for his game, he found that all the
elephants had fled from the neighbourhood, except a young one which had
spent the night beside its dead mother. Seeing the huntsmen, it forgot
all fear, and came to meet them, with the clearest and most lively
signs of disconsolate grief, and put its tiny trunk about them, as if
to beg for help. "Then," says Harris, "I was filled with real remorse
for what I had done, and felt as if I had committed a murder."

The English nation, with its fine sensibility, is, in fact,
distinguished above all others for extraordinary compassion towards
animals, which appears at every opportunity, and is so strong that,
despite the "cold superstition" which otherwise degrades them, these
Anglo-Saxons have been led through its operation to fill up by
legislation the _lacuna_ that their religion leaves in morality. For
this gap is precisely the reason why in Europe and America there is
need of societies for the protection of animals, which are entirely
dependent on the law for their efficiency. In Asia the religions
themselves suffice, consequently no one there ever thinks of such
associations. Meanwhile Europeans are awakening more and more to a
sense that beasts have rights, in proportion as the strange notion
is being gradually overcome and outgrown, that the animal kingdom
came into existence solely for the benefit and pleasure of man. This
view,[11] with the corollary that non-human living creatures are to be
regarded merely as things, is at the root of the rough and altogether
reckless treatment of them, which obtains in the West. To the honour,
then, of the English be it said that they are the first people who
have, in downright earnest, extended the protecting arm of the law to
animals: in England the miscreant, that commits an outrage on beasts,
has to pay for it, equally whether they are his own or not. Nor is this
all. There exists in London the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals, a corporate body voluntarily formed, which, without state
assistance, and at great cost, is of no small service in lessening the
tale of tortures inflicted on animals. Its emissaries are ubiquitous,
and keep secret watch in order to inform against the tormentors of
dumb, sensitive creatures; and such persons have therefore good reason
to stand in fear of them.[12] At all the steep bridges in London this
Society stations a pair of horses, which without any charge is attached
to heavy freight-waggons. Is not this admirable? Does it not elicit our
approval, as unfailingly as any beneficent action towards men? Also the
Philanthropic Society of London has done its part. In 1837 it offered a
prize of £30 for the best exposition of the moral reasons which exist
to keep men from torturing animals. The line of argument, however,
had to be taken almost exclusively from Christianity, whereby the
difficulty of the task was, of course, increased; but two years later,
in 1839, Mr. Macnamara was the successful competitor. At Philadelphia
there is an Animals' Friends' Society, having the same aims; and it
is to the President of the latter that a book called _Philozoia; or,
Moral Reflections on the Actual Condition of Animals, and the Means
of Improving the Same_ (Brussels, 1839), has been dedicated by its
author, T. Forster. It is original and well written. Mr. Forster
earnestly commends to his readers the humane treatment of animals. As
an Englishman he naturally tries to strengthen his position by the
support of the Bible; but he is on slippery ground, and meets with
such poor success that he ends by catching at the following ingenious
position: Jesus Christ (he says) was born in a stable among oxen and
asses; which was meant to indicate symbolically that we ought to regard
the beasts as our brothers, and treat them accordingly. All that I
have here adduced sufficiently proves that the moral chord, of which
we are speaking, is now at length beginning to vibrate also in the
West. For the rest, we may observe that compassion for sentient beings
is not to carry us to the length of abstaining from flesh, like the
Brahmans. This is because, by a natural law, capacity for pain keeps
pace with the intelligence; consequently men, by going without animal
food, especially in the North, would suffer more than beasts do through
a quick death, which is always unforeseen; although the latter ought
to be made still easier by means of chloroform. Indeed without meat
nourishment mankind would be quite unable to withstand the rigours of
the Northern climate. The same reasoning explains, too, why we are
right in making animals work for us; it is only when they are subjected
to an excessive amount of toil that cruelty begins.

(8) It is perhaps not impossible to investigate and explain
metaphysically the ultimate cause of that Compassion in which alone all
non-egoistic conduct can have its source; but let us for the moment put
aside such inquiries, and consider the phaenomenon in question, from
the empirical point of view, simply as a natural arrangement. Now if
Nature's intention was to soften as much as possible the numberless
sufferings of every sort, to which our life is exposed, and which no
one altogether escapes; if she wished to provide some counterbalance
for the burning Egoism, which fills all beings, and often develops into
malice; it will at once strike every one as obvious that she could not
have chosen any method more effectual than that of planting in the
human heart the wonderful disposition, which inclines one man to share
the pain of another, and from which proceeds the voice that bids us, in
tones strong and unmistakable, take thought for our neighbour; calling,
at one time, "Protect!" at another, "Help!" Assuredly, from the mutual
succour thus arising, there was more to be hoped for, towards the
attainment of universal well-being, than from a stern Command of duty,
couched in general, abstract terms,--the product of certain reasoning
processes, and of artificial combinations of conceptions. From such
an Imperative, indeed, all the less result could be expected because
to the rough human unit general propositions and abstract truths are
unintelligible, the concrete only having some meaning for him. And
it should be remembered that mankind in its entirety, a very small
part alone excepted, has always been rude, and must remain so, since
the large amount of bodily toil, which for the race as a whole is
inevitable, leaves no time for mental culture. Whereas, in order to
awaken that sense, which has been proved to be the sole source of
disinterested action, and consequently the true basis of Morals, there
is no need of abstract knowledge, but only of intuitive perception, of
the simple comprehension of a concrete case. To this Compassion is at
once responsive, without the mediation of other thoughts.

(9) The following circumstance will be found in complete accord with
the last paragraph. The foundation, which I have given to Ethics,
leaves me without a forerunner among the School Philosophers; indeed,
my position is paradoxical, as far as their teaching goes, and many
of them, for instance, the Stoics (Seneca, _De Clementia_, II., 5),
Spinoza (_Ethica_, IV., prop. 50), and Kant (_Kritik der Praktischen
Vernunft,_ p. 213; R. p. 257) only notice the motive of Compassion to
utterly reject and contemn it. On the other hand, my basis is supported
by the authority of the greatest moralist of modern times; for such,
undoubtedly, J. J. Rousseau is,--that profound reader of the human
heart, who drew his wisdom not from books, but from life, and intended
his doctrine not for the professorial chair, but for humanity; he,
the foe of all prejudice, the foster-child of nature, whom alone she
endowed with the gift of being able to moralise without tediousness,
because he hit the truth and stirred the heart. I shall therefore
venture here to cite some passages from his works in support of my
theory, observing that, so far, I have been as sparing as possible with
regard to quotations.

In the _Discours sur l'Origine de l'Inégalité_, p. 91 (edit. Bipont.),
he says: _Il y a un autre principe, que Hobbes n'a point aperçu, et qui
ayant été donné à l'homme pour adoucir, en certaines circonstances,
la férocité de son amour-propre, tempère l'ardeur qu'il a pour son
crois pas avoir aucune contradiction à craindre en accordant à l'homme
la SEULE VERTU NATURELLE qu'ait été forcé de reconnaître le détracteur
le plus outré des vertus humaines. Je parle DE LA PITIÉ_, etc.[13]

P. 92: _Mandeville a bien senti qu'avec toute leur morale les hommes
n'eussent jamais été que des monstres, si la nature ne leur eut donné
LA PITIÉ à l'appui de la raison: mais il n'a pas vu, que DE CETTE SEULE
hommes. En effet, qu'est-ce que la générosité, la clémence, l'humanité,
sinon LA PITIÉ, appliquée aux faibles, aux coupables, ou a l'espèce
humaine en général? La bienveillance et l'amitié même sont, à le bien
prendre, des productions d'une pitié constante, fixée sur un objet
particulier; car désirer que quelqu'un ne souffre point, qu'est-ce
autre chose, que désirer qu'il soit heureux?... La commisération sera
d'autant plus énergique, que L'ANIMAL SPECTATEUR S'IDENTIFIERA plus
intimement avec L'ANIMAL SOUFFRANT._[14]

P. 94: _Il est donc bien certain, que la pitié est un sentiment
naturel, qui, modérant dans chaque individu l'amour de soi-même,
concourt à la conservation mutuelle de toute l'espèce. C'est elle, qui
dans l'état de nature, tient lieu de lois, de mœurs, et de vertus, avec
cet avantage, que nul ne sera tenté de désobéir à sa douce voix: c'est
elle, qui détournera tout sauvage robuste d'enlever à un faible enfant,
ou à un vieillard infirme, sa subsistence acquise avec peine, si lui
même espère pouvoir trouver la sienne ailleurs: c'est elle qui, au lieu
de cette maxime sublime de justice raisonnée: "Fais à autrui comme tu
veux qu'on te fasse;" inspire à tous les hommes cette autre maxime de
bonté naturelle, bien moins parfaite, mais plus utile peut-être que
la précédente: "Fais ton bien avec le moindre mal d'autrui qu'il est
LES ARGUMENTS SUBTILS, qu'il faut chercher la cause de la repugnance
qu'éprouverait tout homme à mal faire, même indépendamment des maximes
de l'éducation._[15]

Let this be compared with what he says in _Émile,_ Bk. IV., pp. 115-120
(edit. Bipont.), where the following passage occurs among others:--

_En effet, comment nous laissons-nous émouvoir à la pitié, si ce n'est
en nous transportant hors de nous et en nous IDENTIFIANT AVEC L'ANIMAL
SIEN? Nous ne souffrons qu'autant que nous jugeons qu'il souffre: CE
N'EST PAS DANS NOUS, C'EST DANS LUI, que nous souffrons ... offrir au
jeune homme des objets, sur lesquels puisse agir la force expansive de
son cœur, qui le dilatent, qui l'étendent sur les autres êtres, qui le
fassent partout SE RETROUVER HORS DE LUI: écarter avec soin ceux, qui
le resserrent, le concentrent, et tendent le ressort DU MOI HUMAIN_,

Inside the pale of the Schools, as above remarked, there is not a
single authority in favour of my position; but outside, I have other
testimony to cite, in addition to Rousseau's. The Chinese admit five
cardinal virtues (Tschang), of which the chief is Compassion (*Sin).
The other four are: justice, courtesy, wisdom, and sincerity.[17]
Similarly, among the Hindus, we find that on the tablets placed to
the memory of dead chieftains, compassion for men and animals takes
the first place in the record of their virtues. At Athens there was
an altar to Compassion in the Agora, as we know from Pausanias, I.
17: _Άθηναίοις δὲ ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ἐστι Ἐλέου βωμός, ᾧ, μάλιστα θεῶν ἐς
ἀνθρώπινον βίον καὶ μεταβολὰς πραγμάτων ὃτι ὠ-ϕέλιμος, μόνοι τιμὰς
Ἑλλήνων νέμουσιν Ἀθηνᾱίοι_.[18]

Lucian also mentions this altar in the Timon, § 99.[19] A phrase of
Phocion, preserved by Stobaeus, describes Compassion as the most sacred
thing in human life: _οὕτε ἐξ ἱεροn βωμόν, οὕτε ἐκ τῆς ἀνθρωπίυης
ϕύσεως ἀϕαιρετέον τὸν ἔλεον._[20] In the _Sapientia Indorum,_ the Greek
translation of the Paṅća-tantra, we read (Section 3, p. 220): _Δέγεται
γάρ, ὡς πρώτη τῶν ἀρετῶν ἡ ἐλεημοσύνη_.[21] It is clear, then, that the
real source of morality has been distinctly recognised at all times and
in all countries; Europe alone excepted, owing to the _foetor Judaicus_
(Jewish stench), which here pervades everything, and is the reason why
the Western races require for the object of their obedience a command
of duty, a moral law, an imperative, in short, an order and decree.
They remain wedded to this habit of thought, and refuse to open their
eyes to the fact that such a view is, after all, based upon nothing
but Egosim. Of course, now and then, isolated individuals of fine
perception have felt the truth, and given it utterance: such a one was
Rousseau; and such, Lessing. In a letter written by the latter in 1756
we read: "The best man, and the one most likely to excel in all social
virtues, in all forms of magnanimity, is he who is most compassionate."

[1] This term appears to have been first used by Newton and Boyle.
The sense is undoubtedly derived from Bacon's phrase "_instantia
crucis_," which is one of his "Prerogative Instances." _Vide, Novum
Organum_: Lib. II., xxxvi., where it is explained as follows: _Inter
Praerogativas Instantiarum ponemus loco decimo quarto_ INSTANTIAS
CRUCIS; _translate vocabulo a Crucibus, quae erectae in Biviis,
indicant et signant viarum separationes. Has etiam Instantias
Decisorias et Judiciales, et in Casibus nonnullis Instantias Oraculi et
Mandati, appellare consuevimus_, etc.--(_Translator_.)

[2] According to Buxton (_The African Slave-trade_, 1839), their number
is even now yearly increased by about 150,000 freshly imported; and to
these more than 200,000 must be added, who perish miserably at the time
of their capture, or on the voyage.

[3] _I.e_., under the influence of wine one speaks the truth. Cf.
Pliny, _Nat. Hist_, xiv., chap. 22, § 28, 141, edit. Teubner;
_vulgoque_ VERITAS _jam attributa_ VINO _est_. Gk. _οἶνος καὶ ἀλήθεια.
V. Paroemiographi_, edit. Gaisford.--(_Translator_.)

[4] Hor., _Carm_., I., 35, 26.--(_Translator. _)


    Compassion, who with no uncertain tone,
    The work of vengeance done, her laws makes known.


    Have beasts, forsooth, their universities,
    Endowed, like ours, with all four faculties?

[7] _V_. Part II., Chapter VI.

[8] Avatāra (ava-tṛī to descend), descent of a deity from heaven;
_e.g._, the ten incarnations of Vishṇu. _V_. Monier Williams' _Sanskrit

[9] Sannyāsin (one who lays down, or resigns), an ascetic; a religious
mendicant, or Brāhman of the fourth order. _V._ Monier Williams'
_Sanskrit Dictionary_.--(_Translator_.)

[10] _V_. Apuleius: _Apologia sive De Magia Liber_ (Lipsiae, Teubner,
1900: page 41, chap, xxxi): _Pythagoram ... memoriae prodiderunt,
cum animaduertisset proxime Metapontum in litore Italiae suae, quam
subsiciuam Graeciam fecerat, a quibusdam piscatoribus euerriculum
trahi, fortunam iactus eius emisse et pretio dato iussisse,
ilico piscis eos qui capti tenebantur solui retibus et reddi

[11] In Vol. II. of my _Parerga_, § 177, I have shown that its origin
can be traced to the Old Testament.

[12] How seriously the matter is being taken up may be seen from the
following case which is quite recent. I quote from the _Birmingham
Journal_ of December, 1839. "Arrest of a company of eighty-four
abettors of dog-fights.--It had come to the knowledge of the Society
of Animals' Friends that the Square in Fox Street, Birmingham, was
yesterday to be the scene of a dog-fight. Measures were accordingly
taken to secure the assistance of the police, and a strong detachment
of constables was sent to the spot. At the right moment all the persons
present were arrested. These precious conspirators were then handcuffed
together in pairs, and the whole party was made fast by a long rope
passing between each couple. In this fashion they were marched off
to the Police Station, where mayor and magistrate were sitting in
readiness for them. The two ringleaders were condemned to pay, each,
a fine of £1, and 8s. _6d_. costs; in default, to undergo 14 days'
hard labour." The coxcombs whose habit is never to miss noble sport of
this sort, must have looked somewhat crestfallen in the midst of the
procession. But the _Times_ of April 6, 1855, p. 6, supplies a still
more striking instance from the present day; and here we find the paper
itself assuming judicial functions, and imposing the right punishment.
It recounts the case of a very wealthy Scotch baronet's daughter. The
matter had been brought before the law, and the evidence showed that
the girl had used a cudgel and knife on her horse with the greatest
cruelty; for which she was ordered to pay a fine of £5. But for one
in her position such a sum means nothing, and she would practically
have got off scot-free, had not the _Times_ intervened to inflict
on her a proper correction, such as she would really feel. It twice
mentions the young lady's name in full, printing it in large type,
and concludes as follows: "We cannot help saying that a few months'
imprisonment with the addition of an occasional whipping administered
in private, but by the most muscular woman in Hampshire, would have
been a much more suitable penalty for Miss M. N. A wretched being of
this sort has forfeited all the consideration and the privileges that
attach to her sex; we cannot regard her any longer as a woman." These
newspaper paragraphs I would especially recommend to the notice of the
associations now formed in Germany against cruelty to animals; for they
show what lines should be adopted, in order to reach some solid result.
At the same time I desire to express my cordial appreciation of the
praiseworthy zeal shown by Herrn Hofrath Perner, of Munich, who has
entirely devoted himself to this branch of well-doing, and succeeded in
arousing interest in it all over the country. [It should be observed
that the first portion of this note belongs to the earliest edition
of the work, published September, 1840; the latter part was written
for the second edition, which appeared in August, 1860. This explains
why Schopenhauer says that the first instance, dated 1839, is "quite
recent," and that the second, dated 1855, is taken "from the present

[13] There is another principle which Hobbes did not perceive
at all. It was implanted in man in order to soften, in certain
circumstances, the fierceness of his self-love, and it moderates the
ardour, which he feels for his own well-being, by producing a certain
_innate aversion to the sight of a fellow-creature's suffering_. In
attributing to man _the only natural virtue,_ which even the most
advanced scepticism has been forced to recognise, I stand, assuredly,
in no fear of any contradiction. I allude to _compassion_, etc.

[14] Mandeville was right in thinking that with all their
systems of morality, men would never have been anything but monsters,
if nature had not given them _compassion_ to support their reason; but
he failed to see that _from this one quality spring all the social
virtues_, which he was unwilling to credit mankind with. In reality,
what is generosity, clemency, humanity, if not _compassion_, applied
to the weak, to the guilty, or to the human race, as a whole? Even
benevolence and friendship, if we look at the matter rightly, are
seen to result from a constant compassion, directed upon a particular
object; for to desire that some one should not suffer is nothing else
than to desire that he should be happy.... The more closely _the living
spectator identifies himself with the living sufferer,_ the more active
does pity become.

[15] It is, then, quite certain that compassion is a natural
feeling, which checking, as it does, the love of self in each
individual, helps by a reciprocal process to preserve the whole race.
This it is, which in the state of nature, takes the place of laws,
customs, and virtues, with the added advantage that no one will be
tempted to disobey its gentle voice; this it is, which will restrain
every able-bodied savage, provided he hope to find his own livelihood
elsewhere, from robbing a weak child, or depriving an infirm old man of
the subsistence won by hard toil; this it is, which inspires all men,
not indeed with that sublime maxim of reasoned justice: "Do to others
as you would they should do unto you;" but with another rule of natural
goodness, no doubt less perfect, but perhaps more useful, namely: "Do
what is good for yourself with the least possible harm to others." In a
word, it is _in this natural feeling rather than in subtle arguments_
that we must look for the reason of the repugnance with which every
one is accustomed to view bad conduct, quite independently of the
principles laid down by education.

[16] In fact, how is it that we let ourselves be moved to
pity, if not by getting out of our own consciousness, and _becoming
identified with the living sufferer; by leaving_, so to say, _our own
being, and entering into his?_ We do not suffer, except as we suppose
he suffers; _it is not in us, it is in him_, that we suffer ... offer
a young man objects, on which the expansive force of his heart can
act; objects such as may enlarge his nature, and incline it to go out
to _other beings_, in whom he may everywhere _find himself again_.
Keep carefully away those things which narrow his view, and make
him self-centred, and which tighten the strings of the _human ego_.
(_Tendent le ressort_ (stretch the spring) _du moi humain: i.e._,
stimulate the _egoistic tendency_.)--(_Translator_.)

[17] _Journal Asiatique_, Vol. ix., p. 62. Cf. Meng-Tseu
(otherwise called Mencius), edited by Stanislas Julien, 1824, Bk. I, §
45; also Meng-Tseu in the _Livres Sacrés de l'Orient_, by Panthier p.

_V. Dictionnaire Français--Latin--Chinois_, par Paul Perny (Didot Frères, Paris,
1869); where the five cardinal virtues (image) are transliterated] ou
châng. _V_. also: _A Syllabic Dictionary of the Chinese Language_; by
S. Wells Williams, LL.B. (Shanghai: 1874); where Sin (Sin), _i.e._,
humanity, love of one's neighbour, is written Sin'.--(_Translator._)

[18] The Athenians have an altar in their Agora to Compassion;
for this deity, they believe, is of all the gods the most helpful in
human life, and its vicissitudes. They are the only Greeks who have
instituted this cultus.--(_Translator_.)

[19] _V_. Lucian, _Timon_, chap. 42 (_Ausgewählte Schriften des
Lucian_, edit. Julius Sommerbrodt; Weidmann, Berlin, 1872, p. 75):
_ϕίλος δὲ ἣ ξένος ἣ ἑταῑρος ἣ Έλέον βωμός ὔθλος πολύς_. _V_. also
Apollodorus (edit. J. Bekker); 2, 8, 1. 3, 7, 1. Dem. (edit. Reisk.),
57. Scholiast on Soph. _Œd. Col._,258.--(_Translator_.)

[20] A temple must not be despoiled of its altar, nor human
nature of compassion. _V_. Joannis Stobaei _Anthologium,_ edit. Curtius
Wachsmuth et Otto Hense; Weidmann, Berlin, 1894; Vol. III., p. 20, Nr.

[21] The chief of virtues is said to be Compassion. The
_Paṅća-tantra_ is a well-known collection of moral stories and fables
in five (_paṅćan_) books or chapters (_tantra_), from which the author
of the _Hitopadeśa_ drew a large portion of his materials. _V_. Monier
Williams' _Sanskrit Dictionary_.--(_Translator_.)



There still remains a question to be resolved, before the basis which
I have given to Ethics can be presented in all its completeness. It
is this. On what does the great difference in the moral behaviour of
men rest? If Compassion be the original incentive of all true, that
is, disinterested justice and loving-kindness; how comes it that some
are, while others are not, influenced thereby? Are we to suppose that
Ethics, which discloses the moral stimulus, is also capable of setting
it in motion? Can Ethics fashion the hard-hearted man anew, so that
he becomes compassionate, and, as a consequence, just and humane?
Certainly not. The difference of character is innate, and ineradicable.
The wicked man is born with his wickedness as much as the serpent is
with its poison-fangs and glands, nor can the former change his nature
a whit more than the latter.[1] _Velle non discitur_ (to use one's will
is not a thing that can be taught) is a saying of Nero's tutor. In the
_Meno_, Plato minutely investigates the nature of virtue, and inquires
whether it can, or cannot, be taught. He quotes a passage from Theognis:

                                   _ἀλλὰ διδάσκων_
   _Οὔποτε ποιήσεις τὸν κακὸν ἄνδρ' ἀγαθόν._

                            (But thou wilt ne'er,
   By teaching make the bad man virtuous.)

and finally reaches this conclusion: _ἀρετὴ ἃν εἴη oὔτε ϕύσει,
oὔτε διδακτόν, ἀλλὰ θείᾳ μοίρᾳ παραγυγνομένη, ἄνευ νοῡ, οἷς ἄν
παραγίγνηται_.[2] Here the terms _ϕύσει_ and _θείᾳ μοίρᾳ_, form a
distinction, in my opinion, much the same as that between "physical"
and "metaphysical." Socrates, the father of Ethics, if we may trust
Aristotle, declared that _oὐκ ἐϕ' ἡ μῑν γενέσθαι τὸ σπουδαίους εἶναι,
ἢ ϕαύλους._[3] (_Moralia Magna_, i. 9.) Moreover, Aristotle himself
expresses the same view; _παςι γὰρ δοκεῑ ἕκαστα τῶν ἠθῶν ὑπάρχειν
ϕύσει τως' καὶ γὰρ δίκαιοι, καὶ σωϕρονικοὶ, καὶ τἄλλa ἔχομεν εὐθyς
ἐκ γενετῆς._[4] (_Eth. Nicom._ vi. 13.) We find also a similar
conviction very decidedly expressed in the fragments attributed
to the Pythagorean Archytas, and preserved by Stobaeus in the
_Florilegium_ (Chap. i. § 77).[5] If not authentic, they are certainly
very old. Orelli gives them in his _Opuscula Graecorum Sententiosa et
Moralia_. There (Vol. II., p. 240) we read in the Dorian dialect as
follows:--_Τὰς γὰρ λόγοις καὶ ἀποδείξεσιν ποτιχρωμένας ἀρετὰς δέον
έπιστάμας ποταγορεύεν, ἀρετὰν δέ, τὰν ἠθικὰν καὶ βελτίσταν ἕξιν τῶ
ἀλόγω μέρεος τᾱς ·ψυχᾱς, καθ' ἃν καὶ ποιοί τινες ἦμεν λεγόμεθα κατὰ
τὸ ἦθος, οἷον ἐλευθέριοι, δίκαιοι καὶ σώϕρονες_.[6] On examining the
virtues and vices, as summarised by Aristotle in the _De Virtutibus
et Vitiis_, it will be found that all of them, without exception, are
not properly thinkable unless assumed to be inborn qualities, and
that only as such can they be genuine. If, in consequence of reasoned
reflection, we take them as voluntary, they are then seen to lose their
reality, and pass into the region of empty forms; whence it immediately
follows that their permanence and resistance under the storm and stress
of circumstance could not be counted on. And the same is true of the
virtue of loving-kindness, of which Aristotle, in common with all the
ancients, knows nothing. Montaigne keeps, of course, his sceptical
tone, but he practically agrees with the venerable authorities
above quoted, when he says: _Serait-il vrai, que pour être bon tout
à fait, il nous le faille être par occulte, naturelle et universelle
propriété, sans lot, sans raison, sans exemple_?[7]--(Liv. II., chap.
11.) Lichtenberg hits the mark exactly in his _Vermischte Schriften_,
(_v. Moralische Bemerkungen_). He writes: "All virtue arising from
premeditation is not worth much. What is wanted is feeling or habit."
Lastly, it should be noted that Christianity itself, in its original
teaching, recognises, and bears witness to this inherent, immutable
difference between character and character. In the Sermon on the Mount
we find the allegory of the fruit which is determined by the nature of
the tree that bears it (_Luke_ vi. 43, 44; cf. _Matthew_ vii. 16-18);
and then in the following verse (_Luke_ vi. 45), we read: _ὁ ἀγαθὸς
ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῡ ἀγαθοῡ θησαυροῡ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῡ προϕέρει τὸ ἀγαθὸν
καὶ ὁ πονμρὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῡ πoνηροῡ θησαυροῡ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῡ
προϕέρει τὸπονηρόν._[8] (Cf. _Matthew_ xii. 35.)

But it was Kant who first completely cleared up this important
point through his profound doctrine of the =empirical= and
=intelligible=[9] character. He showed that the empirical
character, which manifests itself in time and in multiplicity
of action, is a phaenomenon; while the reality behind it is the
intelligible character, which, being the essential constitution of the
Thing in itself underlying the phaenomenon, is independent of time,
space, plurality, and change. In this way alone can be explained what
is so astonishing, and yet so well known to all who have learnt life's
lessons,--the fixed unchangeableness of human character. There are
certain ethical writers, whose aim is the moral improvement of men, and
who talk of progress made in the path of virtue; but their assurances
are always met and victoriously confuted by the irrefragable facts
of experience, which prove that virtue is nature's work and cannot
be inculcated. The character is an original datum, immutable, and
incapable of any amelioration through correction by the intellect. Now,
were this not so; and further: if (as the above-mentioned dull-headed
preachers maintain) an improvement of the character, and hence "a
constant advance towards the good" were possible by means of moral
instruction; then, unless we are prepared to suppose that all the
various religious institutions, and all the efforts of the moralists
fail in their purpose, we should certainly expect to find that the
older half of mankind, at least on an average, is distinctly better
than the younger. This, however, is so far from being the case, that it
is not to the old, who have, as we see, grown worse by experience, but
to the young that we look for something good. It may happen that in his
old age one man appears somewhat better, another worse, than he was in
his youth. But the reason is not far to seek. It is simply because with
length of days the intelligence by constant correction becomes riper,
and hence the character stands out in purer and clearer shape; while
early life is a prey to ignorance, mistakes, and chimeras, which now
present false motives, and now veil the real. For a fuller explanation
I would refer the reader to the principles laid down in Chapter III. of
the preceding Essay, on "The Freedom of the Will."[10] It is true that
among convicts the young have a large majority; but this is because,
when a tendency to crime exists in the character, it soon finds a way
of expressing itself in acts, and of reaching its goal--the galleys, or
the gibbet; while he, whom all the inducements to wrong doing, which
a long life offers, have failed to lead astray, is not likely to fall
at the eleventh hour. Hence the respect paid to age is, in my opinion,
due to the fact that the old are considered to have passed through a
test of sixty or seventy years, and kept their integrity unsullied; for
this of course is the _sine qua non_ of the honour accorded them. These
things are too well known for any one, in real life, to be misled by
the promises of the moralists we have spoken of. He who has once been
proved guilty of evil-doing, is never again trusted, just as the noble
nature, of which a man has once given evidence, is always confidently
believed in, whatever else may have changed. _Operari sequitur esse_
(what one does follows from what one is) forms, as we have seen in Part
II., Chapter VIII., a pregnant tenet of the Schoolmen. Everything in
the world works according to the unchangeable constitution of which
its being, its =essentia= is composed. And man is no exception.
As the individual is, so will he, so must he, act: and the _liberum
arbitrium indifferentiae_ (free and indifferent choice) is an invention
of philosophy in her childhood, long since exploded; although there
are some old women, in doctor's academicals, who still like to drag it
about with them.

The three fundamental springs of human action--Egoism, Malice,
Compassion--are inherent in every one in different and strangely
unequal proportions. Their combination in any given case determines
the weight of the motives that present themselves, and shapes the
resulting line of conduct. To an egoistic character egoistic motives
alone appeal, and those, which suggest either compassion or malice,
have no appreciable effect. Thus, a man of this type will sacrifice
his interests as little to take vengeance on his foes, as to help his
friends. Another, whose nature is highly susceptible to malicious
motives, will not shrink from doing great harm to himself, so only he
may injure his neighbour. For there are characters which take such
delight in working mischief on others, that they forget their own
loss, which is perhaps, equal to what they inflict. One may say of
such: _Dum alteri noceat sui negligens_[11] (disregarding himself so
long as he injures the other). These are the people that plunge with
passionate joy into the battle in which they expect to receive quite
as many wounds as they deal; indeed, experience not seldom testifies
that they are ready deliberately, first to kill the man who thwarts
their purposes, and then themselves, in order to escape the penalty
of the law. On the other hand, =goodness of heart= consists of a
deeply felt, all-embracing Compassion for everything that has breath,
and especially for man; because, in proportion as the intelligence
develops, capacity for pain increases; and hence, the countless
sufferings of human beings, in mind and body, have a much stronger
claim to Compassion than those of animals, which are only physical,
and in any case less acute. This goodness of heart, therefore, in the
first place restrains a man from doing any sort of harm to others, and,
next, it bids him give succour whenever and wherever he sees distress.
And the path of Compassion may lead as far in one direction as Malice
does in the other. Certain rare characters of fine sensibility take to
heart the calamities of others more than their own, so that they make
sacrifices, which, it may be, entail on themselves a greater amount
of suffering than that removed from those they benefit. Nay, in cases
where several, or, perhaps, a large number of persons, at one time,
can be helped in this way, such men do not, if need be, flinch from
absolute self-effacement. Arnold von Winkelried was one of these. So
was Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, in the fifth century, when the Vandals
crossed over from Africa and invaded Italy. Of him we read in Johann
von Müller's _Weltgeschichte_ (Bk. X., chap. 10) that "in order to
ransom some of the prisoners, he had already disposed of all the church
plate, his own and his friends' private property. Then, on seeing the
anguish of a widow, whose only son was being carried off, he offered
himself for servitude in the other's stead. For whoever was of suitable
age, and had not fallen by the sword, was taken captive to Carthage."

There is, then, an enormous difference between character and character.
Being original and innate, it measures the responsiveness of the
individual to this or that motive, and those alone, to which he is
specially sensitive, will appeal to him with anything like compelling
force. As in chemistry, with unchangeable certainty, one substance
reacts only upon acids, another only upon alkalies, so, with equal
invariableness, different natures respond to different stimuli. The
motives suggesting loving-kindness, which stir so deeply a good
disposition, can, of themselves, effect nothing in a heart that listens
only to the promptings of Egoism. If it be wished to induce the egoist
to act with beneficence and humanity, this can be done but in one way:
he must be made to believe that the assuaging of others' suffering
will, somehow or other, surely turn out to his =own advantage=.
What, indeed, are most moral systems but attempts of different kinds in
this direction? But such procedure only misleads, does not better, the
will. To make a real improvement, it would be necessary to transform
the entire nature of the individual's susceptibility for motives. Thus,
from one we should have to remove his indifference to the suffering
of others as such; from another, the delight which he feels in causing
pain; from a third, the natural tendency which makes him regard the
smallest increase of his own well-being as so far outweighing all other
motives, that the latter become as dust in the balance. Only it is far
easier to change lead into gold than to accomplish such a task. For
it means the turning round, so to say, of a man's heart in his body,
the remoulding of his very being. In point of fact, all that can be
done is to clear the =intellect=, correct the =judgment=,
and so bring him to a better comprehension of the objective realities
and actual relations of life. This effected, the only result gained is
that his will reveals itself more logically, distinctly, and decidedly,
with no false ring in its utterance. It should be noted that just as
many a good act rests at bottom on false motives, on well-meant, yet
illusory representations of an advantage to be obtained thereby in
this, or another, world; so not a few misdeeds are due solely to an
imperfect understanding of the conditions of human life. It is on this
latter truth that the American penitentiary system is based. Here the
aim is not, to improve the =heart=, but simply, to educate the
=head= of the criminal, so that he may intellectually come to
perceive that prosperity is more surely, indeed more easily, reached by
work and honesty than by idleness and knavery.

By the proper presentment of motives =legality= may be secured,
but not =morality=. It is possible to remodel what one does, but
not what one =wills to do=; and it is to the will alone that
real moral worth belongs. It is not possible to change the goal which
the will strives after, but only the path expected to lead thither.
Instruction may alter the selection of means, but not the choice of
the ultimate object which the individual keeps before him in all he
does; this is determined by his will in accordance with its original
nature. It is true that the egoist may be brought to understand that,
if he gives up certain small advantages, he will gain greater; and the
malicious man may be taught that by injuring others he will injure
himself still more. But Egoism itself, and Malice itself, will never
be argued out of a person; as little as a cat can be talked out of her
inclination for mice. Similarly with goodness of heart. If the judgment
be trained, if the relations and conditions of life become understood,
in a word, if the intellect be enlightened; the character dominated by
loving-kindness will be led to express itself more consistently and
completely than it otherwise could. This happens when we perceive the
remoter consequences which our conduct has for others: the sufferings,
perhaps, that overtake them indirectly, and only after lapse of
time, through one act or another of ours, which we had no idea was
so harmful. It occurs, too, when we come to discern the evil results
of many a well-meant action, as, for instance, the screening of a
criminal; and it is especially true when we realise that the _Neminem
laede_ (injure no one) has in all cases precedence over the _Omnes
juva_ (help all men). In this sense there is undoubtedly such a thing
as a moral education, an ethical training capable of making men better.
But it goes only as far as I have indicated, and its limits are quickly
discovered. The head is filled with the light of knowledge; the heart
remains unimproved. The fundamental and determining element, in things
moral, no less than in things intellectual, and things physical, is
that which is inborn. Art is always subordinate, and can only lend a
helping hand. Each man is, what he is, as it were, "by the grace of
God," _jure divino, θείᾳ, μοίρᾳ_, (by divine dispensation).

    _Du bist am Ende--WAS DU BIST._
    _Setz' dir Perrücken auf von Millionen Locken,_
    _Setz' deinen Fuss auf ellenhohe Socken:_

But the reader, I am sure, has long been wishing to put the question:
Where, then, does blame and merit come in? The answer is fully
contained in Part IL, Chapter VIII., to which I therefore beg to call
particular attention. It is there that the explanation, which otherwise
would now follow, found a natural place; because the matter is closely
connected with Kant's doctrine of the co-existence of Freedom and
Necessity. Our investigation led to the conclusion that, once the
motives are brought into play, the _Operari_ (what, is done) is a thing
of absolute necessity; consequently, Freedom, the existence of which
is betokened solely by the sense of =responsibility=, cannot
but belong to the _Esse_ (what one is). No doubt the reproaches of
conscience have to do, in the first place, and ostensibly, with our
acts, but through these they, in reality, reach down to what we are;
for what we do is the only indisputable index of what we =are=,
and reflects our character just as faithfully as symptoms betray the
malady. Hence it is to this _Esse_, to what we =are=, that blame
and merit must ultimately be attributed. Whatever we esteem and love,
or else despise and hate, in others, is not a changeable, transient
appearance, but something constant, stable, and persistent; it is that
which they are. If we find reason to alter our first opinion about
any one, we do not suppose that he is changed, but that we have been
mistaken in him. In like manner, when we are pleased or displeased
with our own conduct, we say that we are satisfied or dissatisfied
with ourselves, meaning, in reality, with that which we are, and are
unalterably, irreversibly; and the same is true with regard to our
intellectual qualities, nay, it even applies to the physiognomy. How
is it possible, then, for blame and merit to lie otherwise than in
what we =are=? As we saw in Part II., Chapter VII., Conscience
is that =register= of our acts, which is always growing longer,
and therefore that acquaintance with ourselves which every day becomes
more complete. Conscience concerns itself directly with all that we
do; when, at one time, actuated by Egoism, or perhaps Malice, we
turn a deaf ear to Compassion, which bids us at least refrain from
harming others, if we will not afford them help and protection; or
when again, at another time, we overcome the first two incentives,
and listen to the voice of the third. Both cases measure the
=distinction= we =draw between ourselves and others=. And on
=this distinction= depends in the last resort the degree of our
morality or immorality, that is, of our justice and loving-kindness,
or the reverse. Little by little the number of those actions, whose
testimony is significant on this point, accumulates in the storehouse
of our memory; and thus the lineaments of our character are depicted
with ever greater clearness, and a true knowledge of ourselves is
nearer attainment. And out of such knowledge there springs a sense of
satisfaction, or dissatisfaction with ourselves, with that which we
are, according as we have been ruled by Egoism, by Malice, or else by
Compassion; in other words, according as the difference we have made
between ourselves and others is greater or smaller. And when we look
outside ourselves, it is by the same standard that we judge those about
us; and we become acquainted with their character--less perfectly
indeed--yet by the same empirical method as we employ with reference to
our own. In this case our feelings take the form of praise, approval,
respect, or, on the other hand, of reproach, displeasure, contempt,
and they are the objective translation, so to say, of the subjective
satisfaction or dissatisfaction (the latter deepening perhaps into
remorse), which arises in us when we sit in judgment on ourselves.
Lastly, there is the evidence of language. We find certain constantly
occurring forms of speech which bear eloquent testimony to the fact
that the blame we cast upon others is in reality directed against their
unchangeable character, touching but superficially what they do; that
virtue and vice are practically, if tacitly, regarded as inherent
unalterable qualities. The following are some of these expressions:
_Jetzt sehe ich, wie du bist_! (Now I know your nature!) _In dir habe
ich mich geirrt_. (I was mistaken in you.) "Now I see what you are!"
_Voilà donc, comme tu es!_ (This, then, is what you are!) _So bin ich
nicht!_ (I am not a person of that sort!) _Ich bin nicht der Mann, der
fähig wäre, Sie zu hintergehen_. (I am not the man to impose upon you.)
Also: _les âmes bien nées_ (persons well-born, _i.e._, noble-minded),
the Spanish _bien nacido; εὐγενής_ (properly "well-born"), _εὐγένεια_
(properly "nobility of birth") used for "virtuous" and "virtue";
_generosioris animi amicus_ (a friend of lofty mind. _Generosus_: lit.
"of noble birth"), etc.

Reason is a necessary condition for conscience, but only because
without the former a clear and connected recollection is impossible.
From its very nature conscience does not speak till =after=
the act; hence we talk of being arraigned before its =bar=.
Strictly speaking, it is improper to say that conscience speaks
=beforehand=; for it can only do so indirectly; that is, when
the remembrance of particular cases in the past leads us, through
reflection, to disapprove of some analogous course of action, while yet
in embryo.

Such is the ethical fact as delivered by consciousness. It forms of
itself a metaphysical problem, which does not directly belong to the
present question, but which will be touched on in the last part.

Conscience, then, is nothing else than the acquaintance we make
with our own changeless character through the instrumentality of
our acts. A little consideration will show that this definition
harmonises perfectly with, and hence receives additional confirmation
from, what I have here specially emphasised: namely, the fact that
=susceptibility= for the motives of Egoism, of Malice, and of
Compassion, which is so widely dissimilar in different individuals, and
on which the whole moral value of a man depends, cannot be interpreted
by anything else, nor be gained, or removed, by instruction, as if it
were something born in time, and therefore variable, and subject to
chance. On the contrary, we have seen that it is innate and fixed, an
ultimate datum, admitting of no further explanation. Thus an entire
life, with the whole of its manifold activity, may be likened to a
clock-dial, that marks every movement of the internal works, as they
were made once for all; or it resembles a mirror, wherein alone, with
the eye of his intellect, each person sees reflected the essential
nature of his own Will, that is, the core of his being.

Whoever takes the trouble to thoroughly think out what has been put
forward here, and in Part. II., Chapter VIII., will discover in the
foundation given by me to Ethics a logical consecution, a rounded
completeness, wanting to all other theories; to say nothing of the
consonance of my view with the facts of experience,--a consonance which
he will look for in vain elsewhere. For only the truth can uniformly
and consistently agree with itself and with nature; while all false
principles are internally at variance with themselves, and externally
contradict the testimony of experience, which at every step records its
silent protest.

I am perfectly aware that the truths advanced in this Essay, and
particularly here at the close, strike directly at many deeply rooted
prejudices and mistakes, and especially at those attaching to a
certain rudimentary system of morals, now much in vogue, and suitable
for elementary schools. But I cannot own to feeling any penitence or
regret. For, in the first place, I am addressing neither children, nor
the _profanum vulgus_, but an Academy of light and learning. Their
inquiry is a purely theoretical one, concerned with the ultimate
fundamental verities of Ethics; and to a most serious question a
serious answer is undoubtedly expected. And secondly, in my opinion,
there can be no such thing as harmless mistakes, still less privileged
or useful ones. On the contrary, every error works infinitely more evil
than good. If, however, it is wished to make existing prepossessions
the standard of truth, or the boundary beyond which its investigation
is not to go, then it would be more honest to abolish philosophical
Faculties and Academies altogether. For where no reality exists, there
also no semblance of it should be. 
[1] Cf. _Jeremiah_ xiii. 23.--(_Translator._) [2] Virtue would appear not to come naturally (_i.e_., through the physical order of things), nor can it be taught; but in whomsoever it dwells, there it is present, _apart from the intellect, under divine ordinance. [V_. Platonis _Opera_, edit. Didot, Paris, 1856; Vol. I. _Meno_, 96 and 99, _ad fin_.-- (_Translator_.) [3] _It is not in our power_ to be either good or bad. [4] For it appears that the different characters of all men are in some way implanted in them _by nature_; if we are just, and temperate, and otherwise virtuous, we are so _straightway from our birth._ [5] _V_. Joannis Stobaei _Florilegium_, edit. Meineke, publ. Lipsiae, Teubner, 1855; Vol. I., p. 33,1. 14, sqq.--(_Translator_.) [6] For the so-called virtues, that require reasoning and demonstration, ought to be called sciences. By the term "virtue" we mean rather a certain moral and excellent disposition of _the soul's unreasoning part_. This disposition determines the character which we show, and in accordance with which we are called generous, just, or temperate. [7] Are we to believe it true that we can only be thoroughly good by virtue of a certain occult, natural, and universal faculty, without law, without reason, without precedent? [8] The good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil. [9] _V_. Note on "intelligible," Part. II., Chapter I.--(_translator_.) [10] _Die Freiheit des Willens_ and the present treatise were published by Schopenhauer together, under the title of _Die Beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik. V_. Introduction, p. xv., note.--(_Translator_.) [11] Seneca, _De Ira_, I. 1. [12] In spite of all, thou art still--_what thou art._ Though wigs with countless curls thy head-gear be, Though shoes an ell in height adorn thy feet: _Unchang'd thou e'er remainest what thou art._ _V_. Goethe's _Faust_, Part I., Studirzimmer.--(_Translator_.)] PART IV. ON THE METAPHYSICAL EXPLANATION OF THE PRIMAL ETHICAL PHAENOMENON. CHAPTER I. HOW THIS APPENDIX MUST BE UNDERSTOOD. In the foregoing pages the moral incentive (Compassion) has been established as a fact, and I have shown that from it alone can proceed unselfish justice and genuine loving-kindness, and that on these two cardinal virtues all the rest depend. Now, for the purpose of supplying Ethics with a foundation, this is sufficient, in a certain sense; that is, in so far as Moral Science necessarily requires to be supported by some actual and demonstrable basis, whether existing in the external world, or in the consciousness. The only alternative is to tread in the footsteps that so many of my predecessors have left, in other words, to choose arbitrarily some proposition or other,--some bare and abstract formula--and make it the source of all that morality prescribes; or, like Kant, to sublimate a mere idea, that of =law=, into the key-stone of the ethical arch. But, dismissing this method for the reasons discussed above, in the Second Part, the investigation proposed by the Royal Society appears to me now completed. For their question, as it stands, deals only with the foundation of Ethics; as to a possible metaphysical explanation of this foundation nothing whatever is asked. Nevertheless, at the point we have reached, I am very sensible that the human spirit can find no abiding satisfaction, no real repose. As in all branches of practical research, so also in Ethical Science, when all is said, man is inevitably confronted with an ultimate phaenomenon, which while it renders an account of everything that it includes, and everything deducible from it, remains itself an unexplained riddle. So that here, as elsewhere, the want is felt of a final interpretation (which, obviously, cannot but be =metaphysical=) of the ultimate data, as such, and through these,--if they be taken in their entirety--of the world. And here, too, this want finds utterance in the question: How is it that, what is present to our senses, and grasped by our intellect, is as it is, and not otherwise? And how does the character of the phaenomenon, as manifest to us, shape itself out of the essential nature of things? Indeed, in Moral Science the need of a metaphysical basis is more urgent than in any other, because all systems, philosophical no less than religious, are at one in persistently attaching to =conduct= not only an ethical, but also a metaphysical significance, which, passing beyond the mere appearance of things, transcends every possibility of experience, and therefore stands in the closest connection with human destiny and with the whole cosmic process. For if life (it is averred) have a meaning, then the supreme goal to which it points is undoubtedly ethical. Nor is this view a bare unsupported theory; it is sufficiently established by the undeniable fact that, as death draws nigh, the thoughts of each individual assume a moral trend, equally whether he be credulous of religious dogmas, or not; he is manifestly anxious to wind up the affairs of his life, now verging to its end, entirely from the =moral= standpoint. In this particular the testimony of the ancients is of special value, standing, as they do, outside the pale of Christian influence. I shall therefore here quote a remarkable passage preserved by Stobaeus, in his _Florilegium_ (chap. 44, §. 20). It has been attributed to the earliest Hellenic lawgiver, Zaleucus, though, according to Bentley and Heyne, its source is Pythagorean. The language is graphic and unmistakable. _Δεῑ τίθεσθαι πρὸ ὀμμάτων τὸν καιρὸν τοῡτον, ἐν ᾧ γίγνεται τὸ τέλος ἑκάστῳ τῆς ἀπαλλαγς τοῡ ξῆν. Πᾱσι γὰρ ἐμπίπτει μεταμέλεια τοῑς μέλλουσι τελευτᾱν, μεμνημένοις ὧν ἠδικήκασι, καὶ ὁρμὴ τοῡ βούλεσθαι πάντα πεπράχθαι δικαίως αὐτοῑς_.[1] Furthermore, to come to an historical personage, we find Pericles, on his death-bed, unwilling to hear anything about his great achievements, and only anxious to know that he had never brought trouble on a citizen. (Plutarch, _Life of Pericles_.) Turning to modern times, if a very different case may be placed beside the preceding, I remember having noticed in a report of depositions made before an English jury the following occurrence. A rough negro lad, fifteen years old, had been mortally injured in some brawl on board a ship. As he was dying, he eagerly begged that all his companions might be fetched in haste: he wanted to ask if he had ever vexed or insulted any one of them, and after hearing that he had not, his mind appeared greatly relieved. It is indeed the uniform teaching of experience that those near death wish to be reconciled with every one before they pass away. But there is evidence of another kind that Ethics can only be finally explained by Metaphysics. It is well known that, while the author of an intellectual performance,--even should it be a supreme masterpiece--is quite willing to take whatever remuneration he can get, those, on the other hand, who have done something morally excellent, almost without exception, refuse compensation for it. The latter fact is specially observable where conduct rises to the heroic. For instance, when a man at the risk of his life has saved another, or perhaps many, from destruction, as a rule, he simply declines all reward, poor though he may be; because he instinctively feels that the metaphysical value of his act would be thereby impaired. At the end of Bürger's song, "The Brave Man," we find a poetical presentment of this psychological process. Nor does the reality, for the most part, differ at all from the ideal, as I have frequently noticed in English papers. Conduct of this kind occurs in every part of the world, and independently of all religious differences. In human beings there is an undeniable ethical tendency, rooted (however unconsciously) in Metaphysics, and without an explanation of life on these lines, no religion could gain standing-ground; for it is by virtue of their ethical side that they all alike keep their hold on the mind. Every religion makes its body of dogmas the basis of the moral incentive which each man feels, but which he does not, on that account, understand; and it unites the two so closely, that they appear to be inseparable. Indeed the priests take special pains to proclaim unbelief and immorality as one and the same thing. The reason is thus apparent, why believers regard unbelievers as identical with the vicious, and why expressions such as "godless," "atheistic," "unchristian," "heretic," etc., are used as synonymes for moral depravity. The religions have, in fact, a sufficiently easy task. =Faith= is the principle they start from. Hence they are in a position to simply insist on its application to their dogmas, and this, even to the point of employing threats. But philosophy has no such convenient instrument ready to hand. If the different systems be examined, it will be found that the situation is beset with difficulties, both as regards the foundation to be provided for Ethics, and in relation to the point of connection discoverable in any such foundation with the given metaphysical theory. And yet,--as I have emphasised in the introduction, with an appeal to the authority of Wolff and Kant--we are under the stringent necessity of obtaining from Metaphysics a support for Moral Science. Now, of all the problems that the human intellect has to grapple with, that of Metaphysics is by far the hardest; so much so that it is regarded by many thinkers as absolutely insoluble. Apart from this, in the present case, I labour under the special disadvantage which the form of a detached monograph involves. In other words, I am not at liberty to start from some definite metaphysical system, of which I may be an adherent; because, if I did, either it would have to be expounded in detail, which would take too much space; or else there would be the necessity of supposing it granted and unquestioned,--an exceedingly precarious proceeding. The consequence is that I am as little able to use the synthetic method here as in the foregoing Part. Analysis alone is possible: that is, I must work backwards from the effects to their cause, and not _vice versâ_. This stern obligation, however, of having at the outset no previous hypothesis, no standpoint other than the commonly accepted one, made the discovery of the ethical basis so laborious that, as I look back upon the task, I seem to have accomplished some wondrous feat of dexterity, not unlike that of a man who executes with subtlest skill in mid air what otherwise is only done on a solid support. But now that we have come to the question whether there can be given a metaphysical explanation of the foundation obtained, the difficulty of proceeding without any assumption becomes so enormous, that but one course appears to me open, namely, to attempt nothing beyond a general sketch of the subject. I shall, therefore, indicate rather than elaborate the line of thought: I shall point out the way leading to the goal, but not follow it thither; in short, I shall present but a very small part of what, under other circumstances, could be adduced. In adopting this attitude for the reasons stated, I wish, before beginning, to emphatically remark, that in any case the actual problem put forward has now been solved; consequently, that what I here add is an _opus supererogationis_, an appendix to be given and taken entirely at will. [1] We ought to realise as if before our eyes that moment of time when the end comes to each one for deliverance from living. Because all who are about to die are seized with repentance, remembering, as they do, their unjust deeds, and being filled with the wish that they had always acted justly.-- _Ἀπαλλαγή = Erlösung. V_. Joannes Stobeaus, _Florilegium,_ edit. Meineke; publ. Lipsiae: Teubner, 1855. Vol. ii., p. 164, l. 7 sqq.--(_Translator_.) CHAPTER II. THE METAPHYSICAL GROUNDWORK. So far all our steps have been supported by the firm rock of experience. But at this point it fails us, and the solid earth sinks from under our feet, as we press forward in our search after a final theoretical satisfaction, there, where no experience can ever by any possibility penetrate; and happy shall we be, if perchance we gain one hint, one transient gleam, that may bring us a certain measure of content. What, however, shall not desert us is the honesty that has hitherto attended our procedure. We shall not make shift with dreams, and serve up fairy tales, after the fashion of the so-called post-Kantian philosophers; nor shall we, like them, seek, by a wordy exuberance, to impose upon the reader, and cast dust in his eyes. A little is all we promise; but that little will be presented in perfect sincerity. The principle, which we discovered to be the final explanation of Ethics, now in turn itself requires explaining; so that our present problem has to deal with that natural Compassion, which in every man is innate and indestructible, and which has been shown to be the sole source of =non-egoistic= conduct, this kind alone being of real moral worth. Now many modern thinkers treat the conceptions of Good and Bad as =simple=, that is, as neither needing, nor admitting any elucidation, and then they go on, for the most part, to talk very mysteriously and devoutly of an "Idea of the Good," out of which they make a pedestal for their moral system, or at least a cloak for their poverty.[1] Hence I am obliged in this connection to point out parenthetically, that these conceptions are anything but =simple=, much less _a priori_; that they in fact express a relation, and are derived from the commonest daily experience. Whatever is in conformity with the desires of any individual will, is, relatively to it, termed =good=; for instance, good food, good roads, a good omen; the contrary is called =bad=, and, in the case of living beings, =malicious=. And so one, who by virtue of his character, has no wish to oppose what others strive after, but rather, as far as he reasonably may, shows himself favourable and helpful to them; one, who, instead of injuring, assists his neighbours, and promotes their interests, when he can; is named by the latter, in respect to themselves, a =good man=; the term =good= being applied to him in the sense of the above definition, and from their own point of view, which is thus relative, empirical, and centred in the passive subject. Now, if we examine the nature of such a man, not only as it affects others, but as it is in itself, we are enabled by the foregoing exposition to perceive that the virtues of justice and loving-kindness, which he practises, are due to a direct participation in weal and woe external to himself; and we have learnt that the source of such participation is Compassion. If, further, we pause to consider what is the essential part in this type of character, we shall certainly find it to lie in the fact that such a person =draws less distinction between himself and others than is usually done=. In the eyes of the malicious individual this difference is so great that he takes direct delight in the spectacle of suffering,--a delight, which he accordingly seeks without thought of any other benefit to himself, nay, sometimes, even to his own hurt. From the egoist's point of view the same difference is still large enough to make him bring much trouble on his neighbours, in order to obtain a small personal advantage. Hence for both of these, between the =ego=, which is limited to their own persons, and the =non-ego=, which includes all the rest of the world, there is fixed a great gulf, a mighty abyss: _Pereat mundus, dum ego salvus sim_ (the world may perish, provided I be safe), is their maxim. For the good man, on the contrary, this distinction is by no means so pronounced; indeed, in the case of magnanimous deeds, it appears to become a vanishing quantity, because then the weal of another is advanced at the cost of the benefactor, the self of another placed on an equality with his own. And when it is a question of saving a number of fellow-beings, total self-obliteration may be developed, the one giving his life for many. The inquiry now presents itself, whether the latter way of looking at the relation subsisting between the ego and the non-ego, which forms the mainspring of a good man's conduct, is mistaken and due to an illusion; or whether the error does not rather attach to the opposite view, on which Egoism and Malice are based. No doubt the theory lying at the root of Egoism is, from the =empirical standpoint=, perfectly justified. From the testimony of experience, the =distinction= between one's own person and that of another appears to be absolute. I do not occupy the same space as my neighbour, and this difference, which separates me from him physically, separates me also from his weal and woe. But in the first place, it should be observed that the knowledge we have Of our own selves is by no means exhaustive and transparent to its depths. By means of the intuition, which the brain constructs out of the data supplied by the senses, that is to say, in an indirect manner, we recognise our body as an object in space; through an inward perception, we are aware of the continuous series of our desires, of our volitions, which arise through the agency of external motives; and finally, we come to discern the manifold movements, now stronger, now weaker, of our will itself, to which all feelings from within are ultimately traceable. And that is all: =for the perceiving faculty is not in its turn perceived=. On the contrary, the real substratum of our whole phaenomenal nature, our inmost essence in itself, that which wills and perceives, is not accessible to us. We see only the outward side of the ego; its inward part is veiled in darkness. Consequently, the knowledge we possess of ourselves is in no sort radical and complete, but rather very superficial. The larger and more important part of our being remains unknown, and forms a riddle to speculate about; or, as Kant puts it: "The ego knows itself only as a phaenomenon; of its real essence, whatever that may be, it has no knowledge." Now, as regards that side of the self which falls within our ken, we are, undoubtedly, sharply distinguished, each from the other; but it does not follow therefrom that the same is true of the remainder, which, shrouded in impenetrable obscurity, is yet, in fact, the very substance of which we consist. There remains at least the possibility that the latter is in all men uniform and identical. What is the explanation of all plurality, of all numerical diversity of existence? Time and Space. Indeed it is only through the latter that the former is possible: because the concept "many" inevitably connotes the idea either of succession (time), or of relative position (space). Now, since a homogeneous plurality is composed of =Individuals=, I call Space and Time, as being the conditions of multiplicity, the _principium individuationis_ (the principle of individuation); and I do not here pause to consider whether this expression was exactly so employed by the Schoolmen. If in the disclosures which Kant's wonderful acumen gave to the world there is anything true beyond the shadow of a doubt, this is to be found in the Transcendental Aesthetics, that is to say, in his doctrine of the ideality of Space and Time. On such solid foundations is the structure built that no one has been able to raise even an apparent objection. It is Kant's triumph, and belongs to the very small number of metaphysical theories which may be regarded as really proved, and as actual conquests in that field of research. It teaches us that Space and Time are the forms of our own faculty of intuition, to which they consequently belong, and not to the objects thereby perceived; and further, that they can in no way be a condition of things in themselves, but rather attach only to their mode of =appearing=, such as is alone possible for us who have a consciousness of the external world determined by strictly physiological limits. Now, if to the Thing in itself, that is, to the Reality underlying the kosmos, as we perceive it, Time and Space are foreign; so also must multiplicity be. Consequently that which is objectivated in the countless phaenomena of this world of the senses cannot but be a unity, a single indivisible entity, manifested in each and all of them. And conversely, the web of plurality, woven in the loom of Time and Space, is not the Thing in itself, but only its =appearance-form=. Externally to the thinking subject, this appearance-form, as such, has no existence; it is merely an attribute of our consciousness, bounded, as the latter is, by manifold conditions, indeed, depending on an organic function. The view of things as above stated,--that all plurality is only apparent, that in the endless series of individuals, passing simultaneously and successively into and out of life, generation after generation, age after age, there is but one and the same entity really existing, which is present and identical in all alike;--this theory, I say, was of course known long before Kant; indeed, it may be carried back to the remotest antiquity. It is the alpha and omega of the oldest book in the world, the sacred *Vedas, whose dogmatic part, or rather esoteric teaching, is found in the *Upanishads.[2] There, in almost every page this profound doctrine lies enshrined; with tireless repetition, in countless adaptations, by many varied parables and similes it is expounded and inculcated. That such was, moreover, the fount whence Pythagoras drew his wisdom, cannot be doubted, despite the scanty knowledge we possess of what he taught. That it formed practically the central point in the whole philosophy of the Eleatic School, is likewise a familiar fact. Later on, the New Platonists were steeped in the same, one of their chief tenets being: _διὰ τὴν ἑνότητα ἀπάντων πάσας ψuχὰς mίαν εἶναι_. (All souls are one, because all things form a unity.) In the ninth century we find it unexpectedly appearing in Europe. It kindles the spirit of no less a divine than Johannes Scotus Erigena, who endeavours to clothe it with the forms and terminology of the Christian religion. Among the Mohammedans we detect it again in the rapt mysticism of the *Sûfi.[3] In the West Giordano Bruno cannot resist the impulse to utter it aloud; but his reward is a death of shame and torture. And at the same time we find the Christian Mystics losing themselves in it, against their own will and intention, whenever and wherever we read of them![4] Spinoza's name is identified with it. Lastly, in our own days, after Kant had annihilated the old dogmatism, and the world stood aghast at its smoking ruins, the same teaching was revived in Schelling's eclectic philosophy. The latter took all the systems of Plotinus, Spinoza, Kant, and Jacob Boehm, and mixing them together with the results of modern Natural Science, speedily served up a dish sufficient to satisfy for the moment the pressing needs of his contemporaries; and then proceeded to perform a series of variations on the original theme. The consequence is that in the learned circles of Germany this line of thought has come to be generally accepted; indeed even among people of ordinary education, it is almost universally diffused.[5] A solitary exception is formed by the University philosophers of the present day. They have the hard task of fighting what is called =Pantheism=. Being brought through the stress of battle into great embarrassment and difficulty, they anxiously catch now at the most pitiful sophisms, now at phrases of choicest bombast, so only they may patch together some sort of respectable disguise, wherein to dress up the favourite petticoat Philosophy, that has duly received official sanction. In a word, the _Ἕν καὶ πᾱν_[6] has been in all ages the laughing-stock of fools, for the wise a subject of perpetual meditation. Nevertheless, the strict demonstration of this theory is only to be obtained from the Kantian teaching, as I have just shown. Kant himself did not carry it out; after the fashion of clever orators, he only gave the premises, leaving to his hearers the pleasure of drawing the conclusion. Now if plurality and difference belong only to the =appearance-form=; if there is but one and the same Entity manifested in all living things: it follows that, when we obliterate the distinction between the _ego_ and the _non-ego_, we are not the sport of an illusion. Rather are we so, when we maintain the reality of individuation,--a thing the Hindus call *Mâyâ,[7] that is, a deceptive vision, a phantasma. The former theory we have found to be the actual source of the phaenomenon of Compassion; indeed Compassion is nothing but its translation into definite expression. This, therefore, is what I should regard as the metaphysical foundation of Ethics, and should describe it as the sense which identifies the =ego= with the =non-ego=, so that the individual directly recognises in another his own self, his true and very being. From this standpoint the profoundest teaching of theory pushed to its furthest limits may be shown in the end to harmonise perfectly with the rules of justice and loving-kindness, as exercised; and conversely, it will be clear that practical philosophers, that is, the upright, the beneficent, the magnanimous, do but declare through their acts the same truth as the man of speculation wins by laborious research, by the loftiest flights of intellect. Meanwhile moral excellence stands higher than all theoretical sapience. The latter is at best nothing but a very unfinished and partial structure, and only by the circuitous path of reasoning attains the goal which the former reaches in one step. He who is morally noble, however deficient in mental penetration, reveals by his conduct the deepest insight, the truest wisdom; and puts to shame the most accomplished and learned genius, if the latter's acts betray that his heart is yet a stranger to this great principle,--the metaphysical unity of life. "Individuation is real. The _principium individuationis,_ with the consequent distinction of individuals, is the order of things in themselves. Bach living unit is an entity radically different from all others. In my own self alone I have my true being; everything outside it belongs to the =non-ego=, and is foreign to me." This is the creed to the truth of which flesh and bone bear witness: which is at the root of all egoism, and which finds its objective expression in every loveless, unjust, or malicious act. "Individuation is merely an appearance, born of Space and Time; the latter being nothing else than the forms under which the external world necessarily manifests itself to me, conditioned as they are by my brain's faculty of perception. Hence also the plurality and difference of individuals is but a =phaenomenon=, that is, exists only as my mental picture. My true inmost being subsists in every living thing, just as really, as directly as in my own consciousness it is evidenced only to myself." This is the higher knowledge: for which there is in Sanskrit the standing formula, =tat tvam asi=, "that art thou."[8] Out of the depths of human nature it wells up in the shape of Compassion, and is therefore the source of all genuine, that is, disinterested virtue, being, so to say, incarnate in every good deed. It is this which in the last resort is invoked, whenever we appeal to gentleness, to loving-kindness; whenever we pray for mercy instead of justice. For such appeal, such prayer is in reality the effort to remind a fellow-being of the ultimate truth that we are all one and the same entity. On the other hand, Egoism and its derivatives, envy, hatred, the spirit of persecution, hardness of heart, revenge, pleasure at the sight of suffering, and cruelty, all claim support from the other view of things, and seek their justification in it. The emotion and joy we experience when we hear of, still more, when we see, and most of all, when we ourselves do, a noble act, are at bottom traceable to the feeling of certainty such a deed gives, that, beyond all plurality and distinction of individuals, which the _principium individuationis_, like a kaleidoscope, shows us in ever-shifting evanescent forms, there is an underlying unity, not only truly existing, but actually accessible to us; for lo! in tangible, objective form, it stands before our sight. Of these two mental attitudes, according as the one or the other is adopted, so the _ϕιλία_ (Love) or the _νεῑκος_ (Hatred) of Empedocles appears between man and man. If any one, who is animated by _νεῑκος_, could forcibly break in upon his most detested foe, and compel him to lay bare the inmost recesses of his heart; to his surprise, he would find again in the latter his very self. For just as in dreams, all the persons that appear to us are but the masked images of ourselves; so in the dream of our waking life, it is our own being which looks on us from out our neighbours' eyes,--though this is not equally easy to discern. Nevertheless, =tat tvam asi=. The preponderance of either mode of viewing life not only determines single acts; it shapes a man's whole nature and temperament. Hence the radical difference of mental habit between the =good= character and the =bad=. The latter feels everywhere that a thick wall of partition hedges him off from all others. For him the world is an =absolute non-ego=, and his relation to it an essentially hostile one; consequently, the key-note of his disposition is hatred, suspicion, envy, and pleasure in seeing distress. The good character, on the other hand, lives in an external world homogeneous with his own being; the rest of mankind is not in his eyes a non-ego; he thinks of it rather as "myself once more." He therefore stands on an essentially amicable footing with every one: he is conscious of being, in his inmost nature, akin to the whole human race,[9] takes direct interest in their weal and woe, and confidently assumes in their case the same interest in him. This is the source of his deep inward peace, and of that happy, calm, contented manner, which goes out on those around him, and is as the "presence of a good diffused." Whereas the bad character in time of trouble has no trust in the help of his fellow-creatures. If he invokes aid, he does so without confidence: obtained, he feels no real gratitude for it; because he can hardly discern therein anything but the effect of others' folly. For he is simply incapable of recognising his own self in some one else; and this, even after it has furnished the most incontestible signs of existence in that other person: on which fact the repulsive nature of all unthankfulness in reality depends. The moral isolation, which thus naturally and inevitably encompasses the bad man, is often the cause of his becoming the victim of despair. The good man, on the contrary, will appeal to his neighbours for assistance, with an assurance equal to the consciousness he has of being ready himself to help them. As I have said: to the one type, humanity is a =non-ego=; to the other, "myself once more." The magnanimous character, who forgives his enemy, and returns good for evil, rises to the sublime, and receives the highest meed of praise; because he recognises his real self even there where it is most conspicuously disowned. Every purely beneficent act all help entirely and genuinely unselfish, being, as such, exclusively inspired by another's distress, is, in fact, if we probe the matter to the bottom, a dark enigma, a piece of mysticism put into practice; inasmuch as it springs out of, and finds its only true explanation in, the same higher knowledge that constitutes the essence of whatever is mystical. For how, otherwise than metaphysically, are we to account for even the smallest offering of alms made with absolutely no other object than that of lessening the want which afflicts a fellow-creature? Such an act is only conceivable, only possible, in so far as the giver =knows= that it is his very self which stands before him, clad in the garments of suffering; in other words, so far as he recognises the essential part of his own being, under a form not his =own=.[10] It now becomes apparent, why in the foregoing part I have called Compassion the great mystery of Ethics. He, who goes to meet death for his fatherland, has freed himself from the illusion which limits a man's existence to his own person. Such a one has broken the fetters of the _principium individuationis_. In his widened, enlightened nature he embraces all his countrymen, and in them lives on and on. Nay, he reaches forward to, and merges himself in the generations yet unborn, for whom he works; and he regards death as a wink of the eyelids, so momentary that it does not interrupt the sight. We may here sum up the characteristics of the two human types above indicated. To the Egoist all other people are uniformly and intrinsically strangers. In point of fact, he considers nothing to be truly real, except his own person, and regards the rest of mankind practically as troops of phantoms, to whom he assigns merely a relative existence, so far as they may be instruments to serve, or barriers to obstruct, his purposes; the result being an immeasurable difference, a vast gulf between =his ego= on the one side, and the =non-ego= on the other. In a word, he lives exclusively centred in his own individuality, and on his death-day he sees all reality, indeed the whole world, coming to an end along with himself.[11] Whereas the Altruist discerns in all other persons, nay, in every living thing, his own entity, and feels therefore that his being is commingled, is identical with the being of whatever is alive. By death he loses only a small part of himself. Patting off the narrow limitations of the individual, he passes into the larger life of all mankind, in whom he always recognised, and, recognising, loved, his very self; and the illusion of Time and Space, which separated his consciousness from that of others, vanishes. These two opposite modes of viewing the world are probably the chief, though not indeed the sole cause of the difference we find between very good and exceptionally bad men, as to the manner in which they meet their last hour. In all ages Truth, poor thing, has been put to shame for being paradoxical; and yet it is not her fault. She cannot assume the form of Error seated on his throne of world-wide sovereignty. So then, with a sigh, she looks up to her tutelary god, Time, who nods assurance to her of future victory and glory, but whose wings beat the air so slowly with their mighty strokes, that the individual perishes or ever the day of triumph be come. Hence I, too, am perfectly aware of the paradox which this metaphysical explanation of the ultimate ethical phaenomenon must present to Western minds, accustomed, as they are, to very different methods of providing Morals with a basis. Nevertheless, I cannot offer violence to the truth. All that is possible for me to do, out of consideration for European blindness, is to assert once more, and demonstrate by actual quotation, that the Metaphysics of Ethics, which I have here suggested, was thousands of years ago the fundamental principle of Indian wisdom. And to this wisdom I point back, as Copernicus did to the Pythagorean cosmic system, which was suppressed by Aristotle and Ptolemaeus. In the Bhagavadgîtâ (Lectio XIII.; 27, 28), according to A. W. von Schlegel's translation, we find the following passage: _Eundem in omnibus animantibus consistentem summum dominum, istis pereuntibus kaud pereuntem qui cernit, is vere cernit. Eundem vero cernens ubique praesentem dominum, non violat semet ipsum sua ipsius culpa: exinde pergit ad summum iter_.[12] With these hints towards the elaboration of a metaphysical basis for Ethics I must close, although an important step still remains to be taken. The latter would presuppose a further advance in Moral Science itself; and this can hardly be made, because in the West the highest aim of Ethics is reached in the theory of justice and virtue. What lies beyond is unknown, or at any rate ignored. The omission, therefore, is unavoidable; and the reader need feel no surprise, if the above slight outline of the Metaphysics of Ethics does not bring into view--even remotely--the corner-stone of the whole metaphysical edifice, nor reveal the connection of all the parts composing the _Divina Commedia_. Such a presentment, moreover, is involved neither in the question set, nor in my own plan. A man cannot say everything in one day, and should not answer more than he is asked. He who tries to promote human knowledge and insight is destined to always encounter the opposition of his age, which is like the dead weight of some mass that has to be dragged along: there on the ground it lies, a huge inert deformity, defying all efforts to quicken its shape with new life. But such a one must take comfort from the certainty that, although prejudices beset his path, yet the truth is with him. And Truth does but wait for her ally, Time, to join her; once he is at her side, she is perfectly sure of victory, which, if to-day delayed, will be won =to-morrow=. [1] The conception of _the Good_, in its purity, is an _ultimate_ one, "an _absolute Idea_, whose substance loses itself in infinity."--(Bouterweek: _Praktische Aphorismen_, p. 54.) It is obvious that this writer would like to transform the familiar, nay, trivial conception "_Good_" into a sort of _Διἴπετής,_ to be set up as an idol in his temple. _Διἴπετής_ lit., "fallen from Zeus"; and so "heaven-sent," "a thing of divine origin." Cf. Horn., _Il._. XVI, 174; _Od._. IV. 477. Eur., _Bacch._, 1268.--(_Translator_.) [2] The genuineness of the Oupnek'hat has been disputed on the ground of certain marginal glosses which were added by Mohammedan copyists, and then interpolated in the text, it has, however, been fully established by the Sanskrit scholar, F. H. H. Windischmann (junior) in his _Sancara, sive de Theologumenis Vedanticorum_, 1833, p. xix; and also by Bochinger in his book _De la Vie Contemplative chez les Indous_, 1831, p. 12. The reader though ignorant of Sanskrit, may yet convince himself that Anquetil Duperron's word for word Latin translation of the Persian version of the Upanishads made by the martyr of this creed, the Sultan Dârâ-Shukoh, is based on a thorough and exact knowledge of the language. He has only to compare it with recent translations of some of the Upanishads by Rammohun Boy, by Poley, and especially with that of Colebrooke, as also with Röer's, (the latest). These writers are obviously groping in obscurity, and driven to make shift with hazy conjectures, so that without doubt their work is much less accurate. More will be found on this subject in Vol. II. of the _Parerga_, chap. 16, § 184. [_V. The Upanishads_, translated by Max Müller, in _The Sacred Books of the East_, Vols. I. and XV. Cf. also Max Müller, _The Science of Language_, Vol. I., p. 171. Now that an adequate translation of the original exists, the Oupnek'hat has only an historical interest. The value which Schopenhauer attached to the Upanishads is very clearly expressed also in the _Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_, Preface to the first Edition; and in the _Parerga,_ II., chap, xvi., § 184.--(_Translator_.) [3] For the Sûfi, more correctly *Sūfīy a sect which appeared already in the first century of the Hijrah, the reader is referred to: Tholuck's _Blüthensammlung aus der Morgenländischen Mystik_ (Berlin, 1825); Tholuck's _Sûfismus, sive Theosophia Persarum Pantheistica_ (Berlin, 1821); Kremer's _Geschichte der Herrschenden Ideen des Islâms_ (Leipzig, 1868); _Palmer's Oriental Mysticism_ (London, 1867); Gobineau's _Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale_ (2nd edit. Paris, 1866); _A Dictionary of Islâm_, by T. P. Hughes (London, 1885), p. 608 sqq.--(_Translator_.)] [4] This is too well-known to need verification by references. The _Cantico del Sole_ by St. Francis of Assisi sounds almost like a passage from the Upanishads or the *Bhagavadgîtâ.--(_Translator_.)] 5: On ne peut assez longtemps, chez notre espèce,_ _Fermer la porte à la Raison._ _Mais, dès qu'elle entre avec adresse,_ _Elle reste dans la maison,_ _Et bientôt elle en est maîtresse._ --(Voltaire.) (We men may, doubtless, all our lives To Reason bar the door. But if to enter she contrives, The house she leaves no more, And soon as mistress there presides.) [6] _Τὸ ἔν_= the eternal Reality outside Time and Space _Tὸ πᾱν_ = the phaenomenal universe.--(_Translator_.) [7] Mâyâ is "the delusive reflection of the true eternal Entity."--(_Translator_.)] [8] This expression is used in the Brahmanical philosophy to denote the relation between the world-fiction as a whole and its individualised parts. _V._ A. E. Gough, _Philosophy of the Upanishads_, 1882.--(_Translator_.) [9] _Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto_. Terence, _Heaut_., I. 1, 25.--(_Translator_.) [10] It is probable that many, perhaps, most cases of truly disinterested Compassion--when they really occur--are due not to any conscious _knowledge_ of this sort, but to an unconscious impulse springing from the ultimate unity of all living things, and acting, so to say, automatically.--(_Translator_.) [11] Cf. Richard Wagner: _Jesus von Nazareth_; pp. 79-90.--(_Translator_.) [12] That man is endowed with true insight who sees that the same ruling power is inherent in all things, and that when these perish, it perishes not. For if he discerns the same ruling power everywhere present, he does not degrade himself by his own fault: thence he passes to the highest path.--For the _Bhagavadgîtâ_ the reader is referred to Vol. VIII. of _The Sacred Books of the East_ (Oxford: Clarendon Press), where (p. 105) this passage is translated as follows:--"He sees (truly) who sees the supreme lord abiding alike in all entities, and not destroyed though they are destroyed. For he who sees the lord abiding everywhere alike, does not destroy himself[*] by himself, and then reaches the highest goal." [*]Not to have true knowledge, is equivalent to self-destruction." Cf. Fauche] Le Mahā-bhārata: Paris, 1867; Vol. VII., p. 128:-- "Celui-là possède une vue nette des choses, qui voit ce principe souverain en tous les êtres d'une manière égale, et leur survivre, quand ils périssent. Il ne se fait aucun tort à soi-même par cette vue d'un principe qui subsiste également partout: puis, après cette vie, il entre dans la voie supérieure." The obscurity of Schlegel's Latin in the second sentence is sufficiently removed by these more recent translations.--(_Translator_.) JUDICIUM REGIAE DANICAE SCIENTIARUM SOCIETATIS. _Quaestionem anno_ 1837 _propositam, "utrum philosophiae moralis fons et fundamentum in idea moralitatis, quae immediate conscientia contineatur, et ceteris notionibus fundamentalibus, quae ex ilia prodeant, explicandis quaerenda sint, an in alio cognoscendi principio," unus tantum scriptor explicare conatus est, cujus commentationem, germanico sermone compositam, et his verbis notatam_: "MORAL PREDIGEN IST LEICHT, MORAL BEGRÜNDEN IST SCHWER," _praemio dignam judicare nequivimus. Omisso enim eo, quod potissimum postulabatur, hoc expeti putavit, ut principium aliquod ethicae conderetur, itaqae eam partem commentationis suae, in qua principii ethicae a se propositi et metaphysicae suae nexum exponit, appendices loco habuit, in qua plus quam postulatum esset praestaret, quum tamen ipsum thema ejusmodi disputationem flagitaret, in qua vel praecipuo loco metaphysicae et ethicae nexus consideraretur. Quod autem scriptor in sympathia fundamentum ethicae constituere conatus est, neque ipsa disserendi forma nobis satisfecit, neque reapse, hoc fundamentum sufficere, evicit; quin ipse contra esse confiteri coactus est. Neque reticendum videtur, plures recentioris aetatis summos philosophos tam indecenter commemorari, ut justam et gravem offensionem habeat._ JUDGMENT OF THE DANISH ROYAL SOCIETY OF SCIENCES. In 1837 the following question was set as subject for a Prize Essay: "Is the fountain and basis of Morals to be sought for in an idea of morality which lies directly in the consciousness (or conscience), and in the analysis of the other leading ethical conceptions which arise from it? Or is it to be found in some other source of knowledge?" There was only one competitor; but his dissertation, written in German, and bearing the motto: "_To preach Morality is easy, to found it is difficult_"[1] we cannot adjudge worthy of the Prize. He has omitted to deal with the essential part of the question, apparently thinking that he was asked to establish some fundamental principle of Ethics. Consequently, that part of the treatise, which explains how the moral basis he proposes is related to his system of metaphysics, we find relegated to an appendix, as an "_opus supererogationis_," although it was precisely the connection between Metaphysics and Ethics that our question required to be put in the first and foremost place. The writer attempts to show that compassion is the ultimate source of morality; but neither does his mode of discussion appear satisfactory to us, nor has he, in point of fact, succeeded in proving that such a foundation is adequate. Indeed he himself is obliged to admit that it is not.[2] Lastly, the Society cannot pass over in silence the fact that he mentions several recent philosophers of the highest standing in an unseemly manner, such as to justly occasion serions offence. [1] The Academy has been good enough to insert the second "is" on its own account, by way of proving the truth of Longinus' theory (_V. De Sublimitate_: chap. 39, _ad fin._), that the addition or subtraction of a single syllable is sufficient to destroy the whole force of a sentence. (P. Longinus: _De Sublimitate Libellus_; edit. Joannes Vablen, Bonnae, 1887.)--(_Translator_) [2] I suppose this is the meaning of _contra esse confiteri_.--(_Translator_.) *** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Basis of Morality" *** Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials. Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians. This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 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