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Title: The Data of Ethics
Author: Spencer, Herbert
Language: English
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[Illustration: HERBERT SPENCER.]




Author of "First Principles," "Education," etc.


A. L. Burt Company,
Publishers, New York


A reference to the programme of the "System of Synthetic Philosophy"
will show that the chapters herewith issued constitute the first
division of the work on the _Principles of Morality_, with which the
System ends. As the second and third volumes of the _Principles of
Sociology_ are as yet unpublished, this installment of the succeeding
work appears out of its place.

I have been led thus to deviate from the order originally set down by
the fear that persistence in conforming to it might result in leaving
the final work of the series unexecuted. Hints, repeated of late years
with increasing frequency and distinctness, have shown me that health
may permanently fail, even if life does not end, before I reach the
last part of the task I have marked out for myself. This last part of
the task it is to which I regard all the preceding parts as subsidiary.
Written as far back as 1842, my first essay, consisting of letters on
The _Proper Sphere of Government_, vaguely indicated what I conceived
to be certain general principles of right and wrong in political
conduct, and from that time onward my ultimate purpose, lying behind
all proximate purposes, has been that of finding for the principles
of right and wrong, in conduct at large, a scientific basis. To leave
this purpose unfulfilled, after making so extensive a preparation for
fulfilling it, would be a failure the probability of which I do not
like to contemplate, and I am anxious to preclude it, if not wholly,
still partially. Hence the step I now take. Though this first division
of the work terminating the Synthetic Philosophy, cannot, of course,
contain the specific conclusions to be set forth in the entire work,
yet it implies them in such wise that, definitely to formulate them
requires nothing beyond logical deduction.

I am the more anxious to indicate in outline, if I cannot complete,
this final work, because the establishment of rules of right conduct
on a scientific basis is a pressing need. Now, that moral injunctions
are losing the authority given by their supposed sacred origin, the
secularization of morals is becoming imperative. Few things can happen
more disastrous than the decay and death of a regulative system no
longer fit, before another and fitter regulative system has grown
up to replace it. Most of those who reject the current creed appear
to assume that the controlling agency furnished by it may safely be
thrown aside, and the vacancy left unfilled by any other controlling
agency. Meanwhile, those who defend the current creed allege that in
the absence of the guidance it yields, no guidance can exist: divine
commandments they think the only possible guides. Thus, between these
extreme opponents, there is a certain community. The one holds that
the gap left by disappearance of the code of supernatural ethics need
not be filled by a code of natural ethics, and the other holds that it
cannot be so filled. Both contemplate a vacuum, which the one wishes
and the other fears. As the change which promises or threatens to
bring about this state, desired or dreaded, is rapidly progressing,
those who believe that the vacuum can be filled, and that it must be
filled, are called on to do something in pursuance of their belief.

To this more special reason I may add a more general reason. Great
mischief has been done by the repellent aspect habitually given
to moral rule by its expositors, and immense benefits are to be
anticipated from presenting moral rule under that attractive aspect
which it has when undistorted by superstition and asceticism. If a
father, sternly enforcing numerous commands, some needful and some
needless, adds to his severe control a behavior wholly unsympathetic;
if his children have to take their pleasures by stealth, or, when
timidly looking up from their play, ever meet a cold glance or more
frequently a frown, his government will inevitably be disliked, if
not hated, and the aim will be to evade it as much as possible.
Contrariwise, a father who, equally firm in maintaining restraints
needful for the well-being of his children or the well-being of other
persons, not only avoids needless restraints, but, giving his sanction
to all legitimate gratifications and providing the means for them,
looks on at their gambols with an approving smile, can scarcely fail
to gain an influence which, no less efficient for the time being,
will also be permanently efficient. The controls of such two fathers
symbolize the controls of Morality as it is and Morality as it should

Nor does mischief result only from this undue severity of the ethical
doctrine bequeathed us by the harsh past. Further mischief results from
the impracticability of its ideal. In violent reaction against the
utter selfishness of life as carried on in barbarous societies, it has
insisted on a life utterly unselfish. But just as the rampant egoism of
a brutal militancy was not to be remedied by attempts at the absolute
subjection of the ego in convents and monasteries, so neither is the
misconduct of ordinary humanity, as now existing, to be remedied by
upholding a standard of abnegation beyond human achievement. Rather
the effect is to produce a despairing abandonment of all attempts at
a higher life. And not only does an effort to achieve the impossible
end in this way, but it simultaneously discredits the possible. By
association with rules that cannot be obeyed, rules that can be obeyed
lose their authority.

Much adverse comment will, I doubt not, be passed on the theory of
right conduct which the following pages shadow forth. Critics of a
certain class, far from rejoicing that ethical principles otherwise
derived by them, coincide with ethical principles scientifically
derived, are offended by the coincidence. Instead of recognizing
essential likeness they enlarge on superficial difference. Since the
days of persecution, a curious change has taken place in the behavior
of so-called orthodoxy toward so-called heterodoxy. The time was
when a heretic, forced by torture to recant, satisfied authority by
external conformity: apparent agreement sufficed, however profound
continued to be the real disagreement. But now that the heretic can
no longer be coerced into professing the ordinary belief, his belief
is made to appear as much opposed to the ordinary as possible. Does
he diverge from established theological dogma? Then he shall be an
atheist; however inadmissible he considers the term. Does he think
spiritualistic interpretations of phenomena not valid? Then he shall be
classed as a materialist; indignantly though he repudiates the name.
And in like manner, what differences exist between natural morality
and supernatural morality, it has become the policy to exaggerate
into fundamental antagonisms. In pursuance of this policy, there will
probably be singled out for reprobation from this volume, doctrines
which, taken by themselves, may readily be made to seem utterly wrong.
With a view to clearness, I have treated separately some correlative
aspects of conduct, drawing conclusions either of which becomes untrue
if divorced from the other; and have thus given abundant opportunity
for misrepresentation.

The relations of this work to works preceding it in the series are such
as to involve frequent reference. Containing, as it does, the outcome
of principles set forth in each of them, I have found it impracticable
to dispense with re-statements of those principles. Further, the
presentation of them in their relations to different ethical theories,
has made it needful, in every case, briefly to remind the reader what
they are, and how they are derived. Hence an amount of repetition which
to some will probably appear tedious. I do not, however, much regret
this almost unavoidable result; for only by varied iteration can alien
conceptions be forced on reluctant minds.

    _June_, 1879.


  CHAPTER I.                                PAGE.

  Conduct in General                            1


  The Evolution of Conduct                      7


  Good and Bad Conduct                         23


  Ways of Judging Conduct                      54


  The Physical View                            75


  The Biological View                          88


  The Psychological View                      121


  The Sociological View                       157


  Criticisms and Explanations                 178


  The Relativity of Pains and Pleasures       206


  Egoism versus Altruism                      221


  Altruism versus Egoism                      237


  Trial and Compromise                        258


  Conciliation                                285


  Absolute and Relative Ethics                304


  The Scope of Ethics                         332




§ 1. The doctrine that correlatives imply one another--that a father
cannot be thought of without thinking of a child, and that there can be
no consciousness of superior without a consciousness of inferior--has
for one of its common examples the necessary connection between the
conceptions of whole and part. Beyond the primary truth that no idea of
a whole can be framed without a nascent idea of parts constituting it,
and that no idea of a part can be framed without a nascent idea of some
whole to which it belongs, there is the secondary truth that there can
be no correct idea of a part without a correct idea of the correlative
whole. There are several ways in which inadequate knowledge of the one
involves inadequate knowledge of the other.

If the part is conceived without any reference to the whole, it
becomes itself a whole--an independent entity; and its relations to
existence in general are misapprehended. Further, the size of the part
as compared with the size of the whole must be misapprehended unless
the whole is not only recognized as including it, but is figured in
its total extent. And again, the position which the part occupies in
relation to other parts, cannot be rightly conceived unless there is
some conception of the whole in its distribution as well as in its

Still more when part and whole, instead of being statically related
only, are dynamically related, must there be a general understanding
of the whole before the part can be understood. By a savage who has
never seen a vehicle, no idea can be formed of the use and action of a
wheel. To the unsymmetrically-pierced disk of an eccentric, no place or
purpose can be ascribed by a rustic unacquainted with machinery. Even
a mechanician, if he has never looked into a piano, will, if shown a
damper, be unable to conceive its function or relative value.

Most of all, however, where the whole is organic, does complete
comprehension of a part imply extensive comprehension of the whole.
Suppose a being ignorant of the human body to find a detached arm. If
not misconceived by him as a supposed whole, instead of being conceived
as a part, still its relations to other parts, and its structure, would
be wholly inexplicable. Admitting that the co-operation of its bones
and muscles might be divined, yet no thought could be framed of the
share taken by the arm in the actions of the unknown whole it belonged
to; nor could any interpretation be put upon the nerves and vessels
ramifying through it, which severally refer to certain central organs.
A theory of the structure of the arm implies a theory of the structure
of the body at large.

And this truth holds not of material aggregates only, but of immaterial
aggregates--aggregated motions, deeds, thoughts, words. The moon's
movements cannot be fully interpreted without taking into account the
movements of the Solar System at large. The process of loading a gun
is meaningless until the subsequent actions performed with the gun are
known. A fragment of a sentence, if not unintelligible, is wrongly
interpreted in the absence of the remainder. Cut off its beginning and
end, and the rest of a demonstration proves nothing. Evidence given
by a plaintiff often misleads until the evidence which the defendant
produces is joined with it.

§ 2. Conduct is a whole; and, in a sense, it is an organic whole--an
aggregate of inter-dependent actions performed by an organism. That
division or aspect of conduct with which Ethics deals, is a part of
this organic whole--a part having its components inextricably bound
up with the rest. As currently conceived, stirring the fire, or
reading a newspaper, or eating a meal, are acts with which Morality
has no concern. Opening the window to air the room, putting on an
overcoat when the weather is cold, are thought of as having no ethical
significance. These, however, are all portions of conduct. The behavior
we call good and the behavior we call bad, are included, along with
the behavior we call indifferent, under the conception of behavior at
large. The whole of which Ethics forms a part, is the whole constituted
by the theory of conduct in general; and this whole must be understood
before the part can be understood. Let us consider this proposition
more closely.

And first, how shall we define conduct? It is not co-extensive with the
aggregate of actions, though it is nearly so. Such actions as those of
an epileptic in a fit are not included in our conception of conduct:
the conception excludes purposeless actions. And in recognizing this
exclusion, we simultaneously recognize all that is included. The
definition of conduct which emerges is either acts adjusted to ends, or
else the adjustment of acts to ends, according as we contemplate the
formed body of acts, or think of the form alone. And conduct in its
full acceptation must be taken as comprehending all adjustments of acts
to ends, from the simplest to the most complex, whatever their special
natures and whether considered separately or in their totality.

Conduct in general being thus distinguished from the somewhat larger
whole constituted by actions in general, let us next ask what
distinction is habitually made between the conduct on which ethical
judgments are passed and the remainder of conduct. As already said,
a large part of ordinary conduct is indifferent. Shall I walk to the
waterfall to-day? or shall I ramble along the sea-shore? Here the
ends are ethically indifferent. If I go to the waterfall, shall I go
over the moor or take the path through the wood? Here the means are
ethically indifferent. And from hour to hour most of the things we do
are not to be judged as either good or bad in respect of either ends or

No less clear is it that the transition from indifferent acts to acts
which are good or bad is gradual. If a friend who is with me has
explored the sea-shore, but has not seen the waterfall, the choice
of one or other end is no longer ethically indifferent. And if, the
waterfall being fixed on as our goal, the way over the moor is too
long for his strength, while the shorter way through the wood is not,
the choice of means is no longer ethically indifferent. Again, if a
probable result of making the one excursion rather than the other,
is that I shall not be back in time to keep an appointment, or if
taking the longer route entails this risk while taking the shorter
does not, the decision in favor of one or other end or means acquires
in another way an ethical character; and if the appointment is one of
some importance, or one of great importance, or one of life-and-death
importance, to self or others, the ethical character becomes
pronounced. These instances will sufficiently suggest the truth that
conduct with which Morality is not concerned, passes into conduct which
is moral or immoral, by small degrees and in countless ways.

But the conduct that has to be conceived scientifically before we can
scientifically conceive those modes of conduct which are the objects
of ethical judgments, is a conduct immensely wider in range than that
just indicated. Complete comprehension of conduct is not to be obtained
by contemplating the conduct of human beings only; we have to regard
this as a part of universal conduct--conduct as exhibited by all
living creatures. For evidently this comes within our definition--acts
adjusted to ends. The conduct of the higher animals as compared with
that of man, and the conduct of the lower animals as compared with that
of the higher, mainly differ in this, that the adjustments of acts to
ends are relatively simple and relatively incomplete. And as in other
cases, so in this case, we must interpret the more developed by the
less developed. Just as, fully to understand the part of conduct which
Ethics deals with, we must study human conduct as a whole; so, fully
to understand human conduct as a whole, we must study it as a part
of that larger whole constituted by the conduct of animate beings in

Nor is even this whole conceived with the needful fullness, so long
as we think only of the conduct at present displayed around us. We
have to include in our conception the less-developed conduct out of
which this has arisen in course of time. We have to regard the conduct
now shown us by creatures of all orders, as an outcome of the conduct
which has brought life of every kind to its present height. And this
is tantamount to saying that our preparatory step must be to study the
evolution of conduct.



§ 3. We have become quite familiar with the idea of an evolution of
structures throughout the ascending types of animals. To a considerable
degree we have become familiar with the thought that an evolution of
functions has gone on _pari passu_ with the evolution of structures.
Now, advancing a step, we have to frame a conception of the evolution
of conduct, as correlated with this evolution of structures and

These three subjects are to be definitely distinguished. Obviously the
facts comparative morphology sets forth, form a whole which, though it
cannot be treated in general or in detail without taking into account
facts belonging to comparative physiology, is essentially independent.
No less clear is it that we may devote our attention exclusively to
that progressive differentiation of functions, and combination of
functions, which accompanies the development of structures--may say no
more about the characters and connections of organs than is implied
in describing their separate and joint actions. And the subject of
conduct lies outside the subject of functions, if not as far as this
lies outside the subject of structures, still, far enough to make it
substantially separate. For those functions which are already variously
compounded to achieve what we regard as single bodily acts, are
endlessly recompounded to achieve that co-ordination of bodily acts
which is known as conduct.

We are concerned with functions in the true sense, while we think of
them as processes carried on within the body; and, without exceeding
the limits of physiology, we may treat of their adjusted combinations,
so long as these are regarded as parts of the vital _consensus_. If we
observe how the lungs aërate the blood which the heart sends to them;
how heart and lungs together supply aërated blood to the stomach, and
so enable it to do its work; how these co-operate with sundry secreting
and excreting glands to further digestion and to remove waste matter;
and how all of them join to keep the brain in a fit condition for
carrying on those actions which indirectly conduce to maintenance
of the life at large; we are dealing with functions. Even when
considering how parts that act directly on the environment--legs, arms,
wings--perform their duties, we are still concerned with functions in
that aspect of them constituting physiology, so long as we restrict our
attention to internal processes, and to internal combinations of them.

But we enter on the subject of conduct when we begin to study such
combinations among the actions of sensory and motor organs as are
externally manifested. Suppose that instead of observing those
contractions of muscles by which the optic axes are converged and the
foci of the eyes adjusted (which is a portion of physiology), and
that instead of observing the co-operation of other nerves, muscles
and bones, by which a hand is moved to a particular place and the
fingers closed (which is also a portion of physiology), we observe
a weapon being seized by a hand under guidance of the eyes. We now
pass from the thought of combined internal functions to the thought of
combined external motions. Doubtless, if we could trace the cerebral
processes which accompany these, we should find an inner physiological
co-ordination corresponding with the outer co-ordination of actions.
But this admission is consistent with the assertion, that when we
ignore the internal combination and attend only to the external
combination, we pass from a portion of physiology to a portion of
conduct. For though it may be objected that the external combination
instanced is too simple to be rightly included under the name conduct,
yet a moment's thought shows that it is joined with what we call
conduct by insensible gradations. Suppose the weapon seized is used to
ward off a blow. Suppose a counter-blow is given. Suppose the aggressor
runs and is chased. Suppose there comes a struggle and a handing him
over to the police. Suppose there follow the many and varied acts
constituting a prosecution. Obviously the initial adjustment of an
act to an end, inseparable from the rest, must be included with them
under the same general head; and obviously from this initial simple
adjustment, having intrinsically no moral character, we pass by degrees
to the most complex adjustments and to those on which moral judgments
are passed.

Hence, excluding all internal co-ordinations, our subject here is the
aggregate of all external co-ordinations; and this aggregate includes
not only the simplest as well as the most complex performed by human
beings, but also those performed by all inferior beings considered as
less or more evolved.

§ 4. Already the question: What constitutes advance in the evolution of
conduct, as we trace it up from the lowest types of living creatures to
the highest? has been answered by implication. A few examples will now
bring the answer into conspicuous relief.

We saw that conduct is distinguished from the totality of actions by
excluding purposeless actions; but during evolution this distinction
arises by degrees. In the very lowest creatures most of the movements
from moment to moment made, have not more recognizable aims than have
the struggles of an epileptic. An infusorium swims randomly about,
determined in its course not by a perceived object to be pursued or
escaped, but, apparently, by varying stimuli in its medium; and its
acts, unadjusted in any appreciable way to ends, lead it now into
contact with some nutritive substance which it absorbs, and now
into the neighborhood of some creature by which it is swallowed and
digested. Lacking those developed senses and motor powers which higher
animals possess, ninety-nine in the hundred of these minute animals,
severally living for but a few hours, disappear either by innutrition
or by destruction. The conduct is constituted of actions so little
adjusted to ends, that life continues only as long as the accidents of
the environment are favorable. But when, among aquatic creatures, we
observe one which, though still low in type, is much higher than the
infusorium--say a rotifer--we see how, along with larger size, more
developed structures, and greater power of combining functions, there
goes an advance in conduct. We see how by its whirling cilia it sucks
in as food these small animals moving around; how by its prehensile
tail it fixes itself to some fit object; how by withdrawing its outer
organs and contracting its body, it preserves itself from this or that
injury from time to time threatened; and how thus, by better adjusting
its own actions, it becomes less dependent on the actions going on
around, and so preserves itself for a longer period.

A superior sub-kingdom, as the Mollusca, still better exemplifies this
contrast. When we compare a low mollusc, such as a floating ascidian,
with a high mollusc, such as a cephalopod, we are again shown that
greater organic evolution is accompanied by more evolved conduct.
At the mercy of every marine creature large enough to swallow it,
and drifted about by currents which may chance to keep it at sea, or
may chance to leave it fatally stranded, the ascidian displays but
little adjustment of acts to ends in comparison with the cephalopod;
which, now crawling over the beach, now exploring the rocky crevices,
now swimming through the open water, now darting after a fish, now
hiding itself from some larger animal in a cloud of ink, and using
its suckered arms at one time for anchoring itself and at another
for holding fast its prey; selects and combines and proportions its
movements from minute to minute, so as to evade dangers which threaten,
while utilizing chances of food which offer: so showing us varied
activities which, in achieving special ends, achieve the general end of
securing continuance of the activities.

Among vertebrate animals we similarly trace up, along with advance in
structures and functions, this advance in conduct. A fish roaming about
at hazard in search of something to eat, able to detect it by smell
or sight only within short distances, and now and again rushing away
in alarm on the approach of a bigger fish, makes adjustments of acts
to ends that are relatively few and simple in their kinds; and shows
us, as a consequence, how small is the average duration of life. So few
survive to maturity that, to make up for destruction of unhatched young
and small fry and half-grown individuals, a million ova have to be
spawned by a cod-fish that two may reach the spawning age. Conversely,
by a highly-evolved mammal, such as an elephant, those general actions
performed in common with the fish are far better adjusted to their
ends. By sight as well, probably, as by odor, it detects food at
relatively great distances; and when, at intervals, there arises a
need for escape, relatively great speed is attained. But the chief
difference arises from the addition of new sets of adjustments. We
have combined actions which facilitate nutrition--the breaking off of
succulent and fruit-bearing branches, the selecting of edible growths
throughout a comparatively wide reach; and, in case of danger, safety
can be achieved not by flight only, but, if necessary, by defence
or attack: bringing into combined use tusks, trunk and ponderous
feet. Further, we see various subsidiary acts adjusted to subsidiary
ends--now the going into a river for coolness, and using the trunk as a
means of projecting water over the body; now the employment of a bough
for sweeping away flies from the back; now the making of signal sounds
to alarm the herd, and adapting the actions to such sounds when made
by others. Evidently, the effect of this more highly-evolved conduct
is to secure the balance of the organic actions throughout far longer

And now, on studying the doings of the highest of mammals, mankind,
we not only find that the adjustments of acts to ends are both more
numerous and better than among lower mammals, but we find the same
thing on comparing the doings of higher races of men with those of
lower races. If we take any one of the major ends achieved, we see
greater completeness of achievement by civilized than by savage;
and we also see an achievement of relatively numerous minor ends
subserving major ends. Is it in nutrition? The food is obtained more
regularly in response to appetite; it is far higher in quality; it is
free from dirt; it is greater in variety; it is better prepared. Is
it in warmth? The characters of the fabrics and forms of the articles
used for clothing, and the adaptations of them to requirements from
day to day and hour to hour, are much superior. Is it in dwellings?
Between the shelter of boughs and grass which the lowest savage
builds, and the mansion of the civilized man, the contrast in aspect
is not more extreme than is the contrast in number and efficiency
of the adjustments of acts to ends betrayed in their respective
constructions. And when with the ordinary activities of the savage
we compare the ordinary civilized activities--as the business of the
trader, which involves multiplied and complex transactions extending
over long periods, or as professional avocations, prepared for by
elaborate studies, and daily carried on in endlessly varied forms, or
as political discussions and agitations, directed now to the carrying
of this measure and now to the defeating of that--we see sets of
adjustments of acts to ends, not only immensely exceeding those seen
among lower races of men in variety and intricacy, but sets to which
lower races of men present nothing analogous. And along with this
greater elaboration of life produced by the pursuit of more numerous
ends, there goes that increased duration of life which constitutes the
supreme end.

And here is suggested the need for supplementing this conception of
evolving conduct. For besides being an improving adjustment of acts to
ends, such as furthers prolongation of life, it is such as furthers
increased amount of life. Reconsideration of the examples above given
will show that length of life is not by itself a measure of evolution
of conduct; but that quantity of life must be taken into account. An
oyster, adapted by its structure to the diffused food contained in the
water it draws in, and shielded by its shell from nearly all dangers,
may live longer than a cuttle-fish, which has such superior powers
of dealing with numerous contingencies; but then, the sum of vital
activities during any given interval is far less in the oyster than
in the cuttle-fish. So a worm, ordinarily sheltered from most enemies
by the earth it burrows through, which also supplies a sufficiency of
its poor food, may have greater longevity than many of its annulose
relatives, the insects; but one of these during its existence as larva
and imago, may experience a greater quantity of the changes which
constitute life. Nor is it otherwise when we compare the more evolved
with the less evolved among mankind. The difference between the average
lengths of the lives of savage and civilized is no true measure of
the difference between the totalities of their two lives, considered
as aggregates of thought, feeling and action. Hence, estimating life
by multiplying its length into its breadth, we must say that the
augmentation of it which accompanies evolution of conduct, results from
increase of both factors. The more multiplied and varied adjustments of
acts to ends, by which the more developed creature from hour to hour
fulfills more numerous requirements, severally add to the activities
that are carried on abreast, and severally help to make greater the
period through which such simultaneous activities endure. Each further
evolution of conduct widens the aggregate of actions while conducing to
elongation of it.

§ 5. Turn we now to a further aspect of the phenomena, separate from,
but necessarily associated with, the last. Thus far we have considered
only those adjustments of acts to ends which have for their final
purpose complete individual life. Now we have to consider those
adjustments which have to their final purpose the life of the species.

Self-preservation in each generation has all along depended on
the preservation of offspring by preceding generations. And in
proportion as evolution of the conduct subserving individual life is
high, implying high organization, there must previously have been a
highly-evolved conduct subserving nurture of the young. Throughout
the ascending grades of the animal kingdom, this second kind of
conduct presents stages of advance like those which we have observed
in the first. Low down, where structures and functions are little
developed, and the power of adjusting acts to ends but slight, there
is no conduct, properly so named, furthering salvation of the species.
Race-maintaining conduct, like self-maintaining conduct, arises
gradually out of that which cannot be called conduct: adjusted actions
are preceded by unadjusted ones.

Protozoa spontaneously divide and sub-divide, in consequence of
physical changes over which they have no control; or, at other times,
after a period of quiescence, break up into minute portions which
severally grow into new individuals. In neither case can conduct be
alleged. Higher up, the process is that of ripening, at intervals,
germ-cells and sperm-cells, which, on occasion, are sent forth into
the surrounding water and left to their fate: perhaps one in ten
thousand surviving to maturity. Here, again, we see only development
and dispersion going on apart from parental care. Types above these,
as fish which choose fit places in which to deposit their ova, or as
the higher crustaceans which carry masses of ova about until they are
hatched, exhibit adjustments of acts to ends which we may properly call
conduct, though it is of the simplest kind. Where, as among certain
fish, the male keeps guard over the eggs, driving away intruders, there
is an additional adjustment of acts to ends; and the applicability of
the name conduct is more decided.

Passing at once to creatures far superior, such as birds, which,
building nests and sitting on their eggs, feed their broods for
considerable periods, and give them aid after they can fly; or such as
mammals which, suckling their young for a time, continue afterward to
bring them food or protect them while they feed, until they reach ages
at which they can provide for themselves; we are shown how this conduct
which furthers race-maintenance evolves hand-in-hand with the conduct
which furthers self-maintenance. That better organization which makes
possible the last, makes possible the first also.

Mankind exhibit a great progress of like nature. Compared with brutes,
the savage, higher in his self-maintaining conduct, is higher too in
his race-maintaining conduct. A larger number of the wants of offspring
are provided for; and parental care, enduring longer, extends to the
disciplining of offspring in arts and habits which fit them for their
conditions of existence. Conduct of this order, equally with conduct of
the first order, we see becoming evolved in a still greater degree as
we ascend from savage to civilized. The adjustments of acts to ends in
the rearing of children become far more elaborate, alike in number of
ends met, variety of means used, and efficiency of their adaptations;
and the aid and oversight are continued throughout a much greater part
of early life.

In tracing up the evolution of conduct, so that we may frame a true
conception of conduct in general, we have thus to recognize these two
kinds as mutually dependent. Speaking generally, neither can evolve
without evolution of the other; and the highest evolutions of the two
must be reached simultaneously.

§ 6. To conclude, however, that on reaching a perfect adjustment of
acts to ends subserving individual life and the rearing of offspring,
the evolution of conduct becomes complete, is to conclude erroneously.
Or rather, I should say, it is an error to suppose that either of these
kinds of conduct can assume its highest form, without its highest form
being assumed by a third kind of conduct yet to be named.

The multitudinous creatures of all kinds which fill the earth, cannot
live wholly apart from one another, but are more or less in presence
of one another--are interfered with by one another. In large measure
the adjustments of acts to ends which we have been considering, are
components of that "struggle for existence" carried on both between
members of the same species and between members of different species;
and, very generally, a successful adjustment made by one creature
involves an unsuccessful adjustment made by another creature, either
of the same kind or of a different kind. That the carnivore may live
herbivores must die; and that its young may be reared the young of
weaker creatures must be orphaned. Maintenance of the hawk and its
brood involves the deaths of many small birds; and that small birds
may multiply, their progeny must be fed with innumerable sacrificed
worms and larvæ. Competition among members of the same species has
allied, though less conspicuous, results. The stronger often carries
off by force the prey which the weaker has caught. Monopolizing certain
hunting grounds, the more ferocious drive others of their kind into
less favorable places. With plant-eating animals, too, the like holds:
the better food is secured by the more vigorous individuals, while the
less vigorous and worse fed, succumb either directly from innutrition
or indirectly from resulting inability to escape enemies. That is to
say, among creatures whose lives are carried on antagonistically, each
of the two kinds of conduct delineated above, must remain imperfectly
evolved. Even in such few kinds of them as have little to fear from
enemies or competitors, as lions or tigers, there is still inevitable
failure in the adjustments of acts to ends toward the close of life.
Death by starvation from inability to catch prey, shows a falling short
of conduct from its ideal.

This imperfectly-evolved conduct introduces us by antithesis to conduct
that is perfectly evolved. Contemplating these adjustments of acts
to ends which miss completeness because they cannot be made by one
creature without other creatures being prevented from making them,
raises the thought of adjustments such that each creature may make
them without preventing them from being made by other creatures. That
the highest form of conduct must be so distinguished, is an inevitable
implication; for, while the form of conduct is such that adjustments
of acts to ends by some necessitate non-adjustments by others, there
remains room for modifications which bring conduct into a form avoiding
this, and so making the totality of life greater.

From the abstract let us pass to the concrete. Recognizing men as the
beings whose conduct is most evolved, let us ask under what conditions
their conduct, in all three aspects of its evolution, reaches its
limit. Clearly while the lives led are entirely predatory, as those of
savages, the adjustments of acts to ends fall short of this highest
form of conduct in every way. Individual life, ill carried on from
hour to hour, is prematurely cut short; the fostering of offspring
often fails, and is incomplete when it does not fail; and in so far
as the ends of self-maintenance and race-maintenance are met, they
are met by destruction of other beings of different kind or of like
kind. In social groups formed by compounding and re-compounding
primitive hordes, conduct remains imperfectly evolved in proportion as
there continue antagonisms between the groups and antagonisms between
members of the same group--two traits necessarily associated; since
the nature which prompts international aggression prompts aggression
of individuals on one another. Hence the limit of evolution can be
reached by conduct only in permanently peaceful societies. That perfect
adjustment of acts to ends in maintaining individual life and rearing
new individuals, which is effected by each without hindering others
from effecting like perfect adjustments, is, in its very definition,
shown to constitute a kind of conduct that can be approached only as
war decreases and dies out.

A gap in this outline must now be filled up. There remains a further
advance not yet even hinted. For beyond so behaving that each achieves
his ends without preventing others from achieving their ends, the
members of a society may give mutual help in the achievement of ends.
And if, either indirectly by industrial co-operation, or directly
by volunteered aid, fellow-citizens can make easier for one another
the adjustments of acts to ends, then their conduct assumes a still
higher phase of evolution; since whatever facilitates the making of
adjustments by each, increases the totality of the adjustments made,
and serves to render the lives of all more complete.

§ 7. The reader who recalls certain passages in _First Principles_, in
the _Principles of Biology_, and in the _Principles of Psychology_,
will perceive above a restatement, in another form, of generalizations
set forth in those works. Especially will he be reminded of the
proposition that Life is "the definite combination of heterogeneous
changes, both simultaneous and successive, in correspondence with
external co-existences and sequences;" and still more of that abridged
and less specific formula, in which Life is said to be "the continuous
adjustment of internal relations to external relations."

The presentation of the facts here made differs from the presentations
before made, mainly by ignoring the inner part of the correspondence
and attending exclusively to that outer part constituted of visible
actions. But the two are in harmony; and the reader who wishes
further to prepare himself for dealing with our present topic from
the evolution point of view, may advantageously join to the foregoing
more special aspect of the phenomena, the more general aspects before

After this passing remark, I recur to the main proposition set forth in
these two chapters, which has, I think, been fully justified. Guided
by the truth that as the conduct with which Ethics deals is part of
conduct at large, conduct at large must be generally understood before
this part can be specially understood; and guided by the further truth
that to understand conduct at large we must understand the evolution of
conduct, we have been led to see that Ethics has for its subject-matter
that form which universal conduct assumes during the last stages
of its evolution. We have also concluded that these last stages in
the evolution of conduct are those displayed by the highest type of
being, when he is forced, by increase of numbers, to live more and
more in presence of his fellows. And there has followed the corollary
that conduct gains ethical sanction in proportion as the activities,
becoming less and less militant and more and more industrial, are such
as do not necessitate mutual injury or hinderance, but consist with,
and are furthered by, co-operation and mutual aid.

These implications of the Evolution-Hypothesis, we shall now see
harmonize with the leading moral ideas men have otherwise reached.



§ 8. By comparing its meanings in different connections and observing
what they have in common, we learn the essential meaning of a word; and
the essential meaning of a word that is variously applied, may best be
learned by comparing with one another those applications of it which
diverge most widely. Let us thus ascertain what good and bad mean.

In which cases do we distinguish as good, a knife, a gun, a house?
And what trait leads us to speak of a bad umbrella or a bad pair of
boots? The characters here predicted by the words good and bad, are
not intrinsic characters; for apart from human wants, such things
have neither merits nor demerits. We call these articles good or bad
according as they are well or ill adapted to achieve prescribed ends.
The good knife is one which will cut; the good gun is one which carries
far and true; the good house is one which duly yields the shelter,
comfort, and accommodation sought for. Conversely, the badness alleged
of the umbrella or the pair of boots, refers to their failures in
fulfilling the ends of keeping off the rain and comfortably protecting
the feet, with due regard to appearances.

So is it when we pass from inanimate objects to inanimate actions. We
call a day bad in which storms prevent us from satisfying certain of
our desires. A good season is the expression used when the weather has
favored the production of valuable crops.

If from lifeless things and actions we pass to living ones, we
similarly find that these words in their current applications refer
to efficient subservience. The goodness or badness of a pointer or a
hunter, of a sheep or an ox, ignoring all other attributes of these
creatures, refer in the one case to the fitness of their actions for
effecting the ends men use them for, and in the other case to the
qualities of their flesh as adapting it to support human life.

And those doings of men which, morally considered, are indifferent,
we class as good or bad according to their success or failure. A good
jump is a jump which, remoter ends ignored, well achieves the immediate
purpose of a jump; and a stroke at billiards is called good when the
movements are skillfully adjusted to the requirements. Oppositely,
the badness of a walk that is shuffling and an utterance that is
indistinct, is alleged because of the relative non-adaptations of the
acts to the ends.

Thus recognizing the meanings of good and bad as otherwise used, we
shall understand better their meanings as used in characterizing
conduct under its ethical aspects. Here, too, observation shows that
we apply them according as the adjustments of acts to ends are, or are
not, efficient. This truth is somewhat disguised. The entanglement of
social relations is such that men's actions often simultaneously affect
the welfares of self, of offspring, and of fellow-citizens. Hence
results confusion in judging of actions as good or bad; since actions
well fitted to achieve ends of one order, may prevent ends of the other
orders from being achieved Nevertheless, when we disentangle the three
orders of ends, and consider each separately, it becomes clear that the
conduct which achieves each kind of end is regarded as relatively good;
and is regarded as relatively bad if it fails to achieve it.

Take first the primary set of adjustments--those subserving individual
life. Apart from approval or disapproval of his ulterior aims, a man
who fights is said to make a good defense, if his defense is well
adapted for self-preservation; and, the judgments on other aspects
of his conduct remaining the same, he brings down on himself an
unfavorable verdict, in so far as his immediate acts are concerned, if
these are futile. The goodness ascribed to a man of business, as such,
is measured by the activity and ability with which he buys and sells
to advantage; and may co-exist with a hard treatment of dependents
which is reprobated. Though, in repeatedly lending money to a friend
who sinks one loan after another, a man is doing that which, considered
in itself is held praiseworthy; yet, if he does it to the extent of
bringing on his own ruin, he is held blameworthy for a self-sacrifice
carried too far. And thus is it with the opinions we express from hour
to hour on those acts of people around which bear on their health and
personal welfare. "You should not have done that;" is the reproof
given to one who crosses the street amid a dangerous rush of vehicles.
"You ought to have changed your clothes;" is said to another who has
taken cold after getting wet. "You were right to take a receipt;" "you
were wrong to invest without advice;" are common criticisms. All such
approving and disapproving utterances make the tacit assertion that,
other things equal, conduct is right or wrong according as its special
acts, well or ill adjusted to special ends, do or do not further the
general end of self-preservation.

These ethical judgments we pass on self-regarding acts are ordinarily
little emphasized; partly because the promptings of the self-regarding
desires, generally strong enough, do not need moral enforcement, and
partly because the promptings of the other-regarding desires, less
strong, and often overridden, do need moral enforcement. Hence results
a contrast. On turning to that second class of adjustments of acts
to ends which subserve the rearing of offspring, we no longer find
any obscurity in the application of the words good and bad to them,
according as they are efficient or inefficient. The expressions good
nursing and bad nursing, whether they refer to the supply of food, the
quantity and amount of clothing, or the due ministration to infantine
wants from hour to hour, tacitly recognize as special ends which ought
to be fulfilled, the furthering of the vital functions, with a view
to the general end of continued life and growth. A mother is called
good who, ministering to all the physical needs of her children, also
adjusts her behavior in ways conducive to their mental health; and
a bad father is one who either does not provide the necessaries of
life for his family or otherwise acts in a manner injurious to their
bodies or minds. Similarly of the education given to them, or provided
for them. Goodness or badness is affirmed of it (often with little
consistency, however) according as its methods are so adapted to
physical and psychical requirements, as to further the children's lives
for the time being, while preparing them for carrying on complete and
prolonged adult life.

Most emphatic, however, are the applications of the words good and bad
to conduct throughout that third division of it comprising the deeds
by which men affect one another. In maintaining their own lives and
fostering their offspring, men's adjustments of acts to ends are so apt
to hinder the kindred adjustments of other men, that insistance on the
needful limitations has to be perpetual; and the mischiefs caused by
men's interferences with one another's life-subserving actions are so
great that the interdicts have to be peremptory. Hence, the fact that
the words good and bad have come to be specially associated with acts
which further the complete living of others and acts which obstruct
their complete living. Goodness, standing by itself, suggests, above
all other things, the conduct of one who aids the sick in re-acquiring
normal vitality, assists the unfortunate to recover the means of
maintaining themselves, defends those who are threatened with harm in
person, property, or reputation, and aids whatever promises to improve
the living of all his fellows. Contrariwise, badness brings to mind, as
its leading correlative, the conduct of one who, in carrying on his own
life, damages the lives of others by injuring their bodies, destroying
their possessions, defrauding them, calumniating them.

Always, then, acts are called good or bad according as they are well
or ill adjusted to ends; and whatever inconsistency there is in our
uses of the words arises from inconsistency of the ends. Here, however,
the study of conduct in general, and of the evolution of conduct,
have prepared us to harmonize these interpretations. The foregoing
exposition shows that the conduct to which we apply the name good,
is the relatively more evolved conduct; and that bad is the name
we apply to conduct which is relatively less evolved. We saw that
evolution, tending ever toward self-preservation, reaches its limit
when individual life is the greatest, both in length and breadth;
and now we see that, leaving other ends aside, we regard as good the
conduct furthering self-preservation, and as bad the conduct tending
to self-destruction. It was shown that along with increasing power
of maintaining individual life, which evolution brings, there goes
increasing power of perpetuating the species by fostering progeny, and
that in this direction evolution reaches its limit when the needful
number of young, preserved to maturity, are then fit for a life that is
complete in fullness and duration; and here it turns out that parental
conduct is called good or bad as it approaches or falls short of this
ideal result. Lastly, we inferred that establishment of an associated
state, both makes possible and requires a form of conduct such that
life may be completed in each and in his offspring, not only without
preventing completion of it in others, but with furtherance of it in
others; and we have found above, that this is the form of conduct most
emphatically termed good. Moreover, just as we there saw that evolution
becomes the highest possible when the conduct simultaneously achieves
the greatest totality of life in self, in offspring, and in fellow
men; so here we see that the conduct called good rises to the conduct
conceived as best, when it fulfills all three classes of ends at the
same time.

§ 9. Is there any postulate involved in these judgments on conduct?
Is there any assumption made in calling good the acts conducive to
life, in self or others, and bad those which directly or indirectly
tend toward death, special or general? Yes; an assumption of extreme
significance has been made--an assumption underlying all moral

The question to be definitely raised and answered before entering on
any ethical discussion, is the question of late much agitated: Is life
worth living? Shall we take the pessimist view? or shall we take the
optimist view? or shall we, after weighing pessimistic and optimistic
arguments, conclude that the balance is in favor of a qualified

On the answer to this question depends entirely every decision
concerning the goodness or badness of conduct. By those who think life
is not a benefit but a misfortune, conduct which prolongs it is to be
blamed rather than praised; the ending of an undesirable existence
being the thing to be wished, that which causes the ending of it must
be applauded; while actions furthering its continuance, either in self
or others, must be reprobated. Those who, on the other hand, take an
optimistic view, or who, if not pure optimists, yet hold that in life
the good exceeds the evil, are committed to opposite estimates; and
must regard as conduct to be approved that which fosters life in self
and others, and as conduct to be disapproved that which injures or
endangers life in self or others.

The ultimate question, therefore, is: Has evolution been a mistake;
and especially that evolution which improves the adjustment of acts
to ends in ascending stages of organization? If it is held that there
had better not have been any animate existence at all, and that the
sooner it comes to an end the better; then one set of conclusions with
respect to conduct emerges. If, contrariwise, it is held that there
is a balance in favor of animate existence, and if, still further, it
is held that in the future this balance may be increased; then the
opposite set of conclusions emerges. Even should it be alleged that
the worth of life is not to be judged by its intrinsic character, but
rather by its extrinsic sequences--by certain results to be anticipated
when life has passed--the ultimate issue reappears in a new shape. For
though the accompanying creed may negative a deliberate shortening of
life that is miserable, it cannot justify a gratuitous lengthening of
such life. Legislation conducive to increased longevity would, on the
pessimistic view, remain blameable, while it would be praiseworthy on
the optimistic view.

But now, have these irreconcilable opinions anything in common? Men
being divisible into two schools differing on this ultimate question,
the inquiry arises--Is there anything which their radically opposed
views alike take for granted? In the optimistic proposition, tacitly
made when using the words good and bad after the ordinary manner;
and in the pessimistic proposition overtly made, which implies that
the words good and bad should be used in the reverse senses; does
examination disclose any joint proposition--any proposition which,
contained in both of them, may be held more certain than either--any
universally asserted proposition?

§ 10. Yes, there is one postulate in which pessimists and optimists
agree. Both their arguments assume it to be self-evident that life
is good or bad, according as it does, or does not, bring a surplus
of agreeable feeling. The pessimist says he condemns life because
it results in more pain than pleasure. The optimist defends life
in the belief that it brings more pleasure than pain. Each makes
the kind of sentiency which accompanies life the test. They agree
that the justification for life as a state of being, turns on this
issue--whether the average consciousness rises above indifference-point
into pleasurable feeling or falls below it into painful feeling. The
implication common to their antagonist views is, that conduct should
conduce to preservation of the individual, of the family, and of the
society, only supposing that life brings more happiness than misery.

Changing the venue cannot alter the verdict. If either the pessimist,
while saying that the pains of life predominate, or the optimist,
while saying that the pleasures predominate, urges that the pains
borne here are to be compensated by pleasures received hereafter; and
that so life, whether or not justified in its immediate results, is
justified in its ultimate results; the implication remains the same.
The decision is still reached by balancing pleasures against pains.
Animate existence would be judged by both a curse, if to a surplus of
misery borne here were added a surplus of misery to be borne hereafter.
And for either to regard animate existence as a blessing, if here its
pains were held to exceed its pleasures, he must hold that hereafter
its pleasures will exceed its pains. Thus there is no escape from the
admission that in calling good the conduct which subserves life, and
bad the conduct which hinders or destroys it, and in so implying that
life is a blessing and not a curse, we are inevitably asserting that
conduct is good or bad according as its total effects are pleasurable
or painful.

One theory only is imaginable in pursuance of which other
interpretations of good and bad can be given. This theory is that men
were created with the intention that they should be sources of misery
to themselves; and that they are bound to continue living that their
creator may have the satisfaction of contemplating their misery.
Though this is not a theory avowedly entertained by many--though
it is not formulated by any in this distinct way; yet not a few do
accept it under a disguised form. Inferior creeds are pervaded by the
belief that the sight of suffering is pleasing to the gods. Derived
from bloodthirsty ancestors, such gods are naturally conceived as
gratified by the infliction of pain: when living they delighted in
torturing other beings; and witnessing torture is supposed still to
give them delight. The implied conceptions long survive. It needs but
to name Indian fakirs who hang on hooks, and Eastern dervishes who
gash themselves, to show that in societies considerably advanced are
still to be found many who think that submission to anguish brings
divine favor. And without enlarging on facts and penances, it will
be clear that there has existed, and still exists, among Christian
peoples, the belief that the Deity whom Jephthah thought to propitiate
by sacrificing his daughter, may be propitiated by self-inflicted
pains. Further, the conception accompanying this, that acts pleasing
to self are offensive to God, has survived along with it, and still
widely prevails; if not in formulated dogmas, yet in beliefs that are
manifestly operative.

Doubtless, in modern days such beliefs have assumed qualified forms.
The satisfactions which ferocious gods were supposed to feel in
contemplating tortures, has been, in large measure, transformed into
the satisfaction felt by a deity in contemplating that self-infliction
of pain which is held to further eventual happiness. But clearly
those who entertain this modified view, are excluded from the class
whose position we are here considering. Restricting ourselves to this
class--supposing that from the savage who immolates victims to a
cannibal god, there are descendants among the civilized, who hold that
mankind were made for suffering, and that it is their duty to continue
living in misery for the delight of their maker, we can only recognize
the fact that devil-worshipers are not yet extinct.

Omitting people of this class, if there are any, as beyond or beneath
argument, we find that all others avowedly or tacitly hold that the
final justification for maintaining life can only be the reception from
it of a surplus of pleasurable feeling over painful feeling; and that
goodness or badness can be ascribed to acts which subserve life or
hinder life only on this supposition.

And here we are brought round to those primary meanings of the words
good and bad, which we passed over when considering their secondary
meanings. For on remembering that we call good and bad the things which
immediately produce agreeable and disagreeable sensations, and also
the sensations themselves--a good wine, a good appetite, a bad smell,
a bad headache--we see that by referring directly to pleasures and
pains, these meanings harmonize with those which indirectly refer to
pleasures and pains. If we call good the enjoyable state itself, as a
good laugh--if we call good the proximate cause of an enjoyable state,
as good music--if we call good any agent which conduces immediately or
remotely to an enjoyable state, as a good shop, a good teacher--if we
call good considered intrinsically, each act so adjusted to its end as
to further self-preservation and that surplus of enjoyment which makes
self-preservation desirable--if we call good every kind of conduct
which aids the lives of others, and do this under the belief that life
brings more happiness than misery; then it becomes undeniable that,
taking into account immediate and remote effects on all persons, the
good is universally the pleasurable.

§ 11. Sundry influences--moral, theological, and political--conspire
to make people disguise from themselves this truth. As in narrower
cases so in this widest case, they become so pre-occupied with the
means by which an end is achieved, as eventually to mistake it for the
end. Just as money, which is the means of satisfying wants, comes to
be regarded by a miser as the sole thing to be worked for, leaving the
wants unsatisfied; so the conduct men have found preferable because
most conducive to happiness has come to be thought of as intrinsically
preferable, not only to be made a proximate end (which it should be),
but to be made an ultimate end, to the exclusion of the true ultimate
end. And yet cross-examination quickly compels every one to confess
the true ultimate end. Just as the miser, asked to justify himself, is
obliged to allege the power of money to purchase desirable things, as
his reason for prizing it; so the moralist who thinks this conduct
intrinsically good and that intrinsically bad, if pushed home, has
no choice but to fall back on their pleasure-giving and pain-giving
effects. To prove this it needs but to observe how impossible it would
be to think of them as we do, if their effects were reversed.

Suppose that gashes and bruises caused agreeable sensations, and
brought in their train increased power of doing work and receiving
enjoyment; should we regard assault in the same manner as at present?
Or suppose that self-mutilation, say by cutting off a hand, was both
intrinsically pleasant and furthered performance of the processes by
which personal welfare and the welfare of dependents is achieved;
should we hold as now, that deliberate injury to one's own body is to
be reprobated? Or again, suppose that picking a man's pocket excited
in him joyful emotions, by brightening his prospects; would theft be
counted among crimes, as in existing law-books and moral codes? In
these extreme cases, no one can deny that what we call the badness of
actions is ascribed to them solely for the reason that they entail
pain, immediate or remote, and would not be so ascribed did they entail

If we examine our conceptions on their obverse side, this general
fact forces itself on our attention with equal distinctness. Imagine
that ministering to a sick person always increased the pains of
illness. Imagine that an orphan's relatives who took charge of it,
thereby necessarily brought miseries upon it. Imagine that liquidating
another man's pecuniary claims on you redounded to his disadvantage.
Imagine that crediting a man with noble behavior hindered his social
welfare and consequent gratification. What should we say to these
acts which now fall into the class we call praiseworthy? Should we not
contrariwise class them as blameworthy?

Using, then, as our tests, these most pronounced forms of good and bad
conduct, we find it unquestionable that our ideas of their goodness
and badness really originate from our consciousness of the certainty
or probability that they will produce pleasures or pains somewhere.
And this truth is brought out with equal clearness by examining the
standards of different moral schools; for analysis shows that every
one of them derives its authority from this ultimate standard. Ethical
systems are roughly distinguishable according as they take for their
cardinal ideas (1) the character of the agent; (2) the nature of
his motive; (3) the quality of his deeds; and (4) the results. Each
of these may be characterized as good or bad; and those who do not
estimate a mode of life by its effects on happiness, estimate it by
the implied goodness or badness in the agent, in his motive, or in
his deeds. We have perfection in the agent set up as a test by which
conduct is to be judged. Apart from the agent we have his feeling
considered as moral. And apart from the feeling we have his action
considered as virtuous.

Though the distinctions thus indicated have so little definiteness that
the words marking them are used interchangeably, yet there correspond
to them doctrines partially unlike one another; which we may here
conveniently examine separately, with the view of showing that all
their tests of goodness are derivative.

§ 12. It is strange that a notion so abstract as that of perfection,
or a certain ideal completeness of nature, should ever have been
thought one from which a system of guidance can be evolved; as it was
in a general way by Plato and more distinctly by Jonathan Edwardes.
Perfection is synonymous with goodness in the highest degree; and,
hence, to define good conduct in terms of perfection, is indirectly
to define good conduct in terms of itself. Naturally, therefore, it
happens that the notion of perfection like the notion of goodness can
be framed only in relation to ends.

We allege imperfection of any inanimate thing, as a tool, if it
lacks some part needful for effectual action, or if some part is so
shaped as not to fulfill its purpose in the best manner. Perfection
is alleged of a watch if it keeps exact time, however plain its case;
and imperfection is alleged of it because of inaccurate time-keeping,
however beautifully it is ornamented. Though we call things imperfect
if we detect in them any injuries or flaws, even when these do not
detract from efficiency; yet we do this because they imply that
inferior workmanship, or that wear and tear, with which inefficiency
is commonly joined in experience: absence of minor imperfections being
habitually associated with absence of major imperfections.

As applied to living things, the word perfection has the same meaning.
The idea of perfect shape in a race-horse is derived by generalization
from those observed traits of race-horses which have usually gone
along with attainment of the highest speed; and the idea of perfect
constitution in a race-horse similarly refers to the endurance which
enables him to continue that speed for the longest time. With men,
physically considered, it is the same: we are able to furnish no other
test of perfection than that of complete power in all the organs to
fulfill their respective functions. That our conception of perfect
balance among the internal parts, and of perfect proportion among
the external parts, originates thus, is made clear by observing that
imperfection of any viscus, as lungs, heart, or liver, is ascribed
for no other reason than inability to meet in full the demands which
the activities of the organism make on it; and on observing that the
conception of insufficient size, or of too great size, in a limb, is
derived from accumulated experiences respecting that ratio among the
limbs which furthers in the highest degree the performance of all
needful actions.

And of perfection in mental nature we have no other measure. If
imperfection of memory, of judgment, of temper, is alleged, it is
alleged because of inadequacy to the requirements of life; and to
imagine a perfect balance of the intellectual powers and of the
emotions, is to imagine that proportion among them which ensures an
entire discharge of each and every obligation as the occasion calls for

So that the perfection of man considered as an agent, means the being
constituted for effecting complete adjustment of acts to ends of
every kind. And since, as shown above, the complete adjustment of
acts to ends is that which both secures and constitutes the life that
is most evolved, alike in breadth and length; while, as also shown,
the justification for whatever increases life is the reception from
life of more happiness than misery; it follows that conduciveness to
happiness is the ultimate test of perfection in a man's nature. To be
fully convinced of this it needs but to observe how the proposition
looks when inverted. It needs but to suppose that every approach toward
perfection involved greater misery to self, or others, or both, to
show by opposition that approach to perfection really means approach to
that which secures greater happiness.

§ 13. Pass we now from the view of those who make excellence of being
the standard to the view of those who make virtuousness of action
the standard. I do not here refer to moralists who, having decided
empirically or rationally, inductively or deductively, that acts of
certain kinds have the character we call virtuous, argue that such
acts are to be performed without regard to proximate consequences:
these have ample justification. But I refer to moralists who suppose
themselves to have conceptions of virtue as an end, underived from any
other end, who think that the idea of virtue is not resolvable into
simpler ideas.

This is the doctrine which appears to have been entertained by
Aristotle. I say, appears to have been, because his statements are far
from consistent with one another. Recognizing happiness as the supreme
end of human endeavor, it would at first sight seem that he cannot be
taken as typical of those who make virtue the supreme end. Yet he puts
himself in this category by seeking to define happiness in terms of
virtue, instead of defining virtue in terms of happiness. The imperfect
separation of words from things, which characterizes Greek speculation
in general, seems to have been the cause of this. In primitive thought
the name and the object named are associated in such wise that the
one is regarded as a part of the other--so much so, that knowing a
savage's name is considered by him as having some of his being, and a
consequent power to work evil on him. This belief in a real connection
between word and thing, continuing through lower stages of progress,
and long surviving in the tacit assumption that the meanings of words
are intrinsic, pervades the dialogues of Plato, and is traceable even
in Aristotle. For otherwise it is not easy to see why he should have
so incompletely disassociated the abstract idea of happiness from
particular forms of happiness.

Naturally where the divorcing of words as symbols, from things as
symbolized, is imperfect, there must be difficulty in giving to
abstract words a sufficiently abstract meaning. If in the first stages
of language the concrete name cannot be separated in thought from the
concrete object it belongs to, it is inferable that in the course of
forming successively higher grades of abstract names, there will have
to be resisted the tendency to interpret each more abstract name in
terms of some one class of the less abstract names it covers. Hence,
I think, the fact that Aristotle supposes happiness to be associated
with some one order of human activities, rather than with all orders of
human activities. Instead of including in it the pleasurable feelings
accompanying actions that constitute mere living, which actions he says
man has in common with vegetables; and instead of making it include
the mental states which the life of external perception yields, which
he says man has in common with animals at large, he excludes these
from his idea of happiness, and includes in it only the modes of
consciousness accompanying rational life. Asserting that the proper
work of man "consists in the active exercise of the mental capacities
conformably to reason," he concludes that "the supreme good of man
will consist in performing this work with excellence or virtue: herein
he will obtain happiness." And he finds confirmation for his view in
its correspondence with views previously enunciated; saying, "our
notion nearly agrees with theirs who place happiness in virtue; for we
say that it consists in the action of virtue; that is, not merely in
the possession, but in the use."

Now the implied belief that virtue can be defined otherwise than in
terms of happiness (for else the proposition is that happiness is
to be obtained by actions conducive to happiness) is allied to the
Platonic belief that there is an ideal or absolute good, which gives
to particular and relative goods their property of goodness; and
an argument analogous to that which Aristotle uses against Plato's
conception of good, may be used against his own conception of virtue.
As with good so with virtue--it is not singular but plural: in
Aristotle's own classification, virtue, when treated of at large, is
transformed into virtues. Those which he calls virtues must be so
called in consequence of some common character that is either intrinsic
or extrinsic. We may class things together either because they are made
alike by all having in themselves some peculiarity, as we do vertebrate
animals because they all have vertebral columns; or we may class them
together because of some community in their outer relations, as when we
group saws, knives, mallets, harrows, under the head of tools. Are the
virtues classed as such because of some intrinsic community of nature?
Then there must be identifiable a common trait in all the cardinal
virtues which Aristotle specifies, "Courage, Temperance, Liberality,
Magnanimity, Magnificence, Meekness, Amiability or Friendliness,
Truthfulness, Justice." What now is the trait possessed in common
by Magnificence and Meekness? and if any such common trait can be
disentangled, is it that which also constitutes the essential trait
in Truthfulness? The answer must be, No. The virtues, then, not being
classed as such because of an intrinsic community of character, must
be classed as such because of something extrinsic; and this something
can be nothing else than the happiness which Aristotle says consists in
the practice of them. They are united by their common relation to this
result; while they are not united by their inner natures.

Perhaps still more clearly may the inference be drawn thus: If virtue
is primordial and independent, no reason can be given why there should
be any correspondence between virtuous conduct and conduct that is
pleasure-giving in its total effects on self, or others, or both; and
if there is not a necessary correspondence, it is conceivable that
the conduct classed as virtuous should be pain-giving in its total
effects. That we may see the consequence of so conceiving it, let us
take the two virtues considered as typically such in ancient times
and in modern times--courage and chastity. By the hypothesis, then,
courage, displayed alike in self-defence and in defence of country,
is to be conceived as not only entailing pains incidentally, but as
being necessarily a cause of misery to the individual and to the
state; while, by implication, the absence of it redounds to personal
and general well-being. Similarly, by the hypothesis, we have to
conceive that irregular sexual relations are directly and indirectly
beneficial--that adultery is conducive to domestic harmony and the
careful rearing of children; while marital relations, in proportion
as they are persistent, generate discord between husband and wife and
entail on their offspring, suffering, disease and death. Unless it
is asserted that courage and chastity could still be thought of as
virtues though thus productive of misery, it must be admitted that
the conception of virtue cannot be separated from the conception of
happiness-producing conduct; and that as this holds of all the virtues,
however otherwise unlike, it is from their conduciveness to happiness
that they come to be classed as virtues.

§ 14. When from those ethical estimates which take perfection of
nature, or virtuousness of action, as tests, we pass to those which
take for test rectitude of motive, we approach the intuitional theory
of morals; and we may conveniently deal with such estimates by a
criticism on this theory.

By the intuitional theory I here mean, not that which recognizes
as produced by the inherited effects of continued experiences, the
feelings of liking and aversion we have to acts of certain kinds; but
I mean the theory which regards such feelings as divinely given, and
as independent of results experienced by self or ancestors. "There
is, therefore," says Hutcheson, "as each one by close attention and
reflection may convince himself, a natural and immediate determination
to approve certain affections and actions consequent upon them;" and
since, in common with others of his time, he believes in the special
creation of man, and all other beings, this "natural sense of immediate
excellence" he considers as a supernaturally derived guide. Though
he says that the feelings and acts thus intuitively recognized as
good, "all agree in one general character, of tending to the happiness
of others;" yet he is obliged to conceive this as a pre-ordained
correspondence. Nevertheless, it may be shown that conduciveness to
happiness, here represented as an incidental trait of the acts which
receive these innate moral approvals, is really the test by which these
approvals are recognized as moral. The intuitionists place confidence
in these verdicts of conscience simply because they vaguely, if not
distinctly, perceive them to be consonant with the disclosures of that
ultimate test. Observe the proof.

By the hypothesis, the wrongness of murder is known by a moral
intuition which the human mind was originally constituted to yield; and
the hypothesis, therefore, negatives the admission that this sense of
its wrongness arises, immediately or remotely, from the consciousness
that murder involves deduction from happiness, directly and indirectly.
But if you ask an adherent of this doctrine to contrast his intuition
with that of the Fijian, who, considering murder an honorable action,
is restless until he has distinguished himself by killing some one;
and if you inquire of him in what way the civilized intuition is to
be justified in opposition to the intuition of the savage, no course
is open save that of showing how conformity to the one conduces to
well-being, while conformity to the other entails suffering, individual
and general. When asked why the moral sense which tells him that it is
wrong to take another man's goods, should be obeyed rather than the
moral sense of a Turcoman, who proves how meritorious he considers
theft to be by making pilgrimages to the tombs of noted robbers
to make offerings, the intuitionist can do nothing but urge that,
certainly under conditions like ours, if not also under conditions like
those of the Turcomans, disregard of men's claims to their property
not only inflicts immediate misery, but involves a social state
inconsistent with happiness. Or if, again, there is required from him
a justification for his feeling of repugnance to lying, in contrast
with the feeling of an Egyptian, who prides himself on skill in lying
(even thinking it praiseworthy to deceive without any further end
than that of practicing deception), he can do no more than point to
the social prosperity furthered by entire trust between man and man,
and the social disorganization that follows universal untruthfulness,
consequences that are necessarily conducive to agreeable feelings and
disagreeable feelings respectively.

The unavoidable conclusion is, then, that the intuitionist does not,
and cannot, ignore the ultimate derivations of right and wrong from
pleasure and pain. However much he may be guided, and rightly guided,
by the decisions of conscience respecting the characters of acts, he
has come to have confidence in these decisions because he perceives,
vaguely but positively, that conformity to them furthers the welfare
of himself and others, and that disregard of them entails in the long
run suffering on all. Require him to name any moral-sense judgment by
which he knows as right some kind of act that will bring a surplus of
pain, taking into account the totals in this life and in any assumed
other life, and you find him unable to name one: a fact proving that
underneath all these intuitions respecting the goodness or badness
of acts there lies the fundamental assumption that acts are good or
bad according as their aggregate effects increase men's happiness or
increase their misery.

§ 14. It is curious to see how the devil-worship of the savage,
surviving in various disguises among the civilized, and leaving as
one of its products that asceticism which in many forms and degrees
still prevails widely, is to be found influencing in marked ways men
who have apparently emancipated themselves, not only from primitive
superstitions but from more developed superstitions. Views of life and
conduct which originated with those who propitiated deified ancestors
by self-tortures enter even still into the ethical theories of many
persons who have years since cast away the theology of the past, and
suppose themselves to be no longer influenced by it.

In the writings of one who rejects dogmatic Christianity, together
with the Hebrew cult which preceded it, a career of conquest costing
tens of thousands of lives is narrated with a sympathy comparable to
that rejoicing which the Hebrew traditions show us over destruction
of enemies in the name of God. You may find, too, a delight in
contemplating the exercise of despotic power, joined with insistance
on the salutariness of a state in which the wills of slaves and
citizens are humbly subject to the wills of masters and rulers--a
sentiment also reminding us of that ancient Oriental life which
biblical narratives portray. Along with this worship of the strong
man--along with this justification of whatever force may be needed for
carrying out his ambition--along with this yearning for a form of
society in which supremacy of the few is unrestrained and the virtue
of the many consists in obedience to them, we not unnaturally find
repudiation of the ethical theory which takes, in some shape or other,
the greatest happiness as the end of conduct: we not unnaturally find
this utilitarian philosophy designated by the contemptuous title of
"pig-philosophy." And then, serving to show what comprehension there
has been of the philosophy so nicknamed, we are told that not happiness
but blessedness must be the end.

Obviously, the implication is that blessedness is not a kind of
happiness; and this implication at once suggests the question--What
mode of feeling is it? If it is a state of consciousness at all, it is
necessarily one of three states--painful, indifferent, or pleasurable.
Does it leave the possessor at the zero point of sentiency? Then it
leaves him just as he would be if he had not got it. Does it not leave
him at the zero point? Then it must leave him below zero or above zero.

Each of these possibilities may be conceived under two forms. That
to which the term blessedness is applied may be a particular state
of consciousness--one among the many states that occur; and on this
supposition we have to recognize it as a pleasurable state, an
indifferent state, or a painful state. Otherwise, blessedness is
a word not applicable to a particular state of consciousness, but
characterizes the aggregate of its states; and in this case the average
of the aggregate is to be conceived as one in which the pleasurable
predominates, or one in which the painful predominates, or one in which
pleasures and pains exactly cancel one another. Let us take in turn
these two imaginable applications of the word.

"Blessed are the merciful;" "Blessed are the peacemakers;" "Blessed is
he that considereth the poor;" are sayings which we may fairly take
as conveying the accepted meaning of blessedness. What now shall we
say of one who is, for the time being, blessed in performing an act
of mercy? Is his mental state pleasurable? If so the hypothesis is
abandoned: blessedness is a particular form of happiness. Is the state
indifferent or painful? In that case the blessed man is so devoid
of sympathy that relieving another from pain, or the fear of pain,
leaves him either wholly unmoved, or gives him an unpleasant emotion.
Again, if one who is blessed in making peace receives no gratification
from the act, then seeing men injure each other does not affect him
at all, or gives him a pleasure which is changed into a pain when he
prevents the injury. Once more, to say that the blessedness of one who
"considereth the poor" implies no agreeable feeling, is to say that his
consideration for the poor leaves him without feeling or entails on him
a disagreeable feeling. So that if blessedness is a particular mode of
consciousness temporarily existing as a concomitant of each kind of
beneficent action, those who deny that it is a pleasure, or constituent
of happiness, confess themselves either not pleased by the welfare of
others or displeased by it.

Otherwise understood, blessedness must, as we have seen, refer to the
totality of feelings experienced during the life of one who occupies
himself with the actions the word connotes. This also presents the
three possibilities--surplus of pleasures, surplus of pains, equality
of the two. If the pleasurable states are in excess, then the blessed
life can be distinguished from any other pleasurable life only by
the relative amount, or the quality, of its pleasures: it is a life
which makes happiness of a certain kind and degree its end; and the
assumption that blessedness is not a form of happiness, lapses. If
the blessed life is one in which the pleasures and the pains received
balance one another, so producing an average that is indifferent; or
if it is one in which the pleasures are outbalanced by the pains, then
the blessed life has the character which the pessimist alleges of life
at large, and therefore regards it as cursed. Annihilation is best, he
will argue, since if an average that is indifferent is the outcome of
the blessed life, annihilation at once achieves it; and if a surplus of
suffering is the outcome of this highest kind of life called blessed,
still more should life in general be ended.

A possible rejoinder must be named and disposed of. While it is
admitted that the particular kind of consciousness accompanying conduct
that is blessed, is pleasurable, it may be contended that pursuance
of this conduct and receipt of the pleasure, brings by the implied
self-denial, and persistent effort, and perhaps bodily injury, a
suffering that exceeds it in amount. And it may then be urged that
blessedness, characterized by this excess of aggregate pains over
aggregate pleasures, should nevertheless be pursued as an end, rather
than the happiness constituted by excess of pleasures over pains. But
now, defensible though this conception of blessedness may be when
limited to one individual, or some individuals, it becomes indefensible
when extended to all individuals; as it must be if blessedness is taken
for the end of conduct. To see this we need but ask for what purpose
are these pains in excess of pleasures to be borne. Blessedness being
the ideal state for all persons, and the self-sacrifices made by each
person in pursuance of this ideal state, having for their end to
help all other persons in achieving the like ideal state, it results
that the blessed though painful state of each, is to be acquired by
furthering the like blessed though painful states of others: the
blessed consciousness is to be constituted by the contemplation of
their consciousnesses in a condition of average suffering. Does any
one accept this inference? If not, his rejection of it involves the
admission that the motive for bearing pains in performing acts called
blessed, is not the obtaining for others like pains of blessedness, but
the obtaining of pleasures for others, and that thus pleasure somewhere
is the tacitly implied ultimate end.

In brief, then, blessedness has for its necessary condition of
existence, increased happiness, positive or negative, in some
consciousness or other, and disappears utterly if we assume that the
actions called blessed are known to cause decrease of happiness in
others as well as in the actor.

§ 15. To make clear the meaning of the general argument set forth in
this chapter, its successive parts must be briefly summarized.

That which in the last chapter we found to be highly-evolved conduct,
is that which, in this chapter, we find to be what is called good
conduct; and the ideal goal to the natural evolution of conduct there
recognized we here recognize as the ideal standard of conduct ethically

The acts adjusted to ends which, while constituting the outer visible
life from moment to moment further the continuance of life, we saw
become, as evolution progresses, better adjusted, until finally they
make the life of each individual entire in length and breadth, at the
same time that they efficiently subserve the rearing of young, and do
both these, not only without hindering other individuals from doing
the like, but while giving aid to them in doing the like. And here
we see that goodness is asserted of such conduct under each of these
three aspects. Other things equal, well-adjusted, self-conserving acts
we call good; other things equal, we call good the acts that are well
adjusted for bringing up progeny capable of complete living; and other
things equal, we ascribe goodness to acts which further the complete
living of others.

This judging as good, conduct which conduces to life in each and all,
we found to involve the assumption that animate existence is desirable.
By the pessimist, conduct which subserves life cannot consistently
be called good: to call it good implies some form of optimism. We
saw, however, that pessimists and optimists both start with the
postulate that life is a blessing or a curse, according as the average
consciousness accompanying it is pleasurable or painful. And since
avowed or implied pessimists, and optimists of one or other shade,
taken together constitute all men, it results that this postulate
is universally accepted. Whence it follows that if we call good the
conduct conducive to life, we can do so only with the implication that
it is conducive to a surplus of pleasures over pains.

The truth that conduct is considered by us as good or bad, according
as its aggregate results, to self or others or both, are pleasurable
or painful, we found on examination to be involved in all the
current judgments on conduct: the proof being that reversing the
applications of the words creates absurdities. And we found that every
other proposed standard of conduct derives its authority from this
standard. Whether perfection of nature is the assigned proper aim, or
virtuousness of action, or rectitude of motive, we saw that definition
of the perfection, the virtue, the rectitude, inevitably brings us down
to happiness experienced in some form, at some time, by some person, as
the fundamental idea. Nor could we discover any intelligible conception
of blessedness, save one which implies a raising of consciousness,
individual or general, to a happier state; either by mitigating pains
or increasing pleasures.

Even with those who judge of conduct from the religious point of view,
rather than from the ethical point of view, it is the same. Men who
seek to propitiate God by inflicting pains on themselves, or refrain
from pleasures to avoid offending him, do so to escape greater ultimate
pains or to get greater ultimate pleasures. If by positive or negative
suffering here, they expected to achieve more suffering hereafter, they
would not do as they do. That which they now think duty they would not
think duty if it promised eternal misery instead of eternal happiness.
Nay, if there be any who believe that human beings were created to
be unhappy, and that they ought to continue living to display their
unhappiness for the satisfaction of their creator, such believers are
obliged to use this standard of judgment; for the pleasure of their
diabolical god is the end to be achieved.

So that no school can avoid taking for the ultimate moral aim a
desirable state of feeling called by whatever name--gratification,
enjoyment, happiness. Pleasure somewhere, at some time, to some being
or beings, is an inexpugnable element of the conception. It is as much
a necessary form of moral intuition as space is a necessary form of
intellectual intuition.



§ 17. Intellectual progress is by no one trait so adequately
characterized as by development of the idea of causation, since
development of this idea involves development of so many other ideas.
Before any way can be made, thought and language must have advanced
far enough to render properties or attributes thinkable as such,
apart from objects; which, in low stages of human intelligence, they
are not. Again, even the simplest notion of cause, as we understand
it, can be reached only after many like instances have been grouped
into a simple generalization; and through all ascending steps, higher
notions of causation imply wider notions of generality. Further, as
there must be clustered in the mind concrete causes of many kinds
before there can emerge the conception of cause, apart from particular
causes, it follows that progress in abstractness of thought is implied.
Concomitantly, there is implied the recognition of constant relations
among phenomena, generating ideas of uniformity of sequence and of
co-existence--the idea of natural law. These advances can go on only as
fast as perceptions and resulting thoughts are made definite by the use
of measures, serving to familiarize the mind with exact correspondence,
truth, certainty. And only when growing science accumulates examples
of quantitative relations, foreseen and verified, throughout a
widening range of phenomena, does causation come to be conceived as
necessary and universal. So that though all these cardinal conceptions
aid one another in developing, we may properly say that the conception
of causation especially depends for its development on the development
of the rest; and therefore is the best measure of intellectual
development at large.

How slowly, as a consequence of its dependence, the conception of
causation evolves, a glance at the evidence shows. We hear with
surprise of the savage who, falling down a precipice, ascribes the
failure of his foothold to a malicious demon; and we smile at the
kindred notion of the ancient Greek, that his death was prevented by
a goddess who unfastened for him the thong of the helmet by which his
enemy was dragging him. But daily, without surprise, we hear men who
describe themselves as saved from shipwreck by "divine interposition,"
who speak of having "providentially" missed a train which met with a
fatal disaster, and who called it a "mercy" to have escaped injury
from a falling chimney-pot--men who, in such cases, recognize physical
causation no more than do the uncivilized or semi-civilized. The Veddah
who thinks that failure to hit an animal with his arrow resulted
from inadequate invocation of an ancestral spirit, and the Christian
priest who says prayers over a sick man in the expectation that the
course of his disease will so be stayed, differ only in respect of the
agent from whom they expect supernatural aid and the phenomena to be
altered by him: the necessary relations among causes and effects are
tacitly ignored by the last as much as by the first. Deficient belief
in causation is, indeed, exemplified even in those whose discipline
has been specially fitted to generate this belief--even in men of
science. For a generation after geologists had become uniformitarians
in Geology, they remained catastrophists in Biology: while recognizing
none but natural agencies in the genesis of the earth's crust, they
ascribed to supernatural agency the genesis of the organisms on its
surface. Nay more--among those who are convinced that living things
in general have been evolved by the continued interaction of forces
everywhere operating, there are some who make an exception of man; or
who, if they admit that his body has been evolved in the same manner
as the bodies of other creatures, allege that his mind has been not
evolved but specially created. If, then, universal and necessary
causation is only now approaching full recognition, even by those whose
investigations are daily re-illustrating it, we may expect to find it
very little recognized among men at large, whose culture has not been
calculated to impress them with it; and we may expect to find it least
recognized by them in respect of those classes of phenomena amid which,
in consequence of their complexity, causation is most difficult to
trace--the psychical, the social, the moral.

Why do I here make these reflections on what seems an irrelevant
subject? I do it because on studying the various ethical theories I am
struck with the fact that they are all characterized either by entire
absence of the idea of causation, or by inadequate presence of it.
Whether theological, political, intuitional, or utilitarian, they all
display, if not in the same degree, still, each in a large degree, the
defects which result from this lack. We will consider them in the order

§ 18. The school of morals properly to be considered as the still
extant representative of the most ancient school, is that which
recognizes no other rule of conduct than the alleged will of God. It
originates with the savage whose only restraint beyond fear of his
fellow man, is fear of an ancestral spirit; and whose notion of moral
duty as distinguished from his notion of social prudence, arises from
this fear. Here the ethical doctrine and the religious doctrine are
identical--have in no degree differentiated.

This primitive form of ethical doctrine, changed only by the gradual
dying out of multitudinous minor supernatural agents and accompanying
development of one universal supernatural agent, survives in great
strength down to our own day. Religious creeds, established and
dissenting, all embody the belief that right and wrong are right and
wrong simply in virtue of divine enactment. And this tacit assumption
has passed from systems of theology into systems of morality; or
rather let us say that moral systems in early stages of development,
little differentiated from the accompanying theological systems, have
participated in this assumption. We see this in the works of the
Stoics, as well as in the works of certain Christian moralists. Among
recent ones I may instance the _Essays on the Principles of Morality_,
by Jonathan Dymond, a Quaker, which makes "the authority of the Deity
the sole ground of duty, and His communicated will the only ultimate
standard of right and wrong." Nor is it by writers belonging to so
relatively unphilosophical a sect only that this view is held; it is
held with a difference by writers belonging to sects contrariwise
distinguished. For these assert that in the absence of belief in a
deity, there would be no moral guidance; and this amounts to asserting
that moral truths have no other origin than the will of God, which, if
not considered as revealed in sacred writings, must be considered as
revealed in conscience.

This assumption, when examined, proves to be suicidal. If there are
no other origins for right and wrong than this enunciated or intuited
divine will, then, as alleged, were there no knowledge of the divine
will, the acts now known as wrong would not be known as wrong. But if
men did not know such acts to be wrong because contrary to the divine
will, and so, in committing them, did not offend by disobedience;
and, if they could not otherwise know them to be wrong, then they
might commit them indifferently with the acts now classed as right:
the results, practically considered, would be the same. In so far as
secular matters are concerned, there would be no difference between
the two; for to say that in the affairs of life any evils would arise
from continuing to do the acts called wrong, and ceasing to do the
acts called right, is to say that these produce in themselves certain
mischievous consequences and certain beneficial consequences; which is
to say there is another source for moral rules than the revealed or
inferred divine will: they may be established by induction from these
observed consequences.

From this implication I see no escape. It must be either admitted or
denied that the acts called good and the acts called bad, naturally
conduce, the one to human well-being and the other to human ill-being.
Is it admitted? Then the admission amounts to an assertion that the
conduciveness is shown by experience; and this involves abandonment
of the doctrine that there is no origin for morals apart from divine
injunctions. Is it denied that acts classed as good and bad differ in
their effect? Then it is tacitly affirmed that human affairs would go
on just as well in ignorance of the distinction; and the alleged need
for commandments from God disappears.

And here we see how entirely wanting is the conception of cause. This
notion that such and such actions are made respectively good and bad
simply by divine injunction, is tantamount to the notion that such and
such actions have not in the nature of things such and such kinds of
effects. If there is not an unconsciousness of causation there is an
ignoring of it.

§ 19. Following Plato and Aristotle, who make State enactments the
sources of right and wrong; and following Hobbes, who holds that there
can be neither justice nor injustice till a regularly constituted
coercive power exists to issue and enforce commands; not a few modern
thinkers hold that there is no other origin for good and bad in conduct
than law. And this implies the belief that moral obligation originates
with acts of parliament, and can be changed this way or that way by
majorities. They ridicule the idea that men have any natural rights,
and allege that rights are wholly results of convention: the necessary
implication being that duties are so too. Before considering whether
this theory coheres with outside truths, let us observe how far it is
coherent within itself.

In pursuance of his argument that rights and duties originate with
established social arrangements, Hobbes says:

  "Where no covenant hath proceeded, there hath no right been
  transferred, and every man has a right to everything; and
  consequently, no action can be unjust. But when a covenant is made,
  then to break it is _unjust_; and the definitions of _injustice_
  is no other than _the not performance of covenant_. And whatsoever
  is not unjust, is _just_. Therefore, before the names of just and
  unjust can have place, there must be some coercive power to compel
  men equally to the performance of their covenants, by the terror of
  some punishment greater than the benefit they expect by the breach of
  their covenant."[A]

In this paragraph the essential propositions are: justice is
fulfillment of covenant; fulfillment of covenant implies a power
of enforcing it: "just and unjust _can_ have no place" unless men
are compelled to perform their covenants. But this is to say that
men _cannot_ perform their covenants without compulsion. Grant that
justice is performance of covenant. Now suppose it to be performed
voluntarily: there is justice. In such case, however, there is justice
in the absence of coercion; which is contrary to the hypothesis. The
only conceivable rejoinder is an absurd one--voluntary performance of
covenant is impossible. Assert this, and the doctrine that right and
wrong come into existence with the establishment of sovereignty is
defensible. Decline to assert it, and the doctrine vanishes.

From inner incongruities pass now to outer ones. The justification
for his doctrine of absolute civil authority as the source of rules
of conduct, Hobbes seeks in the miseries entailed by the chronic war
between man and man which must exist in the absence of society; holding
that under any kind of government a better life is possible than in
the state of nature. Now whether we accept the gratuitous and baseless
theory that men surrendered their liberties to a sovereign power of
some kind, with a view to the promised increase of satisfactions;
or whether we accept the rational theory, inductively based, that a
state of political subordination gradually became established through
experience of the increased satisfactions derived under it; it equally
remains obvious that the acts of the sovereign power have no other
warrant than their subservience to the purpose for which it came into
existence. The necessities which initiate government, themselves
prescribe the actions of government. If its actions do not respond to
the necessities, they are unwarranted. The authority of law is, then,
by the hypothesis, derived; and can never transcend the authority of
that from which it is derived. If general good, or welfare, or utility,
is the supreme end, and if State enactments are justified as means to
this supreme end, then, State enactments have such authority only as
arises from conduciveness to this supreme end. When they are right,
it is only because the original authority endorses them; and they are
wrong if they do not bear its endorsement. That is to say, conduct
cannot be made good or bad by law; but its goodness or badness is to
the last determined by its effects as naturally furthering, or not
furthering, the lives of citizens.

Still more when considered in the concrete, than when considered in
the abstract, do the views of Hobbes and his disciples prove to be
inconsistent. Joining in the general belief that without such security
for life as enables men to go fearlessly about their business, there
can be neither happiness nor prosperity, individual or general, they
agree that measures for preventing murder, manslaughter, assault,
etc., are requisite; and they advocate this or that penal system as
furnishing the best deterrents: so arguing, both in respect of the
evils and the remedies, that such and such causes will, by the nature
of things, produce such and such effects. They recognize as inferable
_à priori_, the truth that men will not lay by property unless they
can count with great probability on reaping advantages from it; that
consequently where robbery is unchecked, or where a rapacious ruler
appropriates whatever earnings his subjects do not effectually hide,
production will scarcely exceed immediate consumption; and that
necessarily there will be none of that accumulation of capital required
for social development, with all its aids to welfare. In neither case,
however, do they perceive that they are tacitly asserting the need
for certain restraints on conduct as deducible from the necessary
conditions to complete life in the social state; and are so making the
authority of law derivative and not original.

If it be said by any belonging to this school that certain moral
obligations, to be distinguished as cardinal, must be admitted to have
a basis deeper than legislation, and that it is for legislation not to
create but merely to enforce them--if, I say, admitting this, they go
on to allege a legislative origin for minor claims and duties; then
we have the implication that whereas some kinds of conduct do, in the
nature of things, tend to work out certain kinds of results, other
kinds of conduct do not, in the nature of things, tend to work out
certain kinds of results. While of these acts the naturally good or
bad consequences must be allowed, it may be denied of those acts that
they have naturally good or bad consequences. Only after asserting
this can it be consistently asserted that acts of the last class
are made right or wrong by law. For if such acts have any intrinsic
tendencies to produce beneficial or mischievous effects, then these
intrinsic tendencies furnish the warrant for legislative requirements
or interdicts; and to say that the requirements or interdicts make them
right or wrong is to say that they have no intrinsic tendencies to
produce beneficial or mischievous effects.

Here, then, we have another theory betraying deficient consciousness
of causation. An adequate consciousness of causation yields the
irresistible belief that from the most serious to the most trivial
actions of men in society, there must flow consequences which, quite
apart from legal agency, conduce to well-being or ill-being in greater
or smaller degrees. If murders are socially injurious whether forbidden
by law or not--if one man's appropriation of another's gains by force
brings special and general evils, whether it is or is not contrary
to a ruler's edicts--if non-fulfillment of contract, if cheating, if
adulteration, work mischiefs on a community in proportion as they are
common, quite irrespective of prohibitions; then, is it not manifest
that the like holds throughout all the details of men's behavior? Is
it not clear that when legislation insists on certain acts which have
naturally beneficial effects, and forbids others that have naturally
injurious effects, the acts are not made good or bad by legislation;
but the legislation derives its authority from the natural effects of
the acts? Non-recognition of this implies non-recognition of natural

§ 20. Nor is it otherwise with the pure intuitionists, who hold that
moral perceptions are innate in the original sense--thinkers whose view
is that men have been divinely endowed with moral faculties; not that
these have resulted from inherited modifications caused by accumulated

To affirm that we know some things to be right and other things to be
wrong, by virtue of a supernaturally given conscience; and thus tacitly
to affirm that we do not otherwise know right from wrong; is tacitly to
deny any natural relations between acts and results. For if there exist
any such relations, then we may ascertain by induction, or deduction,
or both, what these are. And if it be admitted that because of such
natural relations, happiness is produced by this kind of conduct, which
is therefore to be approved, while misery is produced by that kind
of conduct, which is therefore to be condemned; then it is admitted
that the rightness or wrongness of actions are determinable, and must
finally be determined, by the goodness or badness of the effects that
flow from them; which is contrary to the hypothesis.

It may, indeed, be rejoined that effects are deliberately ignored
by this school; which teaches that courses recognized by moral
intuition as right, must be pursued without regard to consequences.
But on inquiry it turns out that the consequences to be disregarded
are particular consequences, and not general consequences. When,
for example, it is said that property lost by another ought to be
restored, irrespective of evil to the finder, who possibly may, by
restoring it, lose that which would have preserved him from starvation,
it is meant that in pursuance of the principle, the immediate and
special consequences must be disregarded, not the diffused and remote
consequences. By which we are shown that though the theory forbids
overt recognition of causation, there is an unavowed recognition of it.

And this implies the trait to which I am drawing attention. The
conception of natural causation is so imperfectly developed that there
is only an indistinct consciousness that throughout the whole of human
conduct necessary relations of causes and effects prevail, and that
from them are ultimately derived all moral rules, however much these
may be proximately derived from moral intuitions.

§ 21. Strange to say, even the utilitarian school, which, at first
sight, appears to be distinguished from the rest by recognizing natural
causation, is, if not so far from complete recognition of it, yet very

Conduct, according to its theory, is to be estimated by observation
of results. When, in sufficiently numerous cases, it has been found
that behavior of this kind works evil while behavior of that kind
works good, these kinds of behavior are to be judged as wrong and
right respectively. Now though it seems that the origin of moral
rules in natural causes, is thus asserted by implication, it is but
partially asserted. The implication is simply that we are to ascertain
by induction that such and such mischiefs or benefits _do_ go along
with such and such acts; and are then to infer that the like relations
will hold in future. But acceptance of these generalizations and the
inferences from them does not amount to recognition of causation in
the full sense of the word. So long as only _some_ relation between
cause and effect in conduct is recognized, and not _the_ relation,
a completely scientific form of knowledge has not been reached. At
present, utilitarians pay no attention to this distinction. Even when
it is pointed out they disregard the fact that empirical utilitarianism
is but a transitional form to be passed through on the way to rational

In a letter to Mr. Mill, written some sixteen years ago, repudiating
the title anti-utilitarian, which he had applied to me (a letter
subsequently published in Mr. Bain's work on _Mental and Moral
Science_), I endeavored to make clear the difference above indicated;
and I must here quote certain passages from that letter.

  The view for which I contend is, that Morality, properly
  so-called--the science of right conduct--has for its object to
  determine _how_ and _why_ certain modes of conduct are detrimental,
  and certain other modes beneficial. These good and bad results cannot
  be accidental, but must be necessary consequences of the constitution
  of things; and I conceive it to be the business of Moral Science
  to deduce, from the laws of life and the conditions of existence,
  what kinds of action necessarily tend to produce happiness, and
  what kinds to produce unhappiness. Having done this, its deductions
  are to be recognized as laws of conduct; and are to be conformed to
  irrespective of a direct estimation of happiness or misery.

  Perhaps an analogy will most clearly show my meaning. During its
  early stages, planetary Astronomy consisted of nothing more than
  accumulated observations respecting the positions and motions of
  the sun and planets; from which accumulated observations it came
  by-and-by to be empirically predicted, with an approach to truth,
  that certain of the heavenly bodies would have certain positions at
  certain times. But the modern science of planetary Astronomy consists
  of deductions from the law of gravitation--deductions showing why
  the celestial bodies _necessarily_ occupy certain places at certain
  times. Now, the kind of relation which thus exists between ancient
  and modern Astronomy is analogous to the kind of relation which, I
  conceive, exists between the Expediency-Morality and Moral Science,
  properly so called. And the objection which I have to the current
  Utilitarianism is, that it recognizes no more developed form of
  Morality--does not see that it has reached but the initial stage of
  Moral Science.

Doubtless if utilitarians are asked whether it can be by mere chance
that this kind of action works evil and that works good, they will
answer--No: they will admit that such sequences are parts of a
necessary order among phenomena. But though this truth is beyond
question; and though if there are causal relations between acts and
their results, rules of conduct can become scientific only when they
are deduced from these causal relations; there continues to be entire
satisfaction with that form of utilitarianism in which these causal
relations are practically ignored. It is supposed that in future, as
now, utility is to be determined only by observation of results: and
that there is no possibility of knowing, by deduction from fundamental
principles, what conduct _must_ be detrimental and what conduct _must_
be beneficial.

§ 22. To make more specific that conception of ethical science here
indicated, let me present it under a concrete aspect, beginning with a
simple illustration and complicating this illustration by successive

If, by tying its main artery, we stop most of the blood going to
a limb, then, for as long as the limb performs its function, those
parts which are called into play must be wasted faster than they
are repaired: whence eventual disablement. The relation between due
receipt of nutritive matters through its arteries, and due discharge
of its duties by the limb is a part of the physical order. If, instead
of cutting off the supply to a particular limb, we bleed the patient
largely, so drafting away the materials needed for repairing not one
limb but all limbs, and not limbs only but viscera, there results both
a muscular debility and an enfeeblement of the vital functions. Here,
again, cause and effect are necessarily related. The mischief that
results from great depletion, results apart from any divine command, or
political enactment, or moral intuition. Now advance a step. Suppose
the man to be prevented from taking in enough of the solid and liquid
food containing those substances continually abstracted from his blood
in repairing his tissues: suppose he has cancer of the esophagus and
cannot swallow--what happens? By this indirect depletion, as by direct
depletion, he is inevitably made incapable of performing the actions
of one in health. In this case, as in the other cases, the connection
between cause and effect is one that cannot be established, or altered,
by any authority external to the phenomena themselves. Again, let
us say that instead of being stopped after passing his mouth, that
which he would swallow is stopped before reaching his mouth; so that
day after day the man is required to waste his tissues in getting
food, and day after day the food he has got to meet this waste, he is
forcibly prevented from eating. As before, the progress toward death
by starvation is inevitable--the connection between acts and effects
is independent of any alleged theological or political authority. And
similarly if, being forced by the whip to labor, no adequate return
in food is supplied to him, there are equally certain evils, equally
independent of sacred or secular enactment.

Pass now to those actions more commonly thought of as the occasions
for rules of conduct. Let us assume the man to be continually robbed
of that which was given him in exchange for his labor, and by which he
was to make up for nervo-muscular expenditure and renew his powers.
No less than before is the connection between conduct and consequence
rooted in the constitution of things; unchangeable by State-made law,
and not needing establishment by empirical generalization. If the
action by which the man is affected is a stage further away from the
results, or produces results of a less decisive kind, still we see the
same basis for morality in the physical order. Imagine that payment
for his services is made partly in bad coin; or that it is delayed
beyond the date agreed upon; or that what he buys to eat is adulterated
with innutritive matter. Manifestly, by any of these deeds which we
condemn as unjust, and which are punished by law, there is, as before,
an interference with the normal adjustment of physiological repair
to physiological waste. Nor is it otherwise when we pass to kinds of
conduct still more remotely operative. If he is hindered from enforcing
his claim, if class-predominance prevents him from proceeding, or if
a bribed judge gives a verdict contrary to evidence, or if a witness
swears falsely, have not these deeds, though they affect him more
indirectly, the same original cause for their wrongness?

Even with actions which work diffused and indefinite mischiefs it
is the same. Suppose that the man, instead of being dealt with
fraudulently, is calumniated. There is, as before, a hinderance to the
carrying on of life-sustaining activities; for the loss of character
detrimentally affects his business. Nor is this all. The mental
depression caused partially incapacitates him for energetic activity,
and perhaps brings on ill-health. So that maliciously or carelessly
propagating false statements tends both to diminish his life and to
diminish his ability to maintain life. Hence its flagitiousness.

Moreover, if we trace to their ultimate ramifications the effects
wrought by any of these acts which morality called intuitive
reprobates--if we ask what results not to the individual himself only,
but also to his belongings--if we observe how impoverishment hinders
the rearing of his children, by entailing under-feeding or inadequate
clothing, resulting perhaps in the death of some and the constitutional
injury of others; we see that by the necessary connections of things
these acts, besides tending primarily to lower the life of the
individual aggressed upon, tend, secondarily, to lower the lives of all
his family, and thirdly, to lower the life of society at large; which
is damaged by whatever damages its units.

A more distinct meaning will now be seen in the statement that the
utilitarianism which recognizes only the principles of conduct reached
by induction, is but preparatory to the utilitarianism which deduces
these principles from the processes of life as carried on under
established conditions of existence.

§22. Thus, then, is justified the allegation made at the outset,
that, irrespective of their distinctive characters and their special
tendencies, all the current methods of ethics have one general
defect--they neglect ultimate causal connections. Of course I do not
mean that they wholly ignore the natural consequences of actions; but
I mean that they recognize them only incidentally. They do not erect
into a method the ascertaining of necessary relations between causes
and effects, and deducing rules of conduct from formulated statement of

Every science begins by accumulating observations, and presently
generalizes these empirically; but only when it reaches the stage
at which its empirical generalizations are included in a rational
generalization, does it become developed science. Astronomy has already
passed through its successive stages: first collections of facts; then
inductions from them; and lastly deductive interpretations of these, as
corollaries from a universal principle of action among masses in space.
Accounts of structures and tabulations of strata, grouped and compared,
have led gradually to the assigning of various classes of geological
changes to igneous and aqueous actions; and it is now tacitly admitted
that Geology becomes a science proper, only as fast as such changes
are explained in terms of those natural processes which have arisen in
the cooling and solidifying earth, exposed to the sun's heat and the
action of the moon upon its ocean. The science of life has been, and
is still, exhibiting a like series of steps; the evolution of organic
forms at large is being affiliated on physical actions in operations
from the beginning; and the vital phenomena each organism presents are
coming to be understood as connected sets of changes, in parts formed
of matters that are affected by certain forces and disengage other
forces. So is it with mind. Early ideas concerning thought and feeling
ignored everything like cause, save in recognizing those effects of
habits which were forced on men's attention and expressed in proverbs;
but there are growing up interpretations of thought and feeling as
correlates of the actions and reactions of a nervous structure, that
is influenced by outer changes and works in the body adapted changes:
the implication being that Psychology becomes a science as fast as
these relations of phenomena are explained as consequences of ultimate
principles. Sociology, too, represented down to recent times only by
stray ideas about social organization, scattered through the masses of
worthless gossip furnished us by historians, is coming to be recognized
by some as also a science; and such adumbrations of it as have from
time to time appeared in the shape of empirical generalizations, are
now beginning to assume the character of generalizations made coherent
by derivation from causes lying in human nature placed under given
conditions. Clearly then, Ethics, which is a science dealing with the
conduct of associated human beings, regarded under one of its aspects,
has to undergo a like transformation; and, at present undeveloped,
can be considered a developed science only when it has undergone this

A preparation in the simpler sciences is pre-supposed. Ethics has a
physical aspect; since it treats of human activities which, in common
with all expenditures or energy, conform to the law of the persistence
of energy: moral principles must conform to physical necessities. It
has a biological aspect; since it concerns certain effects, inner and
outer, individual and social, of the vital changes going on in the
highest type of animal. It has a psychological aspect; for its subject
matter is an aggregate of actions that are prompted by feelings and
guided by intelligence. And it has a sociological aspect; for these
actions, some of them directly and all of them indirectly, affect
associated beings.

What is the implication? Belonging under one aspect to each of these
sciences--physical, biological, psychological, sociological--it can
find its ultimate interpretations only in those fundamental truths
which are common to all of them. Already we have concluded in a general
way that conduct at large, including the conduct Ethics deals with, is
to be fully understood only as an aspect of evolving life; and now we
are brought to this conclusion in a more special way.

§ 23. Here, then, we have to enter on the consideration of moral
phenomena as phenomena of evolution; being forced to do this by finding
that they form a part of the aggregate of phenomena which evolution has
wrought out. If the entire visible universe has been evolved--if the
solar system as a whole, the earth as a part of it, the life in general
which the earth bears, as well as that of each individual organism--if
the mental phenomena displayed by all creatures, up to the highest, in
common with the phenomena presented by aggregates of these highest--if
one and all conform to the laws of evolution; then the necessary
implication is that those phenomena of conduct in these highest
creatures with which Morality is concerned, also conform.

The preceding volumes have prepared the way for dealing with morals
as thus conceived. Utilizing the conclusions they contain, let
us now observe what data are furnished by these. We will take in
succession--the physical view, the biological view, the psychological
view, and the sociological view.



§ 24. Every moment we pass instantly from men's perceived actions to
the motives implied by them; and so are led to formulate these actions
in mental terms rather than in bodily terms. Thoughts and feelings are
referred to when we speak of any one's deeds with praise or blame; not
those outer manifestations which reveal the thoughts and feelings.
Hence we become oblivious of the truth that conduct as actually
experienced consists of changes recognized by touch, sight and hearing.

This habit of contemplating only the psychical face of conduct, is so
confirmed that an effort is required to contemplate only the physical
face. Undeniable as it is that another's behavior to us is made up of
movements of his body and limbs, of his facial muscles, and of his
vocal apparatus, it yet seems paradoxical to say that these are the
only elements of conduct really known by us, while the elements of
conduct which we exclusively think of as constituting it, are not known
but inferred.

Here, however, ignoring for the time being the inferred elements in
conduct, we have to deal with the perceived elements--we have to
observe its traits considered as a set of combined motions. Taking
the evolution point of view, and remembering that while an aggregate
evolves, not only the matter composing it, but also the motion of that
matter, passes from an indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a definite
coherent heterogeneity, we have now to ask whether conduct as it rises
to its higher forms, displays in increasing degrees these characters;
and whether it does not display them in the greatest degree when it
reaches that highest form which we call moral.

§ 25. It will be convenient to deal first with the trait of increasing
coherence. The conduct of lowly-organized creatures is broadly
contrasted with the conduct of highly-organized creatures in having
its successive portions feebly connected. The random movements which
animalcule makes have severally no reference to movements made a
moment before; nor do they affect in specific ways the movements made
immediately after. To-day's wanderings of a fish in search of food,
though perhaps showing by their adjustments to catching different
kinds of prey at different hours, a slightly-determined order, are
unrelated to the wanderings of yesterday and to-morrow. But such more
developed creatures as birds, show us in the building of nests, the
sitting on eggs, the rearing of chicks, and the aiding of them after
they fly, sets of motions which form a dependent series, extending over
a considerable period. And on observing the complexity of the acts
performed in fetching and fixing the fibres of the nest or in catching
and bringing to the young each portion of food, we discover in the
combined motions, lateral cohesion as well as longitudinal cohesion.

Man, even in his lowest state, displays in his conduct far more
coherent combinations of motions. By the elaborate manipulations gone
through in making weapons that are to serve for the chase next year,
or in building canoes and wigwams for permanent uses--by acts of
aggression and defense which are connected with injuries long since
received or committed, the savage exhibits an aggregate of motions
which, in some of its parts, holds together over great periods.
Moreover, if we consider the many movements implied by the transactions
of each day, in the wood, on the water, in the camp, in the family, we
see that this coherent aggregate of movements is composed of many minor
aggregates that are severally coherent within themselves and with one

In civilized man this trait of developed conduct becomes more
conspicuous still. Be his business what it may, its processes involve
relatively numerous dependent motions; and day by day it is so carried
on as to show connections between present motions and motions long gone
by, as well as motions anticipated in the distant future. Besides the
many doings, related to one another, which the farmer goes through in
looking after his cattle, directing his laborers, keeping an eye on his
dairy, buying his implements, selling his produce, etc., the business
of getting his lease involves numerous combined movements on which the
movements of subsequent years depend; and in manuring his fields with a
view to larger returns, or putting down drains with the like motive, he
is performing acts which are parts of a coherent combination relatively
extensive. That the like holds of the shopkeeper, manufacturer,
banker, is manifest; and this increased coherence of conduct among the
civilized will strike us even more when we remember how its parts
are often continued in a connected arrangement through life, for the
purpose of making a fortune, founding a family, gaining a seat in

Now mark that a greater coherence among its component motions broadly
distinguishes the conduct we call moral from the conduct we call
immoral. The application of the word dissolute to the last, and of the
word self-restrained to the first, implies this--implies that conduct
of the lower kind, constituted of disorderly acts, has its parts
relatively loose in their relations with one another; while conduct
of the higher kind, habitually following a fixed order, so gains a
characteristic unity and coherence. In proportion as the conduct is
what we call moral, it exhibits comparatively settled connections
between antecedents and consequents; for the doing right implies that
under given conditions the combined motions constituting conduct
will follow in a way that can be specified. Contrariwise, in the
conduct of one whose principles are not high, the sequences of motions
are doubtful. He may pay the money or he may not; he may keep his
appointment or he may fail; he may tell the truth or he may lie. The
words trustworthiness and untrustworthiness, as used to characterize
the two respectively, sufficiently imply that the actions of the one
can be foreknown while those of the other cannot; and this implies that
the successive movements composing the one bear more constant relations
to one another than do those composing the other--are more coherent.

§ 26. Indefiniteness accompanies incoherence in conduct that is little
evolved; and throughout the ascending stages of evolving conduct there
is an increasingly definite co-ordination of the motions constituting

Such changes of form as the rudest protozoa show us, are utterly
vague--admit of no precise description; and though in higher kinds the
movements of the parts are more definable, yet the movement of the
whole in respect of direction is indeterminate: there is no adjustment
of it to this or the other point in space. In such coelenterate animals
as polypes we see the parts moving in ways which lack precision; and in
one of the locomotive forms, as a medusa, the course taken, otherwise
at random, can be described only as one which carries it toward the
light, where degrees of light and darkness are present. Among annulose
creatures the contrast between the track of a worm, turning this way or
that at hazard, and the definite course taken by a bee in its flight
from flower to flower or back to the hive, shows us the same thing;
the bee's acts in building cells and feeding larvæ further exhibiting
precision in the simultaneous movements as well as in the successive
movements. Though the motions made by a fish in pursuing its prey have
considerable definiteness, yet they are of a simple kind, and are
in this respect contrasted with the many definite motions of body,
head, and limbs gone through by a carnivorous mammal in the course of
waylaying, running down, and seizing a herbivore; and further, the fish
shows us none of those definitely adjusted sets of motions which in the
mammal subserve the rearing of young.

Much greater definiteness, if not in the combined movements forming
single acts, still in the adjustments of many combined acts to various
purposes, characterizes human conduct, even in its lowest stages. In
making and using weapons and in the maneuverings of savage warfare,
numerous movements, all precise in their adaptations to proximate ends,
are arranged for the achievement of remote ends, with a precision not
paralleled among lower creatures. The lives of civilized men exhibit
this trait far more conspicuously. Each industrial art exemplifies
the effects of movements which are severally definite; and which are
definitely arranged in simultaneous and successive order. Business
transactions of every kind are characterized by exact relations between
the sets of motions constituting acts, and the purposes fulfilled,
in time, place, and quantity. Further, the daily routine of each
person shows us in its periods and amounts of activity, of rest, of
relaxation, a measured arrangement which is not shown us by the doings
of the wandering savage, who has no fixed times for hunting, sleeping,
feeding, or any one kind of action.

Moral conduct differs from immoral conduct in the same manner and in a
like degree. The conscientious man is exact in all his transactions.
He supplies a precise weight for a specified sum; he gives a definite
quality in fulfillment of understanding; he pays the full amount he
bargained to do. In times as well as in quantities, his acts answer
completely to anticipations. If he has made a business contract he
is to the day; if an appointment he is to the minute. Similarly in
respect of truth: his statements correspond accurately with the facts.
It is thus too in his family life. He maintains marital relations that
are definite in contrast with the relations that result from breach
of the marriage contract; and as a father, fitting his behavior with
care to the nature of each child and to the occasion; he avoids the
too much and the too little of praise or blame, reward or penalty.
Nor is it otherwise in his miscellaneous acts. To say that he deals
equitably with those he employs, whether they behave well or ill, is
to say that he adjusts his acts to their deserts; and to say that he
is judicious in his charities, is to say that he portions out his aid
with discrimination instead of distributing it indiscriminately to
good and bad, as do those who have no adequate sense of their social

That progress toward rectitude of conduct is progress toward
duly-proportioned conduct, and that duly-proportioned conduct is
relatively definite, we may see from another point of view. One of
the traits of conduct we call immoral, is excess; while moderation
habitually characterizes moral conduct. Now excesses imply extreme
divergences of actions from some medium, while maintenance of the
medium is implied by moderation; whence it follows that actions of the
last kind can be defined more nearly than those of the first. Clearly
conduct which, being unrestrained, runs into great and incalculable
oscillations, therein differs from restrained conduct of which, by
implication, the oscillations fall within narrower limits. And falling
within narrower limits necessitates relative definiteness of movements.

§ 27. That throughout the ascending forms of life, along with
increasing heterogeneity of structure and function, there goes
increasing heterogeneity of conduct--increasing diversity in the sets
of external motions and combined sets of such motions--needs not be
shown in detail. Nor need it be shown that becoming relatively great
in the motions constituting the conduct of the uncivilized man, this
heterogeneity has become still greater in those which the civilized man
goes through. We may pass at once to that further degree of the like
contrast which we see on ascending from the conduct of the immoral to
that of the moral.

Instead of recognizing this contrast, most readers will be inclined to
identify a moral life with a life little varied in its activities. But
here we come upon a defect in the current conception of morality. This
comparative uniformity in the aggregate of motions, which goes along
with morality as commonly conceived, is not only not moral but is the
reverse of moral. The better a man fulfills every requirement of life,
alike as regards his own body and mind, as regards the bodies and minds
of those dependent on him, and as regards the bodies and minds of his
fellow-citizens, the more varied do his activities become. The more
fully he does all these things, the more heterogeneous must be his

One who satisfies personal needs only, goes through other things equal,
less multiform processes than one who also administers to the needs
of wife and children. Supposing there are no other differences, the
addition of family relations necessarily renders the actions of the
man who fulfills the duties of husband and parent, more heterogeneous
than those of the man who has no such duties to fulfill, or, having
them, does not fulfill them; and to say that his actions are more
heterogeneous is to say that there is a greater heterogeneity in
the combined motions he goes through. The like holds of social
obligations. These, in proportion as a citizen duly performs them,
complicate his movements considerably. If he is helpful to inferiors
dependent on him, if he takes a part in political agitation, if he aids
in diffusing knowledge, he, in each of these ways, adds to his kinds of
activity--makes his sets of movements more multiform; so differing from
the man who is the slave of one desire or group of desires.

Though it is unusual to consider as having a moral aspect, those
activities which culture involves, yet to the few who hold that due
exercise of all the higher faculties, intellectual and æsthetic,
must be included in the conception of complete life, here identified
with the ideally moral life, it will be manifest that a further
heterogeneity is implied by them. For each of such activities,
constituted by that play of these faculties which is eventually
added to their life-subserving uses, adds to the multiformity of the
aggregated motions.

Briefly, then, if the conduct is the best possible on every occasion,
it follows that as the occasions are endlessly varied the acts will
be endlessly varied to suit--the heterogeneity in the combinations of
motions will be extreme.

§ 28. Evolution in conduct considered under its moral aspect, is, like
all other evolution, toward equilibrium. I do not mean that it is
toward the equilibrium reached at death, though this is, of course, the
final state which the evolution of the highest man has in common with
all lower evolution; but I mean that it is toward a moving equilibrium.

We have seen that maintaining life, expressed in physical terms, is
maintaining a balanced combination of internal actions in face of
external forces tending to overthrow it; and we have seen that advance
toward a higher life, has been an acquirement of ability to maintain
the balance for a longer period, by the successive additions of
organic appliances which by their actions counteract, more and more
fully, the disturbing forces. Here, then, we are led to the conclusion
that the life called moral is one in which this maintenance of the
moving equilibrium reaches completeness, or approaches most nearly to

This truth is clearly disclosed on observing how those physiological
rhythms which vaguely show themselves when organization begins, become
more regular, as well as more various in their kinds, as organization
advances. Periodicity is but feebly marked in the actions, inner
and outer, of the rudest types. Where life is low there is passive
dependence on the accidents of the environment; and this entails
great irregularities in the vital processes. The taking in of food by
a polype is at intervals now short, now very long, as circumstances
determine; and the utilization of it is by a slow dispersion of
the absorbed part through the tissues, aided only by the irregular
movements of the creature's body; while, such æration as is effected
is similarly without a trace of rhythm. Much higher up we still find
very imperfect periodicities; as in the inferior molluscs which, though
possessed of vascular systems, have no proper circulation, but merely
a slow movement of the crude blood, now in one direction through the
vessels and then, after a pause, in the opposite direction. Only
with well-developed structures do there come a rhythmical pulse and
a rhythm of the respiratory actions. And then in birds and mammals,
along with great rapidity and regularity in these essential rhythms,
and along with a consequently great vital activity and therefore great
expenditure, comparative regularity in the rhythm of the alimentary
actions is established, as well as in the rhythm of activity and rest;
since the rapid waste to which rapid pulsation and respiration are
instrumental, necessitates tolerably regular supplies of nutriment, as
well as recurring intervals of sleep during which repair may overtake
waste. And from these stages the moving equilibrium characterized
by such interdependent rhythms, is continually made better by the
counteracting of more and more of those actions which tend to perturb

So is it as we ascend from savage to civilized and from the lowest
among the civilized to the highest. The rhythm of external actions
required to maintain the rhythm of internal actions becomes at once
more complicated and more complete, making them into a better moving
equilibrium. The irregularities which their conditions of existence
entail on primitive men, continually cause wide deviations from the
mean state of the moving equilibrium--wide oscillations; which imply
imperfection of it for the time being, and bring about its premature
overthrow. In such civilized men as we call ill conducted, frequent
perturbations of the moving equilibrium are caused by those excesses
characterizing a career in which the periodicities are much broken; and
a common result is that the rhythm of the internal actions being often
deranged, the moving equilibrium, rendered by so much imperfect, is
generally shortened in duration. While one in whom the internal rhythms
are best maintained is one by whom the external actions required to
fulfill all needs and duties, severally performed on the recurring
occasions, conduce to a moving equilibrium that is at once involved and

Of course the implication is that the man who thus reaches the limit
of evolution, exists in a society congruous with his nature, is a man
among men similarly constituted, who are severally in harmony with that
social environment which they have formed. This is, indeed, the only
possibility. For the production of the highest type of man can go on
only _pari passu_ with the production of the highest type of society.
The implied conditions are those before described as accompanying the
most evolved conduct--conditions under which each can fulfill all his
needs and rear the due number of progeny, not only without hindering
others from doing the like, but while aiding them in doing the like.
And evidently, considered under its physical aspect, the conduct of the
individual so constituted, and associated with like individuals, is one
in which all the actions, that is the combined motions of all kinds,
have become such as duly to meet every daily process, every ordinary
occurrence, and every contingency in his environment. Complete life in
a complete society is but another name for complete equilibrium between
the co-ordinated activities of each social unit and those of the
aggregate of units.

§ 29. Even to readers of preceding volumes, and still more to other
readers, there will seem a strangeness, or even an absurdity, in this
presentation of moral conduct in physical terms. It has been needful
to make it, however. If that re-distribution of matter and motion
constituting evolution goes on in all aggregates, its laws must be
fulfilled in the most developed being as in every other thing; and his
actions, when decomposed into motions, must exemplify its laws. This
we find that they do. There is an entire correspondence between moral
evolution and evolution as physically defined.

Conduct, as actually known to us in perception, and not as interpreted
into the accompanying feelings and ideas, consists of combined motions.
On ascending through the various grades of animate creatures, we
find these combined motions characterized by increasing coherence,
increasing definiteness considered singly and in their co-ordinated
groups, and increasing heterogeneity; and in advancing from lower to
higher types of man, as well as in advancing from the less moral to
the more moral type of man, these traits of evolving conduct become
more marked still. Further, we see that the increasing coherence,
definiteness, and heterogeneity, of the combined motions, are
instrumental to the better maintenance of a moving equilibrium. Where
the evolution is small this is very imperfect and soon cut short;
with advancing evolution, bringing greater power and intelligence, it
becomes more steady and longer continued in face of adverse actions; in
the human race at large it is comparatively regular and enduring; and
its regularity and enduringness are greatest in the highest.



§ 30. The truth that the ideally moral man is one in whom the moving
equilibrium is perfect, or approaches nearest to perfection, becomes,
when translated into physiological language, the truth that he is one
in whom the functions of all kinds are duly fulfilled. Each function
has some relation, direct or indirect, to the needs of life: the fact
of its existence as a result of evolution, being itself a proof that it
has been entailed, immediately or remotely, by the adjustment of inner
actions to outer actions. Consequently, non-fulfillment of it in normal
proportion is non-fulfillment of a requisite to complete life. If there
is defective discharge of the function, the organism experiences some
detrimental result caused by the inadequacy. If the discharge is in
excess, there is entailed a reaction upon the other functions, which in
some way diminishes their efficiencies.

It is true that during full vigor, while the momentum of the organic
actions is great, the disorder caused by moderate excess or defect of
any one function, soon disappears--the balance is re-established. But
it is none the less true that always some disorder results from excess
or defect, that it influences every function, bodily and mental, and
that it constitutes a lowering of the life for the time being.

Beyond the temporary falling short of complete life implied by
undue or inadequate discharge of a function there is entailed, as
an ultimate result, decreased length of life. If some function is
habitually performed in excess of the requirement, or in defect of
the requirement; and if, as a consequence, there is an often repeated
perturbation of the functions at large, there results some chronic
derangement in the balance of the functions. Necessarily reacting on
the structures, and registering in them its accumulated effects, this
derangement works a general deterioration; and when the vital energies
begin to decline, the moving equilibrium, further from perfection than
it would else have been, is sooner overthrown: death is more or less

Hence the moral man is one whose functions--many and varied in their
kinds, as we have seen--are all discharged in degrees duly adjusted to
the conditions of existence.

§ 31. Strange as the conclusion looks, it is nevertheless a conclusion
to be here drawn, that the performance of every function is, in a
sense, a moral obligation.

It is usually thought that morality requires us only to restrain such
vital activities as, in our present state, are often pushed to excess,
or such as conflict with average welfare, special or general; but
it also requires us to carry on these vital activities up to their
normal limits. All the animal functions, in common with all the higher
functions, have, as thus understood, their imperativeness. While
recognizing the fact that in our state of transition, characterized
by very imperfect adaptation of constitution of conditions, moral
obligations of supreme kinds often necessitate conduct which is
physically injurious; we must also recognize the fact that, considered
apart from other effects, it is immoral so to treat the body as in any
way to diminish the fullness or vigor of its vitality.

Hence results one test of actions. There may in every case be put the
questions--Does the action tend to maintenance of complete life for
the time being? and does it tend to prolongation of life to its full
extent? To answer yes or no to either of these questions, is implicitly
to class the action as right or wrong in respect of its immediate
bearings, whatever it may be in respect of its remote bearings.

The seeming paradoxicalness of this statement results from the
tendency, so difficult of avoidance, to judge a conclusion which
presupposes an ideal humanity, by its applicability to humanity as
now existing. The foregoing conclusion refers to that highest conduct
in which, as we have seen, the evolution of conduct terminates--that
conduct in which the making of all adjustments of acts to ends
subserving complete individual life, together with all those subserving
maintenance of offspring and preparation of them for maturity, not only
consist with the making of like adjustments by others, but furthers
it. And this conception of conduct in its ultimate form implies
the conception of a nature having such conduct for its spontaneous
outcome--the product of its normal activities. So understanding the
matter, it becomes manifest that under such conditions any falling
short of function, as well as any excess of function, implies deviation
from the best conduct or from perfectly moral conduct.

§ 32. Thus far in treating of conduct from the biological point
of view, we have considered its constituent actions under their
physiological aspects only; leaving out of sight their psychological
aspects. We have recognized the bodily changes and have ignored the
accompanying mental changes. And at first sight it seems needful for
us here to do this; since taking account of states of consciousness
apparently implies an inclusion of the psychological view in the
biological view.

This is not so however. As was pointed out in the _Principles of
Psychology_, §§ 52, 53, we enter upon psychology proper only when
we begin to treat of mental states and their relations considered
as referring to external agents and their relations. While we
concern ourselves exclusively with modes of mind as correlatives of
nervous changes, we are treating of what was there distinguished as
æstho-physiology. We pass to psychology only when we consider the
correspondence between the connections among subjective states and the
connections among objective actions. Here, then, without transgressing
the limits of our immediate topic, we may deal with feelings and
functions in their mutual dependencies.

We cannot omit doing this; because the psychical changes which
accompany many of the physical changes in the organism are biological
factors in two ways. Those feelings, classed as sensations, which,
directly initiated in the bodily framework, go along with certain
states of the vital organs and more conspicuously with certain states
of the external organs, now serve mainly as guides to the performance
of functions, but partly as stimuli, and now serve mainly as stimuli,
but in a smaller degree as guides. Visual sensations which, as
co-ordinated, enable us to direct our movements, also, if vivid, raise
the rate of respiration; while sensations of cold and heat, greatly
depressing or raising the vital actions, serve also for purposes of
discrimination. So, too, the feelings classed as emotions, which are
not localizable in the bodily framework, act in more general ways,
alike as guides and stimuli--having influences over the performance
of functions more potent even than have most sensations. Fear, at the
same time that it urges flight and evolves the forces spent in it,
also affects the heart and the alimentary canal; while joy, prompting
persistence in the actions bringing it, simultaneously exalts the
visceral processes.

Hence, in treating of conduct under its biological aspect, we are
compelled to consider that interaction of feelings and functions which
is essential to animal life in all its more developed forms.

§ 33. In the _Principles of Psychology_, § 124, it was shown that
necessarily, throughout the animate world at large, "pains are the
correlatives of actions injurious to the organism, while pleasures are
the correlatives of actions conducive to its welfare;" since "it is
an inevitable deduction from the hypothesis of Evolution, that races
of sentient creatures could have come into existence under no other
conditions." The argument was as follows:

  If we substitute for the word Pleasure the equivalent phrase--a
  feeling which we seek to bring into consciousness and retain there,
  and if we substitute for the word Pain the equivalent phrase--a
  feeling which we seek to get out of consciousness and to keep out;
  we see at once that if the states of consciousness which a creature
  endeavors to maintain are the correlatives of injurious actions, and
  if the states of consciousness which it endeavors to expel are the
  correlatives of beneficial actions, it must quickly disappear through
  persistence in the injurious, and avoidance of the beneficial. In
  other words, those races of beings only can have survived in which,
  on the average, agreeable or desired feelings went along with
  activities conducive to the maintenance of life, while disagreeable
  and habitually avoided feelings went along with activities directly
  or indirectly destructive of life; and there must ever have been,
  other things equal, the most numerous and long-continued survivals
  among races in which these adjustments of feelings to actions were
  the best, tending ever to bring about perfect adjustment.

Fit connections between acts and results must establish themselves in
living things, even before consciousness arises; and after the rise
of consciousness these connections can change in no other way than
to become better established. At the very outset, life is maintained
by persistence in acts which conduce to it, and desistance from acts
which impede it; and whenever sentiency make its appearance as an
accompaniment, its forms must be such that in the one case the produced
feeling is of a kind that will be sought--pleasure, and in the other
case is of a kind that will be shunned--pain. Observe the necessity of
these relations as exhibited in the concrete.

A plant which envelops a buried bone with a plexus of rootlets, or
a potato which directs its blanched shoots toward a grating through
which light comes into the cellar, shows us that the changes which
outer agents themselves set up in its tissues are changes which aid the
utilization of these agents. If we ask what would happen if a plant's
roots grew not toward the place where there was moisture, but away from
it, or if its leaves, enabled by light to assimilate, nevertheless
bent themselves toward the darkness, we see that death would result
in the absence of the existing adjustments. This general relation is
still better shown in an insectivorous plant, such as the _Dionoea
muscipula_, which keeps its trap closed round animal matter, but not
round other matter. Here it is manifest that the stimulus arising from
the first part of the absorbed substance itself sets up those actions
by which the mass of the substance is utilized for the plant's benefit.

When we pass from vegetal organisms to unconscious animal organisms, we
see a like connection between proclivity and advantage. On observing
how the tentacles of a polype attach themselves to, and begin to close
round, a living creature, or some animal substance, while they are
indifferent to the touch of other substance, we are similarly shown
that diffusion of some of the nutritive juices into the tentacles,
which is an incipient assimilation, causes the motions effecting
prehension. And it is obvious that life would cease were these
relations reversed.

Nor is it otherwise with this fundamental connection between contact
with food and taking in of food, among conscious creatures, up to the
very highest. Tasting a substance implies the passage of its molecules
through the mucous membrane of the tongue and palate; and this
absorption, when it occurs with a substance serving for food, is but
a commencement of the absorption carried on throughout the alimentary
canal. Moreover, the sensation accompanying this absorption, when it
is of the kind produced by food, initiates at the place where it is
strongest, in front of the pharynx, an automatic act of swallowing, in
a manner rudely analogous to that in which the stimulus of absorption
in a polype's tentacles initiates prehension.

If from these processes and relations that imply contact between a
creature's surface and the substance it takes in, we turn to those set
up by diffused particles of the substance, constituting to conscious
creatures its odor, we meet a kindred general truth. Just as, after
contact, some molecules of a mass of food are absorbed by the part
touched, and excite the act of prehension, so are absorbed such of its
molecules as, spreading through the water, reach the organism; and,
being absorbed by it, excite those actions by which contact with the
mass is effected. If the physical stimulation caused by the dispersed
particles is not accompanied by consciousness, still the motor changes
set up must conduce to survival of the organism, if they are such as
end in contact; and there must be relative innutrition and mortality
of organisms in which the produced contractions do not bring about
this result. Nor can it be questioned that whenever and wherever the
physical stimulation has a concomitant sentiency, this must be such as
consists with, and conduces to, movement toward the nutritive matter:
it must be not a repulsive but an attractive sentiency. And this which
holds with the lowest consciousness, must hold throughout; as we see it
do in all such superior creatures as are drawn to their food by odor.

Besides those movements which cause locomotion those which effect
seizure must no less certainly become thus adjusted. The molecular
changes caused by absorption of nutritive matter from organic substance
in contact, or from adjacent organic substance, initiate motions
which are indefinite where the organization is low, and which become
more definite with the advance of organization. At the outset, while
the undifferentiated protoplasm is everywhere absorbent and everywhere
contractile, the changes of form initiated by the physical stimulation
of adjacent nutritive matter are vague, and ineffectually adapted
to utilization of it; but gradually, along with the specialization
into parts that are contractile and parts that are absorbent, these
motions become better adapted; for necessarily individuals in which
they are least adapted disappear faster than those in which they are
most adapted. Recognizing this necessity we have here especially to
recognize a further necessity. The relation between these stimulations
and adjusted contractions must be such that increase of the one causes
increase of the other; since the directions of the discharges being
once established, greater stimulation causes greater contraction, and
the greater contraction causing closer contact with the stimulating
agent, causes increase of stimulus and is thereby itself further
increased. And now we reach the corollary which more particularly
concerns us. Clearly as fast as an accompanying sentiency arises, this
cannot be one that is disagreeable, prompting desistance, but must be
one that is agreeable, prompting persistence. The pleasurable sensation
must be itself the stimulus to the contraction by which the pleasurable
sensation is maintained and increased; or must be so bound up with
the stimulus that the two increase together. And this relation which
we see is directly established in the case of a fundamental function,
must be indirectly established with all other functions; since
non-establishment of it in any particular case implies, in so far,
unfitness to the conditions of existence.

In two ways then, it is demonstrable that there exists a primordial
connection between pleasure-giving acts and continuance or increase
of life, and, by implication, between pain-giving acts and decrease
or loss of life. On the one hand, setting out with the lowest living
things, we see that the beneficial act and the act which there is
a tendency to perform, are originally two sides of the same; and
cannot be disconnected without fatal results. On the other hand, if
we contemplate developed creatures as now existing, we see that each
individual and species is from day to day kept alive by pursuit of the
agreeable and avoidance of the disagreeable.

Thus approaching the facts from a different side, analysis brings us
down to another face of that ultimate truth disclosed by analysis in a
preceding chapter. We found it was no more possible to frame ethical
conceptions from which the consciousness of pleasure, of some kind,
at some time, to some being, is absent, than it is possible to frame
the conception of an object from which the consciousness of space is
absent. And now we see that this necessity of thought originates in the
very nature of sentient existence. Sentient existence can evolve only
on condition that pleasure-giving acts are life-sustaining acts.

§ 34. Notwithstanding explanations already made, the naked enunciation
of this as an ultimate truth, underlying all estimations of right and
wrong, will in many, if not in most, cause astonishment. Having in
view certain beneficial results that are preceded by disagreeable
states of consciousness, such as those commonly accompanying labor; and
having in view the injurious results that follow the receipt of certain
gratifications, such as those which excess in drinking produces; the
majority tacitly or avowedly believe that the bearing of pains is on
the whole beneficial, and that the receipt of pleasures is on the whole
detrimental. The exceptions so fill their minds as to exclude the rule.

When asked, they are obliged to admit that the pains accompanying
wounds, bruises, sprains, are the concomitants of evils, alike to
the sufferer and to those around him; and that the anticipations
of such pains serve as deterrents from careless or dangerous acts.
They cannot deny that the tortures of burning or scalding, and the
miseries which intense cold, starvation, and thirst produce, are
indissolubly connected with permanent or temporary mischiefs, tending
to incapacitate one who bears them for doing things that should be
done, either for his own welfare or the welfare of others. The agony of
incipient suffocation they are compelled to recognize as a safeguard
to life, and must allow that avoidance of it is conducive to all that
life can bring or achieve. Nor will they refuse to own that one who is
chained in a cold, damp dungeon, in darkness and silence, is injured in
health and efficiency, alike by the positive pains thus inflicted on
him and by the accompanying negative pains due to absence of light, of
freedom, of companionship.

Conversely, they do not doubt that notwithstanding occasional excesses
the pleasure which accompanies the taking of food goes along with
physical benefit; and that the benefit is the greater the keener the
satisfaction of appetite. They have no choice but to acknowledge that
the instincts and sentiments which so overpoweringly prompt marriage,
and those which find their gratification in the fostering of offspring,
work out an immense surplus of benefit after deducting all evils. Nor
dare they question that the pleasure taken in accumulating property,
leaves a large balance of advantage, private and public, after making
all drawbacks. Yet many and conspicuous as are the cases in which
pleasures and pains, sensational and emotional, serve as incentives to
proper acts and deterrents from improper acts, these pass unnoticed;
and notice is taken only of those cases in which men are directly or
indirectly misled by them. The well-working in essential matters is
ignored; and the ill-working in unessential matters is alone recognized.

Is it replied that the more intense pains and pleasures, which have
immediate reference to bodily needs, guide us rightly; while the weaker
pains and pleasures, not immediately connected with the maintenance
of life, guide us wrongly? Then the implication is that the system of
guidance by pleasures and pains, which has answered with all types
of creatures below the human, fails with the human. Or rather, the
admission being that with mankind it succeeds in so far as fulfillment
of certain imperative wants goes, it fails in respect of wants that are
not imperative. Those who think this are required, in the first place,
to show us how the line is to be drawn between the two; and then to
show us why the system which succeeds in the lower will not succeed in
the higher.

§ 35. Doubtless, however, after all that has been said, there will
be raised afresh the same difficulty--there will be instanced the
mischievous pleasures and the beneficent pains. The drunkard, the
gambler, the thief, who severally pursue gratifications, will be
named in proof that the pursuit of gratifications misleads; while the
self-sacrificing relative, the worker who perseveres through weariness,
the honest man who stints himself to pay his way, will be named in
proof that disagreeable modes of consciousness accompany acts that are
really beneficial. But after recalling the fact pointed out in § 20,
that this objection does not tell against guidance by pleasures and
pains at large, since it merely implies that special and proximate
pleasures and pains must be disregarded out of consideration for
remote and diffused pleasures and pains; and, after admitting that in
mankind, as at present constituted, guidance by proximate pleasures and
pains fails throughout a wide range of cases; I go on to set forth the
interpretation Biology gives of these anomalies, as being not necessary
and permanent, but incidental and temporary.

Already, while showing that among inferior creatures, pleasures and
pains have all along guided the conduct by which life has been evolved
and maintained, I have pointed out that since the conditions of
existence for each species have been occasionally changing, there have
been occasionally arising partial misadjustments of the feelings to
the requirements, necessitating readjustments. This general cause of
derangement, operating on all sentient beings, has been operating on
human beings in a manner unusually decided, persistent, and involved.
It needs but to contrast the mode of life followed by primitive men,
wandering in the forests and living on wild food, with the mode of
life followed by rustics, artisans, traders, and professional men in a
civilized community, to see that the constitution, bodily and mental,
well-adjusted to the one, is ill-adjusted to the other. It needs but
to observe the emotions kept awake in each savage tribe, chronically
hostile to neighboring tribes, and then to observe the emotions which
peaceful production and exchange bring into play, to see that the
two are not only unlike, but opposed. And it needs but to note how,
during social evolution, the ideas and sentiments appropriate to the
militant activities carried on by coercive co-operation have been at
variance with the ideas and sentiments appropriate to the industrial
activities, carried on by voluntary co-operation, to see that there has
ever been within each society, and still continues, a conflict between
the two moral natures adjusted to these two unlike modes of life.
Manifestly, then, this readjustment of constitution to conditions,
involving readjustment of pleasures and pains for guidance, which all
creatures from time to time undergo, has been in the human race during
civilization especially difficult, not only because of the greatness
of the change from small nomadic groups to vast settled societies, and
from predatory habits to peaceful habits, but also because the old life
of enmity between societies has been maintained along with the new life
of amity within each society. While there co-exist two ways of life
so radically opposed as the militant and the industrial, human nature
cannot become properly adapted to either.

That hence results such failure of guidance by pleasures and pains as
is daily exhibited, we discover on observing in what parts of conduct
the failure is most conspicuous. As above shown, the pleasurable and
painful sensations are fairly well adjusted to the peremptory physical
requirements: the benefits of conforming to the sensations which prompt
us in respect of nutrition, respiration, maintenance of temperature,
etc., immensely exceed the incidental evils, and such misadjustments
as occur may be ascribed to the change from the outdoor life of the
primitive man to the indoor life which the civilized man is often
compelled to lead. It is the emotional pleasures and pains which are
in so considerable a degree out of adjustment to the needs of life as
carried on in society, and it is of these that the readjustment is made
in the way above shown, so tardy because so difficult.

From the biological point of view, then, we see that the connections
between pleasure and beneficial action and between pain and detrimental
action, which arose when sentient existence began, and have continued
among animate creatures up to man, are generally displayed in him also
throughout the lower and more completely organized part of his nature;
and must be more and more fully displayed throughout the higher part of
his nature, as fast as his adaptation to the conditions of social life

§ 36. Biology has a further judgment to pass on the relations of
pleasures and pains to welfare. Beyond the connections between acts
beneficial to the organism and the pleasures accompanying performance
of them, and between acts detrimental to the organism and the pains
causing desistance from them, there are connections between pleasure
in general and physiological exaltation, and between pain in general
and physiological depression. Every pleasure increases vitality; every
pain decreases vitality. Every pleasure raises the tide of life; every
pain lowers the tide of life. Let us consider, first, the pains.

By the general mischiefs that result from submission to pains, I do
not mean those arising from the diffused effects of local organic
lesions, such as follow an aneurism caused by intense effort spite of
protesting sensations, or such as follow the varicose veins brought on
by continued disregard of fatigue in the legs, or such as follow the
atrophy set up in muscles that are persistently exerted when extremely
weary; but I mean the general mischiefs caused by that constitutional
disturbance which pain forthwith sets up. These are conspicuous when
the pains are acute, whether they be sensational or emotional.

Bodily agony long borne produces death by exhaustion. More frequently,
arresting the action of the heart for a time, it causes that temporary
death we call fainting. On other occasions vomiting is a consequence.
And where such manifest derangements do not result, we still, in the
pallor and trembling, trace the general prostration. Beyond the actual
loss of life caused by subjection to intense cold there are depressions
of vitality less marked caused by cold less extreme--temporary
enfeeblement following too long an immersion in icy water; enervation
and pining away consequent on inadequate clothing. Similarly is it with
submission to great heat: we have lassitude reaching occasionally to
exhaustion; we have, in weak persons, fainting, succeeded by temporary
debilitation; and in steaming tropical jungles Europeans contract
fevers which, when not fatal, often entail life-long incapacities.
Consider, again, the evils that follow violent exertion continued in
spite of painful feelings--now a fatigue which destroys appetite or
arrests digestion if food is taken, implying failure of the reparative
processes when they are most needed; and now a prostration of the
heart, here lasting for a time and there, where the transgression has
been repeated day after day, made permanent: reducing the rest of life
to a lower level.

No less conspicuous are the depressing effects of emotional pains.
There are occasional cases of death from grief; and in other cases
the mental suffering which a calamity causes, like bodily suffering,
shows its effects by syncope. Often a piece of bad news is succeeded
by sickness; and continued anxiety will produce loss of appetite,
perpetual indigestion and diminished strength. Excessive fear, whether
aroused by physical or moral danger, will, in like manner, arrest for
a time the processes of nutrition; and, not unfrequently, in pregnant
women brings on miscarriage; while, in less extreme cases, the cold
perspiration and unsteady hands indicate a general lowering of the
vital activities, entailing partial incapacity of body or mind or both.
How greatly emotional pain deranges the visceral actions is shown us by
the fact that incessant worry is not unfrequently followed by jaundice.
And here, indeed, the relation between cause and effect happens to
have been proved by direct experiment. Making such arrangements that
the bile-duct of a dog delivered its product outside the body, Claude
Bernard observed that so long as he petted the dog and kept him in good
spirits, secretion went on at its normal rate; but on speaking angrily,
and for a time so treating him as to produce depression, the flow of
bile was arrested.

Should it be said that evil results of such kinds are proved to occur
only when the pains, bodily or mental, are great, the reply is that
in healthy persons the injurious perturbations caused by small pains,
though not easily traced, are still produced; and that in those whose
vital powers are much reduced by illness, slight physical irritations
and trifling moral annoyances, often cause relapses.

Quite opposite are the constitutional effects of pleasure. It
sometimes, though rarely, happens that in feeble persons intense
pleasure--pleasure that is almost pain--gives a nervous shock that is
mischievous; but it does not do this in those who are undebilitated by
voluntary or enforced submission to actions injurious to the organism.
In the normal order, pleasures, great and small, are stimulants to the
processes by which life is maintained.

Among the sensations may be instanced those produced by bright light.
Sunshine is enlivening in comparison with gloom--even a gleam excites a
wave of pleasure; and experiments have shown that sunshine raises the
rate of respiration: raised respiration being an index of raised vital
activities in general. A warmth that is agreeable in degree favors the
heart's action, and furthers the various functions to which this is
instrumental. Though those who are in full vigor and fitly clothed can
maintain their temperature in winter, and can digest additional food
to make up for the loss of heat, it is otherwise with the feeble; and,
as vigor declines, the beneficence of warmth becomes conspicuous. That
benefits accompany the agreeable sensations produced by fresh air, and
the agreeable sensations that accompany muscular action after due rest,
and the agreeable sensations caused by rest after exertion cannot be
questioned. Receipt of these pleasures conduces to the maintenance of
the body in fit condition for all the purposes of life.

More manifest still are the physiological benefits of emotional
pleasures. Every power, bodily and mental, is increased by "good
spirits," which is our name for a general emotional satisfaction. The
truth that the fundamental vital actions--those of nutrition--are
furthered by laughter-moving conversation, or rather by the pleasurable
feeling causing laughter, is one of old standing; and every dyspeptic
knows that in exhilarating company, a large and varied dinner,
including not very digestible things, may be eaten with impunity,
and, indeed, with benefit, while a small, carefully chosen dinner of
simple things, eaten in solitude, will be followed by indigestion. This
striking effect on the alimentary system is accompanied by effects,
equally certain though less manifest, on the circulation and the
respiration. Again, one who, released from daily labors and anxieties,
receives delights from fine scenery or is enlivened by the novelties he
sees abroad, comes back showing by toned-up face and vivacious manner,
the greater energy with which he is prepared to pursue his avocation.
Invalids especially, on whose narrowed margin of vitality the influence
of conditions is most visible, habitually show the benefits derived
from agreeable states of feeling. A lively social circle, the call of
an old friend, or even removal to a brighter room, will, by the induced
cheerfulness, much improve the physical state. In brief, as every
medical man knows, there is no such tonic as happiness.

These diffused physiological effects of pleasures and pains, which are
joined with the local or special physiological effects, are, indeed,
obviously inevitable. We have seen (_Principles of Psychology_,
§§ 123-125) that while craving, or negative pain, accompanies the
under-activity of an organ, and while positive pain accompanies its
over-activity, pleasure accompanies its normal activity. We have seen
that by evolution no other relations could be established; since,
through all inferior types of creatures, if defect or excess of
function produced no disagreeable sentiency, and medium function no
agreeable sentiency, there would be nothing to insure a proportioned
performance of function. And as it is one of the laws of nervous
action that each stimulus, beyond a direct discharge to the particular
organ acted on, indirectly causes a general discharge throughout the
nervous system (_Prin. of Psy._, §§ 21, 39), it results that the rest
of the organs, all influenced as they are by the nervous system,
participate in the stimulation. So that beyond the aid, more slowly
shown, which the organs yield to one another through the physiological
division of labor, there is the aid, more quickly shown, which mutual
excitation gives. While there is a benefit to be presently felt by the
whole organism from the due performance of each function, there is an
immediate benefit from the exaltation of its functions at large caused
by the accompanying pleasure; and from pains, whether of excess or
defect, there also come these double effects, immediate and remote.

§ 37. Non-recognition of these general truths vitiates moral
speculation at large. From the estimates of right and wrong habitually
framed, these physiological effects wrought on the actor by his
feelings are entirely omitted. It is tacitly assumed that pleasures
and pains have no reactions on the body of the recipient, affecting
his fitness for the duties of life. The only reactions recognized
are those on character; respecting which the current supposition is,
that acceptance of pleasures is detrimental and submission to pains
beneficial. The notion, remotely descended from the ghost-theory of
the savage, that mind and body are independent, has, among its various
implications, this belief that states of consciousness are in no wise
related to bodily states. "You have had your gratification--it is
past; and you are as you were before," says the moralist to one. And
to another he says, "You have borne the suffering--it is over; and
there the matter ends." Both statements are false. Leaving out of view
indirect results, the direct results are that the one has moved a step
away from death and the other has moved a step toward death.

Leaving out of view, I say, the indirect results. It is these indirect
results, here for the moment left out of view, which the moralist has
exclusively in view, being so occupied by them that he ignores the
direct results. The gratification, perhaps purchased at undue cost,
perhaps enjoyed when work should have been done, perhaps snatched
from the rightful claimant, is considered only in relation to remote
injurious effects, and no set-off is made for immediate beneficial
effects. Conversely, from positive and negative pains, borne now in the
pursuit of some future advantage, now in discharge of responsibilities,
now in performing a generous act, the distant good is alone dwelt on
and the proximate evil ignored. Consequences, pleasurable and painful,
experienced by the actor forthwith, are of no importance; and they
become of importance only when anticipated as occurring hereafter to
the actor or to other persons. And further, future evils borne by the
actor are considered of no account if they result from self-denial,
and are emphasized only when they result from self-gratification.
Obviously, estimates so framed are erroneous; and obviously, the
pervading judgments of conduct based on such estimates must be
distorted. Mark the anomalies of opinion produced.

If, as the sequence of a malady contracted in pursuit of illegitimate
gratification, an attack of iritis injures vision, the mischief
is to be counted among those entailed by immoral conduct; but if,
regardless of protesting sensations, the eyes are used in study too
soon after ophthalmia, and there follows blindness for years or for
life, entailing not only personal unhappiness, but a burden on others,
moralists are silent. The broken leg which a drunkard's accident causes
counts among those miseries brought on self and family by intemperance,
which form the ground for reprobating it; but if anxiety to fulfill
duties prompts the continued use of a sprained knee spite of the pain,
and brings on a chronic lameness involving lack of exercise, consequent
ill-health, inefficiency, anxiety, and unhappiness, it is supposed that
ethics has no verdict to give in the matter. A student who is plucked
because he has spent in amusement the time and money that should have
gone in study, is blamed for thus making parents unhappy and preparing
for himself a miserable future; but another who, thinking exclusively
of claims on him, reads night after night with hot or aching head, and,
breaking down, cannot take his degree, but returns home shattered in
health and unable to support himself, is named with pity only, as not
subject to any moral judgment; or rather, the moral judgment passed is
wholly favorable.

Thus recognizing the evils caused by some kinds of conduct only, men
at large, and moralists as exponents of their beliefs, ignore the
suffering and death daily caused around them by disregard of that
guidance which has established itself in the course of evolution. Led
by the tacit assumption common to Pagan stoics and Christian ascetics,
that we are so diabolically organized that pleasures are injurious and
pains beneficial, people on all sides yield examples of lives blasted
by persisting in actions against which their sensations rebel. Here is
one who, drenched to the skin and sitting in a cold wind, pooh-hoohs
his shiverings and gets rheumatic fever, with subsequent heart-disease,
which makes worthless the short life remaining to him. Here is another
who, disregarding painful feelings, works too soon after a debilitating
illness, and establishes disordered health that lasts for the rest of
his days, and makes him useless to himself and others. Now the account
is of a youth who, persisting in gymnastic feats spite of scarcely
bearable straining, bursts a blood-vessel, and, long laid on the shelf,
is permanently damaged; while now it is of a man in middle life who,
pushing muscular effort to painful excess, suddenly brings on hernia.
In this family is a case of aphasia, spreading paralysis and death,
caused by eating too little and doing too much; in that, softening of
the brain has been brought on by ceaseless mental efforts against
which the feelings hourly protested; and in others, less serious brain
affections have been contracted by over-study continued regardless
of discomfort and the cravings for fresh air and exercise.[B] Even
without accumulating special examples, the truth is forced on us by the
visible traits of classes. The careworn man of business too long at
his office, the cadaverous barrister pouring half the night over his
briefs, the feeble factory hands and unhealthy seamstresses passing
long hours in bad air, the anæmic, flat-chested school-girls, bending
over many lessons and forbidden boisterous play, no less than Sheffield
grinders who die of suffocating dust, and peasants crippled with
rheumatism due to exposure, show us the wide spread miseries caused
by persevering in actions repugnant to the sensations and neglecting
actions which the sensations prompt. Nay, the evidence is still more
extensive and conspicuous. What are the puny malformed children, seen
in poverty-stricken districts, but children whose appetites for food
and desires for warmth have not been adequately satisfied? What are
populations stinted in growth and prematurely aged, such as parts of
France show us, but populations injured by work in excess and food in
defect: the one implying positive pain, the other negative pain? What
is the implication of that greater mortality which occurs among people
who are weakened by privations, unless it is that bodily miseries
conduce to fatal illnesses? Or once more, what must we infer from
the frightful amount of disease and death suffered by armies in the
field, fed on scanty and bad provisions, lying on damp ground, exposed
to extremes of heat and cold, inadequately sheltered from rain, and
subject to exhausting efforts; unless it be the terrible mischiefs
caused by continuously subjecting the body to treatment which the
feelings protest against?

It matters not to the argument whether the actions entailing such
effects are voluntary or involuntary. It matters not from the
biological point of view whether the motives prompting them are high or
low. The vital functions accept no apologies on the ground that neglect
of them was unavoidable, or that the reason for neglect was noble. The
direct and indirect sufferings caused by non-conformity to the laws
of life are the same whatever induces the non-conformity; and cannot
be omitted in any rational estimate of conduct. If the purpose of
ethical inquiry is to establish rules of right living; and if the rules
of right living are those of which the total results, individual and
general, direct and indirect, are most conducive to human happiness;
then it is absurd to ignore the immediate results and recognize only
the remote results.

§ 38. Here might be urged the necessity for preluding the study of
moral science by the study of biological science. Here might be dwelt
on the error men make in thinking they can understand those special
phenomena of human life with which Ethics deals, while paying little or
no attention to the general phenomena of human life, and while utterly
ignoring the phenomena of life at large. And, doubtless, there would be
truth in the inference that such acquaintance with the world of living
things, as discloses the part which pleasures and pains have played in
organic evolution, would help to rectify these one-sided conceptions of
moralists. It cannot be held, however, that lack of this knowledge is
the sole cause, or the main cause, of their one-sidedness. For facts of
the kind above instanced, which, duly attended to, would prevent such
distortions of moral theory, are facts which it needs no biological
inquiries to learn, but which are daily thrust before the eyes of all.
The truth is, rather, that the general consciousness is so possessed by
sentiments and ideas at variance with the conclusions necessitated by
familiar evidence that the evidence gets no attention. These adverse
sentiments and ideas have several roots.

There is the theological root. As before shown, from the worship of
cannibal ancestors who delighted in witnessing tortures, there resulted
the primitive conception of deities who were propitiated by the bearing
of pains, and, consequently, angered by the receipt of pleasures.
Through the religions of the semi-civilized, in which this conception
of the divine nature remains conspicuous, it has persisted, in
progressively modified forms, down to our own times; and still colors
the beliefs, both of those who adhere to the current creed and of those
who nominally reject it.

There is another root in the primitive and still-surviving militancy.
While social antagonisms continue to generate war, which consists in
endeavors to inflict pain and death while submitting to the risks of
pain and death, and which necessarily involves great privations, it is
needful that physical suffering, whether considered in itself or in
the evils it bequeaths, should be thought little of, and that among
pleasures recognized as most worthy should be those which victory

Nor does partially developed industrialism fail to furnish a root.
With social evolution, which implies transition from the life of
wandering hunters to the life of settled peoples engaged in labor,
and which therefore entails activities widely unlike those to which
the aboriginal constitution is adapted, there comes an under-exercise
of faculties for which the social state affords no scope, and an
overtaxing of faculties required for the social state; the one implying
denial of certain pleasures and the other submission to certain pains.
Hence, along with that growth of population which makes the struggle
for existence intense, bearing of pains and sacrifice of pleasures is
daily necessitated.

Now always and everywhere, there arises among men a theory conforming
to their practice. The savage nature, originating the conception of a
savage deity, evolves a theory of supernatural control sufficiently
stringent and cruel to influence his conduct. With submission to
despotic government severe enough in its restraints to keep in order
barbarous natures, there grows up a theory of divine right to rule, and
the duty of absolute submission. Where war is made the business of life
by the existence of warlike neighbors, virtues which are required for
war come to be regarded as supreme virtues; while, contrariwise, when
industrialism has grown predominant, the violence and the deception
which warriors glory in come to be held criminal. In like manner,
then, there arises a tolerable adjustment of the actually accepted
(not the nominally accepted) theory of right living, to living as it
is daily carried on. If the life is one that necessitates habitual
denial of pleasures and bearing of pains, there grows up an answering
ethical system under which the receipt of pleasures is tacitly
disapproved and the bearing of pains avowedly approved. The mischiefs
entailed by pleasures in excess are dwelt on, while the benefits which
normal pleasures bring are ignored; and the good results achieved by
submission to pains are fully set forth, while the evils are overlooked.

But while recognizing the desirableness of, and indeed the necessity
for, systems of ethics adapted, like religious systems and political
systems, to their respective times and places, we have here to regard
the first as, like the others, transitional. We must infer that like a
purer creed and a better government, a truer ethics belongs to a more
advanced social state.

Led, _à priori_, to conclude that distortions must exist, we are
enabled to recognize as such the distortions we find: answering in
nature, as these do, to expectation. And there is forced on us the
truth that a scientific morality arises only as fast as the one-sided
conceptions adapted to transitory conditions are developed into
both-sided conceptions. The science of right living has to take account
of all consequences in so far as they affect happiness, personally or
socially, directly or indirectly; and by as much as it ignores any
class of consequences, by so much does it fail to be science.

§ 39. Like the physical view, then, the biological view corresponds
with the view gained by looking at conduct in general from the
standpoint of Evolution.

That which was physically defined as a moving equilibrium, we define
biologically as a balance of functions. The implication of such a
balance is that the several functions, in their kinds, amounts, and
combinations, are adjusted to the several activities which maintain and
constitute complete life; and to be so adjusted is to have reached the
goal toward which the evolution of conduct continually tends.

Passing to the feelings which accompany the performance of functions,
we see that of necessity during the evolution of organic life,
pleasures have become the concomitants of normal amounts of functions,
while pains, positive and negative, have become the concomitants
of excesses and defects of functions. And though in every species
derangements of these relations are often caused by changes of
conditions, they ever re-establish themselves: disappearance of the
species being the alternative.

Mankind, inheriting from creatures of lower kinds, such adjustments
between feelings and functions as concern fundamental bodily
requirements; and daily forced by peremptory feelings to do the things
which maintain life and avoid those which bring immediate death; has
been subject to a change of conditions unusually great and involved.
This has considerably deranged the guidance by sensations, and has
deranged in a much greater degree the guidance by emotions. The result
is that in many cases pleasures are not connected with actions which
must be performed, nor pains with actions which must be avoided, but

Several influences have conspired to make men ignore the well-working
of these relations between feelings and functions, and to observe
whatever of ill-working is seen in them. Hence, while the evils which
some pleasures entail are dilated upon, the benefits habitually
accompanying receipt of pleasures are unnoticed; at the same time that
the benefits achieved through certain pains are magnified while the
immense mischiefs which pains bring are made little of.

The ethical theories characterized by these perversions are products
of, and are appropriate to the forms of social life which the
imperfectly-adapted constitutions of men produce. But with the progress
of adaptation, bringing faculties and requirements into harmony, such
incongruities of experience, and consequent distortions of theory,
must diminish; until, along with complete adjustment of humanity to
the social state, will go recognition of the truths that actions
are completely right only when, besides being conducive to future
happiness, special and general, they are immediately pleasurable, and
that painfulness, not only ultimate but proximate, is the concomitant
of actions which are wrong.

So that from the biological point of view, ethical science becomes a
specification of the conduct of associated men who are severally so
constituted that the various self-preserving activities, the activities
required for rearing offspring, and those which social welfare demands,
are fulfilled in the spontaneous exercise of duly proportioned
faculties, each yielding when in action its quantum of pleasure, and
who are, by consequence, so constituted that excess or defect in any
one of these actions brings its quantum of pain, immediate and remote.

  NOTE TO § 33. In his _Physical Ethics_, Mr. Alfred Barratt has
  expressed a view which here calls for notice. Postulating Evolution
  and its general laws, he refers to certain passages in the
  _Principles of Psychology_ (1st Ed. Pt. III. ch. viii. pp. 395, sqq.
  cf. Pt. IV. ch. iv.) in which I have treated of the relation between
  irritation and contraction which "marks the dawn of sensitive life;"
  have pointed out that "the primordial tissue must be differently
  affected by contact with nutritive and with innutritive matters"--the
  two being for aquatic creatures respectively the soluble and the
  insoluble; and have argued that the contraction by which a protruded
  part of a rhizopod draws in a fragment of assimilable matter "is
  caused by a commencing absorption of the assimilable matter." Mr.
  Barratt, holding that consciousness "must be considered as an
  invariable property of animal life, and ultimately, in its elements,
  of the material universe" (p. 43), regards these responses of animal
  tissue to stimuli, as implying feeling of one or other kind. "Some
  kinds of impressed force," he says, "are followed by movements of
  retraction and withdrawal, others by such as secure a continuance
  of the impression. These two kinds of contraction are the phenomena
  and external marks of pain and pleasure respectively. Hence the
  tissue acts so as to secure pleasure and avoid pain by a law as truly
  physical and natural as that whereby a needle turns to the pole,
  or a tree to the light" (p. 52). Not without questioning that the
  raw material of consciousness is present even in undifferentiated
  protoplasm, and everywhere exists potentially in that Unknowable
  Power which, otherwise conditioned, is manifested in physical
  action (_Prin. of Psy._, § 272-3), I demur to the conclusion that
  it at first exists under the forms of pleasure and pain. These, I
  conceive, arise, as the more special feelings do, by a compounding
  of the ultimate elements of consciousness (_Prin. of Psy._, §§ 60,
  61): being, indeed, general aspects of these more special feelings
  when they reach certain intensities. Considering that even in
  creatures which have developed nervous systems, a great part of the
  vital processes are carried on by unconscious reflex actions, I see
  no propriety in assuming the existence of what we understand by
  consciousness in creatures not only devoid of nervous systems but
  devoid of structures in general.

  NOTE TO § 36. More than once in the _Emotions and the Will_, Dr.
  Bain insists on the connection between pleasure and exaltation of
  vitality, and the connection between pain and depression of vitality.
  As above shown, I concur in the view taken by him; which is, indeed,
  put beyond dispute by general experience as well as by the more
  special experience of medical men.

  When, however, from the invigorating and relaxing effects of pleasure
  and pain respectively, Dr. Bain derives the original tendencies to
  persist in acts which give pleasure and to desist from those which
  give pain, I find myself unable to go with him. He says: "We suppose
  movements spontaneously begun, and accidentally causing pleasure;
  we then assume that with the pleasure there will be an increase of
  vital energy, in which increase the fortunate movements will share,
  and thereby increase the pleasure. Or, on the other hand, we suppose
  the spontaneous movements to give pain, and assume that, with the
  pain, there will be a decrease of energy, extending to the movements
  that cause the evil, and thereby providing a remedy" (3d Ed. p.
  315). This interpretation, implying that "the fortunate movements"
  merely _share_ in the effects of augmented vital energy caused by
  the pleasure, does not seem to me congruous with observation. The
  truth appears rather to be that though there is a concomitant general
  increase of muscular tone, the muscles specially excited are those
  which, by their increased contraction, conduce to increased pleasure.
  Conversely, the implication that desistance from spontaneous
  movements which cause pain, is due to a general muscular relaxation
  shared in by the muscles causing these particular movements, seems
  to me at variance with the fact that the retractation commonly takes
  the form not of a passive lapse but of an active withdrawal. Further,
  it may be remarked that depressing as pain eventually is to the
  system at large, we cannot say that it at once depresses the muscular
  energies. Not simply, as Dr. Bain admits, does an acute smart produce
  spasmodic movements, but pains of all kinds, both sensational and
  emotional, stimulate the muscles (_Essays_, 1st series, p. 360, 1,
  or 2d ed. Vol. I. p. 211, 12). Pain, however (and also pleasure when
  very intense), simultaneously has an inhibitory effect on all the
  reflex actions; and as the vital functions in general are carried on
  by reflex actions, this inhibition, increasing with the intensity
  of the pain, proportionately depresses the vital functions. Arrest
  of the heart's action and fainting is an extreme result of this
  inhibition; and the viscera at large feel its effects in degrees
  proportioned to the degrees of pain. Pain, therefore, while directly
  causing a discharge of muscular energy as pleasure does, eventually
  lowers muscular power by lowering those vital processes on which the
  supply of energy depends. Hence we cannot, I think, ascribe the
  prompt desistance from muscular movements causing pain, to decrease
  in the flow of energy; for this decrease is felt only after an
  interval. Conversely, we cannot ascribe the persistence in a muscular
  act which yields pleasure to the resulting exaltation of energy; but
  must, as indicated in § 33, ascribe it to the establishment of lines
  of discharge between the place of pleasurable stimulation and those
  contractile structures which maintain and increase the act causing
  the stimulation--connections allied with the reflex, into which they
  pass by insensible gradations.



§ 40. The last chapter, in so far as it dealt with feelings in their
relations to conduct, recognized only their physiological aspects:
their psychological aspects were passed over. In this chapter,
conversely, we are not concerned with the constitutional connections
between feelings, as incentives or deterrents, and physical benefits to
be gained, or mischiefs to be avoided; nor with the reactive effects
of feelings on the state of the organism, as fitting or unfitting it
for future action. Here we have to consider represented pleasures
and pains, sensational and emotional, as constituting deliberate
motives--as forming factors in the conscious adjustments of acts to

§ 41. The rudimentary psychical act, not yet differentiated from a
physical act, implies an excitation and a motion. In a creature of
low type the touch of food excites prehension. In a somewhat higher
creature the odor from nutritive matter sets up motion of the body
toward the matter. And where rudimentary vision exists, sudden
obscuration of light, implying the passage of something large, causes
convulsive muscular movements which mostly carry the body away from
the source of danger. In each of these cases we may distinguish
four factors. There is (_a_) that property of the external object
which primarily affects the organism--the taste, smell, or opacity;
and connected with such property there is in the external object
that character (_b_) which renders seizure of it, or escape from it,
beneficial. Within the organism there is (_c_) the impression or
sensation which the property (_a_) produces, serving as stimulus; and
there is connected with it, the motor change (_d_) by which seizure or
escape is effected.

Now Psychology is chiefly concerned with the connection between the
relation _a b_, and the relation _c d_, under all those forms which
they assume in the course of evolution. Each of the factors, and each
of the relations, grows more involved as organization advances. Instead
of being single, the identifying attribute _a_, often becomes, in the
environment of a superior animal, a cluster of attributes; such as the
size, form, colors, motions, displayed by a distant creature that is
dangerous. The factor _b_, with which this combination of attributes
is associated, becomes the congeries of characters, powers, habits,
which constitute it an enemy. Of the subjective factors, _c_ becomes a
complicated set of visual sensations co-ordinated with one another and
with the ideas and feelings established by experience of such enemies,
and constituting the motive to escape; while _d_ becomes the intricate
and often prolonged series of runs, leaps, doubles, dives, etc., made
in eluding the enemy.

In human life we find the same four outer and inner factors, still more
multiform and entangled in their compositions and connections. The
entire assemblage of physical attributes _a_, presented by an estate
that is advertised for sale, passes enumeration; and the assemblage
of various utilities, _b_, going along with these attributes, is
also beyond brief specification. The perceptions and ideas, likes
and dislikes, _c_, set up by the aspect of the estate, and which,
compounded and recompounded, eventually form the motive for buying
it, make a whole too large and complex for description; and the
transactions, legal, pecuniary, and other, gone through in making
the purchase and taking possession, are scarcely less numerous and

Nor must we overlook the fact that as evolution progresses, not only
do the factors increase in complexity, but also the relations among
them. Originally, _a_ is directly and simply connected with _b_, while
_c_ is directly and simply connected with _d_. But eventually, the
connections between _a_ and _b_, and between _c_ and _d_, become very
indirect and involved. On the one hand, as the first illustration shows
us, sapidity and nutritiveness are closely bound together; as are also
the stimulation caused by the one and the contraction which utilizes
the other. But, as we see in the last illustration, the connection
between the visible traits of an estate and those characters which
constitute its value, is at once remote and complicated; while the
transition from the purchaser's highly composite motive to the numerous
actions of sensory and motor organs, severally intricate, which effect
the purchase, is through an entangled plexus of thoughts and feelings
constituting his decision.

After this explanation will be apprehended a truth otherwise set forth
in the _Principles of Psychology_. Mind consists of feelings and the
relations among feelings. By composition of the relations, and ideas
of relations, intelligence arises. By composition of the feelings,
and ideas of feelings, emotion arises. And, other things equal, the
evolution of either is great in proportion as the composition is great.
One of the necessary implications is that cognition becomes higher in
proportion as it is remoter from reflex action; while emotion becomes
higher in proportion as it is remoter from sensation.

And now of the various corollaries from this broad view of
psychological evolution, let us observe those which concern the motives
and actions that are classed as moral and immoral.

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

For from the first, complication of sentiency has accompanied better
and more numerous adjustments of acts to ends; as also has complication
of movement, and complication of the co-ordinating or intellectual
process uniting the two. Whence it follows that the acts characterized
by the more complex motives and the more involved thoughts, have all
along been of higher authority for guidance. Some examples will make
this clear.

Here is an aquatic creature guided by the odor of organic matter
toward things serving for food; but a creature which, lacking any
other guidance, is at the mercy of larger creatures coming near. Here
is another which, also guided to food by odor, possesses rudimentary
vision; and so is made to start spasmodically away from a moving body
which diffuses this odor, in those cases where it is large enough
to produce sudden obscuration of light--usually an enemy. Evidently
life will frequently be saved by conforming to the later and higher
stimulus, instead of to the earlier and lower.

Observe at a more advanced stage a parallel conflict. This is a beast
which pursues others for prey, and, either lacking experience or
prompted by raging hunger, attacks one more powerful than itself,
and gets destroyed. Conversely, that is a beast which, prompted by a
hunger equally keen, but either by individual experience or effects of
inherited experience, made conscious of evil by the aspect of one more
powerful than itself, is deterred from attacking, and saves its life by
subordinating the primary motive, consisting of craving sensations, to
the secondary motive, consisting of ideal feelings, distinct or vague.

Ascending at once from these examples of conduct in animals to examples
of human conduct, we shall see that the contrasts between inferior
and superior have habitually the same traits. The savage of lowest
type devours all the food captured by to-day's chase, and, hungry on
the morrow, has perhaps for days to bear the pangs of starvation. The
superior savage, conceiving more vividly the entailed sufferings if no
game is to be found, is deterred by his complex feeling from giving way
entirely to his simple feeling. Similarly are the two contrasted in the
inertness which goes along with lack of forethought, and the activity
which due forethought produces. The primitive man, idly inclined, and
ruled by the sensations of the moment, will not exert himself until
actual pains have to be escaped; but the man somewhat advanced, able
more distinctly to imagine future gratifications and sufferings, is
prompted by the thought of these to overcome his love of ease: decrease
of misery and mortality resulting from this predominance of the
representative feelings over the presentative feelings.

Without dwelling on the fact that among the civilized, those who lead
the life of the senses are contrasted in the same way with those whose
lives are largely occupied with pleasures not of a sensual kind, let me
point out that there are analogous contrasts between guidance by the
less complex representative feelings, or lower emotions, and guidance
by the more complex representative feelings, or higher emotions. When
led by his acquisitiveness--a re-representative feeling which, acting
under due control, conduces to welfare--the thief takes another man's
property; his act is determined by certain imagined proximate pleasures
of relatively simple kinds, rather than by less clearly imagined
possible pains that are more remote and of relatively involved kinds.
But in the conscientious man, there is an adequate restraining motive,
still more re-representative in its nature, including not only ideas
of punishment, and not only ideas of lost reputation and ruin, but
including ideas of the claims of the person owning the property, and
of the pains which loss of it will entail on him: all joined with a
general aversion to acts injurious to others, which arises from the
inherited effects of experience. And here at the end we see, as we saw
at the beginning, that guidance by the more complex feeling, on the
average, conduces to welfare more than does guidance by the simpler

The like holds with the intellectual co-ordinations through which
stimuli issue in motions. The lowest actions, called reflex, in which
an impression made on an afferent nerve causes by discharge through an
efferent nerve a contraction, shows us a very limited adjustment of
acts to ends: the impression being simple, and the resulting motion
simple, the internal co-ordination is also simple. Evidently when there
are several senses which can be together affected by an outer object;
and when, according as such object is discriminated as of one or other
kind, the movements made in response are combined in one or other way;
the intermediate co-ordinations are necessarily more involved. And
evidently each further step in the evolution of intelligence, always
instrumental to better self-preservation, exhibits this same general
trait. The adjustments by which the more involved actions are made
appropriate to the more involved circumstances, imply more intricate,
and, consequently, more deliberate and conscious co-ordinations; until,
when we come to civilized men, who in their daily business, taking into
account many data and conditions, adjust their proceedings to various
consequences, we see that the intellectual actions, becoming of the
kind we call judicial, are at once very elaborate and very deliberate.

Observe, then, what follows respecting the relative authorities of
motives. Throughout the ascent from low creatures up to man, and
from the lowest types of man up to the highest, self-preservation
has been increased by the subordination of simple excitations to
compound excitations--the subjection of immediate sensations to
the ideas of sensations to come--the overruling of preservative
feelings by representative feelings, and of representative feelings
by re-representative feelings. As life has advanced, the accompanying
sentiency has become increasingly ideal; and among feelings produced
by the compounding of ideas, the highest, and those which have evolved
latest, are the re-compounded or doubly ideal. Hence it follows that
as guides, the feelings have authorities proportionate to the degrees
in which they are removed by their complexity and their ideality from
simple sensations and appetites.

A further implication is made clear by studying the intellectual sides
of these mental processes by which acts are adjusted to ends. Where
they are low and simple, these comprehend the guiding only of immediate
acts by immediate stimuli--the entire transaction in each case,
lasting but a moment, refers only to a proximate result. But with the
development of intelligence, and the growing ideality of the motives,
the ends to which the acts are adjusted cease to be exclusively
immediate. The more ideal motives concern ends that are more
distant; and with approach to the highest types, present ends become
increasingly subordinate to those future ends which the ideal motives
have for their objects. Hence there arises a certain presumption in
favor of a motive which refers to a remote good, in comparison with one
which refers to a proximate good.

§ 43. In the last chapter I hinted that besides the several influences
there named as fostering the ascetic belief that doing things which
are agreeable is detrimental while bearing disagreeable things is
beneficial, there remained to be named an influence of deeper origin.
This is shadowed forth in the foregoing paragraphs.

For the general truth that guidance by such simple pleasures and pains
as result from fulfilling or denying bodily desires, is, under one
aspect, inferior to guidance by those pleasures and pains which the
complex ideal feelings yield, has led to the belief that the promptings
of bodily desires should be disregarded. Further, the general truth
that pursuit of proximate satisfactions is, under one aspect, inferior
to pursuit of ultimate satisfactions, has led to the belief that
proximate satisfactions must not be valued.

In the early stages of every science, the generalizations reached are
not qualified enough. The discriminating statements of the truths
formulated, rise afterward, by limitation of the undiscriminating
statements. As with bodily vision, which at first appreciates only
the broadest traits of objects, and so leads to rude classings, which
developed vision, impressible by minor differences, has to correct,
so with mental vision in relation to general truths, it happens that
at first the inductions, wrongly made all-embracing, have to wait for
scepticism and critical observation to restrict them, by taking account
of unnoticed differences. Hence, we may expect to find the current
ethical conclusions too sweeping. Let us note how, in three ways, these
dominant beliefs, alike of professed moralists and of people at large,
are made erroneous by lack of qualifications.

In the first place, the authority of the lower feelings as guides is
by no means always inferior to the authority of the higher feelings,
but is often superior. Daily occur occasions on which sensations
must be obeyed rather than sentiments. Let any one think of sitting
all night naked in a snow-storm, or going a week without food, or
letting his head be held under water for ten minutes, and he will see
that the pleasures and pains directly related to maintenance of life
may not be wholly subordinated to the pleasures and pains indirectly
related to maintenance of life. Though in many cases guidance by the
simple feelings rather than by the complex feelings is injurious, in
other cases guidance by the complex feelings rather than by the simple
feelings is fatal; and throughout a wide range of cases their relative
authorities as guides are indeterminate. Grant that in a man pursued,
the protesting feelings accompanying intense and prolonged effort,
must, to preserve life, be overruled by the fear of his pursuers; it
may yet happen that, persisting till he drops, the resulting exhaustion
causes death, though, the pursuit having been abandoned, death would
not otherwise have resulted. Grant that a widow left in poverty must
deny her appetite that she may give enough food to her children to keep
them alive; yet the denial of her appetite pushed too far may leave
them not only entirely without food but without guardianship. Grant
that, working his brain unceasingly from dawn till dark, the man in
pecuniary difficulties must disregard rebellious bodily sensations in
obedience to the conscientious desire to liquidate the claims on him;
yet he may carry this subjection of simple feelings to complex feelings
to the extent of shattering his health, and failing in that end
which, with less of this subjection, he might have achieved. Clearly,
then, the subordination of lower feelings must be a conditional
subordination. The supremacy of higher feelings must be a qualified

In another way does the generalization ordinarily made err by
excess. With the truth that life is high in proportion as the
simple presentative feelings are under the control of the compound
representative feelings, it joins, as though they were corollaries,
certain propositions which are not corollaries. The current conception
is, not that the lower must yield to the higher when the two conflict,
but that the lower must be disregarded even when there is no conflict.
This tendency which the growth of moral ideas has generated, to
condemn obedience to inferior feelings when superior feelings protest,
has begotten a tendency to condemn inferior feelings considered
intrinsically. "I really think she does things because she likes to
do them," once said to me one lady concerning another: the form of
expression and the manner both implying the belief not only that such
behavior is wrong, but also that every one must recognize it as wrong.
And there prevails widely a notion of this kind. In practice, indeed,
the notion is very generally inoperative. Though it prompts various
incidental asceticisms, as of those who think it alike manly and
salutary to go without a great-coat in cold weather, or to persevere
through the winter in taking an out-of-door plunge, yet, generally,
the pleasurable feelings accompanying due fulfillment of bodily needs,
are accepted: acceptance being, indeed, sufficiently peremptory. But
oblivious of these contradictions in their practice, men commonly
betray a vague idea that there is something degrading, or injurious,
or both, in doing that which is agreeable and avoiding that which is
disagreeable. "Pleasant but wrong," is a phrase frequently used in a
way implying that the two are naturally connected. As above hinted,
however, such beliefs result from a confused apprehension of the
general truth that the more compound and representative feelings are,
on the average, of higher authority than the simple and presentative
feelings. Apprehended with discrimination, this truth implies that the
authority of the simple, ordinarily less than that of the compound but
occasionally greater, is habitually to be accepted when the compound do
not oppose.

In yet a third way is this principle of subordination misconceived. One
of the contrasts between the earlier evolved feelings and the later
evolved feelings, is that they refer respectively to the more immediate
effects of actions and to the more remote effects; and speaking
generally, guidance by that which is near is inferior to guidance by
that which is distant. Hence has resulted the belief that, irrespective
of their kinds, the pleasures of the present must be sacrificed to the
pleasures of the future. We see this in the maxim often impressed on
children when eating their meals, that they should reserve the nicest
morsel till the last: the check on improvident yielding to immediate
impulse, being here joined with the tacit teaching that the same
gratification becomes more valuable as it becomes more distant. Such
thinking is traceable throughout daily conduct; by no means indeed in
all, but in those who are distinguished as prudent and well regulated
in their conduct. Hurrying over his breakfast that he may catch the
train, snatching a sandwich in the middle of the day, and eating a late
dinner when he is so worn out that he is incapacitated for evening
recreation, the man of business pursues a life in which not only the
satisfactions of bodily desires, but also those of higher tastes and
feelings, are, as far as may be, disregarded, that distant ends may
be achieved; and yet if you ask what are these distant ends, you find
(in cases where there are no parental responsibilities) that they are
included under the conception of more comfortable living in time to
come. So ingrained is this belief that it is wrong to seek immediate
enjoyments and right to seek remote ones only, that you may hear from
a busy man who has been on a pleasure excursion a kind of apology for
his conduct. He deprecates the unfavorable judgments of his friends by
explaining that the state of his health had compelled him to take a
holiday. Nevertheless, if you sound him with respect to his future, you
find that his ambition is by-and-by to retire and devote himself wholly
to the relaxations which he is now somewhat ashamed of taking.

The general truth disclosed by the study of evolving conduct, sub-human
and human, that for the better preservation of life the primitive,
simple, presentative feelings must be controlled by the later-evolved,
compound, and representative feelings, has thus come, in the course of
civilization, to be recognized by men; but necessarily at first in too
indiscriminate a way. The current conception, while it errs by implying
that the authority of the higher over the lower is unlimited, errs
also by implying that the rule of the lower must be resisted even when
it does not conflict with the rule of the higher, and further errs by
implying that a gratification which forms a proper aim if it is remote,
forms an improper aim if it is proximate.

§ 44. Without explicitly saying so, we have been here tracing the
genesis of the moral consciousness. For unquestionably the essential
trait in the moral consciousness is the control of some feeling or
feelings by some other feeling or feelings.

Among the higher animals we may see, distinctly enough, the conflict
of feelings and the subjection of simpler to more compound; as when a
dog is restrained from snatching food by fear of the penalties which
may come if he yields to his appetite; or as when he desists from
scratching at a hole lest he should lose his master, who has walked on.
Here, however, though there is subordination, there is not conscious
subordination--there is no introspection revealing the fact that one
feeling has yielded to another. So is it even with human beings when
little developed mentally. The pre-social man, wandering about in
families and ruled by such sensations and emotions as are caused by the
circumstances of the moment, though occasionally subject to conflicts
of motives, meets with comparatively few cases in which the advantage
of postponing the immediate to the remote is forced on his attention;
nor has he the intelligence requisite for analyzing and generalizing
such of these cases as occur. Only as social evolution renders the life
more complex, the restraints many and strong, the evils of impulsive
conduct marked, and the comforts to be gained by providing for the
future tolerably certain, can there come experiences numerous enough
to make familiar the benefit of subordinating the simpler feelings to
the more complex ones. Only then, too, does there arise a sufficient
intellectual power to make an induction from these experiences,
followed by a sufficient massing of individual inductions into a
public and traditional induction impressed on each generation as it
grows up.

And here we are introduced to certain facts of profound significance.
This conscious relinquishment of immediate and special good to
gain distant and general good, while it is a cardinal trait of
the self-restraint called moral, is also a cardinal trait of
self-restraints other than those called moral--the restraints that
originate from fear of the visible ruler, of the invisible ruler, and
of society at large. Whenever the individual refrains from doing that
which the passing desire prompts, lest he should afterward suffer
legal punishment, or divine vengeance, or public reprobation, or all
of them, he surrenders the near and definite pleasure rather than risk
the remote and greater, though less definite, pains, which taking it
may bring on him; and, conversely, when he undergoes some present
pain, that he may reap some probable future pleasure, political,
religious, or social. But though all these four kinds of internal
control have the common character that the simpler and less ideal
feelings are consciously overruled by the more complex and ideal
feelings; and though, at first, they are practically co-extensive
and undistinguished, yet, in the course of social evolution,
they differentiate; and, eventually, the moral control, with its
accompanying conceptions and sentiments, emerges as independent. Let us
glance at the leading aspects of the process.

While, as in the rudest groups, neither political nor religious rule
exists, the leading check to the immediate satisfaction of each
desire as it arises, is consciousness of the evils which the anger of
fellow-savages may entail, if satisfaction of the desire is obtained
at their cost. In this early stage the imagined pains which constitute
the governing motive are those apt to be inflicted by beings of like
nature, undistinguished in power: the political, religious, and
social restraints are as yet represented only by this mutual dread of

When special strength, skill, or courage, makes one of them a leader in
battle, he necessarily inspires greater fear than any other, and there
comes to be a more decided check on such satisfactions of the desires
as will injure or offend him. Gradually as, by habitual warfare,
chieftainship is established, the evils thought of as likely to arise
from angering the chief, not only by aggression upon him, but by
disobedience to him, become distinguishable both from the smaller evils
which other personal antagonisms cause, and from the more diffused
evils thought of as arising from social reprobation. That is, political
control begins to differentiate from the more indefinite control of
mutual dread.

Meanwhile there has been developing the ghost theory. In all but the
rudest groups the double of a deceased man, propitiated at death and
afterward, is conceived as able to injure the survivors. Consequently,
as fast as the ghost theory becomes established and definite, there
grows up another kind of check on immediate satisfaction of the
desires--a check constituted by ideas of the evils which ghosts may
inflict if offended; and when political headship gets settled, and the
ghosts of dead chiefs, thought of as more powerful and relentless than
other ghosts, are especially dreaded, there begins to take shape the
form of restraint distinguished as religious.

For a long time these three sets of restraints, which their
correlative sanctions, though becoming separate in consciousness,
remain co-extensive, and do so because they mostly refer to one
end--success in war. The duty of blood-revenge is insisted on even
while yet nothing to be called social organization exists. As the
chief gains predominance, the killing of enemies becomes a political
duty; and as the anger of the dead chief comes to be dreaded, the
killing of enemies becomes a religious duty. Loyalty to the ruler while
he lives and after he dies is increasingly shown by holding life at
his disposal for purposes of war. The earliest enacted punishments
are those for insubordination and for breaches of observances which
express subordination--all of them militant in origin. While the divine
injunctions, originally traditions of the dead king's will, mainly
refer to the destruction of peoples with whom he was at enmity, and
divine anger or approval are conceived as determined by the degrees in
which subjection to him is shown, directly by worship and indirectly by
fulfilling these injunctions. The Fijian, who is said on entering the
other world to commend himself by narrating his successes in battle,
and who, when alive, is described as sometimes greatly distressed if he
thinks he has not killed enemies enough to please his gods, shows us
the resulting ideas and feelings, and reminds us of kindred ideas and
feelings betrayed by ancient races.

To all which add that the control of social opinion, besides being
directly exercised, as in the earliest stage, by praise of the brave
and blame of the cowardly, comes to be indirectly exercised with a
kindred general effect by applause of loyalty to the ruler and piety
to the god. So that the three differentiated forms of control which
grow up along with militant organization and action, while enforcing
kindred restraints and incentives, also enforce one another; and their
separate and joint disciplines have the common character that they
involve the sacrifice of immediate special benefits to obtain more
distant and general benefits.

At the same time there have been developing under the same three
sanctions, restraints and incentives of another order, similarly
characterized by subordination of the proximate to the remote. Joint
aggressions upon men outside the society cannot prosper if there
are many aggressions of man on man within the society. War implies
co-operation; and co-operation is prevented by antagonisms among those
who are to co-operate. We saw that in the primitive ungoverned group,
the main check on immediate satisfaction of his desires by each man,
is the fear of other men's vengeance if they are injured by taking the
satisfaction; and through early stages of social development this dread
of retaliation continues to be the chief motive to such forbearance
as exists. But though long after political authority has become
established the taking of personal satisfaction for injuries persists,
the growth of political authority gradually checks it. The fact that
success in war is endangered if his followers fight among themselves,
forces itself on the attention of the ruler. He has a strong motive
for restraining quarrels, and therefore for preventing the aggressions
which cause quarrels; and as his power becomes greater he forbids the
aggressions and inflicts punishments for disobedience. Presently,
political restraints of this class, like those of the preceding class,
are enforced by religious restraints. The sagacious chief, succeeding
in war partly because he thus enforces order among his followers,
leaves behind him a tradition of the commands he habitually gave. Dread
of his ghost tends to produce regard for these commands; and they
eventually acquire sacredness. With further social evolution come, in
like manner, further interdicts, checking aggressions of less serious
kinds; until eventually there grows up a body of civil laws. And then,
in the way shown, arise beliefs concerning the divine disapproval
of these minor, as well as of the major, civil offences: ending,
occasionally, in a set of religious injunctions harmonizing with,
and enforcing, the political injunctions; while simultaneously there
develops, as before, a social sanction for these rules of internal
conduct, strengthening the political and religious sanctions.

But now observe that while these three controls, political, religious,
and social, severally lead men to subordinate proximate satisfactions
to remote satisfactions; and while they are in this respect like
the moral control, which habitually requires the subjection of
simple presentative feelings to complex representative feelings and
postponement of present to future; yet they do not constitute the moral
control, but are only preparatory to it--are controls within which the
moral control evolves. The command of the political ruler is at first
obeyed, not because of its perceived rectitude, but simply because
it is his command, which there will be a penalty for disobeying. The
check is not a mental representation of the evil consequences which
the forbidden act will, in the nature of things, cause: but it is a
mental representation of the factitious evil consequences. Down to our
own time we trace in legal phrases, the original doctrine that the
aggression of one citizen on another is wrong, and will be punished,
not so much because of the injury done him, as because of the implied
disregard of the king's will. Similarly, the sinfulness of breaking
a divine injunction was universally at one time, and is still by
many, held to consist in the disobedience to God, rather than in the
deliberate entailing of injury; and even now it is a common belief
that acts are right only if performed in conscious fulfillment of the
divine will: nay, are even wrong if otherwise performed. The like
holds, too, with that further control exercised by public opinion. On
listening to the remarks made respecting conformity to social rules, it
is noticeable that breach of them is condemned not so much because of
any essential impropriety as because the world's authority is ignored.
How imperfectly the truly moral control is even now differentiated
from these controls within which it has been evolving, we see in the
fact that the systems of morality criticized at the outset, severally
identify moral control with one or other of them. For moralists of
one class derive moral rules from the commands of a supreme political
power. Those of another class recognize no other origin for them than
the revealed divine will. And though men who take social prescription
for their guide do not formulate their doctrine, yet the belief,
frequently betrayed, that conduct which society permits is not
blameworthy, implies that there are those who think right and wrong can
be made such by public opinion.

Before taking a further step we must put together the results of this
analysis. The essential truths to be carried with us, respecting these
three forms of external control to which the social unit is subject,
are these: First, that they have evolved with the evolution of society,
as means to social self-preservation, necessary under the conditions;
and that, by implication, they are in the main congruous with one
another. Second, that the correlative internal restraints generated
in the social unit are representations of remote results which are
incidental rather than necessary--a legal penalty, a supernatural
punishment, a social reprobation. Third, that these results, simpler
and more directly wrought by personal agencies, can be more vividly
conceived than can the results which, in the course of things, actions
naturally entail; and the conceptions of them are, therefore, more
potent over undeveloped minds. Fourth, that as with the restraints thus
generated is always joined the thought of external coercion, there
arises the notion of obligation; which so becomes habitually associated
with the surrender of immediate special benefits for the sake of
distant and general benefits. Fifth, that the moral control corresponds
in large measure with the three controls thus originating, in respect
of its injunctions; and corresponds, too, in the general nature of the
mental processes producing conformity to those injunctions; but differs
in their special nature.

§ 45. For now we are prepared to see that the restraints, properly
distinguished as moral, are unlike these restraints out of which
they evolve, and with which they are long confounded, in this--they
refer not to the extrinsic effects of actions but to their intrinsic
effects. The truly moral deterrent from murder is not constituted by
a representation of hanging as a consequence, or by a representation
of tortures in hell as a consequence, or by a representation of the
horror and hatred excited in fellow men; but by a representation
of the necessary natural results, the infliction of death-agony on
the victim, the destruction of all his possibilities of happiness,
the entailed sufferings to his belongings. Neither the thought of
imprisonment, nor of divine anger, nor of social disgrace, is that
which constitutes the moral check on theft; but the thought of injury
to the person robbed, joined with a vague consciousness of the general
evils caused by disregard of proprietary rights. Those who reprobate
the adulterer on moral grounds have their minds filled, not with ideas
of an action for damages, or of future punishment following the breach
of a commandment, or of loss of reputation; but they are occupied with
ideas of unhappiness entailed on the aggrieved wife or husband, the
damaged lives of children, and the diffused mischiefs which go along
with disregard of the marriage tie. Conversely, the man who is moved
by a moral feeling to help another in difficulty, does not picture to
himself any reward here or hereafter; but pictures only the better
condition he is trying to bring about. One who is morally prompted to
fight against a social evil has neither material benefit nor popular
applause before his mind, but only the mischiefs he seeks to remove and
the increased well-being which will follow their removal. Throughout,
then, the moral motive differs from the motives it is associated
with in this, that instead of being constituted by representations
of incidental, collateral, non-necessary consequences of acts, it is
constituted by representations of consequences which the acts naturally
produce. These representations are not all distinct, though some of
such are usually present; but they form an assemblage of indistinct
representations accumulated by experience of the results of like acts
in the life of the individual, superposed on a still more indistinct
but voluminous consciousness due to the inherited effects of such
experiences in progenitors, forming a feeling that is at once massive
and vague.

And now we see why the moral feelings and correlative restraints have
arisen later than the feelings and restraints that originate from
political, religious, and social authorities, and have so slowly, and
even yet so incompletely, disentangled themselves. For only by these
lower feelings and restraints could be maintained the conditions under
which the higher feelings and restraints evolve. It is thus alike with
the self-regarding feelings and with the other-regarding feelings. The
pains which improvidence will bring, and the pleasures to be gained by
storing up things for future use, and by laboring to get such things,
can be habitually contrasted in thought, only as fast as settled social
arrangements make accumulation possible; and that there may arise such
settled arrangements, fear of the seen ruler, of the unseen ruler, and
of public opinion, must come into play. Only after political, religious
and social restraints have produced a stable community can there be
sufficient experience of the pains, positive and negative, sensational
and emotional, which crimes of aggression cause, as to generate
that moral aversion to them constituted by consciousness of their
intrinsically evil results. And more manifest still is it that such a
moral sentiment as that of abstract equity, which is offended not only
by material injuries done to men, but also by political arrangements
that place them at a disadvantage, can evolve only after the social
stage reached gives familiar experience, both of the pains flowing
directly from injustices, and also of those flowing indirectly from the
class privileges which make injustices easy.

That the feelings called moral have the nature and origin alleged is
further shown by the fact that we associate the name with them in
proportion to the degree in which they have these characters--firstly,
of being re-representative; secondly, of being concerned with indirect
rather than with direct effects, and generally with remote rather
than immediate; and thirdly, of referring to effects that are mostly
general rather than special. Thus, though we condemn one man for
extravagance and approve the economy shown by another man, we do not
class their acts as respectively vicious and virtuous. These words are
too strong; the present and future results here differ too little in
concreteness and ideality to make the words fully applicable. Suppose,
however, that the extravagance necessarily brings distress on wife
and children--brings pains diffused over the lives of others as well
as of self, and the viciousness of the extravagance becomes clear.
Suppose, further, that prompted by the wish to relieve his family from
the misery he has brought on them, the spendthrift forges a bill or
commits some other fraud. Though, estimated apart, we characterize
his overruling emotion as moral, and make allowance for him in
consideration of it, yet his action, taken as a whole, we condemn as
immoral: we regard as of superior authority the feelings which respond
to men's proprietary claims--feelings which are re-representative in
a higher degree and refer to more remote diffused consequences. The
difference, habitually recognized, between the relative elevations of
justice and generosity, well illustrates this truth. The motive causing
a generous act has reference to effects of a more concrete, special,
and proximate kind than has the motive to do justice, which, beyond
the proximate effects, usually themselves less concrete than those
that generosity contemplates, includes a consciousness of the distant,
involved, diffused effects of maintaining equitable relations. And
justice we hold to be higher generosity.

Comprehension of this long argument will be aided by here quoting a
further passage from the before-named letter to Mr. Mill, following the
passage already quoted from it.

  "To make any position fully understood, it seems needful to add that,
  corresponding to the fundamental propositions of a developed Moral
  Science, there have been, and still are, developing in the race,
  certain fundamental moral intuitions; and that, though these moral
  intuitions are the results of accumulated experiences of Utility,
  gradually organized and inherited, they have come to be quite
  independent of conscious experience. Just in the same way that I
  believe the intuition of space, possessed by any living individual,
  to have arisen from organized and consolidated experiences of all
  antecedent individuals who bequeathed to him their slowly developed
  nervous organizations--just as I believe that this intuition,
  requiring only to be made definite and complete by personal
  experiences, has practically become a form of thought, apparently
  quite independent of experience; so do I believe that the experiences
  of utility organized and consolidated through all past generations
  of the human race, have been producing corresponding nervous
  modifications, which, by continued transmission and accumulation,
  have become in us certain faculties of moral intuition--certain
  emotions responding to right and wrong conduct, which have no
  apparent basis in the individual experiences of utility. I also hold
  that just as the space intuition responds to the exact demonstrations
  of Geometry, and has its rough conclusions interpreted and verified
  by them; so will moral intuitions respond to the demonstrations of
  Moral Science, and will have their rough conclusions interpreted and
  verified by them."

To this, in passing, I will add only that the evolution-hypothesis
thus enables us to reconcile opposed moral theories, as it enables us
to reconcile opposed theories of knowledge. For as the doctrine of
innate forms of intellectual intuition falls into harmony with the
experiential doctrine, when we recognize the production of intellectual
faculties by inheritance of effects wrought by experience; so the
doctrine of innate powers of moral perception becomes congruous
with the utilitarian doctrine, when it is seen that preferences and
aversions are rendered organic by inheritance of the effects of
pleasurable and painful experiences in progenitors.

§ 46. One further question has to be answered--How does there arise
the feeling of moral obligation in general? Whence comes the sentiment
of duty, considered as distinct from the several sentiments which
prompt temperance, providence, kindness, justice, truthfulness, etc.?
The answer is that it is an abstract sentiment generated in a manner
analogous to that in which abstract ideas are generated.

The idea of each color had originally entire concreteness given to it
by an object possessing the color; as some of the unmodified names,
such as orange and violet, show us. The dissociation of each color
from the object specially associated with it in thought at the outset,
went on as fast as the color came to be associated in thought with
objects unlike the first, and unlike one another. The idea of orange
was conceived in the abstract more fully in proportion as the various
orange-colored objects remembered, cancelled one another's diverse
attributes, and left outstanding their common attribute.

So is it if we ascend a stage and note how there arises the abstract
idea of color apart from particular colors. Were all things red the
conception of color in the abstract could not exist. Imagine that
every object was either red or green, and it is manifest that the
mental habit would be to think of one or other of these two colors in
connection with anything named. But multiply the colors so that thought
rambles undecidedly among the ideas of them that occur along with any
object named, and there results the notion of indeterminate color--the
common property which objects possess of affecting us by light from
their surfaces, as well as by their forms. For evidently the notion of
this common property is that which remains constant while imagination
is picturing every possible variety of color. It is the uniform trait
in all colored things; that is--color in the abstract.

Words referring to quantity furnish cases of more marked dissociation
of abstract from concrete. Grouping various things as small in
comparison either with those of their kind or with those of other
kinds, and similarly grouping some objects as comparatively great, we
get the opposite abstract notions of smallness and greatness. Applied
as these are to innumerable very diverse things--not objects only, but
forces, times, numbers, values--they have become so little connected
with concretes, that their abstract meanings are very vague.

Further, we must note that an abstract idea thus formed often acquires
an illusive independence; as we may perceive in the case of motion,
which, dissociated in thought from all particular bodies and velocities
and directions, is sometimes referred to as though it could be
conceived apart from something moving.

Now all this holds of the subjective as well as of the objective; and
among other states of consciousness, holds of the emotions as known
by introspection. By the grouping of those re-representative feelings
above described, which, differing among themselves in other respects,
have a component in common, and by the consequent mutual cancelling
of their diverse components, this common component is made relatively
appreciable, and becomes an abstract feeling. Thus is produced the
sentiment of moral obligation or duty. Let us observe its genesis.

We have seen that during the progress of animate existence, the later
evolved, more compound and more representative feelings, serving to
adjust the conduct to more distant and general needs, have all along
had an authority as guides superior to that of the earlier and simpler
feelings--excluding cases in which these last are intense. This
superior authority, unrecognizable by lower types of creatures which
cannot generalize, and little recognizable by primitive men who have
but feeble powers of generalization, has become distinctly recognized
as civilization and accompanying mental development have gone on.
Accumulated experiences have produced the consciousness that guidance
by feelings which refer to remote and general results is usually more
conducive to welfare than guidance by feelings to be immediately
gratified. For what is the common character of the feelings that
prompt honesty, truthfulness, diligence, providence, etc., which men
habitually find to be better prompters than the appetites and simple
impulses? They are all complex, re-representative feelings, occupied
with the future rather than the present. The idea of authoritativeness
has, therefore, come to be connected with feelings having these traits:
the implication being that the lower and simpler feelings are without
authority. And this idea of authoritativeness is one element in the
abstract consciousness of duty.

But there is another element--the element of coerciveness. This
originates from experience of those several forms of restraint that
have, as above described, established themselves in the course of
civilization--the political, religious, and social. To the effects
of punishments inflicted by law and public opinion on conduct of
certain kinds, Dr. Bain ascribes the feeling of moral obligation. And
I agree with him to the extent of thinking that by them is generated
the sense of compulsion which the consciousness of duty includes,
and which the word obligation indicates. The existence of an earlier
and deeper element, generated as above described, is, however, I
think, implied by the fact that certain of the higher self-regarding
feelings, instigating prudence and economy, have a moral authority in
opposition to the simpler self-regarding feelings: showing that apart
from any thought of factitious penalties on improvidence, the feeling
constituted by representation of the natural penalties has acquired an
acknowledged superiority. But accepting in the main the view that fears
of the political and social penalties (to which, I think, the religious
must be added) have generated that sense of coerciveness which goes
along with the thought of postponing present to future and personal
desires to the claims of others, it here chiefly concerns us to note
that this sense of coerciveness becomes indirectly connected with the
feelings distinguished as moral. For since the political, religious and
social restraining motives, are mainly formed of represented future
results; and since the moral restraining motive is mainly formed of
represented future results; it happens that the representations,
having much in common, and being often aroused at the same time, the
fear joined with three sets of them becomes, by association, joined
with the fourth. Thinking of the extrinsic effects of a forbidden act,
excites a dread which continues present while the intrinsic effects
of the act are thought of; and being thus linked with these intrinsic
effects causes a vague sense of moral compulsion. Emerging as the moral
motive does but slowly from amidst the political, religious and social
motives it long participates in that consciousness of subordination
to some external agency which is joined with them; and only as
it becomes distinct and predominant does it lose this associated
consciousness--only then does the feeling of obligation fade.

This remark implies the tacit conclusion, which will be to most very
startling, that the sense of duty or moral obligation is transitory,
and will diminish as fast as moralization increases. Startling
though it is, this conclusion may be satisfactorily defended. Even
now progress toward the implied ultimate state is traceable. The
observation is not infrequent that persistence in performing a duty
ends in making it a pleasure; and this amounts to the admission that
while at first the motive contains an element of coercion, at last
this element of coercion dies out, and the act is performed without
any consciousness of being obliged to perform it. The contrast between
the youth on whom diligence is enjoined, and the man of business so
absorbed in affairs that he cannot be induced to relax, shows us
how the doing of work, originally under the consciousness that it
_ought_ to be done, may eventually cease to have any such accompanying
consciousness. Sometimes, indeed, the relation comes to be reversed;
and the man of business persists in work from pure love of it when told
that he ought not. Nor is it thus with self-regarding feelings only.
That the maintaining and protecting of wife by husband often result
solely from feelings directly gratified by these actions, without any
thought of _must_; and that the fostering of children by parents is in
many cases made an absorbing occupation without any coercive feeling
of _ought_; are obvious truths which show us that even now, with some
of the fundamental other-regarding duties, the sense of obligation has
retreated into the background of the mind. And it is in some degree so
with other-regarding duties of a higher kind. Conscientiousness has in
many outgrown that stage in which the sense of a compelling power is
joined with rectitude of action. The truly honest man, here and there
to be found, is not only without thought of legal, religious, or social
compulsion, when he discharges an equitable claim on him, but he is
without thought of self-compulsion. He does the right thing with a
simple feeling of satisfaction in doing it; and is, indeed, impatient
if anything prevents him from having the satisfaction of doing it.

Evidently, then, with complete adaptation to the social state, that
element in the moral consciousness which is expressed by the word
obligation, will disappear. The higher actions required for the
harmonious carrying on of life will be as much matters of course as are
those lower actions which the simple desires prompt. In their proper
times and places and proportions, the moral sentiments will guide men
just as spontaneously and adequately as now do the sensations. And
though, joined with their regulating influence when this is called
for, will exist latent ideas of the evils which nonconformity would
bring; these will occupy the mind no more than do ideas of the evils of
starvation at the time when a healthy appetite is being satisfied by a

§ 47. This elaborate exposition, which the extreme complexity of the
subject has necessitated, may have its leading ideas restated thus:

Symbolizing by _a_ and _b_, related phenomena in the environment, which
in some way concern the welfare of the organism; and symbolizing by
_c_ and _d_, the impressions, simple or compound, which the organism
receives from the one, and the motions, single or combined, by which
its acts are adapted to meet the other; we saw that psychology in
general is concerned with the connection between the relation _a
b_ and the relation _c d_. Further, we saw that by implication
the psychological aspect of Ethics, is that aspect under which
the adjustment of _c d_ to _a b_, appears, not as an intellectual
co-ordination simply, but as a co-ordination in which pleasures and
pains are alike factors and results.

It was shown that throughout Evolution, motive and act become
more complex, as the adaptation of inner related actions to outer
related actions extends in range and variety. Whence followed the
corollary that the later evolved feelings, more representative and
re-representative in their constitution, and referring to remoter and
wider needs, have, on the average, an authority as guides greater than
have the earlier and simpler feelings.

After thus observing that even an inferior creature is ruled by a
hierarchy of feelings so constituted that general welfare depends on
a certain subordination of lower to higher, we saw that in man, as
he passes into the social state, there arises the need for sundry
additional subordinations of lower to higher: co-operation being
made possible only by them. To the restraints constituted by mental
representations of the intrinsic effects of actions, which, in their
simpler forms, have been evolving from the beginning, are added the
restraints caused by mental representations of extrinsic effects, in
the shape of political, religious, and social penalties.

With the evolution of society, made possible by institutions
maintaining order, and associating in men's minds the sense of
obligation with prescribed acts and with desistances from forbidden
acts, there arose opportunities for seeing the bad consequences
naturally flowing from the conduct interdicted and the good
consequences from the conduct required. Hence eventually grew up
moral aversions and approvals: experience of the intrinsic effects
necessarily here coming later than experience of the extrinsic effects,
and therefore producing its results later.

The thoughts and feelings constituting these moral aversions and
approvals, being all along closely connected with the thoughts and
feelings constituting fears of political, religious, and social
penalties, necessarily came to participate in the accompanying sense
of obligation. The coercive element in the consciousness of duties at
large, evolved by converse with external agencies which enforce duties,
diffused itself by association through that consciousness of duty,
properly called moral, which is occupied with intrinsic results instead
of extrinsic results.

But this self-compulsion, which at a relatively high stage becomes more
and more a substitute for compulsion from without, must itself, at a
still higher stage, practically disappear. If some action to which
the special motive is insufficient, is performed in obedience to the
feeling of moral obligation, the fact proves that the special faculty
concerned is not yet equal to its function--has not acquired such
strength that the required activity has become its normal activity,
yielding its due amount of pleasure. With complete evolution then, the
sense of obligation, not ordinarily present in consciousness, will be
awakened only on those extraordinary occasions that prompt breach of
the laws otherwise spontaneously conformed to.

And this brings us to the psychological aspect of that conclusion
which, in the last chapter, was reached under its biological aspect.
The pleasures and pains which the moral sentiments originate will,
like bodily pleasures and pains, become incentives and deterrents so
adjusted in their strengths to the needs that the moral conduct will be
the natural conduct.



§ 48. Not for the human race only, but for every race, there are laws
of right living. Given its environment and its structure, and there
is for each kind of creature a set of actions adapted in their kinds,
amounts, and combinations, to secure the highest conservation its
nature permits. The animal, like the man, has needs for food, warmth,
activity, rest, and so forth, which must be fulfilled in certain
relative degrees to make its life whole. Maintenance of its race
implies satisfaction of special desires, sexual and philoprogenitive,
in due proportions. Hence there is a supposable formula for the
activities of each species, which, could it be drawn out, would
constitute a system of morality for that species. But such a system of
morality would have little or no reference to the welfare of others
than self and offspring. Indifferent to individuals of its own kind, as
an inferior creature is, and habitually hostile to individuals of other
kinds, the formula for its life could take no cognizance of the lives
of those with which it came in contact; or rather, such formula would
imply that maintenance of its life was at variance with maintenance of
their lives.

But on ascending from beings of lower kinds to the highest kind
of being, man; or, more strictly, on ascending from man in his
pre-social stage to man in his social stage, the formula has to
include an additional factor. Though not peculiar to human life
under its developed form, the presence of this factor is still, in
the highest degree, characteristic of it. Though there are inferior
species displaying considerable degrees of sociality, and, though, the
formulas for their complete lives would have to take account of the
relations arising from union, yet our own species is, on the whole, to
be distinguished as having a formula for complete life which specially
recognizes the relations of each individual to others, in presence of
whom, and in co-operation with whom, he has to live.

This additional factor in the problem of complete living is, indeed, so
important that the necessitated modifications of conduct have come to
form a chief part of the code of conduct. Because the inherited desires
which directly refer to the maintenance of individual life are fairly
adjusted to the requirements, there has been no need to insist on
that conformity to them which furthers self-conversation. Conversely,
because these desires prompt activities that often conflict with the
activities of others; and because the sentiments responding to other's
claims are relatively weak, moral codes emphasize those restraints on
conduct which the presence of fellow men entails.

From the sociological point of view, then, Ethics becomes nothing else
than a definite account of the forms of conduct that are fitted to the
associated state, in such wise that the lives of each and all may be
the greatest possible, alike in length and breadth.

§ 49. But here we are met by a fact which forbids us thus to put in
the foreground the welfares of citizens, individually considered, and
requires us to put in the foreground the welfare of the society as a
whole. The life of the social organism must, as an end, rank above the
lives of its units. These two ends are not harmonious at the outset;
and, though the tendency is toward harmonization of them, they are
still partially conflicting.

As fast as the social state establishes itself, the preservation of
the society becomes a means of preserving its units. Living together
arose because, on the average, it proved more advantageous to each
than living apart; and this implies that maintenance of combination
is maintenance of the conditions to more satisfactory living than the
combined persons would otherwise have. Hence, social self-preservation
becomes a proximate aim taking precedence of the ultimate aim,
individual self-preservation.

This subordination of personal to social welfare is, however,
contingent: it depends on the presence of antagonistic societies. So
long as the existence of a community is endangered by the actions
of communities around, it must remain true that the interests of
individuals must be sacrificed to the interests of the community,
as far as is needful for the community's salvation. But if this is
manifest, it is, by implication, manifest, that when social antagonisms
cease, this need for sacrifice of private claims to public claims
ceases also; or rather, there cease to be any public claims at variance
with private claims. All along, furtherance of individual lives has
been the ultimate end; and, if this ultimate end has been postponed to
the proximate end of preserving the community's life, it has been so
only because this proximate end was instrumental to the ultimate end.
When the aggregate is no longer in danger, the final object of pursuit,
the welfare of the units, no longer needing to be postponed, becomes
the immediate object of pursuit.

Consequently, unlike sets of conclusions respecting human conduct
emerge, according as we are concerned with a state of habitual or
occasional war, or are concerned with a state of permanent and general
peace. Let us glance at these alternative states and the alternative

§ 50. At present the individual man has to carry on his life with due
regard to the lives of others belonging to the same society; while
he is sometimes called on to be regardless of the lives of those
belonging to other societies. The same mental constitution, having to
fulfill both these requirements, is necessarily incongruous; and the
correlative conduct, adjusted first to the one need and then to the
other, cannot be brought within any consistent ethical system.

Hate and destroy your fellow-man is now the command; and then the
command is, love and aid your fellow-man. Use every means to deceive,
says the one code of conduct; while the other code says, be truthful in
word and deed. Seize what property you can and burn all you cannot take
away, are injunctions which the religion of enmity countenances; while
by the religion of amity, theft and arson are condemned as crimes.
And as conduct has to be made up of parts thus at variance with one
another, the theory of conduct remains confused.

There co-exists a kindred irreconcilability between the sentiments
answering to the forms of co-operation required for militancy and
industrialism respectively. While social antagonisms are habitual,
and while, for efficient action against other societies, there needs
great subordination to men who command, the virtue of loyalty and
the duty of implicit obedience have to be insisted on; disregard of
the ruler's will is punished with death. But when war ceases to be
chronic, and growing industrialism habituates men to maintaining their
own claims while respecting the claims of others, loyalty becomes
less profound, the authority of the ruler is questioned or denied in
respect of various private actions and beliefs. State dictation is in
many directions successfully defied, and the political independence of
the citizen comes to be regarded as a claim which it is virtuous to
maintain and vicious to yield up. Necessarily during the transition,
these opposite sentiments are incongruously mingled.

So is it, too, with domestic institutions under the two _régimes_.
While the first is dominant, ownership of a slave is honorable, and in
the slave submission is praiseworthy; but as the last grows dominant,
slave-owning becomes a crime and servile obedience excites contempt.
Nor is it otherwise in the family. The subjection of women to men,
complete while war is habitual but qualified as fast as peaceful
occupations replace it, comes eventually to be thought wrong, and
equality before the law is asserted. At the same time the opinion
concerning paternal power changes. The once unquestioned right of the
father to take his children's lives is denied, and the duty of absolute
submission to him, long insisted on, is changed into the duty of
obedience within reasonable limits.

Were the ratio between the life of antagonism with alien societies,
and the life of peaceful co-operation within each society, a constant
ratio, some permanent compromise between the conflicting rules of
conduct appropriate to the two lives might be reached. But since
this ratio is a variable one, the compromise can never be more than
temporary. Ever the tendency is toward congruity between beliefs and
requirements. Either the social arrangements are gradually changed
until they come into harmony with prevailing ideas and sentiments; or,
if surrounding conditions prevent change in the social arrangements,
the necessitated habits of life modify the prevailing ideas and
sentiments to the requisite extent. Hence, for each kind and degree
of social evolution determined by external conflict and internal
friendship, there is an appropriate compromise between the moral code
of enmity and the moral code of amity: not, indeed, a definable,
consistent compromise, but a compromise fairly well understood.

This compromise, vague, ambiguous, illogical, though it may be, is
nevertheless for the time being authoritative. For if, as above shown,
the welfare of the society must take precedence of the welfares of its
component individuals, during those stages in which the individuals
have to preserve themselves by preserving their society, then such
temporary compromise between the two codes of conduct as duly regards
external defense, while favoring internal co-operation to the greatest
extent practicable, subserves the maintenance of life in the highest
degree; and thus gains the ultimate sanction. So that the perplexed
and inconsistent moralities of which each society and each age shows
us a more or less different one, are severally justified as being
approximately the best under the circumstances.

But such moralities are, by their definitions, shown to belong to
incomplete conduct; not to conduct that is fully evolved. We saw that
the adjustments of acts to ends which, while constituting the external
manifestations of life, conduce to the continuance of life, have been
rising to a certain ideal form now approached by the civilized man.
But this form is not reached so long as there continue aggressions of
one society upon another. Whether the hinderances to complete living
result from the trespasses of fellow-citizens, or from the trespasses
of aliens, matters not; if they occur there does not yet exist the
state defined. The limit to the evolution of conduct is arrived at
by members of each society only when, being arrived at by members
of other societies also, the causes of international antagonism end
simultaneously with the causes of antagonism between individuals.

And now having from the sociological point of view recognized the need
for, and authority of, these changing systems of ethics, proper to
changing ratios between warlike activities and peaceful activities, we
have, from the same point of view, to consider the system of ethics
proper to the state in which peaceful activities are undisturbed.

§ 51. If, excluding all thought of danger or hinderances from causes
external to a society, we set ourselves to specify those conditions
under which the life of each person, and therefore of the aggregate,
may be the greatest possible, we come upon certain simple ones which,
as here stated, assume the form of truisms.

For, as we have seen, the definition of that highest life accompanying
completely evolved conduct, itself excludes all acts of aggression--not
only murder, assault, robbery, and the major offences generally,
but minor offences, such as libel, injury to property and so forth.
While directly deducting from individual life, these indirectly
cause perturbations of social life. Trespasses against others rouse
antagonisms in them; and if these are numerous the group loses
coherence. Hence, whether the integrity of the group itself is
considered as the end, or whether the end considered is the benefit
ultimately secured to its units by maintaining its integrity, or
whether the immediate benefit of its units taken separately is
considered the end, the implication is the same: such acts are at
variance with achievement of the end. That these inferences are
self-evident and trite (as indeed the first inferences drawn from the
data of every science that reaches the deductive stage naturally are)
must not make us pass lightly over the all-important fact that, from
the sociological point of view, the leading moral laws are seen to
follow as corollaries from the definition of complete life carried on
under social conditions.

Respect for these primary moral laws is not enough, however. Associated
men pursuing their several lives without injuring one another but
without helping one another, reap no advantages from association
beyond those of companionship. If, while there is no co-operation for
defensive purposes (which is here excluded by the hypothesis) there is
also no co-operation for satisfying wants, the social state loses its
_raison d'être_--almost, if not entirely. There are, indeed, people
who live in a condition little removed from this: as the Esquimaux.
But though these, exhibiting none of the co-operation necessitated by
war, which is unknown to them, lead lives such that each family is
substantially independent of others, occasional co-operation occurs.
And, indeed, that families should live in company without ever yielding
mutual aid, is scarcely conceivable.

Nevertheless, whether actually existing or only approached, we must
here recognize as hypothetically possible a state in which these
primary moral laws are conformed to; for the purpose of observing,
in their uncomplicated forms, what are the negative conditions to
harmonious social life. Whether the members of a social group do or
do not co-operate, certain limitations to their individual activities
are necessitated by their association; and, after recognizing these as
arising in the absence of co-operation, we shall be the better prepared
to understand how conformity to them is effected when co-operation

§ 52. For whether men live together in quite independent ways,
careful only to avoid aggressing; or whether, advancing from passive
association to active association, they co-operate, their conduct must
be such that the achievement of ends by each shall at least not be
hindered. And it becomes obvious that when they co-operate there must
not only be no resulting hinderance but there must be facilitation;
since, in the absence of facilitation, there can be no motive to
co-operate. What shape, then, must the mutual restraints take when
co-operation begins? or rather--What, in addition to the primary
mutual restraints already specified, are those secondary mutual
restraints required to make co-operation possible?

One who, living in an isolated way, expends effort in pursuit of an
end, gets compensation for the effort by securing the end, and so
achieves satisfaction. If he expends the effort without achieving
the end there results dissatisfaction. The satisfaction and the
dissatisfaction are measures of success and failure in life-sustaining
acts; since that which is achieved by effort is something which
directly or indirectly furthers life, and so pays for the cost of the
effort; while if the effort fails there is nothing to pay for the cost
of it, and so much life is wasted. What must result from this when
men's efforts are joined? The reply will be made clearer if we take the
successive forms of co-operation in the order of ascending complexity.
We may distinguish as homogeneous co-operation (1) that in which like
efforts are joined for like ends that are simultaneously enjoyed. As
co-operation that is not completely homogeneous we may distinguish
(2) that in which like efforts are joined for like ends that are not
simultaneously enjoyed. A co-operation of which the heterogeneity is
more distinct is (3) that in which unlike efforts are joined for like
ends. And lastly comes the decidedly heterogeneous co-operation (4)
that in which unlike efforts are joined for unlike ends.

The simplest and earliest of these in which men's powers, similar
in kind and degree, are united in pursuit of a benefit which, when
obtained, they all participate in, is most familiarly exemplified in
the catching of game by primitive men: this simplest and earliest
form of industrial co-operation being also that which is least
differentiated from militant co-operation; for the co-operators are
the same, and the processes, both destructive of life, are carried on
in analogous ways. The condition under which such co-operation may be
successfully carried on is that the co-operators shall share alike
in the produce. Each thus being enabled to repay himself in food for
the expended effort, and being further enabled to achieve other such
desired ends as maintenance of family, obtains satisfaction: there is
no aggression of one on another, and the co-operation is harmonious.
Of course the divided produce can be but roughly proportioned to the
several efforts joined in obtaining it, but there is actually among
savages, as we see that for harmonious co-operation there must be, a
recognition of the principle that efforts when combined shall severally
bring equivalent benefits, as they would do if they were separate.
Moreover, beyond the taking equal shares in return for labors that are
approximately equal, there is generally an attempt at proportioning
benefit to achievement, by assigning something extra, in the shape of
the best part or the trophy, to the actual slayer of the game. And
obviously, if there is a wide departure from this system of sharing
benefits when there has been a sharing of efforts, the co-operation
will cease. Individual hunters will prefer to do the best they can for
themselves separately.

Passing from this simplest case of co-operation to a case not quite so
simple--a case in which the homogeneity is incomplete--let us ask how a
member of the group may be led without dissatisfaction to expend effort
in achieving a benefit which, when achieved, is enjoyed exclusively
by another? Clearly he may do this on condition that the other shall
afterward expend a like effort, the beneficial result of which shall be
similarly rendered up by him in return. This exchange of equivalents
of effort is the form which social co-operation takes while yet there
is little or no division of labor, save that between the sexes. For
example, the Bodo and Dhimals "mutually assist each other for the
nonce, as well in constructing their houses as in clearing their plots
for cultivation." And this principle--I will help you if you will help
me--common in simple communities where the occupations are alike in
kind, and occasionally acted upon in more advanced communities, is one
under which the relation between effort and benefit, no longer directly
maintained, is maintained indirectly. For whereas when men's activities
are carried on separately, or are joined in the way exemplified above,
effort is immediately paid for by benefit, in this form of co-operation
the benefit achieved by effort is exchanged for a like benefit to
be afterward received when asked for. And in this case as in the
preceding case, co-operation can be maintained only by fulfillment of
the tacit agreements. For if they are habitually not fulfilled, there
will commonly be refusal to give aid when asked; and each man will
be left to do the best he can by himself. All those advantages to be
gained by union of efforts in doing things that are beyond the powers
of the single individual, will be unachievable. At the outset, then,
fulfillment of contracts that are implied if not expressed, becomes a
condition to social co-operation, and therefore to social development.

From these simple forms of co-operation in which the labors men
carry on are of like kinds, let us turn to the more complex forms in
which they carry on labors of unlike kinds. Where men mutually aid in
building huts or felling trees, the number of days' work now given by
one to another is readily balanced by an equal number of days' work
afterward given by the other to him. And no estimation of the relative
values of the labors being required, a definite understanding is little
needed. But when division of labor arises--when there come transactions
between one who makes weapons and another who dresses skins for
clothing, or between a grower of roots and a catcher of fish--neither
the relative amounts nor the relative qualities of their labors admit
of easy measure; and with the multiplication of businesses, implying
numerous kinds of skill and power, there ceases to be anything like
manifest equivalence between either the bodily and mental efforts set
against one another, or between their products. Hence the arrangement
cannot now be taken for granted, as while the things exchanged are like
in kind: it has to be stated. If A allows B to appropriate a product
of his special skill, on condition that he is allowed to appropriate a
different product of B's special skill, it results that as equivalence
of the two products cannot be determined by direct comparison of their
quantities and qualities, there must be a distinct understanding as to
how much of the one may be taken in consideration of so much of the

Only under voluntary agreement, then, no longer tacit and vague,
but overt and definite, can co-operation be harmoniously carried on
when division of labor becomes established. And as in the simplest
co-operation, where like efforts are joined to secure a common
good, the dissatisfaction caused in those who, having expended their
labors do not get their shares of the good, prompts them to cease
co-operating; as in the more advanced co-operation, achieved by
exchanging equal labors of like kind expended at different times,
aversion to co-operate is generated if the expected equivalent of labor
is not rendered; so in this developed co-operation, the failure of
either to surrender to the other that which was avowedly recognized
as of like value with the labor or product given, tends to prevent
co-operation by exciting discontent with its results. And evidently,
while antagonisms thus caused impede the lives of the units, the life
of the aggregate is endangered by diminished cohesion.

§ 53. Beyond these comparatively direct mischiefs, special and general,
there have to be noted indirect mischiefs. As already implied by the
reasoning in the last paragraph, not only social integration but also
social differentiation, is hindered by breach of contract.

In Part II of the _Principles of Sociology_, it was shown that the
fundamental principles of organization are the same for an individual
organism and for a social organism; because both consist of mutually
dependent parts. In the one case as in the other, the assumption
of unlike activities by the component members, is possible only on
condition that they severally benefit in due degrees by one another's
activities. That we may the better see what are the implications in
respect of social structures, let us first note the implications in
respect of individual structures.

The welfare of a living body implies an approximate equilibrium
between waste and repair. If the activities involve an expenditure not
made good by nutrition, dwindling follows. If the tissues are enabled
to take up from the blood enriched by food, fit substances enough to
replace those used up in efforts made, the weight may be maintained.
And if the gain exceeds the loss, growth results.

That which is true of the whole in its relations to the external
world, is no less true of the parts in their relations to one another.
Each organ, like the entire organism, is wasted by performing its
function, and has to restore itself from the materials brought to it.
If the quantity of materials furnished by the joint agency of the
other organs is deficient, the particular organ dwindles. If they are
sufficient, it can maintain its integrity. If they are in excess, it
is enabled to increase. To say that this arrangement constitutes the
physiological contract, is to use a metaphor which, though not true in
aspect is true in essence. For the relations of structures are actually
such that, by the help of a central regulative system, each organ is
supplied with blood in proportion to the work it does. As was pointed
out (_Principles of Sociology_, § 254) well-developed animals are so
constituted that each muscle or viscus, when called into action, sends
to the vaso-motor centers through certain nerve-fibers, an impulse
caused by its action; whereupon, through other nerve-fibers, there
comes an impulse causing dilatation of its blood-vessels. That is to
say, all other parts of the organism, when they jointly require it to
labor, forthwith begin to pay it in blood. During the ordinary state
of physiological equilibrium, the loss and the gain balance, and the
organ does not sensibly change. If the amount of its function is
increased within such moderate limits that the local blood-vessels can
bring adequately-increased supplies, the organ grows: beyond replacing
its losses by its gains, it makes a profit on its extra transactions;
so being enabled by extra structures to meet extra demands. But if the
demands made on it become so great that the supply of materials cannot
keep pace with the expenditure, either because the local blood-vessels
are not large enough, or for any other reason, then the organ begins
to decrease from excess of waste over repair: there sets in what
is known as atrophy. Now, since each of the organs has thus to be
paid in nutriment for its services by the rest, it follows that the
due balancing of their respective claims and payments is requisite,
directly for the welfare of each organ, and indirectly for the welfare
of the organism. For in a whole formed of mutually dependent parts,
anything which prevents due performance of its duty by one part reacts
injuriously on all the parts.

With change of terms these statements and inferences hold of a society.
That social division of labor which parallels in so many other
respects the physiological division of labor, parallels it in this
respect also. As was shown at large in the _Principles of Sociology_,
Part II, each order of functionaries and each group of producers,
severally performing some action or making some article not for direct
satisfaction of their own needs but for satisfaction of the needs of
fellow-citizens in general, otherwise occupied, can continue to do this
only so long as the expenditures of effort and returns of profit are
approximately equivalent. Social organs, like individual organs, remain
stationary if there come to them normal proportions of the commodities
produced by the society as a whole. If because the demands made on an
industry or profession are unusually great, those engaged in it make
excessive profits, more citizens flock to it and the social structure
constituted by its members grows; while decrease of the demands and
therefore of the profits, either leads its members to choose other
careers or stops the accessions needful to replace those who die, and
the structure dwindles. Thus is maintained that proportion among the
powers of the component parts which is most conducive to the welfare of
the whole.

And now mark that the primary condition to achievement of this result
is fulfillment of contract. If from the members of any part payment
is frequently withheld, or falls short of the promised amount, then,
through ruin of some and abandonment of the occupation by others, the
part diminishes; and if it was before not more than competent to its
duty, it now becomes incompetent, and the society suffers. Or if social
needs throw on some part great increase of function, and the members
of it are enabled to get for their services unusually high prices;
fulfillment of the agreements to give them these high prices, is the
only way of drawing to the part such additional number of members as
will make it equal to the augmented demands. For citizens will not come
to it if they find the high prices agreed upon are not paid.

Briefly, then, the universal basis of co-operation is the proportioning
of benefits received to services rendered. Without this there can
be no physiological division of labor; without this there can be
no sociological division of labor. And since division of labor,
physiological or sociological, profits the whole and each part; it
results that on maintenance of the arrangements necessary to it, depend
both special and general welfare. In a society such arrangements are
maintained only if bargains, overt or tacit, are carried out. So that
beyond the primary requirement to harmonious co-existence in a society,
that its units shall not directly aggress on one another; there comes
this secondary requirement, that they shall not indirectly aggress by
breaking agreements.

§ 54. But now we have to recognize the fact that complete fulfillment
of these conditions, original and derived, is not enough. Social
co-operation may be such that no one is impeded in the obtainment of
the normal return for effort, but contrariwise is aided by equitable
exchange of services; and yet much may remain to be achieved. There
is a theoretically possible form of society, purely industrial in its
activities, which, though approaching nearer to the moral ideal in its
code of conduct than any society not purely industrial, does not fully
reach it.

For while industrialism requires the life of each citizen to be such
that it may be carried on without direct or indirect aggressions on
other citizens, it does not require his life to be such that it shall
directly further the lives of other citizens. It is not a necessary
implication of industrialism, as thus far defined, that each, beyond
the benefits given and received by exchange of services, shall give and
receive other benefits. A society is conceivable formed of men leading
perfectly inoffensive lives, scrupulously fulfilling their contracts,
and efficiently rearing their offspring, who yet, yielding to one
another no advantages beyond those agreed upon, fall short of that
highest degree of life which the gratuitous rendering of services makes
possible. Daily experiences prove that every one would suffer many
evils and lose many goods did none give him unpaid assistance. The life
of each would be more or less damaged had he to meet all contingencies
single-handed. Further, if no one did for his fellows anything more
than was required by strict performance of contract, private interests
would suffer from the absence of attention to public interests. The
limit of evolution of conduct is consequently not reached, until,
beyond avoidance of direct and indirect injuries to others, there are
spontaneous efforts to further the welfare of others.

It may be shown that the form of nature which thus to justice adds
beneficence, is one which adaption to the social state produces. The
social man has not reached that harmonization of constitution with
conditions forming the limit of evolution, so long as there remains
space for the growth of faculties which, by their exercise, bring
positive benefit to others and satisfaction to self. If the presence
of fellow-men, while putting certain limits to each man's sphere of
activity, opens certain other spheres of activity in which feelings,
while achieving their gratifications, do not diminish, but add to
the gratifications of others, then such spheres will inevitably be
occupied. Recognition of this truth does not, however, call on us to
qualify greatly that conception of the industrial state above set
forth, since sympathy is the root of both justice and beneficence.

§ 55. Thus the sociological view of Ethics supplements the physical,
the biological, and the psychological views, by disclosing those
conditions under which only associated activities can be so carried on,
that the complete living of each consists with, and conduces to, the
complete living of all.

At first the welfare of social groups, habitually in antagonism with
other such groups, takes precedence of individual welfare; and the
rules of conduct which are authoritative for the time being, involve
incompleteness of individual life that the general life may be
maintained. At the same time the rules have to enforce the claims of
individual life as far as may be, since on the welfare of the units the
welfare of the aggregate largely depends.

In proportion as societies endanger one another less, the need for
subordinating individual lives to the general life, decreases; and
with approach to a peaceful state, the general life, having from the
beginning had furtherance of individual lives as its ultimate purpose,
comes to have this as its proximate purpose.

During the transitional stages there are necessitated successive
compromises between the moral code which asserts the claims of the
society _versus_ those of the individual, and the moral code which
asserts the claims of the individual _versus_ those of the society.
And evidently each such compromise, though for the time being
authoritative, admits of no consistent or definite expression.

But gradually as war declines--gradually as the compulsory co-operation
needful in dealing with external enemies becomes unnecessary, and
leaves behind the voluntary co-operation which effectually achieves
internal sustentation, there grows increasingly clear the code of
conduct which voluntary co-operation implies. And this final permanent
code alone admits of being definitely formulated, and so constituting
ethics as a science in contrast with empirical ethics.

The leading traits of a code, under which complete living through
voluntary co-operation is secured, may be simply stated. The
fundamental requirement is that the life-sustaining actions of each
shall severally bring him the amounts and kinds of advantage naturally
achieved by them, and this implies firstly that he shall suffer no
direct aggressions on his person or property, and, secondly, that he
shall suffer no indirect aggressions by breach of contract. Observance
of these negative conditions to voluntary co-operation having
facilitated life to the greatest extent by exchange of services under
agreement, life is to be further facilitated by exchange of services
beyond agreement: the highest life being reached only when, besides
helping to complete one another's lives by specified reciprocities of
aid, men otherwise help to complete one another's lives.



§ 56. Comparisons of the foregoing chapters, with one another, suggest
sundry questions which must be answered partially, if not completely,
before anything can be done toward reducing ethical principles from
abstract forms to concrete forms.

We have seen that to admit the desirableness of conscious existence is
to admit that conduct should be such as will produce a consciousness
which is desirable--a consciousness which is as much pleasurable and
as little painful as may be. We have also seen that this necessary
implication corresponds with the _à priori_ inference, that the
evolution of life has been made possible only by the establishment
of connections between pleasures and beneficial actions, and between
pains and detrimental actions. But the general conclusion reached
in both of these ways, though it covers the area within which our
special conclusions must fall, does not help us to reach those special

Were pleasures all of one kind, differing only in degree; were pains
all of one kind, differing only in degree; and could pleasures be
measured against pains with definite results, the problems of conduct
would be greatly simplified. Were the pleasures and pains serving as
incentives and deterrents, simultaneously present to consciousness
with like vividness, or were they all immediately impending, or
were they all equi-distant in time; the problems would be further
simplified. And they would be still further simplified if the pleasures
and pains were exclusively those of the actor. But both the desirable
and the undesirable feelings are of various kinds, making quantitative
comparisons difficult; some are present and some are future, increasing
the difficulty of quantitative comparison; some are entailed on self
and some are entailed on others; again increasing the difficulty. So
that the guidance yielded by the primary principle reached is of little
service unless supplemented by the guidance of secondary principles.

Already, in recognizing the needful subordination of presentative
feelings to representative feelings, and the implied postponement of
present to future throughout a wide range of cases, some approach
toward a secondary principle of guidance has been made. Already, too,
in recognizing the limitations which men's associated state puts to
their actions, with the implied need for restraining feelings of some
kinds by feelings of other kinds, we have come in sight of another
secondary principle of guidance. Still, there remains much to be
decided respecting the relative claims of these guiding principles,
general and special.

Some elucidation of the questions involved will be obtained by here
discussing certain views and arguments set forth by past and present

§ 57. Using the name hedonism for that ethical theory which makes
happiness the end of action, and distinguishing hedonism into the two
kinds, egoistic and universalistic, according as the happiness sought
is that of the actor himself, or is that of all, Mr. Sidgwick alleges
its implied belief to be that pleasures and pains are commensurable. In
his criticism on (empirical) egoistic hedonism he says:

  "The fundamental assumption of Hedonism, clearly stated, is that all
  feelings considered merely as feelings can be arranged in a certain
  scale of desirability, so that the desirability or pleasantness of
  each bears a definite ratio to that of all the others."--_Methods of
  Ethics_, 2d ed., p. 115.

And asserting this to be its assumption he proceeds to point out
difficulties in the way of the hedonistic calculation; apparently
for the purpose of implying that these difficulties tell against the
hedonistic theory.

Now, though it may be shown that by naming the intensity, the duration,
the certainty, and the proximity, of a pleasure or a pain, as traits
entering into the estimation of its relative value, Bentham has
committed himself to the specified assumption; and, though, it is,
perhaps, reasonably taken for granted that hedonism, as represented
by him, is identical with hedonism at large; yet it seems to me that
the hedonist, empirical or other, is not necessarily committed to this
assumption. That the greatest surplus of pleasures over pains ought to
be the end of action is a belief which he may still consistently hold
after admitting that the valuations of pleasures and pains are commonly
vague and often erroneous. He may say that though indefinite things do
not admit of definite measurements, yet approximately true estimates
of their relative values may be made when they differ considerably,
and he may further say, that even when their relative values are not
determinable, it remains true that the most valuable should be chosen.
Let us listen to him.

"A debtor who cannot pay me offers to compound for his debt by making
over one of sundry things he possesses--a diamond ornament, a silver
vase, a picture, a carriage. Other questions being set aside I assert
it to be my pecuniary interest to choose the most valuable of these,
but I cannot say which is the most valuable. Does the proposition that
it is my pecuniary interest to choose the most valuable, therefore,
become doubtful? Must I not choose as well as I can, and if I choose
wrongly must I give up my ground of choice? Must I infer that in
matters of business I may not act on the principle that, other things
equal, the more profitable transaction is to be preferred, because, in
many cases, I cannot say which is the more profitable, and have often
chosen the less profitable? Because I believe that of many dangerous
courses I ought to take the least dangerous, do I make 'the fundamental
assumption' that courses can be arranged according to a scale of
dangerousness, and must I abandon my belief if I cannot so arrange
them? If I am not by consistency bound to do this, then I am no more by
consistency bound to give up the principle that the greatest surplus
of pleasures over pains should be the end of action, because the
'commensurability of pleasures and pains' cannot be asserted."

At the close of his chapters on empirical hedonism, Mr. Sidgwick
himself says he does "not think that the common experience of mankind,
impartially examined, really sustains the view that Egoistic Hedonism
is necessarily suicidal;" adding, however, that the "uncertainty of
hedonistic calculation cannot be denied to have great weight." But here
the fundamental assumption of hedonism, that happiness is the end of
action, is still supposed to involve the assumption that "feelings can
be arranged in a certain scale of desirability." This we have seen it
does not: its fundamental assumption is in no degree invalidated by
proof that such arrangement of them is impracticable.

To Mr. Sidgwick's argument there is the further objection, no less
serious, that to whatever degree it tells against egoistic hedonism,
it tells in a greater degree against universalistic hedonism, or
utilitarianism. He admits that it tells as much; saying "whatever
weight is to be attached to the objections brought against this
assumption [the commensurability of pleasures and pains] must of
course tell against the present method." Not only does it tell, but it
tells in a double way. I do not mean merely that, as he points out,
the assumption becomes greatly complicated if we take all sentient
beings into account, and if we include posterity along with existing
individuals. I mean that, taking as the end to be achieved the greatest
happiness of the existing individuals forming a single community,
the set of difficulties standing in the way of egoistic hedonism,
is compounded with another set of difficulties no less great, when
we pass from it to universalistic hedonism. For if the dictates of
universalistic hedonism are to be fulfilled, it must be under the
guidance of individual judgments, or of corporate judgments, or of
both. Now any one of such judgments issuing from a single mind, or from
any aggregate of minds, necessarily embodies conclusions respecting
the happiness of other persons; few of them known, and the great mass
never seen. All these persons have natures differing in countless ways
and degrees from the natures of those who form the judgments; and the
happiness of which they are severally capable differ from one another,
and differ from the happinesses of those who form the judgments.
Consequently, if against the method of egoistic hedonism there is
the objection that a man's own pleasures and pains, unlike in their
kinds, intensities, and times of occurrence, are incommensurable; then
against the method of universalistic hedonism it may be urged that to
the incommensurability of each judge's own pleasures and pains (which
he must use as standards) has now to be added the much more decided
incommensurability of the pleasures and pains which he conceives to be
experienced by innumerable other persons, all differently constituted
from himself and from one another.

Nay more--there is a triple set of difficulties in the way of
universalistic hedonism. To the double indeterminateness of the end
has to be added the indeterminateness of the means. If hedonism,
egoistic or universalistic, is to pass from dead theory into living
practice, acts of one or other kind must be decided on to achieve
proposed objects; and in estimating the two methods we have to consider
how far the fitness of the acts respectively required can be judged.
If, in pursuing his own ends, the individual is liable to be led by
erroneous opinions to adjust his acts wrongly, much more liable is he
to be led by erroneous opinions to adjust wrongly more complex acts to
the more complex ends constituted by other men's welfares. It is so if
he operates singly to benefit a few others; and it is still more so
if he co-operates with many to benefit all. Making general happiness
the immediate object of pursuit, implies numerous and complicated
instrumentalities officered by thousands of unseen and unlike persons,
and working on millions of other persons unseen and unlike. Even the
few factors in this immense aggregate of appliances and processes which
are known, are very imperfectly known, and the great mass of them are
unknown. So that even supposing valuation of pleasures and pains for
the community at large is more practicable than, or even as practicable
as, valuation of his own pleasures and pains by the individual; yet
the ruling of conduct with a view to the one end is far more difficult
than the ruling of it with a view to the other. Hence, if the method of
egoistic hedonism is unsatisfactory, far more unsatisfactory for the
same and kindred reasons, is the method of universalistic hedonism, or

And here we come in sight of the conclusion which it has been the
purpose of the foregoing criticism to bring into view. The objection
made to the hedonistic method contains a truth, but includes with it an
untruth. For while the proposition that happiness, whether individual
or general, is the end of action, is not invalidated by proof that it
cannot under either form be estimated by measurement of its components;
yet it may be admitted that guidance in the pursuit of happiness by a
mere balancing of pleasures and pains, is, if partially practicable
throughout a certain range of conduct, futile throughout a much wider
range. It is quite consistent to assert that happiness is the ultimate
aim of action, and at the same time to deny that it can be reached
by making it the immediate aim. I go with Mr. Sidgwick as far as the
conclusion that "we must at least admit the desirability of confirming
or correcting the results of such comparisons [of pleasures and pains]
by any other method upon which we may find reason to rely;" and then I
go further, and say that throughout a large part of conduct guidance
by such comparisons is to be entirely set aside and replaced by other

§ 58. The antithesis here insisted upon between the hedonistic end
considered in the abstract, and the method which current hedonism,
whether egoistic or universalistic, associates with that end; and the
joining acceptance of the one with rejection of the other; commits us
to an overt discussion of the two cardinal elements of ethical theory.
I may conveniently initiate this discussion by criticizing another of
Mr. Sidgwick's criticisms on the method of hedonism.

Though we can give no account of those simple pleasures which the
senses yield, because they are undecomposable, yet we distinctly know
their characters as states of consciousness. Conversely, the complex
pleasures formed by compounding and re-compounding the ideas of simple
pleasures, though theoretically resolvable into their components, are
not easy to resolve; and in proportion as they are heterogeneous in
composition, the difficulty of framing intelligible conceptions of
them increases. This is especially the case with the pleasures which
accompany our sports. Treating of these, along with the pleasures of
pursuit in general, for the purpose of showing that "in order to get
them one must forget them," Mr. Sidgwick remarks:

  "A man who maintains throughout an epicurean mood, fixing his aim
  on his own pleasure, does not catch the full spirit of the chase;
  his eagerness never gets just the sharpness of edge which imparts to
  the pleasure its highest zest and flavor. Here comes into view what
  we may call the fundamental paradox of Hedonism, that the impulse
  toward pleasure, if too predominant, defeats its own aim. This effect
  is not visible, or at any rate is scarcely visible, in the case of
  passive sensual pleasures. But of our active enjoyments generally,
  whether the activities on which they attend are classed as 'bodily'
  or as 'intellectual' (as well as of many emotional pleasures), it
  may certainly be said that we cannot attain them, at least in their
  best form, so long as we concentrate our aim on them."--_Methods of
  Ethics_, 2d ed., p. 41.

Now I think we shall not regard this truth as paradoxical after we
have duly analyzed the pleasure of pursuit. The chief components
of this pleasure are: First, a renewed consciousness of personal
efficiency (made vivid by actual success and partially excited by
impending success) which consciousness of personal efficiency,
connected in experience with achieved ends of every kind, arouses
a vague but massive consciousness of resulting gratifications; and
second, a representation of the applause which recognition of this
efficiency by others has before brought, and will again bring. Games
of skill show us this clearly. Considered as an end in itself, the
good cannon which a billiard player makes yields no pleasure. Whence
then does the pleasure of making it arise? Partly from the fresh proof
of capability which the player gives to himself, and partly from the
imagined admiration of those who witness the proof of his capability:
the last being the chief, since he soon tires of making cannons
in the absence of witnesses. When from games which, yielding the
pleasures of success, yield no pleasure derived from the end considered
intrinsically, we pass to sports in which the end has intrinsic value
as a source of pleasure, we see substantially the same thing. Though
the bird which the sportsman brings down is useful as food, yet his
satisfaction arises mainly from having made a good shot, and from
having added to the bag which will presently bring praise of his skill.
The gratification of self-esteem he immediately experiences; and the
gratification of receiving applause he experiences, if not immediately
and in full degree, yet by representation; for the ideal pleasure is
nothing else than a faint revival of the real pleasure. These two
kinds of agreeable excitement present in the sportsman during the
chase constitute the mass of the desires stimulating him to continue
it; for all desires are nascent forms of the feelings to be obtained
by the efforts they prompt. And though while seeking more birds these
representative feelings are not so vividly excited as by success just
achieved, yet they are excited by imaginations of further successes;
and so make enjoyable the activities constituting the pursuit.
Recognizing, then, the truth that the pleasures of pursuit are much
more those derived from the efficient use of means than those derived
from the end itself, we see that "the fundamental paradox of hedonism"

These remarks concerning end and means, and the pleasure accompanying
use of the means as added to the pleasure derived from the end, I
have made for the purpose of drawing attention to a fact of profound
significance. During evolution there has been a superposing of new and
more complex sets of means upon older and simpler sets of means, and a
superposing of the pleasures accompanying the uses of these successive
sets of means, with the result that each of these pleasures has itself
eventually become an end. We begin with a simple animal which, without
ancillary appliances, swallows such food as accident brings in its
way; and so, as we may assume, stills some kind of craving. Here we
have the primary end of nutrition with its accompanying satisfaction,
in their simple forms. We pass to higher types having jaws for seizing
and biting--jaws which thus, by their actions, facilitate achievement
of the primary end. On observing animals furnished with these organs,
we get evidence that the use of them becomes in itself pleasurable
irrespective of the end: instance a squirrel which, apart from food
to be so obtained, delights in nibbling everything it gets hold of.
Turning from jaws to limbs we see that these, serving some creatures
for pursuit and others for escape, similarly yield gratification by
their exercise; as in lambs which skip and horses which prance. How the
combined use of limbs and jaws, originally subserving the satisfaction
of appetite, grows to be in itself pleasurable, is daily illustrated in
the playing of dogs. For that throwing down and worrying which, when
prey is caught, precedes eating, is, in their mimic fights, carried
by each as far as he dares. Coming to means still more remote from
the end, namely, those by which creatures chased are caught, we are
again shown by dogs that when no creature is caught there is still a
gratification in the act of catching. The eagerness with which a dog
runs after stones, or dances and barks in anticipation of jumping
into the water after a stick, proves that apart from the satisfaction
of appetite, and apart even from the satisfaction of killing prey,
there is a satisfaction in the successful pursuit of a moving object.
Throughout, then, we see that the pleasure attendant on the use of
means to achieve an end, itself becomes an end.

Now if we contemplate these as phenomena of conduct in general, some
facts worthy of note may be discerned--facts which, if we appreciate
their significance, will aid us in developing our ethical conceptions.

One of them is that among the successive sets of means, the later are
the more remote from the primary end; are, as co-ordinating earlier and
simpler means, the more complex; and are accompanied by feelings which
are more representative.

Another fact is that each set of means, with its accompanying
satisfactions, eventually becomes in its turn dependent on one
originating later than itself. Before the gullet swallows, the
jaws must lay hold; before the jaws tear out and bring within the
grasp of the gullet a piece fit for swallowing, there must be that
co-operation of limbs and senses required for killing the prey;
before this co-operation can take place, there needs the much longer
co-operation constituting the chase; and even before this there must
be persisted activities of limbs, eyes, and nose in seeking prey.
The pleasure attending each set of acts, while making possible the
pleasure attending the set of acts which follows, is joined with a
representation of this subsequent set of acts and its pleasure, and
of the others which succeed in order; so that along with the feelings
accompanying the search for prey, are partially aroused the feelings
accompanying the actual chase, the actual destruction, the actual
devouring, and the eventual satisfaction of appetite.

A third fact is that the use of each set of means in due order,
constitutes an obligation. Maintenance of its life being regarded as an
end of its conduct, the creature is obliged to use in succession the
means of finding prey, the means of catching prey, the means of killing
prey, the means of devouring prey.

Lastly, it follows that though the assuaging of hunger, directly
associated with sustentation, remains to the last the ultimate end; yet
the successful use of each set of means in its turn is the proximate
end--the end which takes temporary precedence in authoritativeness.

§ 59. The relations between means and ends thus traced throughout the
earlier stages of evolving conduct, are traceable throughout later
stages: and hold true of human conduct, up even to its highest forms.
As fast as, for the better maintenance of life, the simpler sets of
means and the pleasures accompanying the uses of them, come to be
supplemented by the more complex sets of means and their pleasures,
these begin to take precedence in time and in imperativeness. To use
effectually each more complex set of means becomes the proximate end,
and the accompanying feeling becomes the immediate gratification
sought; though there may be, and habitually is, an associated
consciousness of the remoter ends and remoter gratifications to be
obtained. An example will make clear the parallelism.

Absorbed in his business the trader, if asked what is his main end,
will say--making money. He readily grants that achievement of this
end is desired by him in furtherance of ends beyond it. He knows that
in directly seeking money he is indirectly seeking food, clothes,
house-room, and the comforts of life for self and family. But while
admitting that money is but a means to these ends, he urges that the
money-getting actions precede in order of time and obligation, the
various actions and concomitant pleasures subserved by them; and he
testifies to the fact that making money has become itself an end, and
success in it a source of satisfaction, apart from these more distant

Again, on observing more closely the trader's proceedings, we find
that though to the end of living comfortably he gets money, and though
to the end of getting money he buys and sells at a profit, which so
becomes a means more immediately pursued, yet he is chiefly occupied
with means still more remote from ultimate ends, and in relation
to which even the selling at a profit becomes an end. For leaving
to subordinates the actual measuring out of goods and receiving of
proceeds, he busies himself mainly with his general affairs--inquiries
concerning markets, judgments of future prices, calculations,
negotiations, correspondence: the anxiety from hour to hour being to
do well each one of these things indirectly conducive to the making of
profits. And these ends precede in time and obligation the effecting of
profitable sales, just as the effecting of profitable sales precedes
the end of money-making, and just as the end of money-making precedes
the end of satisfactory living.

His bookkeeping best exemplifies the principle at large. Entries to the
debtor or creditor sides are being made all through the day; the items
are classified and arranged in such way that at a moment's notice
the state of each account may be ascertained; and then, from time to
time, the books are balanced, and it is required that the result shall
come right to a penny: satisfaction following proved correctness and
annoyance being caused by error. If you ask why all this elaborate
process, so remote from the actual getting of money, and still more
remote from the enjoyments of life, the answer is that keeping accounts
correctly is fulfilling a condition to the end of money-making, and
becomes in itself a proximate end--a duty to be discharged, that there
may be discharged the duty of getting an income, that there may be
discharged the duty of maintaining self, wife and children.

Approaching as we here do to moral obligation, are we not shown its
relations to conduct at large? Is it not clear that observance of
moral principles is fulfillment of certain general conditions to
the successful carrying on of special activities? That the trader
may prosper, he must not only keep his books correctly, but must
pay those he employs according to agreement, and must meet his
engagements with creditors. May we not say, then, that conformity
to the second and third of these requirements is, like conformity
to the first, an indirect means to effectual use of the more direct
means of achieving welfare? May we not say, too, that as the use of
each more indirect means in due order becomes itself an end, and a
source of gratification; so, eventually, becomes the use of this
most indirect means? And may we not infer that though conformity to
moral requirements precedes in imperativeness conformity to other
requirements; yet that this imperativeness arises from the fact that
fulfillment of the other requirements, by self or others, or both, is
thus furthered?

§ 60. This question brings us round to another side of the issue before
raised. When alleging that empirical utilitarianism is but introductory
to rational utilitarianism, I pointed out that the last does not
take welfare for its immediate object of pursuit, but takes for its
immediate object of pursuit conformity to certain principles which,
in the nature of things, casually determine welfare. And now we see
that this amounts to recognition of that law, traceable throughout the
evolution of conduct in general, that each later and higher order of
means takes precedence in time and authoritativeness of each earlier
and lower order of means. The contrast between the ethical methods thus
distinguished, made tolerably clear by the above illustrations, will be
made still clearer by contemplating the two as put in opposition by the
leading exponent of empirical utilitarianism. Treating of legislative
aims, Bentham writes:

  "But justice, what is it that we are to understand by justice: and
  why not happiness but justice? What happiness is, every man knows,
  because, what pleasure is, every man knows, and what pain is, every
  man knows. But what justice is--this is what on every occasion is the
  subject-matter of dispute. Be the meaning of the word justice what
  it will, what regard is it entitled to otherwise than as a means of

Let us first consider the assertion here made respecting the relative
intelligibilities of these two ends, and let us afterward consider what
is implied by the choice of happiness instead of justice.

Bentham's positive assertion that, "what happiness is every man
knows, because, what pleasure is, every man knows," is met by
counter-assertions equally positive. "Who can tell," asks Plato, "what
pleasure really is, or know it in its essence, except the philosopher,
who alone is conversant with realities."[D] Aristotle, too, after
commenting on the different opinions held by the vulgar, by the
political, by the contemplative, says of happiness that, "to some it
seems to be virtue, to others prudence, and to others a kind of wisdom:
to some again, these, or some one of these, with pleasure, or at least,
not without pleasure; others again include external prosperity."[E]
And Aristotle, like Plato, comes to the remarkable conclusion that
the pleasures of the intellect, reached by the contemplative life,
constitute the highest happiness![F]

How disagreements concerning the nature of happiness and the relative
values of pleasures, thus exhibited in ancient times, continue down
to modern times, is shown in Mr. Sidgwick's discussion of egoistic
hedonism, above commented upon. Further, as was pointed out before, the
indefiniteness attending the estimations of pleasures and pains, which
stands in the way of egoistic hedonism as ordinarily conceived, is
immensely increased on passing to universalistic hedonism as ordinarily
conceived; since its theory implies that the imagined pleasures and
pains of others are to be estimated by the help of these pleasures and
pains of self already so difficult to estimate. And that any one after
observing the various pursuits into which some eagerly enter, but which
others shun, and after listening to the different opinions concerning
the likeableness of this or that occupation or amusement, expressed
at every table, should assert that the nature of happiness can be
fully agreed upon, so as to render it a fit end for direct legislative
action, is surprising.

The accompanying proposition that justice is unintelligible as an end
is no less surprising. Though primitive men have no words for either
happiness or justice, yet even among them an approach to the conception
of justice is traceable. The law of retaliation, requiring that a death
inflicted by one tribe on another, shall be balanced by the death
either of the murderer or some member of his tribe, shows us in a vague
shape that notion of equalness of treatment which forms an essential
element in it.

When we come to early races who have given their thoughts and feelings
literary form we find this conception of justice, as involving
equalness of action, becoming distinct. Among the Jews, David expressed
in words this association of ideas when, praying to God to "hear the
right," he said, "Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let
thine eyes behold the things that are equal;" as also, among early
Christians, did Paul when to the Colossians he wrote, "Masters, give
unto your servants that which is just and equal." Commenting on the
different meanings of justice, Aristotle concludes that "the just will,
therefore, be the lawful and the equal, and the unjust the unlawful
and the unequal. But since the unjust man is also one who takes more
than his share," etc. And that justice was similarly conceived by
the Romans they proved by including under it such meanings as exact,
proportionate, impartial, severally implying fairness of division, and
still better by identification of it with equity, which is a derivative
of _æquus_: the word _æquus_ itself having for one of its meanings
just or impartial.

This coincidence of view among ancient peoples respecting the nature
of justice, has extended to modern peoples; who by a general agreement
in certain cardinal principles which their systems of law embody,
forbidding direct aggressions, which are forms of unequal actions, and
forbidding indirect aggressions by breaches of contract, which are
other forms of unequal actions, one and all show us the identification
of justice with equalness. Bentham, then, is wrong when he says--"But
what justice is--this is what on every occasion is the subject-matter
of dispute." He is more wrong, indeed, than has thus far appeared. For,
in the first place, he misrepresents utterly by ignoring the fact in
ninety-nine out of every hundred daily transactions between men, no
dispute about justice arises; but the business done is recognized on
both sides as justly done. And in the second place if, with respect to
the hundredth transaction there is a dispute, the subject matter of it
is not "what justice is," for it is admitted to be equity or equalness;
but the subject matter of dispute always is what, under these
particular circumstances, constitutes equalness?--a widely different

It is not then self-evident, as Bentham alleges, that happiness is an
intelligible end while justice is not; but contrariwise examination
makes evident the greater intelligibility of justice as an end. And
analysis shows why it is more intelligible. For justice, or equity,
or equalness, is concerned exclusively with _quantity_ under _stated
conditions_; whereas happiness is concerned with both _quantity_ and
_quality_ under _conditions not stated_. When, as in case of theft,
a benefit is taken while no equivalent benefit is yielded--when, as
in case of adulterated goods bought or base coin paid, that which
is agreed to be given in exchange as of equal value is not given,
but something of less value--when, as in case of broken contract,
the obligation on one side has been discharged while there has
been no discharge, or incomplete discharge, of the obligation on
the other; we see that, _the circumstances being specified_, the
injustice complained of refers to the relative amounts of actions,
or products, or benefits, the natures of which are recognized only
so far as is needful for saying whether _as much_ has been given, or
done, or allowed, by each concerned, as was implied by tacit or overt
understanding to be _an equivalent_. But when the end proposed is
happiness, _the circumstances remaining unspecified_, the problem is
that of estimating both quantities and qualities, unhelped by any such
definite measures as acts of exchange imply, or as contracts imply, or
as are implied by the differences between the doings of one aggressing
and one aggressed upon. The mere fact that Bentham himself includes as
elements in the estimation of each pleasure or pain, its intensity,
duration, certainty, and proximity, suffices to show how difficult is
this problem. And when it is remembered that all pleasures and pains,
not felt in particular cases only but in the aggregate of cases, and
severally regarded under these four aspects, have to be compared
with one another and their relative values determined, simply by
introspection; it will be manifest both that the problem is complicated
by the addition of indefinite judgments of qualities to indefinite
measures of quantities, and that it is further complicated by the
multitudinousness of these vague estimations to be gone through and
summed up.

But now passing over this assertion of Bentham that happiness is a
more intelligible end than justice, which we find to be the reverse of
truth, let us note the several implications of the doctrine that the
supreme legislative body ought to make the greatest happiness of the
greatest number its immediate aim.

It implies, in the first place, that happiness may be compassed by
methods framed directly for the purpose, without any previous inquiry
respecting the conditions that must be fulfilled; and this pre-supposes
a belief that there are no such conditions. For if there are any
conditions without fulfillment of which happiness cannot be compassed,
then the first step must be to ascertain these conditions with a view
to fulfilling them; and to admit this is to admit that not happiness
itself must be the immediate end, but fulfillment of the conditions to
its attainment must be the immediate end. The alternatives are simple:
Either the achievement of happiness is not conditional, in which case
one mode of action is as good as another, or it is conditional, in
which case the required mode of action must be the direct aim and not
the happiness to be achieved by it.

Assuming it conceded, as it will be, that there exist conditions
which must be fulfilled before happiness can be attained, let us next
ask what is implied by proposing modes of so controlling conduct as
to further happiness, without previously inquiring whether any such
modes are already known? The implication is that human intelligence
throughout the past, operating on experiences, has failed to discover
any such modes; whereas present human intelligence may be expected
forthwith to discover them. Unless this be asserted, it must be
admitted that certain conditions to the achievement of happiness have
already been partially, if not wholly, ascertained; and if so, our
first business should be to look for them. Having found them, our
rational course is to bring existing intelligence to bear on these
products of past intelligence, with the expectation that it will
verify the substance of them while possibly correcting the form. But
to suppose that no regulative principles for the conduct of associated
human beings have thus far been established, and that they are now to
be established _de novo_, is to suppose that man as he is differs from
man as he was in an incredible degree.

Beyond ignoring the probability, or rather the certainty, that past
experience generalized by past intelligence, must by this time have
disclosed partially, if not wholly, some of the essential conditions
to the achievement of happiness, Bentham's proposition ignores the
formulated knowledge of them actually existing. For whence come the
conception of justice and the answering sentiment. He will scarcely
say that they are meaningless, although his proposition implies as
much; and if he admits that they have meanings, he must choose between
two alternatives either of which is fatal to his hypothesis. Are they
supernaturally caused modes of thinking and feeling, tending to make
men fulfill the conditions to happiness? If so their authority is
peremptory. Are they modes of thinking and feeling naturally caused
in men by experience of these conditions? If so, their authority is
no less peremptory. Not only, then, does Bentham fail to infer that
certain principles of guidance must by this time have been ascertained,
but he refuses to recognize these principles as actually reached and
present to him.

And then after all, he tacitly admits that which he overtly denies, by
saying that--"Be the meaning of the word justice what it will, what
regard is it entitled to otherwise than as a means of happiness?" For
if justice is a means having happiness as its end, then justice must
take precedence of happiness, as every other means takes precedence
of every other end. Bentham's own elaborate polity is a means having
happiness as its end, as justice is, by his own admission, a means
having happiness as an end. If, then, we may properly skip justice,
and go directly to the end happiness, we may properly skip Bentham's
polity, and go directly to the end happiness. In short, we are led
to the remarkable conclusion that in all cases we must contemplate
exclusively the end and must disregard the means.

§ 61. This relation of ends to means, underlying all ethical
speculation will be further elucidated if we join with some of the
above conclusions, certain conclusions drawn in the last chapter. We
shall see that while greatest happiness may vary widely in societies
which, though ideally constituted, are subject to unlike physical
circumstances, certain fundamental conditions to the achievement of
this greatest happiness, are common to all such societies.

Given a people inhabiting a tract which makes nomadic habits necessary,
and the happiness of each individual will be greatest when his nature
is so molded to the requirements of his life, that all his faculties
find their due activities in daily driving and tending cattle, milking,
migrating and so forth. The members of a community otherwise similar,
which is permanently settled, will severally achieve their greatest
happiness when their natures have become such that a fixed habitat, and
the occupations necessitated by it, supply the spheres in which each
instinct and emotion is exercised and brings the concomitant pleasure.
The citizens of a large nation, industrially organized, have reached
their possible ideal of happiness, when the producing, distributing,
and other activities, are such in their kinds and amounts, that each
citizen finds in them a place for all his energies and aptitudes, while
he obtains the means of satisfying all his desires. Once more we may
recognize as not only possible but probable, the eventual existence
of a community, also industrial, the members of which, having natures
similarly responding to these requirements, are also characterized by
dominant æsthetic faculties, and achieve complete happiness only when a
large part of life is filled with æsthetic activities. Evidently these
different types of men, with their different standards of happiness,
each finding the possibility of that happiness in his own society,
would not find it if transferred to any of the other societies.
Evidently, though, they might have in common such kinds of happiness
as accompany the satisfaction of vital needs, they would not have in
common sundry other kinds of happiness.

But now mark that while, to achieve greatest happiness in each of
such societies, the special conditions to be fulfilled must differ
from those to be fulfilled in the other societies, certain general
conditions must be fulfilled in all the societies. Harmonious
co-operation, by which alone in any of them the greatest happiness
can be attained, is, as we saw, made possible only by respect for
one another's claims: there must be neither those direct aggressions
which we class as crimes against person and property, nor must there
be those indirect aggressions constituted by breaches of contracts. So
that maintenance of equitable relations between men is the condition
to attainment of greatest happiness in all societies, however much the
greatest happiness attainable in each may differ in nature, or amount,
or both.

And here a physical analogy may fitly be used to give the greatest
definiteness to this cardinal truth. A mass of matter, of whatever
kind, maintains its state of internal equilibrium, so long as its
component particles severally stand toward their neighbors in
equi-distant positions. Accepting the conclusions of modern physicists,
which imply that each molecule moves rhythmically, then a balanced
state implies that each performs its movements within a space bounded
by the like spaces required for the movements of those around. If
the molecules have been so aggregated that the oscillations of some
are more restrained than the oscillations of others, there is a
proportionate instability. If the number of them thus unduly restrained
is considerable, the instability is such that the cohesion in some part
is liable to fail, and a crack results. If the excesses of restraint
are great and multitudinous, a trifling disturbance causes the mass to
break up into small fragments. To which add that the recognized remedy
for this unstable state is an exposure to such physical condition
(ordinarily high temperature) as enables the molecules so to change
their relative positions that their mutual restraints become equal on
all sides. And now observe that this holds whatever be the natures of
the molecules. They may be simple; they may be compound; they may be
composed of this or that matter in this or that way. In other words,
the special activities of each molecule, constituted by the relative
movements of its units, may be various in their kinds and degrees; and
yet, be they what they may, it remains true that to preserve internal
equilibrium throughout the mass of molecules, the mutual limitations of
their activities must be everywhere alike.

And this is the above-described prerequisite to social equilibrium,
whatever the special natures of the associated persons. Assuming that
within each society such persons are of the same type, needing for
the fulfillment of their several lives kindred activities, and though
these activities may be of one kind in one society and of another kind
in another, so admitting of indefinite variation, this condition to
social equilibrium does not admit of variation. It must be fulfilled
before complete life, that is greatest happiness, can be attained in
any society; be the particular quality of that life, or that happiness,
what it may.[G]

§ 62. After thus observing how means and ends in conduct stand to one
another, and how there emerge certain conclusions respecting their
relative claims, we may see a way to reconcile sundry conflicting
ethical theories. These severally embody portions of the truth; and
simply require combining in proper order to embody the whole truth.

The theological theory contains a part. If for the divine will,
supposed to be supernaturally revealed, we substitute the naturally
revealed end toward which the Power manifested throughout Evolution
works; then, since Evolution has been, and is still, working toward the
highest life, it follows that conforming to those principles by which
the highest life is achieved, is furthering that end. The doctrine that
perfection or excellence of nature should be the object of pursuit, is
in one sense true; for it tacitly recognizes that ideal form of being
which the highest life implies, and to which Evolution tends. There is
a truth, also, in the doctrine that virtue mast be the aim; for this
is another form of the doctrine that the aim must be to fulfill the
conditions to achievement of the highest life. That the intuitions of
a moral faculty should guide or conduct, is a proposition in which
a truth is contained; for these intuitions are the slowly organized
results of experiences received by the race while living in presence
of these conditions. And that happiness is the supreme end is beyond
question true; for this is the concomitant of that highest life which
every theory of moral guidance has distinctly or vaguely in view.

So understanding their relative positions, those ethical systems which
make virtue, right, obligation, the cardinal aims, are seen to be
complementary to those ethical systems which make welfare, pleasure,
happiness, the cardinal aims. Though the moral sentiments generated
in civilized men by daily contact with social conditions and gradual
adaptation to them, are indispensable as incentives and deterrents; and
though the intuitions corresponding to these sentiments have, in virtue
of their origin, a general authority to be reverently recognized;
yet the sympathies and antipathies hence originating, together
with the intellectual expressions of them, are, in their primitive
forms, necessarily vague. To make guidance by them adequate to all
requirements, their dictates have to be interpreted and made definite
by science; to which end there must be analysis of those conditions to
complete living which they respond to, and from converse with which
they have arisen. And such analysis necessitates the recognition of
happiness for each and all, as the end to be achieved by fulfillment of
these conditions.

Hence, recognizing in due degrees all the various ethical theories,
conduct in its highest form will take as guides innate perceptions of
right duly enlightened and made precise by an analytic intelligence,
while conscious that these guides are proximately supreme solely
because they lead to the ultimate supreme end, happiness special and



§ 63. A truth of cardinal importance as a datum of Ethics, which was
incidentally referred to in the last chapter, must here be set forth at
full length. I mean the truth that not only men of different races, but
also different men of the same race, and even the same men at different
periods of life, have different standards of happiness. Though there is
some recognition of this by moralists, the recognition is inadequate,
and the far-reaching conclusions to be drawn when the relativity of
happiness is fully recognized, are scarcely suspected.

It is a belief universal in early life--a belief which in most people
is but partially corrected in later life, and in very few wholly
dissipated--that there is something intrinsic in the pleasantness of
certain things, while other things are intrinsically unpleasant. The
error is analogous to, and closely allied with, the error crude realism
makes. Just as to the uncultured mind it appears self-evident that the
sweetness of sugar is inherent in sugar, that sound as we perceive it
is sound as it exists in the external world, and that the warmth from
a fire is in itself what it seems; so does it appear self-evident that
the sweetness of sugar is necessarily grateful, that there is in a
beautiful sound something that must be beautiful to all creatures, and
that the agreeable feeling produced by warmth is a feeling which every
other consciousness must find agreeable.

But as criticism proves the one set of conclusions to be wrong, so
does it prove to be wrong the other set. Not only are the qualities of
external things as intellectually apprehended by us, relative to our
own organisms; but the pleasurableness or painfulness of the feelings
which we associate with such qualities, are also relative to our own
organisms. They are so in a double sense--they are relative to its
structures, and they are relative to the states of its structures.

That we may not rest in a mere nominal acceptance of these general
truths, but may so appreciate them as to see their full bearings on
ethical theory, we must here glance at them as exemplified by animate
creatures at large. For after contemplating the wide divergences of
sentiency accompanying the wide divergences of organization which
evolution in general has brought about, we shall be enabled the better
to see the divergences of sentiency to be expected from the further
evolution of humanity.

§ 64. Because they can be most quickly disposed of, let us first deal
with pains: a further reason for first dealing with pains being that
we may thus forthwith recognize, and then leave out of consideration,
those sentient states the qualities of which may be regarded as
absolute rather than relative.

The painfulness of the feelings produced by forces which tend to
destroy organic structures, wholly or in part, is of course common
to all creatures capable of feeling. We saw it to be inevitable that
during evolution there must everywhere be established such connections
between external actions and the modes of consciousness they cause,
that the injurious ones are accompanied by disagreeable feelings and
the beneficial ones by agreeable feelings. Consequently, pressures or
strains which tear or bruise, and heats which burn or scald, being in
all cases partially or wholly destructive, are in all cases painful.

But even here the relativity of the feelings may in one sense be
asserted. For the effect of a force of given quantity or intensity
varies partly with the size and partly with the structure of the
creature exposed to it. The weight which is scarcely felt by a large
animal crushes a small one; the blow which breaks the limb of a
mouse produces little effect on a horse: the weapon which lacerates
a horse leaves a rhinoceros uninjured. And with these differences of
injuriousness doubtless go differences of feeling. Merely glancing
at the illustrations of this truth furnished by sentient beings in
general, let us consider the illustrations mankind furnish.

Comparisons of robust laboring men with women or children show us
that degrees of mechanical stress which the first bear with impunity,
produce on the others injuries and accompanying pains. The blistering
of a tender skin by an amount of friction which does not even redden
a coarse one, or the bursting of superficial blood-vessels, and
consequent discoloration, caused in a person of lax tissues by a
blow which leaves in well-toned tissues no trace, will sufficiently
exemplify this contrast.

Not only, however, are the pains due to violent incident forces,
relative to the characters or constitutional qualities of the parts
directly affected, but they are relative in equally marked ways, or
even in more marked ways, to the characters of the nervous structures.
The common assumption is that equal bodily injuries excite equal pains.
But this is a mistake. Pulling out a tooth or cutting off a limb, gives
to different persons widely different amounts of suffering; not the
endurance only, but the feeling to be endured, varies greatly; and the
variation largely depends on the degree of nervous development. This
is well shown by the great insensibility of idiots--blows, cuts, and
extremes of heat and cold, being borne by them with indifference.[H]
The relation thus shown in the most marked manner where the development
of the central nervous system is abnormally low, is shown in a less
marked manner where the development of the central nervous system is
normally low; namely, among inferior races of men. Many travelers
have commented on the strange callousness shown by savages who have
been mangled in battle or by accident; and surgeons in India say that
wounds and operations are better borne by natives than by Europeans.
Further, there comes the converse fact that among the higher types of
men, larger brained and more sensitive to pain than the lower, the
most sensitive are those whose nervous developments, as shown by their
mental powers, are the highest; part of the evidence being the relative
intolerance of disagreeable sensations common among men of genius,[I]
and the general irritability characteristic of them.

That pain is relative not to structures only, but to their states as
well, is also manifest--more manifest indeed. The sensibility of an
external part depends on its temperature. Cool it below a certain point
and it becomes, as we say, numb; and if by ether spray it is made very
cold, it may be cut without any feeling being produced. Conversely,
heat the part so that its blood-vessels dilate, and the pain which any
injury or irritation causes is greater than usual. How largely the
production of pain depends on the condition of the part affected, we
see in the extreme tenderness of an inflamed surface--a tenderness such
that a slight touch causes shrinking, and such that rays from the fire
which ordinarily would be indifferent become intolerable.

Similarly with the special senses. A light which eyes that are in good
order bear without disagreeable feeling, cannot be borne by inflamed
eyes. And beyond the local state, the state of the system as a whole,
and the state of the nervous centers, are both factors. Those enfeebled
by illness are distressed by noises which those in health bear with
equanimity; and men with overwrought brains are irritated in unusual
degrees by annoyances, both physical and moral.

Further, the temporary condition known as exhaustion enters into the
relation. Limbs overworn by prolonged exertion, cannot without aching
perform acts which would at other times cause no appreciable feeling.
After reading continuously for very many hours, even strong eyes begin
to smart. And noises that can be listened to for a short time with
indifference, become, if there is no cessation, causes of suffering.

So that though there is absoluteness in the relation between positive
pains and actions that are positively injurious, in so far that
wherever there is sentiency it exists; yet even here partial relativity
may be asserted. For there is no fixed relation between the acting
force and the produced feeling. The amount of feeling varies with the
size of the organism, with the character of its outer structures, with
the character of its nervous system; and also with the temporary states
of the part affected, of the body at large, and of the nervous centers.

§ 65. The relativity of pleasures is far more conspicuous; and the
illustrations of it furnished by the sentient world at large are

It needs but to glance round at the various things which different
creatures are prompted by their desires to eat and are gratified in
eating--flesh for predaceous animals, grass for the herbivora, worms
for the mole, flies for the swallow, seeds for the finch, honey for the
bee, a decaying carcass for the maggot--to be reminded that the tastes
for foods are relative to the structures of the creatures. And this
truth, made conspicuous by a survey of animals in general, is forced
on our attention even by a survey of different races of men. Here
human flesh is abhorred, and there regarded as the greatest delicacy;
in this country roots are allowed to putrefy before they are eaten,
and in that the taint of decay produces disgust: the whale's blubber
which one race devours with avidity, will in another by its very odor
produce nausea. Nay, without looking abroad we may, in the common
saying that "one man's meat is another man's poison," see the general
admission that members of the same society so far differ, that a taste
which is to these pleasurable is to those displeasurable. So is it with
the other senses. Assafoetida, which by us is singled out as typical
of the disgusting in odor, ranks among the Esthonians as a favorite
perfume, and even those around us vary so far in their likings that the
scents of flowers grateful to some are repugnant to others. Analogous
differences, in the preferences for colors, we daily hear expressed.
And in a greater or less degree the like holds with all sensations down
even to those of touch: the feeling yielded by velvet, which is to most
agreeable, setting the teeth on edge in some.

It needs but to name appetite and satiety to suggest multitudinous
facts showing that pleasures are relative not only to the organic
structures but also to their states. The food which yields keen
gratification when there is great hunger ceases to be grateful when
hunger is satisfied, and if then forced on the eater is rejected with
aversion. So, too, a particular kind of food, seeming when first
tasted so delicious that daily repetition would be a source of endless
enjoyment, becomes, in a few days, not only unenjoyable but repugnant.
Brilliant colors which, falling on unaccustomed eyes give delight,
pall on the sense if long looked at, and there is relief in getting
away from the impressions they yield. Sounds sweet in themselves and
sweet in their combinations which yield to unfatigued ears intense
pleasure, become, at the end of a long concert, not only wearisome but,
if there is no escape from them, causes of irritation. The like holds
down even to such simple sensations as those of heat and cold. The
fire so delightful on a winter's day is, in hot weather, oppressive;
and pleasure is then taken in the cold water from which, in winter,
there would be shrinking. Indeed, experiences lasting over but a few
moments suffice to show how relative to the states of the structures
are pleasurable sensations of these kinds; for it is observable that on
dipping the cold hand into hot water, the agreeable feeling gradually
diminishes as the hand warms.

These few instances will carry home the truth, manifest enough to all
who observe, that the receipt of each agreeable sensation depends
primarily on the existence of a structure which is called into play;
and, secondarily, on the condition of that structure, as fitting it or
unfitting it for activity.

§ 66. The truth that emotional pleasures are made possible, partly by
the existence of correlative structures and partly by the states of
those structures, is equally undeniable.

Observe the animal which, leading a life demanding solitary habits,
has an adapted organization, and it gives no sign of need for the
presence of its kind. Observe, conversely, a gregarious animal
separated from the herd, and you see marks of unhappiness while the
separation continues, and equally distinct marks of joy on joining
its companions. In the one case there is no nervous structure which
finds its sphere of action in the gregarious state, and in the other
case such a structure exists. As was implied by instances cited in
the last chapter for another purpose, animals leading lives involving
particular kinds of activities, have become so constituted that
pursuance of those activities, exercising the correlative structures,
yields the associated pleasures. Beasts of prey confined in dens, show
us by their pacings from side to side the endeavor to obtain, as well
as they can, the satisfactions that accompany roaming about in their
natural habitats, and that gratification in the expenditure of their
locomotive energies, shown us by porpoises playing round a vessel, is
shown us by the similarly unceasing excursions from end to end of its
cell which a captured porpoise makes. The perpetual hoppings of the
canary from bar to bar of its cage, and the ceaseless use of claws and
bill in climbing about its perch by the parrot, are other activities
which, severally related to the needs of the species, have severally
themselves become sources of agreeable feelings. Still more clearly are
we shown by the efforts which a caged beaver makes to build with such
sticks and pieces of wood as are at hand, how dominant in its nature
has become the building instinct, and how, apart from any advantage
gained, it gets gratification by repeating, as well as it can, the
processes of construction it is organized to carry on. The cat which,
lacking something to tear with her claws, pulls at the mat with them,
the confined giraffe which, in default of branches to lay hold of wears
out the upper angles of the doors to its house by continually grasping
them with its prehensile tongue, the rhinoceros which, having no enemy
to fight, plows up the ground with his horn--all yield us analogous
evidence. Clearly, these various actions performed by these various
creatures are not intrinsically pleasurable, for they differ more or
less in each species and are often utterly unlike. The pleasurableness
is simply in the exercise of nervo-muscular structures adapted to the
performance of the actions.

Though races of men are contrasted with one another so much less than
genera and orders of animals are, yet, as we saw in the last chapter,
along with visible differences there go invisible differences, with
accompanying likings for different modes of life. Among some, as
the Mantras, the love of unrestrained action and the disregard of
companionship, are such that they separate if they quarrel, and hence
live scattered; while among others, as the Damaras, there is little
tendency to resist, but instead, an admiration for any one who assumes
power over them. Already when exemplifying the indefiniteness of
happiness as an end of action, I have referred to the unlike ideals
of life pursued by the nomadic and the settled, the warlike and the
peaceful--unlike ideals which imply unlikenesses of nervous structures
caused by the inherited effects of unlike habits accumulating through
generations. These contrasts, various in their kinds and degrees among
the various types of mankind, every one can supplement by analogous
contrasts observable among those around. The occupations some delight
in are to those otherwise constituted intolerable; and men's hobbies,
severally appearing to themselves quite natural, often appear to their
friends ludicrous and almost insane: facts which alone might make us
see that the pleasurableness of actions of this or that kind, is due
not to anything in the natures of the actions but to the existence of
faculties which find exercise in them.

It must be added that each pleasurable emotion, like each pleasurable
sensation, is relative not only to a certain structure but also to
the state of that structure. The parts called into action must have
had proper rest--must be in a condition fit for action; not in the
condition which prolonged action produces. Be the order of emotion what
it may, an unbroken continuity in the receipt of it eventually brings
satiety. The pleasurable consciousness becomes less and less vivid,
and there arises the need for a temporary cessation during which the
parts that have been active may recover their fitness for activity,
and during which also the activities of other parts and receipt of the
accompanying emotions may find due place.

§ 67. I have insisted on these general truths with perhaps needless
iteration, to prepare the reader for more fully recognizing a corollary
that is practically ignored. Abundant and clear as is the evidence, and
forced though it is daily on every one's attention, the conclusions
respecting life and conduct which should be drawn, are not drawn,
and so much at variance are these conclusions with current beliefs,
that enunciation of them causes a stare of incredulity. Pervaded as
all past thinking has been, and as most present thinking is, by the
assumption that the nature of every creature has been specially created
for it, and that human nature, also specially created, is, like other
natures, fixed--pervaded too as this thinking has been, and is, by the
allied assumption that the agreeableness of certain actions depends on
their essential qualities, while other actions are by their essential
qualities made disagreeable; it is difficult to obtain a hearing for
the doctrine that the kinds of action which are now pleasurable will,
under conditions requiring the change, cease to be pleasurable, while
other kinds of action will become pleasurable. Even those who accept
the doctrine of Evolution mostly hear with scepticism, or at best
with nominal faith, the inferences to be drawn from it respecting the
humanity of the future.

And yet as shown in myriads of instances indicated by the few above
given, those natural processes which have produced multitudinous
forms of structure adapted to multitudinous forms of activity, have
simultaneously made these forms of activity pleasurable. And the
inevitable implication is that within the limits imposed by physical
laws, there will be evolved, in adaptation to any new sets of
conditions that may be established, appropriate structures of which the
functions will yield their respective gratifications.

When we have got rid of the tendency to think that certain modes of
activity are necessarily pleasurable because they give us pleasure, and
that other modes which do not please us are necessarily unpleasing;
we shall see that the remolding of human nature into fitness for
the requirements of social life, must eventually make all needful
activities pleasurable, while it makes displeasurable all activities
at variance with these requirements. When we have come fully to
recognize the truth that there is nothing intrinsically more gratifying
in the efforts by which wild animals are caught, than in the efforts
expended in rearing plants, and that the combined actions of muscles
and senses in rowing a boat are not by their essential natures more
productive of agreeable feeling than those gone through in reaping
corn, but that everything depends on the co-operating emotions, which
at present are more in accordance with the one than with the other; we
shall infer that along with decrease of those emotions for which the
social state affords little or no scope, and increase of those which
it persistently exercises, the things now done with dislike from a
sense of obligation will be done with immediate liking, and the things
desisted from as a matter of duty will be desisted from because they
are repugnant.

This conclusion, alien to popular beliefs and in ethical speculation
habitually ignored, or at most recognized but partially and
occasionally, will be thought by the majority so improbable that I must
give further justification of it: enforcing the _à priori_ argument by
an _à posteriori_ one. Small as is the attention given to the fact,
yet is the fact conspicuous that the corollary above drawn from the
doctrine of Evolution at large, coincides with the corollary which
past and present changes in human nature force upon us. The leading
contrasts of character between savage and civilized, are just those
contrasts to be expected from the process of adaptation.

The life of the primitive man is passed mainly in the pursuit of
beasts, birds and fish, which yields him a gratifying excitement;
but though to the civilized man the chase gives gratification, this
is neither so persistent nor so general. There are among us keen
sportsmen, but there are many to whom shooting and fishing soon
become wearisome, and there are not a few to whom they are altogether
indifferent or even distasteful.

Conversely, the power of continued application, which in the primitive
man is very small, has among ourselves become considerable. It is
true that most are coerced into industry by necessity; but there
are sprinkled throughout society men to whom active occupation is a
need--men who are restless when away from business and miserable
when they eventually give it up; men to whom this or that line of
investigation is so attractive that they devote themselves to it day
after day, year after year; men who are so deeply interested in public
affairs that they pass lives of labor in achieving political ends they
think advantageous, hardly giving themselves the rest necessary for

Yet again, and still more strikingly, does the change become manifest
when we compare undeveloped with developed humanity in respect of the
conduct prompted by fellow-feeling. Cruelty rather than kindness is
characteristic of the savage, and is in many cases a source of marked
gratification to him; but though among the civilized are some in whom
this trait of the savage survives, yet a love of inflicting pain is not
general, and besides numbers who show benevolence, there are those who
devote their whole time and much of their money to philanthropic ends,
without thought of reward either here or hereafter.

Clearly these major, along with many minor, changes of nature, conform
to the law set forth. Activities appropriate to their needs which
give pleasures to savages have ceased to be pleasurable to many of
the civilized; while the civilized have acquired capacities for other
appropriate activities and accompanying pleasures which savages had no
capacities for.

Now, not only is it rational to infer that changes like those which
have been going on during civilization, will continue to go on, but
it is irrational to do otherwise. Not he who believes that adaptation
will increase is absurd, but he who doubts that it will increase is
absurd. Lack of faith in such further evolution of humanity as shall
harmonize its nature with its conditions, adds but another to the
countless illustrations of inadequate consciousness of causation. One
who, leaving behind both primitive dogmas and primitive ways of looking
at things, has, while accepting scientific conclusions, acquired those
habits of thought which science generates, will regard the conclusion
above drawn as inevitable. He will find it impossible to believe
that the processes which have heretofore so molded all beings to the
requirements of their lives that they get satisfactions in fulfilling
them, will not hereafter continue so molding them. He will infer that
the type of nature to which the highest social life affords a sphere
such that every faculty has its due amount, and no more than the due
amount, of function and accompanying gratification, is the type of
nature toward which progress cannot cease till it is reached. Pleasure
being producible by the exercise of any structure which is adjusted
to its special end, he will see the necessary implication to be that,
supposing it consistent with maintenance of life, there is no kind of
activity which will not become a source of pleasure if continued; and
that therefore pleasure will eventually accompany every mode of action
demanded by social conditions.

This corollary I here emphasize because it will presently play an
important part in the argument.



§ 68. If insistance on them tends to unsettle established systems of
belief, self-evident truths are by most people silently passed over;
or else there is a tacit refusal to draw from them the most obvious

Of self-evident truths so dealt with, the one which here concerns us
is that a creature must live before it can act. From this it is a
corollary that the acts by which each maintains his own life must,
speaking generally, precede in imperativeness all other acts of which
he is capable. For if it be asserted that these other acts must
precede in imperativeness the acts which maintain life; and if this,
accepted as a general law of conduct, is conformed to by all, then by
postponing the acts which maintain life to the other acts which makes
life possible, all must lose their lives. That is to say, Ethics has to
recognize the truth, recognized in unethical thought, that egoism comes
before altruism. The acts required for continued self-preservation,
including the enjoyment of benefits achieved by such acts, are the
first requisites to universal welfare. Unless each duly cares for
himself, his care for all others is ended by death; and if each thus
dies, there remain no others to be cared for.

This permanent supremacy of egoism over altruism, made manifest by
contemplating existing life, is further made manifest by contemplating
life in course of evolution.

§ 69. Those who have followed with assent the recent course of thought,
do not need telling that throughout past eras, the life, vast in amount
and varied in kind, which has overspread the earth, has progressed in
subordination to the law that every individual shall gain by whatever
aptitude it has for fulfilling the conditions to its existence. The
uniform principle has been that better adaptation shall bring greater
benefit; which greater benefit, while increasing the prosperity of the
better adapted, shall increase also its ability to leave offspring
inheriting more or less its better adaptation. And, by implication,
the uniform principle has been that the ill-adapted, disadvantaged in
the struggle for existence, shall bear the consequent evils: either
disappearing when its imperfections are extreme, or else rearing fewer
offspring, which, inheriting its imperfections, tend to dwindle away in

It has been thus with innate superiorities; it has been thus also with
acquired ones. All along the law has been that increased function
brings increased power; and that therefore such extra activities as
aid welfare in any member of a race, produce in its structures greater
ability to carry on such extra activities: the derived advantages
being enjoyed by it to the heightening and lengthening of its life.
Conversely, as lessened function ends in lessened structure, the
dwindling of unused faculties has ever entailed loss of power to
achieve the correlative ends: the result of inadequate fulfillment of
the ends being diminished ability to maintain life. And by inheritance,
such functionally produced modifications have respectively furthered or
hindered survival in posterity.

As already said, the law that each creature shall take the benefits and
the evils of its nature, be they those derived from ancestry or those
due to self-produced modifications, has been the law under which life
has evolved thus far; and it must continue to be the law however much
further life may evolve. Whatever qualifications this natural course of
action may now or hereafter undergo, are qualifications that cannot,
without fatal results, essentially change it. Any arrangements which in
a considerable degree prevent superiority from profiting by the rewards
of superiority, or shield inferiority from the evils it entails--any
arrangements which tend to make it as well to be inferior as to be
superior, are arrangements diametrically opposed to the progress of
organization and the reaching of a higher life.

But to say that each individual shall reap the benefits brought to him
by his own powers, inherited and acquired, is to enunciate egoism as an
ultimate principle of conduct. It is to say that egoistic claims must
take precedence of altruistic claims.

§ 70. Under its biological aspect this proposition cannot be contested
by those who agree in the doctrine of Evolution; but probably they
will not at once allow that admission of it under its ethical aspect
is equally unavoidable. While, as respects development of life, the
well-working of the universal principle described is sufficiently
manifest; the well-working of it as respects increase of happiness may
not be seen at once. But the two cannot be disjoined.

Incapacity of every kind and of whatever degree causes unhappiness
directly and indirectly--directly by the pain consequent on
the overtaxing of inadequate faculty, and indirectly by the
non-fulfillment, or imperfect fulfillment, of certain conditions
to welfare. Conversely, capacity of every kind sufficient for the
requirement conduces to happiness immediately and remotely--immediately
by the pleasure accompanying the normal exercise of each power that is
up to its work, and remotely by the pleasures which are furthered by
the ends achieved. A creature that is weak or slow of foot, and so gets
food only by exhausting efforts, or escapes enemies with difficulty,
suffers the pains of over-strained powers, of unsatisfied appetites,
of distressed emotions; while the strong and swift creature of the
same species delights in its efficient activities, gains more fully
the satisfactions yielded by food as well as the renewed vivacity this
gives, and has to bear fewer and smaller pains in defending itself
against foes or escaping from them. Similarly with duller and keener
senses, or higher and lower degrees of sagacity. The mentally-inferior
individual of any race suffers negative and positive miseries; while
the mentally-superior individual receives negative and positive
gratifications. Inevitably, then, this law in conformity with which
each member of a species takes the consequences of its own nature;
and in virtue of which the progeny of each member, participating in
its nature, also takes such consequences; is one that tends ever
to raise the aggregate happiness of the species, by furthering the
multiplication of the happier and hindering that of the less happy.

All this is true of human beings as of other beings. The conclusion
forced on us is that the pursuit of individual happiness within those
limits prescribed by social conditions, is the first requisite to the
attainment of the greatest general happiness. To see this it needs but
to contrast one whose self-regard has maintained bodily well-being,
with one whose regardlessness of self has brought its natural results;
and then to ask what must be the contrast between two societies formed
of two such kinds of individuals.

Bounding out of bed after an unbroken sleep, singing or whistling
as he dresses, coming down with beaming face ready to laugh on the
smallest provocation, the healthy man of high powers, conscious of
past successes and by his energy, quickness, resource, made confident
of the future, enters on the day's business not with repugnance, but
with gladness; and from hour to hour experiencing satisfactions from
work effectually done, comes home with an abundant surplus of energy
remaining for hours of relaxation. Far otherwise is it with one who is
enfeebled by great neglect of self. Already deficient, his energies
are made more deficient by constant endeavors to execute tasks that
prove beyond his strength, and by the resulting discouragement. Besides
the depressing consciousness of the immediate future, there is the
depressing consciousness of the remoter future, with its probability
of accumulated difficulties and diminished ability to meet them.
Hours of leisure which, rightly passed, bring pleasures that raise
the tide of life and renew the powers of work, cannot be utilized:
there is not vigor enough for enjoyments involving action, and lack
of spirits prevents passive enjoyments from being entered upon with
zest. In brief, life becomes a burden. Now if, as must be admitted,
in a community composed of individuals like the first, the happiness
will be relatively great, while in one composed of individuals like the
last, there will be relatively little happiness, or rather much misery;
it must be admitted that conduct causing the one result is good, and
conduct causing the other is bad.

But diminutions of general happiness are produced by inadequate egoism
in several other ways. These we will successively glance at.

§ 71. If there were no proofs of heredity--if it were the rule that
the strong are usually begotten by the weak, while the weak usually
descend from the strong, that vivacious children form the families
of melancholy parents, while fathers and mothers with overflowing
spirits mostly have dull progeny, that from stolid peasants there
ordinarily come sons of high intelligence while the sons of the
cultured are commonly fit for nothing but following the plow--if there
were no transmission of gout, scrofula, insanity, and did the diseased
habitually give birth to the healthy and the healthy to the diseased,
writers on Ethics might be justified in ignoring those effects of
conduct which are felt by posterity through the natures they inherit.

As it is, however, the current ideas concerning the relative claims
of egoism and altruism are vitiated by the omission of this all
all-important factor. For if health, strength and capacity, are usually
transmitted; and if disease, feebleness, stupidity, generally reappear
in descendants; then a rational altruism requires insistance on that
egoism which is shown by receipt of the satisfactions accompanying
preservation of body and mind in the best state. The necessary
implication is that blessings are provided for offspring by due
self-regard, while disregard of self carried too far provides curses.
When, indeed, we remember how commonly it is remarked that high health
and overflowing spirits render any lot in life tolerable, while chronic
ailments make gloomy a life most favorably circumstanced, it becomes
amazing that both the world at large and writers who make conduct their
study, should ignore the terrible evils which disregard of personal
well-being inflicts on the unborn, and the incalculable good laid up
for the unborn by attention to personal well-being. Of all bequests
of parents to children the most valuable is a sound constitution.
Though a man's body is not a property that can be inherited, yet his
constitution may fitly be compared to an entailed estate; and if he
rightly understands his duty to posterity, he will see that he is
bound to pass on that estate uninjured if not improved. To say this
is to say that he must be egoistic to the extent of satisfying all
those desires associated with the due performance of functions. Nay,
it is to say more. It is to say that he must seek in due amounts the
various pleasures which life offers. For beyond the effect these have
in raising the tide of life and maintaining constitutional vigor, there
is the effect they have in preserving and increasing a capacity for
receiving enjoyment. Endowed with abundant energies and various tastes,
some can get gratifications of many kinds on opportunities hourly
occurring; while others are so inert, and so uninterested in things
around, that they cannot even take the trouble to amuse themselves. And
unless heredity be denied, the inference must be that due acceptance of
the miscellaneous pleasures life offers, conduces to the capacity for
enjoyment in posterity; and that persistence in dull monotonous lives
by parents, diminishes the ability of their descendants to make the
best of what gratifications fall to them.

§ 72. Beyond the decrease of general happiness which results in this
indirect way, if egoism is unduly subordinated, there is a decrease
of general happiness which results in a direct way. He who carries
self-regard far enough to keep himself in good health and high spirits,
in the first place, thereby becomes an immediate source of happiness
to those around, and, in the second place, maintains the ability to
increase their happiness by altruistic actions. But one whose bodily
vigor and mental health are undermined by self-sacrifice carried too
far, in the first place becomes to those around a cause of depression,
and, in the second place, renders himself incapable, or less capable,
of actively furthering their welfare.

In estimating conduct we must remember that there are those who by
their joyousness beget joy in others, and that there are those who by
their melancholy cast a gloom on every circle they enter. And we must
remember that by display of overflowing happiness a man of the one
kind may add to the happiness of others more than by positive efforts
to benefit them, and that a man of the other kind may decrease their
happiness more by his presence than he increases it by his actions.
Full of vivacity the one is ever welcome. For his wife he has smiles
and jocose speeches; for his children stores of fun and play; for his
friends pleasant talk interspersed with the sallies of wit that come
from buoyancy. Contrariwise, the other is shunned. The irritability
resulting now from ailments, now from failures caused by feebleness,
his family has daily to bear. Lacking adequate energy for joining in
them, he has at best but a tepid interest in the amusements of his
children, and he is called a wet blanket by his friends. Little account
as our ethical reasonings take note of it, yet is the fact obvious
that since happiness and misery are infectious, such regard for self
as conduces to health and high spirits is a benefaction to others, and
such disregard of self as brings on suffering, bodily or mental, is a
malefaction to others.

The duty of making one's self agreeable by seeming to be pleased, is,
indeed, often urged, and thus to gratify friends is applauded so long
as self-sacrificing effort is implied. But though display of real
happiness gratifies friends far more than display of sham happiness,
and has no drawback in the shape either of hypocrisy or strain, yet it
is not thought a duty to fulfill the conditions which favor the display
of real happiness. Nevertheless, if quantity of happiness produced is
to be the measure, the last is more imperative than the first.

And then, as above indicated, beyond this primary series of effects
produced on others there is a secondary series of effects. The
adequately egoistic individual retains those powers which make
altruistic activities possible. The individual who is inadequately
egoistic loses more or less of his ability to be altruistic. The truth
of the one proposition is self-evident, and the truth of the other is
daily forced on us by examples. Note a few of them.

Here is a mother who, brought up in the insane fashion usual among the
cultivated, has a physique not strong enough for suckling her infant,
but who, knowing that its natural food is the best, and anxious for
its welfare, continues to give it milk for a longer time than her
system will bear. Eventually the accumulating reaction tells. There
comes exhaustion running, it may be, into illness caused by depletion;
occasionally ending in death, and often entailing chronic weakness. She
becomes, perhaps for a time, perhaps permanently, incapable of carrying
on household affairs; her other children suffer from the loss of
maternal attention; and where the income is small, payments for nurse
and doctor tell injuriously on the whole family.

Instance, again, what not unfrequently happens with the father.
Similarly prompted by a high sense of obligation, and misled by current
moral theories into the notion that self-denial may rightly be carried
to any extent, he daily continues his office work for long hours
regardless of hot head and cold feet; and debars himself from social
pleasures, for which he thinks he can afford neither time nor money.
What comes of this entirely unegoistic course? Eventually a sudden
collapse, sleeplessness, inability to work. That rest which he would
not give himself when his sensations prompted, he has now to take in
long measure. The extra earnings laid by for the benefit of his family
are quickly swept away by costly journeys in aid of recovery, and by
the many expenses which illness entails. Instead of increased ability
to do his duty by his offspring, there comes now inability. Life-long
evils on them replace hoped-for goods.

And so is it, too, with the social effects of inadequate egoism. All
grades furnish examples of the mischiefs, positive and negative,
inflicted on society by excessive neglect of self. Now the case is that
of a laborer who, conscientiously continuing his work under a broiling
sun, spite of violent protest from his feelings, dies of sunstroke;
and leaves his family a burden to the parish. Now the case is that of
a clerk whose eyes permanently fail from over-straining, or who, daily
writing for hours after his fingers are painfully cramped, is attacked
with "scrivener's palsy," and, unable to write at all, sinks with aged
parents into poverty which friends are called on to mitigate. And now
the case is that of a man devoted to public ends who, shattering his
health by ceaseless application, fails to achieve all he might have
achieved by a more reasonable apportionment of his time between labor
on behalf of others and ministration to his own needs.

§ 73. In one further way is the undue subordination of egoism to
altruism injurious. Both directly and indirectly unselfishness pushed
to excess generates selfishness.

Consider first the immediate effects. That one man may yield up to
another a gratification, it is needful that the other shall accept it;
and where the gratification is of a kind to which their respective
claims are equal, or which is no more required by the one than by
the other, acceptance implies a readiness to get gratification at
another's cost. The circumstances and needs of the two being alike,
the transaction involves as much culture of egoism in the last as
it involves culture of altruism in the first. It is true that not
unfrequently, difference between their means or difference between
their appetites for a pleasure which the one has had often and the
other rarely, divests the acceptance of this character; and it is true
that in other cases the benefactor manifestly takes so much pleasure
in giving pleasure, that the sacrifice is partial, and the reception
of it not wholly selfish. But to see the effect above indicated we
must exclude such inequalities, and consider what happens where wants
are approximately alike and where the sacrifices, not reciprocated at
intervals, are perpetually on one side. So restricting the inquiry all
can name instances verifying the alleged result. Every one can remember
circles in which the daily surrender of benefits by the generous to
the greedy, has caused increase of greediness, until there has been
produced an unscrupulous egoism intolerable to all around. There are
obvious social effects of kindred nature. Most thinking people now
recognize the demoralization caused by indiscriminate charity. They
see how in the mendicant there is, besides destruction of the normal
relation between labor expended and benefit obtained, a genesis of the
expectation that others shall minister to his needs; showing itself
sometimes in the venting of curses on those who refuse.

Next consider the remote results. When the egoistic claims are so
much subordinated to the altruistic as to produce physical mischief,
the tendency is toward a relative decrease in the number of the
altruistic and therefore an increased predominance of the egoistic.
Pushed to extremes, sacrifice of self for the benefit of others leads
occasionally to death before the ordinary period of marriage; leads
sometimes to abstention from marriage, as in sisters of charity; leads
sometimes to an ill-health or a loss of attractiveness which prevents
marriage; leads sometimes to non-acquirement of the pecuniary means
needed for marriage; and in all these cases, therefore, the unusually
altruistic leave no descendants. Where the postponement of personal
welfare to the welfare of others has not been carried so far as to
prevent marriage, it yet not unfrequently occurs that the physical
degradation resulting from years of self-neglect causes infertility;
so that again the most altruistically natured leave no like natured
posterity. And then in less marked and more numerous cases, the
resulting enfeeblement shows itself by the production of relatively
weak offspring; of whom some die early, while the rest are less likely
than usual to transmit the parental type to future generations.
Inevitably, then, by this dying out of the especially unegoistic, there
is prevented that desirable mitigation of egoism in the average nature
which would else have taken place. Such disregard of self as brings
down bodily vigor below the normal level, eventually produces in the
society a counterbalancing excess of regard for self.

§ 74. That egoism precedes altruism in order of imperativeness, is
thus clearly shown. The acts which make continued life possible, must,
on the average, be more peremptory than all those other acts which
life makes possible, including the acts which benefit others. Turning
from life as existing to life as evolving, we are equally shown this.
Sentient beings have progressed from low to high types, under the law
that the superior shall profit by their superiority and the inferior
shall suffer from their inferiority. Conformity to this law has been,
and is still, needful, not only for the continuance of life but for the
increase of happiness: since the superior are those having faculties
better adjusted to the requirements--faculties, therefore, which bring
in their exercise greater pleasure and less pain.

More special considerations join these more general ones in showing
us this truth. Such egoism as preserves a vivacious mind in a
vigorous body furthers the happiness of descendants, whose inherited
constitutions make the labors of life easy and its pleasures keen;
while, conversely, unhappiness is entailed on posterity by those
who bequeath them constitutions injured by self-neglect. Again, the
individual whose well-conserved life shows itself in overflowing
spirits, becomes, by his mere existence, a source of pleasure to all
around; while the depression which commonly accompanies ill-health
diffuses itself through family and among friends. A further contrast
is that whereas one who has been duly regardful of self retains the
power of being helpful to others, there results from self-abnegation
in excess, not only an inability to help others but the infliction
of positive burdens on them. Lastly, we come upon the truth that
undue altruism increases egoism, both directly in contemporaries and
indirectly in posterity.

And now observe that though the general conclusion enforced by these
special conclusions is at variance with nominally accepted beliefs,
it is not at variance with actually accepted beliefs. While opposed
to the doctrine which men are taught should be acted upon, it is in
harmony with the doctrine which they do act upon and dimly see must
be acted upon. For omitting such abnormalities of conduct as are
instanced above, every one, alike by deed and word, implies that in the
business of life personal welfare is the primary consideration. The
laborer looking for wages in return for work done, no less than the
merchant who sells goods at a profit, the doctor who expects fees for
advice, the priest who calls the scene of his ministrations "a living,"
assumes as beyond question the truth that selfishness, carried to the
extent of enforcing his claims and enjoying the returns his efforts
bring, is not only legitimate but essential. Even persons who avow a
contrary conviction prove by their acts that it is inoperative. Those
who repeat with emphasis the maxim, "Love your neighbor as yourself,"
do not render up what they possess so as to satisfy the desires of all
as much as they satisfy their own desires. Nor do those whose extreme
maxim is, "Live for others," differ appreciably from people around in
their regards for personal welfare, or fail to appropriate their shares
of life's pleasures. In short, that which is above set forth as the
belief to which scientific ethics leads us, is that which men do really
believe, as distinguished from that which they believe they believe.

Finally, it may be remarked that a rational egoism, so far from
implying a more egoistic human nature, is consistent with a human
nature that is less egoistic. For excesses in one direction do not
prevent excesses in the opposite direction; but rather, extreme
deviations from the mean on one side lead to extreme deviations on
the other side. A society in which the most exalted principles of
self-sacrifice for the benefit of neighbors are enunciated, may be
a society in which unscrupulous sacrifice of alien fellow-creatures
is not only tolerated but applauded. Along with professed anxiety
to spread these exalted principles among heathens, there may go the
deliberate fastening of a quarrel upon them with a view to annexing
their territory. Men who every Sunday have listened approvingly to
injunctions carrying the regard for other men to an impracticable
extent, may yet hire themselves out to slay, at the word of command,
any people in any part of the world, utterly indifferent to the right
or wrong of the matter fought about. And as in these cases transcendent
altruism in theory co-exists with brutal egoism in practice, so
conversely, a more qualified altruism may have for its concomitant a
greatly moderated egoism. For asserting the due claims of self, is, by
implication, drawing a limit beyond which the claims are undue; and is,
by consequence, bringing into greater clearness the claims of others.



§ 75. If we define altruism as being all action which, in the normal
course of things, benefits others instead of benefiting self, then,
from the dawn of life, altruism has been no less essential than egoism.
Though, primarily, it is dependent on egoism, yet, secondarily, egoism
is dependent on it.

Under altruism, in this comprehensive sense, I take in the acts by
which offspring are preserved and the species maintained. Moreover,
among these acts must be included not such only as are accompanied by
consciousness but also such as conduce to the welfare of offspring
without mental representation of the welfare--acts of automatic
altruism as we may call them. Nor must there be left out those lowest
altruistic acts which subserve race-maintenance without implying even
automatic nervous processes--acts not in the remotest sense psychical,
but in a literal sense physical. Whatever action, unconscious or
conscious, involves expenditure of individual life to the end of
increasing life in other individuals, is unquestionably altruistic in a
sense, if not in the usual sense, and it is here needful to understand
it in this sense that we may see how conscious altruism grows out of
unconscious altruism.

The simplest beings habitually multiply by spontaneous fission.
Physical altruism of the lowest kind, differentiating from physical
egoism, may, in this case, be considered as not yet independent of
it. For since the two halves which, before fission, constituted the
individual, do not on dividing disappear, we must say that though the
individuality of the parent infusorium or other protozoon is lost in
ceasing to be single, yet the old individual continues to exist in each
of the new individuals. When, however, as happens generally with these
smallest animals, an interval of quiescence ends in the breaking up of
the whole body into minute parts, each of which is the germ of a young
one, we see the parent entirely sacrificed in forming progeny.

Here might be described how among creatures of higher grades, by
fission or gemmation, parents bequeath parts of their bodies, more
or less organized, to form offspring at the cost of their own
individualities. Numerous examples might also be given of the ways in
which the development of ova is carried to the extent of making the
parental body little more than a receptacle for them: the implication
being that the accumulations of nutriment which parental activities
have laid up, are disposed of for the benefit of posterity. And
then might be dwelt on the multitudinous cases where, as generally
throughout the insect-world, maturity having been reached and a new
generation provided for, life ends: death follows the sacrifices made
for progeny.

But leaving these lower types in which the altruism is physical only,
or in which it is physical and automatically psychical only, let
us ascend to those in which it is also, to a considerable degree,
conscious. Though, in birds and mammals, such parental activities, as
are guided by instinct, are accompanied by either no representations or
but vague representations of the benefits which the young receive, yet
there are also in them actions which we may class as altruistic in the
higher sense. The agitation which creatures of these classes show when
their young are in danger, joined often with efforts on their behalf,
as well as grief displayed after loss of their young, make it manifest
that in them parental altruism has a concomitant of emotion.

Those who understand by altruism only the conscious sacrifice of self
to others among human beings, will think it strange, or even absurd, to
extend its meaning so widely. But the justification for doing this is
greater than has thus far appeared. I do not mean merely that in the
course of evolution, there has been a progress through infinitesimal
gradations from purely physical and unconscious sacrifices of the
individual for the welfare of the species, up to sacrifices consciously
made. I mean that from first to last the sacrifices are, when reduced
to their lowest terms, of the same essential nature: to the last, as at
first, there is involved a loss of bodily substance. When a part of the
parental body is detached in the shape of gemmule, or egg, or foetus,
the material sacrifice is conspicuous: and when the mother yields milk
by absorbing which the young one grows, it cannot be questioned that
there is also a material sacrifice. But though a material sacrifice
is not manifest when the young are benefitted by activities on their
behalf; yet, as no effort can be made without an equivalent waste of
tissue, and as the bodily loss is proportionate to the expenditure that
takes place without reimbursement in food consumed, it follows that
efforts made in fostering offspring do really represent a part of the
parental substance; which is now given indirectly instead of directly.

Self-sacrifice, then, is no less primordial than self-preservation.
Being in its simple physical form absolutely necessary for the
continuance of life from the beginning; and being extended under its
automatic form, as indispensable to maintenance of race in types
considerably advanced; and being developed to its semi-conscious and
conscious forms, along with the continued and complicated attendance
by which the offspring of superior creatures are brought to maturity,
altruism has been evolving simultaneously with egoism. As was pointed
out in an early chapter, the same superiorities which have enabled
the individual to preserve itself better, have enabled it better to
preserve the individuals derived from it; and each higher species,
using its improved faculties primarily for egoistic benefit, has spread
in proportion as it has used them secondarily for altruistic benefit.

The imperativeness of altruism as thus understood, is, indeed, no less
than the imperativeness of egoism was shown to be in the last chapter.
For while, on the one hand, a falling short of normal egoistic acts
entails enfeeblement or loss of life, and therefore loss of ability to
perform altruistic acts, on the other hand, such defect of altruistic
acts as causes death of offspring or inadequate development of them,
involves disappearance from future generations of the nature that is
not altruistic enough--so decreasing the average egoism. In short,
every species is continually purifying itself from the unduly egoistic
individuals, while there are being lost to it the unduly altruistic

§ 76. As there has been an advance by degrees from unconscious parental
altruism to conscious parental altruism of the highest kind, so has
there been an advance by degrees from the altruism of the family to
social altruism.

A fact to be first noted is that only where altruistic relations in
the domestic group have reached highly-developed forms, do there arise
conditions making possible full development of altruistic relations in
the political group. Tribes in which promiscuity prevails, or in which
the marital relations are transitory, and tribes in which polyandry
entails in another way indefinite relationships, are incapable of
much organization. Nor do peoples who are habitually polygamous show
themselves able to take on those high forms of social co-operation
which demand due subordination of self to others. Only where monogamic
marriage has become general and eventually universal--only where there
have consequently been established the closest ties of blood--only
where family altruism has been most fostered, has social altruism
become conspicuous. It needs but to recall the compound forms of the
Aryan family, as described by Sir Henry Maine and others, to see that
family feeling, first extending itself to the gens and the tribe, and
afterward to the society formed of related tribes, prepared the way for
fellow feeling among citizens not of the same stock.

Recognizing this natural transition, we are here chiefly concerned
to observe that throughout the latter stages of the progress, as
throughout the former, increase of egoistic satisfactions has depended
on growth of regard for the satisfactions of others. On contemplating
a line of successive parents and offspring, we see that each, enabled
while young to live by the sacrifices predecessors make for it,
itself makes, when adult, equivalent sacrifices for successors, and
that, in default of this general balancing of benefits received by
benefits given; the line dies out. Similarly, it is manifest that in
a society each generation of members, indebted for such benefits as
social organization yields them to preceding generations, who have by
their sacrifices elaborated this organization, are called on to make
for succeeding generations such kindred sacrifices as shall at least
maintain this organization, if they do not improve it: the alternative
being decay and eventual dissolution of the society, implying gradual
decrease in the egoistic satisfactions of its members.

And now we are prepared to consider the several ways in which, under
social conditions, personal welfare depends on due regard for the
welfare of others. Already the conclusions to be drawn have been
foreshadowed. As in the chapter on the biological view were implied the
inferences definitely set forth in the last chapter, so in the chapter
on the sociological view were implied the inferences to be definitely
set forth here. Sundry of these are trite enough, but they must,
nevertheless, be specified, since the statement would be incomplete
without them.

§ 77. First, to be dealt with comes that negative altruism implied by
such curbing of the egoistic impulses as prevents direct aggression.

As before shown, if men instead of living separately are to unite for
defense or for other purposes, they must severally reap more good
than evil from the union. On the average, each must lose less from
the antagonisms of those with whom he is associated than he gains by
the association. At the outset, therefore, that increase of egoistic
satisfactions which the social state brings, can be purchased only by
altruism sufficient to cause some recognition of others' claims: if not
a voluntary recognition, still, a compulsory recognition.

While the recognition is but of that lowest kind due to dread of
retaliation, or of prescribed punishment, the egoistic gain from
association is small, and it becomes considerable only as the
recognition becomes voluntary--that is, more altruistic. Where, as
among some of the wild Australians, there exists no limit to the right
of the strongest, and the men fight to get possession of women while
the wives of one man fight among themselves about him, the pursuit
of egoistic satisfactions is greatly impeded. Besides the bodily
pain occasionally given to each by conflict, and the more or less of
subsequent inability to achieve personal ends, there is the waste of
energy entailed in maintaining readiness for self-defense, and there
is the accompanying occupation of consciousness by emotions that are
on the average of cases disagreeable. Moreover, the primary end of
safety, in presence of external foes, is ill-attained in proportion
as there are internal animosities, such furtherance of satisfactions
as industrial co-operation brings cannot be had, and there is little
motive to labor for extra benefits when the products of labor are
insecure. And from this early stage to comparatively late stages we
may trace in the wearing of arms, in the carrying on of family feuds,
and in the taking of daily precautions for safety, the ways in which
the egoistic satisfactions of each are diminished by deficiency of that
altruism which checks overt injury of others.

The private interests of the individual are on the average better
subserved, not only in proportion as he himself refrains from direct
aggression, but also, on the average, in proportion as he succeeds
in diminishing the aggressions of his fellows on one another. The
prevalence of antagonism among those around, impedes the activities
carried on by each in pursuit of satisfactions; and by causing disorder
makes the beneficial results of activities more doubtful. Hence, each
profits egoistically from the growth of an altruism which leads each to
aid in preventing or diminishing others' violence.

The like holds when we pass to that altruism which restrains the undue
egoism displayed in breaches of contract. General acceptance of the
maxim that honesty is the best policy, implies general experience that
gratification of the self-regarding feelings is eventually furthered
by such checking of them as maintains equitable dealings. And here, as
before, each is personally interested in securing good treatment of his
fellows by one another. For in countless ways evils are entailed on
each by the prevalence of fraudulent transactions. As every one knows,
the larger the number of a shop-keeper's bills left unpaid by some
customers, the higher must be the prices which other customers pay. The
more manufacturers lose by defective raw materials or by carelessness
of workmen, the more must they charge for their fabrics to buyers. The
less trustworthy people are, the higher rises the rate of interest,
the larger becomes the amount of capital hoarded, the greater are the
impediments to industry. The further traders and people in general
go beyond their means, and hypothecate the property of others in
speculation, the more serious are those commercial panics which brings
disasters on multitudes and injuriously affect all.

This introduces us to yet a third way in which such personal welfare
as results from the proportioning of benefits gained to labors given,
depends on the making of certain sacrifices for social welfare. The man
who, expending his energies wholly on private affairs refuses to take
trouble about public affairs, pluming himself on his wisdom in minding
his own business, is blind to the fact that his own business is made
possible only by maintenance of a healthy social state, and that he
loses all round by defective governmental arrangements. Where there
are many like-minded with himself--where, as a consequence, offices
come to be filled by political adventurers and opinion is swayed by
demagogues--where bribery vitiates the administration of the law and
makes fraudulent State transactions habitual, heavy penalties fall on
the community at large, and, among others, on those who have thus done
everything for self and nothing for society. Their investments are
insecure; recovery of their debts is difficult, and even their lives
are less safe than they would otherwise have been.

So that on such altruistic actions as are implied, firstly in being
just, secondly in seeing justice done between others, and thirdly, in
upholding and improving the agencies by which justice is administered,
depend, in large measure, the egoistic satisfactions of each.

§ 78. But the identification of personal advantage with the advantage
of fellow-citizens is much wider than this. In various other ways the
well-being of each rises and falls with the well-being of all.

A weak man left to provide for his own wants, suffers by getting
smaller amounts of food and other necessaries than he might get were he
stronger. In a community formed of weak men, who divide their labors
and exchange the products, all suffer evils from the weakness of their
fellows. The quantity of each kind of product is made deficient by the
deficiency of laboring power; and the share each gets for such share
of his own product as he can afford to give, is relatively small. Just
as the maintenance of paupers, hospital patients, inmates of asylums,
and others who consume but do not produce, leaves to be divided among
producers a smaller stock of commodities than would exist were there
no incapables; so must there be left a smaller stock of commodities to
be divided, the greater the number of inefficient producers, or the
greater the average deficiency of producing power. Hence, whatever
decreases the strength of men in general restricts the gratifications
of each by making the means to them dearer.

More directly, and more obviously, does the bodily well-being of his
fellows concern him; for their bodily ill-being, when it takes certain
shapes, is apt to bring similar bodily ill-being on him. If he is not
himself attacked by cholera, or small-pox, or typhus, when it invades
his neighborhood, he often suffers a penalty through his belongings.
Under conditions spreading it, his wife catches diphtheria, or his
servant is laid up with scarlet fever, or his children take now this
and now that infectious disorder. Add together the immediate and remote
evils brought on him year after year by epidemics, and it becomes
manifest that his egoistic satisfactions are greatly furthered by such
altruistic activities as render disease less prevalent.

With the mental, as well as with the bodily, states of fellow-citizens,
his enjoyments are in multitudinous ways bound up. Stupidity like
weakness raises the cost of commodities. Where farming is unimproved,
the prices of food are higher than they would else be; where antiquated
routine maintains itself in trade, the needless expense of distribution
weighs on all; where there is no inventiveness, every one loses the
benefits which improved appliances diffuse. Other than economic
evils come from the average unintelligence--periodically through the
manias and panics that arise because traders rush in herds all to
buy or all to sell; and habitually through the mal-administration
of justice, which people and rulers alike disregard while pursuing
this or that legislative will-o'-the-wisp. Closer and clearer is the
dependence of his personal satisfactions on others' mental states,
which each experiences in his household. Unpunctuality and want of
system are perpetual sources of annoyance. The unskillfulness of the
cook causes frequent vexation and occasional indigestion. Lack of
forethought in the housemaid leads to a fall over a bucket in a dark
passage. And inattention to a message or forgetfulness in delivering
it, entails failure in an important engagement. Each, therefore,
benefits egoistically by such altruism as aids in raising the average
intelligence. I do not mean such altruism as taxes ratepayers that
children's minds may be filled with dates, and names, and gossip about
kings, and narratives of battles, and other useless information, no
amount of which will make them capable workers or good citizens; but
I mean such altruism as helps to spread a knowledge of the nature of
things and to cultivate the power of applying that knowledge.

Yet again, each has a private interest in public morals and profits by
improving them. Not in large ways only, by aggressions and breaches of
contract, by adulterations and short measures, does each suffer from
the general unconscientiousness; but in more numerous small ways. Now
it is through the untruthfulness of one who gives a good character to
a bad servant; now it is by the recklessness of a laundress who, using
bleaching agents to save trouble in washing, destroys his linen; now
it is by the acted falsehood of railway passengers who, by dispersed
coats, make him believe that all the seats in a compartment are taken
when they are not. Yesterday the illness of his child due to foul
gases, led to the discovery of a drain that had become choked because
it was ill-made by a dishonest builder under supervision of a careless
or bribed surveyor. To-day workmen employed to rectify it bring on him
cost and inconvenience by dawdling; and their low standard of work,
determined by the unionist principle that the better workers must not
discredit the worse by exceeding them in efficiency, he may trace to
the immoral belief that the unworthy should fare as well as the worthy.
To-morrow it turns out that business for the plumber has been provided
by damage which the bricklayers have done.

Thus the improvement of others, physically, intellectually and morally,
personally concerns each; since their imperfections tell in raising the
cost of all the commodities he buys, in increasing the taxes and rates
he pays, and in the losses of time, trouble and money, daily brought on
by others' carelessness, stupidity, or unconscientiousness.

§ 79. Very obvious are certain more immediate connections between
personal welfare and ministration to the welfare of those around.
The evils suffered by those whose behavior is unsympathetic, and the
benefits to self which unselfish conduct brings, show these.

That any one should have formulated his experience by saying that
the conditions to success are a hard heart and a sound digestion, is
marvelous considering the many proofs that success, even of a material
kind, greatly depending as it does on the good offices of others, is
furthered by whatever creates good will in others. The contrast between
the prosperity of those who, to but moderate abilities join natures
which beget friendships by their kindliness, and the adversity of those
who, though possessed of superior faculties and greater acquirements,
arouse dislikes by their hardness or indifference, should force upon
all the truth that egoistic enjoyments are aided by altruistic actions.

This increase of personal benefit achieved by benefiting others is
but partially achieved where a selfish motive prompts the seemingly
unselfish act: it is fully achieved only where the act is really
unselfish. Though services rendered with the view of some time
profiting by reciprocated services, answer to a certain extent; yet,
ordinarily, they answer only to the extent of bringing equivalents of
reciprocated services. Those which bring more than equivalents are
those not prompted by any thoughts of equivalents. For obviously it
is the spontaneous outflow of good nature, not in the larger acts of
life only but in all its details, which generates in those around the
attachments prompting unstinted benevolence.

Besides furthering prosperity, other regarding actions conduce to
self-regarding gratifications by generating a genial environment.
With the sympathetic being every one feels more sympathy than with
others. All conduct themselves with more than usual amiability to a
person who hourly discloses a lovable nature. Such a one is practically
surrounded by a world of better people than one who is less attractive.
If we contrast the state of a man possessing all the material means to
happiness, but isolated by his absolute egoism, with the state of an
altruistic man relatively poor in means but rich in friends, we may
see that various gratifications, not to be purchased by money, come in
abundance to the last and are inaccessible to the first.

While, then, there is one kind of other regarding action, furthering
the prosperity of fellow-citizens at large, which admits of being
deliberately pursued from motives that are remotely self-regarding--the
conviction being that personal well-being depends in large measure
on the well-being of society--there is an additional kind of other
regarding action having in it no element of conscious self-regard,
which nevertheless conduces greatly to egoistic satisfactions.

§ 80. Yet other modes exist in which egoism unqualified by altruism
habitually fails. It diminishes the totality of egoistic pleasure by
diminishing in several directions the capacity for pleasure.

Self gratifications, considered separately, or in the aggregate,
lose their intensities by that too great persistence in them which
results if they are made the exclusive objects of pursuit. The law
that function entails waste, and that faculties yielding pleasure by
their action cannot act incessantly without exhaustion and accompanying
satiety, has the implication that intervals during which altruistic
activities absorb the energies, are intervals during which the capacity
for egoistic pleasure is recovering its full degree. The sensitiveness
to purely personal enjoyments is maintained at a higher pitch by those
who minister to the enjoyments of others than it is by those who devote
themselves wholly to personal enjoyments.

This which is manifest even while the tide of life is high, becomes
still more manifest as life ebbs. It is in maturity and old age that
we especially see how, as egoistic pleasures grow faint, altruistic
actions come in to revive them in new forms. The contrast between the
child's delight in the novelties daily revealed, and the indifference
which comes as the world around grows familiar, until, in adult life,
there remain comparatively few things that are greatly enjoyed, draws
from all the reflection that as years go by pleasures pall. And to
those who think it becomes clear that only through sympathy can
pleasures be indirectly gained from things that have ceased to yield
pleasures directly. In the gratifications derived by parents from
the gratifications of their offspring, this is conspicuously shown.
Trite as is the remark that men live afresh in their children, it is
needful here to set it down as reminding us of the way in which, as
the egoistic satisfactions in life fade, altruism renews them while it
transfigures them.

We are thus introduced to a more general consideration--the egoistic
aspect of altruistic pleasure. Not, indeed, that this is the place
for discussing the question whether the egoistic element can be
excluded from altruism, nor is it the place for distinguishing between
the altruism which is pursued with a foresight of the pleasurable
feeling to be achieved through it, and the altruism which, though
it achieves this pleasurable feeling, does not make pursuit of it a
motive. Here we are concerned with the fact that, whether knowingly or
unknowingly gained, the state of mind accompanying altruistic action,
being a pleasurable state, is to be counted in the sum of pleasures
which the individual can receive, and in this sense cannot be other
than egoistic. That we must so regard it is proved on observing that
this pleasure, like pleasures in general, conduces to the physical
prosperity of the ego. As every other agreeable emotion raises the
tide of life, so does the agreeable emotion which accompanies a
benevolent deed. As it cannot be denied that the pain caused by the
sight of suffering depresses the vital functions--sometimes even to
the extent of arresting the heart's action, as in one who faints on
seeing a surgical operation, so neither can it be denied that the joy
felt in witnessing others' joy exalts the vital functions. Hence,
however much we may hesitate to class altruistic pleasure as a higher
kind of egoistic pleasure, we are obliged to recognize the fact that
its immediate effects in augmenting life and so furthering personal
well-being, are like those of pleasures that are directly egoistic. And
the corollary drawn must be that pure egoism is, even in its immediate
results, less successfully egoistic than is the egoism duly qualified
by altruism, which, besides achieving additional pleasures, achieves
also, through raised vitality, a greater capacity for pleasures in

That the range of æsthetic gratifications is wider for the altruistic
nature than for the egoistic nature is also a truth not to be
overlooked. The joys and sorrows of human beings form a chief element
in the subject-matter of art, and, evidently, the pleasures which
art gives increase as the fellow-feeling with these joys and sorrows
strengthens. If we contrast early poetry occupied mainly with war and
gratifying the savage instincts by descriptions of bloody victories,
with the poetry of modern times, in which the sanguinary forms but a
small part while a large part, dealing with the gentler affections,
enlists the feelings of readers on behalf of the weak; we are shown
that with the development of a more altruistic nature there has been
opened a sphere of enjoyment inaccessible to the callous egoism of
barbarous times. So, too, between the fiction of the past and the
fiction of the present, there is the difference that while the one was
almost exclusively occupied with the doings of the ruling classes, and
found its plots in their antagonisms and deeds of violence, the other,
chiefly taking stories of peaceful life for its subjects, and to a
considerable extent the life of the humbler classes, discloses a new
world of interest in the every-day pleasures and pains of ordinary
people. A like contrast exists between early and late forms of plastic
art. When not representing acts of worship, the wall sculptures and
wall-paintings of the Assyrians and Egyptians, or the decorations of
temples among the Greeks, represented deeds of conquest; whereas in
modern times, while the works which glorify destructive activities
are less numerous, there are an increasing number of works gratifying
to the kindlier sentiments of spectators. To see that those who care
nothing about the feelings of other beings are, by implication, shut
out from a wide range of æsthetic pleasures, it needs but to ask
whether men who delight in dog-fights may be expected to appreciate
Beethoven's _Adelaida_, or whether Tennyson's _In Memoriam_ would
greatly move a gang of convicts.

§ 81. From the dawn of life, then, egoism has been dependent upon
altruism as altruism has been dependent upon egoism, and in the course
of evolution the reciprocal services of the two have been increasing.

The physical and unconscious self-sacrifice of parents to form
offspring, which the lowest living things display from hour to hour,
shows us in its primitive form the altruism which makes possible the
egoism of individual life and growth. As we ascend to higher grades
of creatures, this parental altruism becomes a direct yielding up of
only part of the body, joined with an increasing contribution from the
remainder in the shape of tissue wasted in efforts made on behalf of
progeny. This indirect sacrifice of substance, replacing more and more
the direct sacrifice as parental altruism becomes higher, continues
to the last to represent also altruism which is other than parental;
since this, too, implies loss of substance in making efforts that do
not bring their return in personal aggrandizement.

After noting how among mankind parental altruism and family altruism
pass into social altruism, we observed that a society, like a species,
survives only on condition that each generation of its members shall
yield to the next, benefits equivalent to those it has received
from the last. And this implies that care for the family must be
supplemented by care for the society.

Fullness of egoistic satisfactions in the associated state, depending
primarily on maintenance of the normal relation between efforts
expended and benefits obtained, which underlies all life, implies an
altruism which both prompts equitable conduct and prompts the enforcing
of equity. The well-being of each is involved with the well-being of
all in sundry other ways. Whatever conduces to their vigor concerns
him, for it diminishes the cost of everything he buys. Whatever
conduces to their freedom from disease concerns him, for it diminishes
his own liability to disease. Whatever raises their intelligence
concerns him, for inconveniences are daily entailed on him by others'
ignorance or folly. Whatever raises their moral character concerns him,
for at every turn he suffers from the average unconscientiousness.

Much more directly do his egoistic satisfactions depend on those
altruistic activities which enlist the sympathies of others. By
alienating those around, selfishness loses the unbought aid they can
render; shuts out a wide range of social enjoyments, and fails to
receive those exaltations of pleasure and mitigations of pain which
come from men's fellow-feeling with those they like.

Lastly, undue egoism defeats itself by bringing on an incapacity for
happiness. Purely egoistic gratifications are rendered less keen by
satiety, even in the earlier part of life, and almost disappear in
the later; the less satiating gratifications of altruism are missed
throughout life, and especially in that latter part when they largely
replace egoistic gratifications; and there is a lack of susceptibility
to æsthetic pleasures of the higher orders.

An indication must be added of the truth, scarcely at all recognized,
that this dependence of egoism upon altruism ranges beyond the limits
of each society, and tends ever toward universality. That within each
society it becomes greater as social evolution, implying increase
of mutual dependence, progresses, needs not be shown; and it is a
corollary that as fast as dependence of societies on one another is
increased by commercial intercourse, the internal welfare of each
becomes a matter of concern to the others. That the impoverishment
of any country, diminishing both its producing and consuming powers,
tells detrimentally on the people of countries trading with it, is
a commonplace of political economy. Moreover, we have had of late
years, abundant experience of the industrial derangements through
which distress is brought on nations not immediately concerned by
wars between other nations. And if each community has the egoistic
satisfactions of its members diminished by aggressions of neighboring
communities on one another, still more does it have them diminished by
its own aggressions. One who marks how, in various parts of the world,
the unscrupulous greed of conquest cloaked by pretences of spreading
the blessings of British rule and British religion, is now reacting
to the immense detriment of the industrial classes at home, alike
by increasing expenditure and paralyzing trade, may see that these
industrial classes, absorbed in questions about capital and labor, and
thinking themselves unconcerned in our doings abroad, are suffering
from lack of that wide-reaching altruism which should insist on just
dealings with other peoples, civilized or savage. And he may also see
that beyond these immediate evils, they will for a generation to come
suffer the evils that must flow from resuscitating the type of social
organization which aggressive activities produce, and from the lowered
moral tone which is its accompaniment.



§ 82. In the foregoing two chapters the case on behalf of Egoism and
the case on behalf of Altruism have been stated. The two conflict; and
we have now to consider what verdict ought to be given.

If the opposed statements are severally valid, or even if each of them
is valid in part, the inference must be that pure egoism and pure
altruism are both illegitimate. If the maxim, "Live for self," is
wrong, so also is the maxim, "Live for others." Hence, a compromise is
the only possibility.

This conclusion, though already seeming unavoidable, I do not here set
down as proved. The purpose of this chapter is to justify it in full,
and I enunciate it at the outset because the arguments used will be
better understood, if the conclusion to which they converge is in the
reader's view.

How shall we so conduct the discussion as most clearly to bring out
this necessity for a compromise? Perhaps the best way will be that
of stating one of the two claims in its extreme form, and observing
the implied absurdities. To deal thus with the principle of pure
selfishness would be to waste space. Every one sees that an unchecked
satisfaction of personal desires from moment to moment, in absolute
disregard of all other beings, would cause universal conflict and
social dissolution. The principle of pure unselfishness, less obviously
mischievous, may therefore better be chosen.

There are two aspects under which the doctrine that others' happiness
is the true ethical aim presents itself. The "others" may be conceived
personally, as individuals with whom we stand in direct relations, or
they may be conceived impersonally, as constituting the community. In
so far as the self-abnegation implied by pure altruism is concerned,
it matters not in which sense "others" is used. But criticism will be
facilitated by distinguishing between these two forms of it. We will
take the last form first.

§ 83. This commits us to an examination of "the greatest happiness
principle," as enunciated by Bentham and his followers. The doctrine
that "the general happiness" ought to be the object of pursuit, is
not, indeed, overtly identified with pure altruism. But as, if general
happiness is the proper end of action, the individual actor must regard
his own share of it simply as a unit in the aggregate, no more to be
valued by him than any other unit, it results that since this unit is
almost infinitesimal in comparison with the aggregate, his action, if
directed exclusively to achievement of general happiness, is, if not
absolutely altruistic, as nearly so as may be. Hence, the theory which
makes general happiness the immediate object of pursuit may rightly be
taken as one form of the pure altruism to be here criticised.

Both as justifying this interpretation and as furnishing a definite
proposition with which to deal, let me set out by quoting a passage
from Mr. Mill's _Utilitarianism_:

  "The Greatest Happiness Principle," he says, "is a mere form of
  words without rational signification, unless one person's happiness,
  supposed equal in degree (with the proper allowance made for kind),
  is counted for exactly as much as another's. Those conditions being
  supplied, Bentham's dictum, 'everybody to count for one, nobody for
  more than one,' might be written under the principle of utility as an
  explanatory commentary" (p. 91).

Now, though the meaning of "greatest happiness," as an end, is here
to a certain degree defined, the need for further definition is felt
the moment we attempt to decide on ways of regulating conduct so as
to attain the end. The first question which arises is, must we regard
this "greatest happiness principle" as a principle of guidance for the
community in its corporate capacity, or as a principle of guidance
for its members separately considered, or both? If the reply is that
the principle must be taken as a guide for governmental action rather
than for individual action, we are at once met by the inquiry, what
is to be the guide for individual action? If individual action is not
to be regulated solely for the purpose of achieving "the greatest
happiness of the greatest number," some other principle of regulation
for individual action is required, and "the greatest happiness
principle" fails to furnish the needful ethical standard. Should it be
rejoined that the individual in his capacity of political unit is to
take furtherance of general happiness as his end, giving his vote or
otherwise acting on the legislature with a view to this end, and that
in so far guidance is supplied to him, there comes the further inquiry,
whence is to come guidance for the remainder of individual conduct,
constituting by far the greater part of it? If this private part of
individual conduct is not to have general happiness as its direct aim,
then an ethical standard other than that offered has still to be found.

Hence, unless pure altruism as thus formulated confesses its
inadequacy, it must justify itself as a sufficient rule for all
conduct, individual and social. We will first deal with it as the
alleged right principle of public policy; and then as the alleged right
principle of private action.

§ 84. On trying to understand precisely the statement that when taking
general happiness as an end, the rule must be--"everybody to count for
one, nobody for more than one," there arises the idea of distribution.
We can form no idea of distribution without thinking of something
distributed and recipients of this something. That we may clearly
conceive the proposition we must clearly conceive both these elements
of it. Let us take first the recipients.

"Everybody to count for one, nobody for more than one." Does this mean
that, in respect of whatever is proportioned out, each is to have the
same share whatever his character, whatever his conduct? Shall he if
passive have as much as if active? Shall he if useless have as much as
if useful? Shall he if criminal have as much as if virtuous? If the
distribution is to be made without reference to the natures and deeds
of the recipients, then it must be shown that a system which equalizes,
as far as it can, the treatment of good and bad, will be beneficial.
If the distribution is not to be indiscriminate, then the formula
disappears. The something distributed must be apportioned otherwise
than by equal division. There must be adjustment of amounts to deserts;
and we are left in the dark as to the mode of adjustment--we have to
find other guidance.

Let us next ask what is the something to be distributed? The first
idea which occurs is that happiness itself must be divided out among
all. Taken literally, the notions that the greatest happiness should
be the end sought, and that in apportioning it everybody should count
for one and nobody for more than one, imply that happiness is something
that can be cut up into parts and handed round. This, however, is an
impossible interpretation. But after recognizing the impossibility
of it, there returns the question--What is it in respect of which
everybody is to count for one and nobody for more than one?

Shall the interpretation be that the concrete means to happiness are
to be equally divided? Is it intended that there shall be distributed
to all in equal portions the necessaries of life, the appliances to
comfort, the facilities for amusement? As a conception simply, this
is more defensible. But passing over the question of policy--passing
over the question whether greatest happiness would _ultimately_ be
secured by such a process (which it obviously would not) it turns out
on examination that greatest happiness could not even _proximately_
be so secured. Differences of age, of growth, of constitutional need,
differences of activity and consequent expenditure, differences of
desires and tastes, would entail the inevitable result that the
material aids to happiness which each received would be more or less
unadapted to his requirements. Even if purchasing power were equally
divided, the greatest happiness would not be achieved if everybody
counted for one and nobody for more than one; since, as the capacities
for utilizing the purchased means to happiness would vary both with the
constitution and the stage of life, the means which would approximately
suffice to satisfy the wants of one would be extremely insufficient to
satisfy the wants of another, and so the greatest total of happiness
would not be obtained: means might be unequally apportioned in a way
that would produce a greater total.

But now if happiness itself cannot be cut up and distributed equally,
and if equal division of the material aids to happiness would not
produce greatest happiness, what is the thing to be thus apportioned?
What is it in respect of which everybody is to count for one and nobody
for more than one? There seems but a single possibility. There remain
to be equally distributed nothing but the conditions under which each
may pursue happiness. The limitations to action--the degrees of freedom
and restraint, shall be alike for all. Each shall have as much liberty
to pursue his ends as consists with maintaining like liberties to
pursue their ends by others; and one as much as another shall have the
enjoyment of that which his efforts, carried on within these limits,
obtain. But to say that in respect of these conditions everybody shall
count for one and nobody for more than one, is simply to say that
equity shall be enforced.

Thus, considered as a principle of public policy, Bentham's principle,
when analyzed, transforms itself into the principle he slights. Not
general happiness becomes the ethical standard by which legislative
action is to be guided, but universal justice. And so the altruistic
theory under this form collapses.

§ 85. From examining the doctrine that general happiness should be
the end of public action, we pass now to examine the doctrine that it
should be the end of private action.

It is contended that from the standpoint of pure reason, the happiness
of others has no less a claim as an object of pursuit for each than
personal happiness. Considered as parts of a total, happiness felt by
self and like happiness felt by another, are of equal values; and hence
it is inferred that, rationally estimated, the obligation to expend
effort for others' benefit, is as great as the obligation to expend
effort for one's own benefit. Holding that the utilitarian system of
morals, rightly understood, harmonizes with the Christian maxim, "Love
your neighbor as yourself," Mr. Mill says that "as between his own
happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as
strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator" (p.
24). Let us consider the alternative interpretations which may be given
to this statement.

Suppose, first, that a certain quantum of happiness has in some way
become available, without the special instrumentality of A, B, C, or
D, constituting the group concerned. Then the proposition is that each
shall be ready to have this quantum of happiness as much enjoyed by one
or more of the others as by himself. The disinterested and benevolent
spectator would clearly, in such a case, rule that no one ought to have
more of the happiness than another. But here, assuming as we do that
the quantum of happiness has become available without the agency of
any among the group, simple equity dictates as much. No one having in
any way established a claim different from the claims of others, their
claims are equal; and due regard for justice by each will not permit
him to monopolize the happiness.

Now suppose a different case. Suppose that the quantum of happiness has
been made available by the efforts of one member of the group. Suppose
that A has acquired by labor some material aid to happiness. He decides
to act as the disinterested and benevolent spectator would direct. What
will he decide?--what would the spectator direct? Let us consider the
possible suppositions, taking first the least reasonable.

The spectator may be conceived as deciding that the labor expended by
A in acquiring this material aid to happiness, originates no claim to
special use of it; but that it ought to be given to B, C, or D, or that
it ought to be divided equally among B, C, and D, or that it ought to
be divided equally among all members of the group, including A who has
labored for it. And if the spectator is conceived as deciding thus
to-day, he must be conceived as deciding thus day after day; with the
result that one of the group expends all the effort, getting either
none of the benefit or only his numerical share, while the others get
their shares of the benefit without expending any efforts. That A
might conceive the disinterested and benevolent spectator to decide in
this way, and might feel bound to act in conformity with the imagined
decision, is a strong supposition; and probably it will be admitted
that such kind of impartiality, so far from being conducive to the
general happiness, would quickly be fatal to every one. But this is
not all. Action in pursuance of such a decision would in reality be
negatived by the very principle enunciated. For not only A, but also B,
C, and D, have to act on this principle. Each of them must behave as
he conceives an impartial spectator would decide. Does B conceive the
impartial spectator as awarding to him, B, the product of A's labor?
Then the assumption is that B conceives the impartial spectator as
favoring himself, B, more than A conceives him as favoring himself, A;
which is inconsistent with the hypothesis. Does B, in conceiving the
impartial spectator, exclude his own interests as completely as A does?
Then how can he decide so much to his own advantage, so partially, as
to allow him to take from A an equal share of the benefit gained by A's
labor, toward which he and the rest have done nothing?

Passing from this conceivable, though not credible, decision of the
spectator, here noted for the purpose of observing that habitual
conformity to it would be impossible, there remains to be considered
the decision which a spectator really impartial would give. He would
say that the happiness, or material aid to happiness, which had been
purchased by A's labor, was to be taken by A. He would say that B,
C, and D had no claims to it, but only to such happiness, or aids to
happiness, as their respective labors had purchased. Consequently, A,
acting as the imaginary impartial spectator would direct, is, by this
test, justified in appropriating such happiness or aid to happiness as
his own efforts have achieved.

And so under its special form as under its general form, the principle
is true only in so far as it embodies a disguised justice. Analysis
again brings out the result that making "general happiness" the end
of action, really means maintaining what we call equitable relations
among individuals. Decline to accept in its vague form "the greatest
happiness principle," and insist on knowing what is the implied
conduct, public, or private, and it turns out that the principle is
meaningless save as indirectly asserting that the claims of each should
be duly regarded by all. The utilitarian altruism becomes a duly
qualified egoism.

§ 86. Another point of view from which to judge the altruistic theory
may now be taken. If, assuming the proper object of pursuit to be
general happiness, we proceed rationally, we must ask in what different
ways the aggregate, general happiness, may be composed; and must then
ask what composition of it will yield the largest sum.

Suppose that each citizen pursues his own happiness independently, not
to the detriment of others, but without active concern for others; then
their united happinesses constitute a certain sum--a certain general
happiness. Now suppose that each, instead of making his own happiness
the object of pursuit, makes the happiness of others the object of
pursuit; then, again, there results a certain sum of happiness. This
sum must be less than, or equal to, or greater than, the first. If it
is admitted that this sum is either less than the first, or only equal
to it, the altruistic course of action is confessedly either worse
than, or no better than, the egoistic. The assumption must be that the
sum of happiness obtained is greater. Let us observe what is involved
in this assumption.

If each pursues exclusively the happiness of others; and if each is
also a recipient of happiness (which he must be, for otherwise no
aggregate happiness can be formed out of their individual happinesses);
then the implication is that each gains the happiness due to altruistic
action exclusively; and that in each this is greater in amount than the
egoistic happiness obtainable by him, if he devoted himself to pursuit
of it. Leaving out of consideration for a moment these relative amounts
of the two, let us note the conditions to the receipt of altruistic
happiness by each. The sympathetic nature gets pleasure by giving
pleasure; and the proposition is that if the general happiness is
the object of pursuit, each will be made happy by witnessing others'
happiness. But what in such case constitutes the happiness of others?
These others are also, by the hypothesis, pursuers and receivers of
altruistic pleasure. The genesis of altruistic pleasure in each is
to depend on the display of pleasures by others; which is again to
depend on the display of pleasures by others; and so on perpetually.
Where, then, is the pleasure to begin? Obviously there must be egoistic
pleasure somewhere before there can be the altruistic pleasure caused
by sympathy with it. Obviously, therefore, each must be egoistic in due
amount, even if only with the view of giving others the possibility of
being altruistic. So far from the sum of happiness being made greater
if all make greatest happiness the exclusive end, the sum disappears

How absurd is the supposition that the happiness of all can be achieved
without each pursuing his own happiness, will be best shown by a
physical simile. Suppose a cluster of bodies, each of which generates
heat, and each of which is, therefore, while a radiator of heat to
those around, also a receiver of heat from them. Manifestly each will
have a certain proper heat irrespective of that which it gains from
the rest; and, each will have a certain heat gained from the rest
irrespective of its proper heat. What will happen? So long as each
of the bodies continues to be a generator of heat, each continues to
maintain a temperature partly derived from itself and partly derived
from others. But if each ceases to generate heat for itself and depends
on the heat radiated to it by the rest, the entire cluster becomes
cold. Well, the self-generated heat stands for egoistic pleasure; the
heat radiated and received stands for sympathetic pleasure; and the
disappearance of all heat if each ceases to be an originator of it,
corresponds to the disappearance of all pleasure if each ceases to
originate it egoistically.

A further conclusion may be drawn. Besides the implication that before
altruistic pleasure can exist, egoistic pleasure must exist, and
that if the rule of conduct is to be the same for all, each must be
egoistic in due degree; there is the implication that, to achieve the
greatest sum of happiness, each must be more egoistic than altruistic.
For, speaking generally, sympathetic pleasures must ever continue
less intense than the pleasures with which there is sympathy. Other
things equal, ideal feelings cannot be as vivid as real feelings.
It is true that those having strong imaginations may, especially in
cases where the affections are engaged, feel the moral pain if not
the physical pain of another, as keenly as the actual sufferer of
it, and may participate with like intensity in another's pleasure;
sometimes even mentally representing the received pleasure as greater
than it really is, and so getting reflex pleasure greater than the
recipients' direct pleasure. Such cases, however, and cases in which
even apart from exultation of sympathy caused by attachment, there
is a body of feeling sympathetically aroused equal in amount to the
original feeling, if not greater, are necessarily exceptional. For
in such cases the total consciousness includes many other elements
besides the mentally-represented pleasure or pain--notably the luxury
of pity and the luxury of goodness; and genesis of these can occur but
occasionally; they could not be habitual concomitants of sympathetic
pleasures if all pursued these from moment to moment. In estimating the
possible totality of sympathetic pleasures, we must include nothing
beyond the representations of the pleasures others experience. And
unless it be asserted that we can have other's states of consciousness
perpetually reproduced in us more vividly than the kindred states of
consciousness are aroused in ourselves by their proper personal causes,
it must be admitted that the totality of altruistic pleasures cannot
become equal to the totality of egoistic pleasures. Hence, beyond the
truth that before there can be altruistic pleasures there must be the
egoistic pleasures from sympathy with which they arise, there is the
truth that to obtain the greatest sum of altruistic pleasures, there
must be a greater sum of egoistic pleasures.

§ 87. That pure altruism is suicidal may be yet otherwise demonstrated.
A perfectly moral law must be one which becomes perfectly practicable
as human nature becomes perfect. If its practicableness decreases as
human nature improves; and if an ideal human nature necessitates its
impracticability, it cannot be the moral law sought.

Now opportunities for practicing altruism are numerous and great in
proportion as there is weakness, or incapacity, or imperfection. If
we passed beyond the limits of the family, in which a sphere for
self-sacrificing activities must be preserved as long as offspring
have to be reared; and if we ask how there can continue a social
sphere for self-sacrificing activities, it becomes obvious that the
continued existence of serious evils, caused by prevalent defects of
nature, is implied. As fast as men adapt themselves to the requirements
of social life, so fast will the demands for efforts on their behalf
diminish. And with arrival at finished adaptation, when all persons
are at once completely self-conserved and completely able to fulfill
the obligations which society imposes on them, those occasions for
postponement of self to others, which pure altruism contemplates,

Such self-sacrifices become, indeed, doubly impracticable. Carrying on
successfully their several lives, men not only cannot yield to those
around the opportunities for giving aid, but aid cannot ordinarily
be given them without interfering with their normal activities, and
so diminishing their pleasures. Like every inferior creature, led by
its innate desires spontaneously to do all that its life requires,
man, when completely molded to the social state, must have desires so
adjusted to his needs that he fulfills the needs in gratifying the
desires. And if his desires are severally gratified by the performance
of required acts, none of these can be performed for him without
balking his desires. Acceptance from others of the results of their
activities can take place only on condition of relinquishing the
pleasures derived from his own activities. Diminution rather than
increase of happiness would result, could altruistic action in such
case be enforced.

And here, indeed, we are introduced to another baseless assumption
which the theory makes.

§ 88. The postulate of utilitarianism as formulated in the statements
above quoted, and of pure altruism as otherwise expressed, involves the
belief that it is possible for happiness, or the means to happiness, or
the conditions to happiness, to be transferred. Without any specified
limitation the proposition taken for granted is, that happiness in
general admits of detachment from one and attachment to another--that
surrender to any extent is possible by one and appropriation to any
extent is possible by another. But a moment's thought shows this to be
far from the truth. On the one hand, surrender carried to a certain
point is extremely mischievous and to a further point fatal; and on the
other hand, much of the happiness each enjoys is self-generated and can
neither be given nor received.

To assume that egoistic pleasures may be relinquished to any extent,
is to fall into one of those many errors of ethical speculation which
result from ignoring the truths of biology. When taking the biological
view of ethics we saw that pleasures accompany normal amounts of
functions, while pains accompany defects or excesses of functions;
further, that complete life depends on complete discharge of functions,
and therefore on receipt of the correlative pleasures. Hence, to yield
up normal pleasures is to yield up so much life; and there arises
the question--To what extent may this be done? If he is to continue
living, the individual _must_ take certain amounts of those pleasures
which go along with fulfillment of the bodily functions, and _must_
avoid the pains which entire non-fulfillment of them entails. Complete
abnegation means death; excessive abnegation means illness; abnegation
less excessive means physical degradation and consequent loss of
power to fulfill obligations, personal and other. When, therefore, we
attempt to specialize the proposal to live not for self-satisfaction
but for the satisfaction of others, we meet with the difficulty that
beyond a certain limit this cannot be done. And when we have decided
what decrease of bodily welfare, caused by sacrifice of pleasures and
acceptance of pains, it is proper for the individual to make, there
is forced on us the fact that the portion of happiness, or means to
happiness, which it is possible for him to yield up for redistribution,
is a limited portion.

Even more rigorous on another side is the restriction put upon the
transfer of happiness, or the means to happiness. The pleasures
gained by efficient action--by successful pursuit of ends, cannot by
any process be parted with, and cannot in any way be appropriated by
another. The habit of arguing about general happiness sometimes as
though it were a concrete product to be portioned out, and sometimes
as though it were co-extensive with the use of those material aids to
pleasure which may be given and received, has caused inattention to the
truth that the pleasures of achievement are not transferable. Alike in
the boy who has won a game of marbles, the athlete who has performed
a feat, the statesman who has gained a party triumph, the inventor
who has devised a new machine, the man of science who has discovered
a truth, the novelist who has well delineated a character, the poet
who has finely rendered an emotion, we see pleasures which must, in
the nature of things, be enjoyed exclusively by those to whom they
come. And if we look at all such occupations as men are not impelled
to by their necessities--if we contemplate the various ambitions which
play so large a part in life; we are reminded that so long as the
consciousness of efficiency remains a dominant pleasure, there will
remain a dominant pleasure which cannot be pursued altruistically but
must be pursued egoistically.

Cutting off, then, at the one end, those pleasures which are
inseparable from maintenance of the physique in an uninjured state; and
cutting off at the other end the pleasures of successful action; the
amount that remains is so greatly diminished as to make untenable the
assumption that happiness at large admits of distribution after the
manner which utilitarianism assumes.

§ 89. In yet one more way may be shown the inconsistency of this
transfigured utilitarianism which regards its doctrine as embodying the
Christian maxim--"Love your neighbor as yourself," and of that altruism
which, going still further, enunciates the maxim--"Live for others."

A right rule of conduct must be one which may with advantage be adopted
by all. "Act according to that maxim only, which you can wish, at the
same time, to become a universal law," says Kant. And clearly, passing
over needful qualifications of this maxim, we may accept it to the
extent of admitting that a mode of action which becomes impracticable
as it approaches universality, must be wrong. Hence, if the theory of
pure altruism, implying that effort should be expended for the benefit
of others and not for personal benefit, is defensible, it must be shown
that it will produce good results when acted upon by all. Mark the
consequences if all are purely altruistic.

First, an impossible combination of moral attributes is implied. Each
is supposed by the hypothesis to regard self so little and others
so much, that he willingly sacrifices his own pleasures to give
pleasures to them. But if this is a universal trait, and if action
is universally congruous with it, we have to conceive each as being
not only a sacrificer but also one who accepts sacrifices. While he
is so unselfish as willingly to yield up the benefit for which he has
labored, he is so selfish as willingly to let others yield up to him
the benefits they have labored for. To make pure altruism possible
for all, each must be at once extremely unegoistic and extremely
egoistic. As a giver, he must have no thought for self; as a receiver,
no thought for others. Evidently, this implies an inconceivable mental
constitution. The sympathy which is so solicitous for others as
willingly to injure self in benefiting them, cannot at the same time
be so regardless of others as to accept benefits which they injure
themselves in giving.

The incongruities that emerge if we assume pure altruism to be
universally practiced, may be otherwise exhibited thus. Suppose that
each, instead of enjoying such pleasures as come to him, or such
consumable appliances to pleasure as he has worked for, or such
occasions for pleasure as reward his efforts, relinquishes these to a
single other, or adds them to a common stock from which others benefit,
what will result? Different answers may be given according as we assume
that there are, or are not, additional influences brought into play.

Suppose there are no additional influences. Then, if each transfers
to another his happiness, or means to happiness, or occasions for
happiness, while some one else does the like to him, the distribution
of happiness is, on the average, unchanged; or if each adds to a common
stock his happiness, or means to happiness, or occasions for happiness,
from which common stock each appropriates his portion, the average
state is still, as before, unchanged. The only obvious effect is that
transactions must be gone through in the redistribution; and loss of
time and labor must result.

Now suppose some additional influence which makes the process
beneficial; what must it be? The totality can be increased only if the
acts of transfer increase the quantity of that which is transferred.
The happiness, or that which brings it, must be greater to one who
derives it from another's efforts than it would have been had his own
efforts procured it; or otherwise, supposing a fund of happiness,
or of that which brings it, has been formed by contributions from
each, then each, in appropriating his share, must find it larger
than it would have been had no such aggregation and dispersion
taken place. To justify belief in such increase two conceivable
assumptions may be made. One is that though the sum of pleasures, or of
pleasure-yielding things, remains the same yet the kind of pleasure,
or of pleasure-yielding things, which each receives in exchange from
another, or from the aggregate of others, is one which he appreciates
more than that for which he labored. But to assume this is to assume
that each labors directly for the thing which he enjoys less, rather
than for the thing which he enjoys more, which is absurd. The other
assumption is that while the exchanged, or redistributed pleasure
of the egoistic kind, remains the same in amount for each, there
is added to it the altruistic pleasure accompanying the exchange.
But this assumption is clearly inadmissible if, as is implied, the
transaction is universal--is one through which each becomes giver and
receiver to equal extents. For if the transfer of pleasures, or of
pleasure-yielding things, from one to another or others, is always
accompanied by the consciousness that there will be received from him
or them an equivalent; there results merely a tacit exchange, either
direct or roundabout. Each becomes altruistic in no greater degree
than is implied by being equitable; and each, having nothing to exalt
his happiness, sympathetically or otherwise, cannot be a source of
sympathetic happiness to others.

§ 90. Thus, when the meanings of its words are inquired into, or
when the necessary implications of its theory are examined, pure
altruism, in whatever form expressed, commits its adherents to various

If "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," or in other words,
"the general happiness," is the proper end of action, then not only
for all public action but for all private action, it must be the end;
because, otherwise, the greater part of action remains unguided.
Consider its fitness for each. If corporate action is to be guided
by the principle, with its interpreting comment, "everybody to count
for one, nobody for more than one," there must be an ignoring of all
differences of character and conduct, merits and demerits, among
citizens, since no discrimination is provided for, and, moreover, since
that in respect of which all are to count alike cannot be happiness
itself, which is indistributable, and since equal sharing of the
concrete means to happiness, besides failing ultimately would fail
proximately to produce the greatest happiness; it results that equal
distribution of the conditions under which happiness may be pursued
is the only tenable meaning: we discover in the principle nothing but
a round-about insistance on equity. If, taking happiness at large as
the aim of private action, the individual is required to judge between
his own happiness and that of others as an impartial spectator would
do, we see that no supposition concerning the spectator save one
which suicidally ascribes partiality to him, can bring out any other
result than that each shall enjoy such happiness, or appropriate such
means to happiness, as his own efforts gain: equity is again the sole
content. When, adopting another method, we consider how the greatest
sum of happiness may be composed, and, recognizing the fact that
equitable egoism will produce a certain sum, ask how pure altruism
is to produce a greater sum; we are shown that if all, exclusively
pursuing altruistic pleasures, are so to produce a greater sum of
pleasures, the implication is that altruistic pleasures, which arise
from sympathy, can exist in the absence of egoistic pleasures with
which there may be sympathy--an impossibility; and another implication
is that if, the necessity for egoistic pleasures being admitted, it
is said that the greatest sum of happiness will be attained if all
individuals are more altruistic than egoistic, it is indirectly said
that as a general truth, representative feelings are stronger than
presentative feelings--another impossibility. Again, the doctrine of
pure altruism assumes that happiness may be to any extent transferred
or redistributed; whereas the fact is that pleasures of one order
cannot be transferred in large measure without results which are fatal
or extremely injurious, and that pleasures of another order cannot be
transferred in any degree. Further, pure altruism presents this fatal
anomaly, that while a right principle of action must be more and more
practiced as men improve, the altruistic principle becomes less and
less practicable as men approach an ideal form, because the sphere for
practicing it continually decreases. Finally its self-destructiveness
is made manifest on observing that for all to adopt it as a principle
of action, which they must do if it is a sound principle, implies that
all are at once extremely unegoistic and extremely egoistic--ready to
injure self for others' benefit, and ready to accept benefit at the
cost of injury to others: traits which cannot co-exist.

The need for a compromise between egoism and altruism is thus made
conspicuous. We are forced to recognize the claims which his own
well-being has on the attention of each by noting how, in some
directions we come to a deadlock, in others to contradictions, and
in others to disastrous results, if they are ignored. Conversely, it
is undeniable that disregard of others by each, carried to a great
extent, is fatal to society, and carried to a still greater extent is
fatal to the family, and eventually to the race. Egoism and altruism
are therefore co-essential.

§ 91. What form is the compromise between egoism and altruism to
assume? how are their respective claims to be satisfied in due degrees?

It is a truth insisted on by moralists and recognized in common life,
that the achievement of individual happiness is not proportionate to
the degree in which individual happiness is made the object of direct
pursuit; but there has not yet become current the belief that, in like
manner, the achievement of general happiness is not proportionate to
the degree in which general happiness is made the object of direct
pursuit. Yet failure of direct pursuit in the last case is more
reasonably to be expected than in the first.

When discussing the relations of means and ends, we saw that as
individual conduct evolves, its principle becomes more and more that
of making fulfillment of means the proximate end, and leaving the
ultimate end, welfare or happiness, to come as a result. And we saw
that when general welfare or happiness is the ultimate end, the same
principle holds even more rigorously; since the ultimate end under its
impersonal form is less determinate than under its personal form, and
the difficulties in the way of achieving it by direct pursuit still
greater. Recognizing, then, the fact that corporate happiness still
more than individual happiness, must be pursued not directly, but
indirectly, the first question for us is--What must be the general
nature of the means through which it is to be achieved.

It is admitted that self-happiness is, in a measure, to be obtained
by furthering the happiness of others. May it not be true that,
conversely, general happiness is to be obtained by furthering
self-happiness? If the well-being of each unit is to be reached partly
through his care for the well-being of the aggregate, is not the
well-being of the aggregate to be reached partly through the care of
each unit for himself? Clearly, our conclusion must be that general
happiness is to be achieved mainly through the adequate pursuit of
their own happiness by individuals; while, reciprocally, the happiness
of individuals are to be achieved in part by their pursuit of the
general happiness.

And this is the conclusion embodied in the progressing ideas and usages
of mankind. This compromise between egoism and altruism has been
slowly establishing itself; and toward recognition of its propriety,
men's actual beliefs, as distinguished from their nominal beliefs,
have been gradually approaching. Social evolution has been bringing
about a state in which the claims of the individual to the proceeds of
his activities, and to such satisfactions as they bring, are more and
more positively asserted; at the same time that insistance on others'
claims, and habitual respect for them have been increasing. Among
the rudest savages personal interests are very vaguely distinguished
from the interests of others. In early stages of civilization the
proportioning of benefits to efforts is extremely rude: slaves and
serfs get for work arbitrary amounts of food and shelter: exchange
being infrequent, there is little to develop the idea of equivalence.
But as civilization advances and status passes into contract there
comes daily experience of the relation between advantages enjoyed
and labor given: the industrial system maintaining, through supply
and demand, a due adjustment of the one to the other. And this growth
of voluntary co-operation, this exchange of services under agreement,
has been necessarily accompanied by decrease of aggressions one upon
another, and increase of sympathy: leading to exchange of services
beyond agreement. That is to say, the more distinct assertions
of individual claims, and more rigorous apportioning of personal
enjoyments to efforts expended, has gone hand in hand with growth of
that negative altruism shown in equitable conduct and that positive
altruism shown in gratuitous aid.

A higher phase of this double change has in our own times become
conspicuous. If, on the one hand, we note the struggles for political
freedom, the contests between labor and capital, the judicial reforms
made to facilitate enforcement of rights, we see that the tendency
still is toward complete appropriation by each of whatever benefits are
due to him, and consequent exclusion of his fellows from such benefits.
On the other hand, if we consider what is meant by the surrender of
power to the masses, the abolition of class-privileges, the efforts
to diffuse knowledge, the agitations to spread temperance, the
multitudinous philanthropic societies; it becomes clear that regard for
the well-being of others is increasing _pari passu_ with the taking of
means to secure personal well-being.

What holds of the relations within each society holds to some extent,
if to a less extent, of the relations between societies. Though,
to maintain national claims, real or imaginary, often of a trivial
kind, the civilized still make war on one another; yet their
several nationalities are more respected than in past ages. Though
by victors portions of territory are taken and money compensations
exacted; yet conquest is not now, as of old, habitually followed
by entire appropriation of territories and enslavement of peoples.
The individualities of societies are in a larger measure preserved.
Meanwhile the altruistic intercourse is greater: aid is rendered on
occasions of disaster by flood, by fire, by famine, or otherwise.
And in international arbitration as lately exemplified, implying the
recognition of claims by one nation upon another, we see a further
progress in this wider altruism. Doubtless there is much to be said
by way of set-off; for in the dealings of the civilized with the
uncivilized little of this progress can be traced. It may be urged that
the primitive rule, "Life for life," has been developed by us into the
rule, "For one life many lives," as in the cases of Bishop Patteson
and Mr. Birch, but then there is the qualifying fact that we do not
torture our prisoners or mutilate them. If it be said that as the
Hebrews thought themselves warranted in seizing the lands God promised
to them, and in some cases exterminating the inhabitants, so we, to
fulfill the "manifest intention of Providence," dispossess inferior
races whenever we want their territories; it may be replied that we do
not kill many more than seems needful, and tolerate the existence of
those who submit. And should any one point out that as Attila, while
conquering or destroying peoples and nations, regarded himself as "the
scourge of God," punishing men for their sins, so we, as represented
by a High Commissioner and a priest he quotes, think ourselves called
on to chastise with rifles and cannon, heathens who practice polygamy;
there is the rejoinder that not even the most ferocious disciple of
the teacher of mercy would carry his vengeance so far as to depopulate
whole territories and erase scores of cities. And when, on the other
hand, we remember that there is an Aborigines Protection Society,
that there are Commissioners in certain colonies appointed to protect
native interests, and that in some cases the lands of natives have been
purchased in ways which, however unfair, have implied some recognition
of their claims; we may say that little as the compromise between
egoism and altruism has progressed in international affairs, it has
still progressed somewhat in the direction indicated.



§ 92. As exhibited in the last chapter, the compromise between the
claims of self and the claims of others seems to imply permanent
antagonism between the two. The pursuit by each of his own happiness
while paying due regard to the happiness of his fellows, apparently
necessitates the ever-recurring question--How far must the one end be
sought and how far the other: suggesting, if not discord in the life of
each, still, an absence of complete harmony. This is not the inevitable
inference however.

When, in the _Principles of Sociology_, Part III, the phenomena
of race-maintenance among living things at large were discussed,
that the development of the domestic relations might be the better
understood, it was shown that during evolution there has been going
on a conciliation between the interests of the species, the interests
of the parents, and the interests of the offspring. Proof was given
that as we ascend from the lowest forms of life to the highest,
race-maintenance is achieved with a decreasing sacrifice of life,
alike of young individuals and of adult individuals, and also with a
decreasing sacrifice of parental lives to the lives of offspring. We
saw that, with the progress of civilization, like changes go on among
human beings; and that the highest domestic relations are those in
which the conciliation of welfares within the family becomes greatest,
while the welfare of the society is best subserved. Here it remains to
be shown that a kindred conciliation has been, and is, taking place
between the interests of each citizen and the interests of citizens at
large; tending ever toward a state in which the two become merged in
one, and in which the feelings answering to them respectively, fall
into complete concord.

In the family group, even as we observe it among many inferior
vertebrates, we see that the parental sacrifice, now become so moderate
in amount as to consist with long-continued parental life, is not
accompanied by consciousness of sacrifice; but contrariwise, is made
from a direct desire to make it: the altruistic labors on behalf of
young are carried on in satisfaction of parental instincts. If we
trace these relations up through the grades of mankind, and observe
how largely love rather than obligation prompts the care of children,
we see the conciliation of interests to be such that achievement of
parental happiness coincides with securing the happiness of offspring:
the wish for children among the childless, and the occasional adoption
of children, showing how needful for attainment of certain egoistic
satisfactions are these altruistic activities. And further evolution,
causing along with higher nature diminished fertility, and therefore
smaller burdens on parents, may be expected to bring a state in which,
far more than now, the pleasures of adult life will consist in raising
offspring to perfection while simultaneously furthering the immediate
happiness of offspring.

Now though altruism of a social kind, lacking certain elements of
parental altruism, can never attain the same level, yet it may be
expected to attain a level at which it will be like parental altruism
in spontaneity--a level such that ministration to others' happiness
will become a daily need--a level such that the lower egoistic
satisfactions will be continually subordinated to this higher egoistic
satisfaction, not by any effort to subordinate them, but by the
preference for this higher egoistic satisfaction whenever it can be

Let us consider how the development of sympathy, which must advance as
fast as conditions permit, will bring about this state.

§ 93. We have seen that during the evolution of life, pleasures and
pains have necessarily been the incentives to, and deterrents from,
actions which the conditions of existence demanded and negatived. An
implied truth to be here noted is, that faculties which, under given
conditions, yield partly pain and partly pleasure, cannot develop
beyond the limit at which they yield a surplus of pleasure: if beyond
that limit more pain than pleasure results from exercise of them, their
growth must be arrested.

Through sympathy both these forms of feeling are excited. Now a
pleasurable consciousness is aroused on witnessing pleasure; now a
painful consciousness is aroused on witnessing pain. Hence, if beings
around him habitually manifest pleasure and but rarely pain, sympathy
yields to its possessor a surplus of pleasure; while, contrariwise,
if little pleasure is ordinarily witnessed and much pain, sympathy
yields a surplus of pain to its possessor. The average development of
sympathy must, therefore, be regulated by the average manifestations of
pleasure and pain in others. If the life usually led under given social
conditions is such that suffering is daily inflicted, or is daily
displayed by associates, sympathy cannot grow: to assume growth of it
is to assume that the constitution will modify itself in such way as to
increase its pains and therefore depress its energies; and is to ignore
the truth that bearing any kind of pain gradually produces insensibilty
to that pain, or callousness. On the other hand, if the social state
is such that manifestations of pleasure predominate, sympathy will
increase; since sympathetic pleasures, adding to the totality of
pleasures enhancing vitality, conduce to the physical prosperity of the
most sympathetic, and since the pleasures of sympathy exceeding its
pains in all, lead to an exercise of it which strengthens it.

The first implication is one already more than once indicated. We have
seen that along with habitual militancy and under the adapted type
of social organization, sympathy cannot develop to any considerable
height. The destructive activities carried on against external
enemies sear it; the state of feeling maintained causes within the
society itself frequent acts of aggression or cruelty; and further,
the compulsory co-operation characterizing the militant _régime_
necessarily represses sympathy--exists only on condition of an
unsympathetic treatment of some by others.

But even could the militant _régime_ forthwith end, the hinderance to
development of sympathy would still be great. Though cessation of war
would imply increased adaptation of man to social life, and decrease
of sundry evils, yet there would remain much non-adaptation and
much consequent unhappiness. In the first place, that form of nature
which has generated and still generates wars, though by implication
raised to a higher form, would not at once be raised to so high a
form that there would cease all injustices and the pains they cause.
For a considerable period after predatory activities had ended, the
defects of the predatory nature would continue: entailing their slowly
diminishing evils. In the second place, the ill-adjustment of the human
constitution to the pursuits of industrial life, must long persist,
and may be expected to survive in a measure the cessation of wars: the
required modes of activity must remain for innumerable generations in
some degree displeasurable. And in the third place, deficiencies of
self-control such as the improvident show us, as well as those many
failures of conduct due to inadequate foresight of consequences, though
less marked than now, could not fail still to produce suffering.

Nor would even complete adaptation, if limited to disappearance of the
non-adaptations just indicated, remove all sources of those miseries
which, to the extent of their manifestation, check the growth of
sympathy. For while the rate of multiplication continues so to exceed
the rate of mortality as to cause pressure on the means of subsistence,
there must continue to result much unhappiness; either from balked
affections or from overwork and stinted means. Only as fast as
fertility diminishes, which we have seen it must do along with further
mental development (_Principles of Biology_, §§ 367-377), can there go
on such diminution of the labors required for efficiently supporting
self and family, that they will not constitute a displeasurable tax on
the energies.

Gradually then, and only gradually, as these various causes of
unhappiness become less can sympathy become greater. Life would be
intolerable if, while the causes of misery remained as they now are,
all men were not only in a high degree sensitive to the pains, bodily
and mental, felt by those around and expressed in the faces of those
they met, but were unceasingly conscious of the miseries everywhere
being suffered as consequences of war, crime, misconduct, misfortune,
improvidence, incapacity. But, as the molding and re-molding of man
and society into mutual fitness progresses, and as the pains caused by
unfitness decrease, sympathy can increase in presence of the pleasures
that come from fitness. The two changes are indeed so related that
each furthers the other. Such growth of sympathy as conditions permit,
itself aids in lessening pain and augmenting pleasure: and the greater
surplus of pleasure that results makes possible further growth of

§ 94. The extent to which sympathy may develop when the hinderances
are removed, will be better conceived after observing the agencies
through which it is excited, and setting down the reasons for expecting
those agencies to become more efficient. Two factors have to be
considered--the natural language of feeling in the being sympathized
with, and the power of interpreting that language in the being who
sympathizes. We may anticipate development of both.

Movements of the body and facial changes are visible effects of feeling
which, when the feeling is strong, are uncontrollable. When the feeling
is less strong, however, be it sensational or emotional, they may
be wholly or partially repressed; and there is a habit, more or less
constant, of repressing them; this habit being the concomitant of a
nature such that it is often undesirable that others should see what
is felt. So necessary with our existing characters and conditions are
concealments thus prompted, that they have come to form a part of
moral duty; and concealment for its own sake is often insisted upon
as an element in good manners. All this is caused by the prevalence
of feelings at variance with social good--feelings which cannot be
shown without producing discords or estrangements. But in proportion
as the egoistic desires fall more under control of the altruistic, and
there come fewer and slighter impulses of a kind to be reprobated,
the need for keeping guard over facial expression and bodily movement
will decrease, and these will with increasing clearness convey to
spectators the mental state. Nor is this all. Restrained as its use is,
this language of the emotions is at present prevented from growing.
But as fast as the emotions become such that they may be more candidly
displayed, there will go, along with the habit of display, development
of the means of display; so that besides the stronger emotions, the
more delicate shades and smaller degrees of emotion will visibly
exhibit themselves; the emotional language will become at once more
copious, more varied, more definite. And obviously sympathy will be
proportionately facilitated.

An equally important, if not a more important, advance of kindred
nature, is to be anticipated. The vocal signs of sentient states
will simultaneously evolve further. Loudness of tone, pitch of tone,
quality of tone, and change of tone, are severally marks of feeling;
and, combined in different ways and proportions, serve to express
different amounts and kinds of feelings. As elsewhere pointed out,
cadences are the comments of the emotions on the propositions of the
intellect[J]. Not in excited speech only, but in ordinary speech, we
show by ascending and descending intervals, by degrees of deviation
from the medium tone, as well as by place and strength of emphasis,
the kind of sentiency which accompanies the thought expressed. Now the
manifestation of feeling by cadence, like its manifestation by visible
changes, is at present under restraint; the motives for repression act
in the one case as they act in the other. A double effect is produced.
This audible language of feeling is not used up to the limit of its
existing capacity; and it is to a considerable degree misused, so as
to convey other feelings than those which are felt. The result of this
disuse and misuse is to check that evolution which normal use would
cause. We must infer, then, that as moral adaptation progresses, and
there is decreasing need for concealment of the feelings, their vocal
signs will develop much further. Though it is not to be supposed that
cadences will ever convey emotions as exactly as words convey thoughts,
yet it is quite possible that the emotional language of the future may
rise as much above our present emotional language, as our intellectual
language has already risen above the intellectual language of the
lowest races.

A simultaneous increase in the power of interpreting both visible
and audible signs of feeling must be taken into account. Among those
around we see differences both of ability to perceive such signs and
of ability to conceive the implied mental states, and their causes;
here, a stolidity unimpressed by a slight facial change or altered
tone of voice, or else unable to imagine what is felt; and there,
a quick observation and a penetrating intuition, making instantly
comprehensible the state of mind and its origin. If we suppose both
these faculties exalted--both a more delicate perception of the signs
and a strengthened constructive imagination--we shall get some idea of
the deeper and wider sympathy that will hereafter arise. More vivid
representations of the feelings of others, implying ideal excitements
of feelings approaching to real excitements, must imply a greater
likeness between the feelings of the sympathizer and those of the
sympathized with; coming near to identity.

By simultaneous increase of its subjective and objective factors,
sympathy may thus, as the hinderances diminish, rise above that now
shown by the sympathetic as much as in them it has risen above that
which the callous show.

§ 95. What must be the accompanying evolution of conduct? What must the
relations between egoism and altruism become as this form of nature is

A conclusion drawn in the chapter on the relativity of pleasures and
pains, and there emphasized as one to be borne in mind, must now be
recalled. It was pointed out that, supposing them to be consistent
with continuance of life, there are no activities which may not become
sources of pleasure, if surrounding conditions require persistence
in them. And here it is to be added, as a corollary, that if the
conditions require any class of activities to be relatively great,
there will arise a relatively great pleasure accompanying that class
of activities. What bearing have these general inferences on the
special question before us?

That alike for public welfare and private welfare sympathy is essential
we have seen. We have seen that co-operation and the benefits which it
brings to each and all, become high in proportion as the altruistic,
that is the sympathetic, interests extend. The actions prompted by
fellow-feeling are thus to be counted among those demanded by social
conditions. They are actions which maintenance and further development
of social organization tend ever to increase, and, therefore, actions
with which there will be joined an increasing pleasure. From the laws
of life it must be concluded that unceasing social discipline will
so mold human nature that eventually sympathetic pleasures will be
spontaneously pursued to the fullest extent advantageous to each and
all. The scope for altruistic activities will not exceed the desire for
altruistic satisfactions.

In natures thus constituted, though the altruistic gratifications
must remain in a transfigured sense egoistic, yet they will not be
egoistically pursued--will not be pursued from egoistic motives.
Though pleasure will be gained by giving pleasure, yet the thought of
the sympathetic pleasure to be gained will not occupy consciousness,
but only the thought of the pleasure given. To a great extent this
is so now. In the truly sympathetic, attention is so absorbed with
the proximate end, others' happiness, that there is none given to the
prospective self-happiness which may ultimately result. An analogy will
make the relation clear.

A miser accumulates money, not deliberately saying to himself, "I
shall by doing this get the delight which possession gives." He thinks
only of the money and the means of getting it, and he experiences
incidentally the pleasure that comes from possession. Owning property
is that which he revels in imagining, and not the feeling which
owning property will cause. Similarly, one who is sympathetic in the
highest sense, is mentally engaged solely in representing pleasure
as experienced by another, and pursues it for the benefit of that
other, forgetting any participation he will have in it. Subjectively
considered, then, the conciliation of egoism and altruism will
eventually become such that though the altruistic pleasure, as being a
part of the consciousness of one who experiences it, can never be other
than egoistic, it will not be consciously egoistic.

Let us now ask what must happen in a society composed of persons
constituted in this manner.

§ 96. The opportunities for that postponement of self to others which
constitutes altruism as ordinarily conceived, must, in several ways, be
more and more limited as the highest state is approached.

Extensive demands on the benevolent presuppose much unhappiness.
Before there can be many and large calls on some for efforts on
behalf of others, there must be many others in conditions needing
help--in conditions of comparative misery. But, as we have seen
above, the development of fellow-feeling can go on only as fast
as misery decreases. Sympathy can reach its full height only when
there have ceased to be frequent occasions for anything like serious

Change the point of view, and this truth presents itself under another
aspect. We have already seen that with the progress of adaptation
each becomes so constituted that he cannot be helped without in some
way arresting a pleasurable activity. There cannot be a beneficial
interference between faculty and function when the two are adjusted.
Consequently, in proportion as mankind approach complete adjustment
of their natures to social needs, there must be fewer and smaller
opportunities for giving aid.

Yet again, as was pointed out in the last chapter, the sympathy which
prompts efforts for others' welfare must be pained by self-injury on
the part of others; and must, therefore, cause aversion to accept
benefits derived from their self-injuries. What is to be inferred?
While each, when occasion offers, is ready, anxious even, to surrender
egoistic satisfactions; others, similarly natured, cannot but resist
the surrender. If any one, proposing to treat himself more hardly than
a disinterested spectator would direct, refrains from appropriating
that which is due; others, caring for him if he will not care for
himself, must necessarily insist that he shall appropriate it. General
altruism then, in its developed form, must inevitably resist individual
excesses of altruism. The relation at present familiar to us will be
inverted, and instead of each maintaining his own claims, others will
maintain his claims for him: not, indeed, by active efforts, which will
be needless, but by passively resisting any undue yielding up of them.
There is nothing in such behavior which is not even now to be traced
in our daily experiences as beginning. In business transactions among
honorable men there is usually a desire on either side that the other
shall treat himself fairly. Not unfrequently there is a refusal to
take something regarded as the other's due, but which the other offers
to give up. In social intercourse, too, the cases are common in which
those who would surrender their shares of pleasure are not permitted by
the rest to do so. Further development of sympathy cannot but make this
mode of behaving increasingly general and increasingly genuine.

Certain complex restraints on excesses of altruism exist, which, in
another way, force back the individual upon a normal egoism. Two may
here be noted.

In the first place, self-abnegations often repeated imply on the part
of the actor a tacit ascription of relative selfishness to others
who profit by the self-abnegations. Even with men as they are there
occasionally arises a feeling among those for whom sacrifices are
frequently made, that they are being insulted by the assumption that
they are ready to receive them, and in the mind of the actor also,
there sometimes grows up a recognition of this feeling on their part,
and a consequent check on his too great or too frequent surrenders of
pleasure. Obviously, in more developed natures, this kind of check must
act still more promptly.

In the second place, when, as the hypothesis implies, altruistic
pleasures have reached a greater intensity than they now possess,
each person will be debarred from undue pursuit of them by the
consciousness that other persons, too, desire them, and that scope for
others' enjoyment of them must be left. Even now may be observed among
groups of friends, where some competition in amiability is going on,
relinquishments of opportunities for self-abnegation that others may
have them. "Let her give up the gratification, she will like to do so;"
"Let him undertake the trouble, it will please him;" are suggestions
which, from time to time, illustrate this consciousness. The most
developed sympathy will care for the sympathetic satisfactions of
others as well as for their selfish satisfactions. What may be called a
higher equity will refrain from trespassing on the spheres of others'
altruistic activities, as a lower equity refrains from trespassing on
the spheres of their egoistic activities. And by this checking of what
may be called an egoistic altruism, undue sacrifices on the part of
each must be prevented.

What spheres, then, will eventually remain for altruism as it is
commonly conceived? There are three. One of them must to the last
continue large in extent; and the others must progressively diminish,
though they do not disappear.

The first is that which family life affords. Always there must be a
need for subordination of self-regarding feelings to other-regarding
feelings in the rearing of children. Though this will diminish with
diminution in the number to be reared, yet it will increase with the
greater elaboration, and prolongation of the activities on their
behalf. But as shown above, there is even now partially effected a
conciliation such that those egoistic satisfactions which parenthood
yields are achieved through altruistic activities--a conciliation
tending ever toward completeness. An important development of family
altruism must be added: the reciprocal care of parents by children
during old age--a care becoming lighter and better fulfilled, in which
a kindred conciliation may be looked for.

Pursuit of social welfare at large must afford hereafter, as it does
now, scope for the postponement of selfish interests to unselfish
interests, but a continually lessening scope; because as adaptation
to the social state progresses the needs for those regulative actions
by which social life is made harmonious become less. And here the
amount of altruistic action which each undertakes must inevitably
be kept within moderate bounds by others; for if they are similarly
altruistic, they will not allow some to pursue public ends to their own
considerable detriment that the rest may profit.

In the private relations of men, opportunities for self-sacrifice
prompted by sympathy, must ever in some degree, though eventually in a
small degree, be afforded by accidents, diseases, and misfortunes in
general; since, however near to completeness the adaptation of human
nature to the conditions of existence at large, physical and social,
may become, it can never reach completeness. Flood, fire, and wreck
must to the last yield at intervals opportunities for heroic acts; and
in the motives to such acts, anxiety for others will be less alloyed
with love of admiration than now. Extreme, however, as may be the
eagerness for altruistic action on the rare occasions hence arising,
the amount falling to the share of each must, for the reasons given, be
narrowly limited.

But though in the incidents of ordinary life, postponements of self to
others in large ways must become very infrequent, daily intercourse
will still furnish multitudinous small occasions for the activity of
fellow feeling. Always each may continue to further the welfare of
others by warding off from them evils they cannot see, and by aiding
their actions in ways unknown to them; or, conversely putting it, each
may have, as it were, supplementary eyes and ears in other persons,
which perceive for him things he cannot perceive himself: so perfecting
his life in numerous details, by making its adjustment to environing
actions complete.

§ 97. Must it then follow that eventually, with this diminution of the
spheres for it, altruism must diminish in total amount? By no means.
Such a conclusion implies a misconception.

Naturally, under existing conditions, with suffering widely diffused
and so much of effort demanded from the more fortunate in succoring the
less fortunate, altruism is understood to mean only self-sacrifice; or,
at any rate, a mode of action which, while it brings some pleasure, has
an accompaniment of self-surrender that is not pleasurable. But the
sympathy which prompts denial of self to please others is a sympathy
which also receives pleasure from their pleasures when they are
otherwise originated. The stronger the fellow-feeling which excites
efforts to make others happy, the stronger is the fellow-feeling with
their happiness however caused.

In its ultimate form, then, altruism will be the achievement of
gratification through sympathy with those gratifications of others
which are mainly produced by their activities of all kinds successfully
carried on--sympathetic gratification which costs the receiver nothing,
but is a gratis addition to his egoistic gratifications. This power of
representing in idea the mental states of others, which, during the
process of adaptation has had the function of mitigating suffering,
must, as the suffering falls to a minimum, come to have almost wholly
the function of mutually exalting men's enjoyments by giving every one
a vivid intuition of his neighbor's enjoyments. While pain prevails
widely, it is undesirable that each should participate much in the
consciousnesses of others; but with an increasing predominance of
pleasure, participation in others' consciousnesses becomes a gain of
pleasure to all.

And so there will disappear that apparently permanent opposition
between egoism and altruism, implied by the compromise reached in the
last chapter. Subjectively looked at, the conciliation will be such
that the individual will not have to balance between self-regarding
impulses and other-regarding impulses; but, instead, those
satisfactions of other-regarding impulses which involve self-sacrifice,
becoming rare and much prized, will be so unhesitatingly preferred
that the competition of self-regarding impulses with them will
scarcely be felt. And the subjective conciliation will also be such
that though altruistic pleasure will be attained, yet the motive of
action will not consciously be the attainment of altruistic pleasure;
but the idea present will be the securing of others' pleasures.
Meanwhile, the conciliation objectively considered will be equally
complete. Though each, no longer needing to maintain his egoistic
claims, will tend rather when occasion offers to surrender them, yet
others, similarly natured, will not permit him in any large measure
to do this, and that fulfillment of personal desires required for
completion of his life will thus be secured to him; though not now
egoistic in the ordinary sense, yet the effects of due egoism will be
achieved. Nor is this all. As, at an early stage, egoistic competition,
first reaching a compromise such that each claims no more than his
equitable share, afterward rises to a conciliation such that each
insists on the taking of equitable shares by others; so, at the latest
stage, altruistic competition, first reaching a compromise under
which each restrains himself from taking an undue share of altruistic
satisfactions, eventually rises to a conciliation under which each
takes care that others shall have their opportunities for altruistic
satisfactions: the highest altruism being that which ministers not to
the egoistic satisfactions of others only, but also to their altruistic

Far off as seems such a state, yet every one of the factors counted on
to produce it may already be traced in operation among those of highest
natures. What now in them is occasional and feeble, may be expected
with further evolution to become habitual and strong; and what now
characterizes the exceptionally high may be expected eventually to
characterize all. For that which the best human nature is capable of,
is within the reach of human nature at large.

§ 98. That these conclusions will meet with any considerable acceptance
is improbable. Neither with current ideas nor with current sentiments
are they sufficiently congruous.

Such a view will not be agreeable to those who lament the spreading
disbelief in eternal damnation; nor to those who follow the apostle of
brute force in thinking that because the rule of the strong hand was
once good it is good for all time; nor to those whose reverence for
one who told them to put up the sword, is shown by using the sword to
spread his doctrine among heathens. From the ten thousand priests of
the religion of love, who are silent when the nation is moved by the
religion of hate, will come no sign of assent; nor from their bishops
who, far from urging the extreme precept of the master they pretend to
follow, to turn the other cheek when one is smitten, vote for acting
on the principle--strike lest ye be struck. Nor will any approval be
felt by legislators who, after praying to be forgiven their trespasses
as they forgive the trespasses of others, forthwith decide to attack
those who have not trespassed against them, and who, after a Queen's
Speech has invoked "the blessing of Almighty God" on their councils,
immediately provide means for committing political burglary.

But, though men who profess Christianity and practice Paganism can feel
no sympathy with such a view, there are some, classed as antagonists
to the current creed, who may not think it absurd to believe that a
rationalized version of its ethical principles will eventually be acted



§ 99. As applied to Ethics, the word "absolute" will by many be
supposed to imply principles of right conduct that exist out of
relation to life as conditioned on the Earth, out of relation to
time and place, and independent of the Universe as now visible to
us, "eternal" principles as they are called. Those, however, who
recall the doctrine set forth in _First Principles_, will hesitate
to put this interpretation on the word. Right, as we can think it,
necessitates the thought of not right, or wrong, for its correlative,
and hence, to ascribe rightness to the acts of the Power manifested
through phenomena, is to assume the possibility that wrong acts may be
committed by this Power. But how come there to exist, apart from this
Power, conditions of such kind that subordination of its acts to them
makes them right and insubordination wrong. How can Unconditioned Being
be subject to conditions beyond itself?

If, for example, any one should assert that the Cause of Things,
conceived in respect of fundamental moral attributes as like ourselves,
did right in producing a Universe which, in the course of immeasurable
time, has given origin to beings capable of pleasure, and would have
done wrong in abstaining from the production of such a Universe; then,
the comment to be made is that, imposing the moral ideas generated in
his finite consciousness, upon the Infinite Existence which transcends
consciousness, he goes behind that Infinite Existence and prescribes
for it principles of action.

As implied in foregoing chapters, right and wrong as conceived by us
can exist only in relation to the actions of creatures capable of
pleasures and pains; seeing that analysis carries us back to pleasures
and pains as the elements out of which the conceptions are framed.

But if the word "absolute," as used above, does not refer to the
Unconditioned Being--if the principles of action distinguished as
absolute and relative concern the conduct of conditioned beings,
in what way are the words to be understood? An explanation of
their meanings will be best conveyed by a criticism on the current
conceptions of right and wrong.

§ 100. Conversations about the affairs of life habitually imply the
belief that every deed named may be placed under the one head or the
other. In discussing a political question, both sides take it for
granted that some line of action may be chosen which is right, while
all other lines of action are wrong. So, too, is it with judgments on
the doings of individuals; each of these is approved or disapproved on
the assumption that it is definitely classable as good or bad. Even
where qualifications are admitted, they are admitted with an implied
idea that some such positive characterization is to be made.

Nor is it in popular thought and speech only that we see this. If not
wholly and definitely, yet partially and by implication, the belief
is expressed by moralists. In his _Methods of Ethics_ (1st Ed., p.
6) Mr. Sidgwick says: "That there is in any given circumstances some
one thing which ought to be done and that this can be known, is a
fundamental assumption, made not by philosophers only, but by all who
perform any processes of moral reasoning."[K] In this sentence there
is specifically asserted only the last of the above propositions;
namely, that, in every case, what "ought to be done" "can be known."
But though that "which ought to be done" is not distinctly identified
with "the right," it may be inferred, in the absence of any indication
to the contrary, that Mr. Sidgwick regards the two as identical; and
doubtless, in so conceiving the postulates of moral science, he is
at one with most, if not all, who have made it a subject of study.
At first sight, indeed, nothing seems more obvious than that if
actions are to be judged at all, these postulates must be accepted.
Nevertheless they may both be called in question, and I think it may
be shown that neither of them is tenable. Instead of admitting that
there is in every case a right and a wrong, it may be contended that in
multitudinous cases no right, properly so-called, can be alleged, but
only a least wrong; and further, it may be contended that in many of
these cases where there can be alleged only a least wrong, it is not
possible to ascertain with any precision which is the least wrong.

A great part of the perplexities in ethical speculation arise from
neglect of this distinction between right and least wrong--between
the absolutely right and the relatively right. And many further
perplexities are due to the assumption that it can, in some way, be
decided in every case which of two courses is morally obligatory.

§ 101. The law of absolute right can take no cognizance of pain, save
the cognizance implied by negation. Pain is the correlative of some
species of wrong--some kind of divergence from that course of action
which perfectly fulfills all requirements. If, as was shown in an early
chapter, the conception of good conduct always proves, when analyzed,
to be the conception of a conduct which produces a surplus of pleasure
somewhere; while, conversely, the conduct conceived as bad proves
always to be that which inflicts somewhere a surplus of either positive
or negative pain; then the absolutely good, the absolutely right,
in conduct, can be that only which produces pure pleasure--pleasure
unalloyed with pain anywhere. By implication, conduct which has any
concomitant of pain, or any painful consequence, is partially wrong;
and the highest claim to be made for such conduct is that it is the
least wrong which, under the conditions, is possible--the relatively

The contents of preceding chapters imply throughout that, considered
from the evolution point of view, the acts of men during the transition
which has been, is still, and long will be, in progress, must, in most
cases, be of the kind here classed as least wrong. In proportion to
the incongruity between the natures men inherit from the pre-social
state, and the requirements of social life, must be the amount of pain
entailed by their actions, either on themselves or on others. In so far
as pain is suffered, evil is inflicted; and conduct which inflicts any
evil cannot be absolutely good.

To make clear the distinction here insisted upon between that perfect
conduct which is the subject-matter of Absolute Ethics, and that
imperfect conduct which is the subject-matter of Relative Ethics, some
illustrations must be given.

§ 102. Among the best examples of absolutely right actions to be named
are those arising where the nature and the requirements have been
molded to one another before social evolution began. Two will here

Consider the relation of a healthy mother to a healthy infant. Between
the two there exists a mutual dependence which is a source of pleasure
to both. In yielding its natural food to the child, the mother receives
gratification; and to the child there comes the satisfaction of
appetite--a satisfaction which accompanies furtherance of life, growth
and increasing enjoyment. Let the relation be suspended, and on both
sides there is suffering. The mother experiences both bodily pain and
mental pain, and the painful sensation borne by the child brings as
its result physical mischief and some damage to the emotional nature.
Thus the act is one that is to both exclusively pleasurable, while
abstention entails pain on both; and it is consequently of the kind we
here call absolutely right.

In the parental relations of the father we are furnished with a kindred
example. If he is well constituted in body and mind, his boy, eager
for play, finds in him a sympathetic response, and their frolics,
giving mutual pleasure, not only further the child's physical welfare,
but strengthen that bond of good feeling between the two which makes
subsequent guidance easier. And then if, repudiating the stupidities of
early education as at present conceived and unhappily State-enacted,
he has rational ideas of mental development, and sees that the
second-hand knowledge gained through books should begin to supplement
the first-hand knowledge gained by direct observation, only when a
good stock of this has been acquired, he will, with active sympathy,
aid in the exploration of the surrounding world which his boy pursues
with delight; giving and receiving gratification from moment to moment
while furthering ultimate welfare. Here, again, are actions of a kind
purely pleasurable alike in their immediate and remote effects--actions
absolutely right.

The intercourse of adults yields, for the reason assigned, relatively
few cases that fall completely within the same category. In their
transactions from hour to hour, more or less of deduction from pure
gratification is caused on one or other side by imperfect fitness to
the requirements. The pleasures men gain by laboring in their vocations
and receiving in one form or other returns for their services usually
have the drawback that the laborers are in a considerable degree
displeasurable. Cases, however, do occur where the energies are so
abundant that inaction is irksome; and where the daily work, not too
great in duration, is of a kind appropriate to the nature; and where,
as a consequence, pleasure rather than pain is a concomitant. When
services yielded by such a one are paid for by another similarly
adapted to his occupation, the entire transaction is of the kind
we are here considering: exchange under agreement between two so
constituted becomes a means of pleasure to both, with no set-off of
pain. Bearing in mind the form of nature which social discipline is
producing, as shown in the contrast between savage and civilized, the
implication is that ultimately men's activities at large will assume
this character. Remembering that in the course of organic evolution,
the means to enjoyment themselves eventually become sources of
enjoyment; and that there is no form of action which may not through
the development of appropriate structures become pleasurable; the
inference must be that industrial activities, carried on through
voluntary co-operation, will in time acquire the character of absolute
rightness as here conceived. Already, indeed, something like such a
state has been reached among certain of those who minister to our
æsthetic gratifications. The artist of genius--poet, painter, or
musician--is one who obtains the means of living by acts that are
directly pleasurable to him, while they yield, immediately or remotely,
pleasures to others.

Once more, among absolutely right acts may be named certain of those
which we class as benevolent. I say certain of them, because such
benevolent acts as entail submission to pain, positive or negative,
that others may receive pleasure, are, by the definition, excluded.
But there are benevolent acts of a kind yielding pleasure solely. Some
one who has slipped is saved from falling by a by-stander: a hurt is
prevented and satisfaction is felt by both. A pedestrian is choosing
a dangerous route, or a fellow-passenger is about to alight at the
wrong station, and, warned against doing so, is saved from evil: each
being, as a consequence, gratified. There is a misunderstanding between
friends, and one who sees how it has arisen explains, the result being
agreeable to all. Services to those around in the small affairs of
life, may be, and often are, of a kind which there is equal pleasure
in giving and receiving. Indeed, as was urged in the last chapter, the
actions of developed altruism must habitually have this character.
And so, in countless ways suggested by these few, men may add to one
another's happiness without anywhere producing unhappiness--ways which
are therefore absolutely right.

In contrast with these consider the many actions which from hour to
hour are gone through, now with an accompaniment of some pain to the
actor and now bringing results that are partially painful to others,
but which nevertheless are imperative. As implied by antithesis with
cases above referred to, the wearisomeness of productive labor as
ordinarily pursued, renders it in so far wrong; but then far greater
suffering would result, both to the laborer and his family, and
therefore far greater wrong would be done, were this wearisomeness not
borne. Though the pains which the care of many children entail on a
mother form a considerable set-off from the pleasures secured by them
to her children and herself, yet the miseries immediate and remote,
which neglect would entail, so far exceed them that submission to such
pains up to the limit of physical ability to bear them becomes morally
imperative as being the least wrong. A servant who fails to fulfill an
agreement in respect of work, or who is perpetually breaking crockery,
or who pilfers, may have to suffer pain from being discharged;
but since the evils to be borne by all concerned if incapacity or
misconduct is tolerated, not in one case only but habitually, must
be much greater, such infliction of pain is warranted as a means to
preventing greater pain. Withdrawal of custom from a tradesman whose
charges are too high, or whose commodities are inferior, or who gives
short measure, or who is unpunctual, decreases his welfare, and perhaps
injures his belongings; but as saving him from these evils would imply
bearing the evils his conduct causes, and as such regard for his
well-being would imply disregard of the well-being of some more worthy
or more efficient tradesman to whom the custom would else go, and as,
chiefly, general adoption of the implied course, having the effect that
the inferior would not suffer from their inferiority nor the superior
gain by their superiority, would produce universal misery, withdrawal
is justified--the act is relatively right.

§ 103. I pass now to the second of the two propositions above
enunciated. After recognizing the truth that a large part of human
conduct is not absolutely right, but only relatively right, we have
to recognize the further truth that in many cases where there is no
absolutely right course, but only courses that are more or less wrong,
it is not possible to say which is the least wrong. Recurrence to the
instances just given will show this.

There is a point up to which it is relatively right for a parent to
carry self-sacrifice for the benefit of offspring, and there is a point
beyond which self-sacrifice cannot be pushed without bringing, not only
on himself or herself, but also on the family, evils greater than
those to be prevented by the self-sacrifice. Who shall say where this
point is? Depending on the constitutions and needs of those concerned
it is in no two cases the same, and cannot be by any one more than
guessed. The transgressions or short-comings of a servant vary from the
trivial to the grave, and the evils which discharge may bring range
through countless degrees from slight to serious. The penalty may be
inflicted for a very small offense, and then there is wrong done, or,
after numerous grave offenses, it may not be inflicted, and again there
is wrong done. How shall be determined the degree of transgression
beyond which to discharge is less wrong than not to discharge? In like
manner with the shopkeeper's misdemeanors. No one can sum up either the
amount of positive and negative pain which tolerating them involves,
nor the amount of positive and negative pain involved by not tolerating
them, and in medium cases no one can say where the one exceeds the

In men's wider relations frequently occur circumstances under which a
decision one or other way is imperative, and yet under which not even
the most sensitive conscience, helped by the clearest judgment, can
decide which of the alternatives is relatively right. Two examples will

Here is a merchant who loses by the failure of a man indebted to him.
Unless he gets help he himself will fail, and if he fails he will bring
disaster not only on his family but on all who have given him credit.
Even if by borrowing he is enabled to meet immediate engagements, he
is not safe; for the time is one of panic, and others of his debtors
by going to the wall may put him in further difficulties. Shall he ask
a friend for a loan? On the one hand, is it not wrong forthwith to
bring on himself, his family, and those who have business relations
with him, the evils of his failure? On the other hand, is it not wrong
to hypothecate the property of his friend, and lead him too, with his
belongings and dependents, into similar risks? The loan would probably
tide him over his difficulty, in which case would it not be unjust to
his creditors did he refrain from asking it? Contrariwise, the loan
would very possibly fail to stave off his bankruptcy, in which case is
not his action in trying to obtain it, practically fraudulent? Though,
in extreme cases, it may be easy to say which course is the least
wrong, how is it possible in all those medium cases where even by the
keenest man of business the contingencies cannot be calculated?

Take, again, the difficulties that not unfrequently arise from
antagonism between family duties and social duties. Here is a tenant
farmer whose political principles prompt him to vote in opposition to
his landlord. If, being a Liberal, he votes for a Conservative, not
only does he by his act say that he thinks what he does not think, but
he may perhaps assist what he regards as bad legislation: his vote
may by chance turn the election, and on a Parliamentary division a
single member may decide the fate of a measure. Even neglecting, as too
improbable, such serious consequences, there is the manifest truth that
if all who hold like views with himself are similarly deterred from
electoral expression of them, there must result a different balance of
power and a different national policy; making it clear that only by
adherence of all to their political principles can the policy he thinks
right be maintained. But now, on the other hand, how can he absolve
himself from responsibility for the evils which those depending on him
may suffer if he fulfills what appears to be a peremptory public duty?
Is not his duty to his children even more peremptory? Does not the
family precede the State; and does not the welfare of the State depend
on the welfare of the family? May he, then, take a course which, if
the threats uttered are carried out, will eject him from his farm; and
so cause inability, perhaps temporary, perhaps prolonged; to feed his
children. The contingent evils are infinitely varied in their ratios.
In one case the imperativeness of the public duty is great and the
evil that may come on dependents small; in another case the political
issue is of trivial moment and the possible injury which the family may
suffer is great; and between these extremes there are all gradations.
Further, the degrees of probability of each result, public and private,
range from the nearly certain to the almost impossible. Admitting,
then, that it is wrong to act in a way likely to injure the State; and
admitting that it is wrong to act in a way likely to injure the family,
we have to recognize the fact that in countless cases no one can decide
by which of the alternative courses the least wrong is likely to be

These instances will sufficiently show that in conduct at large,
including men's dealings with themselves, with their families, with
their friends, with their debtors and creditors, and with the public,
it usually happens that whatever course is taken entails some pain
somewhere; forming a deduction from the pleasure achieved, and making
the course in so far not absolutely right. Further, they will show that
throughout a considerable part of conduct, no guiding principle, no
method of estimation, enables us to say whether a proposed course is
even relatively right; as causing, proximately and remotely, specially
and generally, the greatest surplus of good over evil.

§ 104. And now we are prepared for dealing in a systematic way with the
distinction between Absolute Ethics and Relative Ethics.

Scientific truths, of whatever order, are reached by eliminating
perturbing or conflicting factors, and recognizing only fundamental
factors. When, by dealing with fundamental factors in the abstract, not
as presented in actual phenomena, but as presented in ideal separation,
general laws have been ascertained, it becomes possible to draw
inferences in concrete cases by taking into account incidental factors.
But it is only by first ignoring these and recognizing the essential
elements alone that we can discover the essential truths sought. Take,
in illustration, the progress of mechanics from its empirical form to
its rational form.

All have occasional experience of the fact that a person pushed on
one side beyond a certain degree loses his balance and falls. It is
observed that a stone flung, or an arrow shot, does not proceed in a
straight line, but comes to the earth after pursuing a course which
deviates more and more from its original course. When trying to break
a stick across the knee, it is found that success is easier if the
stick is seized at considerable distances from the knee on each side
than if seized close to the knee. Daily use of a spear draws attention
to the truth that by thrusting its point under a stone and depressing
the shaft, the stone may be raised the more readily the further
away the hand is toward the end. Here, then, are sundry experiences,
eventually grouped into empirical generalizations, which serve to guide
conduct in certain simple cases. How does mechanical science evolve
from these experiences? To reach a formula expressing the powers of
the lever, it supposes a lever which does not, like the stick, admit
of being bent, but is absolutely rigid, and it supposes a fulcrum
not having a broad surface, like that of one ordinarily used, but a
fulcrum without breadth, and it supposes that the weight to be raised
bears on a definite point, instead of bearing over a considerable
portion of the lever. Similarly with the leaning body, which, passing
a certain inclination, overbalances. Before the truth respecting the
relations of center of gravity and base can be formulated, it must be
assumed that the surface on which the body stands is unyielding, that
the edge of the body itself is unyielding, and that its mass, while
made to lean more and more, does not change its form--conditions not
fulfilled in the cases commonly observed. And so, too, is it with the
projectile: determination of its course by deduction from mechanical
laws, primarily ignores all deviations caused by its shape and by the
resistance of the air. The science of rational mechanics is a science
which consists of such ideal truths, and can come into existence
only by thus dealing with ideal cases. It remains impossible so long
as attention is restricted to concrete cases presenting all the
complications of friction, plasticity and so forth.

But now, after disentangling certain fundamental mechanical truths, it
becomes possible by their help to guide actions better, and it becomes
possible to guide them still better when, as presently happens, the
complicating elements from which they have been disentangled are
themselves taken into account. At an advanced stage the modifying
effects of friction are allowed for, and the inferences are qualified
to the requisite extent. The theory of the pulley is corrected in its
application to actual cases by recognizing the rigidity of cordage;
the effects of which are formulated. The stabilities of masses,
determinable in the abstract by reference to the centers of gravity
of the masses in relation to the bases, come to be determined in the
concrete by including also their characters in respect of cohesion. The
courses of projectiles, having been theoretically settled as though
they moved through a vacuum, are afterward settled in more exact
correspondence with fact by taking into account atmospheric resistance.

And thus we see illustrated the relation between certain absolute
truths of mechanical science, and certain relative truths which involve
them. We are shown that no scientific establishment of relative
truths is possible until the absolute truths have been formulated
independently. We see that mechanical science, fitted for dealing with
the real, can arise only after ideal mechanical science has arisen.

All this holds of moral science. As by early and rude experiences
there were inductively reached, vague but partially true notions
respecting the overbalancing of bodies, the motions of missiles,
the actions of levers; so by early and rude experiences there were
inductively reached, vague but partially true notions respecting
the effects of men's behavior on themselves, on one another, and on
society: to a certain extent serving in the last case, as in the
first, for the guidance of conduct. Moreover, as this rudimentary
mechanical knowledge, though still remaining empirical, becomes
during early stages of civilization at once more definite and more
extensive; so during early stages of civilization these ethical ideas,
still retaining their empirical character, increase in precision and
multiplicity. But just as we have seen that mechanical knowledge
of the empirical sort can evolve into mechanical science only by
first omitting all, qualifying circumstances, and generalizing in
absolute ways the fundamental laws of forces; so here we have to see
that empirical ethics can evolve into rational ethics only by first
neglecting all complicating incidents, and formulating the laws of
right action apart from the obscuring effects of special conditions.
And the final implication is that just as the system of mechanical
truths, conceived in ideal separation as absolute, becomes applicable
to real mechanical problems in such way that making allowance for all
incidental circumstances there can be reached conclusions far nearer
to the truth than could otherwise be reached; so a system of ideal
ethical truths, expressing the absolutely right, will be applicable to
the questions of our transitional state in such ways that, allowing for
the friction of an incomplete life and the imperfection of existing
natures, we may ascertain with approximate correctness what is the
relatively right.

§ 105. In a chapter entitled "Definition of Morality" in _Social
Statics_, I contended that the moral law, properly so-called, is
the law of the perfect man--is the formula of ideal conduct--is the
statement in all cases of that which should be, and cannot recognize
in its propositions any elements implying existence of that which
should not be. Instancing questions concerning the right course to
be taken in cases where wrong has already been done, I alleged that
the answers to such questions cannot be given "on purely ethical
principles." I argued that:

  "No conclusions can lay claim to absolute truth, but such as depend
  upon truths that are themselves absolute. Before there can be
  exactness in an inference, there must be exactness in the antecedent
  propositions. A geometrician requires that the straight lines with
  which he deals shall be veritably straight; and that his circles, and
  ellipses, and parabolas shall agree with precise definitions--shall
  perfectly and invariably answer to specified equations. If you put
  to him a question in which these conditions are not complied with,
  he tells you that it cannot be answered. So likewise is it with the
  philosophical moralist. He treats solely of the _straight_ man. He
  determines the properties of the straight man; describes how the
  straight man comports himself; shows in what relationship he stands
  to other straight men; shows how a community of straight men is
  constituted. Any deviation from strict rectitude he is obliged wholly
  to ignore. It cannot be admitted into his premises without vitiating
  all his conclusions. A problem in which a _crooked_ man forms one of
  the elements is insoluble to him."

Referring to this view, specifically in the first edition of the
_Methods of Ethics_, but more generally in the second edition, Mr.
Sidgwick says:

  "Those who take this view adduce the analogy of Geometry to show that
  Ethics ought to deal with ideally perfect human relations, just as
  Geometry treats of ideally perfect lines and circles. But the most
  irregular line has definite spatial relations with which Geometry
  does not refuse to deal: though of course they are more complex
  than those of a straight line. So in Astronomy, it would be more
  convenient for purposes of study if the stars moved in circles, as
  was once believed; but the fact that they move not in circles but in
  ellipses, and even in imperfect and perturbed ellipses, does not take
  them out of the sphere of scientific investigation: by patience and
  industry we have learned how to reduce to principles and calculate
  even these more complicated motions. It is, no doubt, a convenient
  artifice for purposes of instruction to assume that the planets
  move in perfect ellipses (or even--at an earlier stage of study--in
  circles): we thus allow the individual's knowledge to pass through
  the same gradations in accuracy as that of the race has done. But
  what we want, as astronomers, to know is the actual motion of the
  stars and its causes: and similarly as moralists we naturally inquire
  what ought to be done in the actual world in which we live." (P. 19,
  Sec. Ed.)

Beginning with the first of these two statements, which concerns
Geometry, I must confess myself surprised to find my propositions
called into question; and after full consideration I remain at a loss
to understand Mr. Sidgwick's mode of viewing the matter. When, in a
sentence preceding those quoted above, I remarked on the impossibility
of solving "mathematically a series of problems respecting crooked
lines and broken-backed curves," it never occurred to me that I should
be met by the direct assertion that "Geometry does not refuse to deal"
with "the most irregular line." Mr. Sidgwick states that an irregular
line, say such as a child makes in scribbling, has "definite spatial
relations." What meaning does he here give to the word "definite?"
If he means that its relations to space at large are definite in the
sense that by an infinite intelligence they would be definable, the
reply is that to an infinite intelligence all spatial relations would
be definable: there could be no indefinite spatial relations--the word
"definite" thus ceasing to mark any distinction. If, on the other hand,
when saying that an irregular line has "definite spatial relations,"
he means relations knowable definitely by human intelligence, there
still comes the question, how is the word "definite" to be understood?
Surely anything distinguished as definite admits of being defined;
but how can we define an irregular line? And if we cannot define
the irregular line itself, how can we know its "spatial relations"
definite? And how, in the absence of definition, can Geometry deal with
it? If Mr. Sidgwick means that it can be dealt with by the "method of
limits," then the reply is that in such case, not the line itself is
dealt with geometrically, but certain definite lines artificially put
in quasi-definite relations to it, the indefinite becomes cognizable
only through the medium of the hypothetically definite.

Turning to the second illustration, the rejoinder to be made is that in
so far as it concerns the relations between the ideal and the real, the
analogy drawn does not shake but strengthens my argument. For whether
considered under its geometrical or under its dynamical aspect, and
whether considered in the necessary order of its development or in the
order historically displayed, Astronomy shows us throughout that truths
respecting simple, theoretically-exact relations, must be ascertained
before truths respecting the complex and practically inexact
relations that actually exist can be ascertained. As applied to the
interpretation of planetary movements, we see that the theory of cycles
and epicycles was based on pre-existing knowledge of the circle: the
properties of an ideal curve having been learned, a power was acquired
of giving some expression to the celestial motions. We see that the
Copernican interpretation expressed the facts in terms of circular
movements otherwise distributed and combined. We see that Kepler's
advance from the conception of circular movements to the conception
of elliptic movements was made possible by comparing the facts as they
are with the facts as they would be were the movements circular. We
see that the subsequently-learned deviations from elliptic movements
were learned only through the presupposition that the movements are
elliptical. And we see, lastly, that even now predictions concerning
the exact positions of planets, after taking account of perturbations,
imply constant references to ellipses that are regarded as their normal
or average orbits for the time being. Thus, ascertainment of the actual
truths has been made possible only by preascertainment of certain ideal
truths. To be convinced that by no other course could the actual truths
have been ascertained, it needs only to suppose any one saying that
it did not concern him, as an astronomer, to know anything about the
properties of circles and ellipses, but that he had to deal with the
Solar System as it exists, to which end it was his business to observe
and tabulate positions and directions and to be guided by the facts as
he found them.

So, too, is it if we look at the development of dynamical astronomy.
The first proposition in Newton's _Principia_ deals with the movement
of a single body round a single center of force; and the phenomena
of central motion are first formulated in a case which is not simply
ideal, but in which there is no specification of the force concerned:
detachment from the real is the greatest possible. Again, postulating
a principle of action conforming to an ideal law, the theory of
gravitation deals with the several problems of the Solar System in
fictitious detachment from the rest; and it makes certain fictitious
assumptions, such as that the mass of each body concerned is
concentrated in its center of gravity. Only later, after establishing
the leading truths by this artifice of disentangling the major factors
from the minor factors, is the theory applied to the actual problems in
their ascending degrees of complexity; taking in more and more of the
minor factors. And if we ask whether the dynamics of the Solar System
could have been established in any other way, we see that here, too,
simple truths holding under ideal conditions, have to be ascertained
before real truths existing under complex conditions can be ascertained.

The alleged necessary precedence of Absolute Ethics over Relative
Ethics is thus, I think, further elucidated. One who has followed the
general argument thus far, will not deny that an ideal social being
may be conceived as so constituted that his spontaneous activities
are congruous with the conditions imposed by the social environment
formed by other such beings. In many places, and in various ways, I
have argued that conformably with the laws of evolution in general,
and conformably with the laws of organization in particular, there has
been, and is, in progress, an adaptation of humanity to the social
state, changing it in the direction of such an ideal congruity. And the
corollary before drawn and here repeated, is that the ultimate man is
one in whom this process has gone so far as to produce a correspondence
between all the promptings of his nature and all the requirements of
his life as carried on in society. If so it is a necessary implication
that there exists an ideal code of conduct formulating the behavior
of the completely adapted man in the completely evolved society.
Such a code is that here called Absolute Ethics as distinguished
from Relative Ethics--a code the injunctions of which are alone to
be considered as absolutely right in contrast with those that are
relatively right or least wrong; and which, as a system of ideal
conduct, is to serve as a standard for our guidance in solving, as well
as we can, the problems of real conduct.

§ 105. A clear conception of this matter is so important that I must
be excused for bringing in aid of it a further illustration, more
obviously appropriate as being furnished by organic science instead
of by inorganic science. The relation between morality proper and
morality, as commonly conceived, is analogous to the relation between
physiology and pathology; and the course usually pursued by moralists
is much like the course of one who studies pathology without previous
study of physiology.

Physiology describes the various functions which, as combined,
constitute and maintain life; and in treating of them it assumes that
they are severally performed in right ways, in due amounts, and in
proper order; it recognizes only healthy functions. If it explains
digestion, it supposes that the heart is supplying blood and that
the visceral nervous system is stimulating the organs immediately
concerned. If it gives a theory of the circulation, it assumes that
blood has been produced by the combined actions of the structures
devoted to its production, and that it is properly ærated. If the
relations between respiration and the vital processes at large are
interpreted, it is on the presupposition that the heart goes on sending
blood, not only to the lungs and to certain nervous centers, but to the
diaphragm and intercostal muscles. Physiology ignores failures in the
actions of these several organs. It takes no account of imperfections,
it neglects derangements, it does not recognize pain, it knows nothing
of vital wrong. It simply formulates that which goes on as a result
of complete adaptation of all parts to all needs. That is to say, in
relation to the inner actions constituting bodily life, physiological
theory has a position like that which ethical theory, under its
absolute form as above conceived, has to the outer actions constituting
conduct. The moment cognizance is taken of excess of function, or
arrest of function, or defect of function, with the resulting evil,
physiology passes into pathology. We begin now to take account of wrong
actions in the inner life analogous to the wrong actions in the outer
life taken account of by ordinary theories of morals.

The antithesis thus drawn, however, is but preliminary. After observing
the fact that there is a science of vital actions normally carried on,
which ignores abnormal actions, we have more especially to observe
that the science of abnormal actions can reach such definiteness as is
possible to it only on condition that the science of normal actions has
previously become definite; or rather, let us say that pathological
science depends for its advances on previous advances made by
physiological science. The very conception of disordered action implies
a preconception of well-ordered action. Before it can be decided that
the heart is beating faster or slower than it should its healthy
rate of beating must be learned; before the pulse can be recognized
as too weak or too strong, its proper strength must be known, and so
throughout. Even the rudest and most empirical ideas of diseases,
pre-suppose ideas of the healthy states from which they are deviations,
and, obviously, the diagnosis of diseases can become scientific only as
fast as there arises scientific knowledge of organic actions that are

Similarly, then, is it with the relation between absolute morality, or
the law of perfect right in human conduct, and relative morality which,
recognizing wrong in human conduct, has to decide in what way the
wrong deviates from the right, and how the right is to be most nearly
approached. When, formulating normal conduct in an ideal society, we
have reached a science of absolute ethics, we have simultaneously
reached a science which, when used to interpret the phenomena of real
societies in their transitional states, full of the miseries due to
non-adaptation (which we may call pathological states) enables us to
form approximately true conclusions respecting the natures of the
abnormalities, and the courses which tend most in the direction of the

§ 106. And now let it be observed that the conception of ethics thus
set forth, strange as many will think it, is one which really lies
latent in the beliefs of moralists at large. Though not definitely
acknowledged it is vaguely implied in many of their propositions.

From early times downward we find in ethical speculations, references
to the ideal man, his acts, his feelings, his judgments. Well-doing
is conceived by Socrates as the doing of "the best man," who, "as a
husbandman, performs well the duties of husbandry; as a surgeon, the
duties of the medical art; in political life, his duty toward the
commonwealth." Plato, in _Minos_, as a standard to which State law
should conform, "postulates the decision of some ideal wise man," and
in _Laches_ the wise man's knowledge of good and evil is supposed to
furnish the standard: disregarding "the maxims of the existing society"
as unscientific, Plato regards as the proper guide, that "Idea of the
Good which only a philosopher can ascend to." Aristotle (_Eth._ Bk.
iii. ch. 4), making the decisions of the good man the standard, says:
"For the good man judges everything rightly, and in every case the
truth appears so to him.... And, perhaps, the principal difference
between the good and the bad man is that the good man sees the truth in
every case, since he is, as it were, the rule and measure of it." The
Stoics, too, conceived of "complete rectitude of action" as that "which
none could achieve except the wise man"--the ideal man. And Epicurus
had an ideal standard. He held the virtuous state to be "a tranquil,
undisturbed, innocuous, non-competitive fruition, which approached most
nearly to the perfect happiness of the gods," who "neither suffered
vexation in themselves nor caused vexation to others."[L]

If, in modern times, influenced by theological dogmas concerning the
fall and human sinfulness, and by a theory of obligation derived from
the current creed, moralists have less frequently referred to an ideal,
yet references are traceable. We see one in the dictum of Kant--"Act
according to the maxim only, which you can wish, at the same time, to
become a universal law." For this implies the thought of a society in
which the maxim is acted upon by all and universal benefit recognized
as the effect: there is a conception of ideal conduct under ideal
conditions. And though Mr. Sidgwick, in the quotation above made from
him, implies that Ethics is concerned with man as he is, rather than
with man as he should be; yet, in elsewhere speaking of Ethics as
dealing with conduct as it should be, rather than with conduct as it
is, he postulates ideal conduct and indirectly the ideal man. On his
first page, speaking of Ethics along with Jurisprudence and Politics,
he says that they are distinguished "by the characteristic that they
attempt to determine not the actual but the ideal--what ought to exist,
not what does exist."

It requires only that these various conceptions of an ideal conduct,
and of an ideal humanity, should be made consistent and definite, to
bring them into agreement with the conception above set forth. At
present such conceptions are habitually vague. The ideal man having
been conceived in terms of the current morality, is thereupon erected
into a moral standard by which the goodness of actions may be judged;
and the reasoning becomes circular. To make the ideal man serve as a
standard, he has to be defined in terms of the conditions which his
nature fulfills--in terms of those objective requirements which must
be met before conduct can be right; and the common defect of these
conceptions of the ideal man is that they suppose him out of relation
to such conditions.

All the above references to him, direct or indirect, imply that
the ideal man is supposed to live and act under existing social
conditions. The tacit inquiry is, not what his actions would be
under circumstances altogether changed, but what they would be under
present circumstances. And this inquiry is futile for two reasons. The
co-existence of a perfect man and an imperfect society is impossible;
and could the two co-exist, the resulting conduct would not furnish the
ethical standard sought.

In the first place, given the laws of life as they are, and a man
of ideal nature cannot be produced in a society consisting of men
having natures remote from the ideal. As well might we expect a child
of English type to be borne among Negroes, as expect that among the
organically immoral, one who is organically moral will arise. Unless
it be denied that character results from inherited structure, it must
be admitted that since, in any society, each individual descends from
a stock which, traced back a few generations, ramifies everywhere
through the society, and participates in its average nature, there
must, notwithstanding marked individual diversities, be preserved such
community as prevents any one from reaching an ideal form while the
rest remain far below it.

In the second place, ideal conduct such as ethical theory is concerned
with, is not possible for the ideal man in the midst of men otherwise
constituted. An absolutely just or perfectly sympathetic person, could
not live and act according to his nature in a tribe of cannibals.
Among people who are treacherous and utterly without scruple, entire
truthfulness and openness must bring ruin. If all around recognize
only the law of the strongest, one whose nature will not allow him to
inflict pain on others, must go to the wall, There requires a certain
congruity between the conduct of each member of a society and other's
conduct. A mode of action entirely alien to the prevailing modes of
action cannot be successfully persisted in--must eventuate in death of
self, or posterity, or both.

Hence it is manifest that we must consider the ideal man as existing in
the ideal social state. On the evolution hypothesis, the two presuppose
one another; and only when they co-exist can there exist that ideal
conduct which Absolute Ethics has to formulate, and which Relative
Ethics has to take as the standard by which to estimate divergencies
from right, or degrees of wrong.



§ 107. At the outset it was shown that as the conduct with which
Ethics deals is a part of conduct at large, conduct at large must be
understood before this part can be understood. After taking a general
view of conduct, not human only but sub-human, and not only as existing
but as evolving, we saw that Ethics has for its subject-matter the most
highly-evolved conduct as displayed by the most highly-evolved being,
Man--is a specification of those traits which his conduct assumes
on reaching its limit of evolution. Conceived thus as comprehending
the laws of right living at large, Ethics has a wider field than is
commonly assigned to it. Beyond the conduct commonly approved or
reprobated as right or wrong, it includes all conduct which furthers
or hinders, in either direct or indirect ways, the welfare of self or

As foregoing chapters in various places imply, the entire field
of Ethics includes the two great divisions, personal and social.
There is a class of actions directed to personal ends, which are
to be judged in their relations to personal well-being, considered
apart from the well-being of others: though they secondarily affect
fellow-men these primarily affect the agent himself, and must be
classed as intrinsically right or wrong according to their beneficial
or detrimental effects on him. There are actions of another class
which affect fellow-men immediately and remotely, and which, though
their results to self are not to be ignored, must be judged as good or
bad mainly by their results to others. Actions of this last class fall
into two groups. Those of the one group achieve ends in ways that do
or do not unduly interfere with the pursuit of ends by others--actions
which, because of this difference, we call respectively unjust or just.
Those forming the other group are of a kind which influence the states
of others without directly interfering with the relations between
their labors and the results, in one way or the other--actions which
we speak of as beneficent or maleficent. And the conduct which we
regard as beneficent is itself subdivisible according as it shows us a
self-repression to avoid giving pain, or an expenditure of effort to
give pleasure--negative beneficence and positive beneficence.

Each of these divisions and sub-divisions has to be considered first as
a part of Absolute Ethics and then as a part of Relative Ethics. Having
seen what its injunctions must be for the ideal man under the implied
ideal conditions, we shall be prepared to see how such injunctions are
to be most nearly fulfilled by actual men under existing conditions.

§ 108. For reasons already pointed out, a code of perfect personal
conduct can never be made definite. Many forms of life, diverging from
one another in considerable degrees, may be so carried on in society
as entirely to fulfill the conditions to harmonious co-operation. And
if various types of men, adapted to various types of activities, may
thus lead lives that are severally complete after their kinds, no
specific statement of the activities universally required for personal
well-being is possible.

But, though, the particular requirements to be fulfilled for perfect
individual well-being, must vary along with variations in the material
conditions of each society, certain general requirements have to be
fulfilled by the individuals of all societies. An average balance
between waste and nutrition has universally to be preserved. Normal
vitality implies a relation between activity and rest falling within
moderate limits of variation. Continuance of the society depends on
satisfaction of those primarily personal needs which result in marriage
and parenthood. Perfection of individual life hence implies certain
modes of action which are approximately alike in all cases, and which,
therefore, become part of the subject matter of Ethics.

That it is possible to reduce even this restricted part to scientific
definiteness, can scarcely be said. But ethical requirements may here
be to such extent affiliated upon physical necessities, as to give
them a partially scientific authority. It is clear that between the
expenditure of bodily substance in vital activities, and the taking
in of materials from which this substance may be renewed, there is a
direct relation. It is clear, too, that there is a direct relation
between the wasting of tissue by effort, and the need for those
cessations of effort during which repair may overtake waste. Nor is
it less clear that between the rate of mortality and the rate of
multiplication in any society, there is a relation such that the last
must reach a certain level before it can balance the first, and prevent
disappearance of the society. And it may be inferred that pursuits of
other leading ends are, in like manner, determined by certain natural
necessities, and from these derive their ethical sanctions. That it
will ever be practicable to lay down precise rules for private conduct
in conformity with such requirements, may be doubted. But the function
of Absolute Ethics in relation to private conduct will have been
discharged when it has produced the warrant for its requirements as
generally expressed; when it has shown the imperativeness of obedience
to them; and when it has thus taught the need for deliberately
considering whether the conduct fulfills them as well may be.

Under the ethics of personal considered in relation to existing
conditions, have to come all questions concerning the degree in which
immediate personal welfare has to be postponed, either to ultimate
personal welfare or to the welfare of others. As now carried on, life
hourly sets the claims of present self against the claims of future
self, and hourly brings individual interests face to face with the
interests of other individuals, taken singly or as associated. In many
of such cases the decisions can be nothing more than compromises; and
ethical science, here necessarily empirical, can do no more than aid
in making compromises that are the least objectionable. To arrive at
the best compromise in any case, implies correct conceptions of the
alternative results of this or that course. And, consequently in so
far as the absolute ethics of individual conduct can be made definite,
it must help us to decide between conflicting personal requirements,
and also between the needs for asserting self and the needs for
subordinating self.

§ 109. From that division of Ethics which deals with the right
regulation of private conduct, considered apart from the effects
directly produced on others, we pass now to that division of Ethics
which, considering exclusively the effects of conduct on others, treats
of the right regulation of it with a view to such effects.

The first set of regulations coming under this head are those
concerning what we distinguish as justice. Individual life is possible
only on condition that each organ is paid for its action by an
equivalent of blood, while the organism as a whole obtains from the
environment assimilable matters that compensate for its efforts; and
the mutual dependence of parts in the social organism, necessitates
that, alike for its total life and the lives of its units, there
similarly shall be maintained a due proportion between returns and
labors: the natural relation between work and welfare shall be
preserved intact. Justice, which formulates the range of conduct and
limitations to conduct hence arising, is at once the most important
division of Ethics and the division which admits of the greatest
definiteness. That principle of equivalence which meets us when we
seek its roots in the laws of individual life, involves the idea of
_measure_; and on passing to social life, the same principle introduces
us to the conception of equity or _equalness_, in the relations of
citizens to one another: the elements of the questions arising are
_quantitative_, and hence the solutions assume a more scientific form.
Though, having to recognize differences among individuals due to age,
sex, or other cause, we cannot regard the members of a society as
absolutely equal, and therefore cannot deal with problems growing out
of their relations with that precision which absolute equality might
make possible; yet, considering them as approximately equal in virtue
of their common human nature, and dealing with questions of equity on
this supposition, we may reach conclusions of a sufficiently definite

This division of Ethics considered under its absolute form, has to
define the equitable relations among perfect individuals who limit
one another's spheres of action by co-existing, and who achieve their
ends by co-operation. It has to do much more than this. Beyond justice
between man and man, justice between each man and the aggregate of
men has to be dealt with by it. The relations between the individual
and the State, considered as representing all individuals, have to be
deduced--an important and a relatively difficult matter. What is the
ethical warrant for governmental authority? To what ends may it be
legitimately exercised? How far may it rightly be carried? Up to what
point is the citizen bound to recognize the collective decisions of
other citizens, and beyond what point may he properly refuse to obey

These relations, private and public, considered as maintained under
ideal conditions, having been formulated, there come to be dealt with
the analogous relations under real conditions--absolute justice being
the standard, relative justice has to be determined by considering how
near an approach may, under present circumstances, be made to it. As
already implied in various places, it is impossible during stages of
transition which necessitate ever changing compromises, to fulfill the
dictates of absolute equity; and nothing beyond empirical judgments
can be formed of the extent to which they may be, at any given
time, fulfilled. While war continues and injustice is done between
societies, there cannot be anything like complete justice within
each society. Militant organization no less than militant action,
is irreconcilable with pure equity; and the inequity implied by it
inevitably ramifies throughout all social relations. But there is at
every stage in social evolution, a certain range of variation within
which it is possible to approach nearer to, or diverge further from,
the requirements of absolute equity. Hence these requirements have ever
to be kept in view that relative equity may be ascertained.

§ 110. Of the two subdivisions into which beneficence falls, the
negative and the positive, neither can be specialized. Under ideal
conditions the first of them has but a nominal existence; and the
second of them passes largely into a transfigured form admitting of but
general definition.

In the conduct of the ideal man among ideal men, that self-regulation
which has for its motive to avoid giving pain, practically disappears.
No one having feelings which prompt acts that disagreeably affect
others, there can exist no code of restraints referring to this
division of conduct.

But though negative beneficence is only a nominal part of Absolute
Ethics, it is an actual and considerable part of Relative Ethics.
For while men's natures remain imperfectly adapted to social life,
there must continue in them impulses which, causing in some cases
the actions we name unjust, cause in other cases the actions we name
unkind--unkind now in deed and now in word; and in respect of these
modes of behavior which, though not aggressive, give pain, there arise
numerous and complicated problems. Pain is sometimes given to others
simply by maintaining an equitable claim; pain is at other times given
by refusing a request; and again at other times by maintaining an
opinion. In these and numerous cases suggested by them, there have to
be answered the questions whether, to avoid inflicting pain, personal
feelings should be sacrificed, and how far sacrificed. Again, in cases
of another class, pain is given not by a passive course, but by an
active course. How far shall a person who has misbehaved be grieved by
showing aversion to him? Shall one whose action is to be reprobated
have the reprobation expressed to him or shall nothing be said? Is it
right to annoy by condemning a prejudice which another displays? These
and kindred queries have to be answered after taking into account the
immediate pain given, the possible benefit caused by giving it, and
the possible evil caused by not giving it. In solving problems of
this class, the only help Absolute Ethics gives, is by enforcing the
consideration that inflicting more pain than is necessitated by proper
self-regard, or by desire for another's benefit, or by the maintenance
of a general principle is unwarranted.

Of positive beneficence under its absolute form nothing more specific
can be said than that it must become co-extensive with whatever
sphere remains for it; aiding to complete the life of each as a
recipient of services and to exalt the life of each as a renderer of
services. As with a developed humanity the desire for it by every
one will so increase, and the sphere for exercise of it so decrease,
as to involve an altruistic competition, analogous to the existing
egoistic competition, it may be that Absolute Ethics will eventually
include what we before called a higher equity, prescribing the mutual
limitations of altruistic activities.

Under its relative form, positive beneficence presents numerous
problems, alike important and difficult, admitting only of empirical
solutions. How far is self-sacrifice for another's benefit to be
carried in each case?--a question which must be answered differently
according to the character of the other, the needs of the other, and
the various claims of self and belongings which have to be met. To what
extent under given circumstances shall private welfare be subordinated
to public welfare?--a question to be answered after considering
the importance of the end and the seriousness of the sacrifice.
What benefit and what detriment will result from gratuitous aid
yielded to another?--a question in each case implying an estimate of
probabilities. Is there any unfair treatment of sundry others, involved
by more than fair treatment of this one other? Up to what limit may
help be given to the existing generation of the inferior, without
entailing mischief on future generations of the superior? Evidently to
these and many kindred questions included in this division of Relative
Ethics, approximately true answers only can be given.

But though here Absolute Ethics, by the standard it supplies, does not
greatly aid Relative Ethics, yet, as in other cases, it aids somewhat
by keeping before consciousness an ideal conciliation of the various
claims involved; and by suggesting the search for such compromise among
them, as shall not disregard any, but shall satisfy all to the greatest
extent practicable.


[A] _Leviathan_, ch. xv.

[B] I can count up more than a dozen such cases among those personally
well known to me.

[C] _Constitutional Code_, chap. xvi, Supreme Legislative--Section vi.

[D] _Republic_, Bk. ix.

[E] _Nicomachean Ethics_, Bk. i, chap 8.

[F] Bk. x, chap. 7.

[G] This universal requirement it was which I had in view when choosing
for my first work, published in 1850, the title _Social Statics_.

[H] _On Idiocy and Imbecility_, by William W. Ireland, M. D., p. 255-6.

[I] For instances see _Fortnightly Review_, Vol. XXIV (_New Series_),
p. 712.

[J] See Essay on "The Origin and Function of Music."

[K] I do not find this passage in the second edition; but the omission
of it appears to have arisen not from any change of view, but because
it did not naturally come into the recast form of the argument which
the section contains.

[L] Most of these quotations I make from Dr. Bain's _Mental and Moral

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unpaired
quotation marks were retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

There are two Section 14's, 22's and 105's; and no Section 16.

Page 94: "pharynx" was misprinted as "phayrnx".; changed here.

Page 111: "pouring half the night" may be a misprint for "poring".

Page 200: Missing closing quotation mark added after 'a means of
happiness?'. The text from this was quoted ends in a period, not a
question mark.

Page 226: "this all all-important factor" was printed with the word
"all" duplicated and was not corrected.

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