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Title: Principia Ethica
Author: Moore, George Edward
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PRINCIPIA ETHICA



  CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  C. F. CLAY, MANAGER
  LONDON: FETTER LANE, E.C. 4

  [Illustration]

  NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO.
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  CALCUTTA } MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD.
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  TORONTO: THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
  TOKYO: MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



  PRINCIPIA ETHICA

  BY
  GEORGE EDWARD MOORE

  LITT.D. CAMBRIDGE, HON. LL.D. ST ANDREWS,
  FELLOW OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY,
  LECTURER IN MORAL SCIENCE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE


    “Everything is what it is,
    and not another thing”
      BISHOP BUTLER


  CAMBRIDGE
  AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  1922



  _First Edition_ 1903
  _Reprinted_ 1922



  DOCTORIBUS AMICISQUE CANTABRIGIENSIBUS
  DISCIPULUS AMICUS CANTABRIGIENSIS
  PRIMITIAS
  D. D. D.
  AUCTOR



PREFACE.


It appears to me that in Ethics, as in all other philosophical studies,
the difficulties and disagreements, of which its history is full, are
mainly due to a very simple cause: namely to the attempt to answer
questions, without first discovering precisely _what_ question it
is which you desire to answer. I do not know how far this source of
error would be done away, if philosophers would _try_ to discover what
question they were asking, before they set about to answer it; for the
work of analysis and distinction is often very difficult: we may often
fail to make the necessary discovery, even though we make a definite
attempt to do so. But I am inclined to think that in many cases a
resolute attempt would be sufficient to ensure success; so that, if
only this attempt were made, many of the most glaring difficulties
and disagreements in philosophy would disappear. At all events,
philosophers seem, in general, not to make the attempt; and, whether in
consequence of this omission or not, they are constantly endeavouring
to prove that ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ will answer questions, to which _neither_
answer is correct, owing to the fact that what they have before their
minds is not one question, but several, to some of which the true
answer is ‘No,’ to others ‘Yes.’

I have tried in this book to distinguish clearly two kinds of question,
which moral philosophers have always professed to answer, but which,
as I have tried to shew, they have almost always confused both with one
another and with other questions. These two questions may be expressed,
the first in the form: What kind of things ought to exist for their
own sakes? the second in the form: What kind of actions ought we to
perform? I have tried to shew exactly what it is that we ask about a
thing, when we ask whether it ought to exist for its own sake, is good
in itself or has intrinsic value; and exactly what it is that we ask
about an action, when we ask whether we ought to do it, whether it is a
right action or a duty.

But from a clear insight into the nature of these two questions, there
appears to me to follow a second most important result: namely, what
is the nature of the evidence, by which alone any ethical proposition
can be proved or disproved, confirmed or rendered doubtful. Once we
recognise the exact meaning of the two questions, I think it also
becomes plain exactly what kind of reasons are relevant as arguments
for or against any particular answer to them. It becomes plain that,
for answers to the _first_ question, no relevant evidence whatever
can be adduced: from no other truth, except themselves alone, can it
be inferred that they are either true or false. We can guard against
error only by taking care, that, when we try to answer a question of
this kind, we have before our minds that question only, and not some
other or others; but that there is great danger of such errors of
confusion I have tried to shew, and also what are the chief precautions
by the use of which we may guard against them. As for the _second_
question, it becomes equally plain, that any answer to it _is_ capable
of proof or disproof--that, indeed, so many different considerations
are relevant to its truth or falsehood, as to make the attainment of
probability very difficult, and the attainment of certainty impossible.
Nevertheless the _kind_ of evidence, which is both necessary and alone
relevant to such proof and disproof, is capable of exact definition.
Such evidence must contain propositions of two kinds and of two kinds
only: it must consist, in the first place, of truths with regard to
the results of the action in question--of _causal_ truths--but it must
_also_ contain ethical truths of our first or self-evident class. Many
truths of both kinds are necessary to the proof that any action ought
to be done; and any other kind of evidence is wholly irrelevant. It
follows that, if any ethical philosopher offers for propositions of
the first kind any evidence whatever, or if, for propositions of the
second kind, he either fails to adduce both causal and ethical truths,
or adduces truths that are neither, his reasoning has not the least
tendency to establish his conclusions. But not only are his conclusions
totally devoid of weight: we have, moreover, reason to suspect him
of the error of confusion; since the offering of irrelevant evidence
generally indicates that the philosopher who offers it has had before
his mind, not the question which he professes to answer, but some other
entirely different one. Ethical discussion, hitherto, has perhaps
consisted chiefly in reasoning of this totally irrelevant kind.

One main object of this book may, then, be expressed by slightly
changing one of Kant’s famous titles. I have endeavoured to write
‘Prolegomena to any future Ethics that can possibly pretend to be
scientific.’ In other words, I have endeavoured to discover what are
the fundamental principles of ethical reasoning; and the establishment
of these principles, rather than of any conclusions which may be
attained by their use, may be regarded as my main object. I have,
however, also attempted, in Chapter VI, to present some conclusions,
with regard to the proper answer of the question ‘What is good in
itself?’ which are very different from any which have commonly been
advocated by philosophers. I have tried to define the classes within
which all great goods and evils fall; and I have maintained that very
many different things are good and evil in themselves, and that
neither class of things possesses any other property which is both
common to all its members and peculiar to them.

In order to express the fact that ethical propositions of my _first_
class are incapable of proof or disproof, I have sometimes followed
Sidgwick’s usage in calling them ‘Intuitions.’ But I beg it may be
noticed that I am not an ‘Intuitionist,’ in the ordinary sense of
the term. Sidgwick himself seems never to have been clearly aware
of the immense importance of the difference which distinguishes his
Intuitionism from the common doctrine, which has generally been called
by that name. The Intuitionist proper is distinguished by maintaining
that propositions of my _second_ class--propositions which assert that
a certain action is _right_ or a _duty_--are incapable of proof or
disproof by any enquiry into the results of such actions. I, on the
contrary, am no less anxious to maintain that propositions of _this_
kind are _not_ ‘Intuitions,’ than to maintain that propositions of my
_first_ class _are_ Intuitions.

Again, I would wish it observed that, when I call such propositions
‘Intuitions,’ I mean _merely_ to assert that they are incapable of
proof; I imply nothing whatever as to the manner or origin of our
cognition of them. Still less do I imply (as most Intuitionists have
done) that any proposition whatever is true, _because_ we cognise it in
a particular way or by the exercise of any particular faculty: I hold,
on the contrary, that in every way in which it is possible to cognise a
true proposition, it is also possible to cognise a false one.

When this book had been already completed, I found, in Brentano’s
‘Origin of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong[1],’ opinions far more
closely resembling my own, than those of any other ethical writer with
whom I am acquainted. Brentano appears to agree with me completely
(1) in regarding all ethical propositions as defined by the fact that
they predicate a single unique objective concept; (2) in dividing such
propositions sharply into the same two kinds; (3) in holding that the
first kind are incapable of proof; and (4) with regard to the kind of
evidence which is necessary and relevant to the proof of the second
kind. But he regards the fundamental ethical concept as being, not
the simple one which I denote by ‘good,’ but the complex one which I
have taken to define ‘beautiful’; and he does not recognise, but even
denies by implication, the principle which I have called _the principle
of organic unities_. In consequence of these two differences, his
conclusions as to what things are good in themselves, also differ very
materially from mine. He agrees, however, that there are many different
goods, and that the love of good and beautiful objects constitutes an
important class among them.

  [1] ‘The Origin of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong.’ By Franz
  Brentano. English Translation by Cecil Hague. Constable, 1902.--I
  have written a review of this book, which will, I hope, appear
  in the _International Journal of Ethics_ for October, 1903. I
  may refer to this review for a fuller account of my reasons for
  disagreeing with Brentano.

I wish to refer to one oversight, of which I became aware only when
it was too late to correct it, and which may, I am afraid, cause
unnecessary trouble to some readers. I have omitted to discuss directly
the mutual relations of the several different notions, which are
all expressed by the word ‘end.’ The consequences of this omission
may perhaps be partially avoided by a reference to my article on
‘Teleology’ in Baldwin’s _Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology_.

If I were to rewrite my work now, I should make a very different, and
I believe that I could make a much better book. But it may be doubted
whether, in attempting to satisfy myself, I might not merely render
more obscure the ideas which I am most anxious to convey, without a
corresponding gain in completeness and accuracy. However that may be,
my belief that to publish the book as it stands was probably the best
thing I could do, does not prevent me from being painfully aware that
it is full of defects.

TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
_August_, 1903.


[This book is now reprinted without any alteration whatever, except
that a few misprints and grammatical mistakes have been corrected. It
is reprinted, because I am still in agreement with its main tendency
and conclusions; and it is reprinted without alteration, because I
found that, if I were to begin correcting what in it seemed to me to
need correction, I could not stop short of rewriting the whole book.

  G. E. M.]

CAMBRIDGE, 1922.



TABLE OF CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER I.

  THE SUBJECT-MATTER OF ETHICS.

  A.

  SECTION.                                                          PAGE

  =1.= In order to define Ethics, we must discover what is both
  common and peculiar to all undoubted ethical judgments;              1

  =2.= but this is not that they are concerned with human
  conduct, but that they are concerned with a certain predicate
  ‘good,’ and its converse ‘bad,’ which may be applied both to
  conduct and to other things.                                         1

  =3.= The subjects of the judgments of a scientific Ethics are
  not, like those of some studies, ‘particular things’;                3

  =4.= but it includes all _universal_ judgments which assert
  the relation of ‘goodness’ to any subject, and hence includes
  Casuistry.                                                           3

  B.

  =5.= It must, however, enquire not only what things are
  universally related to goodness, but also, what this predicate,
  to which they are related, is:                                       5

  =6.= and the answer to this question is that it is indefinable       6

  =7.= or simple: for if by definition be meant the analysis of
  an object of thought, only complex objects can be defined;           7

  =8.= and of the three senses in which ‘definition’ can be used,
  this is the most important.                                          8

  =9.= What is thus indefinable is not ‘the good,’ or the whole
  of that which always possesses the predicate ‘good,’ but this
  predicate itself.                                                    8

  =10.= ‘Good,’ then, denotes one unique simple object of thought
  among innumerable others; but this object has very commonly
  been identified with some other--a fallacy which may be called
  ‘the naturalistic fallacy’                                           9

  =11.= and which reduces what is used as a fundamental principle
  of Ethics either to a tautology or to a statement about the
  meaning of a word.                                                  10

  =12.= The nature of this fallacy is easily recognised;              12

  =13.= and if it were avoided, it would be plain that the only
  alternatives to the admission that ‘good’ is indefinable, are
  either that it is complex or that there is no notion at all
  peculiar to Ethics--alternatives which can only be refuted by
  an appeal to inspection, but which can be so refuted.               15

  =14.= The ‘naturalistic fallacy’ illustrated by Bentham; and
  the importance of avoiding it pointed out.                          17

  C.

  =15.= The relations which ethical judgments assert to hold
  universally between ‘goodness’ and other things are of two
  kinds: a thing may be asserted either to _be_ good itself or to
  be causally related to something else which is itself good--to
  be ‘good as a means.’                                               21

  =16.= Our investigations of the latter kind of relation cannot
  hope to establish more than that a certain kind of action will
  _generally_ be followed by the best possible results;               22

  =17.= but a relation of the former kind, if true at all,
  will be true of all cases. All ordinary ethical judgments
  assert _causal_ relations, but they are commonly treated as
  if they did not, because the two kinds of relation are not
  distinguished.                                                      23

  D.

  =18.= The investigation of intrinsic values is complicated by
  the fact that the value of a whole may be different from the
  sum of the values of its parts,                                     27

  =19.= in which case the part has to the whole a relation, which
  exhibits an equally important difference from and resemblance
  to that of means to end.                                            29

  =20.= The term ‘organic whole’ might well be used to denote
  that a whole has this property, since, of the two other
  properties which it is commonly used to imply,                      30

  =21.= one that of reciprocal causal dependence between parts,
  has no necessary relation to this one,                              31

  =22.= and the other, upon which most stress has been laid, can
  be true of no whole whatsoever, being a self-contradictory
  conception due to confusion.                                        33

  =23.= Summary of chapter.                                           36


  CHAPTER II.

  NATURALISTIC ETHICS.

  =24.= This and the two following chapters will consider certain
  proposed answers to the second of ethical questions: What is
  _good in itself_? These proposed answers are characterised by
  the facts (1) that they declare some _one_ kind of thing to be
  alone good in itself; and (2) that they do so, because they
  suppose this _one_ thing to define the meaning of ‘good.’           37

  =25.= Such theories may be divided into two groups (1)
  Metaphysical, (2) Naturalistic: and the second group may be
  subdivided into two others, (_a_) theories which declare some
  natural object, other than pleasure, to be sole good, (_b_)
  Hedonism. The present chapter will deal with (_a_).                 38

  =26.= Definition of what is meant by ‘Naturalism.’                  39

  =27.= The common argument that things are good, because they
  are ‘natural,’ may involve either (1) the false proposition
  that the ‘normal,’ as such, is good;                                41

  =28.= or (2) the false proposition that the ‘necessary,’ as
  such, is good.                                                      44

  =29.= But a _systematised_ appeal to Nature is now most
  prevalent in connection with the term ‘Evolution.’ An
  examination of Mr Herbert Spencer’s Ethics will illustrate this
  form of Naturalism.                                                 45

  =30.= Darwin’s scientific theory of ‘natural selection,’ which
  has mainly caused the modern vogue of the term ‘Evolution,’
  must be carefully distinguished from certain ideas which are
  commonly associated with the latter term.                           47

  =31.= Mr Spencer’s connection of Evolution with Ethics seems to
  shew the influence of the naturalistic fallacy;                     48

  =32.= but Mr Spencer is vague as to the ethical relations of
  ‘pleasure’ and ‘evolution,’ and his Naturalism may be mainly
  Naturalistic Hedonism.                                              49

  =33.= A discussion of the third chapter of the _Data of Ethics_
  serves to illustrate these two points and to shew that Mr
  Spencer is in utter confusion with regard to the fundamental
  principles of Ethics.                                               51

  =34.= Three possible views as to the relation of Evolution to
  Ethics are distinguished from the naturalistic view to which
  it is proposed to confine the name ‘Evolutionistic Ethics.’ On
  any of these three views the relation would be unimportant, and
  the ‘Evolutionistic’ view, which makes it important, involves a
  double fallacy.                                                     54

  =35.= Summary of chapter.                                           58


  CHAPTER III.

  HEDONISM.

  =36.= The prevalence of Hedonism is mainly due to the
  naturalistic fallacy.                                               59

  =37.= Hedonism may be defined as the doctrine that ‘Pleasure is
  the sole good’: this doctrine has always been held by Hedonists
  and used by them as a fundamental ethical principle, although
  it has commonly been confused with others.                          61

  =38.= The method pursued in this chapter will consist in
  exposing the reasons commonly offered for the truth of Hedonism
  and in bringing out the reasons, which suffice to shew it
  untrue, by a criticism of J. S. Mill & H. Sidgwick.                 63

  A.

  =39.= Mill declares that ‘Happiness is the only thing desirable
  as an end,’ and insists that ‘Questions of ultimate ends are
  not amenable to direct proof’;                                      64

  =40.= yet he gives a proof of the first proposition, which
  consists in (1) the fallacious confusion of ‘desirable’ with
  ‘desired,’                                                          66

  =41.= (2) an attempt to shew that nothing but pleasure is
  desired.                                                            67

  =42.= The theory that nothing but pleasure is desired seems
  largely due to a confusion between the _cause_ and the _object_
  of desire: pleasure is certainly not the sole _object_ of
  desire, and, even if it is always among the _causes_ of desire,
  that fact would not tempt anyone to think it a good.                68

  =43.= Mill attempts to reconcile his doctrine that pleasure is
  the sole object of desire with his admission that other things
  are desired, by the absurd declaration that what is a means to
  happiness is ‘part’ of happiness.                                   71

  =44.= Summary of Mill’s argument and of my criticism.               72

  B.

  =45.= We must now proceed to consider the principle of Hedonism
  as an ‘Intuition,’ as which it has been clearly recognised
  by Prof. Sidgwick alone. That it should be thus incapable of
  _proof_ is not, in itself, any reason for dissatisfaction.          74

  =46.= In thus beginning to consider what things are good in
  themselves, we leave the refutation of Naturalism behind, and
  enter on the second division of ethical questions.                  76

  =47.= Mill’s doctrine that some pleasures are superior ‘in
  quality’ to others implies both (1) that judgments of ends must
  be ‘intuitions’;                                                    77

  =48.= and (2) that pleasure is _not_ the sole good.                 79

  =49.= Prof. Sidgwick has avoided these confusions made by
  Mill: in considering his arguments we shall, therefore, merely
  consider the question ‘Is pleasure the sole good?’                  81

  =50.= Prof. Sidgwick first tries to shew that nothing outside
  of Human Existence can be good. Reasons are given for doubting
  this.                                                               81

  =51.= He then goes on to the far more important proposition
  that no part of Human Existence, except pleasure, is desirable.     85

  =52.= But _pleasure_ must be distinguished from _consciousness
  of pleasure_, and (1) it is plain that, when so distinguished,
  _pleasure_ is not the sole good;                                    87

  =53.= and (2) it may be made equally plain that _consciousness
  of pleasure_ is not the sole good, if we are equally careful to
  distinguish it from its usual accompaniments.                       90

  =54.= Of Prof. Sidgwick’s two arguments for the contrary view,
  the second is equally compatible with the supposition that
  pleasure is a mere _criterion_ of what is _right_;                  91

  =55.= and in his first, the appeal to reflective intuition,
  he fails to put the question clearly (1) in that he does not
  recognise the principle of _organic unities_;                       92

  =56.= and (2) in that he fails to emphasize that the agreement,
  which he has tried to shew, between hedonistic judgments and
  those of Common Sense, only holds of _judgments of means_:
  hedonistic judgments of _ends_ are flagrantly paradoxical.          94

  =57.= I conclude, then, that a reflective intuition, if proper
  precautions are taken, will agree with Common Sense that it is
  absurd to regard mere consciousness of pleasure as the sole
  good.                                                               95

  C.

  =58.= It remains to consider Egoism and Utilitarianism. It
  is important to distinguish the former, as the doctrine that
  ‘my own pleasure is sole good,’ from the doctrine, opposed to
  Altruism, that to pursue my own pleasure exclusively is right
  _as a means_.                                                       96

  =59.= Egoism proper is utterly untenable, being
  self-contradictory: it fails to perceive that when I declare
  a thing to be my own good, I must be declaring it to be _good
  absolutely_ or else not good at all.                                97

  =60.= This confusion is further brought out by an examination
  of Prof. Sidgwick’s contrary view;                                  99

  =61.= and it is shewn that, in consequence of this confusion,
  his representation of ‘the relation of Rational Egoism to
  Rational Benevolence’ as ‘the profoundest problem of Ethics,’
  and his view that a certain hypothesis is required to ‘make
  Ethics rational,’ are grossly erroneous.                           102

  =62.= The same confusion is involved in the attempt to infer
  Utilitarianism from Psychological Hedonism, as commonly held,
  _e.g._ by Mill.                                                    104

  =63.= Egoism proper seems also to owe its plausibility to its
  confusion with Egoism, as a doctrine of means.                     105

  =64.= Certain ambiguities in the conception of Utilitarianism
  are noticed; and it is pointed out (1) that, as a doctrine
  of the end to be pursued, it is finally refuted by the
  refutation of Hedonism, and (2) that, while the arguments most
  commonly urged in its favour could, at most, only shew it to
  offer a correct _criterion_ of right action, they are quite
  insufficient even for this purpose.                                105

  =65.= Summary of chapter.                                          108


  CHAPTER IV.

  METAPHYSICAL ETHICS.

  A.

  =66.= The term ‘metaphysical’ is defined as having reference
  primarily to any object of knowledge which is not a part of
  Nature--does not exist in time, as an object of perception; but
  since metaphysicians, not content with pointing out the truth
  about such entities, have always supposed that what does not
  exist in Nature, must, at least, _exist_, the term also has
  reference to a supposed ‘supersensible reality’:                   110

  =67.= and by ‘metaphysical Ethics’ I mean those systems which
  maintain or imply that the answer to the question ‘What is
  good?’ _logically depends_ upon the answer to the question
  ‘What is the nature of supersensible reality?.’ All such
  systems obviously involve the same fallacy--the ‘naturalistic
  fallacy’--by the use of which Naturalism was also defined.         113

  =68.= Metaphysics, as dealing with a ‘supersensible reality,’
  may have a bearing upon _practical_ Ethics (1) if its
  supersensible reality is conceived as something future, which
  our actions can affect; and (2) since it will prove that
  _every_ proposition of practical Ethics is false, if it can
  shew that an eternal reality is either the only real thing
  or the only good thing. Most metaphysical writers, believing
  in a reality of the latter kind, do thus imply the complete
  falsehood of every practical proposition, although they fail to
  see that their Metaphysics thus contradicts their Ethics.          115

  B.

  =69.= But the theory, by which I have defined Metaphysical
  Ethics, is _not_ that Metaphysics has a logical bearing upon
  the question involved in _practical_ Ethics ‘What effects will
  my action produce?,’ but that it has such a bearing upon the
  fundamental ethical question ‘What is good in itself?.’ This
  theory has been refuted by the proof, in Chap. I, that the
  naturalistic fallacy is a fallacy: it only remains to discuss
  certain confusions which seem to have lent it plausibility.        118

  =70.= One such source of confusion seems to lie in the failure
  to distinguish between the proposition ‘This is good,’ when
  it means ‘This _existing_ thing is good,’ and the same
  proposition, when it means ‘The existence of this _kind_ of
  thing would be good’;                                              118

  =71.= and another seems to lie in the failure to distinguish
  between that which _suggests_ a truth, or is a _cause_ of
  our knowing it, and that upon which it _logically_ depends,
  or which is a _reason_ for believing it: in the former
  sense fiction has a more important bearing upon Ethics than
  Metaphysics can have.                                              121

  C.

  =72.= But a more important source of confusion seems to lie
  in the supposition that ‘to be good’ is _identical_ with the
  possession of some supersensible property, which is also
  involved in the definition of ‘reality.’                           122

  =73.= One cause of this supposition seems to be the logical
  prejudice that all propositions are of the most familiar
  type--that in which subject and predicate are both existents.      123

  =74.= But ethical propositions cannot be reduced to this type:
  in particular, they are obviously to be distinguished              125

  =75.= (1) from Natural Laws; with which one of Kant’s most
  famous doctrines confuses them,                                    126

  =76.= and (2) from Commands; with which they are confused both
  by Kant and by others.                                             127

  D.

  =77.= This latter confusion is one of the sources of the
  prevalent modern doctrine that ‘being good’ is _identical_ with
  ‘being willed’; but the prevalence of this doctrine seems to be
  chiefly due to other causes. I shall try to shew with regard
  to it (1) what are the chief errors which seem to have led to
  its adoption; and (2) that, apart from it, the Metaphysics of
  Volition can hardly have the smallest logical bearing upon
  Ethics.                                                            128

  =78.= (1) It has been commonly held, since Kant, that
  ‘goodness’ has the same relation to Will or Feeling, which
  ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ has to Cognition: that the proper method
  for Ethics is to discover what is _implied_ in Will or Feeling,
  just as, according to Kant, the proper method for Metaphysics
  was to discover what is _implied_ in Cognition.                    129

  =79.= The actual relations between ‘goodness’ and Will or
  Feeling, from which this false doctrine is inferred, seem to
  be mainly (_a_) the _causal_ relation consisting in the fact
  that it is only by reflection upon the experiences of Will and
  Feeling that we become aware of ethical distinctions; (_b_) the
  facts that a cognition of goodness is perhaps _always_ included
  in certain kinds of Willing and Feeling, and is _generally_
  accompanied by them:                                               130

  =80.= but from neither of these _psychological_ facts does it
  follow that ‘to be good’ is identical with being willed or
  felt in a certain way: the supposition that it does follow
  is an instance of the fundamental contradiction of modern
  Epistemology--the contradiction involved in both distinguishing
  and identifying the _object_ and the _act_ of Thought, ‘truth’
  itself and its supposed _criterion_:                               131

  =81.= and, once this analogy between Volition and Cognition is
  accepted, the view that ethical propositions have an essential
  reference to Will or Feeling, is strengthened by another error
  with regard to the nature of Cognition--the error of supposing
  that ‘perception’ denotes _merely_ a certain way of cognising
  an object, whereas it actually includes the assertion that the
  object is also _true_.                                             133

  =82.= The argument of the last three §§ is recapitulated; and
  it is pointed out (1) that Volition and Feeling are _not_
  analogous to Cognition, (2) that, even if they were, still ‘to
  be good’ could not _mean_ ‘to be willed or felt in a certain
  way.’                                                              135

  =83.= (2) If ‘being good’ and ‘being willed’ are not
  _identical_, then the latter could only be a _criterion_ of the
  former; and, in order to shew that it was so, we should have
  to establish _independently_ that many things were good--that
  is to say, we should have to establish most of our ethical
  conclusions, before the Metaphysics of Volition could possibly
  give us the smallest assistance.                                   137

  =84.= The fact that the metaphysical writers who, like Green,
  attempt to _base_ Ethics on Volition, do not even attempt this
  independent investigation, shews that they start from the false
  assumption that goodness is _identical_ with being willed, and
  hence that their ethical reasonings have no value whatsoever.      138

  =85.= Summary of chapter.                                          139


  CHAPTER V.

  ETHICS IN RELATION TO CONDUCT.

  =86.= The question to be discussed in this chapter must
  be clearly distinguished from the two questions hitherto
  discussed, namely (1) What is the nature of the proposition:
  ‘This is good in itself’?                                          142

  =87.= and (2) What things are good in themselves? to which we
  gave one answer in deciding that pleasure was not the only
  thing good in itself.                                              144

  =88.= In this chapter we shall deal with the _third_ object of
  ethical enquiry: namely answers to the question ‘What conduct
  is a _means_ to good results?’ or ‘What ought we to do?’ This
  is the question of _Practical_ Ethics, and its answer involves
  an assertion of _causal_ connection.                               146

  =89.= It is shewn that the assertions ‘This action is right’
  or ‘is my duty’ are equivalent to the assertion that the total
  results of the action in question will be the best possible;       146

  =90.= and the rest of the chapter will deal with certain
  conclusions, upon which light is thrown by this fact. Of which
  the first is (1) that Intuitionism is mistaken; since no
  proposition with regard to duty can be self-evident.               148

  =91.= (2) It is plain that we cannot hope to prove which
  among all the actions, which it is possible for us to perform
  on every occasion, will produce the best total results:
  to discover what is our ‘duty,’ in this strict sense, is
  impossible. It may, however, be possible to shew which among
  the actions, which we are _likely_ to perform, will produce
  the best results.                                                  149

  =92.= The distinction made in the last § is further explained;
  and it is insisted that all that Ethics has done or can do, is,
  _not_ to determine absolute duties, but to point out which,
  among a _few_ of the alternatives, possible under _certain_
  circumstances, will have the better results.                       150

  =93.= (3) Even this latter task is immensely difficult, and
  no adequate proof that the total results of one action are
  superior to those of another, has ever been given. For (_a_)
  we can only calculate actual results within a comparatively
  near future: we must, therefore, assume that no results of the
  same action in the infinite future beyond, will reverse the
  balance--an assumption which perhaps _can_ be, but certainly
  has not been, justified;                                           152

  =94.= and (_b_) even to decide that, of any two actions, one
  has a better total result than the other _in the immediate
  future_, is very difficult; and it is very improbable, and
  quite impossible to prove, that any single action is _in all
  cases_ better as means than its probable alternative. Rules
  of duty, even in this restricted sense, can only, at most, be
  _general_ truths.                                                  154

  =95.= But (_c_) most of the actions, most universally approved
  by Common Sense, may perhaps be shewn to be _generally_ better
  as means than any probable alternative, on the following
  principles. (1) With regard to some rules it may be shewn
  that their general observance would be useful in any state of
  society, where the instincts to preserve and propagate life and
  to possess property were as strong as they seem always to be;
  and this utility may be shewn, independently of a right view as
  to what is good in itself, since the observance is a means to
  things which are a necessary condition for the attainment of
  _any_ great goods in considerable quantities.                      155

  =96.= (2) Other rules are such that their general observance
  can only be shewn to be useful, as means to the preservation
  of society, under more or less temporary conditions: if any of
  these are to be proved useful in _all_ societies, this can only
  be done by shewing their causal relation to things good or evil
  in themselves, which are not generally recognised to be such.      158

  =97.= It is plain that rules of class (1) may _also_ be
  justified by the existence of such temporary conditions as
  justify those of class (2); and among such temporary conditions
  must be reckoned the so-called _sanctions_.                        159

  =98.= In this way, then, it may be possible to prove the
  _general_ utility, for the present, of those actions, which in
  our society are _both_ generally recognised as duties _and_
  generally practised; but it seems very doubtful whether a
  conclusive case can be established for any proposed change in
  social custom, without an independent investigation of what
  things are good or bad in themselves.                              159

  =99.= And (_d_) if we consider the distinct question of how a
  single individual should decide to act (α) in cases where the
  _general_ utility of the action in question is certain, (β) in
  other cases: there seems reason for thinking that, with regard
  to (α), where the generally useful rule is also generally
  observed, he should _always_ conform to it; but these reasons
  are not conclusive, if _either_ the general observance _or_ the
  general utility is wanting:                                        162

  =100.= and that (β) in all other cases, _rules of action_
  should not be followed at all, but the individual should
  consider what positive goods, _he_, in his particular
  circumstances, seems likely to be able to effect, and what
  evils to avoid.                                                    164

  =101.= (4) It follows further that the distinction denoted by
  the terms ‘duty’ and ‘expediency’ is not primarily ethical:
  when we ask ‘Is this really expedient?’ we are asking precisely
  the same question as when we ask ‘Is this my duty?,’ viz.
  ‘Is this a means to the best possible?.’ ‘Duties’ are mainly
  distinguished by the non-ethical marks (1) that many people
  are often tempted to avoid them, (2) that their most prominent
  effects are on others than the agent, (3) that they excite
  the moral sentiments: so far as they _are_ distinguished by
  an ethical peculiarity, this is not that they are peculiarly
  useful to perform, but that they are peculiarly useful to
  sanction.                                                          167

  =102.= The distinction between ‘duty’ and ‘interest’ is
  also, in the main, the same non-ethical distinction: but
  the term ‘interested’ does also refer to a distinct ethical
  predicate--that an action is to ‘my interest’ asserts only that
  it will have the best possible effects of one particular kind,
  not that its total effects will be the best possible.              170

  =103.= (5) We may further see that ‘virtues’ are not to be
  defined as dispositions that are good in themselves: they are
  not necessarily more than dispositions to perform actions
  generally good as means, and of these, for the most part,
  only those classed as ‘duties’ in accordance with section
  (4). It follows that to decide whether a disposition is or is
  not ‘virtuous’ involves the difficult causal investigation
  discussed in section (3); and that what is a virtue in one
  state of society may not be so in another.                         171

  =104.= It follows also that we have no reason to presume, as
  has commonly been done, that the exercise of virtue in the
  performance of ‘duties’ is ever good in itself--far less, that
  it is the sole good:                                               173

  =105.= and, if we consider the intrinsic value of such
  exercise, it will appear (1) that, in most cases, it has no
  value, and (2) that even the cases, where it has some value,
  are far from constituting the sole good. The truth of the
  latter proposition is generally inconsistently implied, even by
  those who deny it;                                                 174

  =106.= but in order fairly to decide upon the intrinsic value
  of virtue, we must distinguish three different kinds of
  disposition, each of which is commonly so called and has been
  maintained to be the only kind deserving the name. Thus (_a_)
  the mere unconscious ‘habit’ of performing duties, which is the
  commonest type, has no intrinsic value whatsoever; Christian
  moralists are right in implying that mere ‘external rightness’
  has no intrinsic value, though they are wrong in saying that it
  is therefore not ‘virtuous,’ since this implies that it has no
  value even as a means:                                             175

  =107.= (_b_) where virtue consists in a disposition to have,
  and be moved by, a sentiment of love towards really good
  consequences of an action and of hatred towards really evil
  ones, it has some intrinsic value, but its value may vary
  greatly in degree:                                                 177

  =108.= finally (_c_) where virtue consists in
  ‘conscientiousness,’ _i.e._ the disposition not to act, in
  certain cases, until we believe and feel that our action is
  right, it seems to have some intrinsic value: the value of this
  feeling has been peculiarly emphasized by Christian Ethics, but
  it certainly is not, as Kant would lead us to think, either the
  sole thing of value, or always good even as a means.               178

  =109.= Summary of chapter.                                         180


  CHAPTER VI.

  THE IDEAL.

  =110.= By an ‘ideal’ state of things may be meant either (1)
  the Summum Bonum or absolutely best, or (2) the best which the
  laws of nature allow to exist in this world, or (3) anything
  greatly good in itself: this chapter will be principally
  occupied with what is ideal in sense (3)--with answering the
  fundamental question of Ethics;                                    183

  =111.= but a correct answer to this question is an essential
  step towards a correct view as to what is ‘ideal’ in senses (1)
  and (2).                                                           184

  =112.= In order to obtain a correct answer to the question
  ‘What is good in itself?’ we must consider what value things
  would have if they existed absolutely by themselves;               187

  =113.= and, if we use this method, it is obvious that personal
  affection and aesthetic enjoyments include by far the greatest
  goods with which we are acquainted.                                188

  =114.= If we begin by considering I. _Aesthetic Enjoyments_, it
  is plain (1) that there is always _essential_ to these some one
  of a great variety of different emotions, though these emotions
  may have little value _by themselves_:                             189

  =115.= and (2) that a cognition of really beautiful qualities
  is equally essential, and has equally little value by itself.      190

  =116.= But (3) granted that the appropriate combination of
  these two elements is always a considerable good and may be
  a very great one, we may ask whether, where there is _added_
  to this _a true belief in the existence of the object of the
  cognition_, the whole thus formed is not much more valuable
  still.                                                             192

  =117.= I think that this question should be answered in the
  affirmative; but in order to ensure that this judgment is
  correct, we must carefully distinguish it                          194

  =118.= from the two judgments (_a_) that knowledge is valuable
  _as a means_, (_b_) that, where the object of the cognition
  is itself a good thing, its existence, of course, adds to the
  value of the whole state of things:                                195

  =119.= if, however, we attempt to avoid being biassed by these
  two facts, it still seems that mere true belief may be a
  condition essential to great value.                                197

  =120.= We thus get a _third_ essential constituent of many
  great goods; and in this way we are able to justify (1) the
  attribution of value to _knowledge_, over and above its value
  as a means, and (2) the intrinsic superiority of the proper
  appreciation of a _real_ object over the appreciation of an
  equally valuable object of mere imagination: emotions directed
  towards real objects may thus, even if the object be inferior,
  claim equality with the highest imaginative pleasures.             198

  =121.= Finally (4) with regard to the _objects_ of the
  cognition which is essential to these good wholes, it is the
  business of Aesthetics to analyse their nature: it need only be
  here remarked (1) that, by calling them ‘beautiful,’ we mean
  that they have this relation to a _good_ whole; and (2) that
  they are, for the most part, themselves complex wholes, such
  that the admiring contemplation of the whole greatly exceeds
  in value the sum of the values of the admiring contemplation of
  the parts.                                                         200

  =122.= With regard to II. _Personal Affection_, the object is
  here not merely beautiful but also good in itself; it appears,
  however, that the appreciation of what is thus good in itself,
  viz. the mental qualities of a person, is certainly, by itself,
  not so great a good as the whole formed by the combination
  with it of an appreciation of corporeal beauty; it is doubtful
  whether it is even so great a good as the mere appreciation of
  corporeal beauty; but it is certain that the combination of
  both is a far greater good than either singly.                     203

  =123.= It follows from what has been said that we have every
  reason to suppose that a cognition of _material qualities_, and
  even their existence, is an essential constituent of the Ideal
  or Summum Bonum: there is only a bare possibility that they are
  not included in it.                                                205

  =124.= It remains to consider _positive evils_ and _mixed
  goods_. I. _Evils_ may be divided into three classes, namely       207

  =125.= (1) evils which consist in the love, or admiration, or
  enjoyment of what is evil or ugly                                  208

  =126.= (2) evils which consist in the hatred or contempt of
  what is good or beautiful                                          211

  =127.= and (3) the consciousness of intense pain: this appears
  to be the only thing, either greatly good or greatly evil,
  which does not involve _both_ a cognition _and_ an emotion
  directed towards its object; and hence it is not analogous to
  pleasure in respect of its intrinsic value, while it also seems
  not to add to the vileness of a whole, _as a whole_, in which
  it is combined with another bad thing, whereas pleasure does
  add to the goodness of a whole, in which it is combined with
  another good thing;                                                212

  =128.= but pleasure and pain are completely analogous in this,
  that pleasure by no means always increases, and pain by no
  means always decreases, the total value of a whole in which it
  is included: the converse is often true.                           213

  =129.= In order to consider II. _Mixed Goods_, we must first
  distinguish between (1) the value of a whole _as a whole_,
  and (2) its value _on the whole_ or total value: (1) = the
  difference between (2) and the sum of the values of the parts.
  In view of this distinction, it then appears:                      214

  =130.= (1) That the mere combination of two or more evils is
  never positively good _on the whole_, although it may certainly
  have great intrinsic value _as a whole_;                           216

  =131.= but (2) That a whole which includes a cognition of
  something evil or ugly may yet be a great positive good _on the
  whole_: most virtues, which have any intrinsic value whatever,
  seem to be of this kind, _e.g._ (_a_) courage and compassion,
  and (_b_) moral goodness; all these are instances of the hatred
  or contempt of what is evil or ugly;                               216

  =132.= but there seems no reason to think that, where the evil
  object _exists_, the total state of things is ever positively
  good _on the whole_, although the existence of the evil may add
  to its value _as a whole_.                                         219

  =133.= Hence (1) no actually existing evil is necessary to the
  Ideal, (2) the contemplation of imaginary evils is necessary to
  it, and (3) where evils already exist, the existence of mixed
  virtues has a value independent both of its consequences and of
  the value which it has in common with the proper appreciation
  of imaginary evils.                                                220

  =134.= Concluding remarks.                                         222

  =135.= Summary of chapter.                                         224



CHAPTER I.

THE SUBJECT-MATTER OF ETHICS.


=1.= It is very easy to point out some among our every-day judgments,
with the truth of which Ethics is undoubtedly concerned. Whenever
we say, ‘So and so is a good man,’ or ‘That fellow is a villain’;
whenever we ask, ‘What ought I to do?’ or ‘Is it wrong for me to do
like this?’; whenever we hazard such remarks as ‘Temperance is a virtue
and drunkenness a vice’--it is undoubtedly the business of Ethics
to discuss such questions and such statements; to argue what is the
true answer when we ask what it is right to do, and to give reasons
for thinking that our statements about the character of persons or
the morality of actions are true or false. In the vast majority of
cases, where we make statements involving any of the terms ‘virtue,’
‘vice,’ ‘duty,’ ‘right,’ ‘ought,’ ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ we are making
ethical judgments; and if we wish to discuss their truth, we shall be
discussing a point of Ethics.

So much as this is not disputed; but it falls very far short of
defining the province of Ethics. That province may indeed be defined as
the whole truth about that which is at the same time common to all such
judgments and peculiar to them. But we have still to ask the question:
What is it that is thus common and peculiar? And this is a question to
which very different answers have been given by ethical philosophers
of acknowledged reputation, and none of them, perhaps, completely
satisfactory.


=2.= If we take such examples as those given above, we shall not be
far wrong in saying that they are all of them concerned with the
question of ‘conduct’--with the question, what, in the conduct of us,
human beings, is good, and what is bad, what is right, and what is
wrong. For when we say that a man is good, we commonly mean that he
acts rightly; when we say that drunkenness is a vice, we commonly mean
that to get drunk is a wrong or wicked action. And this discussion of
human conduct is, in fact, that with which the name ‘Ethics’ is most
intimately associated. It is so associated by derivation; and conduct
is undoubtedly by far the commonest and most generally interesting
object of ethical judgments.

Accordingly, we find that many ethical philosophers are disposed to
accept as an adequate definition of ‘Ethics’ the statement that it
deals with the question what is good or bad in human conduct. They hold
that its enquiries are properly confined to ‘conduct’ or to ‘practice’;
they hold that the name ‘practical philosophy’ covers all the matter
with which it has to do. Now, without discussing the proper meaning
of the word (for verbal questions are properly left to the writers of
dictionaries and other persons interested in literature; philosophy,
as we shall see, has no concern with them), I may say that I intend to
use ‘Ethics’ to cover more than this--a usage, for which there is, I
think, quite sufficient authority. I am using it to cover an enquiry
for which, at all events, there is no other word: the general enquiry
into what is good.

Ethics is undoubtedly concerned with the question what good conduct
is; but, being concerned with this, it obviously does not start at the
beginning, unless it is prepared to tell us what is good as well as
what is conduct. For ‘good conduct’ is a complex notion: all conduct is
not good; for some is certainly bad and some may be indifferent. And on
the other hand, other things, beside conduct, may be good; and if they
are so, then, ‘good’ denotes some property, that is common to them and
conduct; and if we examine good conduct alone of all good things, then
we shall be in danger of mistaking for this property, some property
which is not shared by those other things: and thus we shall have made
a mistake about Ethics even in this limited sense; for we shall not
know what good conduct really is. This is a mistake which many writers
have actually made, from limiting their enquiry to conduct. And hence
I shall try to avoid it by considering first what is good in general;
hoping, that if we can arrive at any certainty about this, it will be
much easier to settle the question of good conduct: for we all know
pretty well what ‘conduct’ is. This, then, is our first question: What
is good? and What is bad? and to the discussion of this question (of
these questions) I give the name of Ethics, since that science must, at
all events, include it.


=3.= But this is a question which may have many meanings. If, for
example, each of us were to say ‘I am doing good now’ or ‘I had a
good dinner yesterday,’ these statements would each of them be some
sort of answer to our question, although perhaps a false one. So, too,
when A asks B what school he ought to send his son to, B’s answer
will certainly be an ethical judgment. And similarly all distribution
of praise or blame to any personage or thing that has existed, now
exists, or will exist, does give some answer to the question ‘What is
good?’ In all such cases some particular thing is judged to be good or
bad: the question ‘What?’ is answered by ‘This.’ But this is not the
sense in which a scientific Ethics asks the question. Not one, of all
the many million answers of this kind, which must be true, can form a
part of an ethical system; although that science must contain reasons
and principles sufficient for deciding on the truth of all of them.
There are far too many persons, things and events in the world, past,
present, or to come, for a discussion of their individual merits to be
embraced in any science. Ethics, therefore, does not deal at all with
facts of this nature, facts that are unique, individual, absolutely
particular; facts with which such studies as history, geography,
astronomy, are compelled, in part at least, to deal. And, for this
reason, it is not the business of the ethical philosopher to give
personal advice or exhortation.


=4.= But there is another meaning which may be given to the question
‘What is good?’ ‘Books are good’ would be an answer to it, though
an answer obviously false; for some books are very bad indeed. And
ethical judgments of this kind do indeed belong to Ethics; though
I shall not deal with many of them. Such is the judgment ‘Pleasure
is good’--a judgment, of which Ethics should discuss the truth,
although it is not nearly as important as that other judgment, with
which we shall be much occupied presently--‘Pleasure _alone_ is
good.’ It is judgments of this sort, which are made in such books on
Ethics as contain a list of ‘virtues’--in Aristotle’s ‘Ethics’ for
example. But it is judgments of precisely the same kind, which form
the substance of what is commonly supposed to be a study different
from Ethics, and one much less respectable--the study of Casuistry.
We may be told that Casuistry differs from Ethics, in that it is much
more detailed and particular, Ethics much more general. But it is
most important to notice that Casuistry does not deal with anything
that is absolutely particular--particular in the only sense in which
a perfectly precise line can be drawn between it and what is general.
It is not particular in the sense just noticed, the sense in which
this book is a particular book, and A’s friend’s advice particular
advice. Casuistry may indeed be _more_ particular and Ethics _more_
general; but that means that they differ only in degree and not in
kind. And this is universally true of ‘particular’ and ‘general,’ when
used in this common, but inaccurate, sense. So far as Ethics allows
itself to give lists of virtues or even to name constituents of the
Ideal, it is indistinguishable from Casuistry. Both alike deal with
what is general, in the sense in which physics and chemistry deal with
what is general. Just as chemistry aims at discovering what are the
properties of oxygen, _wherever it occurs_, and not only of this or
that particular specimen of oxygen; so Casuistry aims at discovering
what actions are good, _whenever they occur_. In this respect Ethics
and Casuistry alike are to be classed with such sciences as physics,
chemistry and physiology, in their absolute distinction from those of
which history and geography are instances. And it is to be noted that,
owing to their detailed nature, casuistical investigations are actually
nearer to physics and to chemistry than are the investigations usually
assigned to Ethics. For just as physics cannot rest content with the
discovery that light is propagated by waves of ether, but must go on
to discover the particular nature of the ether-waves corresponding to
each several colour; so Casuistry, not content with the general law
that charity is a virtue, must attempt to discover the relative merits
of every different form of charity. Casuistry forms, therefore, part
of the ideal of ethical science: Ethics cannot be complete without it.
The defects of Casuistry are not defects of principle; no objection can
be taken to its aim and object. It has failed only because it is far
too difficult a subject to be treated adequately in our present state
of knowledge. The casuist has been unable to distinguish, in the cases
which he treats, those elements upon which their value depends. Hence
he often thinks two cases to be alike in respect of value, when in
reality they are alike only in some other respect. It is to mistakes of
this kind that the pernicious influence of such investigations has been
due. For Casuistry is the goal of ethical investigation. It cannot be
safely attempted at the beginning of our studies, but only at the end.


=5.= But our question ‘What is good?’ may have still another meaning.
We may, in the third place, mean to ask, not what thing or things are
good, but how ‘good’ is to be defined. This is an enquiry which belongs
only to Ethics, not to Casuistry; and this is the enquiry which will
occupy us first.

It is an enquiry to which most special attention should be directed;
since this question, how ‘good’ is to be defined, is the most
fundamental question in all Ethics. That which is meant by ‘good’
is, in fact, except its converse ‘bad,’ the _only_ simple object of
thought which is peculiar to Ethics. Its definition is, therefore,
the most essential point in the definition of Ethics; and moreover a
mistake with regard to it entails a far larger number of erroneous
ethical judgments than any other. Unless this first question be fully
understood, and its true answer clearly recognised, the rest of Ethics
is as good as useless from the point of view of systematic knowledge.
True ethical judgments, of the two kinds last dealt with, may indeed
be made by those who do not know the answer to this question as well
as by those who do; and it goes without saying that the two classes
of people may lead equally good lives. But it is extremely unlikely
that the _most general_ ethical judgments will be equally valid, in
the absence of a true answer to this question: I shall presently try
to shew that the gravest errors have been largely due to beliefs in a
false answer. And, in any case, it is impossible that, till the answer
to this question be known, any one should know _what is the evidence_
for any ethical judgment whatsoever. But the main object of Ethics,
as a systematic science, is to give correct _reasons_ for thinking
that this or that is good; and, unless this question be answered, such
reasons cannot be given. Even, therefore, apart from the fact that a
false answer leads to false conclusions, the present enquiry is a most
necessary and important part of the science of Ethics.


=6.= What, then, is good? How is good to be defined? Now, it may be
thought that this is a verbal question. A definition does indeed often
mean the expressing of one word’s meaning in other words. But this
is not the sort of definition I am asking for. Such a definition can
never be of ultimate importance in any study except lexicography. If I
wanted that kind of definition I should have to consider in the first
place how people generally used the word ‘good’; but my business is not
with its proper usage, as established by custom. I should, indeed, be
foolish, if I tried to use it for something which it did not usually
denote: if, for instance, I were to announce that, whenever I used the
word ‘good,’ I must be understood to be thinking of that object which
is usually denoted by the word ‘table.’ I shall, therefore, use the
word in the sense in which I think it is ordinarily used; but at the
same time I am not anxious to discuss whether I am right in thinking
that it is so used. My business is solely with that object or idea,
which I hold, rightly or wrongly, that the word is generally used to
stand for. What I want to discover is the nature of that object or
idea, and about this I am extremely anxious to arrive at an agreement.

But, if we understand the question in this sense, my answer to it
may seem a very disappointing one. If I am asked ‘What is good?’ my
answer is that good is good, and that is the end of the matter. Or if
I am asked ‘How is good to be defined?’ my answer is that it cannot
be defined, and that is all I have to say about it. But disappointing
as these answers may appear, they are of the very last importance. To
readers who are familiar with philosophic terminology, I can express
their importance by saying that they amount to this: That propositions
about the good are all of them synthetic and never analytic; and that
is plainly no trivial matter. And the same thing may be expressed more
popularly, by saying that, if I am right, then nobody can foist upon
us such an axiom as that ‘Pleasure is the only good’ or that ‘The good
is the desired’ on the pretence that this is ‘the very meaning of the
word.’


=7.= Let us, then, consider this position. My point is that ‘good’
is a simple notion, just as ‘yellow’ is a simple notion; that, just
as you cannot, by any manner of means, explain to any one who does
not already know it, what yellow is, so you cannot explain what good
is. Definitions of the kind that I was asking for, definitions which
describe the real nature of the object or notion denoted by a word,
and which do not merely tell us what the word is used to mean, are
only possible when the object or notion in question is something
complex. You can give a definition of a horse, because a horse has many
different properties and qualities, all of which you can enumerate.
But when you have enumerated them all, when you have reduced a horse
to his simplest terms, then you can no longer define those terms. They
are simply something which you think of or perceive, and to any one who
cannot think of or perceive them, you can never, by any definition,
make their nature known. It may perhaps be objected to this that we
are able to describe to others, objects which they have never seen or
thought of. We can, for instance, make a man understand what a chimaera
is, although he has never heard of one or seen one. You can tell him
that it is an animal with a lioness’s head and body, with a goat’s head
growing from the middle of its back, and with a snake in place of a
tail. But here the object which you are describing is a complex object;
it is entirely composed of parts, with which we are all perfectly
familiar--a snake, a goat, a lioness; and we know, too, the manner
in which those parts are to be put together, because we know what is
meant by the middle of a lioness’s back, and where her tail is wont to
grow. And so it is with all objects, not previously known, which we are
able to define: they are all complex; all composed of parts, which may
themselves, in the first instance, be capable of similar definition,
but which must in the end be reducible to simplest parts, which can no
longer be defined. But yellow and good, we say, are not complex: they
are notions of that simple kind, out of which definitions are composed
and with which the power of further defining ceases.


=8.= When we say, as Webster says, ‘The definition of horse is “A
hoofed quadruped of the genus Equus,”’ we may, in fact, mean three
different things. (1) We may mean merely: ‘When I say “horse,” you are
to understand that I am talking about a hoofed quadruped of the genus
Equus.’ This might be called the arbitrary verbal definition: and I
do not mean that good is indefinable in that sense. (2) We may mean,
as Webster ought to mean: ‘When most English people say “horse,” they
mean a hoofed quadruped of the genus Equus.’ This may be called the
verbal definition proper, and I do not say that good is indefinable
in this sense either; for it is certainly possible to discover how
people use a word: otherwise, we could never have known that ‘good’ may
be translated by ‘gut’ in German and by ‘bon’ in French. But (3) we
may, when we define horse, mean something much more important. We may
mean that a certain object, which we all of us know, is composed in a
certain manner: that it has four legs, a head, a heart, a liver, etc.,
etc., all of them arranged in definite relations to one another. It is
in this sense that I deny good to be definable. I say that it is not
composed of any parts, which we can substitute for it in our minds when
we are thinking of it. We might think just as clearly and correctly
about a horse, if we thought of all its parts and their arrangement
instead of thinking of the whole: we could, I say, think how a horse
differed from a donkey just as well, just as truly, in this way, as now
we do, only not so easily; but there is nothing whatsoever which we
could so substitute for good; and that is what I mean, when I say that
good is indefinable.


=9.= But I am afraid I have still not removed the chief difficulty
which may prevent acceptance of the proposition that good is
indefinable. I do not mean to say that _the_ good, that which is good,
is thus indefinable; if I did think so, I should not be writing
on Ethics, for my main object is to help towards discovering that
definition. It is just because I think there will be less risk of error
in our search for a definition of ‘the good,’ that I am now insisting
that _good_ is indefinable. I must try to explain the difference
between these two. I suppose it may be granted that ‘good’ is an
adjective. Well ‘the good,’ ‘that which is good,’ must therefore be the
substantive to which the adjective ‘good’ will apply: it must be the
whole of that to which the adjective will apply, and the adjective must
_always_ truly apply to it. But if it is that to which the adjective
will apply, it must be something different from that adjective itself;
and the whole of that something different, whatever it is, will be
our definition of _the_ good. Now it may be that this something will
have other adjectives, beside ‘good,’ that will apply to it. It may be
full of pleasure, for example; it may be intelligent: and if these two
adjectives are really part of its definition, then it will certainly be
true, that pleasure and intelligence are good. And many people appear
to think that, if we say ‘Pleasure and intelligence are good,’ or if we
say ‘Only pleasure and intelligence are good,’ we are defining ‘good.’
Well, I cannot deny that propositions of this nature may sometimes be
called definitions; I do not know well enough how the word is generally
used to decide upon this point. I only wish it to be understood that
that is not what I mean when I say there is no possible definition of
good, and that I shall not mean this if I use the word again. I do most
fully believe that some true proposition of the form ‘Intelligence is
good and intelligence alone is good’ can be found; if none could be
found, our definition of _the_ good would be impossible. As it is,
I believe _the_ good to be definable; and yet I still say that good
itself is indefinable.


=10.= ‘Good,’ then, if we mean by it that quality which we assert to
belong to a thing, when we say that the thing is good, is incapable
of any definition, in the most important sense of that word. The most
important sense of ‘definition’ is that in which a definition states
what are the parts which invariably compose a certain whole; and in
this sense ‘good’ has no definition because it is simple and has no
parts. It is one of those innumerable objects of thought which are
themselves incapable of definition, because they are the ultimate
terms by reference to which whatever _is_ capable of definition must
be defined. That there must be an indefinite number of such terms is
obvious, on reflection; since we cannot define anything except by
an analysis, which, when carried as far as it will go, refers us to
something, which is simply different from anything else, and which by
that ultimate difference explains the peculiarity of the whole which we
are defining: for every whole contains some parts which are common to
other wholes also. There is, therefore, no intrinsic difficulty in the
contention that ‘good’ denotes a simple and indefinable quality. There
are many other instances of such qualities.

Consider yellow, for example. We may try to define it, by describing
its physical equivalent; we may state what kind of light-vibrations
must stimulate the normal eye, in order that we may perceive it. But a
moment’s reflection is sufficient to shew that those light-vibrations
are not themselves what we mean by yellow. _They_ are not what we
perceive. Indeed we should never have been able to discover their
existence, unless we had first been struck by the patent difference of
quality between the different colours. The most we can be entitled to
say of those vibrations is that they are what corresponds in space to
the yellow which we actually perceive.

Yet a mistake of this simple kind has commonly been made about ‘good.’
It may be true that all things which are good are _also_ something
else, just as it is true that all things which are yellow produce a
certain kind of vibration in the light. And it is a fact, that Ethics
aims at discovering what are those other properties belonging to all
things which are good. But far too many philosophers have thought that
when they named those other properties they were actually defining
good; that these properties, in fact, were simply not ‘other,’ but
absolutely and entirely the same with goodness. This view I propose
to call the ‘naturalistic fallacy’ and of it I shall now endeavour to
dispose.


=11.= Let us consider what it is such philosophers say. And first it is
to be noticed that they do not agree among themselves. They not only
say that they are right as to what good is, but they endeavour to prove
that other people who say that it is something else, are wrong. One,
for instance, will affirm that good is pleasure, another, perhaps, that
good is that which is desired; and each of these will argue eagerly
to prove that the other is wrong. But how is that possible? One of
them says that good is nothing but the object of desire, and at the
same time tries to prove that it is not pleasure. But from his first
assertion, that good just means the object of desire, one of two things
must follow as regards his proof:

(1) He may be trying to prove that the object of desire is not
pleasure. But, if this be all, where is his Ethics? The position he is
maintaining is merely a psychological one. Desire is something which
occurs in our minds, and pleasure is something else which so occurs;
and our would-be ethical philosopher is merely holding that the latter
is not the object of the former. But what has that to do with the
question in dispute? His opponent held the ethical proposition that
pleasure was the good, and although he should prove a million times
over the psychological proposition that pleasure is not the object of
desire, he is no nearer proving his opponent to be wrong. The position
is like this. One man says a triangle is a circle: another replies
‘A triangle is a straight line, and I will prove to you that I am
right: _for_’ (this is the only argument) ‘a straight line is not a
circle.’ ‘That is quite true,’ the other may reply; ‘but nevertheless
a triangle is a circle, and you have said nothing whatever to prove
the contrary. What is proved is that one of us is wrong, for we agree
that a triangle cannot be both a straight line and a circle: but which
is wrong, there can be no earthly means of proving, since you define
triangle as straight line and I define it as circle.’--Well, that is
one alternative which any naturalistic Ethics has to face; if good is
_defined_ as something else, it is then impossible either to prove that
any other definition is wrong or even to deny such definition.

(2) The other alternative will scarcely be more welcome. It is that the
discussion is after all a verbal one. When A says ‘Good means pleasant’
and B says ‘Good means desired,’ they may merely wish to assert that
most people have used the word for what is pleasant and for what is
desired respectively. And this is quite an interesting subject for
discussion: only it is not a whit more an ethical discussion than the
last was. Nor do I think that any exponent of naturalistic Ethics
would be willing to allow that this was all he meant. They are all so
anxious to persuade us that what they call the good is what we really
ought to do. ‘Do, pray, act so, because the word “good” is generally
used to denote actions of this nature’: such, on this view, would be
the substance of their teaching. And in so far as they tell us how we
ought to act, their teaching is truly ethical, as they mean it to be.
But how perfectly absurd is the reason they would give for it! ‘You are
to do this, because most people use a certain word to denote conduct
such as this.’ ‘You are to say the thing which is not, because most
people call it lying.’ That is an argument just as good!--My dear sirs,
what we want to know from you as ethical teachers, is not how people
use a word; it is not even, what kind of actions they approve, which
the use of this word ‘good’ may certainly imply: what we want to know
is simply what _is_ good. We may indeed agree that what most people
do think good, is actually so; we shall at all events be glad to know
their opinions: but when we say their opinions about what _is_ good, we
do mean what we say; we do not care whether they call that thing which
they mean ‘horse’ or ‘table’ or ‘chair,’ ‘gut’ or ‘bon’ or ‘ἀγαθός’; we
want to know what it is that they so call. When they say ‘Pleasure is
good,’ we cannot believe that they merely mean ‘Pleasure is pleasure’
and nothing more than that.


=12.= Suppose a man says ‘I am pleased’; and suppose that is not a lie
or a mistake but the truth. Well, if it is true, what does that mean?
It means that his mind, a certain definite mind, distinguished by
certain definite marks from all others, has at this moment a certain
definite feeling called pleasure. ‘Pleased’ _means_ nothing but having
pleasure, and though we may be more pleased or less pleased, and even,
we may admit for the present, have one or another kind of pleasure;
yet in so far as it is pleasure we have, whether there be more or less
of it, and whether it be of one kind or another, what we have is one
definite thing, absolutely indefinable, some one thing that is the
same in all the various degrees and in all the various kinds of it
that there may be. We may be able to say how it is related to other
things: that, for example, it is in the mind, that it causes desire,
that we are conscious of it, etc., etc. We can, I say, describe its
relations to other things, but define it we can _not_. And if anybody
tried to define pleasure for us as being any other natural object; if
anybody were to say, for instance, that pleasure _means_ the sensation
of red, and were to proceed to deduce from that that pleasure is a
colour, we should be entitled to laugh at him and to distrust his
future statements about pleasure. Well, that would be the same fallacy
which I have called the naturalistic fallacy. That ‘pleased’ does not
mean ‘having the sensation of red,’ or anything else whatever, does not
prevent us from understanding what it does mean. It is enough for us to
know that ‘pleased’ does mean ‘having the sensation of pleasure,’ and
though pleasure is absolutely indefinable, though pleasure is pleasure
and nothing else whatever, yet we feel no difficulty in saying that we
are pleased. The reason is, of course, that when I say ‘I am pleased,’
I do _not_ mean that ‘I’ am the same thing as ‘having pleasure.’ And
similarly no difficulty need be found in my saying that ‘pleasure
is good’ and yet not meaning that ‘pleasure’ is the same thing as
‘good,’ that pleasure _means_ good, and that good _means_ pleasure.
If I were to imagine that when I said ‘I am pleased,’ I meant that
I was exactly the same thing as ‘pleased,’ I should not indeed call
that a naturalistic fallacy, although it would be the same fallacy
as I have called naturalistic with reference to Ethics. The reason
of this is obvious enough. When a man confuses two natural objects
with one another, defining the one, by the other, if for instance,
he confuses himself, who is one natural object, with ‘pleased’ or
with ‘pleasure’ which are others, then there is no reason to call the
fallacy naturalistic. But if he confuses ‘good,’ which is not in the
same sense a natural object, with any natural object whatever, then
there is a reason for calling that a naturalistic fallacy; its being
made with regard to ‘good’ marks it as something quite specific, and
this specific mistake deserves a name because it is so common. As for
the reasons why good is not to be considered a natural object, they may
be reserved for discussion in another place. But, for the present, it
is sufficient to notice this: Even if it were a natural object, that
would not alter the nature of the fallacy nor diminish its importance
one whit. All that I have said about it would remain quite equally
true: only the name which I have called it would not be so appropriate
as I think it is. And I do not care about the name: what I do care
about is the fallacy. It does not matter what we call it, provided we
recognise it when we meet with it. It is to be met with in almost every
book on Ethics; and yet it is not recognised: and that is why it is
necessary to multiply illustrations of it, and convenient to give it a
name. It is a very simple fallacy indeed. When we say that an orange is
yellow, we do not think our statement binds us to hold that ‘orange’
means nothing else than ‘yellow,’ or that nothing can be yellow but an
orange. Supposing the orange is also sweet! Does that bind us to say
that ‘sweet’ is exactly the same thing as ‘yellow,’ that ‘sweet’ must
be defined as ‘yellow’? And supposing it be recognised that ‘yellow’
just means ‘yellow’ and nothing else whatever, does that make it any
more difficult to hold that oranges are yellow? Most certainly it does
not: on the contrary, it would be absolutely meaningless to say that
oranges were yellow, unless yellow did in the end mean just ‘yellow’
and nothing else whatever--unless it was absolutely indefinable. We
should not get any very clear notion about things, which are yellow--we
should not get very far with our science, if we were bound to hold that
everything which was yellow, _meant_ exactly the same thing as yellow.
We should find we had to hold that an orange was exactly the same thing
as a stool, a piece of paper, a lemon, anything you like. We could
prove any number of absurdities; but should we be the nearer to the
truth? Why, then, should it be different with ‘good’? Why, if good is
good and indefinable, should I be held to deny that pleasure is good?
Is there any difficulty in holding both to be true at once? On the
contrary, there is no meaning in saying that pleasure is good, unless
good is something different from pleasure. It is absolutely useless,
so far as Ethics is concerned, to prove, as Mr Spencer tries to do,
that increase of pleasure coincides with increase of life, unless good
_means_ something different from either life or pleasure. He might just
as well try to prove that an orange is yellow by shewing that it always
is wrapped up in paper.


=13.= In fact, if it is not the case that ‘good’ denotes something
simple and indefinable, only two alternatives are possible: either it
is a complex, a given whole, about the correct analysis of which there
may be disagreement; or else it means nothing at all, and there is no
such subject as Ethics. In general, however, ethical philosophers have
attempted to define good, without recognising what such an attempt
must mean. They actually use arguments which involve one or both of
the absurdities considered in § 11. We are, therefore, justified in
concluding that the attempt to define good is chiefly due to want of
clearness as to the possible nature of definition. There are, in fact,
only two serious alternatives to be considered, in order to establish
the conclusion that ‘good’ does denote a simple and indefinable notion.
It might possibly denote a complex, as ‘horse’ does; or it might have
no meaning at all. Neither of these possibilities has, however, been
clearly conceived and seriously maintained, as such, by those who
presume to define good; and both may be dismissed by a simple appeal to
facts.

(1) The hypothesis that disagreement about the meaning of good is
disagreement with regard to the correct analysis of a given whole,
may be most plainly seen to be incorrect by consideration of the fact
that, whatever definition be offered, it may be always asked, with
significance, of the complex so defined, whether it is itself good. To
take, for instance, one of the more plausible, because one of the more
complicated, of such proposed definitions, it may easily be thought,
at first sight, that to be good may mean to be that which we desire
to desire. Thus if we apply this definition to a particular instance
and say ‘When we think that A is good, we are thinking that A is one
of the things which we desire to desire,’ our proposition may seem
quite plausible. But, if we carry the investigation further, and ask
ourselves ‘Is it good to desire to desire A?’ it is apparent, on a
little reflection, that this question is itself as intelligible, as the
original question ‘Is A good?’--that we are, in fact, now asking for
exactly the same information about the desire to desire A, for which
we formerly asked with regard to A itself. But it is also apparent
that the meaning of this second question cannot be correctly analysed
into ‘Is the desire to desire A one of the things which we desire to
desire?’: we have not before our minds anything so complicated as the
question ‘Do we desire to desire to desire to desire A?’ Moreover any
one can easily convince himself by inspection that the predicate of
this proposition--‘good’--is positively different from the notion of
‘desiring to desire’ which enters into its subject: ‘That we should
desire to desire A is good’ is _not_ merely equivalent to ‘That A
should be good is good.’ It may indeed be true that what we desire to
desire is always also good; perhaps, even the converse may be true: but
it is very doubtful whether this is the case, and the mere fact that we
understand very well what is meant by doubting it, shews clearly that
we have two different notions before our minds.

(2) And the same consideration is sufficient to dismiss the hypothesis
that ‘good’ has no meaning whatsoever. It is very natural to make the
mistake of supposing that what is universally true is of such a nature
that its negation would be self-contradictory: the importance which has
been assigned to analytic propositions in the history of philosophy
shews how easy such a mistake is. And thus it is very easy to conclude
that what seems to be a universal ethical principle is in fact an
identical proposition; that, if, for example, whatever is called ‘good’
seems to be pleasant, the proposition ‘Pleasure is the good’ does not
assert a connection between two different notions, but involves only
one, that of pleasure, which is easily recognised as a distinct entity.
But whoever will attentively consider with himself what is actually
before his mind when he asks the question ‘Is pleasure (or whatever
it may be) after all good?’ can easily satisfy himself that he is not
merely wondering whether pleasure is pleasant. And if he will try
this experiment with each suggested definition in succession, he may
become expert enough to recognise that in every case he has before his
mind a unique object, with regard to the connection of which with any
other object, a distinct question may be asked. Every one does in
fact understand the question ‘Is this good?’ When he thinks of it, his
state of mind is different from what it would be, were he asked ‘Is
this pleasant, or desired, or approved?’ It has a distinct meaning for
him, even though he may not recognise in what respect it is distinct.
Whenever he thinks of ‘intrinsic value,’ or ‘intrinsic worth,’ or
says that a thing ‘ought to exist,’ he has before his mind the unique
object--the unique property of things--which I mean by ‘good.’
Everybody is constantly aware of this notion, although he may never
become aware at all that it is different from other notions of which
he is also aware. But, for correct ethical reasoning, it is extremely
important that he should become aware of this fact; and, as soon as the
nature of the problem is clearly understood, there should be little
difficulty in advancing so far in analysis.


=14.= ‘Good,’ then, is indefinable; and yet, so far as I know, there
is only one ethical writer, Prof. Henry Sidgwick, who has clearly
recognised and stated this fact. We shall see, indeed, how far many of
the most reputed ethical systems fall short of drawing the conclusions
which follow from such a recognition. At present I will only quote one
instance, which will serve to illustrate the meaning and importance of
this principle that ‘good’ is indefinable, or, as Prof. Sidgwick says,
an ‘unanalysable notion.’ It is an instance to which Prof. Sidgwick
himself refers in a note on the passage, in which he argues that
‘ought’ is unanalysable[2].

  [2] _Methods of Ethics_, Bk. I, Chap. iii, § 1 (6th edition).

‘Bentham,’ says Sidgwick, ‘explains that his fundamental principle
“states the greatest happiness of all those whose interest is in
question as being the right and proper end of human action”’; and yet
‘his language in other passages of the same chapter would seem to
imply’ that he _means_ by the word “right” “conducive to the general
happiness.” Prof. Sidgwick sees that, if you take these two statements
together, you get the absurd result that ‘greatest happiness is the
end of human action, which is conducive to the general happiness’; and
so absurd does it seem to him to call this result, as Bentham calls
it, ‘the fundamental principle of a moral system,’ that he suggests
that Bentham cannot have meant it. Yet Prof. Sidgwick himself states
elsewhere[3] that Psychological Hedonism is ‘not seldom confounded with
Egoistic Hedonism’; and that confusion, as we shall see, rests chiefly
on that same fallacy, the naturalistic fallacy, which is implied in
Bentham’s statements. Prof. Sidgwick admits therefore that this fallacy
is sometimes committed, absurd as it is; and I am inclined to think
that Bentham may really have been one of those who committed it. Mill,
as we shall see, certainly did commit it. In any case, whether Bentham
committed it or not, his doctrine, as above quoted, will serve as a
very good illustration of this fallacy, and of the importance of the
contrary proposition that good is indefinable.

  [3] _Methods of Ethics_, Bk. I, Chap. iv, § 1.

Let us consider this doctrine. Bentham seems to imply, so Prof.
Sidgwick says, that the word ‘right’ _means_ ‘conducive to general
happiness.’ Now this, by itself, need not necessarily involve
the naturalistic fallacy. For the word ‘right’ is very commonly
appropriated to actions which lead to the attainment of what
is good; which are regarded as _means_ to the ideal and not as
ends-in-themselves. This use of ‘right,’ as denoting what is good as
a means, whether or not it be also good as an end, is indeed the use
to which I shall confine the word. Had Bentham been using ‘right’ in
this sense, it might be perfectly consistent for him to _define_ right
as ‘conducive to the general happiness,’ _provided only_ (and notice
this proviso) he had already proved, or laid down as an axiom, that
general happiness was _the_ good, or (what is equivalent to this)
that general happiness alone was good. For in that case he would have
already defined _the_ good as general happiness (a position perfectly
consistent, as we have seen, with the contention that ‘good’ is
indefinable), and, since right was to be defined as ‘conducive to _the_
good,’ it would actually _mean_ ‘conducive to general happiness.’
But this method of escape from the charge of having committed the
naturalistic fallacy has been closed by Bentham himself. For his
fundamental principle is, we see, that the greatest happiness of all
concerned is the _right_ and proper _end_ of human action. He applies
the word ‘right,’ therefore, to the end, as such, not only to the means
which are conducive to it; and, that being so, right can no longer be
defined as ‘conducive to the general happiness,’ without involving the
fallacy in question. For now it is obvious that the definition of right
as conducive to general happiness can be used by him in support of the
fundamental principle that general happiness is the right end; instead
of being itself derived from that principle. If right, by definition,
means conducive to general happiness, then it is obvious that general
happiness is the right end. It is not necessary now first to prove or
assert that general happiness is the right end, before right is defined
as conducive to general happiness--a perfectly valid procedure; but on
the contrary the definition of right as conducive to general happiness
proves general happiness to be the right end--a perfectly invalid
procedure, since in this case the statement that ‘general happiness is
the right end of human action’ is not an ethical principle at all, but
either, as we have seen, a proposition about the meaning of words, or
else a proposition about the _nature_ of general happiness, not about
its rightness or goodness.

Now, I do not wish the importance I assign to this fallacy to be
misunderstood. The discovery of it does not at all refute Bentham’s
contention that greatest happiness is the proper end of human action,
if that be understood as an ethical proposition, as he undoubtedly
intended it. That principle may be true all the same; we shall consider
whether it is so in succeeding chapters. Bentham might have maintained
it, as Professor Sidgwick does, even if the fallacy had been pointed
out to him. What I am maintaining is that the _reasons_ which he
actually gives for his ethical proposition are fallacious ones so
far as they consist in a definition of right. What I suggest is that
he did not perceive them to be fallacious; that, if he had done so,
he would have been led to seek for other reasons in support of his
Utilitarianism; and that, had he sought for other reasons, he _might_
have found none which he thought to be sufficient. In that case he
would have changed his whole system--a most important consequence. It
is undoubtedly also possible that he would have thought other reasons
to be sufficient, and in that case his ethical system, in its main
results, would still have stood. But, even in this latter case, his
use of the fallacy would be a serious objection to him as an ethical
philosopher. For it is the business of Ethics, I must insist, not only
to obtain true results, but also to find valid reasons for them. The
direct object of Ethics is knowledge and not practice; and any one who
uses the naturalistic fallacy has certainly not fulfilled this first
object, however correct his practical principles may be.

My objections to Naturalism are then, in the first place, that it
offers no reason at all, far less any valid reason, for any ethical
principle whatever; and in this it already fails to satisfy the
requirements of Ethics, as a scientific study. But in the second place
I contend that, though it gives a reason for no ethical principle, it
is a _cause_ of the acceptance of false principles--it deludes the mind
into accepting ethical principles, which are false; and in this it is
contrary to every aim of Ethics. It is easy to see that if we start
with a definition of right conduct as conduct conducive to general
happiness; then, knowing that right conduct is universally conduct
conducive to the good, we very easily arrive at the result that the
good is general happiness. If, on the other hand, we once recognise
that we must start our Ethics without a definition, we shall be much
more apt to look about us, before we adopt any ethical principle
whatever; and the more we look about us, the less likely are we to
adopt a false one. It may be replied to this: Yes, but we shall look
about us just as much, before we settle on our definition, and are
therefore just as likely to be right. But I will try to shew that this
is not the case. If we start with the conviction that a definition of
good can be found, we start with the conviction that good _can mean_
nothing else than some one property of things; and our only business
will then be to discover what that property is. But if we recognise
that, so far as the meaning of good goes, anything whatever may be
good, we start with a much more open mind. Moreover, apart from the
fact that, when we think we have a definition, we cannot logically
defend our ethical principles in any way whatever, we shall also be
much less apt to defend them well, even if illogically. For we shall
start with the conviction that good must mean so and so, and shall
therefore be inclined either to misunderstand our opponent’s arguments
or to cut them short with the reply, ‘This is not an open question: the
very meaning of the word decides it; no one can think otherwise except
through confusion.’


=15.= Our first conclusion as to the subject-matter of Ethics is, then,
that there is a simple, indefinable, unanalysable object of thought by
reference to which it must be defined. By what name we call this unique
object is a matter of indifference, so long as we clearly recognise
what it is and that it does differ from other objects. The words which
are commonly taken as the signs of ethical judgments all do refer to
it; and they are expressions of ethical judgments solely because they
do so refer. But they may refer to it in two different ways, which
it is very important to distinguish, if we are to have a complete
definition of the range of ethical judgments. Before I proceeded to
argue that there was such an indefinable notion involved in ethical
notions, I stated (§ 4) that it was necessary for Ethics to enumerate
all true universal judgments, asserting that such and such a thing was
good, whenever it occurred. But, although all such judgments do refer
to that unique notion which I have called ‘good,’ they do not all refer
to it in the same way. They may either assert that this unique property
does always attach to the thing in question, or else they may assert
only that the thing in question is _a cause or necessary condition_
for the existence of other things to which this unique property does
attach. The nature of these two species of universal ethical judgments
is extremely different; and a great part of the difficulties, which
are met with in ordinary ethical speculation, are due to the failure
to distinguish them clearly. Their difference has, indeed, received
expression in ordinary language by the contrast between the terms ‘good
as means’ and ‘good in itself,’ ‘value as a means’ and ‘intrinsic
value.’ But these terms are apt to be applied correctly only in the
more obvious instances; and this seems to be due to the fact that the
distinction between the conceptions which they denote has not been made
a separate object of investigation. This distinction may be briefly
pointed out as follows.


=16.= Whenever we judge that a thing is ‘good as a means,’ we are
making a judgment with regard to its causal relations: we judge
_both_ that it will have a particular kind of effect, _and_ that that
effect will be good in itself. But to find causal judgments that
are universally true is notoriously a matter of extreme difficulty.
The late date at which most of the physical sciences became exact,
and the comparative fewness of the laws which they have succeeded
in establishing even now, are sufficient proofs of this difficulty.
With regard, then, to what are the most frequent objects of ethical
judgments, namely actions, it is obvious that we cannot be satisfied
that any of our universal causal judgments are true, even in the
sense in which scientific laws are so. We cannot even discover
hypothetical laws of the form ‘Exactly this action will always, under
these conditions, produce exactly that effect.’ But for a correct
ethical judgment with regard to the effects of certain actions we
require more than this in two respects. (1) We require to know
that a given action will produce a certain effect, _under whatever
circumstances it occurs_. But this is certainly impossible. It is
certain that in different circumstances the same action may produce
effects which are utterly different in all respects upon which the
value of the effects depends. Hence we can never be entitled to more
than a _generalisation_--to a proposition of the form ‘This result
_generally_ follows this kind of action’; and even this generalisation
will only be true, if the circumstances under which the action occurs
are generally the same. This is in fact the case, to a great extent,
within any one particular age and state of society. But, when we take
other ages into account, in many most important cases the normal
circumstances of a given kind of action will be so different, that the
generalisation which is true for one will not be true for another.
With regard then to ethical judgments which assert that a certain
kind of action is good as a means to a certain kind of effect, none
will be _universally_ true; and many, though _generally_ true at one
period, will be generally false at others. But (2) we require to know
not only that _one_ good effect will be produced, but that, among all
subsequent events affected by the action in question, the balance
of good will be greater than if any other possible action had been
performed. In other words, to judge that an action is generally a means
to good is to judge not only that it generally does _some_ good, but
that it generally does the greatest good of which the circumstances
admit. In this respect ethical judgments about the effects of action
involve a difficulty and a complication far greater than that involved
in the establishment of scientific laws. For the latter we need only
consider a single effect; for the former it is essential to consider
not only this, but the effects of that effect, and so on as far as our
view into the future can reach. It is, indeed, obvious that our view
can never reach far enough for us to be certain that any action will
produce the best possible effects. We must be content, if the greatest
possible balance of good seems to be produced within a limited period.
But it is important to notice that the whole series of effects within
a period of considerable length is actually taken account of in our
common judgments that an action is good as a means; and that hence
this additional complication, which makes ethical generalisations so
far more difficult to establish than scientific laws, is one which is
involved in actual ethical discussions, and is of practical importance.
The commonest rules of conduct involve such considerations as the
balancing of future bad health against immediate gains; and even if we
can never settle with any certainty how we shall secure the greatest
possible total of good, we try at least to assure ourselves that
probable future evils will not be greater than the immediate good.


=17.= There are, then, judgments which state that certain kinds of
things have good effects; and such judgments, for the reasons just
given, have the important characteristics (1) that they are unlikely to
be true, if they state that the kind of thing in question _always_ has
good effects, and (2) that, even if they only state that it _generally_
has good effects, many of them will only be true of certain periods
in the world’s history. On the other hand there are judgments which
state that certain kinds of things are themselves good; and these
differ from the last in that, if true at all, they are all of them
universally true. It is, therefore, extremely important to distinguish
these two kinds of possible judgments. Both may be expressed in the
same language: in both cases we commonly say ‘Such and such a thing is
good.’ But in the one case ‘good’ will mean ‘good as means,’ _i.e._
merely that the thing is a means to good--will have good effects:
in the other case it will mean ‘good as end’--we shall be judging
that the thing itself has the property which, in the first case, we
asserted only to belong to its effects. It is plain that these are very
different assertions to make about a thing; it is plain that either or
both of them may be made, both truly and falsely, about all manner of
things; and it is certain that unless we are clear as to which of the
two we mean to assert, we shall have a very poor chance of deciding
rightly whether our assertion is true or false. It is precisely this
clearness as to the meaning of the question asked which has hitherto
been almost entirely lacking in ethical speculation. Ethics has always
been predominantly concerned with the investigation of a limited
class of actions. With regard to these we may ask _both_ how far they
are good in themselves _and_ how far they have a general tendency to
produce good results. And the arguments brought forward in ethical
discussion have always been of both classes--both such as would prove
the conduct in question to be good in itself and such as would prove
it to be good as a means. But that these are the only questions which
any ethical discussion can have to settle, and that to settle the one
is _not_ the same thing as to settle the other--these two fundamental
facts have in general escaped the notice of ethical philosophers.
Ethical questions are commonly asked in an ambiguous form. It is asked
‘What is a man’s duty under these circumstances?’ or ‘Is it right to
act in this way?’ or ‘What ought we to aim at securing?’ But all these
questions are capable of further analysis; a correct answer to any
of them involves both judgments of what is good in itself and causal
judgments. This is implied even by those who maintain that we have a
direct and immediate judgment of absolute rights and duties. Such a
judgment can only mean that the course of action in question is _the_
best thing to do; that, by acting so, every good that _can_ be secured
will have been secured. Now we are not concerned with the question
whether such a judgment will ever be true. The question is: What
does it imply, if it is true? And the only possible answer is that,
whether true or false, it implies both a proposition as to the degree
of goodness of the action in question, as compared with other things,
and a number of causal propositions. For it cannot be denied that the
action will have consequences: and to deny that the consequences matter
is to make a judgment of their intrinsic value, as compared with the
action itself. In asserting that the action is _the_ best thing to do,
we assert that it together with its consequences presents a greater sum
of intrinsic value than any possible alternative. And this condition
may be realised by any of the three cases:--(_a_) If the action itself
has greater intrinsic value than any alternative, whereas both its
consequences and those of the alternatives are absolutely devoid
either of intrinsic merit or intrinsic demerit; or (_b_) if, though
its consequences are intrinsically bad, the balance of intrinsic value
is greater than would be produced by any alternative; or (_c_) if, its
consequences being intrinsically good, the degree of value belonging
to them and it conjointly is greater than that of any alternative
series. In short, to assert that a certain line of conduct is, at a
given time, absolutely right or obligatory, is obviously to assert
that more good or less evil will exist in the world, if it be adopted,
than if anything else be done instead. But this implies a judgment as
to the value both of its own consequences and of those of any possible
alternative. And that an action will have such and such consequences
involves a number of causal judgments.

Similarly, in answering the question ‘What ought we to aim at
securing?’ causal judgments are again involved, but in a somewhat
different way. We are liable to forget, because it is so obvious,
that this question can never be answered correctly except by naming
something which _can_ be secured. Not everything can be secured; and,
even if we judge that nothing which cannot be obtained would be of
equal value with that which can, the possibility of the latter, as
well as its value, is essential to its being a proper end of action.
Accordingly neither our judgments as to what actions we ought to
perform, nor even our judgments as to the ends which they ought to
produce, are pure judgments of intrinsic value. With regard to
the former, an action which is absolutely obligatory _may_ have no
intrinsic value whatsoever; that it is perfectly virtuous may mean
merely that it causes the best possible effects. And with regard to the
latter, these best possible results which justify our action can, in
any case, have only so much of intrinsic value as the laws of nature
allow us to secure; and they in their turn _may_ have no intrinsic
value whatsoever, but may merely be a means to the attainment (in a
still further future) of something that has such value. Whenever,
therefore, we ask ‘What ought we to do?’ or ‘What ought we to try to
get?’ we are asking questions which involve a correct answer to two
others, completely different in kind from one another. We must know
_both_ what degree of intrinsic value different things have, _and_
how these different things may be obtained. But the vast majority of
questions which have actually been discussed in Ethics--_all_ practical
questions, indeed--involve this double knowledge; and they have been
discussed without any clear separation of the two distinct questions
involved. A great part of the vast disagreements prevalent in Ethics is
to be attributed to this failure in analysis. By the use of conceptions
which involve both that of intrinsic value and that of causal relation,
as if they involved intrinsic value only, two different errors have
been rendered almost universal. Either it is assumed that nothing has
intrinsic value which is not possible, or else it is assumed that what
is necessary must have intrinsic value. Hence the primary and peculiar
business of Ethics, the determination what things have intrinsic
value and in what degrees, has received no adequate treatment at all.
And on the other hand a _thorough_ discussion of means has been also
largely neglected, owing to an obscure perception of the truth that
it is perfectly irrelevant to the question of intrinsic values. But
however this may be, and however strongly any particular reader may be
convinced that some one of the mutually contradictory systems which
hold the field has given a correct answer either to the question what
has intrinsic value, or to the question what we ought to do, or to
both, it must at least be admitted that the questions what is best
in itself and what will bring about the best possible, are utterly
distinct; that both belong to the actual subject-matter of Ethics; and
that the more clearly distinct questions are distinguished, the better
is our chance of answering both correctly.


=18.= There remains one point which must not be omitted in a complete
description of the kind of questions which Ethics has to answer. The
main division of those questions is, as I have said, into two; the
question what things are good in themselves, and the question to what
other things these are related as effects. The first of these, which is
the primary ethical question and is presupposed by the other, includes
a correct comparison of the various things which have intrinsic value
(if there are many such) in respect of the degree of value which they
have; and such comparison involves a difficulty of principle which has
greatly aided the confusion of intrinsic value with mere ‘goodness
as a means.’ It has been pointed out that one difference between a
judgment which asserts that a thing is good in itself, and a judgment
which asserts that it is a means to good, consists in the fact that
the first, if true of one instance of the thing in question, is
necessarily true of all; whereas a thing which has good effects under
some circumstances may have bad ones under others. Now it is certainly
true that all judgments of intrinsic value are in this sense universal;
but the principle which I have now to enunciate may easily make it
appear as if they were not so but resembled the judgment of means in
being merely general. There is, as will presently be maintained, a
vast number of different things, each of which has intrinsic value;
there are also very many which are positively bad; and there is a still
larger class of things, which appear to be indifferent. But a thing
belonging to any of these three classes may occur as part of a whole,
which includes among its other parts other things belonging both to
the same and to the other two classes; and these wholes, as such, may
also have intrinsic value. The paradox, to which it is necessary to
call attention, is that _the value of such a whole bears no regular
proportion to the sum of the values of its parts_. It is certain that
a good thing may exist in such a relation to another good thing that
the value of the whole thus formed is immensely greater than the sum
of the values of the two good things. It is certain that a whole formed
of a good thing and an indifferent thing may have immensely greater
value than that good thing itself possesses. It is certain that two
bad things or a bad thing and an indifferent thing may form a whole
much worse than the sum of badness of its parts. And it seems as if
indifferent things may also be the sole constituents of a whole which
has great value, either positive or negative. Whether the addition of
a bad thing to a good whole may increase the positive value of the
whole, or the addition of a bad thing to a bad may produce a whole
having positive value, may seem more doubtful; but it is, at least,
possible, and this possibility must be taken into account in our
ethical investigations. However we may decide particular questions, the
principle is clear. _The value of a whole must not be assumed to be the
same as the sum of the values of its parts._

A single instance will suffice to illustrate the kind of relation in
question. It seems to be true that to be conscious of a beautiful
object is a thing of great intrinsic value; whereas the same object, if
no one be conscious of it, has certainly comparatively little value,
and is commonly held to have none at all. But the consciousness of a
beautiful object is certainly a whole of some sort in which we can
distinguish as parts the object on the one hand and the being conscious
on the other. Now this latter factor occurs as part of a different
whole, whenever we are conscious of anything; and it would seem that
some of these wholes have at all events very little value, and may
even be indifferent or positively bad. Yet we cannot always attribute
the slightness of their value to any positive demerit in the object
which differentiates them from the consciousness of beauty; the object
itself may approach as near as possible to absolute neutrality. Since,
therefore, mere consciousness does not always confer great value upon
the whole of which it forms a part, even though its object may have
no great demerit, we cannot attribute the great superiority of the
consciousness of a beautiful thing over the beautiful thing itself
to the mere addition of the value of consciousness to that of the
beautiful thing. Whatever the intrinsic value of consciousness may
be, it does not give to the whole of which it forms a part a value
proportioned to the sum of its value and that of its object. If this
be so, we have here an instance of a whole possessing a different
intrinsic value from the sum of that of its parts; and whether it be so
or not, what is meant by such a difference is illustrated by this case.


=19.= There are, then, wholes which possess the property that their
value is different from the sum of the values of their parts; and the
relations which subsist between such parts and the whole of which they
form a part have not hitherto been distinctly recognised or received
a separate name. Two points are especially worthy of notice. (1) It
is plain that the existence of any such part is a necessary condition
for the existence of that good which is constituted by the whole. And
exactly the same language will also express the relation between a
means and the good thing which is its effect. But yet there is a most
important difference between the two cases, constituted by the fact
that the part is, whereas the means is not, a part of the good thing
for the existence of which its existence is a necessary condition. The
necessity by which, if the good in question is to exist, the means to
it must exist is merely a natural or causal necessity. If the laws of
nature were different, exactly the same good might exist, although
what is now a necessary condition of its existence did not exist.
The existence of the means has no intrinsic value; and its utter
annihilation would leave the value of that which it is now necessary
to secure entirely unchanged. But in the case of a part of such a
whole as we are now considering, it is otherwise. In this case the
good in question cannot conceivably exist, unless the part exist also.
The necessity which connects the two is quite independent of natural
law. What is asserted to have intrinsic value is the existence of the
whole; and the existence of the whole includes the existence of its
part. Suppose the part removed, and what remains is _not_ what was
asserted to have intrinsic value; but if we suppose a means removed,
what remains is just what _was_ asserted to have intrinsic value. And
yet (2) the existence of the part may _itself_ have no more intrinsic
value than that of the means. It is this fact which constitutes the
paradox of the relation which we are discussing. It has just been
said that what has intrinsic value is the existence of the whole, and
that this includes the existence of the part; and from this it would
seem a natural inference that the existence of the part has intrinsic
value. But the inference would be as false as if we were to conclude
that, because the number of two stones was two, each of the stones was
also two. The part of a valuable whole retains exactly the same value
when it is, as when it is not, a part of that whole. If it had value
under other circumstances, its value is not any greater, when it is
part of a far more valuable whole; and if it had no value by itself,
it has none still, however great be that of the whole of which it now
forms a part. We are not then justified in asserting that one and the
same thing is under some circumstances intrinsically good, and under
others not so; as we are justified in asserting of a means that it
sometimes does and sometimes does not produce good results. And yet we
are justified in asserting that it is far more desirable that a certain
thing should exist under some circumstances than under others; namely
when other things will exist in such relations to it as to form a more
valuable whole. _It_ will not have more intrinsic value under these
circumstances than under others; _it_ will not necessarily even be a
means to the existence of things having more intrinsic value: but it
will, like a means, be a necessary condition for the existence of that
which _has_ greater intrinsic value, although, unlike a means, it will
itself form a part of this more valuable existent.


=20.= I have said that the peculiar relation between part and whole
which I have just been trying to define is one which has received no
separate name. It would, however, be useful that it should have one;
and there is a name, which might well be appropriated to it, if only
it could be divorced from its present unfortunate usage. Philosophers,
especially those who profess to have derived great benefit from the
writings of Hegel, have latterly made much use of the terms ‘organic
whole,’ ‘organic unity,’ ‘organic relation.’ The reason why these terms
might well be appropriated to the use suggested is that the peculiar
relation of parts to whole, just defined, is one of the properties
which distinguishes the wholes to which they are actually applied with
the greatest frequency. And the reason why it is desirable that they
should be divorced from their present usage is that, as at present
used, they have no distinct sense and, on the contrary, both imply and
propagate errors of confusion.

To say that a thing is an ‘organic whole’ is generally understood
to imply that its parts are related to one another and to itself
as means to end; it is also understood to imply that they have a
property described in some such phrase as that they have ‘no meaning
or significance apart from the whole’; and finally such a whole is
also treated as if it had the property to which I am proposing that
the name should be confined. But those who use the term give us, in
general, no hint as to how they suppose these three properties to be
related to one another. It seems generally to be assumed that they are
identical; and always, at least, that they are necessarily connected
with one another. That they are not identical I have already tried to
shew; to suppose them so is to neglect the very distinctions pointed
out in the last paragraph; and the usage might well be discontinued
merely because it encourages such neglect. But a still more cogent
reason for its discontinuance is that, so far from being necessarily
connected, the second is a property which can attach to nothing, being
a self-contradictory conception; whereas the first, if we insist on its
most important sense, applies to many cases, to which we have no reason
to think that the third applies also, and the third certainly applies
to many to which the first does not apply.


=21.= These relations between the three properties just distinguished
may be illustrated by reference to a whole of the kind from which
the name ‘organic’ was derived--a whole which is an organism in the
scientific sense--namely the human body.

(1) There exists between many parts of our body (though not between
all) a relation which has been familiarised by the fable, attributed
to Menenius Agrippa, concerning the belly and its members. We can
find in it parts such that the continued existence of the one is a
necessary condition for the continued existence of the other; while the
continued existence of this latter is also a necessary condition for
the continued existence of the former. This amounts to no more than
saying that in the body we have instances of two things, both enduring
for some time, which have a relation of mutual causal dependence on one
another--a relation of ‘reciprocity.’ Frequently no more than this is
meant by saying that the parts of the body form an ‘organic unity,’ or
that they are mutually means and ends to one another. And we certainly
have here a striking characteristic of living things. But it would be
extremely rash to assert that this relation of mutual causal dependence
was only exhibited by living things and hence was sufficient to define
their peculiarity. And it is obvious that of two things which have this
relation of mutual dependence, neither may have intrinsic value, or
one may have it and the other lack it. They are not necessarily ‘ends’
to one another in any sense except that in which ‘end’ means ‘effect.’
And moreover it is plain that in this sense the whole cannot be an end
to any of its parts. We are apt to talk of ‘the whole’ in contrast to
one of its parts, when in fact we mean only _the rest_ of the parts.
But strictly the whole must include all its parts and no part can
be a cause of the whole, because it cannot be a cause of itself. It
is plain, therefore, that this relation of mutual causal dependence
implies nothing with regard to the value of either of the objects which
have it; and that, even if both of them happen also to have value, this
relation between them is one which cannot hold between part and whole.

But (2) it may also be the case that our body as a whole has a value
greater than the sum of values of its parts; and this may be what is
meant when it is said that the parts are means to the whole. It is
obvious that if we ask the question ‘Why _should_ the parts be such as
they are?’ a proper answer may be ‘Because the whole they form has so
much value.’ But it is equally obvious that the relation which we thus
assert to exist between part and whole is quite different from that
which we assert to exist between part and part when we say ‘This part
exists, because that one could not exist without it.’ In the latter
case we assert the two parts to be causally connected; but, in the
former, part and whole cannot be causally connected, and the relation
which we assert to exist between them may exist even though the parts
are not causally connected either. All the parts of a picture do not
have that relation of mutual causal dependence, which certain parts of
the body have, and yet the existence of those which do not have it may
be absolutely essential to the value of the whole. The two relations
are quite distinct in kind, and we cannot infer the existence of the
one from that of the other. It can, therefore, serve no useful purpose
to include them both under the same name; and if we are to say that
a whole is organic because its parts are (in this sense) ‘means’ to
the whole, we must _not_ say that it is organic because its parts are
causally dependent on one another.


=22.= But finally (3) the sense which has been most prominent in
recent uses of the term ‘organic whole’ is one whereby it asserts the
parts of such a whole to have a property which the parts of no whole
can possibly have. It is supposed that just as the whole would not
be what it is but for the existence of the parts, so the parts would
not be what they are but for the existence of the whole; and this is
understood to mean not merely that any particular part could not exist
unless the others existed too (which is the case where relation (1)
exists between the parts), but actually that the part is no distinct
object of thought--that the whole, of which it is a part, is in its
turn a part of it. That this supposition is self-contradictory a very
little reflection should be sufficient to shew. We may admit, indeed,
that when a particular thing is a part of a whole, it does possess a
predicate which it would not otherwise possess--namely that it is a
part of that whole. But what cannot be admitted is that this predicate
alters the nature or enters into the definition of the thing which has
it. When we think of the part _itself_, we mean just _that which_ we
assert, in this case, to _have_ the predicate that it is part of the
whole; and the mere assertion that _it_ is a part of the whole involves
that it should itself be distinct from that which we assert of it.
Otherwise we contradict ourselves since we assert that, not _it_, but
something else--namely it together with that which we assert of it--has
the predicate which we assert of it. In short, it is obvious that no
part contains analytically the whole to which it belongs, or any other
parts of that whole. The relation of part to whole is _not_ the same
as that of whole to part; and the very definition of the latter is
that it does contain analytically that which is said to be its part.
And yet this very self-contradictory doctrine is the chief mark which
shews the influence of Hegel upon modern philosophy--an influence which
pervades almost the whole of orthodox philosophy. This is what is
generally implied by the cry against falsification by abstraction: that
a whole is always a part of its part! ‘If you want to know the truth
about a part,’ we are told, ‘you must consider _not_ that part, but
something else--namely the whole: _nothing_ is true of the part, but
only of the whole.’ Yet plainly it must be true of the part at least
that it is a part of the whole; and it is obvious that when we say it
is, we do _not_ mean merely that the whole is a part of itself. This
doctrine, therefore, that a part can have ‘no meaning or significance
apart from its whole’ must be utterly rejected. It implies itself that
the statement ‘This is a part of that whole’ has a meaning; and in
order that this may have one, both subject and predicate must have a
distinct meaning. And it is easy to see how this false doctrine has
arisen by confusion with the two relations (1) and (2) which may really
be properties of wholes.

(_a_) The _existence_ of a part may be connected by a natural or
causal necessity with the existence of the other parts of its whole;
and further what is a part of a whole and what has ceased to be such a
part, although differing intrinsically from one another, may be called
by one and the same name. Thus, to take a typical example, if an arm
be cut off from the human body, we still call it an arm. Yet an arm,
when it is a part of the body, undoubtedly differs from a dead arm:
and hence we may easily be led to say ‘The arm which is a part of the
body would not be what it is, if it were not such a part,’ and to think
that the contradiction thus expressed is in reality a characteristic
of things. But, in fact, the dead arm never was a part of the body;
it is only _partially_ identical with the living arm. Those parts of
it which are identical with parts of the living arm are exactly the
same, whether they belong to the body or not; and in them we have an
undeniable instance of one and the same thing at one time forming
a part, and at another not forming a part of the presumed ‘organic
whole.’ On the other hand those properties which _are_ possessed by
the living, and _not_ by the dead, arm, do not exist in a changed form
in the latter: they simply do not exist there _at all_. By a causal
necessity their existence depends on their having that relation to the
other parts of the body which we express by saying that they form part
of it. Yet, most certainly, _if_ they ever did not form part of the
body, they _would_ be exactly what they are when they do. That they
differ intrinsically from the properties of the dead arm and that they
form part of the body are propositions not analytically related to one
another. There is no contradiction in supposing them to retain such
intrinsic differences and yet not to form part of the body.

But (_b_) when we are told that a living arm has no _meaning_ or
_significance_ apart from the body to which it belongs, a different
fallacy is also suggested. ‘To have meaning or significance’ is
commonly used in the sense of ‘to have importance’; and this again
means ‘to have value either as a means or as an end.’ Now it is quite
possible that even a living arm, apart from its body, would have no
intrinsic value whatever; although the whole of which it is a part
has great intrinsic value owing to its presence. Thus we may easily
come to say that, _as_ a part of the body, it has great value, whereas
_by itself_ it would have none; and thus that its whole ‘meaning’
lies in its relation to the body. But in fact the value in question
obviously does not belong to _it_ at all. To have value merely as a
part is equivalent to having no value at all, but merely being a part
of that which has it. Owing, however, to neglect of this distinction,
the assertion that a part has value, _as a part_, which it would
not otherwise have, easily leads to the assumption that it is also
different, as a part, from what it would otherwise be; for it is, in
fact, true that two things which have a different value must also
differ in other respects. Hence the assumption that one and the same
thing, because it is a part of a more valuable whole at one time than
at another, therefore has more intrinsic value at one time than at
another, has encouraged the self-contradictory belief that one and the
same thing may be two different things, and that only in one of its
forms is it truly what it is.

For these reasons, I shall, where it seems convenient, take the
liberty to use the term ‘organic’ with a special sense. I shall use
it to denote the fact that a whole has an intrinsic value different
in amount from the sum of the values of its parts. I shall use it to
denote this and only this. The term will not imply any causal relation
whatever between the parts of the whole in question. And it will not
imply either, that the parts are inconceivable except as parts of that
whole, or that, when they form parts of such a whole, they have a value
different from that which they would have if they did not. Understood
in this special and perfectly definite sense the relation of an organic
whole to its parts is one of the most important which Ethics has to
recognise. A chief part of that science should be occupied in comparing
the relative values of various goods; and the grossest errors will be
committed in such comparison if it be assumed that wherever two things
form a whole, the value of that whole is merely the sum of the values
of those two things. With this question of ‘organic wholes,’ then, we
complete the enumeration of the kind of problems, with which it is the
business of Ethics to deal.


=23.= In this chapter I have endeavoured to enforce the following
conclusions. (1) The peculiarity of Ethics is not that it investigates
assertions about human conduct, but that it investigates assertions
about that property of things which is denoted by the term ‘good,’ and
the converse property denoted by the term ‘bad.’ It must, in order
to establish its conclusions, investigate the truth of _all_ such
assertions, _except_ those which assert the relation of this property
only to a single existent (1-4). (2) This property, by reference to
which the subject-matter of Ethics must be defined, is itself simple
and indefinable (5-14). And (3) all assertions about its relation to
other things are of two, and only two, kinds: they either assert in
what degree things themselves possess this property, or else they
assert causal relations between other things and those which possess
it (15-17). Finally, (4) in considering the different degrees in which
things themselves possess this property, we have to take account of
the fact that a whole may possess it in a degree different from that
which is obtained by summing the degrees in which its parts possess it
(18-22).



CHAPTER II.

NATURALISTIC ETHICS.


=24.= It results from the conclusions of Chapter I, that all ethical
questions fall under one or other of three classes. The first class
contains but one question--the question What is the nature of that
peculiar predicate, the relation of which to other things constitutes
the object of all other ethical investigations? or, in other words,
What is _meant_ by good? This first question I have already attempted
to answer. The peculiar predicate, by reference to which the sphere of
Ethics must be defined, is simple, unanalysable, indefinable. There
remain two classes of questions with regard to the relation of this
predicate to other things. We may ask either (1) To what things and
in what degree does this predicate directly attach? What things are
good in themselves? or (2) By what means shall we be able to make what
exists in the world as good as possible? What causal relations hold
between what is best in itself and other things?

In this and the two following chapters, I propose to discuss certain
theories, which offer us an answer to the question What is good in
itself? I say advisedly--_an_ answer: for these theories are all
characterised by the fact that, if true, they would simplify the study
of Ethics very much. They all hold that there is only _one_ kind of
fact, of which the existence has any value at all. But they all also
possess another characteristic, which is my reason for grouping them
together and treating them first: namely that the main reason why the
single kind of fact they name has been held to define the sole good,
is that it has been held to define what is meant by ‘good’ itself. In
other words they are all theories of the end or ideal, the adoption of
which has been chiefly caused by the commission of what I have called
the naturalistic fallacy: they all confuse the first and second of the
three possible questions which Ethics can ask. It is, indeed, this fact
which explains their contention that only a single kind of thing is
good. That a thing should be good, it has been thought, _means_ that
it possesses this single property: and hence (it is thought) only what
possesses this property is good. The inference seems very natural; and
yet what is meant by it is self-contradictory. For those who make it
fail to perceive that their conclusion ‘what possesses this property is
good’ is a significant proposition: that it does not mean either ‘what
possesses this property, possesses this property’ or ‘the word “good”
denotes that a thing possesses this property.’ And yet, if it does
_not_ mean one or other of these two things, the inference contradicts
its own premise.

I propose, therefore, to discuss certain theories of what is good in
itself, which are _based_ on the naturalistic fallacy, in the sense
that the commission of this fallacy has been the main cause of their
wide acceptance. The discussion will be designed both (1) further to
illustrate the fact that the naturalistic fallacy is a fallacy, or, in
other words, that we are all aware of a certain simple quality, which
(and not anything else) is what we mainly mean by the term ‘good’;
and (2) to shew that not one, but many different things, possess this
property. For I cannot hope to recommend the doctrine that things which
are good do not owe their goodness to their common possession of any
other property, without a criticism of the main doctrines, opposed
to this, whose power to recommend themselves is proved by their wide
prevalence.


=25.= The theories I propose to discuss may be conveniently divided
into two groups. The naturalistic fallacy always implies that when
we think ‘This is good,’ what we are thinking is that the thing in
question bears a definite relation to some one other thing. But this
one thing, by reference to which good is defined, may be either
what I may call a natural object--something of which the existence
is admittedly an object of experience--or else it may be an object
which is only inferred to exist in a supersensible real world. These
two types of ethical theory I propose to treat separately. Theories
of the second type may conveniently be called ‘metaphysical,’ and I
shall postpone consideration of them till Chapter IV. In this and
the following chapter, on the other hand, I shall deal with theories
which owe their prevalence to the supposition that good can be defined
by reference to a _natural object_; and these are what I mean by the
name, which gives the title to this chapter, ‘Naturalistic Ethics.’ It
should be observed that the fallacy, by reference to which I define
‘Metaphysical Ethics,’ is the same in kind; and I give it but one name,
the naturalistic fallacy. But when we regard the ethical theories
recommended by this fallacy, it seems convenient to distinguish those
which consider goodness to consist in a relation to something which
exists here and now, from those which do not. According to the former,
Ethics is an empirical or positive science: its conclusions could be
all established by means of empirical observation and induction. But
this is not the case with Metaphysical Ethics. There is, therefore,
a marked distinction between these two groups of ethical theories
based on the same fallacy. And within Naturalistic theories, too, a
convenient division may also be made. There is one natural object,
namely pleasure, which has perhaps been as frequently held to be the
sole good as all the rest put together. And there is, moreover, a
further reason for treating Hedonism separately. That doctrine has, I
think, as plainly as any other, owed its prevalence to the naturalistic
fallacy; but it has had a singular fate in that the writer, who first
clearly exposed the fallacy of the naturalistic arguments by which
it had been attempted to _prove_ that pleasure was the sole good,
has maintained that nevertheless it _is_ the sole good. I propose,
therefore, to divide my discussion of Hedonism from that of other
Naturalistic theories; treating of Naturalistic Ethics in general in
this chapter, and of Hedonism, in particular, in the next.


=26.= The subject of the present chapter is, then, ethical theories
which declare that no intrinsic value is to be found except in the
possession of some one _natural_ property, other than pleasure; and
which declare this because it is supposed that to be ‘good’ _means_ to
possess the property in question. Such theories I call ‘Naturalistic.’
I have thus appropriated the name Naturalism to a particular method
of approaching Ethics--a method which, strictly understood, is
inconsistent with the possibility of any Ethics whatsoever. This
method consists in substituting for ‘good’ some one property of a
natural object or of a collection of natural objects; and in thus
replacing Ethics by some one of the natural sciences. In general, the
science thus substituted is one of the sciences specially concerned
with man, owing to the general mistake (for such I hold it to be)
of regarding the matter of Ethics as confined to human conduct. In
general, Psychology has been the science substituted, as by J. S. Mill;
or Sociology, as by Professor Clifford, and other modern writers.
But any other science might equally well be substituted. It is the
same fallacy which is implied, when Professor Tyndall recommends us
to ‘conform to the laws of matter’: and here the science which it is
proposed to substitute for Ethics is simply Physics. The name then is
perfectly general; for, no matter what the something is that good is
held to mean, the theory is still Naturalism. Whether good be defined
as yellow or green or blue, as loud or soft, as round or square, as
sweet or bitter, as productive of life or productive of pleasure, as
willed or desired or felt: whichever of these or of any other object in
the world, good may be held to _mean_, the theory, which holds it to
_mean_ them, will be a naturalistic theory. I have called such theories
naturalistic because all of these terms denote properties, simple
or complex, of some simple or complex natural object; and, before I
proceed to consider them, it will be well to define what is meant by
‘nature’ and by ‘natural objects.’

By ‘nature,’ then, I do mean and have meant that which is the
subject-matter of the natural sciences and also of psychology. It may
be said to include all that has existed, does exist, or will exist in
time. If we consider whether any object is of such a nature that it may
be said to exist now, to have existed, or to be about to exist, then
we may know that that object is a natural object, and that nothing, of
which this is not true, is a natural object. Thus for instance, of our
minds we should say that they did exist yesterday, that they do exist
to-day, and probably will exist in a minute or two. We shall say that
we had thoughts yesterday, which have ceased to exist now, although
their effects may remain: and in so far as those thoughts did exist,
they too are natural objects.

There is, indeed, no difficulty about the ‘objects’ themselves, in
the sense in which I have just used the term. It is easy to say which
of them are natural, and which (if any) are not natural. But when we
begin to consider the properties of objects, then I fear the problem
is more difficult. Which among the properties of natural objects are
natural properties and which are not? For I do not deny that good is a
property of certain natural objects: certain of them, I think, _are_
good; and yet I have said that ‘good’ itself is not a natural property.
Well, my test for these too also concerns their existence in time.
Can we imagine ‘good’ as existing _by itself_ in time, and not merely
as a property of some natural object? For myself, I cannot so imagine
it, whereas with the greater number of properties of objects--those
which I call the natural properties--their existence does seem to me to
be independent of the existence of those objects. They are, in fact,
rather parts of which the object is made up than mere predicates which
attach to it. If they were all taken away, no object would be left, not
even a bare substance: for they are in themselves substantial and give
to the object all the substance that it has. But this is not so with
good. If indeed good were a feeling, as some would have us believe,
then it would exist in time. But that is why to call it so is to commit
the naturalistic fallacy. It will always remain pertinent to ask,
whether the feeling itself is good; and if so, then good cannot itself
be identical with any feeling.


=27.= Those theories of Ethics, then, are ‘naturalistic’ which declare
the sole good to consist in some one property of things, which exists
in time; and which do so because they suppose that ‘good’ itself can
be defined by reference to such a property. And we may now proceed to
consider such theories.

And, first of all, one of the most famous of ethical maxims is that
which recommends a ‘life according to nature.’ That was the principle
of the Stoic Ethics; but, since their Ethics has some claim to be
called metaphysical, I shall not attempt to deal with it here. But
the same phrase reappears in Rousseau; and it is not unfrequently
maintained even now that what we ought to do is to live naturally. Now
let us examine this contention in its general form. It is obvious, in
the first place, that we cannot say that everything natural is good,
except perhaps in virtue of some metaphysical theory, such as I shall
deal with later. If everything natural is equally good, then certainly
Ethics, as it is ordinarily understood, disappears: for nothing is
more certain, from an ethical point of view, than that some things
are bad and others good; the object of Ethics is, indeed, in chief
part, to give you general rules whereby you may avoid the one and
secure the other. What, then, does ‘natural’ mean, in this advice to
live naturally, since it obviously cannot apply to everything that is
natural?

The phrase seems to point to a vague notion that there is some such
thing as natural good; to a belief that Nature may be said to fix and
decide what shall be good, just as she fixes and decides what shall
exist. For instance, it may be supposed that ‘health’ is susceptible
of a natural definition, that Nature has fixed what health shall be:
and health, it may be said, is obviously good; hence in this case
Nature has decided the matter; we have only to go to her and ask her
what health is, and we shall know what is good: we shall have based an
ethics upon science. But what is this natural definition of health? I
can only conceive that health should be defined in natural terms as
the _normal_ state of an organism for undoubtedly disease is also a
natural product. To say that health is what is preserved by evolution,
and what itself tends to preserve, in the struggle for existence, the
organism which possesses it, comes to the same thing: for the point
of evolution is that it pretends to give a causal explanation of why
some forms of life are normal and others are abnormal; it explains the
origin of species. When therefore we are told that health is natural,
we may presume that what is meant is that it is normal; and that when
we are told to pursue health as a natural end, what is implied is that
the normal must be good. But is it so obvious that the normal must
be good? Is it really obvious that health, for instance, is good?
Was the excellence of Socrates or of Shakespeare normal? Was it not
rather abnormal, extraordinary? It is, I think, obvious in the first
place, that not all that is good is normal; that, on the contrary, the
abnormal is often better than the normal: peculiar excellence, as well
as peculiar viciousness, must obviously be not normal but abnormal.
Yet it may be said that nevertheless the normal is good; and I myself
am not prepared to dispute that health is good. What I contend is
that this must not be taken to be obvious; that it must be regarded
as an open question. To declare it to be obvious is to suggest the
naturalistic fallacy: just as, in some recent books, a proof that
genius is diseased, abnormal, has been used in order to suggest that
genius ought not to be encouraged. Such reasoning is fallacious, and
dangerously fallacious. The fact is that in the very words ‘health’
and ‘disease’ we do commonly include the notion that the one is good
and the other bad. But, when a so-called scientific definition of them
is attempted, a definition in natural terms, the only one possible is
that by way of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal.’ Now, it is easy to prove that
some things commonly thought excellent are abnormal; and it follows
that they are diseased. But it does not follow, except by virtue of the
naturalistic fallacy, that those things, commonly thought good, are
therefore bad. All that has really been shewn is that in some cases
there is a conflict between the common judgment that genius is good,
and the common judgment that health is good. It is not sufficiently
recognised that the latter judgment has not a whit more warrant for
its truth than the former; that both are perfectly open questions. It
may be true, indeed, that by ‘healthy’ we do commonly imply ‘good’;
but that only shews that when we so use the word, we do not mean the
same thing by it as the thing which is meant in medical science.
That health, _when_ the word is used to denote something good, is
good, goes no way at all to shew that health, when the word is used
to denote something normal, is also good. We might as well say that,
because ‘bull’ denotes an Irish joke and also a certain animal, the
joke and the animal must be the same thing. We must not, therefore, be
frightened by the assertion that a thing is natural into the admission
that it is good; good does not, by definition, mean anything that is
natural; and it is therefore always an open question whether anything
that is natural is good.


=28.= But there is another slightly different sense in which the
word ‘natural’ is used with an implication that it denotes something
good. This is when we speak of natural affections, or unnatural
crimes and vices. Here the meaning seems to be, not so much that the
action or feeling in question is normal or abnormal, as that it is
necessary. It is in this connection that we are advised to imitate
savages and beasts. Curious advice certainly; but, of course, there
may be something in it. I am not here concerned to enquire under what
circumstances some of us might with advantage take a lesson from the
cow. I have really no doubt that such exist. What I am concerned with
is a certain kind of reason, which I think is sometimes used to support
this doctrine--a naturalistic reason. The notion sometimes lying at
the bottom of the minds of preachers of this gospel is that we cannot
improve on nature. This notion is certainly true, in the sense that
anything we can do, that may be better than the present state of
things, will be a natural product. But that is not what is meant by
this phrase; nature is again used to mean a mere part of nature; only
this time the part meant is not so much the normal as an arbitrary
minimum of what is necessary for life. And when this minimum is
recommended as ‘natural’--as the way of life to which Nature points her
finger--then the naturalistic fallacy is used. Against this position
I wish only to point out that though the performance of certain acts,
not in themselves desirable, may be _excused_ as necessary means to
the preservation of life, that is no reason for _praising_ them, or
advising us to limit ourselves to those simple actions which are
necessary, if it is possible for us to improve our condition even at
the expense of doing what is in this sense unnecessary. Nature does
indeed set limits to what is possible; she does control the means we
have at our disposal for obtaining what is good; and of this fact,
practical Ethics, as we shall see later, must certainly take account:
but when she is supposed to have a preference for what is necessary,
what is necessary means only what is necessary to obtain a certain end,
presupposed as the highest good; and what the highest good is Nature
cannot determine. Why should we suppose that what is merely necessary
to life is _ipso facto_ better than what is necessary to the study of
metaphysics, useless as that study may appear? It may be that life
is only worth living, because it enables us to study metaphysics--is
a necessary means thereto. The fallacy of this argument from nature
has been discovered as long ago as Lucian. ‘I was almost inclined to
laugh,’ says Callicratidas, in one of the dialogues imputed to him[4],
‘just now, when Charicles was praising irrational brutes and the
savagery of the Scythians: in the heat of his argument he was almost
repenting that he was born a Greek. What wonder if lions and bears and
pigs do not act as I was proposing? That which reasoning would fairly
lead a man to choose, cannot be had by creatures that do not reason,
simply because they are so stupid. If Prometheus or some other god had
given each of them the intelligence of a man, then they would not have
lived in deserts and mountains nor fed on one another. They would have
built temples just as we do, each would have lived in the centre of
his family, and they would have formed a nation bound by mutual laws.
Is it anything surprising that brutes, who have had the misfortune
to be unable to obtain by forethought any of the goods, with which
reasoning provides us, should have missed love too? Lions do not love;
but neither do they philosophise; bears do not love; but the reason
is they do not know the sweets of friendship. It is only men, who, by
their wisdom and their knowledge, after many trials, have chosen what
is best.’

  [4] Ἔρωτες, 436-7.


=29.= To argue that a thing is good _because_ it is ‘natural,’ or
bad _because_ it is ‘unnatural,’ in these common senses of the term,
is therefore certainly fallacious: and yet such arguments are very
frequently used. But they do not commonly pretend to give a systematic
theory of Ethics. Among attempts to _systematise_ an appeal to nature,
that which is now most prevalent is to be found in the application to
ethical questions of the term ‘Evolution’--in the ethical doctrines
which have been called ‘Evolutionistic.’ These doctrines are those
which maintain that the course of ‘evolution,’ while it shews us the
direction in which we _are_ developing, thereby and for that reason
shews us the direction in which we _ought_ to develop. Writers, who
maintain such a doctrine, are at present very numerous and very
popular; and I propose to take as my example the writer, who is
perhaps the best known of them all--Mr Herbert Spencer. Mr Spencer’s
doctrine, it must be owned, does not offer the _clearest_ example of
the naturalistic fallacy as used in support of Evolutionistic Ethics.
A clearer example might be found in the doctrine of Guyau[5], a writer
who has lately had considerable vogue in France, but who is not so well
known as Spencer. Guyau might almost be called a disciple of Spencer;
he is frankly evolutionistic, and frankly naturalistic; and I may
mention that he does not seem to think that he differs from Spencer by
reason of his naturalism. The point in which he has criticised Spencer
concerns the question how far the ends of ‘pleasure’ and of ‘increased
life’ coincide as motives and means to the attainment of the ideal: he
does not seem to think that he differs from Spencer in the fundamental
principle that the ideal is ‘Quantity of life, measured in breadth
as well as in length,’ or, as Guyau says, ‘Expansion and intensity
of life’; nor in the naturalistic reason which he gives for this
principle. And I am not sure that he does differ from Spencer in these
points. Spencer does, as I shall shew, use the naturalistic fallacy in
details; but with regard to his fundamental principles, the following
doubts occur: Is he fundamentally a Hedonist? And, if so, is he a
naturalistic Hedonist? In that case he would better have been treated
in my next chapter. Does he hold that a tendency to increase quantity
of life is merely a _criterion_ of good conduct? Or does he hold that
such increase of life is marked out by nature as an end at which we
ought to aim?

  [5] See _Esquisse d’une Morale sans Obligation ni Sanction_, par
  M. Guyau. 4me édition. Paris: F. Alcan, 1896.

I think his language in various places would give colour to all these
hypotheses; though some of them are mutually inconsistent. I will try
to discuss the main points.


=30.= The modern vogue of ‘Evolution’ is chiefly owing to Darwin’s
investigations as to the origin of species. Darwin formed a strictly
biological hypothesis as to the manner in which certain forms of animal
life became established, while others died out and disappeared. His
theory was that this might be accounted for, partly at least, in the
following way. When certain varieties occurred (the cause of their
occurrence is still, in the main, unknown), it might be that some of
the points, in which they varied from their parent species or from
other species then existing, made them better able to persist in the
environment in which they found themselves--less liable to be killed
off. They might, for instance, be better able to endure the cold or
heat or changes of the climate; better able to find nourishment from
what surrounded them; better able to escape from or resist other
species which fed upon them; better fitted to attract or to master the
other sex. Being thus less liable to die, their numbers relatively to
other species would increase; and that very increase in their numbers
might tend towards the extinction of those other species. This theory,
to which Darwin gave the name ‘Natural Selection,’ was also called the
theory of survival of the fittest. The natural process which it thus
described was called evolution. It was very natural to suppose that
evolution meant evolution from what was lower into what was higher;
in fact it was observed that at least one species, commonly called
higher--the species man--had so survived, and among men again it was
supposed that the higher races, ourselves for example, had shewn a
tendency to survive the lower, such as the North American Indians.
We can kill them more easily than they can kill us. The doctrine of
evolution was then represented as an explanation of how the higher
species survives the lower. Spencer, for example, constantly uses
‘more evolved’ as equivalent to ‘higher.’ But it is to be noted that
this forms no part of Darwin’s scientific theory. That theory will
explain, equally well, how by an alteration in the environment (the
gradual cooling of the earth, for example) quite a different species
from man, a species which we think infinitely lower, might survive us.
The survival of the fittest does _not_ mean, as one might suppose, the
survival of what is fittest to fulfil a good purpose best adapted to a
good end: at the last, it means merely the survival of the fittest to
survive; and the value of the scientific theory, and it is a theory of
great value, just consists in shewing what are the causes which produce
certain biological effects. Whether these effects are good or bad, it
cannot pretend to judge.


=31.= But now let us hear what Mr Spencer says about the application of
Evolution to Ethics.

‘I recur,’ he says[6], ‘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_[7] 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_[7]
in proportion as the activities, becoming less and less militant and
more and more industrial, are such as do not necessitate mutual injury
or hindrance, but consist with, and are furthered by, co-operation and
mutual aid.

  [6] _Data of Ethics_, Chap. II, § 7, _ad fin._

  [7] The italics are mine.

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

Now, if we are to take the last sentence strictly--if the propositions
which precede it are really thought by Mr Spencer to be _implications_
of the Evolution-Hypothesis--there can be no doubt that Mr Spencer has
committed the naturalistic fallacy. All that the Evolution-Hypothesis
tells us is that certain kinds of conduct are more evolved than others;
and this is, in fact, all that Mr Spencer has attempted to prove in
the two chapters concerned. Yet he tells us that one of the things it
has proved is that _conduct gains ethical sanction_ in proportion as it
displays certain characteristics. What he has tried to prove is only
that, in proportion as it displays those characteristics, it is _more
evolved_. It is plain, then, that Mr Spencer _identifies_ the gaining
of ethical sanction with the being more evolved: this follows strictly
from his words. But Mr Spencer’s language is extremely loose; and we
shall presently see that he seems to regard the view it here implies
as false. We cannot, therefore, take it as Mr Spencer’s definite view
that ‘better’ means nothing but ‘more evolved’; or even that what is
‘more evolved’ is _therefore_ ‘better.’ But we are entitled to urge
that he is influenced by these views, and therefore by the naturalistic
fallacy. It is only by the assumption of such influence that we can
explain his confusion as to what he has really proved, and the absence
of any attempt to prove, what he says he has proved, that conduct
which is more evolved is better. We shall look in vain for any attempt
to shew that ‘ethical sanction’ is in proportion to ‘evolution,’ or
that it is the ‘highest’ type of being which displays the most evolved
conduct; yet Mr Spencer concludes that this is the case. It is only
fair to assume that he is not sufficiently conscious how much these
propositions stand in need of proof--what a very different thing is
being ‘more evolved’ from being ‘higher’ or ‘better.’ It may, of
course, be true that what is more evolved is also higher and better.
But Mr Spencer does not seem aware that to assert the one is in any
case not the same thing as to assert the other. He argues at length
that certain kinds of conduct are ‘more evolved,’ and then informs
us that he has proved them to gain ethical sanction in proportion,
without any warning that he has omitted the most essential step in such
a proof. Surely this is sufficient evidence that he does not see how
essential that step is.


=32.= Whatever be the degree of Mr Spencer’s own guilt, what has
just been said will serve to illustrate the kind of fallacy which
is constantly committed by those who profess to ‘base’ Ethics on
Evolution. But we must hasten to add that the view which Mr Spencer
elsewhere most emphatically recommends is an utterly different one. It
will be useful briefly to deal with this, in order that no injustice
may be done to Mr Spencer. The discussion will be instructive partly
from the lack of clearness, which Mr Spencer displays, as to the
relation of this view to the ‘evolutionistic’ one just described; and
partly because there is reason to suspect that in this view also he is
influenced by the naturalistic fallacy.

We have seen that, at the end of his second chapter, Mr Spencer seems
to announce that he has already proved certain characteristics of
conduct to be a measure of its ethical value. He seems to think that
he has proved this merely by considering the evolution of conduct; and
he has certainly not given any such proof, unless we are to understand
that ‘more evolved’ is a mere synonym for ‘ethically better.’ He
now promises merely to _confirm_ this certain conclusion by shewing
that it ‘harmonizes with the leading moral ideas men have otherwise
reached.’ But, when we turn to his third chapter, we find that what
he actually does is something quite different. He here asserts that
to establish the conclusion ‘Conduct is better in proportion as it
is more evolved’ an entirely new proof is necessary. That conclusion
will be _false_, unless a certain proposition, of which we have heard
nothing so far, is true--unless it be true that life is _pleasant_ on
the whole. And the ethical proposition, for which he claims the support
of the ‘leading moral ideas’ of mankind, turns out to be that ‘life
is good or bad, according as it does, or does not, bring a surplus
of agreeable feeling’ (§ 10). Here, then, Mr Spencer appears, not as
an Evolutionist, but as a Hedonist, in Ethics. No conduct is better,
_because_ it is more evolved. Degree of evolution can at most be a
_criterion_ of ethical value; and it will only be that, if we can prove
the extremely difficult generalisation that the more evolved is always,
on the whole, the pleasanter. It is plain that Mr Spencer here rejects
the naturalistic identification of ‘better’ with ‘more evolved’;
but it is possible that he is influenced by another naturalistic
identification--that of ‘good’ with ‘pleasant.’ It is possible that Mr
Spencer is a naturalistic Hedonist.


=33.= Let us examine Mr Spencer’s own words. He begins this third
chapter by an attempt to shew that _we call_ ‘good the acts conducive
to life, in self or others, and bad those which directly or indirectly
tend towards death, special or general’ (§ 9). And then he asks: ‘Is
there any assumption made’ in so calling them? ‘Yes’; he answers,
‘an assumption of extreme significance has been made--an assumption
underlying all moral estimates. 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?... On the answer
to this question depends every decision concerning the goodness or
badness of conduct.’ But Mr Spencer does not immediately proceed to
give the answer. Instead of this, he asks another question: ‘But now,
have these irreconcilable opinions [pessimist and optimist] anything
in common?’ And this question he immediately answers by the statement:
‘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’ (§ 10). It is to the defence of this statement that the rest
of the chapter is devoted; and at the end Mr Spencer formulates his
conclusion in the following words: ‘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’ (§ 16 _ad fin._).

Now in all this, there are two points to which I wish to call
attention. The first is that Mr Spencer does not, after all, tell us
clearly what he takes to be the relation of Pleasure and Evolution in
ethical theory. Obviously he should mean that pleasure is the _only_
intrinsically desirable thing; that other good things are ‘good’ only
in the sense that they are means to its existence. Nothing but this
can properly be meant by asserting it to be ‘_the_ ultimate moral
aim,’ or, as he subsequently says (§ 62 _ad fin._), ‘_the_ ultimately
supreme end.’ And, if this were so, it would follow that the more
evolved conduct was better than the less evolved, only because, and in
proportion as, it gave more pleasure. But Mr Spencer tells us that two
conditions are, taken together, _sufficient_ to prove the more evolved
conduct better: (1) That it should tend to produce more life; (2) That
life should be worth living or contain a balance of pleasure. And the
point I wish to emphasise is that if these conditions are sufficient,
then pleasure cannot be the sole good. For though to produce more life
is, if the second of Mr Spencer’s propositions be correct, _one way_ of
producing more pleasure, it is not the only way. It is quite possible
that a small quantity of life, which was more intensely and uniformly
present, should give a greater quantity of pleasure than the greatest
possible quantity of life that was only just ‘worth living.’ And in
that case, on the hedonistic supposition that pleasure is the only
thing worth having, we should have to prefer the smaller quantity of
life and therefore, according to Mr Spencer, the less evolved conduct.
Accordingly, if Mr Spencer is a true Hedonist, the fact that life gives
a balance of pleasure is _not_, as he seems to think, sufficient to
prove that the more evolved conduct is the better. If Mr Spencer means
us to understand that it _is_ sufficient, then his view about pleasure
can only be, not that it is the sole good or ‘ultimately supreme end,’
but that a balance of it is a necessary constituent of the supreme end.
In short, Mr Spencer seems to maintain that more life is decidedly
better than less, _if only_ it give a balance of pleasure: and that
contention is inconsistent with the position that pleasure is ‘_the_
ultimate moral aim.’ Mr Spencer implies that of two quantities of life,
which gave an equal amount of pleasure, the larger would nevertheless
be preferable to the less. And if this be so, then he must maintain
that quantity of life or degree of evolution is itself an ultimate
condition of value. He leaves us, therefore, in doubt whether he is
not still retaining the Evolutionistic proposition, that the more
evolved is better, simply because it is more evolved, alongside of
the Hedonistic proposition, that the more pleasant is better, simply
because it is more pleasant.

But the second question which we have to ask is: What reasons has Mr
Spencer for assigning to pleasure the position which he does assign
to it? He tells us, we saw, that the ‘arguments’ both of pessimists
and of optimists ‘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’; and he betters this later by telling us that ‘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’ (§ 16). That these statements are absolutely false is,
of course, quite obvious: but why does Mr Spencer think them true?
and, what is more important (a question which Mr Spencer does not
distinguish too clearly from the last), why does he think the postulate
itself to be true? Mr Spencer himself tells us his ‘proof is’ that
‘reversing the application of the words’ good and bad--applying the
word ‘good’ to conduct, the ‘aggregate results’ of which are painful,
and the word ‘bad’ to conduct, of which the ‘aggregate results’ are
pleasurable--‘creates absurdities’ (§ 16). He does not say whether this
is because it is absurd to think that the quality, which we _mean by
the word_ ‘good,’ really applies to what is painful. Even, however,
if we assume him to mean this, and if we assume that absurdities are
thus created, it is plain he would only prove that what is painful is
properly thought to be _so far_ bad, and what is pleasant to be _so
far_ good: it would not prove at all that pleasure is ‘_the_ supreme
end.’ There is, however, reason to think that part of what Mr Spencer
means is the naturalistic fallacy: that he imagines ‘pleasant’ or
‘productive of pleasure’ is the very meaning of the word ‘good,’ and
that ‘the absurdity’ is due to this. It is at all events certain that
he does not distinguish this possible meaning from that which would
admit that ‘good’ denotes an unique indefinable quality. The doctrine
of naturalistic Hedonism is, indeed, quite strictly implied in his
statement that ‘virtue’ cannot ‘_be defined_ otherwise than in terms of
happiness’ (§ 13); and, though, as I remarked above, we cannot insist
upon Mr Spencer’s words as a certain clue to any definite meaning, that
is only because he generally expresses by them several inconsistent
alternatives--the naturalistic fallacy being, in this case, one such
alternative. It is certainly impossible to find any further reasons
given by Mr Spencer for his conviction that pleasure both is the
supreme end, and is universally admitted to be so. He seems to assume
throughout that we _must_ mean by good conduct what is productive of
pleasure, and by bad what is productive of pain. So far, then, as he is
a Hedonist, he would seem to be a naturalistic Hedonist.

So much for Mr Spencer. It is, of course, quite possible that his
treatment of Ethics contains many interesting and instructive remarks.
It would seem, indeed, that Mr Spencer’s main view, that of which he
is most clearly and most often conscious, is that pleasure is the
sole good, and that to consider the direction of evolution is by far
the best _criterion_ of the way in which we shall get most of it:
and this theory, _if_ he could establish that amount of pleasure is
always in direct proportion to amount of evolution _and also_ that it
was plain what conduct was more evolved, _would_ be a very valuable
contribution to the science of Sociology; it would even, if pleasure
were the sole good, be a valuable contribution to Ethics. But the above
discussion should have made it plain that, if what we want from an
ethical philosopher is a scientific and systematic Ethics, not merely
an Ethics professedly ‘based on science’; if what we want is a clear
discussion of the fundamental principles of Ethics, and a statement of
the ultimate reasons why one way of acting should be considered better
than another--then Mr Spencer’s ‘Data of Ethics’ is immeasurably far
from satisfying these demands.


=34.= It remains only to state clearly what is definitely fallacious
in prevalent views as to the relation of Evolution to Ethics--in
those views with regard to which it seems so uncertain how far Mr
Spencer intends to encourage them. I proposed to confine the term
‘Evolutionistic Ethics’ to the view that we need only to consider the
tendency of ‘evolution’ in order to discover the direction in which
we _ought_ to go. This view must be carefully distinguished from
certain others, which may be commonly confused with it. (1) It might,
for instance, be held that the direction in which living things have
hitherto developed is, as a matter of fact, the direction of progress.
It might be held that the ‘more evolved’ is, as a matter of fact, also
better. And in such a view no fallacy is involved. But, if it is to
give us any guidance as to how we ought to act in the future, it does
involve a long and painful investigation of the exact points in which
the superiority of the more evolved consists. We cannot assume that,
because evolution is progress _on the whole_, therefore every point
in which the more evolved differs from the less is a point in which
it is better than the less. A simple consideration of the course of
evolution will therefore, on this view, by no means suffice to inform
us of the course we ought to pursue. We shall have to employ all the
resources of a strictly ethical discussion in order to arrive at a
correct valuation of the different results of evolution--to distinguish
the more valuable from the less valuable, and both from those which
are no better than their causes, or perhaps even worse. In fact it
is difficult to see how, on this view--if all that be meant is that
evolution has _on the whole_ been a progress--the theory of evolution
can give any assistance to Ethics at all. The judgment that evolution
has been a progress is itself an independent ethical judgment; and even
if we take it to be more certain and obvious than any of the detailed
judgments upon which it must logically depend for confirmation, we
certainly cannot use it as a datum from which to infer details. It is,
at all events, certain that, if this had been the _only_ relation held
to exist between Evolution and Ethics, no such importance would have
been attached to the bearing of Evolution on Ethics as we actually find
claimed for it. (2) The view, which, as I have said, seems to be Mr
Spencer’s main view, may also be held without fallacy. It may be held
that the more evolved, though not itself the better, is a _criterion_,
because a concomitant, of the better. But this view also obviously
involves an exhaustive preliminary discussion of the fundamental
ethical question what, after all, is better. That Mr Spencer entirely
dispenses with such a discussion in support of his contention that
pleasure is the sole good, I have pointed out; and that, if we attempt
such a discussion, we shall arrive at no such simple result, I shall
presently try to shew. If however the good is not simple, it is by
no means likely that we shall be able to discover Evolution to be a
criterion of it. We shall have to establish a relation between two
highly complicated sets of data; and, moreover, if we had once settled
what were goods, and what their comparative values, it is extremely
unlikely that we should need to call in the aid of Evolution as a
criterion of how to get the most. It is plain, then, again, that if
this were the only relation imagined to exist between Evolution and
Ethics, it could hardly have been thought to justify the assignment
of any importance in Ethics to the theory of Evolution. Finally, (3)
it may be held that, though Evolution gives us no help in discovering
what results of our efforts will be best, it does give some help in
discovering what it is _possible_ to attain and what are the means to
its attainment. That the theory really may be of service to Ethics in
this way cannot be denied. But it is certainly not common to find this
humble, ancillary bearing clearly and exclusively assigned to it. In
the mere fact, then, that these non-fallacious views of the relation
of Evolution to Ethics would give so very little importance to that
relation, we have evidence that what is typical in the coupling of the
two names is the fallacious view to which I propose to restrict the
name ‘Evolutionistic Ethics.’ This is the view that we ought to move
in the direction of evolution simply _because_ it is the direction
of evolution. That the forces of Nature are working on that side is
taken as a presumption that it is the right side. That such a view,
apart from metaphysical presuppositions, with which I shall presently
deal, is simply fallacious, I have tried to shew. It can only rest on
a confused belief that somehow the good simply _means_ the side on
which Nature is working. And it thus involves another confused belief
which is very marked in Mr Spencer’s whole treatment of Evolution.
For, after all, is Evolution the side on which Nature is working? In
the sense, which Mr Spencer gives to the term, and in any sense in
which it can be regarded as a fact that the more evolved is higher,
Evolution denotes only a _temporary_ historical process. That things
will permanently continue to evolve in the future, or that they have
always evolved in the past, we have not the smallest reason to believe.
For Evolution does not, in this sense, denote a natural _law_, like
the law of gravity. Darwin’s theory of natural selection does indeed
state a natural law: it states that, given certain conditions, certain
results will always happen. But Evolution, as Mr Spencer understands
it and as it is commonly understood, denotes something very different.
It denotes only a process which has actually occurred at a given time,
because the conditions at the beginning of that time happened to be of
a certain nature. That such conditions will always be given, or have
always been given, cannot be assumed; and it is only the process which,
according to natural law, must follow from _these_ conditions and no
others, that appears to be also on the whole a progress. Precisely the
same natural laws--Darwin’s, for instance--would under other conditions
render inevitable not Evolution--not a development from lower to
higher--but the converse process, which has been called Involution. Yet
Mr Spencer constantly speaks of the process which is exemplified in
the development of man as if it had all the augustness of a universal
Law of Nature: whereas we have no reason to believe it other than a
temporary accident, requiring not only certain universal natural laws,
but also the existence of a certain state of things at a certain time.
The only _laws_ concerned in the matter are certainly such as, under
other circumstances, would allow us to infer, not the development,
but the extinction of man. And that circumstances will always be
favourable to further development, that Nature will always work on the
side of Evolution, we have no reason whatever to believe. Thus the
idea that Evolution throws important light on Ethics seems to be due
to a double confusion. Our respect for the process is enlisted by the
representation of it as the Law of Nature. But, on the other hand, our
respect for Laws of Nature would be speedily diminished, did we not
imagine that this desirable process was one of them. To suppose that a
Law of Nature is _therefore_ respectable, is to commit the naturalistic
fallacy; but no one, probably, would be tempted to commit it, unless
something which _is_ respectable, were represented as a Law of Nature.
If it were clearly recognised that there is no evidence for supposing
Nature to be on the side of the Good, there would probably be less
tendency to hold the opinion, which on other grounds is demonstrably
false, that no such evidence is required. And if both false opinions
were clearly seen to be false, it would be plain that Evolution has
very little indeed to say to Ethics.


=35.= In this chapter I have begun the criticism of certain ethical
views, which seem to owe their influence mainly to the naturalistic
fallacy--the fallacy which consists in identifying the simple notion
which we mean by ‘good’ with some other notion. They are views which
profess to tell us what is good in itself; and my criticism of them
is mainly directed (1) to bring out the negative result, that we have
no reason to suppose that which they declare to be the sole good,
really to be so, (2) to illustrate further the positive result, already
established in Chapter I, that the fundamental principles of Ethics
must be _synthetic_ propositions, declaring what things, and in what
degree, possess a simple and unanalysable property which may be called
‘intrinsic value’ or ‘goodness.’ The chapter began (1) by dividing the
views to be criticised into (_a_) those which, supposing ‘good’ to
be defined by reference to some supersensible reality, conclude that
the sole good is to be found in such a reality, and may therefore be
called ‘Metaphysical,’ (_b_) those which assign a similar position to
some natural object, and may therefore be called ‘Naturalistic.’ Of
naturalistic views, that which regards ‘pleasure’ as the sole good has
received far the fullest and most serious treatment and was therefore
reserved for Chapter III: all other forms of Naturalism may be first
dismissed, by taking typical examples (24-26). (2) As typical of
naturalistic views, other than Hedonism, there was first taken the
popular commendation of what is ‘natural’: it was pointed out that by
‘natural’ there might here be meant either ‘normal’ or ‘necessary,’
and that neither the ‘normal’ nor the ‘necessary’ could be seriously
supposed to be either always good or the only good things (27-28). (3)
But a more important type, because one which claims to be capable of
system, is to be found in ‘Evolutionistic Ethics.’ The influence of the
fallacious opinion that to be ‘better’ _means_ to be ‘more evolved’ was
illustrated by an examination of Mr Herbert Spencer’s Ethics; and it
was pointed out that, but for the influence of this opinion, Evolution
could hardly have been supposed to have any important bearing upon
Ethics (29-34).



CHAPTER III.

HEDONISM.


=36.= In this chapter we have to deal with what is perhaps the most
famous and the most widely held of all ethical principles--the
principle that nothing is good but pleasure. My chief reason for
treating of this principle in this place is, as I said, that Hedonism
appears in the main to be a form of Naturalistic Ethics: in other
words, that pleasure has been so generally held to be the sole good,
is almost entirely due to the fact that it has seemed to be somehow
involved in the _definition_ of ‘good’--to be pointed out by the very
meaning of the word. If this is so, then the prevalence of Hedonism has
been mainly due to what I have called the naturalistic fallacy--the
failure to distinguish clearly that unique and indefinable quality
which we mean by good. And that it is so, we have very strong evidence
in the fact that, of all hedonistic writers, Prof. Sidgwick alone has
clearly recognised that by ‘good’ we do mean something unanalysable,
and has alone been led thereby to emphasise the fact that, if
Hedonism be true, its claims to be so must be rested solely on its
self-evidence--that we must maintain ‘Pleasure is the sole good’ to be
a mere _intuition_. It appeared to Prof. Sidgwick as a new discovery
that what he calls the ‘method’ of Intuitionism must be retained as
valid alongside of, and indeed as the foundation of, what he calls the
alternative ‘methods’ of Utilitarianism and Egoism. And that it was a
new discovery can hardly be doubted. In previous Hedonists we find no
clear and consistent recognition of the fact that their fundamental
proposition involves the assumption that a certain unique predicate
can be directly seen to belong to pleasure alone among existents: they
do not emphasise, as they could hardly have failed to have done had
they perceived it, how utterly independent of all other truths this
truth must be.

Moreover it is easy to see how this unique position should have
been assigned to pleasure without any clear consciousness of the
assumption involved. Hedonism is, for a sufficiently obvious reason,
the first conclusion at which any one who begins to reflect upon
Ethics naturally arrives. It is very easy to notice the fact that we
are pleased with things. The things we enjoy and the things we do not,
form two unmistakable classes, to which our attention is constantly
directed. But it is comparatively difficult to distinguish the fact
that we _approve_ a thing from the fact that we are pleased with it.
Although, if we look at the two states of mind, we must see that they
are different, even though they generally go together, it is very
difficult to see in _what respect_ they are different, or that the
difference can in any connection be of more importance than the many
other differences, which are so patent and yet so difficult to analyse,
between one _kind_ of enjoyment and another. It is very difficult to
see that by ‘approving’ of a thing we mean _feeling that it has a
certain predicate_--the predicate, namely, which defines the peculiar
sphere of Ethics; whereas in the enjoyment of a thing no such unique
object of thought is involved. Nothing is more natural than the vulgar
mistake, which we find expressed in a recent book on Ethics[8]: ‘The
primary ethical fact is, we have said, that something is approved
or disapproved: that is, in other words, the ideal representation
of certain events in the way of sensation, perception, or idea, is
attended with a feeling of pleasure or of pain.’ In ordinary speech,
‘I want this,’ ‘I like this,’ ‘I care about this’ are constantly used
as equivalents for ‘I think this good.’ And in this way it is very
natural to be led to suppose that there is no distinct class of ethical
judgments, but only the class ‘things enjoyed’; in spite of the fact,
which is very clear, if not very common, that we do not always approve
what we enjoy. It is of course, very obvious that from the supposition
that ‘I think this good’ is identical with ‘I am pleased with this,’
it cannot be _logically_ inferred that pleasure alone is good. But, on
the other hand, it is very difficult to see what could be logically
inferred from such a supposition; and it seems _natural_ enough that
such an inference should suggest itself. A very little examination
of what is commonly written on the subject will suffice to shew that
a logical confusion of this nature is very common. Moreover the very
commission of the naturalistic fallacy involves that those who commit
it should not recognise clearly the meaning of the proposition ‘This
is good’--that they should not be able to distinguish this from other
propositions which seem to resemble it; and, where this is so, it is,
of course, impossible that its logical relations should be clearly
perceived.

  [8] A. E. Taylor’s _Problem of Conduct_, p. 120.


=37.= There is, therefore, ample reason to suppose that Hedonism is in
general a form of Naturalism--that its acceptance is generally due to
the naturalistic fallacy. It is, indeed, only when we have detected
this fallacy, when we have become clearly aware of the unique object
which is meant by ‘good,’ that we are able to give to Hedonism the
precise definition used above, ‘Nothing is good but pleasure’: and it
may, therefore, be objected that, in attacking this doctrine under the
name of Hedonism, I am attacking a doctrine which has never really been
held. But it is very common to hold a doctrine, without being clearly
aware what it is you hold; and though, when Hedonists argue in favour
of what they call Hedonism, I admit that, in order to suppose their
arguments valid, they must have before their minds something _other_
than the doctrine I have defined, yet, in order to draw the conclusions
that they draw, it is necessary that they should _also_ have before
their minds this doctrine. In fact, my justification for supposing that
I shall have refuted _historical_ Hedonism, if I refute the proposition
‘Nothing is good but pleasure,’ is, that although Hedonists have
rarely stated their principle in this form and though its truth, in
this form, will certainly not follow from their arguments, yet their
ethical _method_ will follow logically from nothing else. Any pretence
of the hedonistic method, to discover to us practical truths which
we should not otherwise have known, is founded on the principle that
the course of action which will bring the greatest balance of pleasure
is certainly the right one; and, failing an absolute proof that the
greatest balance of pleasure _always_ coincides with the greatest
balance of other goods, which it is not generally attempted to give,
this principle can only be justified if pleasure be the sole good.
Indeed it can hardly be doubted that Hedonists are distinguished by
arguing, in disputed practical questions, _as if_ pleasure were the
sole good; and that it is justifiable, for this among other reasons, to
take this as _the_ ethical principle of Hedonism will, I hope, be made
further evident by the whole discussion of this chapter.

By Hedonism, then, I mean the doctrine that pleasure _alone_ is good
as an end--‘good’ in the sense which I have tried to point out as
indefinable. The doctrine that pleasure, _among other things_, is good
as an end, is not Hedonism; and I shall not dispute its truth. Nor
again is the doctrine that other things, beside pleasure, are good as
means, at all inconsistent with Hedonism: the Hedonist is not bound
to maintain that ‘Pleasure alone is good,’ if under good he includes,
as we generally do, what is good as means to an end, _as well as_ the
end itself. In attacking Hedonism, I am therefore simply and solely
attacking the doctrine that ‘Pleasure _alone_ is good as an end or in
itself’: I am not attacking the doctrine that ‘Pleasure _is_ good as an
end or in itself,’ nor am I attacking any doctrine whatever as to what
are the best means we can take in order to obtain pleasure or any other
end. Hedonists do, in general, recommend a course of conduct which is
very similar to that which I should recommend. I do not quarrel with
them about most of their practical conclusions, I quarrel only with the
reasons by which they seem to think their conclusions can be supported;
and I do emphatically deny that the correctness of their conclusions is
any ground for inferring the correctness of their principles. A correct
conclusion may always be obtained by fallacious reasoning; and the good
life or virtuous maxims of a Hedonist afford absolutely no presumption
that his ethical philosophy is also good. It is his ethical philosophy
alone with which I am concerned: what I dispute is the excellence of
his reasoning, not the excellence of his character as a man or even as
moral teacher. It may be thought that my contention is unimportant, but
that is no ground for thinking that I am not in the right. What I am
concerned with is knowledge only--that we should think correctly and so
far arrive at some truth, however unimportant: I do not say that such
knowledge will make us more useful members of society. If any one does
not care for knowledge for its own sake, then I have nothing to say to
him; only it should not be thought that a lack of interest in what I
have to say is any ground for holding it untrue.


=38.= Hedonists, then, hold that all other things but pleasure, whether
conduct or virtue or knowledge, whether life or nature or beauty, are
only good as means to pleasure or for the sake of pleasure, never
for their own sakes or as ends in themselves. This view was held by
Aristippus, the disciple of Socrates, and by the Cyrenaic school which
he founded; it is associated with Epicurus and the Epicureans; and
it has been held in modern times, chiefly by those philosophers who
call themselves ‘Utilitarians’--by Bentham, and by Mill, for instance.
Herbert Spencer, as we have seen, also says he holds it; and Professor
Sidgwick, as we shall see, holds it too.

Yet all these philosophers, as has been said, differ from one
another more or less, both as to what they mean by Hedonism, and as
to the reasons for which it is to be accepted as a true doctrine.
The matter is therefore obviously not quite so simple as it might
at first appear. My own object will be to shew quite clearly what
the theory must imply, if it is made precise, if all confusions and
inconsistencies are removed from the conception of it; and, when
this is done, I think it will appear that all the various reasons
given for holding it to be true, are really quite inadequate; that
they are not reasons for holding Hedonism, but only for holding some
other doctrine which is confused therewith. In order to attain this
object I propose to take first Mill’s doctrine, as set forth in his
book called _Utilitarianism_: we shall find in Mill a conception of
Hedonism, and arguments in its favour, which fairly represent those
of a large class of hedonistic writers. To these representative
conceptions and arguments grave objections, objections which appear to
me to be conclusive, have been urged by Professor Sidgwick. These I
shall try to give in my own words; and shall then proceed to consider
and refute Professor Sidgwick’s own much more precise conceptions and
arguments. With this, I think, we shall have traversed the whole field
of Hedonistic doctrine. It will appear, from the discussion, that the
task of deciding what is or is not good in itself is by no means an
easy one; and in this way the discussion will afford a good example
of the method which it is necessary to pursue in attempting to arrive
at the truth with regard to this primary class of ethical principles.
In particular it will appear that two principles of method must be
constantly kept in mind: (1) that the naturalistic fallacy must not
be committed; (2) that the distinction between means and ends must be
observed.


=39.= I propose, then, to begin by an examination of Mill’s
_Utilitarianism_. That is a book which contains an admirably clear and
fair discussion of many ethical principles and methods. Mill exposes
not a few simple mistakes which are very likely to be made by those
who approach ethical problems without much previous reflection. But
what I am concerned with is the mistakes which Mill himself appears
to have made, and these only so far as they concern the Hedonistic
principle. Let me repeat what that principle is. It is, I said, that
pleasure is the only thing at which we ought to aim, the only thing
that is good as an end and for its own sake. And now let us turn to
Mill and see whether he accepts this description of the question at
issue. ‘Pleasure,’ he says at the outset, ‘and freedom from pain, are
the only things desirable as ends’ (p. 10[9]); and again, at the end
of his argument, ‘To think of an object as desirable (unless for the
sake of its consequences) and to think of it as pleasant are one and
the same thing’ (p. 58). These statements, taken together, and apart
from certain confusions which are obvious in them, seem to imply the
principle I have stated; and if I succeed in shewing that Mill’s
reasons for them do not prove them, it must at least be admitted that I
have not been fighting with shadows or demolishing a man of straw.

  [9] My references are to the 13th edition, 1897.

It will be observed that Mill adds ‘absence of pain’ to ‘pleasure’
in his first statement, though not in his second. There is, in this,
a confusion, with which, however, we need not deal. I shall talk of
‘pleasure’ alone, for the sake of conciseness; but all my arguments
will apply _à fortiori_ to ‘absence of pain’: it is easy to make the
necessary substitutions.

Mill holds, then, that ‘happiness is desirable, and _the only thing
desirable_[10], as an end; all other things being only desirable
as means to that end’ (p. 52). Happiness he has already defined as
‘pleasure, and the absence of pain’ (p. 10); he does not pretend that
this is more than an arbitrary verbal definition; and, as _such_, I
have not a word to say against it. His principle, then, is ‘pleasure is
the only thing desirable,’ if I may be allowed, when I say ‘pleasure,’
to include in that word (so far as necessary) absence of pain. And
now what are his reasons for holding that principle to be true? He
has already told us (p. 6) that ‘Questions of ultimate ends are not
amenable to direct proof. Whatever can be proved to be good, must be so
by being shewn to be a means to something _admitted to be good without
proof_.’ With this, I perfectly agree: indeed the chief object of my
first chapter was to shew that this is so. Anything which is good as an
end must be admitted to be good without proof. We are agreed so far.
Mill even uses the same examples which I used in my second chapter.
‘How,’ he says, ‘is it possible to prove that health is good?’ ‘What
proof is it possible to give that pleasure is good?’ Well, in Chapter
IV, in which he deals with the proof of his Utilitarian principle, Mill
repeats the above statement in these words: ‘It has already,’ he says,
‘been remarked, that questions of ultimate ends do not admit of proof,
in the ordinary acceptation of the term’ (p. 52). ‘Questions about
ends,’ he goes on in this same passage, ‘are, in other words, questions
what things are desirable.’ I am quoting these repetitions, because
they make it plain what otherwise might have been doubted, that Mill is
using the words ‘desirable’ or ‘desirable as an end’ as absolutely and
precisely equivalent to the words ‘good as an end.’ We are, then, now
to hear, what reasons he advances for this doctrine that pleasure alone
is good as an end.

  [10] My italics.


=40.= ‘Questions about ends,’ he says (pp. 52-3), ‘are, in other words,
questions what things are desirable. The utilitarian doctrine is, that
happiness is desirable, and the only thing desirable, as an end; all
other things being only desirable as means to that end. What ought to
be required of this doctrine--what conditions is it requisite that the
doctrine should fulfil--to make good its claim to be believed?

‘The only proof capable of being given that a thing is visible, is that
people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is
that people hear it; and so of the other sources of our experience. In
like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce
that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it. If
the end which the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not,
in theory and in practice, acknowledged to be an end, nothing could
ever convince any person that it was so. No reason can be given why
the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far
as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness. This,
however, being the fact, we have not only all the proof which the case
admits of, but all which it is possible to require, that happiness is
a good: that each person’s happiness is a good to that person, and the
general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons.
Happiness has made out its title as _one_ of the ends of conduct, and
consequently one of the criteria of morality.’

There, that is enough. That is my first point. Mill has made as naïve
and artless a use of the naturalistic fallacy as anybody could desire.
‘Good,’ he tells us, means ‘desirable,’ and you can only find out what
is desirable by seeking to find out what is actually desired. This is,
of course, only one step towards the proof of Hedonism; for it may be,
as Mill goes on to say, that other things beside pleasure are desired.
Whether or not pleasure is the only thing desired is, as Mill himself
admits (p. 58), a psychological question, to which we shall presently
proceed. The important step for Ethics is this one just taken, the
step which pretends to prove that ‘good’ means ‘desired.’ Well, the
fallacy in this step is so obvious, that it is quite wonderful how Mill
failed to see it. The fact is that ‘desirable’ does not mean ‘able to
be desired’ as ‘visible’ means ‘able to be seen.’ The desirable means
simply what _ought_ to be desired or _deserves_ to be desired; just
as the detestable means not what can be but what ought to be detested
and the damnable what deserves to be damned. Mill has, then, smuggled
in, under cover of the word ‘desirable,’ the very notion about which
he ought to be quite clear. ‘Desirable’ does indeed mean ‘what it is
good to desire’; but when this is understood, it is no longer plausible
to say that our only test of _that_, is what is actually desired. Is
it merely a tautology when the Prayer Book talks of _good_ desires?
Are not _bad_ desires also possible? Nay, we find Mill himself talking
of a ‘better and nobler object of desire’ (p. 10), as if, after all,
what is desired were not _ipso facto_ good, and good in proportion to
the amount it is desired. Moreover, if the desired is _ipso facto_ the
good; then the good is _ipso facto_ the motive of our actions, and
there can be no question of finding motives for doing it, as Mill is
at such pains to do. If Mill’s explanation of ‘desirable’ be _true_,
then his statement (p. 26) that the rule of action may be _confounded_
with the motive of it is untrue: for the motive of action will then be
according to him _ipso facto_ its rule; there can be no distinction
between the two, and therefore no confusion, and thus he has
contradicted himself flatly. These are specimens of the contradictions,
which, as I have tried to shew, must always follow from the use of
the naturalistic fallacy; and I hope I need now say no more about the
matter.


=41.= Well, then, the first step by which Mill has attempted to
establish his Hedonism is simply fallacious. He has attempted to
establish the identity of the good with the desired, by confusing the
proper sense of ‘desirable,’ in which it denotes that which it is good
to desire, with the sense which it would bear, if it were analogous
to such words as ‘visible.’ If ‘desirable’ is to be identical with
‘good,’ then it must bear one sense; and if it is to be identical with
‘desired,’ then it must bear quite another sense. And yet to Mill’s
contention that the desired is necessarily good, it is quite essential
that these two senses of ‘desirable’ should be the same. If he holds
they are the same, then he has contradicted himself elsewhere; if
he holds they are not the same, then the first step in his proof of
Hedonism is absolutely worthless.

But now we must deal with the second step. Having proved, as he thinks,
that the good means the desired, Mill recognises that, if he is further
to maintain that pleasure alone is good, he must prove that pleasure
alone is really desired. This doctrine that ‘pleasure alone is the
object of all our desires’ is the doctrine which Prof. Sidgwick has
called Psychological Hedonism: and it is a doctrine which most eminent
psychologists are now agreed in rejecting. But it is a necessary step
in the proof of any such Naturalistic Hedonism as Mill’s; and it is
so commonly held, by people not expert either in psychology or in
philosophy, that I wish to treat it at some length. It will be seen
that Mill does not hold it in this bare form. He admits that other
things than pleasure are desired; and this admission is at once a
contradiction of his Hedonism. One of the shifts by which he seeks
to evade this contradiction we shall afterwards consider. But some
may think that no such shifts are needed: they may say of Mill, what
Callicles says of Polus in the _Gorgias_[11], that he has made this
fatal admission through a most unworthy fear of appearing paradoxical;
that they, on the other hand, will have the courage of their
convictions, and will not be ashamed to go to any lengths of paradox,
in defence of what they hold to be the truth.

  [11] 481 C-487 B.


=42.= Well, then, we are supposing it held that pleasure is the object
of all desire, that it is the universal end of all human activity.
Now I suppose it will not be denied that people are commonly said to
desire other things: for instance, we usually talk of desiring food
and drink, of desiring money, approbation, fame. The question, then,
must be of what is meant by desire, and by the object of desire. There
is obviously asserted some sort of necessary or universal relation
between something which is called desire, and another thing which is
called pleasure. The question is of what sort this relation is; whether
in conjunction with the naturalistic fallacy above mentioned, it will
justify Hedonism. Now I am not prepared to deny that there is some
universal relation between pleasure and desire; but I hope to shew,
that, if there is, it is of such sort as will rather make against than
for Hedonism. It is urged that pleasure is always the object of desire,
and I am ready to admit that pleasure is always, in part at least, the
_cause_ of desire. But this distinction is very important. Both views
might be expressed in the same language; both might be said to hold
that whenever we desire, we always desire _because of_ some pleasure:
if I asked my supposed Hedonist, ‘Why do you desire that?’ he might
answer, quite consistently with his contention, ‘Because there is
pleasure there,’ and if he asked me the same question, I might answer,
equally consistently with my contention, ‘Because there is pleasure
here.’ Only our two answers would not mean the same thing. It is this
use of the same language to denote quite different facts, which I
believe to be the chief cause why Psychological Hedonism is so often
held, just as it was also the cause of Mill’s naturalistic fallacy.

Let us try to analyse the psychological state which is called ‘desire.’
That name is usually confined to a state of mind in which the idea of
some object or event, not yet existing, is present to us. Suppose,
for instance, I am desiring a glass of port wine. I have the idea of
drinking such a glass before my mind, although I am not yet drinking
it. Well, how does pleasure enter in to this relation? My theory is
that it enters in, in this way. The _idea_ of the drinking causes a
feeling of pleasure in my mind, which helps to produce that state
of incipient activity, which is called ‘desire.’ It is, therefore,
because of a pleasure, which I already have--the pleasure excited
by a mere idea--that I desire the wine, which I have not. And I am
ready to admit that a pleasure of this kind, an actual pleasure, is
always among the causes of every desire, and not only of every desire,
but of every mental activity, whether conscious or sub-conscious. I
am ready to _admit_ this, I say: I cannot vouch that it is the true
psychological doctrine; but, at all events, it is not _primâ facie_
quite absurd. And now, what is the other doctrine, the doctrine which
I am supposing held, and which is at all events essential to Mill’s
argument? It is this. That when I desire the wine, it is not the wine
which I desire but the pleasure which I expect to get from it. In
other words, the doctrine is that the idea of a pleasure _not actual_
is always necessary to cause desire; whereas my doctrine was that the
_actual_ pleasure caused by the idea of something else was always
necessary to cause desire. It is these two different theories which I
suppose the Psychological Hedonists to confuse: the confusion is, as
Mr Bradley puts it[12], between ‘a pleasant thought’ and ‘the thought
of a pleasure.’ It is in fact only where the latter, the ‘thought of
a pleasure,’ is present, that pleasure can be said to be the _object_
of desire, or the _motive_ to action. On the other hand, when only a
pleasant thought is present, as, I admit, _may_ always be the case,
then it is the object of the thought--that which we are thinking
about--which is the object of desire and the motive to action; and the
pleasure, which that thought excites, may, indeed, cause our desire or
move us to action, but it is not our end or object nor our motive.

  [12] _Ethical Studies_, p. 232.

Well, I hope this distinction is sufficiently clear. Now let us see how
it bears upon Ethical Hedonism. I assume it to be perfectly obvious
that the idea of the object of desire is not always and only the idea
of a pleasure. In the first place, plainly, we are not always conscious
of expecting pleasure, when we desire a thing. We may be only conscious
of the thing which we desire, and may be impelled to make for it at
once, without any calculation as to whether it will bring us pleasure
or pain. And, in the second place, even when we do expect pleasure,
it can certainly be very rarely pleasure _only_ which we desire. For
instance, granted that, when I desire my glass of port wine, I have
also an idea of the pleasure I expect from it, plainly that pleasure
cannot be the only object of my desire; the port wine must be included
in my object, else I might be led by my desire to take wormwood instead
of wine. If the desire were directed _solely_ towards the pleasure,
it could not lead me to take the wine; if it is to take a definite
direction, it is absolutely necessary that the idea of the object, from
which the pleasure is expected, should also be present and should
control my activity. The theory then that what is desired is always and
only pleasure must break down: it is impossible to prove that pleasure
alone is good, by that line of argument. But, if we substitute for this
theory, that other, possibly true, theory, that pleasure is always the
cause of desire, then all the plausibility of our ethical doctrine
that pleasure alone is good straightway disappears. For in this case,
pleasure is not what I desire, it is not what I want: it is something
which I already have, before I can want anything. And can any one feel
inclined to maintain, that that which I already have, while I am still
desiring something else, is always and alone the good?


=43.= But now let us return to consider another of Mill’s arguments
for his position that ‘happiness is the sole end of human action.’
Mill admits, as I have said, that pleasure is not the only thing we
actually desire. ‘The desire of virtue,’ he says, ‘is not as universal,
but it is as authentic a fact, as the desire of happiness[13].’ And
again, ‘Money is, in many cases, desired in and for itself[14].’ These
admissions are, of course, in naked and glaring contradiction with
his argument that pleasure is the only thing desirable, because it
is the only thing desired. How then does Mill even attempt to avoid
this contradiction? His chief argument seems to be that ‘virtue,’
‘money’ and other such objects, when they are thus desired in and
for themselves, are desired only as ‘a part of happiness[15].’ Now
what does this mean? Happiness, as we saw, has been defined by Mill,
as ‘pleasure and the absence of pain.’ Does Mill mean to say that
‘money,’ these actual coins, which he admits to be desired in and
for themselves, are a part either of pleasure or of the absence of
pain? Will he maintain that those coins themselves are in my mind,
and actually a part of my pleasant feelings? If this is to be said,
all words are useless: nothing can possibly be distinguished from
anything else; if these two things are not distinct, what on earth is?
We shall hear next that this table is really and truly the same thing
as this room; that a cab-horse is in fact indistinguishable from St
Paul’s Cathedral; that this book of Mill’s which I hold in my hand,
because it was his pleasure to produce it, is now and at this moment
a part of the happiness which he felt many years ago and which has
so long ceased to be. Pray consider a moment what this contemptible
nonsense really means. ‘Money,’ says Mill, ‘is only desirable as a
means to happiness.’ Perhaps so; but what then? ‘Why,’ says Mill,
‘money is undoubtedly desired for its own sake.’ ‘Yes, go on,’ say we.
‘Well,’ says Mill, ‘if money is desired for its own sake, it must be
desirable as an end-in-itself: I have said so myself.’ ‘Oh,’ say we,
‘but you also said just now that it was only desirable as a means.’ ‘I
own I did,’ says Mill, ‘but I will try to patch up matters, by saying
that what is only a means to an end, is the same thing as a part of
that end. I daresay the public won’t notice.’ And the public haven’t
noticed. Yet this is certainly what Mill has done. He has broken down
the distinction between means and ends, upon the precise observance of
which his Hedonism rests. And he has been compelled to do this, because
he has failed to distinguish ‘end’ in the sense of what is desirable,
from ‘end’ in the sense of what is desired: a distinction which,
nevertheless, both the present argument and his whole book presupposes.
This is a consequence of the naturalistic fallacy.

  [13] p. 53.

  [14] p. 55.

  [15] pp. 56-7.


=44.= Mill, then, has nothing better to say for himself than this. His
two fundamental propositions are, in his own words, ‘that to think of
an object as desirable (unless for the sake of its consequences), and
to think of it as pleasant, are one and the same thing; and that to
desire anything except in proportion as the idea of it is pleasant,
is a physical and metaphysical impossibility[16].’ Both of these
statements are, we have seen, merely supported by fallacies. The first
seems to rest on the naturalistic fallacy; the second rests partly on
this, partly on the fallacy of confusing ends and means, and partly
on the fallacy of confusing a pleasant thought with the thought of a
pleasure. His very language shews this. For that the idea of a thing is
pleasant, in his second clause, is obviously meant to be the same fact
which he denotes by ‘thinking of it as pleasant,’ in his first.

  [16] p. 58.

Accordingly, Mill’s arguments for the proposition that pleasure is the
sole good, and our refutation of those arguments, may be summed up as
follows:

First of all, he takes ‘the desirable,’ which he uses as a synonym
for ‘the good,’ to _mean_ what _can_ be desired. The test, again, of
what can be desired, is, according to him, what actually is desired:
if, therefore, he says, we can find some one thing which is always and
alone desired, that thing will necessarily be the only thing that is
desirable, the only thing that is good as an end. In this argument the
naturalistic fallacy is plainly involved. That fallacy, I explained,
consists in the contention that good _means_ nothing but some simple or
complex notion, that can be defined in terms of natural qualities. In
Mill’s case, good is thus supposed to _mean_ simply what is desired;
and what is desired is something which can thus be defined in natural
terms. Mill tells us that we ought to desire something (an ethical
proposition), because we actually do desire it; but if his contention
that ‘I ought to desire’ means nothing but ‘I do desire’ were true,
then he is only entitled to say, ‘We do desire so and so, because we
do desire it’; and that is not an ethical proposition at all; it is
a mere tautology. The whole object of Mill’s book is to help us to
discover what we ought to do; but, in fact, by attempting to define the
meaning of this ‘ought,’ he has completely debarred himself from ever
fulfilling that object: he has confined himself to telling us what we
do do.

Mill’s first argument then is that, because good means desired,
therefore the desired is good; but having thus arrived at an ethical
conclusion, by denying that any ethical conclusion is possible, he
still needs another argument to make his conclusion a basis for
Hedonism. He has to prove that we always do desire pleasure or freedom
from pain, and that we never desire anything else whatever. This second
doctrine, which Professor Sidgwick has called Psychological Hedonism,
I accordingly discussed. I pointed out how obviously untrue it is that
we never desire anything but pleasure; and how there is not a shadow
of ground for saying even that, whenever we desire anything, we always
desire pleasure _as well as_ that thing. I attributed the obstinate
belief in these untruths partly to a confusion between the cause of
desire and the object of desire. It may, I said, be true that desire
can never occur unless it be preceded by some _actual_ pleasure; but
even if this is true, it obviously gives no ground for saying that the
object of desire is always some _future_ pleasure. By the object of
desire is meant that, of which the idea causes desire in us; it is some
pleasure, which we anticipate, some pleasure which we have not got,
which is the object of desire, whenever we do desire pleasure. And any
actual pleasure, which may be excited by the idea of this anticipated
pleasure, is obviously not the same pleasure as that anticipated
pleasure, of which only the idea is actual. This actual pleasure is not
what we want; what we want is always something which we have not got;
and to say that pleasure always causes us to want is quite a different
thing from saying that what we want is always pleasure.

Finally, we saw, Mill admits all this. He insists that we do _actually_
desire other things than pleasure, and yet he says we do _really_
desire nothing else. He tries to explain away this contradiction,
by confusing together two notions, which he has before carefully
distinguished--the notions of means and of end. He now says that a
means to an end is the same thing as a part of that end. To this last
fallacy special attention should be given, as our ultimate decision
with regard to Hedonism will largely turn upon it.


=45.= It is this ultimate decision with regard to Hedonism at which
we must now try to arrive. So far I have been only occupied with
refuting Mill’s naturalistic arguments for Hedonism; but the doctrine
that pleasure alone is desirable may still be true, although Mill’s
fallacies cannot prove it so. This is the question which we have now
to face. This proposition, ‘pleasure alone is good or desirable,’
belongs undoubtedly to that class of propositions, to which Mill at
first rightly pretended it belonged, the class of first principles,
which are not amenable to direct proof. But in this case, as he also
rightly says, ‘considerations may be presented capable of determining
the intellect either to give or withhold its assent to the doctrine’
(p. 7). It is such considerations that Professor Sidgwick presents,
and such also that I shall try to present for the opposite view. This
proposition that ‘pleasure alone is good as an end,’ the fundamental
proposition of Ethical Hedonism, will then appear, in Professor
Sidgwick’s language, as an object of intuition. I shall try to shew you
why my intuition denies it, just as his intuition affirms it. It _may_
always be true notwithstanding; neither intuition can _prove_ whether
it is true or not; I am bound to be satisfied, if I can ‘present
considerations capable of determining the intellect’ to reject it.

Now it may be said that this is a very unsatisfactory state of things.
It is indeed; but it is important to make a distinction between two
different reasons, which may be given for calling it unsatisfactory.
Is it unsatisfactory because our principle cannot be proved? or is
it unsatisfactory merely because we do not agree with one another
about it? I am inclined to think that the latter is the chief reason.
For the mere fact that in certain cases proof is impossible does not
usually give us the least uneasiness. For instance, nobody can prove
that this is a chair beside me; yet I do not suppose that any one is
much dissatisfied for that reason. We all agree that it is a chair,
and that is enough to content us, although it is quite possible we may
be wrong. A madman, of course, might come in and say that it is not a
chair but an elephant. We could not prove that he was wrong, and the
fact that he did not agree with us might then begin to make us uneasy.
Much more, then, shall we be uneasy, if some one, whom we do not think
to be mad, disagrees with us. We shall try to argue with him, and we
shall probably be content if we lead him to agree with us, although we
shall not have proved our point. We can only persuade him by shewing
him that our view is consistent with something else which he holds to
be true, whereas his original view is contradictory to it. But it will
be impossible to prove that that something else, which we both agree
to be true, is really so; we shall be satisfied to have settled the
matter in dispute by means of it, merely because we are agreed on it.
In short, our dissatisfaction in these cases is almost always of the
type felt by the poor lunatic in the story. ‘I said the world was
mad,’ says he, ‘and the world said that I was mad; and, confound it,
they outvoted me.’ It is, I say, almost always such a disagreement, and
not the impossibility of proof, which makes us call the state of things
unsatisfactory. For, indeed, who can prove that proof itself is a
warrant of truth? We are all agreed that the laws of logic are true and
therefore we accept a result which is proved by their means; but such
a proof is satisfactory to us only because we are all so fully agreed
that it is a warrant of truth. And yet we cannot, by the nature of the
case, prove that we are right in being so agreed.

Accordingly, I do not think we need be much distressed by our admission
that we cannot prove whether pleasure alone is good or not. We may be
able to arrive at an agreement notwithstanding; and if so, I think
it will be satisfactory. And yet I am not very sanguine about our
prospects of such satisfaction. Ethics, and philosophy in general,
have always been in a peculiarly unsatisfactory state. There has been
no agreement about them, as there is about the existence of chairs and
lights and benches. I should therefore be a fool if I hoped to settle
one great point of controversy, now and once for all. It is extremely
improbable I shall convince. It would be highly presumptuous even to
hope that in the end, say two or three centuries hence, it will be
agreed that pleasure is not the sole good. Philosophical questions
are so difficult, the problems they raise are so complex, that no one
can fairly expect, now, any more than in the past, to win more than a
very limited assent. And yet I confess that the considerations which
I am about to present appear to me to be absolutely convincing. I do
think that they _ought_ to convince, if only I can put them well.
In any case, I can but try. I _shall_ try now to put an end to that
unsatisfactory state of things, of which I have been speaking. I shall
try to produce an agreement that the fundamental principle of Hedonism
is very like an absurdity, by shewing what it must mean, if it is
clearly thought out, and how that clear meaning is in conflict with
other beliefs, which will, I hope, not be so easily given up.


=46.= Well, then, we now proceed to discuss Intuitionistic Hedonism.
And the beginning of this discussion marks, it is to be observed, a
turning-point in my ethical method. The point I have been labouring
hitherto, the point that ‘good is indefinable,’ and that to deny this
involves a fallacy, is a point capable of strict proof: for to deny it
involves contradictions. But now we are coming to the question, for
the sake of answering which Ethics exists, the question what things or
qualities are good. Of any answer to _this_ question no direct proof
is possible, and that, just because of our former answer, as to the
meaning of good, direct proof _was_ possible. We are now confined to
the hope of what Mill calls ‘indirect proof,’ the hope of determining
one another’s intellect; and we are now so confined, just because, in
the matter of the former question we are not so confined. Here, then,
is an intuition to be submitted to our verdict--the intuition that
‘pleasure alone is good as an end--good in and for itself.’


=47.= Well, in this connection it seems first desirable to touch on
another doctrine of Mill’s--another doctrine which, in the interest
of Hedonism, Professor Sidgwick has done very wisely to reject.
This is the doctrine of ‘difference of quality in pleasures.’ ‘If I
am asked,’ says Mill[17], ‘what I mean by difference of quality in
pleasures, or what makes one pleasure more valuable than another,
merely as a pleasure, except its being greater in amount, there is but
one possible answer. Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all
or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference,
irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is
the more desirable pleasure. If one of the two is, by those who are
competently acquainted with both, placed so far above the other that
they prefer it, even though knowing it to be attended with a greater
amount of discontent, and would not resign it for any quantity of the
other pleasure which their nature is capable of, we are justified in
ascribing to the preferred enjoyment a superiority in quality, so far
outweighing quantity as to render it, in comparison, of small account.’

  [17] p. 12.

Now it is well known that Bentham rested his case for Hedonism on
‘quantity of pleasure’ alone. It was his maxim, that ‘quantity
of pleasure being equal, pushpin is as good as poetry.’ And Mill
apparently considers Bentham to have proved that nevertheless poetry
is better than pushpin; that poetry does produce a greater quantity of
pleasure. But yet, says Mill, the Utilitarians ‘might have taken the
other and, as it may be called, higher ground, with entire consistency’
(p. 11). Now we see from this that Mill acknowledges ‘quality of
pleasure’ to be another or different ground for estimating pleasures,
than Bentham’s quantity; and moreover, by that question-begging
‘higher,’ which he afterwards translates into ‘superior,’ he seems to
betray an uncomfortable feeling, that, after all, if you take quantity
of pleasure for your only standard, something may be wrong and you
may deserve to be called a pig. And it may presently appear that you
very likely would deserve that name. But, meanwhile, I only wish to
shew that Mill’s admissions as to quality of pleasure are either
inconsistent with his Hedonism, or else afford no other ground for it
than would be given by mere quantity of pleasure.

It will be seen that Mill’s test for one pleasure’s superiority
in quality over another is the preference of most people who have
experienced both. A pleasure so preferred, he holds, is more desirable.
But then, as we have seen, he holds that ‘to think of an object as
desirable and to think of it as pleasant are one and the same thing’
(p. 58). He holds, therefore, that the preference of experts merely
proves that one pleasure is pleasanter than another. But if that is
so, how can he distinguish this standard from the standard of quantity
of pleasure? Can one pleasure be pleasanter than another, except in
the sense that it gives _more_ pleasure? ‘Pleasant’ must, if words are
to have any meaning at all, denote some one quality common to all the
things that are pleasant; and, if so, then one thing can only be more
pleasant than another, according as it has more or less of this one
quality. But, then, let us try the other alternative, and suppose that
Mill does not seriously mean that this preference of experts merely
proves one pleasure to be pleasanter than another. Well, in this case
what does ‘preferred’ mean? It cannot mean ‘more desired,’ since, as
we know, the degree of desire is always, according to Mill, in exact
proportion to the degree of pleasantness. But, in that case, the basis
of Mill’s Hedonism collapses, for he is admitting that one thing may
be preferred over another, and thus proved more desirable, although
it is not more desired. In this case Mill’s judgment of preference is
just a judgment of that intuitional kind which I have been contending
to be necessary to establish the hedonistic or any other principle. It
is a direct judgment that one thing is more desirable, or better than
another; a judgment utterly independent of all considerations as to
whether one thing is more desired or pleasanter than another. This is
to admit that good is good and indefinable.


=48.= And note another point that is brought out by this discussion.
Mill’s judgment of preference, so far from establishing the principle
that pleasure alone is good, is obviously inconsistent with it. He
admits that experts can judge whether one pleasure is more desirable
than another, because pleasures differ in quality. But what does this
mean? If one pleasure can differ from another in quality, that means,
that _a_ pleasure is something complex, something composed, in fact, of
pleasure _in addition to_ that which produces pleasure. For instance,
Mill speaks of ‘sensual indulgences’ as ‘lower pleasures.’ But what
is a sensual indulgence? It is surely a certain excitement of some
sense _together with_ the pleasure caused by such excitement. Mill,
therefore, in admitting that a sensual indulgence can be directly
judged to be lower than another pleasure, in which the degree of
pleasure involved may be the same, is admitting that other things may
be good, or bad, quite independently of the pleasure which accompanies
them. _A_ pleasure is, in fact, merely a misleading term which
conceals the fact that what we are dealing with is not pleasure but
something else, which may indeed necessarily produce pleasure, but is
nevertheless quite distinct from it.

Mill, therefore, in thinking that to estimate quality of pleasure
is quite consistent with his hedonistic principle that pleasure and
absence of pain alone are desirable as ends, has again committed the
fallacy of confusing ends and means. For take even the most favourable
supposition of his meaning; let us suppose that by a pleasure he does
not mean, as his words imply, that which produces pleasure and the
pleasure produced. Let us suppose him to mean that there are various
kinds of pleasure, in the sense in which there are various kinds of
colour--blue, red, green, etc. Even in this case, if we are to say that
our end is colour alone, then, although it is impossible we should
have colour without having some particular colour, yet the particular
colour we must have, is only a _means_ to our having colour, if colour
is really our end. And if colour is our only possible end, as Mill says
pleasure is, then there can be no possible reason for preferring one
colour to another, red, for instance, to blue, except that the one is
more of a colour than the other. Yet the opposite of this is what Mill
is attempting to hold with regard to pleasures.

Accordingly a consideration of Mill’s view that some pleasures are
superior to others _in quality_ brings out one point which may ‘help
to determine the intellect’ with regard to the intuition ‘Pleasure is
the only good.’ For it brings out the fact that if you say ‘pleasure,’
you must mean ‘pleasure’: you must mean some one thing common to all
different ‘pleasures,’ some one thing, which may exist in different
degrees, but which cannot differ in _kind_. I have pointed out that,
if you say, as Mill does, that quality of pleasure is to be taken
into account, then you are no longer holding that pleasure _alone_ is
good as an end, since you imply that something else, something which
is _not_ present in all pleasures, is _also_ good as an end. The
illustration I have given from colour expresses this point in its most
acute form. It is plain that if you say ‘Colour alone is good as an
end,’ then you can give no possible reason for preferring one colour
to another. Your only standard of good and bad will then be ‘colour’;
and since red and blue both conform equally to this, the only standard,
you can have no other whereby to judge whether red is better than blue.
It is true that you cannot have colour unless you also have one or
all of the particular colours: they, therefore, if colour is the end,
will all be good as means, but none of them can be better than another
even as a means, far less can any one of them be regarded as an end in
itself. Just so with pleasure: If we do really mean ‘Pleasure alone
is good as an end,’ then we must agree with Bentham that ‘Quantity
of pleasure being equal, pushpin is as good as poetry.’ To have thus
dismissed Mill’s reference to quality of pleasure, is therefore to have
made one step in the desired direction. The reader will now no longer
be prevented from agreeing with me, by any idea that the hedonistic
principle ‘Pleasure alone is good as an end’ is consistent with the
view that one pleasure may be of a better quality than another. These
two views, we have seen, are contradictory to one another. We must
choose between them: and if we choose the latter, then we must give up
the principle of Hedonism.


=49.= But, as I said, Professor Sidgwick has seen that they are
inconsistent. He has seen that he must choose between them. He has
chosen. He has rejected the test by quality of pleasure, and has
accepted the hedonistic principle. He still maintains that ‘Pleasure
alone is good as an end.’ I propose therefore to discuss the
considerations which he has offered in order to convince us. I shall
hope by that discussion to remove some more of such prejudices and
misunderstandings as might prevent agreement with me. If I can shew
that some of the considerations which Professor Sidgwick urges are such
as we need by no means agree with, and that others are actually rather
in my favour than in his, we may have again advanced a few steps nearer
to the unanimity which we desire.


=50.= The passages in the _Methods of Ethics_ to which I shall now
invite attention are to be found in I. IX. 4 and in III. XIV. 4-5.

The first of these two passages runs as follows:

“I think that if we consider carefully such permanent results as are
commonly judged to be good, other than qualities of human beings, we
can find nothing that, on reflection, appears to possess this quality
of goodness out of relation to human existence, or at least to some
consciousness or feeling.

“For example, we commonly judge some inanimate objects, scenes, etc. to
be good as possessing beauty, and others bad from ugliness: still no
one would consider it rational to aim at the production of beauty in
external nature, apart from any possible contemplation of it by human
beings. In fact when beauty is maintained to be objective, it is not
commonly meant that it exists as beauty out of relation to any mind
whatsoever: but only that there is some standard of beauty valid for
all minds.

“It may, however, be said that beauty and other results commonly judged
to be good, though we do not conceive them to exist out of relation to
human beings (or at least minds of some kind), are yet so far separable
as ends from the human beings on whom their existence depends, that
their realization may conceivably come into competition with the
perfection or happiness of these beings. Thus, though beautiful
things cannot be thought worth producing except as possible objects
of contemplation, still a man may devote himself to their production
without any consideration of the persons who are to contemplate them.
Similarly knowledge is a good which cannot exist except in minds; and
yet one may be more interested in the development of knowledge than in
its possession by any particular minds; and may take the former as an
ultimate end without regarding the latter.

“Still, as soon as the alternatives are clearly apprehended, it will, I
think, be generally held that beauty, knowledge, and other ideal goods,
as well as all external material things, are only reasonably to be
sought by men in so far as they conduce (1) to Happiness or (2) to the
Perfection or Excellence of human existence. I say ‘human,’ for though
most utilitarians consider the pleasure (and freedom from pain) of the
inferior animals to be included in the Happiness which they take as the
right and proper end of conduct, no one seems to contend that we ought
to aim at perfecting brutes except as a means to our ends, or at least
as objects of scientific or æsthetic contemplation for us. Nor, again,
can we include, as a practical end, the existence of beings above the
human. We certainly apply the idea of Good to the Divine Existence,
just as we do to His work, and indeed in a preeminent manner: and
when it is said that, ‘we should do all things to the glory of God,’
it may seem to be implied that the existence of God is made better by
our glorifying Him. Still this inference when explicitly drawn appears
somewhat impious; and theologians generally recoil from it, and
refrain from using the notion of a possible addition to the Goodness of
the Divine Existence as a ground of human duty. Nor can the influence
of our actions on other extra-human intelligences besides the Divine be
at present made matter of scientific discussion.

“I shall therefore confidently lay down, that if there be any Good
other than Happiness to be sought by man, as an ultimate practical
end, it can only be the Goodness, Perfection, or Excellence of Human
Existence. How far this notion includes more than Virtue, what its
precise relation to Pleasure is, and to what method we shall be
logically led if we accept it as fundamental, are questions which we
shall more conveniently discuss after the detailed examination of these
two other notions, Pleasure and Virtue, in which we shall be engaged in
the two following Books.”

It will be observed that in this passage Prof. Sidgwick tries to limit
the range of objects among which the ultimate end may be found. He does
not yet say what that end is, but he does exclude from it everything
but certain characters of Human Existence. And the possible ends, which
he thus excludes, do not again come up for consideration. They are put
out of court once for all by this passage and by this passage only. Now
is this exclusion justified?

I cannot think it is. ‘No one,’ says Prof. Sidgwick, ‘would consider
it rational to aim at the production of beauty in external nature,
apart from any possible contemplation of it by human beings.’ Well, I
may say at once, that I, for one, do consider this rational; and let
us see if I cannot get any one to agree with me. Consider what this
admission really means. It entitles us to put the following case. Let
us imagine one world exceedingly beautiful. Imagine it as beautiful as
you can; put into it whatever on this earth you most admire--mountains,
rivers, the sea; trees, and sunsets, stars and moon. Imagine these all
combined in the most exquisite proportions, so that no one thing jars
against another, but each contributes to increase the beauty of the
whole. And then imagine the ugliest world you can possibly conceive.
Imagine it simply one heap of filth, containing everything that is
most disgusting to us, for whatever reason, and the whole, as far
as may be, without one redeeming feature. Such a pair of worlds we
are entitled to compare: they fall within Prof. Sidgwick’s meaning,
and the comparison is highly relevant to it. The only thing we are
not entitled to imagine is that any human being ever has or ever, by
any possibility, _can_, live in either, can ever see and enjoy the
beauty of the one or hate the foulness of the other. Well, even so,
supposing them quite apart from any possible contemplation by human
beings; still, is it irrational to hold that it is better that the
beautiful world should exist, than the one which is ugly? Would it not
be well, in any case, to do what we could to produce it rather than
the other? Certainly I cannot help thinking that it would; and I hope
that some may agree with me in this extreme instance. The instance is
extreme. It is highly improbable, not to say, impossible, we should
ever have such a choice before us. In any actual choice we should have
to consider the possible effects of our action upon conscious beings,
and among these possible effects there are always some, I think, which
ought to be preferred to the existence of mere beauty. But this only
means that in our present state, in which but a very small portion of
the good is attainable, the pursuit of beauty for its own sake must
always be postponed to the pursuit of some greater good, which is
equally attainable. But it is enough for my purpose, if it be admitted
that, _supposing_ no greater good were at all attainable, then beauty
must in itself be regarded as a greater good than ugliness; if it be
admitted that, in that case, we should not be left without any reason
for preferring one course of action to another, we should not be left
without any duty whatever, but that it would then be our positive duty
to make the world more beautiful, so far as we were able, since nothing
better than beauty could then result from our efforts. If this be once
admitted, if in any imaginable case you do admit that the existence
of a more beautiful thing is better in itself than that of one more
ugly, quite apart from its effects on any human feeling, then Prof.
Sidgwick’s principle has broken down. Then we shall have to include
in our ultimate end something beyond the limits of human existence. I
admit, of course, that our beautiful world would be better still, if
there were human beings in it to contemplate and enjoy its beauty. But
that admission makes nothing against my point. If it be once admitted
that the beautiful world _in itself_ is better than the ugly, then it
follows, that however many beings may enjoy it, and however much better
their enjoyment may be than it is itself, yet its mere existence adds
_something_ to the goodness of the whole: it is not only a means to our
end, but also itself a part thereof.


=51.= In the second passage to which I referred above, Prof. Sidgwick
returns from the discussion of Virtue and Pleasure, with which he has
meanwhile been engaged, to consider what among the parts of Human
Existence to which, as we saw, he has limited the ultimate end, can
really be considered as such end. What I have just said, of course,
appears to me to destroy the force of this part of his argument too.
If, as I think, other things than any part of Human Existence can be
ends-in-themselves, then Prof. Sidgwick cannot claim to have discovered
the Summum Bonum, when he has merely determined what parts of Human
Existence are in themselves desirable. But this error may be admitted
to be utterly insignificant in comparison with that which we are now
about to discuss.

“It may be said,” says Prof. Sidgwick (III. XIV. §§ 4-5), “that we
may ... regard cognition of Truth, contemplation of Beauty, Free or
Virtuous action, as in some measure preferable alternatives to Pleasure
or Happiness--even though we admit that Happiness must be included as
a part of Ultimate Good.... I think, however, that this view ought not
to commend itself to the sober judgment of reflective persons. In order
to shew this, I must ask the reader to use the same twofold procedure
that I before requested him to employ in considering the absolute and
independent validity of common moral precepts. I appeal firstly to
his intuitive judgment after due consideration of the question when
fairly placed before it: and secondly to a comprehensive comparison
of the ordinary judgments of mankind. As regards the first argument,
to me at least it seems clear after reflection that these objective
relations of the conscious subject, when distinguished from the
consciousness accompanying and resulting from them, are not ultimately
and intrinsically desirable; any more than material or other objects
are, when considered apart from any relation to conscious existence.
Admitting that we have actual experience of such preferences as have
just been described, of which the ultimate object is something that
is not merely consciousness: it still seems to me that when (to use
Butler’s phrase) we ‘sit down in a cool hour,’ we can only justify to
ourselves the importance that we attach to any of these objects by
considering its conduciveness, in one way or another, to the happiness
of sentient beings.

“The second argument, that refers to the common sense of mankind,
obviously cannot be made completely cogent; since, as above stated,
several cultivated persons do habitually judge that knowledge, art,
etc.,--not to speak of Virtue--are ends independently of the pleasure
derived from them. But we may urge not only that all these elements
of ‘ideal good’ are productive of pleasure in various ways; but also
that they seem to obtain the commendation of Common Sense, roughly
speaking, in proportion to the degree of this productiveness. This
seems obviously true of Beauty; and will hardly be denied in respect
of any kind of social ideal: it is paradoxical to maintain that any
degree of Freedom, or any form of social order, would still be commonly
regarded as desirable even if we were certain that it had no tendency
to promote the general happiness. The case of Knowledge is rather more
complex; but certainly Common Sense is most impressed with the value
of knowledge, when its ‘fruitfulness’ has been demonstrated. It is,
however, aware that experience has frequently shewn how knowledge, long
fruitless, may become unexpectedly fruitful, and how light may be shed
on one part of the field of knowledge from another apparently remote:
and even if any particular branch of scientific pursuit could be shewn
to be devoid of even this indirect utility, it would still deserve some
respect on utilitarian grounds; both as furnishing to the inquirer
the refined and innocent pleasures of curiosity, and because the
intellectual disposition which it exhibits and sustains is likely on
the whole to produce fruitful knowledge. Still in cases approximating
to this last, Common Sense is somewhat disposed to complain of the
mis-direction of valuable effort; so that the meed of honour commonly
paid to Science seems to be graduated, though perhaps unconsciously,
by a tolerably exact utilitarian scale. Certainly the moment the
legitimacy of any branch of scientific inquiry is seriously disputed,
as in the recent case of vivisection, the controversy on both sides is
generally conducted on an avowedly utilitarian basis.

“The case of Virtue requires special consideration: since the
encouragement in each other of virtuous impulses and dispositions is a
main aim of men’s ordinary moral discourse; so that even to raise the
question whether this encouragement can go too far has a paradoxical
air. Still, our experience includes rare and exceptional cases in which
the concentration of effort on the cultivation of virtue has seemed to
have effects adverse to general happiness, through being intensified
to the point of moral fanaticism, and so involving a neglect of other
conditions of happiness. If, then, we admit as actual or possible
such ‘infelicific’ effects of the cultivation of Virtue, I think we
shall also generally admit that, in the case supposed, conduciveness
to general happiness should be the criterion for deciding how far the
cultivation of Virtue should be carried.”

There we have Prof. Sidgwick’s argument completed. We ought not, he
thinks, to aim at knowing the Truth, or at contemplating Beauty,
except in so far as such knowledge or such contemplation contributes
to increase the pleasure or to diminish the pain of sentient beings.
Pleasure alone is good for its own sake: knowledge of the Truth is good
only as a means to pleasure.


=52.= Let us consider what this means. What is pleasure? It is
certainly something of which we may be conscious, and which, therefore,
may be distinguished from our consciousness of it. What I wish first to
ask is this: Can it really be said that we value pleasure, except in
so far as we are conscious of it? Should we think that the attainment
of pleasure, of which we never were and never could be conscious, was
something to be aimed at for its own sake? It may be impossible that
such pleasure should ever exist, that it should ever be thus divorced
from consciousness; although there is certainly much reason to believe
that it is not only possible but very common. But, even supposing
that it were impossible, that is quite irrelevant. Our question is:
Is it the pleasure, as distinct from the consciousness of it, that we
set value on? Do we think the pleasure valuable in itself, or must
we insist that, if we are to think the pleasure good, we must have
consciousness of it too?

This consideration is very well put by Socrates in Plato’s dialogue
_Philebus_ (21 A).

‘Would _you_ accept, Protarchus,’ says Socrates, ‘to live your whole
life in the enjoyment of the greatest pleasures?’ ‘Of course I would,’
says Protarchus.

_Socrates._ Then would you think you needed anything else besides, if
you possessed this one blessing in completeness?

_Protarchus._ Certainly not.

_Socrates._ Consider what you are saying. You would not need to be wise
and intelligent and reasonable, nor anything like this? Would you not
even care to keep your sight?

_Protarchus._ Why should I? I suppose I should have all I want, if I
was pleased.

_Socrates._ Well, then, supposing you lived so, you would enjoy always
throughout your life the greatest pleasure?

_Protarchus._ Of course.

_Socrates._ But, on the other hand, inasmuch as you would _not_ possess
intelligence and memory and knowledge and true opinion, you would, in
the first place, necessarily be without the knowledge whether you were
pleased or not. For you would be devoid of any kind of wisdom. You
admit this?

_Protarchus._ I do. The consequence is absolutely necessary.

_Socrates._ Well, then, besides this, not having memory, you must
also be unable to remember even that you ever were pleased; of the
pleasure which falls upon you at the moment not the least vestige must
afterwards remain. And again, not having true opinion, you cannot think
that you are pleased when you are; and, being bereft of your reasoning
faculties, you cannot even have the power to reckon that you will be
pleased in future. You must live the life of an oyster, or of some
other of those living creatures, whose home is the seas and whose
souls are concealed in shelly bodies. Is all this so, or can we think
otherwise than this?

_Protarchus._ How can we?

_Socrates._ Well, then, can we think such a life desirable?

_Protarchus._ Socrates, your reasoning has left me utterly dumb.’

Socrates, we see, persuades Protarchus that Hedonism is absurd. If
we are really going to maintain that pleasure alone is good as an
end, we must maintain that it is good, whether we are conscious of
it or not. We must declare it reasonable to take as our ideal (an
unattainable ideal it may be) that we should be as happy as possible,
even on condition that we never know and never can know that we are
happy. We must be willing to sell in exchange for the mere happiness
every vestige of knowledge, both in ourselves and in others, both
of happiness itself and of every other thing. Can we really still
disagree? Can any one still declare it obvious that this is reasonable?
That pleasure alone is good as an end?

The case, it is plain, is just like that of the colours[18], only,
as yet, not nearly so strong. It is far more possible that we should
some day be able to produce the intensest pleasure, without any
consciousness that it is there, than that we should be able to produce
mere colour, without its being any particular colour. Pleasure and
consciousness can be far more easily distinguished from one another,
than colour from the particular colours. And yet even if this were
not so, we should be bound to distinguish them if we really wished to
declare pleasure alone to be our ultimate end. Even if consciousness
were an inseparable accompaniment of pleasure, a _sine quâ non_ of
its existence, yet, if pleasure is the only end, we are bound to call
consciousness a mere _means_ to it, in any intelligible sense that can
be given to the word _means_. And if, on the other hand, as I hope is
now plain, the pleasure would be comparatively valueless without the
consciousness, then we are bound to say that pleasure is _not_ the only
end, that some consciousness at least must be included with it as a
veritable part of the end.

  [18] § 48 _sup._

For our question now is solely what the end is: it is quite another
question how far that end may be attainable _by itself_, or must
involve the simultaneous attainment of other things. It may well be
that the _practical_ conclusions at which Utilitarians do arrive,
and even those at which they ought logically to arrive, are not far
from the truth. But in so far as their _reason_ for holding these
conclusions to be true is that ‘Pleasure alone is good as an end,’ they
are _absolutely_ wrong: and it is with _reasons_ that we are chiefly
concerned in any scientific Ethics.


=53.= It seems, then, clear that Hedonism is in error, so far as it
maintains that pleasure alone, and not the consciousness of pleasure,
is the sole good. And this error seems largely due to the fallacy which
I pointed out above in Mill--the fallacy of confusing means and end.
It is falsely supposed that, since pleasure must always be accompanied
by consciousness (which is, itself, extremely doubtful), therefore
it is indifferent whether we say that pleasure or the consciousness
of pleasure is the sole good. _Practically_, of course, it would be
indifferent at which we aimed, if it were certain that we could not
get the one without the other; but where the question is of what is
good in itself--where we ask: For the sake of what is it desirable to
get that which we aim at?--the distinction is by no means unimportant.
Here we are placed before an exclusive alternative. _Either_ pleasure
by itself (even though we can’t get it) would be all that is desirable,
_or_ a consciousness of it would be more desirable still. Both these
propositions cannot be true; and I think it is plain that the latter is
true; whence it follows that pleasure is _not_ the sole good.

Still it may be said that, even if consciousness of pleasure, and
not pleasure alone, is the sole good, this conclusion is not very
damaging to Hedonism. It may be said that Hedonists have always meant
by pleasure the consciousness of pleasure, though they have not been at
pains to say so; and this, I think is, in the main, true. To correct
their formula in this respect could, therefore, only be a matter of
practical importance, if it is possible to produce pleasure without
producing consciousness of it. But even this importance, which I think
our conclusion so far really has, is, I admit, comparatively slight.
What I wish to maintain is that even consciousness of pleasure is
not the sole good: that, indeed, it is absurd so to regard it. And
the chief importance of what has been said so far lies in the fact
that the same method, which shews that consciousness of pleasure is
more valuable than pleasure, seems also to shew that consciousness of
pleasure is itself far less valuable than other things. The supposition
that consciousness of pleasure is the sole good is due to a neglect of
the same distinctions which have encouraged the careless assertion that
pleasure is the sole good.

The method which I employed in order to shew that pleasure itself
was not the sole good, was that of considering what value we should
attach to it, if it existed in absolute isolation, stripped of all its
usual accompaniments. And this is, in fact, the only method that can
be safely used, when we wish to discover what degree of value a thing
has in itself. The necessity of employing this method will be best
exhibited by a discussion of the arguments used by Prof. Sidgwick in
the passage last quoted, and by an exposure of the manner in which they
are calculated to mislead.


=54.= With regard to the second of them, it only maintains that other
things, which might be supposed to share with pleasure the attribute
of goodness, ‘seem to obtain the commendation of Common Sense, roughly
speaking, in proportion to the degree’ of their productiveness of
pleasure. Whether even this rough proportion holds between the
commendation of Common Sense and the felicific effects of that which it
commends is a question extremely difficult to determine; and we need
not enter into it here. For, even assuming it to be true, and assuming
the judgments of Common Sense to be on the whole correct, what would it
shew? It would shew, certainly, that pleasure was a good _criterion_
of right action--that the same conduct which produced most pleasure
would also produce most good on the whole. But this would by no means
entitle us to the conclusion that the greatest pleasure _constituted_
what was best on the whole: it would still leave open the alternative
that the greatest quantity of pleasure was as a matter of fact, _under
actual conditions_, generally accompanied by the greatest quantity
of _other goods_, and that it therefore was _not_ the sole good. It
might indeed seem to be a strange coincidence that these two things
should always, even in this world, be in proportion to one another.
But the strangeness of this coincidence will certainly not entitle us
to argue directly that it does not exist--that it is an illusion, due
to the fact that pleasure is really the sole good. The coincidence may
be susceptible of other explanations; and it would even be our duty
to accept it unexplained, if direct intuition seemed to declare that
pleasure was not the sole good. Moreover it must be remembered that
the need for assuming such a coincidence rests in any case upon the
extremely doubtful proposition that felicific effects _are_ roughly in
proportion to the approval of Common Sense. And it should be observed
that, though Prof. Sidgwick maintains this to be the case, his detailed
illustrations only tend to shew the very different proposition that a
thing is not held to be good, unless it gives a balance of pleasure;
not that the degree of commendation is in proportion to the quantity of
pleasure.


=55.= The decision, then, must rest upon Prof. Sidgwick’s first
argument--‘the appeal’ to our ‘intuitive judgment after due
consideration of the question when fairly placed before it.’ And here
it seems to me plain that Prof. Sidgwick has failed, in two essential
respects, to place the question fairly before either himself or his
reader.

(1) What he has to shew is, as he says himself, not merely that
‘Happiness must be included as a part of Ultimate Good.’ This view,
he says, ‘ought not to commend itself to the sober judgment of
reflective persons.’ And why? Because ‘these objective relations,
when distinguished from the consciousness accompanying and resulting
from them, are not ultimately and intrinsically desirable.’ Now, this
reason, which is offered as shewing that to consider Happiness as
a mere part of Ultimate Good does not meet the facts of intuition,
is, on the contrary, only sufficient to shew that it _is_ a part of
Ultimate Good. For from the fact that no value resides in one part
of a whole, considered by itself, we cannot infer that all the value
belonging to the whole does reside in the other part, considered by
itself. Even if we admit that there is much value in the enjoyment of
Beauty, and none in the mere contemplation of it, which is one of the
constituents of that complex fact, it does not follow that all the
value belongs to the other constituent, namely, the pleasure which we
take in contemplating it. It is quite possible that this constituent
also has no value in itself; that the value belongs to the whole state,
and to that only: so that _both_ the pleasure _and_ the contemplation
are mere parts of the good, and both of them equally necessary parts.
In short, Prof. Sidgwick’s argument here depends upon the neglect of
that principle, which I tried to explain in my first chapter and which
I said I should call the principle of ‘organic relations[19].’ The
argument is calculated to mislead, because it supposes that, if we see
a whole state to be valuable, and also see that one element of that
state has no value _by itself_, then the other element, _by itself_,
must have all the value which belongs to the whole state. The fact
is, on the contrary, that, since the whole may be organic, the other
element need have no value whatever, and that even if it have some, the
value of the whole may be very much greater. For this reason, as well
as to avoid confusion between means and end, it is absolutely essential
to consider each distinguishable quality, _in isolation_, in order to
decide what value it possesses. Prof. Sidgwick, on the other hand,
applies this method of isolation only to _one_ element in the wholes
he is considering. He does not ask the question: If consciousness
of pleasure existed absolutely by itself, would a sober judgment be
able to attribute much value to it? It is, in fact, always misleading
to take a whole, that is valuable (or the reverse), and then to ask
simply: To which of its constituents does this whole owe its value or
its vileness? It may well be that it owes it to _none_; and, if one of
them does appear to have some value in itself, we shall be led into the
grave error of supposing that all the value of the whole belongs to it
alone. It seems to me that this error has commonly been committed with
regard to pleasure. Pleasure does seem to be a necessary constituent
of most valuable wholes; and, since the other constituents, into which
we may analyse them, may easily seem not to have any value, it is
natural to suppose that all the value belongs to pleasure. That this
natural supposition does not follow from the premises is certain; and
that it is, on the contrary, ridiculously far from the truth appears
evident to my ‘reflective judgment.’ If we apply either to pleasure or
to consciousness of pleasure the only safe method, that of isolation,
and ask ourselves: Could we accept, as a very good thing, that mere
consciousness of pleasure, and absolutely nothing else, should exist,
even in the greatest quantities? I think we can have no doubt about
answering: No. Far less can we accept this as the _sole_ good. Even
if we accept Prof. Sidgwick’s implication (which yet appears to me
extremely doubtful) that consciousness of pleasure has a greater
value by itself than Contemplation of Beauty, it seems to me that a
pleasurable Contemplation of Beauty has certainly an immeasurably
greater value than mere Consciousness of Pleasure. In favour of this
conclusion I can appeal with confidence to the ‘sober judgment of
reflective persons.’

  [19] pp. 27-30, 36.


=56.= (2) That the value of a pleasurable whole does not belong solely
to the pleasure which it contains, may, I think, be made still plainer
by consideration of another point in which Prof. Sidgwick’s argument
is defective. Prof. Sidgwick maintains, as we saw, the doubtful
proposition, that the _conduciveness_ to pleasure of a thing is in
rough proportion to its commendation by Common Sense. But he does
not maintain, what would be undoubtedly false, that the pleasantness
of every state is in proportion to the commendation of that state.
In other words, it is only when you take into account _the whole
consequences of any state_, that he is able to maintain the coincidence
of quantity of pleasure with the objects approved by Common Sense.
If we consider each state by itself, and ask what is the judgment of
Common Sense as to its goodness _as an end_, quite apart from its
goodness as a means, there can be no doubt that Common Sense holds many
much less pleasant states to be better than many far more pleasant:
that it holds, with Mill, that there are higher pleasures, which are
more valuable, though less pleasant, than those which are lower. Prof.
Sidgwick might, of course, maintain that in this Common Sense is merely
confusing means and ends: that what it holds to be better as an end,
is in reality only better as a means. But I think his argument is
defective in that he does not seem to see sufficiently plainly that,
as far as intuitions of goodness _as an end_ are concerned, he is
running grossly counter to Common Sense; that he does not emphasise
sufficiently the distinction between _immediate_ pleasantness and
_conduciveness_ to pleasure. In order to place fairly before us
the question what is good as an end we must take states that are
immediately pleasant and ask if the more pleasant are always also the
better; and whether, if some that are less pleasant appear to be so, it
is only because we think they are likely to increase the number of the
more pleasant. That Common Sense would deny both these suppositions,
and rightly so, appears to me indubitable. It is commonly held that
certain of what would be called the lowest forms of sexual enjoyment,
for instance, are positively bad, although it is by no means clear that
they are not the most pleasant states we ever experience. Common Sense
would certainly not think it a sufficient justification for the pursuit
of what Prof. Sidgwick calls the ‘refined pleasures’ here and now, that
they are the best means to the future attainment of a heaven, in which
there would be no more refined pleasures--no contemplation of beauty,
no personal affections--but in which the greatest possible pleasure
would be obtained by a perpetual indulgence in bestiality. Yet Prof.
Sidgwick would be bound to hold that, if the greatest possible pleasure
could be obtained in this way, and if it were attainable, such a state
of things would be a heaven indeed, and that all human endeavours
should be devoted to its realisation. I venture to think that this view
is as false as it is paradoxical.


=57.= It seems to me, then, that if we place fairly before us the
question: Is consciousness of pleasure the sole good? the answer must
be: No. And with this the last defence of Hedonism has been broken
down. In order to put the question fairly we must isolate consciousness
of pleasure. We must ask: Suppose we were conscious of pleasure only,
and of nothing else, not even that we _were_ conscious, would that
state of things, however great the quantity, be very desirable? No one,
I think, can suppose it so. On the other hand, it seems quite plain,
that we do regard as very desirable, many complicated states of mind
in which the consciousness of pleasure is combined with consciousness
of other things--states which we call ‘enjoyment of’ so and so. If
this is correct, then it follows that consciousness of pleasure is not
the sole good, and that many other states, in which it is included
as a part, are much better than it. Once we recognise the principle
of organic unities, any objection to this conclusion, founded on the
supposed fact that the other elements of such states have no value in
themselves, must disappear. And I do not know that I need say any more
in refutation of Hedonism.


=58.= It only remains to say something of the two forms in which a
hedonistic doctrine is commonly held--Egoism and Utilitarianism.

Egoism, as a form of Hedonism, is the doctrine which holds that we
ought each of us to pursue our own greatest happiness as our ultimate
end. The doctrine will, of course, admit that sometimes the best means
to this end will be to give pleasure to others; we shall, for instance,
by so doing, procure for ourselves the pleasures of sympathy, of
freedom from interference, and of self-esteem; and these pleasures,
which we may procure by sometimes aiming directly at the happiness of
other persons, may be greater than any we could otherwise get. Egoism
in this sense must therefore be carefully distinguished from Egoism
in another sense, the sense in which Altruism is its proper opposite.
Egoism, as commonly opposed to Altruism, is apt to denote merely
selfishness. In this sense, a man is an egoist, if all his actions
are actually directed towards gaining pleasure for himself; whether
he holds that he ought to act so, because he will thereby obtain for
himself the greatest possible happiness on the whole, or not. Egoism
may accordingly be used to denote the theory that we should always aim
at getting pleasure for ourselves, because that is the best _means_
to the ultimate end, whether the ultimate end be our own greatest
pleasure or not. Altruism, on the other hand, may denote the theory
that we ought always to aim at other people’s happiness, on the ground
that this is the best _means_ of securing our own as well as theirs.
Accordingly an Egoist, in the sense in which I am now going to talk of
Egoism, an Egoist, who holds that his own greatest happiness is the
ultimate end, may at the same time be an Altruist: he may hold that
he ought to ‘love his neighbour,’ as the best means to being happy
himself. And conversely an Egoist, in the other sense, may at the same
time be a Utilitarian. He may hold that he ought always to direct his
efforts towards getting pleasure for himself on the ground that he is
thereby most likely to increase the general sum of happiness.


=59.= I shall say more later about this second kind of Egoism, this
anti-altruistic Egoism, this Egoism as a doctrine of means. What I am
now concerned with is that utterly distinct kind of Egoism, which holds
that each man ought rationally to hold: My own greatest happiness is
the only good thing there is; my actions can only be good as means, in
so far as they help to win me this. This is a doctrine which is not
much held by writers now-a-days. It is a doctrine that was largely
held by English Hedonists in the 17th and 18th centuries: it is, for
example, at the bottom of Hobbes’ Ethics. But even the English school
appear to have made one step forward in the present century: they are
most of them now-a-days Utilitarians. They do recognise that if my own
happiness is good, it would be strange that other people’s happiness
should not be good too.

In order fully to expose the absurdity of this kind of Egoism, it is
necessary to examine certain confusions upon which its plausibility
depends.

The chief of these is the confusion involved in the conception of
‘my own good’ as distinguished from ‘the good of others.’ This is a
conception which we all use every day; it is one of the first to which
the plain man is apt to appeal in discussing any question of Ethics:
and Egoism is commonly advocated chiefly because its meaning is not
clearly perceived. It is plain, indeed, that the name ‘Egoism’ more
properly applies to the theory that ‘my own good’ is the sole good,
than that my own pleasure is so. A man may quite well be an Egoist,
even if he be not a Hedonist. The conception which is, perhaps, most
closely associated with Egoism is that denoted by the words ‘my own
interest.’ The Egoist is the man who holds that a tendency to promote
his own interest is the sole possible, and sufficient, justification
of all his actions. But this conception of ‘my own interest’ plainly
includes, in general, very much more than my own pleasure. It is,
indeed, only because and in so far as ‘my own interest’ has been
thought to consist solely in my own pleasure, that Egoists have been
led to hold that my own pleasure is the sole good. Their course of
reasoning is as follows: The only thing I ought to secure is my
own interest; but my own interest consists in my greatest possible
pleasure; and therefore the only thing I ought to pursue is my own
pleasure. That it is very natural, _on reflection_, thus to identify
my own pleasure with my own interest; and that it has been generally
done by modern _moralists_, may be admitted. But, when Prof. Sidgwick
points this out (III. XIV. § 5, Div. III.), he should have also pointed
out that this identification has by no means been made in ordinary
thought. When the plain man says ‘my own interest,’ he does _not_ mean
‘my own pleasure’--he does not commonly even include this--he means
my own advancement, my own reputation, the getting of a better income
etc., etc. That Prof. Sidgwick should not have noticed this, and that
he should give the reason he gives for the fact that the ancient
_moralists_ did not identify ‘my own interest’ with my own pleasure,
seems to be due to his having failed to notice that very confusion
in the conception of ‘my own good’ which I am now to point out. That
confusion has, perhaps, been more clearly perceived by Plato than
by any other moralist, and to point it out suffices to refute Prof.
Sidgwick’s own view that Egoism is rational.

What, then, is meant by ‘my own good’? In what sense can a thing be
good _for me_? It is obvious, if we reflect, that the only thing which
can belong to me, which can be _mine_, is something which is good, and
not the fact that it is good. When, therefore, I talk of anything I get
as ‘my own good,’ I must mean either that the thing I get is good, or
that my possessing it is good. In both cases it is only the thing or
the possession of it which is _mine_, and not _the goodness_ of that
thing or that possession. There is no longer any meaning in attaching
the ‘my’ to our predicate, and saying: The possession of this _by me_
is _my_ good. Even if we interpret this by ‘My possession of this is
what _I_ think good,’ the same still holds: for _what_ I think is that
my possession of it is good _simply_; and, if I think rightly, then
the truth is that my possession of it _is_ good simply--not, in any
sense, _my_ good; and, if I think wrongly, it is not good at all. In
short, when I talk of a thing as ‘my own good’ all that I can mean
is that something which will be exclusively mine, as my own pleasure
is mine (whatever be the various senses of this relation denoted by
‘possession’), is also _good absolutely_; or rather that my possession
of it is _good absolutely_. The _good_ of it can in no possible sense
be ‘private’ or belong to me; any more than a thing can _exist_
privately or _for_ one person only. The only reason I can have for
aiming at ‘my own good,’ is that it is _good absolutely_ that what I
so call should belong to me--_good absolutely_ that I should _have_
something, which, if I have it, others cannot have. But if it is _good
absolutely_ that I should have it, then everyone else has as much
reason for aiming at _my_ having it, as I have myself. If, therefore,
it is true of _any_ single man’s ‘interest’ or ‘happiness’ that it
ought to be his sole ultimate end, this can only mean that _that_ man’s
‘interest’ or ‘happiness’ is _the sole good, the_ Universal Good,
and the only thing that anybody ought to aim at. What Egoism holds,
therefore, is that _each_ man’s happiness is the sole good--that a
number of different things are _each_ of them the only good thing there
is--an absolute contradiction! No more complete and thorough refutation
of any theory could be desired.


=60.= Yet Prof. Sidgwick holds that Egoism is rational; and it will be
useful briefly to consider the reasons which he gives for this absurd
conclusion. ‘The Egoist,’ he says (last Chap. § 1), ‘may avoid the
proof of Utilitarianism by declining to affirm,’ either ‘implicitly or
explicitly, that his own greatest happiness is not merely the ultimate
rational end for himself, but a part of Universal Good.’ And in the
passage to which he here refers us, as having there ‘seen’ this,
he says: ‘It cannot be proved that the difference between his own
happiness and another’s happiness is not _for him_ all-important’ (IV.
ii. § 1). What does Prof. Sidgwick mean by these phrases ‘the ultimate
rational end for himself,’ and ‘_for him_ all-important’? He does not
attempt to define them; and it is largely the use of such undefined
phrases which causes absurdities to be committed in philosophy.

Is there any sense in which a thing can be an ultimate rational end for
one person and not for another? By ‘ultimate’ must be meant at least
that the end is good-in-itself--good in our undefinable sense; and
by ‘rational,’ at least, that it is truly good. That a thing should
be an ultimate rational end means, then, that it is truly good in
itself; and that it is truly good in itself means that it is a part of
Universal Good. Can we assign any meaning to that qualification ‘for
himself,’ which will make it cease to be a part of Universal Good?
The thing is impossible: for the Egoist’s happiness must _either_ be
good in itself, and so a part of Universal Good, _or else_ it cannot
be good in itself at all: there is no escaping this dilemma. And if
it is not good at all, what reason can he have for aiming at it? how
can it be a rational end for him? That qualification ‘for himself’ has
no meaning unless it implies ‘_not_ for others’; and if it implies
‘not for others,’ then it cannot be a rational end for him, since
it cannot be truly good in itself: the phrase ‘an ultimate rational
end for himself’ is a contradiction in terms. By saying that a thing
is an end for one particular person, or good for him, can only be
meant one of four things. Either (1) it may be meant that the end
in question is something which will belong exclusively to him; but
in that case, if it is to be rational for him to aim at it, that he
should exclusively possess it must be a part of Universal Good. Or
(2) it may be meant that it is the only thing at which he ought to
aim; but this can only be, because, by so doing, he will do the most
he can towards realising Universal Good: and this, in our case, will
only give Egoism as a doctrine of _means_. Or (3) it may be meant that
the thing is what he desires or thinks good; and then, if he thinks
wrongly, it is not a rational end at all, and, if he thinks rightly,
it is a part of Universal Good. Or (4) it may be meant that it is
peculiarly appropriate that a thing which will belong exclusively to
him should also by him be approved or aimed at; but, in this case,
both that it should belong to him and that he should aim at it must be
parts of Universal Good: by saying that a certain relation between two
things is fitting or appropriate, we can only mean that the existence
of that relation is absolutely good in itself (unless it be so as a
means, which gives case (2)). By no possible meaning, then, that can
be given to the phrase that his own happiness is the ultimate rational
end for himself can the Egoist escape the implication that his own
happiness is absolutely good; and by saying that it is _the_ ultimate
rational end, he must mean that it is the only good thing--the whole of
Universal Good: and, if he further maintains, that each man’s happiness
is the ultimate rational end for _him_, we have the fundamental
contradiction of Egoism--that an immense number of different things
are, _each_ of them, _the sole good_.--And it is easy to see that the
same considerations apply to the phrase that ‘the difference between
his own happiness and another’s is _for him_ all-important.’ This can
only mean either (1) that his own happiness is the only end which
will affect him, or (2) that the only important thing for him (as a
means) is to look to his own happiness, or (3) that it is only his
own happiness which he cares about, or (4) that it is good that each
man’s happiness should be the only concern of that man. And none of
these propositions, true as they may be, have the smallest tendency to
shew that if his own happiness is desirable at all, it is not a part
of Universal Good. Either his own happiness is a good thing or it is
not; and, in whatever sense it may be all-important for him, it must
be true that, if it is not good, he is not justified in pursuing it,
and that, if it is good, everyone else has an equal reason to pursue
it, so far as they are able and so far as it does not exclude their
attainment of other more valuable parts of Universal Good. In short
it is plain that the addition of ‘for him’ ‘for me’ to such words as
‘ultimate rational end,’ ‘good,’ ‘important’ can introduce nothing but
confusion. The only possible reason that can justify any action is that
by it the greatest possible amount of what is good absolutely should be
realised. And if anyone says that the attainment of his own happiness
justifies his actions, he must mean that this is the greatest possible
amount of Universal Good which he can realise. And this again can only
be true either because _he_ has no power to realise more, in which
case he only holds Egoism as a doctrine of means; or else because his
own happiness is the greatest amount of Universal Good which can be
realised at all, in which case we have Egoism proper, and the flagrant
contradiction that every person’s happiness is singly the greatest
amount of Universal Good which can be realised at all.


=61.= It should be observed that, since this is so, ‘the relation of
Rational Egoism to Rational Benevolence,’ which Prof. Sidgwick regards
‘as the profoundest problem of Ethics’ (III. XIII. § 5, _n._ 1),
appears in quite a different light to that in which he presents it.
‘Even if a man,’ he says, ‘admits the self-evidence of the principle
of Rational Benevolence, he may still hold that his own happiness is
an end which it is irrational for him to sacrifice to any other; and
that therefore a harmony between the maxim of Prudence and the maxim of
Rational Benevolence must be somehow demonstrated, if morality is to
be made completely rational. This latter view is that which I myself
hold’ (last Chap. § 1). Prof. Sidgwick then goes on to shew ‘that
the inseparable connection between Utilitarian Duty and the greatest
happiness of the individual who conforms to it cannot be satisfactorily
demonstrated on empirical grounds’ (Ib. § 3). And the final paragraph
of his book tells us that, since ‘the reconciliation of duty and
self-interest is to be regarded as a hypothesis logically necessary
to avoid a fundamental _contradiction_ in one chief department of
our thought, it remains to ask how far this necessity constitutes a
sufficient reason for accepting this hypothesis[20]’ (Ib. § 5). To
‘assume the existence of such a Being, as God, by the _consensus_ of
theologians, is conceived to be’ would, he has already argued, ensure
the required reconciliation; since the Divine Sanctions of such a God
‘would, of course, suffice to make it always every one’s interest to
promote universal happiness to the best of his knowledge’ (Ib. § 5).

  [20] The italics are mine.

Now what is this ‘reconciliation of duty and self-interest,’ which
Divine Sanctions could ensure? It would consist in the mere fact that
the same conduct which produced the greatest possible happiness of
the greatest number would always also produce the greatest possible
happiness of the agent. If this were the case (and our empirical
knowledge shews that it is not the case in this world), ‘morality’
would, Prof. Sidgwick thinks, be ‘completely rational’: we should avoid
‘an ultimate and fundamental contradiction in our apparent intuitions
of what is Reasonable in conduct.’ That is to say, we should avoid
the necessity of thinking that it is as manifest an obligation to
secure our own greatest Happiness (maxim of Prudence), as to secure
the greatest Happiness on the whole (maxim of Benevolence). But it
is perfectly obvious we should not. Prof. Sidgwick here commits the
characteristic fallacy of Empiricism--the fallacy of thinking that
an alteration in _facts_ could make a contradiction cease to be a
contradiction. That a single man’s happiness should be _the sole
good_, and that also everybody’s happiness should be _the sole good_,
is a contradiction which cannot be solved by the assumption that the
same conduct will secure both: it would be equally contradictory,
however certain we were that that assumption was justified. Prof.
Sidgwick strains at a gnat and swallows a camel. He thinks the Divine
Omnipotence must be called into play to secure that what gives other
people pleasure should also give it to him--that only so can Ethics
be made rational; while he overlooks the fact that even this exercise
of Divine Omnipotence would leave in Ethics a contradiction, in
comparison with which his difficulty is a trifle--a contradiction,
which would reduce all Ethics to mere nonsense, and before which the
Divine Omnipotence must be powerless to all eternity. That _each_
man’s happiness should be the _sole good_, which we have seen to be
the principle of Egoism, is in itself a contradiction: and that it
should also be true that the Happiness of all is the _sole good_,
which is the principle of Universalistic Hedonism, would introduce
another contradiction. And that these propositions should all be true
might well be called ‘the profoundest problem in Ethics’: it would be
a problem necessarily insoluble. But they _cannot_ all be true, and
there is no reason, but confusion, for the supposition that they are.
Prof. Sidgwick confuses this contradiction with the mere fact (in which
there is no contradiction) that our own greatest happiness and that
of all do not seem always attainable by the same means. This fact, if
Happiness were the sole good, would indeed be of some importance; and,
on any view, similar facts are of importance. But they are nothing but
instances of the one important fact that in this world the quantity of
good which is attainable is ridiculously small compared to that which
is imaginable. That I cannot get the most possible pleasure for myself,
if I produce the most possible pleasure on the whole, is no more _the_
profoundest problem of Ethics, than that in any case I cannot get as
much pleasure altogether as would be desirable. It only states that,
if we get as much good as possible in one place, we may get less on
the whole, because the quantity of attainable good is limited. To say
that I have to choose between my own good and that of _all_ is a false
antithesis: the only rational question is how to choose between my own
and that of _others_, and the principle on which this must be answered
is exactly the same as that on which I must choose whether to give
pleasure to this other person or to that.


=62.= It is plain, then, that the doctrine of Egoism is
self-contradictory; and that one reason why this is not perceived,
is a confusion with regard to the meaning of the phrase ‘my own
good.’ And it may be observed that this confusion and the neglect
of this contradiction are necessarily involved in the transition
from Naturalistic Hedonism, as ordinarily held, to Utilitarianism.
Mill, for instance, as we saw, declares: ‘Each person, so far as he
believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness’ (p. 53). And
he offers this as a reason why the general happiness is desirable. We
have seen that to regard it as such, involves, in the first place,
the naturalistic fallacy. But moreover, even if that fallacy were
not a fallacy, it could only be a reason for Egoism and not for
Utilitarianism. Mill’s argument is as follows: A man desires his own
happiness; therefore his own happiness is desirable. Further: A man
desires nothing but his own happiness; therefore his own happiness is
alone desirable. We have next to remember, that everybody, according
to Mill, so desires his own happiness: and then it will follow
that everybody’s happiness is alone desirable. And this is simply
a contradiction in terms. Just consider what it means. Each man’s
happiness is the only thing desirable: several different things are
_each_ of them the _only_ thing desirable. This is the fundamental
contradiction of Egoism. In order to think that what his arguments tend
to prove is not Egoism but Utilitarianism, Mill must think that he can
infer from the proposition ‘Each man’s happiness is his own good,’ the
proposition ‘The happiness of all is the good of all’; whereas in fact,
if we understand what ‘his own good’ means, it is plain that the latter
can only be inferred from ‘The happiness of all is the good of each.’
Naturalistic Hedonism, then, logically leads only to Egoism. Of course,
a Naturalist might hold that what we aimed at was simply ‘pleasure’
not our own pleasure; and _that_, always assuming the naturalistic
fallacy, would give an unobjectionable ground for Utilitarianism. But
more commonly he will hold that it is his own pleasure he desires, or
at least will confuse this with the other; and then he must logically
be led to adopt Egoism and not Utilitarianism.


=63.= The second cause I have to give why Egoism should be thought
reasonable, is simply its confusion with that other kind of
Egoism--Egoism as a doctrine of means. This second Egoism has a right
to say: You ought to pursue your own happiness, sometimes at all
events; it may even say: Always. And when we find it saying this we
are apt to forget its proviso: But only as a means to something else.
The fact is we are in an imperfect state; we cannot get the ideal all
at once. And hence it is often our bounden duty, we often _absolutely_
‘_ought_,’ to do things which are good only or chiefly as means: we
have to do the best we can, what is absolutely ‘right,’ but not what
is absolutely good. Of this I shall say more hereafter. I only mention
it here because I think it is much more plausible to say that we ought
to pursue our own pleasure as a means than as an end, and that this
doctrine, through confusion, lends some of its plausibility to the
utterly different doctrine of Egoism proper: My own greatest pleasure
is the only good thing.


=64.= So much for Egoism. Of Utilitarianism not much need be said; but
two points may seem deserving of notice.

The first is that this name, like that of Egoism, does not naturally
suggest that all our actions are to be judged according to the degree
in which they are a means to _pleasure_. Its natural meaning is that
the standard of right and wrong in conduct is its tendency to promote
the _interest_ of everybody. And by _interest_ is commonly meant a
variety of different goods, classed together only because they are
what a man commonly desires for himself, so far as his desires have
not that psychological quality which is meant by ‘moral.’ The ‘useful’
thus means, and was in ancient Ethics systematically used to mean,
what is a means to the attainment of goods other than moral goods. It
is quite an unjustifiable assumption that these goods are only good
as means to pleasure or that they are commonly so regarded. The chief
reason for adopting the name ‘Utilitarianism’ was, indeed, merely to
emphasize the fact that right and wrong conduct must be judged by its
results--as a means, in opposition to the strictly Intuitionistic view
that certain ways of acting were right and others wrong, whatever their
results might be. In thus insisting that what is right must mean what
produces the best possible results Utilitarianism is fully justified.
But with this correct contention there has been historically, and very
naturally, associated a double error. (1) The best possible results
were assumed to consist only in a limited class of goods, roughly
coinciding with those which were popularly distinguished as the
results of merely ‘useful’ or ‘interested’ actions; and these again
were hastily assumed to be good only as means to pleasure. (2) The
Utilitarians tend to regard everything as a mere means, neglecting the
fact that some things which are good as means are also good as ends.
Thus, for instance, assuming pleasure to be a good, there is a tendency
to value present pleasure only as a means to future pleasure, and
not, as is strictly necessary if pleasure is good as an end, also to
_weigh it against_ possible future pleasures. Much utilitarian argument
involves the logical absurdity that what is here and now, never has
any value in itself, but is only to be judged by its consequences;
which again, of course, when they are realised, would have no value in
themselves, but would be mere means to a still further future, and so
on _ad infinitum_.

The second point deserving notice with regard to Utilitarianism is
that, when the name is used for a form of Hedonism, it does not
commonly, even in its description of its _end_, accurately distinguish
between means and end. Its best-known formula is that the result by
which actions are to be judged is ‘the greatest happiness of the
greatest number.’ But it is plain that, if pleasure is the sole good,
provided the quantity be equally great, an equally desirable result
will have been obtained whether it be enjoyed by many or by few, or
even if it be enjoyed by nobody. It is plain that, if we ought to aim
at the greatest happiness of the greatest number, this can only, on the
hedonistic principle, be because the existence of pleasure in a great
number of persons seems to be the best _means_ available for attaining
the existence of the greatest quantity of pleasure. This may actually
be the case; but it is fair to suspect that Utilitarians have been
influenced, in their adoption of the hedonistic principle, by this
failure to distinguish clearly between pleasure or consciousness of
pleasure and its possession by a person. It is far easier to regard the
possession of pleasure by a number of persons as the sole good, than so
to regard the mere existence of an equally great quantity of pleasure.
If, indeed, we were to take the Utilitarian principle strictly, and to
assume them to mean that the possession of pleasure by many persons
was good in itself, the principle is not hedonistic: it includes as
a necessary part of the ultimate end, the existence of a number of
persons, and this will include very much more than mere pleasure.

Utilitarianism, however, as commonly held, must be understood to
maintain that either mere consciousness of pleasure, or consciousness
of pleasure together with the minimum adjunct which may be meant by
the existence of such consciousness in at least one _person_, is the
_sole good_. This is its significance as an ethical doctrine; and as
such it has already been refuted in my refutation of Hedonism. The
most that can be said for it is that it does not seriously mislead in
its practical conclusions, on the ground that, as an empirical fact,
the method of acting which brings most good on the whole does also
bring most pleasure. Utilitarians do indeed generally devote most of
their arguments to shewing that the course of action which will bring
most pleasure is in general such as common sense would approve. We
have seen that Prof. Sidgwick appeals to this fact as tending to shew
that pleasure is the sole good; and we have also seen that it does not
tend to shew this. We have seen how very flimsy the other arguments
advanced for this proposition are; and that, if it be fairly considered
by itself, it appears to be quite ridiculous. And, moreover, that the
actions which produce most good on the whole do also produce most
pleasure is extremely doubtful. The arguments tending to shew it are
all more or less vitiated by the assumption that what appear to be
necessary conditions for the attainment of most pleasure in the near
future, will always continue so to be. And, even with this vicious
assumption, they only succeed in making out a highly problematical
case. How, therefore, this fact is to be explained, if it be a fact,
need not concern us. It is sufficient to have shewn that many complex
states of mind are much more valuable than the pleasure they contain.
If this be so, _no form of Hedonism can be true_. And, since the
practical guidance afforded by pleasure as a _criterion_ is small in
proportion as the calculation attempts to be accurate, we can well
afford to await further investigation, before adopting a guide, whose
utility is very doubtful and whose trustworthiness we have grave reason
to suspect.


=65.= The most important points which I have endeavoured to establish
in this chapter are as follows. (1) Hedonism must be strictly
defined as the doctrine that ‘Pleasure is the only thing which is
good in itself’: this view seems to owe its prevalence mainly to the
naturalistic fallacy, and Mill’s arguments may be taken as a type of
those which are fallacious in this respect; Sidgwick alone has defended
it without committing this fallacy, and its final refutation must
therefore point out the errors in his arguments (36-38). (2) Mill’s
‘Utilitarianism’ is criticised: it being shewn (_a_) that he commits
the naturalistic fallacy in identifying ‘desirable’ with ‘desired’;
(_b_) that pleasure is not the only object of desire. The common
arguments for Hedonism seem to rest on these two errors (39-44). (3)
Hedonism is considered as an ‘Intuition,’ and it is pointed out (_a_)
that Mill’s allowance that some pleasures are inferior in quality to
others implies both that it is an Intuition and that it is a false
one (46-48); (_b_) that Sidgwick fails to distinguish ‘pleasure’
from ‘consciousness of pleasure,’ and that it is absurd to regard the
former, at all events, as the sole good (49-52); (_c_) that it seems
equally absurd to regard ‘consciousness of pleasure’ as the sole good,
since, if it were so, a world in which nothing else existed might be
absolutely perfect: Sidgwick fails to put to himself this question,
which is the only clear and decisive one (53-57). (4) What are commonly
considered to be the two main types of Hedonism, namely, Egoism and
Utilitarianism, are not only different from, but strictly contradictory
of, one another; since the former asserts ‘My own greatest pleasure
is the _sole_ good,’ the latter ‘The greatest pleasure of all is the
_sole_ good.’ Egoism seems to owe its plausibility partly to the
failure to observe this contradiction--a failure which is exemplified
by Sidgwick; partly to a confusion of Egoism as doctrine of end, with
the same as doctrine of means. If Hedonism is true, Egoism cannot
be so; still less can it be so, if Hedonism is false. The end of
Utilitarianism, on the other hand, would, if Hedonism were true, be,
not indeed the best conceivable, but the best possible for us to
promote; but it is refuted by the refutation of Hedonism (58-64).



CHAPTER IV.

METAPHYSICAL ETHICS.


=66.= In this chapter I propose to deal with a type of ethical theory
which is exemplified in the ethical views of the Stoics, of Spinoza,
of Kant, and especially of a number of modern writers, whose views in
this respect are mainly due to the influence of Hegel. These ethical
theories have this in common, that they use some _metaphysical_
proposition as a ground for inferring some fundamental proposition of
Ethics. They all imply, and many of them expressly hold, that ethical
truths follow logically from metaphysical truths--that Ethics should be
based on _Metaphysics_. And the result is that they all describe the
Supreme Good in _metaphysical_ terms.

What, then, is to be understood by ‘metaphysical’? I use the term,
as I explained in Chapter II., in opposition to ‘natural.’ I call
those philosophers preeminently ‘metaphysical’ who have recognised
most clearly that not everything which _is_ is a ‘natural object.’
‘Metaphysicians’ have, therefore, the great merit of insisting that
our knowledge is not confined to the things which we can touch and
see and feel. They have always been much occupied, not only with that
other class of natural objects which consists in mental facts, but also
with the class of objects or properties of objects, which certainly do
not exist in time, are not therefore parts of Nature, and which, in
fact, do not exist at all. To this class, as I have said, belongs what
we mean by the adjective ‘good.’ It is not _goodness_, but only the
things or qualities which are good, which can exist in time--can have
duration, and begin and cease to exist--can be objects of _perception_.
But the most prominent members of this class are perhaps numbers. It
is quite certain that two natural objects may exist; but it is equally
certain that _two_ itself does not exist and never can. Two and two
_are_ four. But that does not mean that either two or four exists.
Yet it certainly means _something_. Two _is_ somehow, although it
does not exist. And it is not only simple terms of propositions--the
objects _about_ which we know truths--that belong to this class. The
truths which we know about them form, perhaps, a still more important
subdivision. No truth does, in fact, _exist_; but this is peculiarly
obvious with regard to truths like ‘Two and two are four,’ in which
the objects, _about_ which they are truths, do not exist either. It
is with the recognition of such truths as these--truths which have
been called ‘universal’--and of their essential unlikeness to what
we can touch and see and feel, that metaphysics proper begins. Such
‘universal’ truths have always played a large part in the reasonings of
metaphysicians from Plato’s time till now; and that they have directed
attention to the difference between these truths and what I have
called ‘natural objects’ is the chief contribution to knowledge which
distinguishes them from that other class of philosophers--‘empirical’
philosophers--to which most Englishmen have belonged.

But though, if we are to define ‘metaphysics’ by the contribution
which it has actually made to knowledge, we should have to say that
it has emphasized the importance of objects which do not exist at
all, metaphysicians themselves have not recognised this. They have
indeed recognised and insisted that there are, or may be, objects
of knowledge which do not _exist in time_, or at least which we
cannot perceive; and in recognising the _possibility_ of these, as
an object of investigation, they have, it may be admitted, done a
service to mankind. But they have in general supposed that whatever
does not exist in time, must at least _exist_ elsewhere, if it is to
_be_ at all--that, whatever does not exist in Nature, must exist in
some supersensible reality, whether timeless or not. Consequently
they have held that the truths with which they have been occupied,
over and above the objects of perception, were in some way truths
about such supersensible reality. If, therefore, we are to define
‘metaphysics’ not by what it has attained, but by what it has
attempted, we should say that it consists in the attempt to obtain
knowledge, by processes of reasoning, of what exists but is _not_ a
part of Nature. Metaphysicians have actually held that they could give
us such knowledge of non-natural existence. They have held that their
science consists in giving us such knowledge as can be supported by
reasons, of that supersensible reality of which religion professes to
give us a fuller knowledge, without any reasons. When, therefore, I
spoke above of ‘metaphysical’ propositions, I meant propositions about
the existence of something supersensible--of something which is not
an object of perception, and which cannot be inferred from what is an
object of perception by the same rules of inference by which we infer
the past and future of what we call ‘Nature.’ And when I spoke of
‘metaphysical’ terms, I meant terms which refer to qualities of such
a supersensible reality, which do not belong to anything ‘natural.’
I admit that ‘metaphysics’ should investigate what reasons there may
be for belief in such a supersensible reality; since I hold that
its peculiar province is the truth about all objects which are not
natural objects. And I think that the most prominent characteristic of
metaphysics, in history, has been its profession to _prove_ the truth
about non-natural _existents_. I define ‘metaphysical,’ therefore, by
a reference to supersensible _reality_; although I think that the only
non-natural objects, about which it has _succeeded_ in obtaining truth,
are objects which do not exist at all.

So much, I hope, will suffice to explain what I mean by the term
‘metaphysical,’ and to shew that it refers to a clear and important
distinction. It was not necessary for my purpose to make the
definition exhaustive or to shew that it corresponds in essentials
with established usage. The distinction between ‘Nature’ and a
supersensible reality is very familiar and very important: and since
the metaphysician endeavours to _prove_ things with regard to a
supersensible reality, and since he deals largely in truths which are
_not_ mere natural facts, it is plain that his arguments, and errors
(if any), will be of a more subtle kind than those which I have dealt
with under the name of ‘Naturalism.’ For these two reasons it seemed
convenient to treat ‘Metaphysical Ethics’ by themselves.


=67.= I have said that those systems of Ethics, which I propose to
call ‘Metaphysical,’ are characterised by the fact that they describe
the Supreme Good in ‘metaphysical’ terms; and this has now been
explained as meaning that they describe it in terms of something
which (they hold) does exist, but does not exist in Nature--in terms
of a supersensible reality. A ‘Metaphysical Ethics’ is marked by the
fact that it makes the assertion: That which would be perfectly good
is something which exists, but is not natural; that which has some
characteristic possessed by a supersensible reality. Such an assertion
was made by the Stoics when they asserted that a life in accordance
with Nature was perfect. For they did not mean by ‘Nature,’ what I have
so defined, but something supersensible which they inferred to exist,
and which they held to be perfectly good. Such an assertion, again,
is made by Spinoza when he tells us that we are more or less perfect,
in proportion as we are more or less closely united with Absolute
Substance by the ‘intellectual love’ of God. Such an assertion is made
by Kant when he tells us that his ‘Kingdom of Ends’ is the ideal. And
such, finally, is made by modern writers who tell us that the final and
perfect end is to realise our _true_ selves--a self different both from
the whole and from any part of that which exists here and now in Nature.

Now it is plain that such ethical principles have a merit, not
possessed by Naturalism, in recognising that for perfect goodness
much more is required than any quantity of what exists here and now
or can be inferred as likely to exist in the future. And moreover it
is quite possible that their assertions should be true, if we only
understand them to assert that something which is real possesses all
the characteristics necessary for perfect goodness. But this is not
all that they assert. They also imply, as I said, that this ethical
proposition _follows_ from some proposition which is metaphysical: that
the question ‘What is real?’ has some logical bearing upon the question
‘What is good?’ It was for this reason that I described ‘Metaphysical
Ethics’ in Chapter II. as based upon the naturalistic fallacy. To
hold that from any proposition asserting ‘Reality is of this nature’
we can infer, or obtain confirmation for, any proposition asserting
‘This is good in itself’ is to commit the naturalistic fallacy. And
that a knowledge of what is real supplies reasons for holding certain
things to be good in themselves is either implied or expressly
asserted by all those who define the Supreme Good in metaphysical
terms. This contention is part of what is meant by saying that Ethics
should be ‘based’ on Metaphysics. It is meant that some knowledge
of supersensible reality is necessary _as a premise_ for correct
conclusions as to what ought to exist. This view is, for instance,
plainly expressed in the following statements: ‘The truth is that the
theory of Ethics which seems most satisfactory has a metaphysical
basis.... If we rest our view of Ethics on the idea of the development
of the ideal self or of the rational universe, the significance of
this cannot be made fully apparent without a metaphysical examination
of the nature of self; _nor can its validity be established except
by a discussion of the reality of the rational universe_[21].’ The
validity of an ethical conclusion about the nature of the ideal, it
is here asserted, cannot be established except by considering the
question whether that ideal is _real_. Such an assertion involves
the naturalistic fallacy. It rests upon the failure to perceive that
any truth which asserts ‘This is good in itself’ is quite unique in
kind--that it cannot be reduced to any assertion about reality, and
therefore must remain unaffected by any conclusions we may reach
about the nature of reality. This confusion as to the unique nature
of ethical truths is, I have said, involved in all those ethical
theories which I have called metaphysical. It is plain that, but for
some confusion of the sort, no-one would think it worth while even to
describe the Supreme Good in metaphysical terms. If, for instance,
we are told that the ideal consists in the realisation of the ‘true
self,’ the very words suggest that the fact that the self in question
is _true_ is supposed to have some bearing on the fact that it is
good. All the ethical truth which can possibly be conveyed by such
an assertion would be just as well conveyed by saying that the ideal
consisted in the realisation of a particular kind of self, which might
be either real or purely imaginary. ‘Metaphysical Ethics,’ then,
involve the supposition that Ethics can be _based_ on Metaphysics; and
our first concern with them is to make clear that this supposition must
be false.

  [21] Prof. J. S. Mackenzie, _A Manual of Ethics_, 4th ed., p.
  431. The italics are mine.


=68.= In what way can the nature of supersensible reality possibly have
a bearing upon Ethics?

I have distinguished two kinds of ethical questions, which are far too
commonly confused with one another. Ethics, as commonly understood, has
to answer both the question ‘What ought to be?’ and the question ‘What
ought we to do?’ The second of these questions can only be answered
by considering what effects our actions will have. A complete answer
to it would give us that department of Ethics which may be called the
doctrine of _means_ or practical Ethics. And upon this department of
ethical enquiry it is plain that the nature of a supersensible reality
may have a bearing. If, for instance, Metaphysics could tell us not
only that we are immortal, but also, in any degree, what effects our
actions in this life will have upon our condition in a future one,
such information would have an undoubted bearing upon the question
what we ought to do. The Christian doctrines of heaven and hell are
in this way highly relevant to practical Ethics. But it is worthy
of notice that the most characteristic doctrines of Metaphysics are
such as either have no such bearing upon practical Ethics or have
a purely negative bearing--involving the conclusion that there is
nothing which we ought to do at all. They profess to tell us the
nature not of a future reality, but of one that is eternal and which
therefore no actions of ours can have power to alter. Such information
_may_ indeed have relevance to practical Ethics, but it must be of a
purely negative kind. For, if it holds, not only that such an eternal
reality exists, but also, as is commonly the case, that nothing else
is real--that nothing either has been, is now, or will be real in
time--then truly it will follow that nothing we can do will ever bring
any good to pass. For it is certain that our actions can only affect
the future; and if nothing can be real in the future, we can certainly
not hope ever to make any good thing real. It would follow, then,
that there can be nothing which we ought to do. We cannot possibly do
any good; for neither our efforts, nor any result which they may seem
to effect, have any real existence. But this consequence, though it
follows strictly from many metaphysical doctrines, is rarely drawn.
Although a metaphysician may say that nothing is real but that which
is eternal, he will generally allow that there is some reality also in
the temporal: and his doctrine of an eternal reality need not interfere
with practical Ethics, if he allows that, however good the eternal
reality may be, yet some things will also exist in time, and that the
existence of some will be better than that of others. It is, however,
worth while to insist upon this point, because it is rarely fully
realised.

If it is maintained that there is any validity at all in practical
Ethics--that any proposition which asserts ‘We ought to do so and
so’ can have any truth--this contention can only be consistent with
the Metaphysics of an eternal reality, under two conditions. One of
these is, (1) that the true eternal reality, which is to be our guide,
cannot, as is implied by calling it true, be the _only_ true reality.
For a moral rule, bidding us realise a certain end, can only be
justified, if it is possible that that end should, at least partially,
be realised. Unless our efforts can effect the _real_ existence of some
good, however little, we certainly have no reason for making them.
And if the eternal reality is the sole reality, then nothing good
can possibly exist in time: we can only be told to try to bring into
existence something which we know beforehand cannot possibly exist. If
it is said that what exists in time can only be a manifestation of the
true reality, it must at least be allowed that that manifestation is
another true reality--a good which we really can cause to exist; for
the production of something quite unreal, even if it were possible,
cannot be a reasonable end of action. But if the manifestation of that
which eternally exists is real, then that which eternally exists is not
the sole reality.

And the second condition which follows from such a metaphysical
principle of Ethics, is (2) that the eternal reality cannot be
perfect--cannot be the sole good. For just as a reasonable rule of
conduct requires that what we are told to realise should be capable of
being truly real, so it requires that the realisation of this ideal
shall be truly good. It is just that which _can_ be realised by our
efforts--the appearance of the eternal in time, or whatsoever else is
allowed to be attainable--which must be truly good, if it is to be
worth our efforts. That the eternal reality is good, will by no means
justify us in aiming at its manifestation, unless that manifestation
itself be also good. For the manifestation is different from the
reality: its difference is allowed, when we are told that it can be
made to exist, whereas the reality itself exists unalterably. And the
existence of this manifestation is the only thing which we can hope to
effect: that also is admitted. If, therefore, the moral maxim is to be
justified, it is the existence of this manifestation, as distinguished
from the existence of its corresponding reality, which must be truly
good. The reality may be good too: but to justify the statement that we
ought to produce anything, it must be maintained, that just that thing
itself, and not something else which may be like it, is truly good.
If it is not true that the existence of the manifestation will add
something to the sum of good in the Universe, then we have no reason to
aim at making it exist; and if it is true that it will add something to
the sum of good, then the existence of that which is eternal cannot be
perfect by itself--it cannot include the whole of possible goods.

Metaphysics, then, will have a bearing upon practical Ethics--upon the
question what we ought to do--if it can tell us anything about the
future consequences of our actions beyond what can be established by
ordinary inductive reasoning. But the most characteristic metaphysical
doctrines, those which profess to tell us not about the future but
about the nature of an eternal reality, can either have no bearing upon
this practical question or else must have a purely destructive bearing.
For it is plain that what exists eternally cannot be affected by our
actions; and only what is affected by our actions can have a bearing
on their value as means. But the nature of an eternal reality either
admits no inference as to the results of our actions, except in so far
as it can _also_ give us information about the future (and how it can
do this is not plain), or else, if, as is usual, it is maintained to
be the sole reality and the sole good, it shews that no results of our
actions can have any value whatever.


=69.= But this bearing upon practical Ethics, such as it is, is not
what is commonly meant when it is maintained that Ethics must be based
on Metaphysics. It is not the assertion of this relation which I have
taken to be characteristic of Metaphysical Ethics. What metaphysical
writers commonly maintain is not merely that Metaphysics can help us to
decide what the effects of our actions will be, but that it can tell us
which among possible effects will be good and which will be bad. They
profess that Metaphysics is a necessary basis for an answer to that
other and primary ethical question: What ought to be? What is good in
itself? That no truth about what is real can have any logical bearing
upon the answer to this question has been proved in Chapter I. To
suppose that it has, implies the naturalistic fallacy. All that remains
for us to do is, therefore, to expose the main errors which seem to
have lent plausibility to this fallacy in its metaphysical form. If
we ask: What bearing can Metaphysics have upon the question, What is
good? the only possible answer is: Obviously and absolutely none. We
can only hope to enforce conviction that this answer is the only true
one by answering the question: Why has it been supposed to have such a
bearing? We shall find that metaphysical writers seem to have failed to
distinguish this primary ethical question: What is good? from various
other questions; and to point out these distinctions will serve to
confirm the view that their profession to base Ethics on Metaphysics is
solely due to confusion.


=70.= And, first of all, there is an ambiguity in the very question:
What is good? to which it seems some influence must be attributed.
The question may mean either: Which among existing things are good?
or else: What _sort of_ things are good, what are the things which,
whether they _are_ real or not, ought to be real? And of these two
questions it is plain that to answer the first, we must know both
the answer to the second and also the answer to the question: What
is real? It asks us for a catalogue of all the good things in the
Universe; and to answer it we must know both what things there are in
the Universe and also which of them are good. Upon this question then
our Metaphysics would have a bearing, if it can tell us what is real.
It would help us to complete the list of things which are both real
and good. But to make such a list is not the business of Ethics. So
far as it enquires What is good? its business is finished when it has
completed the list of things which ought to exist, whether they do
exist or not. And if our Metaphysics is to have any bearing upon this
part of the ethical problem, it must be because the fact that something
is real gives a reason for thinking that it or something else is good,
whether it be real or not. That any such fact can give any such reason
is impossible; but it may be suspected that the contrary supposition
has been encouraged by the failure to distinguish between the assertion
‘This is good,’ when it means ‘_This sort of thing_ is good,’ or ‘This
would be good, if it existed,’ and the assertion ‘This existing thing
is good.’ The latter proposition obviously cannot be true, unless
the thing exists; and hence the proof of the thing’s existence is a
necessary step to its proof. Both propositions, however, in spite
of this immense difference between them, are commonly expressed in
the same terms. We use the same words, when we assert an ethical
proposition about a subject that is actually real, and when we assert
it about a subject considered as merely possible.

In this ambiguity of language we have, then, a possible source of error
with regard to the bearing of truths that assert reality upon truths
that assert goodness. And that this ambiguity is actually neglected by
those metaphysical writers who profess that the Supreme Good consists
in an eternal reality may be shewn in the following way. We have seen,
in considering the possible bearing of Metaphysics upon Practical
Ethics, that, since what exists eternally cannot possibly be affected
by our actions, no practical maxim can possibly be true, if the sole
reality is eternal. This fact, as I said, is commonly neglected by
metaphysical writers: they assert both of the two contradictory
propositions that the sole reality is eternal and that its realisation
in the future is a good too. Prof. Mackenzie, we saw, asserts that we
ought to aim at the realisation of ‘the true self’ or ‘the rational
universe’: and yet Prof. Mackenzie holds, as the word ‘true’ plainly
implies, that both ‘the true self’ and ‘the rational universe’ are
eternally real. Here we have already a contradiction in the supposition
that what is eternally real can be realised in the future; and it is
comparatively unimportant whether or not we add to this the further
contradiction involved in the supposition that the eternal is the sole
reality. That such a contradiction should be supposed valid can only be
explained by a neglect of the distinction between a real subject and
the character which that real subject possesses. _What_ is eternally
real may, indeed, be realised in the future, if by this be only meant
the _sort of thing_ which is eternally real. But when we assert that
a thing is good, what we mean is that its existence or reality is
good; and the eternal existence of a thing cannot possibly be the
same good as the existence in time of what, in a necessary sense,
is nevertheless the _same_ thing. When, therefore, we are told that
the future realisation of the _true_ self is good, this can at most
only mean that the future realisation of a self _exactly like_ the
self, which is true and exists eternally, is good. If this fact were
clearly stated, instead of consistently ignored, by those who advocate
the view that the Supreme Good can be defined in these metaphysical
terms, it seems probable that the view that a knowledge of reality
is necessary to a knowledge of the Supreme Good would lose part of
its plausibility. That that at which we ought to aim cannot possibly
be that which is eternally real, even if it be exactly like it; and
that the eternal reality cannot possibly be the sole good--these two
propositions seem sensibly to diminish the probability that Ethics must
be based on Metaphysics. It is not very plausible to maintain that
because one thing is real, therefore something like it, which is not
real, would be good. It seems, therefore, that some of the plausibility
of Metaphysical Ethics may be reasonably attributed to the failure to
observe that verbal ambiguity, whereby ‘This is good’ may mean either
‘This real thing is good’ or ‘The existence of this thing (whether it
exists or not) would be good.’


=71.= By exposing this ambiguity, then, we are enabled to see more
clearly what must be meant by the question: Can Ethics be based on
Metaphysics? and we are, therefore, more likely to find the correct
answer. It is now plain that a metaphysical principle of Ethics
which says ‘This eternal reality is the Supreme Good’ can only mean
‘Something like this eternal reality would be the Supreme Good.’ We
are now to understand such principles as having the only meaning which
they can consistently have, namely, as describing the kind of thing
which ought to exist in the future, and which we ought to try to bring
about. And, when this is clearly recognised, it seems more evident
that the knowledge that such a kind of thing is also eternally real,
cannot help us at all towards deciding the properly ethical question:
Is the existence of that kind of good thing? If we can see that an
eternal reality is good, we can see, equally easily, once the idea
of such a thing has been suggested to us, that it _would_ be good.
The metaphysical construction of Reality would therefore be quite as
useful, for the purposes of Ethics, if it were a mere construction
of an imaginary Utopia: provided the kind of thing suggested is the
same, fiction is as useful as truth, for giving us matter, upon
which to exercise the judgment of value. Though, therefore, we admit
that Metaphysics may serve an ethical purpose, in suggesting things,
which would not otherwise have occurred to us, but which, when they
are suggested, we see to be good; yet, it is not as Metaphysics--as
professing to tell us what is real--that it has this use. And, in
fact, the pursuit of truth must limit the usefulness of Metaphysics
in this respect. Wild and extravagant as are the assertions which
metaphysicians have made about reality, it is not to be supposed but
that they have been partially deterred from making them wilder still,
by the idea that it was their business to tell nothing but the truth.
But the wilder they are, and the less useful for Metaphysics, the
more useful will they be for Ethics; since, in order to be sure that
we have neglected nothing in the description of our ideal, we should
have had before us as wide a field as possible of suggested goods. It
is probable that this utility of Metaphysics, in suggesting possible
ideals, may sometimes be what is meant by the assertion that Ethics
should be based on Metaphysics. It is not uncommon to find that which
suggests a truth confused with that on which it logically depends; and
I have already pointed out that Metaphysical have, in general, this
superiority over Naturalistic systems, that they conceive the Supreme
Good as something differing more widely from what exists here and now.
But, if it be recognised that, in this sense, Ethics should, far more
emphatically, be _based on_ fiction, metaphysicians will, I think,
admit that a connection of this kind between Metaphysics and Ethics
would by no means justify the importance which they attribute to the
bearing of the one study on the other.


=72.= We may, then, attribute the obstinate prejudice that a knowledge
of supersensible reality is a necessary step to a knowledge of what
is good in itself, partly to a failure to perceive that the subject
of the latter judgment is not anything _real_ as such, and partly to
a failure to distinguish the cause of our perception of a truth from
the reason why it is true. But these two causes will carry us only a
very little way in our explanation of why Metaphysics should have been
supposed to have a bearing upon Ethics. The first explanation which
I have given would only account for the supposition that a thing’s
reality is a _necessary condition_ for its goodness. This supposition
is, indeed, commonly made; we find it commonly presupposed that unless
a thing can be shewn to be involved in the constitution of reality, it
cannot be good. And it is, therefore, worth while to insist that this
is not the case; that Metaphysics is not even necessary to furnish
_part_ of the basis of Ethics. But when metaphysicians talk of basing
Ethics on Metaphysics they commonly mean much more than this. They
commonly mean that Metaphysics is the _sole_ basis of Ethics--that it
furnishes not only one necessary condition but _all_ the conditions
necessary to prove that certain things are good. And this view may,
at first sight, appear to be held in two different forms. It may be
asserted that merely to prove a thing supersensibly real is sufficient
to prove it good: that the truly real must, for that reason alone,
be truly good. But more commonly it appears to be held that the real
must be good because it possesses certain characters. And we may, I
think, reduce the first kind of assertion to no more than this. When
it is asserted that the real must be good, because it is real, it is
commonly also held that this is only because, in order to be real, it
must be of a certain kind. The reasoning by which it is thought that a
metaphysical enquiry can give an ethical conclusion is of the following
form. From a consideration of what it is to be real, we can infer that
what is real must have certain supersensible properties: but to have
these properties is identical with being good--it is the very meaning
of the word: it follows therefore that what has these properties is
good: and from a consideration of what it is to be real, we can again
infer what it is that has these properties. It is plain that, if such
reasoning were correct, any answer which could be given to the question
‘What is good in itself?’ could be arrived at by a purely metaphysical
discussion and by that alone. Just as, when Mill supposed that ‘to
be good’ _meant_ ‘to be desired,’ the question ‘What is good?’ could
be and must be answered solely by an empirical investigation of the
question what was desired; so here, if to be good means to have some
supersensible property, the ethical question can and must be answered
by a metaphysical enquiry into the question, What has this property?
What, then, remains to be done in order to destroy the plausibility of
Metaphysical Ethics, is to expose the chief errors which seem to have
led metaphysicians to suppose that to be good _means_ to possess some
supersensible property.


=73.= What, then, are the chief reasons which have made it seem
plausible to maintain that to be good must _mean_ to possess some
supersensible property or to be related to some supersensible reality?

We may, first of all, notice one, which seems to have had some
influence in causing the view that good must be defined by _some_
such property, although it does not suggest any _particular_ property
as the one required. This reason lies in the supposition that the
proposition ‘This is good’ or ‘This would be good, if it existed’ must,
in a certain respect, be of the same type as other propositions.
The fact is that there is one type of proposition so familiar to
everyone, and therefore having such a strong hold upon the imagination,
that philosophers have always supposed that all other types must be
reducible to it. This type is that of the objects of experience--of all
those truths which occupy our minds for the immensely greater part of
our waking lives: truths such as that somebody is in the room, that I
am writing or eating or talking. All these truths, however much they
may differ, have this in common that in them both the grammatical
subject and the grammatical predicate stand for something which exists.
Immensely the commonest type of truth, then, is one which asserts a
relation between two existing things. Ethical truths are immediately
felt not to conform to this type, and the naturalistic fallacy arises
from the attempt to make out that, in some roundabout way, they do
conform to it. It is immediately obvious that when we see a thing
to be good, its goodness is not a property which we can take up in
our hands, or separate from it even by the most delicate scientific
instruments, and transfer to something else. It is not, in fact, like
most of the predicates which we ascribe to things, a _part_ of the
thing to which we ascribe it. But philosophers suppose that the reason
why we cannot take goodness up and move it about, is not that it is
a different _kind_ of object from any which can be moved about, but
only that it _necessarily_ exists together with anything with which
it does exist. They explain the type of ethical truths by supposing
it identical with the type of scientific laws. And it is only when
they have done this that the naturalistic philosophers proper--those
who are empiricists--and those whom I have called ‘metaphysical’ part
company. These two classes of philosophers do, indeed, differ with
regard to the nature of scientific laws. The former class tend to
suppose that when they say ‘This always accompanies that’ they mean
only ‘This has accompanied, does now, and will accompany that in these
particular instances’: they reduce the scientific law quite simply
and directly to the familiar type of proposition which I have pointed
out. But this does not satisfy the metaphysicians. They see that when
you say ‘This would accompany that, _if_ that existed,’ you don’t mean
only that this and that have existed and will exist together so many
times. But it is beyond even their powers to believe that what you do
mean is merely what you say. They still think you must mean, somehow
or other, that something does exist, since that is what you generally
mean when you say anything. They are as unable as the empiricists to
imagine that you can ever mean that 2 + 2 = 4. The empiricists say this
means that so many couples of couples of things have in each case been
four things; and hence that 2 and 2 would not make 4, unless precisely
those things had existed. The metaphysicians feel that this is wrong;
but they themselves have no better account of its meaning to give
than either, with Leibniz, that God’s mind is in a certain state, or,
with Kant, that your mind is in a certain state, or finally, with Mr
Bradley, that something is in a certain state. Here, then, we have the
root of the naturalistic fallacy. The metaphysicians have the merit
of seeing that when you say ‘This would be good, if it existed,’ you
can’t mean merely ‘This has existed and was desired,’ however many
times that may have been the case. They will admit that some good
things have not existed in this world, and even that some may not have
been desired. But what you can mean, except that _something_ exists,
they really cannot see. Precisely the same error which leads them to
suppose that there must _exist_ a supersensible Reality, leads them to
commit the naturalistic fallacy with regard to the meaning of ‘good.’
Every truth, they think, must mean somehow that something exists; and
since, unlike the empiricists, they recognise some truths which do not
mean that anything exists here and now, these they think must mean
that something exists _not_ here and now. On the same principle, since
‘good’ is a predicate which neither does nor can exist, they are bound
to suppose either that ‘to be good’ means to be related to some other
particular thing which can exist and does exist ‘in reality’; or else
that it means merely ‘to belong to the real world’--that goodness is
transcended or absorbed in reality.


=74.= That such a reduction of _all_ propositions to the type of those
which assert either that something exists or that something which
exists has a certain attribute (which means, that both exist in a
certain relation to one another), is erroneous, may easily be seen by
reference to the particular class of ethical propositions. For whatever
we may have proved to exist, and whatever two existents we may have
proved to be necessarily connected with one another, it still remains
a distinct and different question whether what thus exists is good;
whether either or both of the two existents is so; and whether it is
good that they should exist together. To assert the one is plainly and
obviously _not_ the same thing as to assert the other. We understand
what we mean by asking: Is this, which exists, or necessarily exists,
after all, good? and we perceive that we are asking a question which
has _not_ been answered. In face of this direct perception that the
two questions are distinct, no proof that they _must_ be identical can
have the slightest value. That the proposition ‘This is good’ is thus
distinct from every other proposition was proved in Chapter I.; and I
may now illustrate this fact by pointing out how it is distinguished
from two particular propositions with which it has commonly been
identified. That so and so _ought to be done_ is commonly called a
moral _law_, and this phrase naturally suggests that this proposition
is in some way analogous either to a natural law, or to a law in the
legal sense, or to both. All three are, in fact, really analogous in
one respect, and in one respect only: that they include a proposition
which is _universal_. A moral law asserts ‘This is good _in all
cases_’; a natural law asserts ‘This happens _in all cases_’; and a
law, in the legal sense, ‘It is commanded that this be done, or be left
undone, _in all cases_.’ But since it is very natural to suppose that
the analogy extends further, and that the assertion ‘This is good in
all cases’ is equivalent to the assertion ‘This happens in all cases’
or to the assertion ‘It is commanded that this be done in all cases,’
it may be useful briefly to point out that they are _not_ equivalent.


=75.= The fallacy of supposing moral law to be analogous to natural
law in respect of asserting that some action is one which is always
necessarily done is contained in one of the most famous doctrines of
Kant. Kant identifies what ought to be with the law according to which
a Free or Pure Will _must_ act--with the only kind of action which is
possible for it. And by this identification he does not mean merely to
assert that the Free Will is _also_ under the necessity of doing what
it ought; he means that what it ought to do _means_ nothing but its own
law--the law according to which it must act. It differs from the human
will just in that, what _we_ ought to do, is what _it_ necessarily
does. It is ‘autonomous’; and by this is meant (among other things)
that there is no separate standard by which it can be judged: that the
question ‘Is the law by which this Will acts a good one?’ is, in its
case, meaningless. It follows that what is necessarily willed by this
Pure Will is good, not _because_ that Will is good, nor for any other
reason; but merely because it is what is necessarily willed by a Pure
Will.

Kant’s assertion of the ‘Autonomy of the Practical Reason’ thus has
the very opposite effect to that which he desired; it makes his
Ethics ultimately and hopelessly ‘heteronomous.’ His Moral Law is
‘independent’ of Metaphysics only in the sense that according to him
we can _know_ it independently; he holds that we can only infer that
there is Freedom, from the fact that the Moral Law is true. And so far
as he keeps strictly to this view, he does avoid the error, into which
most metaphysical writers fall, of allowing his opinions as to what is
real to influence his judgments of what is good. But he fails to see
that on his view the Moral Law is dependent upon Freedom in a far more
important sense than that in which Freedom depends on the Moral Law. He
admits that Freedom is the _ratio essendi_ of the Moral Law, whereas
the latter is only _ratio cognoscendi_ of Freedom. And this means that,
unless Reality be such as he says, no assertion that ‘This is good’ can
possibly be true: it can indeed have no meaning. He has, therefore,
furnished his opponents with a conclusive method of attacking the
validity of the Moral Law. If they can only shew by some other means
(which he denies to be possible but leaves theoretically open) that the
nature of Reality is not such as he says, he cannot deny that they will
have proved his ethical principle to be false. If that ‘This ought to
be done’ _means_ ‘This is willed by a Free Will,’ then, if it can be
shewn that there is no Free Will which wills anything, it will follow
that nothing ought to be done.


=76.= And Kant also commits the fallacy of supposing that ‘This ought
to be’ means ‘This is commanded.’ He conceives the Moral Law to be an
Imperative. And this is a very common mistake. ‘This ought to be,’ it
is assumed, must mean ‘This is commanded’; nothing, therefore, would
be good unless it were commanded; and since commands in this world
are liable to be erroneous, what ought to be in its ultimate sense
means ‘what is commanded by some real supersensible authority.’ With
regard to this authority it is, then, no longer possible to ask ‘Is it
righteous?’ Its commands cannot fail to be right, because to be right
means to be what it commands. Here, therefore, law, in the moral sense,
is supposed analogous to law, in the legal sense, rather than, as in
the last instance, to law in the natural sense. It is supposed that
moral obligation is analogous to legal obligation, with this difference
only that whereas the source of legal obligation is earthly, that of
moral obligation is heavenly. Yet it is obvious that if by a source of
obligation is meant only a power which binds you or compels you to do
a thing, it is not because it does do this that you ought to obey it.
It is only if it be itself so good, that it commands and enforces only
what is good, that it can be a source of moral obligation. And in that
case what it commands and enforces would be good, whether commanded and
enforced or not. Just that which makes an obligation legal, namely the
fact that it is commanded by a certain kind of authority, is entirely
irrelevant to a moral obligation. However an authority be defined, its
commands will be _morally_ binding only if they are--morally binding;
only if they tell us what ought to be or what is a means to that which
ought to be.


=77.= In this last error, in the supposition that when I say ‘You
ought to do this’ I must mean ‘You are commanded to do this,’ we
have one of the reasons which has led to the supposition that the
particular supersensible property by reference to which good must
be defined is Will. And that ethical conclusions may be obtained by
enquiring into the nature of a fundamentally real Will seems to be by
far the commonest assumption of Metaphysical Ethics at the present
day. But this assumption seems to owe its plausibility, not so much
to the supposition that ‘ought’ expresses a ‘command,’ as to a far
more fundamental error. This error consists in supposing that to
ascribe certain predicates to a thing is the same thing as to say
that that thing is the object of a certain kind of psychical state.
It is supposed that to say that a thing is real or true is the same
thing as to say that it is known in a certain way; and that the
difference between the assertion that it is good and the assertion
that it is real--between an ethical, therefore, and a metaphysical
proposition--_consists_ in the fact that whereas the latter asserts its
relation to Cognition the former asserts its relation to Will.

Now that this is an error has been already shewn in Chapter I. That
the assertion ‘This is good’ is _not_ identical with the assertion
‘This is willed,’ either by a supersensible will, or otherwise, nor
with any other proposition, has been proved; nor can I add anything
to that proof. But in face of this proof it may be anticipated that
two lines of defence may be taken up. (1) It may be maintained that,
nevertheless, they really are identical, and facts may be pointed out
which seem to prove that identity. Or else (2) it may be said that an
_absolute_ identity is not maintained: that it is only meant to assert
that there is some special connection between will and goodness, such
as makes an enquiry into the real nature of the former an essential
step in the proof of ethical conclusions. In order to meet these two
possible objections, I propose first to shew what possible connections
there are or may be between goodness and will; and that none of these
can justify us in asserting that ‘This is good’ is identical with ‘This
is willed.’ On the other hand it will appear that some of them may be
easily confused with this assertion of identity; and that therefore the
confusion is likely to have been made. This part of my argument will,
therefore, already go some way towards meeting the second objection.
But what must be conclusive against this is to shew that any possible
connection between will and goodness _except_ the _absolute_ identity
in question, would not be sufficient to give an enquiry into Will the
smallest relevance to the proof of any ethical conclusion.


=78.= It has been customary, since Kant’s time, to assert that
Cognition, Volition, and Feeling are three fundamentally distinct
attitudes of the mind towards reality. They are three distinct ways
of experiencing, and each of them informs us of a distinct aspect
under which reality may be considered. The ‘Epistemological’ method of
approaching Metaphysics rests on the assumption that by considering
what is ‘implied in’ Cognition--what is its ‘ideal’--we may discover
what properties the world must have, if it is to be _true_. And
similarly it is held that by considering what is ‘implied in’ the fact
of Willing or Feeling--what is the ‘ideal’ which they presuppose--we
may discover what properties the world must have, if it is to be good
or beautiful. The orthodox Idealistic Epistemologist differs from the
Sensationalist or Empiricist in holding that what we directly cognise
is neither all true nor yet the whole truth: in order to reject the
false and to discover further truths we must, he says, not take
cognition merely as it presents itself, but discover what is _implied_
in it. And similarly the orthodox Metaphysical Ethicist differs from
the mere Naturalist, in holding that not everything which we actually
will is good, nor, if good, completely good: what is really good is
that which is implied in the essential nature of will. Others again
think that Feeling, and not Will, is the fundamental _datum_ for
Ethics. But, in either case, it is agreed that Ethics has some relation
to Will or Feeling which it has not to Cognition, and which other
objects of study have to Cognition. Will or Feeling, on the one hand,
and Cognition, on the other, are regarded as in some sense coordinate
sources of philosophical knowledge--the one of Practical, the other of
Theoretical philosophy.

What, that is true, can possibly be meant by this view?


=79.= First of all, it may be meant that, just as, by reflection on our
perceptual and sensory experience, we become aware of the distinction
between truth and falsehood, so it is by reflection on our experiences
of feeling and willing that we become aware of ethical distinctions.
We should not know what was meant by thinking one thing better than
another unless the attitude of our will or feeling towards one thing
was different from its attitude towards another. All this may be
admitted. But so far we have only the psychological fact that it is
only _because_ we will or feel things in a certain way, that we ever
come to think them good; just as it is only because we have certain
perceptual experiences, that we ever come to think things true. Here,
then, is a special connection between willing and goodness; but it is
only a _causal_ connection--that willing is a necessary condition for
the cognition of goodness.

But it may be said further that willing and feeling are not only the
origin of cognitions of goodness; but that to will a thing, or to have
a certain feeling towards a thing, is the _same thing_ as to think it
good. And it may be admitted that even this is _generally_ true in a
sense. It does seem to be true that we hardly ever think a thing good,
and never very decidedly, without at the same time having a special
attitude of feeling or will towards it; though it is certainly not the
case that this is true universally. And the converse may possibly be
true universally: it may be the case that a perception of goodness is
included in the complex facts which we mean by willing and by having
certain kinds of feeling. Let us admit then, that to think a thing good
and to will it are _the same thing_ in this sense, that, wherever the
latter occurs, the former also occurs as a _part_ of it; and even that
they are _generally the same thing_ in the converse sense, that when
the former occurs it is generally a part of the latter.


=80.= These facts may seem to give countenance to the general assertion
that to think a thing good is to prefer it or approve it, in the
sense in which preference and approval denote certain kinds of will
or feeling. It seems to be always true that when we thus prefer or
approve, there is included in that fact the fact that we think good;
and it is certainly true, in an immense majority of instances, that
when we think good, we also prefer or approve. It is natural enough,
then, to say that to think good is to prefer. And what more natural
than to add: When I say a thing is good, I _mean_ that I prefer it?
And yet this natural addition involves a gross confusion. Even if it
be true that to think good is the same thing as to prefer (which, as
we have seen, is _never_ true in the sense that they are absolutely
identical; and not _always_ true, even in the sense that they occur
together), yet it is not true that _what_ you think, when you think a
thing good, is _that_ you prefer it. Even if your thinking the thing
good is the same thing as your preference of it, yet the goodness
of the thing--that _of_ which you think--is, for that very reason,
obviously _not_ the same thing as your preference of it. Whether you
have a certain thought or not is one question; and whether what you
think is true is quite a different one, upon which the answer to the
first has not the least bearing. The fact that you prefer a thing does
not tend to shew that the thing is good; even if it does shew that you
think it so.

It seems to be owing to this confusion, that the question ‘What
is good?’ is thought to be identical with the question ‘What is
preferred?’ It is said, with sufficient truth, that you would never
know a thing was good unless you preferred it, just as you would never
know a thing existed unless you perceived it. But it is added, and this
is false, that you would never know a thing was good unless you _knew_
that you preferred it, or that it existed unless you _knew_ that you
perceived it. And it is finally added, and this is utterly false, that
you cannot distinguish the fact that a thing is good from the fact
that you prefer it, or the fact that it exists from the fact that you
perceive it. It is often pointed out that I cannot at any given moment
distinguish what is true from what I think so: and this is true. But
though I cannot distinguish _what_ is true from _what_ I think so, I
always can distinguish what I mean by saying _that_ it is true from
what I mean by saying _that_ I think so. For I understand the meaning
of the supposition that what I think true may nevertheless be false.
When, therefore, I assert that it is true I mean to assert something
different from the fact that I think so. _What_ I think, namely _that_
something is true, is always quite distinct from the fact that I think
it. The assertion that it is true does not even _include_ the assertion
that I think it so; although, of course, whenever I do think a thing
true, it is, as a matter of fact, also true that I do think it. This
tautologous proposition that for a thing to be thought true it is
necessary that it should be thought, is, however, commonly identified
with the proposition that for a thing to _be_ true it is necessary
that it should be thought. A very little reflection should suffice to
convince anyone that this identification is erroneous; and a very
little more will shew that, if so, we must mean by ‘true’ something
which includes no reference to thinking or to any other psychical fact.
It may be difficult to discover precisely _what_ we mean--to hold the
object in question before us, so as to compare it with other objects:
but that we do mean something distinct and unique can no longer be
matter of doubt. That ‘to be true’ _means_ to be thought in a certain
way is, therefore, certainly false. Yet this assertion plays the most
essential part in Kant’s ‘Copernican revolution’ of philosophy, and
renders worthless the whole mass of modern literature, to which that
revolution has given rise, and which is called Epistemology. Kant held
that what was unified in a certain manner by the synthetic activity of
thought was _ipso facto_ true: that this was the very meaning of the
word. Whereas it is plain that the only connection which can possibly
hold between being true and being thought in a certain way, is that
the latter should be a _criterion_ or test of the former. In order,
however, to establish that it is so, it would be necessary to establish
by the methods of induction that what was true was always thought in a
certain way. Modern Epistemology dispenses with this long and difficult
investigation at the cost of the self-contradictory assumption that
‘truth’ and the criterion of truth are one and the same thing.


=81.= It is, then, a very natural, though an utterly false supposition
that for a thing to _be_ true is the same thing as for it to be
perceived or thought of in a certain way. And since, for the reasons
given above, the fact of preference seems roughly to stand in the same
relation to thinking things good, in which the fact of perception
stands to thinking that they are true or exist, it is very natural that
for a thing to _be_ good should be supposed identical with its being
preferred in a certain way. But once this coordination of Volition and
Cognition has been accepted, it is again very natural that every fact
which seems to support the conclusion that being true is identical with
being cognised should confirm the corresponding conclusion that being
good is identical with being willed. It will, therefore, be in place to
point out another confusion, which seems to have had great influence
in causing acceptance of the view that to be true is the same thing as
to be cognised.

This confusion is due to a failure to observe that when we say we have
a _sensation_ or _perception_ or that we _know_ a thing, we mean to
assert not only that our mind is cognitive, but _also_ that that which
it cognises is true. It is not observed that the usage of these words
is such that, if a thing be untrue, that fact alone is sufficient to
justify us in saying that the person who says he perceives or knows it,
does not _perceive_ or _know_ it, without our either enquiring whether,
or assuming that, his state of mind differs in any respect from what
it would have been had he perceived or known. By this denial we do not
accuse him of an error in introspection, even if there was such an
error: we do not deny that he was aware of a certain object, nor even
that his state of mind was exactly such as he took it to be: we merely
deny that the object, of which he was aware, had a certain property.
It is, however, commonly supposed that when we assert a thing to be
perceived or known, we are asserting one fact only; and since of the
two facts which we really assert, the existence of a psychical state is
by far the easier to distinguish, it is supposed that this is the only
one which we do assert. Thus perception and sensation have come to be
regarded as if they denoted certain states of mind and nothing more; a
mistake which was the easier to make since the commonest state of mind,
to which we give a name which does not imply that its object is true,
namely imagination, may, with some plausibility, be supposed to differ
from sensation and perception not only in the property possessed by
its object, but also in its character as a state of mind. It has thus
come to be supposed that the only difference between perception and
imagination, by which they can be defined, must be a merely psychical
difference: and, if this were the case, it would follow at once that
to _be_ true was identical with being cognised in a certain way; since
the assertion that a thing is perceived does certainly _include_ the
assertion that it is true, and if, nevertheless, that it is perceived
means _only_ that the mind has a certain attitude towards it, then
its truth must be identical with the fact that it is regarded in this
way. We may, then, attribute the view that to be true _means_ to
be cognised in a certain way partly to the failure to perceive that
certain words, which are commonly supposed to stand for nothing more
than a certain kind of cognitive state, do, in fact, _also_ include a
reference to the truth of the object of such states.


=82.= I will now sum up my account of the apparent connections between
will and ethical propositions, which seem to support the vague
conviction that ‘This is good’ is somehow identical with ‘This is
willed in a certain way.’ (1) It may be maintained, with sufficient
show of truth, that it is only because certain things were originally
willed, that we ever came to have ethical convictions at all. And it
has been too commonly assumed that to shew what was the cause of a
thing is the same thing as to shew what the thing itself is. It is,
however, hardly necessary to point out that this is not the case. (2)
It may be further maintained, with some plausibility, that to think a
thing good and to will it in a certain way are _now_ as a matter of
fact identical. We must, however, distinguish certain possible meanings
of this assertion. It may be admitted that when we think a thing good,
we _generally_ have a special attitude of will or feeling towards it;
and that, perhaps, when we will it in a certain way, we do always think
it good. But the very fact that we can thus distinguish the question
whether, though the one is always accompanied by the other, yet this
other may not always be accompanied by the first, shews that the two
things are not, in the strict sense, identical. The fact is that,
whatever we mean by will, or by any form of will, the fact we mean by
it certainly always includes something else _beside_ the thinking a
thing good: and hence that, when willing and thinking good are asserted
to be identical, the most that can be meant is that this other element
in will always both accompanies and is accompanied by the thinking
good; and this, as has been said, is of very doubtful truth. Even,
however, if it were strictly true, the fact that the two things can be
distinguished is fatal to the assumed coordination between will and
cognition, in one of the senses in which that assumption is commonly
made. For it is only in respect of the _other_ element in will, that
volition differs from cognition; whereas it is only in respect of the
fact that volition, or some form of volition, _includes_ a _cognition_
of goodness, that will can have the same relation to ethical, which
cognition has to metaphysical, propositions. Accordingly the fact of
volition, _as a whole_, that is, if we include in it the element which
makes it volition and distinguishes it from cognition, has _not_ the
same relation to ethical propositions which cognition has to those
which are metaphysical. Volition and cognition are _not_ coordinate
ways of experiencing, since it is only in so far as volition denotes
a _complex_ fact, which includes in it the one identical simple fact,
which is meant by _cognition_, that volition is a way of experiencing
at all.

But, (3) if we allow the terms ‘volition’ or ‘will’ to stand for
‘thinking good,’ although they certainly do not commonly stand for
this, there still remains the question: What connection would this fact
establish between volition and Ethics? Could the enquiry into what was
willed be identical with the ethical enquiry into what was good? It
is plain enough that they could not be identical; though it is also
plain why they should be thought so. The question ‘What is good?’ is
confused with the question ‘What is thought good?’ and the question
‘What is true?’ with the question ‘What is thought true?’ for two main
reasons. (1) One of these is the general difficulty that is found
in distinguishing what is cognised from the cognition of it. It is
observed that I certainly cannot cognise anything that is true without
cognising it. Since, therefore, whenever I know a thing that is true,
the thing is certainly cognised, it is assumed that for a thing to _be_
true at all is the same thing as for it to be cognised. And (2) it is
not observed that certain words, which are supposed to denote only
peculiar species of cognition, do as a matter of fact _also_ denote
that the object cognised is true. Thus if ‘perception’ be taken to
denote only a certain kind of mental fact, then, since the object of it
is always true, it becomes easy to suppose that to be true means only
to be object to a mental state of that kind. And similarly it is easy
to suppose that to be truly good differs from being falsely thought
so, solely in respect of the fact that to be the former is to be the
object of a volition differing from that of which an apparent good is
the object, in the same way in which a perception (on this supposition)
differs from an illusion.


=83.= Being good, then, is not identical with being willed or felt
in any kind of way, any more than being true is identical with being
thought in any kind of way. But let us suppose this to be admitted: Is
it still possible that an enquiry into the nature of will or feeling
should be a necessary step to the proof of ethical conclusions? If
being good and being willed are _not_ identical, then the most that can
be maintained with regard to the connection of goodness with will is
that what is good is always _also_ willed in a certain way, and that
what is willed in a certain way is always _also_ good. And it may be
said that this is all that is meant by those metaphysical writers who
profess to base Ethics upon the Metaphysics of Will. What would follow
from this supposition?

It is plain that if what is willed in a certain way were always _also_
good, then the fact that a thing was so willed would be a _criterion_
of its goodness. But in order to establish that will is a criterion
of goodness, we must be able to shew first and separately that in a
great number of the instances in which we find a certain kind of will
we also find that the objects of that will are good. We might, then,
perhaps, be entitled to infer that in a few instances, where it was not
obvious whether a thing was good or not but was obvious that it was
willed in the way required, the thing was really good, since it had the
property which in all other instances we had found to be accompanied by
goodness. A reference to will might thus, just conceivably, become of
use towards the end of our ethical investigations, when we had already
been able to shew, independently, of a vast number of different objects
that they were really good and in what degree they were so. And against
even this conceivable utility it may be urged (1) That it is impossible
to see why it should not be as easy (and it would certainly be the more
secure way) to prove that the thing in question was good, by the same
methods which we had used in proving that other things were good, as by
reference to our criterion; and (2) That, if we set ourselves seriously
to find out what things are good, we shall see reason to think (as
will appear in Chapter VI.) that they have _no_ other property, both
common and peculiar to them, beside their goodness--that, in fact,
there is no criterion of goodness.


=84.= But to consider whether any form of will is or is not a
criterion of goodness is quite unnecessary for our purpose here;
since none of those writers who profess to base their Ethics on
an investigation of will have ever recognised the need of proving
directly and independently that all the things which are willed in
a certain way are good. They make no attempt to shew that will is a
_criterion_ of goodness; and no stronger evidence could be given that
they do not recognise that this, at most, is all it can be. As has
been just pointed out, if we are to maintain that whatever is willed
in a certain way is also good, we must in the first place be able to
shew that certain things have one property ‘goodness,’ and that the
same things _also_ have the other property that they are willed in a
certain way. And secondly we must be able to shew this in a very large
number of instances, if we are to be entitled to claim any assent
for the proposition that these two properties _always_ accompany one
another: even when this was shewn it would still be doubtful whether
the inference from ‘generally’ to ‘always’ would be valid, and almost
certain that this doubtful principle would be useless. But the very
question which it is the business of Ethics to answer is this question
what things are good; and, so long as Hedonism retains its present
popularity, it must be admitted that it is a question upon which there
is scarcely any agreement and which therefore requires the most careful
examination. The greatest and most difficult part of the business
of Ethics would therefore require to have been already accomplished
before we could be entitled to claim that anything was a _criterion_
of goodness. If, on the other hand, to be willed in a certain way
was _identical_ with being good, then indeed we should be entitled
to start our ethical investigations by enquiring what was willed in
the way required. That this is the way in which metaphysical writers
start their investigations seems to shew conclusively that they are
influenced by the idea that ‘goodness’ is _identical_ with ‘being
willed.’ They do not recognise that the question ‘What is good?’ is a
_different_ one from the question ‘What is willed in a certain way?’
Thus we find Green explicitly stating that ‘_the_ common characteristic
of the good is that it satisfies some desire[22].’ If we are to take
this statement strictly, it obviously asserts that good things have no
characteristic in common, except that they satisfy some desire--not
even, therefore, that they are good. And this can only be the case,
if being good is _identical_ with satisfying desire: if ‘good’ is
merely another name for ‘desire-satisfying.’ There could be no plainer
instance of the naturalistic fallacy. And we cannot take the statement
as a mere verbal slip, which does not affect the validity of Green’s
main argument. For he nowhere either gives or pretends to give any
reason for believing anything to be good in any sense, except that
it is what would satisfy a particular kind of desire--the kind of
desire which he tries to shew to be that of a moral agent. An unhappy
alternative is before us. Such reasoning would give valid reasons for
his conclusions, if, and only if, being good and being desired in a
particular way were identical: and in this case, as we have seen in
Chapter I., his conclusions would not be ethical. On the other hand,
if the two are not identical, his conclusions may be ethical and may
even be right, but he has not given us a single reason for believing
them. The thing which a scientific Ethics is required to shew, namely
that certain things are really good, he has assumed to begin with, in
assuming that things which are willed in a certain way are always good.
We may, therefore, have as much respect for Green’s conclusions as for
those of any other man who details to us his ethical convictions: but
that any of his arguments are such as to give us any reason for holding
that Green’s convictions are more likely to be true than those of any
other man, must be clearly denied. The _Prolegomena to Ethics_ is quite
as far as Mr Spencer’s _Data of Ethics_, from making the smallest
contribution to the solution of ethical problems.

  [22] _Prolegomena to Ethics_, p. 178.


=85.= The main object of this chapter has been to shew that
Metaphysics, understood as the investigation of a supposed
supersensible reality, can have no logical bearing whatever upon the
answer to the fundamental ethical question ‘What is good in itself?’
That this is so, follows at once from the conclusion of Chapter I.,
that ‘good’ denotes an ultimate, unanalysable predicate; but this truth
has been so systematically ignored, that it seemed worth while to
discuss and distinguish, in detail, the principal relations, which do
hold, or have been supposed to hold, between Metaphysics and Ethics.
With this view I pointed out:--(1) That Metaphysics may have a bearing
on _practical_ Ethics--on the question ‘What ought we to do?’--so far
as it may be able to tell us what the future effects of our action
will be: what it can _not_ tell us is whether those effects are good
or bad in themselves. One particular type of metaphysical doctrine,
which is very frequently held, undoubtedly has such a bearing on
_practical_ Ethics: for, if it is true that the sole reality is an
eternal, immutable Absolute, then it follows that no actions of ours
can have any real effect, and hence that no _practical_ proposition
can be true. The same conclusion follows from the ethical proposition,
commonly combined with this metaphysical one--namely that this eternal
Reality is also the sole good (68). (2) That metaphysical writers,
as where they fail to notice the contradiction just noticed between
any _practical_ proposition and the assertion that an eternal reality
is the sole good, seem frequently to confuse the proposition that
one particular existing thing is good, with the proposition that the
existence of that kind of thing _would_ be good, wherever it might
occur. To the proof of the former proposition Metaphysics might be
relevant, by shewing that the thing existed; to the proof of the latter
it is wholly irrelevant: it can only serve the _psychological_ function
of suggesting things which may be valuable--a function which would be
still better performed by pure fiction (69-71).

But the most important source of the supposition that Metaphysics is
relevant to Ethics, seems to be the assumption that ‘good’ _must_
denote some _real_ property of things--an assumption which is mainly
due to two erroneous doctrines, the first _logical_, the second
_epistemological_. Hence (3) I discussed the _logical_ doctrine that
all propositions assert a relation between existents; and pointed
out that the assimilation of ethical propositions either to natural
laws or to commands are instances of this _logical_ fallacy (72-76).
And finally (4) I discussed the _epistemological_ doctrine that to be
good is equivalent to being willed or felt in some particular way; a
doctrine which derives support from the analogous error, which Kant
regarded as the cardinal point of his system and which has received
immensely wide acceptance--the erroneous view that to be ‘true’ or
‘real’ is equivalent to being thought in a particular way. In this
discussion the main points to which I desire to direct attention
are these: (_a_) That Volition and Feeling are _not_ analogous to
Cognition in the manner assumed; since in so far as these words denote
an attitude of the mind towards an object, they are themselves merely
instances of Cognition: they differ only in respect of the kind of
object of which they take cognisance, and in respect of the other
mental accompaniments of such cognitions: (_b_) That universally the
_object_ of a cognition must be distinguished from the cognition of
which it is the object; and hence that in no case can the question
whether the object is _true_ be identical with the question how it is
cognised or whether it is cognised at all: it follows that even if the
proposition ‘This is good’ were always the object of certain kinds of
will or feeling, the _truth_ of that proposition could in no case be
established by proving that it was their object; far less can that
proposition itself be identical with the proposition that its subject
is the object of a volition or a feeling (77-84).



CHAPTER V.

ETHICS IN RELATION TO CONDUCT.


=86.= In the present chapter we have again to take a great step in
ethical method. My discussion hitherto has fallen under two main
heads. Under the first, I tried to shew what ‘good’--the adjective
‘good’--_means_. This appeared to be the first point to be settled in
any treatment of Ethics, that should aim at being systematic. It is
necessary we should know this, should know what good means, before we
can go on to consider what is good--what things or qualities are good.
It is necessary we should know it for two reasons. The first reason
is that ‘good’ is the notion upon which all Ethics depends. We cannot
hope to understand what we mean, when we say that this is good or that
is good, until we understand quite clearly, not only what ‘this’ is or
‘that’ is (which the natural sciences and philosophy can tell us) but
also what is meant by calling them good, a matter which is reserved
for Ethics only. Unless we are quite clear on this point, our ethical
reasoning will be always apt to be fallacious. We shall think that we
are proving that a thing is ‘good,’ when we are really only proving
that it is something else; since unless we know what ‘good’ means,
unless we know what is meant by that notion in itself, as distinct from
what is meant by any other notion, we shall not be able to tell when
we are dealing with it and when we are dealing with something else,
which is perhaps like it, but yet not the same. And the second reason
why we should settle first of all this question ‘What good means?’
is a reason of method. It is this, that we can never know on what
_evidence_ an ethical proposition rests, until we know the nature of
the notion which makes the proposition ethical. We cannot tell what
is possible, by way of proof, in favour of one judgment that ‘This or
that is good,’ or against another judgment ‘That this or that is bad,’
until we have recognised what the nature of such propositions must
always be. In fact, it follows from the meaning of good and bad, that
such propositions are all of them, in Kant’s phrase, ‘synthetic’: they
all must rest in the end upon some proposition which must be simply
accepted or rejected, which cannot be logically deduced from any other
proposition. This result, which follows from our first investigation,
may be otherwise expressed by saying that the fundamental principles
of Ethics must be self-evident. But I am anxious that this expression
should not be misunderstood. The expression ‘self-evident’ means
properly that the proposition so called is evident or true, _by itself_
alone; that it is not an inference from some proposition other than
_itself_. The expression does _not_ mean that the proposition is
true, because it is evident to you or me or all mankind, because in
other words it appears to us to be true. That a proposition appears
to be true can never be a valid argument that true it really is. By
saying that a proposition is self-evident, we mean emphatically that
its appearing so to us, is _not_ the reason why it is true: for we
mean that it has absolutely no reason. It would not be a self-evident
proposition, if we could say of it: I cannot think otherwise and
therefore it is true. For then its evidence or proof would not lie in
itself, but in something else, namely our conviction of it. That it
appears true to us may indeed be the _cause_ of our asserting it, or
the reason why we think and say that it is true: but a reason in this
sense is something utterly different from a logical reason, or reason
why something is true. Moreover, it is obviously not a reason of the
same thing. The _evidence_ of a proposition to us is only a reason
for _our holding it_ to be true: whereas a logical reason, or reason
in the sense in which self-evident propositions have no reason, is a
reason why _the proposition itself_ must be true, not why we hold it
so to be. Again that a proposition is evident to us may not only be
the reason why we do think or affirm it, it may even be a _reason_
why we ought to think it or affirm it. But a reason, in this sense
too, is not a logical reason for the truth of the proposition, though
it is a logical reason for the rightness of holding the proposition.
In our common language, however, these three meanings of ‘reason’ are
constantly confused, whenever we say ‘I have a reason for thinking that
true.’ But it is absolutely essential, if we are to get clear notions
about Ethics or, indeed, about any other, especially any philosophical,
study, that we should distinguish them. When, therefore, I talk of
Intuitionistic Hedonism, I must not be understood to imply that my
denial that ‘Pleasure is the only good’ is _based_ on my Intuition of
its falsehood. My Intuition of its falsehood is indeed _my_ reason for
_holding_ and declaring it untrue; it is indeed the only valid reason
for so doing. But that is just because there is _no_ logical reason
for it; because there is no proper evidence or reason of its falsehood
except itself alone. It is untrue, because it is untrue, and there
is no other reason: but I _declare_ it untrue, because its untruth
is evident to me, and I hold that that is a sufficient reason for my
assertion. We must not therefore look on Intuition, as if it were
an alternative to reasoning. Nothing whatever can take the place of
_reasons_ for the truth of any proposition: intuition can only furnish
a reason for _holding_ any proposition to be true: this however it must
do when any proposition is self-evident, when, in fact, there are no
reasons which prove its truth.


=87.= So much, then, for the first step in our ethical method, the
step which established that good is good and nothing else whatever,
and that Naturalism was a fallacy. A second step was taken when we
began to consider proposed self-evident principles of Ethics. In this
second division, resting on our result that good means good, we began
the discussion of propositions asserting that such and such a thing
or quality or concept was good. Of such a kind was the principle of
Intuitionistic or Ethical Hedonism--the principle that ‘Pleasure alone
is good.’ Following the method established by our first discussion,
I claimed that the untruth of this proposition was self-evident. I
could do nothing to _prove_ that it was untrue; I could only point
out as clearly as possible what it means, and how it contradicts other
propositions which appear to be equally true. My only object in all
this was, necessarily, to convince. But even if I did convince, that
does not prove that we are right. It justifies us in _holding_ that
we are so; but nevertheless we may be wrong. On one thing, however,
we may justly pride ourselves. It is that we have had a better chance
of answering our question rightly, than Bentham or Mill or Sidgwick
or others who have contradicted us. For we have _proved_ that these
have never even asked themselves the question which they professed to
answer. They have confused it with another question: small wonder,
therefore, if their answer is different from ours. We must be quite
sure that the same question has been put, before we trouble ourselves
at the different answers that are given to it. For all we know, the
whole world would agree with us, if they could once clearly understand
the question upon which we want their votes. Certain it is, that in
all those cases where we found a difference of opinion, we found also
that the question had _not_ been clearly understood. Though, therefore,
we cannot prove that we are right, yet we have reason to believe that
everybody, unless he is mistaken as to what he thinks, will think the
same as we. It is as with a sum in mathematics. If we find a gross and
palpable error in the calculations, we are not surprised or troubled
that the person who made this mistake has reached a different result
from ours. We think he will admit that his result is wrong, if his
mistake is pointed out to him. For instance if a man has to add up 5
+ 7 + 9, we should not wonder that he made the result to be 34, if he
started by making 5 + 7 = 25. And so in Ethics, if we find, as we did,
that ‘desirable’ is confused with ‘desired,’ or that ‘end’ is confused
with ‘means,’ we need not be disconcerted that those who have committed
these mistakes do not agree with us. The only difference is that in
Ethics, owing to the intricacy of its subject-matter, it is far more
difficult to persuade anyone either that he has made a mistake or that
that mistake affects his result.

In this second division of my subject--the division which is occupied
with the question, ‘What is good in itself?’--I have hitherto only
tried to establish one definite result, and that a negative one: namely
that pleasure is _not_ the sole good. This result, if true, refutes
half, or more than half, of the ethical theories which have ever been
held, and is, therefore, not without importance. It will, however, be
necessary presently to deal positively with the question: What things
are good and in what degrees?


=88.= But before proceeding to this discussion I propose, first, to
deal with the _third_ kind of ethical question--the question: What
ought we to do?

The answering of this question constitutes the third great division
of ethical enquiry; and its nature was briefly explained in Chap. I.
(§§ 15-17). It introduces into Ethics, as was there pointed out, an
entirely new question--the question what things are related as _causes_
to that which is good in itself; and this question can only be answered
by an entirely new method--the method of empirical investigation; by
means of which causes are discovered in the other sciences. To ask what
kind of actions we ought to perform, or what kind of conduct is right,
is to ask what kind of effects such action and conduct will produce.
Not a single question in practical Ethics can be answered except by a
causal generalisation. All such questions do, indeed, _also_ involve
an ethical judgment proper--the judgment that certain effects are
better, in themselves, than others. But they _do_ assert that these
better things are effects--are causally connected with the actions in
question. Every judgment in practical Ethics may be reduced to the
form: This is a cause of that good thing.


=89.= That this is the case, that the questions, What is right? what is
my duty? what ought I to do? belong exclusively to this third branch of
ethical enquiry, is the first point to which I wish to call attention.
All moral laws, I wish to shew, are merely statements that certain
kinds of actions will have good effects. The very opposite of this view
has been generally prevalent in Ethics. ‘The right’ and ‘the useful’
have been supposed to be at least _capable_ of conflicting with one
another, and, at all events, to be essentially distinct. It has been
characteristic of a certain school of moralists, as of moral common
sense, to declare that the end will never justify the means. What I
wish first to point out is that ‘right’ does and can mean nothing but
‘cause of a good result,’ and is thus identical with ‘useful’; whence
it follows that the end always will justify the means, and that no
action which is not justified by its results can be right. That there
may be a true proposition, meant to be conveyed by the assertion ‘The
end will not justify the means,’ I fully admit: but that, in another
sense, and a sense far more fundamental for ethical theory, it is
utterly false, must first be shewn.

That the assertion ‘I am morally bound to perform this action’ is
identical with the assertion ‘This action will produce the greatest
possible amount of good in the Universe’ has already been briefly shewn
in Chap. I. (§ 17); but it is important to insist that this fundamental
point is demonstrably certain. This may, perhaps, be best made evident
in the following way. It is plain that when we assert that a certain
action is our absolute duty, we are asserting that the performance of
that action at that time is unique in respect of value. But no dutiful
action can possibly have unique value in the sense that it is the sole
thing of value in the world; since, in that case, _every_ such action
would be the _sole_ good thing, which is a manifest contradiction.
And for the same reason its value cannot be unique in the sense that
it has more intrinsic value than anything else in the world; since
_every_ act of duty would then be the _best_ thing in the world, which
is also a contradiction. It can, therefore, be unique only in the sense
that the whole world will be better, if it be performed, than if any
possible alternative were taken. And the question whether this is so
cannot possibly depend solely on the question of its own intrinsic
value. For any action will also have effects different from those of
any other action; and if any of these have intrinsic value, their value
is exactly as relevant to the total goodness of the Universe as that of
their cause. It is, in fact, evident that, however valuable an action
may be in itself, yet, owing to its existence, the sum of good in the
Universe may conceivably be made less than if some other action, less
valuable in itself, had been performed. But to say that this is the
case is to say that it would have been better that the action should
not have been done; and this again is obviously equivalent to the
statement that it ought not to have been done--that it was not what
duty required. ‘Fiat iustitia, ruat caelum’ can only be justified on
the ground that by the doing of justice the Universe gains more than it
loses by the falling of the heavens. It is, of course, possible that
this is the case: but, at all events, to assert that justice _is_ a
duty, in spite of such consequences, is to assert that it is the case.

Our ‘duty,’ therefore, can only be defined as that action, which will
cause more good to exist in the Universe than any possible alternative.
And what is ‘right’ or ‘morally permissible’ only differs from this, as
what will _not_ cause _less_ good than any possible alternative. When,
therefore, Ethics presumes to assert that certain ways of acting are
‘duties’ it presumes to assert that to act in those ways will always
produce the greatest possible sum of good. If we are told that to ‘do
no murder’ is a duty, we are told that the action, whatever it may be,
which is called murder, will under no circumstances cause so much good
to exist in the Universe as its avoidance.


=90.= But, if this be recognised, several most important consequences
follow, with regard to the relation of Ethics to conduct.

(1) It is plain that no moral law is self-evident, as has commonly been
held by the Intuitional school of moralists. The Intuitional view of
Ethics consists in the supposition that certain rules, stating that
certain actions are always to be done or to be omitted, may be taken as
self-evident premisses. I have shewn with regard to judgments of what
is _good in itself_, that this is the case; no reason can be given for
them. But it is the essence of Intuitionism to suppose that rules of
action--statements not of what ought to _be_, but of what we ought to
do--are in the same sense intuitively certain. Plausibility has been
lent to this view by the fact that we do undoubtedly make immediate
judgments that certain actions are obligatory or wrong: we are thus
often intuitively certain of our duty, _in a psychological sense_. But,
nevertheless, these judgments are not self-evident and cannot be taken
as ethical premisses, since, as has now been shewn, they are capable of
being confirmed or refuted by an investigation of causes and effects.
It is, indeed, possible that some of our immediate intuitions are true;
but since _what_ we intuit, _what_ conscience tells us, is that certain
actions will always produce the greatest sum of good possible under the
circumstances, it is plain that reasons can be given, which will shew
the deliverances of conscience to be true or false.


=91.= (2) In order to shew that any action is a duty, it is necessary
to know both what are the other conditions, which will, conjointly with
it, determine its effects; to know exactly what will be the effects of
these conditions; and to know all the events which will be in any way
affected by our action throughout an infinite future. We must have all
this causal knowledge, and further we must know accurately the degree
of value both of the action itself and of all these effects; and must
be able to determine how, in conjunction with the other things in the
Universe, they will affect its value as an organic whole. And not
only this: we must also possess all this knowledge with regard to the
effects of every possible alternative; and must then be able to see by
comparison that the total value due to the existence of the action in
question will be greater than that which would be produced by any of
these alternatives. But it is obvious that our causal knowledge alone
is far too incomplete for us ever to assure ourselves of this result.
Accordingly it follows that we never have any reason to suppose that an
action is our duty: we can never be sure that any action will produce
the greatest value possible.

Ethics, therefore, is quite unable to give us a list of duties:
but there still remains a humbler task which may be possible for
Practical Ethics. Although we cannot hope to discover which, in a given
situation, is the best of all possible alternative actions, there may
be some possibility of shewing which among the alternatives, _likely to
occur to any one_, will produce the greatest sum of good. This second
task is certainly all that Ethics can ever have accomplished: and it is
certainly all that it has ever collected materials for proving; since
no one has ever attempted to exhaust the possible alternative actions
in any particular case. Ethical philosophers have in fact confined
their attention to a very limited class of actions, which have been
selected because they are those which most commonly occur to mankind
as possible alternatives. With regard to these they may possibly have
shewn that one alternative is better, _i.e._ produces a greater total
of value, than others. But it seems desirable to insist, that though
they have represented this result as a determination of _duties_, it
can never really have been so. For the term duty is certainly so used
that, if we are subsequently persuaded that any possible action would
have produced more good than the one we adopted, we admit that we
failed to do our duty. It will, however, be a useful task if Ethics can
determine which among alternatives _likely to occur_ will produce the
greatest total value. For, though this alternative cannot be proved to
be the best possible, yet it may be better than any course of action
which we should otherwise adopt.


=92.= A difficulty in distinguishing this task, which Ethics may
perhaps undertake with some hope of success, from the hopeless task
of finding duties, arises from an ambiguity in the use of the term
‘possible.’ An action may, in one perfectly legitimate sense, be said
to be ‘impossible’ solely because the idea of doing it does not occur
to us. In this sense, then, the alternatives which do actually occur
to a man would be the only _possible_ alternatives; and the best of
these would be the best possible action under the circumstances, and
hence would conform to our definition of ‘duty.’ But when we talk of
the best _possible_ action as our duty, we mean by the term any action
which no _other_ known circumstance would prevent, _provided_ the idea
of it occurred to us. And this use of the term is in accordance with
popular usage. For we admit that a man may fail to do his duty, through
neglecting to think of what he _might_ have done. Since, therefore,
we say that he _might_ have done, what nevertheless did not occur to
him, it is plain that we do not limit his _possible_ actions to those
of which he thinks. It might be urged, with more plausibility, that we
mean by a man’s duty only the best of those actions of which he _might_
have thought. And it is true that we do not blame any man very severely
for omitting an action of which, as we say, ‘he could not be expected
to think.’ But even here it is plain that we recognise a distinction
between what he might have done and what he might have thought of
doing: we regard it as a pity that he did not do otherwise. And ‘duty’
is certainly used in such a sense, that it would be a contradiction in
terms to say it was a pity that a man did his duty.

We must, therefore, distinguish a possible action from an action of
which it is possible to think. By the former we mean an action which
no known cause would prevent, _provided_ the idea of it occurred to
us: and that one among such actions, which will produce the greatest
total good, is what we mean by duty. Ethics certainly cannot hope to
discover what kind of action is always our duty in this sense. It may,
however, hope to decide which among one or two such possible actions is
the best: and those which it has chosen to consider are, as a matter of
fact, the most important of those with regard to which men deliberate
whether they shall or shall not do them. A decision with regard to
these may therefore be easily confounded with a decision with regard
to which is the best possible action. But it is to be noted that even
though we limit ourselves to considering which is the better among
alternatives likely to be thought of, the fact that these alternatives
might be thought of is not included is what we mean by calling them
possible alternatives. Even if in any particular case it was impossible
that the idea of them should have occurred to a man, the question we
are concerned with is, which, if it had occurred, would have been the
best alternative? If we say that murder is always a worse alternative,
we mean to assert that it is so, even where it was impossible for the
murderer to think of doing anything else.

The utmost, then, that Practical Ethics can hope to discover is which,
among a few alternatives possible under certain circumstances, will, on
the whole, produce the best result. It may tell us which is the best,
in this sense, of certain alternatives about which we are likely to
deliberate; and since we may also know that, even if we choose none of
these, what we shall, in that case, do is unlikely to be as good as one
of them, it may thus tell us which of the alternatives, among which
we _can_ choose, it is best to choose. If it could do this it would be
sufficient for practical guidance.


=93.= But (3) it is plain that even this is a task of immense
difficulty. It is difficult to see how we can establish even a
probability that by doing one thing we shall obtain a better total
result than by doing another. I shall merely endeavour to point out how
much is assumed, when we assume that there is such a probability, and
on what lines it seems possible that this assumption may be justified.
It will be apparent that it has never yet been justified--that no
sufficient reason has ever yet been found for considering one action
more right or more wrong than another.

(_a_) The first difficulty in the way of establishing a probability
that one course of action will give a better total result than another,
lies in the fact that we have to take account of the effects of both
throughout an infinite future. We have no certainty but that, if we
do one action now, the Universe will, throughout all time, differ in
some way from what it would have been, if we had done another; and,
if there is such a permanent difference, it is certainly relevant to
our calculation. But it is quite certain that our causal knowledge is
utterly insufficient to tell us what different effects will probably
result from two different actions, except within a comparatively short
space of time; we can certainly only pretend to calculate the effects
of actions within what may be called an ‘immediate’ future. No one,
when he proceeds upon what he considers a rational consideration of
effects, would guide his choice by any forecast that went beyond a few
centuries at most; and, in general, we consider that we have acted
rationally, if we think we have secured a balance of good within a few
years or months or days. Yet, if a choice guided by such considerations
is to be rational, we must certainly have some reason to believe that
no consequences of our action in a further future will generally be
such as to reverse the balance of good that is probable in the future
which we can foresee. This large postulate must be made, if we are
ever to assert that the results of one action will be even probably
better than those of another. Our utter ignorance of the far future
gives us no justification for saying that it is even probably right
to choose the greater good within the region over which a probable
forecast may extend. We do, then, assume that it is improbable that
effects, after a certain time, will, in general, be such as to reverse
the comparative value of the alternative results within that time. And
that this assumption is justified must be shewn before we can claim
to have given any reason whatever for acting in one way rather than
in another. It may, perhaps, be justified by some such considerations
as the following. As we proceed further and further from the time at
which alternative actions are open to us, the events of which either
action would be part cause become increasingly dependent on those
other circumstances, which are the same, whichever action we adopt.
The effects of any individual action seem, after a sufficient space of
time, to be found only in trifling modifications spread over a very
wide area, whereas its immediate effects consist in some prominent
modification of a comparatively narrow area. Since, however, most
of the things which have any great importance for good or evil are
things of this prominent kind, there may be a probability that after
a certain time all the effects of any particular action become so
nearly indifferent, that any difference between their value and that
of the effects of another action, is very unlikely to outweigh an
obvious difference in the value of the immediate effects. It does in
fact appear to be the case that, in most cases, whatever action we now
adopt, ‘it will be all the same a hundred years hence,’ so far as the
existence at that time of anything greatly good or bad is concerned:
and this might, perhaps, be _shewn_ to be true, by an investigation
of the manner in which the effects of any particular event become
neutralised by lapse of time. Failing such a proof, we can certainly
have no rational ground for asserting that one of two alternatives is
even probably right and another wrong. If any of our judgments of right
and wrong are to pretend to probability, we must have reason to think
that the effects of our actions in the far future will not have value
sufficient to outweigh any superiority of one set of effects over
another in the immediate future.


=94.= (_b_) We must assume, then, that if the effects of one action are
generally better than those of another, so far forward in the future as
we are able to foresee any probable difference in their effects at all,
then the total effect upon the Universe of the former action is also
generally better. We certainly cannot hope directly to compare their
effects except within a limited future; and all the arguments, which
have ever been used in Ethics, and upon which we commonly act in common
life, directed to shewing that one course is superior to another, are
(apart from theological dogmas) confined to pointing out such probable
immediate advantages. The question remains, then: Can we lay down any
general rules to the effect that one among a few alternative actions
will generally produce a greater total of good in the immediate future?

It is important to insist that this question, limited as it is, is the
utmost, to which, with any knowledge we have at present or are likely
to have for a long time to come, Practical Ethics can hope to give an
answer. I have already pointed out that we cannot hope to discover
which is the _best_ possible alternative in any given circumstances,
but only which, among a few, is better than the others. And I have also
pointed out that there is certainly no more than a probability, even
if we are entitled to assert so much, that what is better in regard to
its immediate effects will also be better on the whole. It now remains
to insist that, even with regard to these immediate effects, we can
only hope to discover which, among a few alternatives, will _generally_
produce the greatest balance of good in the immediate future. We can
secure no title to assert that obedience to such commands as ‘Thou
shalt not lie,’ or even ‘Thou shalt do no murder,’ is _universally_
better than the alternatives of lying and murder. Reasons why no more
than a _general_ knowledge is possible have been already given in Chap.
I. (§ 16); but they may be recapitulated here. In the first place,
of the effects, which principally concern us in ethical discussions,
as having intrinsic value, we know the causes so little, that we can
scarcely claim, with regard to any single one, to have obtained even
a _hypothetical_ universal law, such as has been obtained in the exact
sciences. We cannot even say: If this action is performed, under
exactly these circumstances, and if no others interfere, this important
effect, at least, will _always_ be produced. But, in the second
place, an ethical law is not merely hypothetical. If we are to know
that it will always be better to act in a certain way, under certain
circumstances, we must know not merely what effects such actions will
produce, _provided_ no other circumstances interfere, but also that no
other circumstances will interfere. And this it is obviously impossible
to know with more than probability. An ethical law has the nature not
of a scientific law but of a scientific _prediction_: and the latter is
always merely probable, although the probability may be very great. An
engineer is entitled to assert that, if a bridge be built in a certain
way, it will probably bear certain loads for a certain time; but he can
never be absolutely certain that it has been built in the way required,
nor that, even if it has, some accident will not intervene to falsify
his prediction. With any ethical law, the same must be the case; it can
be no more than a generalisation: and here, owing to the comparative
absence of accurate hypothetical knowledge, on which the prediction
should be based, the probability is comparatively small. But finally,
for an ethical generalisation, we require to know not only what effects
will be produced, but also what are the comparative values of those
effects; and on this question too, it must be admitted, considering
what a prevalent opinion Hedonism has been, that we are very liable to
be mistaken. It is plain, then, that we are not soon likely to know
more than that one kind of action will _generally_ produce better
effects than another; and that more than this has certainly never been
proved. In no two cases will _all_ the effects of any kind of action be
precisely the same, because in each case some of the circumstances will
differ; and although the effects, that are important for good or evil,
may be generally the same, it is extremely unlikely that they will
always be so.


=95.= (_c_) If, now, we confine ourselves to a search for actions which
are _generally_ better as means than any probable alternative, it
seems possible to establish as much as this in defence of most of the
rules most universally recognised by Common Sense. I do not propose to
enter upon this defence in detail, but merely to point out what seem to
be the chief distinct principles by the use of which it can be made.

In the first place, then, we can only shew that one action is
generally better than another as a means, provided that certain other
circumstances are given. We do, as a matter of fact, only observe its
good effects under certain circumstances; and it may be easily seen
that a sufficient change in these would render doubtful what seem the
most universally certain of general rules. Thus, the general disutility
of murder can only be proved, provided the majority of the human race
will certainly persist in existing. In order to prove that murder, if
it were so universally adopted as to cause the speedy extermination of
the race, would not be good as a means, we should have to disprove the
main contention of pessimism--namely that the existence of human life
is on the whole an evil. And the view of pessimism, however strongly we
may be convinced of its truth or falsehood, is one which never has been
either proved or refuted conclusively. That universal murder would not
be a good thing at this moment can therefore not be proved. But, as a
matter of fact, we can and do assume with certainty that, even if a few
people are willing to murder, most people will not be willing. When,
therefore, we say that murder is in general to be avoided, we only
mean that it is so, so long as the majority of mankind will certainly
not agree to it, but will persist in living. And that, under these
circumstances, it is generally wrong for any single person to commit
murder seems capable of proof. For, since there is in any case no hope
of exterminating the race, the only effects which we have to consider
are those which the action will have upon the increase of the goods
and the diminution of the evils of human life. Where the best is not
attainable (assuming extermination to be the best) one alternative may
still be better than another. And, apart from the immediate evils which
murder generally produces, the fact that, if it were a common practice,
the feeling of insecurity, thus caused, would absorb much time, which
might be spent to better purpose, is perhaps conclusive against it. So
long as men desire to live as strongly as they do, and so long as it is
certain that they will continue to do so, anything which hinders them
from devoting their energy to the attainment of positive goods, seems
plainly bad as a means. And the general practice of murder, falling so
far short of universality as it certainly must in all known conditions
of society, seems certainly to be a hindrance of this kind.

A similar defence seems possible for most of the rules, most
universally enforced by legal sanctions, such as respect of property;
and for some of those most commonly recognised by Common Sense, such
as industry, temperance and the keeping of promises. In any state of
society in which men have that intense desire for property of some
sort, which seems to be universal, the common legal rules for the
protection of property must serve greatly to facilitate the best
possible expenditure of energy. And similarly: Industry is a means
to the attainment of those necessaries, without which the further
attainment of any great positive goods is impossible; temperance merely
enjoins the avoidance of those excesses, which, by injuring health,
would prevent a man from contributing as much as possible to the
acquirement of these necessaries; and the keeping of promises greatly
facilitates cooperation in such acquirement.

Now all these rules seem to have two characteristics to which it is
desirable to call attention. (1) They seem all to be such that, in any
known state of society, a _general_ observance of them _would_ be good
as a means. The conditions upon which their utility depends, namely the
tendency to preserve and propagate life and the desire of property,
seem to be so universal and so strong, that it would be impossible to
remove them; and, this being so, we can say that, under any conditions
which could actually be given, the general observance of these rules
would be good as a means. For, while there seems no reason to think
that their observance ever makes a society worse than one in which they
are not observed, it is certainly necessary as a means for any state of
things in which the greatest possible goods can be attained. And (2)
these rules, since they can be recommended as a means to that which is
itself only a necessary condition for the existence of any great good,
can be defended independently of correct views upon the primary ethical
question of what is good in itself. On any view commonly taken, it
seems certain that the preservation of civilised society, which these
rules are necessary to effect, is necessary for the existence, in any
great degree, of anything which may be held to be good in itself.


=96.= But not by any means all the rules commonly recognised combine
these two characteristics. The arguments offered in defence of Common
Sense morality very often presuppose the existence of conditions,
which cannot be fairly assumed to be so universally necessary as the
tendency to continue life and to desire property. Such arguments,
accordingly, only prove the utility of the rule, so long as certain
conditions, which may alter, remain the same: it cannot be claimed of
the rules thus defended, that they would be generally good as means in
every state of society: in order to establish this _universal_ general
utility, it would be necessary to arrive at a correct view of what is
good or evil in itself. This, for instance, seems to be the case with
most of the rules comprehended under the name of Chastity. These rules
are commonly defended, by Utilitarian writers or writers who assume as
their end the conservation of society, with arguments which presuppose
the necessary existence of such sentiments as conjugal jealousy and
paternal affection. These sentiments are no doubt sufficiently strong
and general to make the defence valid for many conditions of society.
But it is not difficult to imagine a civilised society existing without
them; and, in such a case, if chastity were still to be defended,
it would be necessary to establish that its violation produced evil
effects, other than those due to the assumed tendency of such violation
to disintegrate society. Such a defence may, no doubt, be made; but it
would require an examination into the primary ethical question of what
is good and bad in itself, far more thorough than any ethical writer
has ever offered to us. Whether this be so in this particular case or
not, it is certain that a distinction, not commonly recognised, should
be made between those rules, of which the social utility depends upon
the existence of circumstances, more or less likely to alter, and those
of which the utility seems certain under all possible conditions.


=97.= It is obvious that all the rules, which were enumerated above as
likely to be useful in _almost any_ state of society, can _also_ be
defended owing to results which they produce under conditions which
exist only in particular states of society. And it should be noticed
that we are entitled to reckon among these conditions the sanctions of
legal penalties, of social disapproval, and of private remorse, where
these exist. These sanctions are, indeed, commonly treated by Ethics
only as motives for the doing of actions of which the utility can be
proved independently of the existence of these sanctions. And it may
be admitted that sanctions _ought_ not to be attached to actions which
would not be right independently. Nevertheless it is plain that, where
they do exist, they are not only motives but also justifications for
the actions in question. One of the chief reasons why an action should
not be done in any particular state of society is that it will be
punished; since the punishment is in general itself a greater evil than
would have been caused by the omission of the action punished. Thus
the existence of a punishment may be an adequate reason for regarding
an action as generally wrong, even though it has no other bad effects
but even slightly good ones. The fact that an action will be punished
is a condition of exactly the same kind as others of more or less
permanence, which must be taken into account in discussing the general
utility or disutility of an action in a particular state of society.


=98.= It is plain, then, that the rules commonly recognised by Common
Sense, in the society in which we live, and commonly advocated as if
they were all equally and universally right and good, are of very
different orders. Even those which seem to be most universally good
as means, can only be shewn to be so, because of the existence of
conditions, which, though perhaps evils, may be taken to be necessary;
and even these owe their more obvious utilities to the existence of
other conditions, which cannot be taken to be necessary except over
longer or shorter periods of history, and many of which are evils.
Others seem to be justifiable _solely_ by the existence of such more or
less temporary conditions, unless we abandon the attempt to shew that
they are means to that preservation of society, which is itself a mere
means, and are able to establish that they are directly means to things
good or evil in themselves, but which are not commonly recognised to be
such.

If, then, we ask what rules are or would be useful to be observed in
the society in which we live, it seems possible to prove a definite
utility in most of those which are in general both recognised and
practised. But a great part of ordinary moral exhortation and social
discussion consists in the advocating of rules, which are _not_
generally practised; and with regard to these it seems very doubtful
whether a case for their general utility can ever be conclusively made
out. Such proposed rules commonly suffer from three main defects. In
the first place, (1) the actions which they advocate are very commonly
such as it is impossible for most individuals to perform by any
volition. It is far too usual to find classed together with actions,
which can be performed, if only they be willed, others, of which the
possibility depends upon the possession of a peculiar disposition,
which is given to few and cannot even be acquired. It may, no doubt,
be useful to point out that those who have the necessary disposition
should obey these rules; and it would, in many cases, be desirable that
everybody should have this disposition. But it should be recognised
that, when we regard a thing as a moral rule or law, we mean that it
is one which _almost everybody can_ observe by an effort of volition,
in that state of society to which the rule is supposed to apply. (2)
Actions are often advocated, of which, though they themselves are
possible, yet the proposed good effects are not possible, because the
conditions necessary for their existence are not sufficiently general.
A rule, of which the observance would produce good effects, if human
nature were in other respects different from what it is, is advocated
as if its general observance would produce the same effects now and
at once. In fact, however, by the time that the conditions necessary
to make its observance useful have arisen, it is quite as likely that
other conditions, rendering its observance unnecessary or positively
harmful, may also have arisen; and yet this state of things may be a
better one than that in which the rule in question would have been
useful. (3) There also occurs the case in which the usefulness of a
rule depends upon conditions likely to change, or of which the change
would be as easy and more desirable than the observance of the proposed
rule. It may even happen that the general observance of the proposed
rule would itself destroy the conditions upon which its utility depends.

One or other of these objections seems generally to apply to proposed
changes in social custom, advocated as being better rules to follow
than those now actually followed; and, for this reason, it seems
doubtful whether Ethics can establish the utility of any rules
other than those generally practised. But its inability to do so is
fortunately of little practical moment. The question whether the
general observance of a rule not generally observed, would or would not
be desirable, cannot much affect the question how any individual ought
to act; since, on the one hand, there is a large probability that he
will not, by any means, be able to bring about its general observance,
and, on the other hand, the fact that its general observance would
be useful could, in any case, give him no reason to conclude that he
himself ought to observe it, in the absence of such general observance.

With regard, then, to the actions commonly classed in Ethics, as
duties, crimes, or sins, the following points seem deserving of notice.
(1) By so classing them we mean that they are actions which it is
possible for an individual to perform or avoid, if he only _wills_ to
do so; and that they are actions which _everybody_ ought to perform
or avoid, when occasion arises. (2) We can certainly not prove of
any such action that it ought to be done or avoided under _all_
circumstances; we can only prove that its performance or avoidance will
_generally_ produce better results than the alternative. (3) If further
we ask of what actions as much as this can be proved, it seems only
possible to prove it with regard to those which are actually generally
practised among us. And of these some only are such that their general
performance would be useful in any state of society that seems
possible; of others the utility depends upon conditions which exist
now, but which seem to be more or less alterable.


=99.= (_d_) So much, then, for moral rules or laws, in the ordinary
sense--rules which assert that it is generally useful, under more or
less common circumstances, for _everybody_ to perform or omit some
definite kind of action. It remains to say something with regard to the
principles by which _the individual_ should decide what he ought to
do, (α) with regard to those actions as to which some general rule is
certainly true, and (β) with regard to those where such a certain rule
is wanting.

(α) Since, as I have tried to shew, it is impossible to establish
that any kind of action will produce a better total result than
its alternative _in all cases_, it follows that in some cases the
neglect of an established rule will probably be the best course of
action possible. The question then arises: Can the individual ever be
justified in assuming that his is one of these exceptional cases? And
it seems that this question may be definitely answered in the negative.
For, if it is certain that in a large majority of cases the observance
of a certain rule is useful, it follows that there is a large
probability that it would be wrong to break the rule in any particular
case; and the uncertainty of our knowledge both of effects and of their
value, in particular cases, is so great, that it seems doubtful whether
the individual’s judgment that the effects will probably be good in
his case can ever be set against the general probability that that
kind of action is wrong. Added to this general ignorance is the fact
that, if the question arises at all, our judgment will generally be
biassed by the fact that we strongly desire one of the results which we
hope to obtain by breaking the rule. It seems, then, that with regard
to any rule which is _generally_ useful, we may assert that it ought
_always_ to be observed, not on the ground that in _every_ particular
case it will be useful, but on the ground that in _any_ particular
case the probability of its being so is greater than that of our being
likely to decide rightly that we have before us an instance of its
disutility. In short, though we may be sure that there are cases where
the rule should be broken, we can never know which those cases are,
and ought, therefore, never to break it. It is this fact which seems
to justify the stringency with which moral rules are usually enforced
and sanctioned, and to give a sense in which we may accept as true the
maxims that ‘The end never justifies the means’ and ‘That we should
never do evil that good may come.’ The ‘means’ and the ‘evil,’ intended
by these maxims, are, in fact, the breaking of moral rules generally
recognised and practised, and which, therefore, we may assume to be
generally useful. Thus understood, these maxims merely point out that,
in any particular case, although we cannot clearly perceive any balance
of good produced by keeping the rule and do seem to see one that would
follow from breaking it, nevertheless the rule should be observed. It
is hardly necessary to point out that this is so only because it is
certain that, in general, the end does justify the means in question,
and that therefore there is a _probability_ that in this case it will
do so also, although we cannot see that it will.

But moreover the universal observance of a rule which is generally
useful has, in many cases, a special utility, which seems deserving of
notice. This arises from the fact that, even if we can clearly discern
that our case is one where to break the rule is advantageous, yet, so
far as our example has any effect at all in encouraging similar action,
it will certainly tend to encourage breaches of the rule which are not
advantageous. We may confidently assume that what will impress the
imagination of others will not be the circumstances in which our case
differs from ordinary cases and which justify our exceptional action,
but the points in which it resembles other actions that are really
criminal. In cases, then, where example has any influence at all, the
effect of an exceptional right action will generally be to encourage
wrong ones. And this effect will probably be exercised not only on
other persons but on the agent himself. For it is impossible for any
one to keep his intellect and sentiments so clear, but that, if he has
once approved of a generally wrong action, he will be more likely to
approve of it also under other circumstances than those which justified
it in the first instance. This inability to discriminate exceptional
cases offers, of course, a still stronger reason for the universal
enforcement, by legal or social sanctions, of actions generally useful.
It is undoubtedly well to punish a man, who has done an action, right
in his case but generally wrong, even if his example would not be
likely to have a dangerous effect. For sanctions have, in general,
much more influence upon conduct than example; so that the effect
of relaxing them in an exceptional case will almost certainly be an
encouragement of similar action in cases which are not exceptional.

The individual can therefore be confidently recommended _always_
to conform to rules which are both generally useful and generally
practised. In the case of rules of which the general observance _would_
be useful but does not exist, or of rules which are generally practised
but which are not useful, no such universal recommendations can be
made. In many cases the sanctions attached may be decisive in favour
of conformity to the existing custom. But it seems worth pointing out
that, even apart from these, the general utility of an action most
commonly depends upon the fact that it is generally practised: in a
society where certain kinds of theft are the common rule, the utility
of abstinence from such theft on the part of a single individual
becomes exceedingly doubtful, even though the common rule is a bad one.
There is, therefore, a strong probability in favour of adherence to an
existing custom, even if it be a bad one. But we cannot, in this case,
assert with any confidence that this probability is always greater
than that of the individual’s power to judge that an exception will be
useful; since we are here supposing certain one relevant fact--namely,
that the rule, which he proposes to follow, _would_ be better than
that which he proposes to break, _if_ it were generally observed.
Consequently the effect of his example, so far as it tends to break
down the existing custom, will here be for the good. The cases, where
another rule would certainly be better than that generally observed,
are, however, according to what was said above, very rare; and cases of
doubt, which are those which arise most frequently, carry us into the
next division of our subject.


=100.= (β) This next division consists in the discussion of the
method by which an individual should decide what to do with regard to
possible actions of which the general utility cannot be proved. And
it should be observed, that, according to our previous conclusions,
this discussion will cover almost all actions, except those which,
in our present state of society, are generally practised. For it has
been urged that a proof of general utility is so difficult, that it
can hardly be conclusive except in a very few cases. It is certainly
not possible with regard to all actions which _are_ generally
practised; though here, if the sanctions are sufficiently strong,
they are sufficient by themselves to prove the general utility of the
individual’s conformity to custom. And if it is possible to prove a
general utility in the case of some actions, _not_ generally practised,
it is certainly not possible to do so by the ordinary method, which
tries to shew in them a tendency to that preservation of society, which
is itself a mere means, but only by the method, by which in any case,
as will be urged, the individual ought to guide his judgment--namely,
by shewing their direct tendency to produce what is good in itself or
to prevent what is bad.

The extreme improbability that any general rule with regard to the
utility of an action will be correct seems, in fact, to be the chief
principle which should be taken into account in discussing how the
individual should guide his choice. If we except those rules which are
both generally practised and strongly sanctioned among us, there seem
to be hardly any of such a kind that equally good arguments cannot be
found both for and against them. The most that can be said for the
contradictory principles which are urged by moralists of different
schools as universal duties, is, in general, that they point out
actions which, for persons of a particular character and in particular
circumstances, would and do lead to a balance of good. It is, no
doubt, possible that the particular dispositions and circumstances
which generally render certain kinds of action advisable, might to
some degree be formulated. But it is certain that this has never
yet been done; and it is important to notice that, even if it were
done, it would not give us, what moral laws are usually supposed to
be--rules which it would be desirable for every one, or even for most
people, to follow. Moralists commonly assume that, in the matter of
actions or habits of action, usually recognised as duties or virtues,
it is desirable that every one should be alike. Whereas it is certain
that, under actual circumstances, and possible that, even in a much
more ideal condition of things, the principle of division of labour,
according to special capacity, which is recognised in respect of
employments, would also give a better result in respect of virtues.

It seems, therefore, that, in cases of doubt, instead of following
rules, of which he is unable to see the good effects in his particular
case, the individual should rather guide his choice by a direct
consideration of the intrinsic value or vileness of the effects
which his action may produce. Judgments of intrinsic value have this
superiority over judgments of means that, if once true, they are always
true; whereas what is a means to a good effect in one case, will not
be so in another. For this reason the department of Ethics, which it
would be most useful to elaborate for practical guidance, is that
which discusses what things have intrinsic value and in what degrees;
and this is precisely that department which has been most uniformly
neglected, in favour of attempts to formulate rules of conduct.

We have, however, not only to consider the relative goodness of
different effects, but also the relative probability of their being
attained. A less good, that is more likely to be attained, is to be
preferred to a greater, that is less probable, if the difference in
probability is great enough to outweigh the difference in goodness.
And this fact seems to entitle us to assert the general truth of three
principles, which ordinary moral rules are apt to neglect. (1) That
a lesser good, for which any individual has a strong preference (if
only it be a good, and not an evil), is more likely to be a proper
object for him to aim at, than a greater one, which he is unable to
appreciate. For natural inclination renders it immensely more easy to
attain that for which such inclination is felt. (2) Since almost every
one has a much stronger preference for things which closely concern
himself, it will in general be right for a man to aim rather at goods
affecting himself and those in whom he has a strong personal interest,
than to attempt a more extended beneficence. Egoism is undoubtedly
superior to Altruism as a doctrine of means: in the immense majority of
cases the best thing we can do is to aim at securing some good in which
we are concerned, since for that very reason we are far more likely to
secure it. (3) Goods, which can be secured in a future so near as to be
called ‘the present,’ are in general to be preferred to those which,
being in a further future, are, for that reason, far less certain of
attainment. If we regard all that we do from the point of view of
its rightness, that is to say as a mere means to good, we are apt to
neglect one fact, at least, which is certain; namely, that a thing that
is really good in itself, if it exist now, has precisely the same value
as a thing of the same kind which may be caused to exist in the future.
Moreover moral rules, as has been said, are, in general, not directly
means to positive goods but to what is necessary for the existence of
positive goods; and so much of our labour must in any case be devoted
to securing the continuance of what is thus a mere means--the claims of
industry and attention to health determine the employment of so large
a part of our time, that, in cases where choice is open, the certain
attainment of a present good will in general have the strongest claims
upon us. If it were not so, the whole of life would be spent in merely
assuring its continuance; and, so far as the same rule were continued
in the future, that for the sake of which it is worth having, would
never exist at all.


=101.= (4) A fourth conclusion, which follows from the fact that what
is ‘right’ or what is our ‘duty’ must in any case be defined as what is
a means to good, is, as was pointed out above (§ 89), that the common
distinction between these and the ‘expedient’ or ‘useful,’ disappears.
Our ‘duty’ is merely that which will be a means to the best possible,
and the expedient, if it is really expedient, must be just the same. We
cannot distinguish them by saying that the former is something which
we ought to do, whereas of the latter we cannot say we ‘_ought_.’ In
short the two concepts are not, as is commonly assumed by all except
Utilitarian moralists, simple concepts ultimately distinct. There is
no such distinction in Ethics. The only fundamental distinction is
between what is good in itself and what is good as a means, the latter
of which implies the former. But it has been shewn that the distinction
between ‘duty’ and ‘expediency’ does not correspond to this: both
must be defined as means to good, though both _may also_ be ends in
themselves. The question remains, then: What is the distinction between
duty and expediency?

One distinction to which these distinct words refer is plain
enough. Certain classes of action commonly excite the specifically
moral sentiments, whereas other classes do not. And the word
‘duty’ is commonly applied only to the class of actions which
excite moral approval, or of which the omission excites moral
disapproval--especially to the latter. Why this moral sentiment should
have become attached to some kinds of actions and not to others is
a question which can certainly not yet be answered; but it may be
observed that we have no reason to think that the actions to which
it was attached were or are, in all cases, such as aided or aid the
survival of a race: it was probably originally attached to many
religious rites and ceremonies which had not the smallest utility in
this respect. It appears, however, that, among us, the classes of
action to which it is attached also have two other characteristics in
enough cases to have influenced the meaning of the words ‘duty’ and
‘expediency.’ One of these is that ‘duties’ are, in general, actions
which a considerable number of individuals are strongly tempted to
omit. The second is that the omission of a ‘duty’ generally entails
consequences markedly disagreeable to _some one else_. The first of
these is a more universal characteristic than the second: since the
disagreeable effects on other people of the ‘self-regarding duties,’
prudence and temperance, are not so marked as those on the future
of the agent himself; whereas the temptations to imprudence and
intemperance are very strong. Still, on the whole, the class of actions
called duties exhibit both characteristics: they are not only actions,
against the performance of which there are strong natural inclinations,
but also actions of which the most obvious effects, commonly considered
goods, are effects on other people. Expedient actions, on the other
hand, are actions to which strong natural inclinations prompt us
almost universally, and of which all the most obvious effects, commonly
considered good, are effects upon the agent. We may then roughly
distinguish ‘duties’ from expedient actions, as actions with regard to
which there is a moral sentiment, which we are often tempted to omit,
and of which the most obvious effects are effects upon others than the
agent.

But it is to be noticed that none of these characteristics, by which
a ‘duty’ is distinguished from an expedient action, gives us any
reason to infer that the former class of actions are more useful than
the latter--that they tend to produce a greater balance of good.
Nor, when we ask the question, ‘Is this my duty?’ do we mean to ask
whether the action in question has these characteristics: we are asking
simply whether it will produce the best possible result on the whole.
And if we asked this question with regard to expedient actions, we
should quite as often have to answer it in the affirmative as when we
ask it with regard to actions which have the three characteristics
of ‘duties.’ It is true that when we ask the question, ‘Is this
expedient?’ we are asking a different question--namely, whether it will
have certain kinds of effect, with regard to which we do not enquire
whether they are good or not. Nevertheless, if it should be doubted
in any particular case whether these effects were good, this doubt is
understood as throwing doubt upon the action’s expediency: if we are
required to _prove_ an action’s expediency, we can only do so by asking
precisely the same question by which we should prove it a duty--namely,
‘Has it the best possible effects on the whole?’

Accordingly the question whether an action is a duty or merely
expedient, is one which has no bearing on the ethical question whether
we ought to do it. In the sense in which either duty or expediency
are taken as ultimate _reasons_ for doing an action, they are taken
in exactly the same sense: if I ask whether an action is _really_ my
duty or _really_ expedient, the predicate of which I question the
applicability to the action in question is precisely the same. In both
cases I am asking, ‘Is this event the best on the whole that I can
effect?’; and whether the event in question be some effect upon what
is _mine_ (as it usually is, where we talk of expediency) or some other
event (as is usual, where we talk of duty), this distinction has no
more relevance to my answer than the distinction between two different
effects on me or two different effects on others. The true distinction
between duties and expedient actions is not that the former are actions
which it is in any sense more useful or obligatory or better to
perform, but that they are actions which it is more useful to praise
and to enforce by sanctions, since they are actions which there is a
temptation to omit.


=102.= With regard to ‘interested’ actions, the case is somewhat
different. When we ask the question, ‘Is this really to my interest?’
we appear to be asking exclusively whether its _effects upon me_ are
the best possible; and it may well happen that what will effect me in
the manner, which is really the best possible, will not produce the
best possible results on the whole. Accordingly _my true interest_ may
be different from the course which is really expedient and dutiful. To
assert that an action is ‘to my interest,’ is, indeed, as was pointed
out in Chap. III. (§§ 59-61), to assert that its effects are really
good. ‘My own good’ only denotes some event affecting me, which is good
absolutely and objectively; it is the thing, and not its goodness,
which is _mine_; everything must be either ‘a part of universal good’
or else not good at all; there is no third alternative conception
‘good for me.’ But ‘my interest,’ though it must be something truly
good, is only one among possible good effects; and hence, by effecting
it, though we shall be doing _some_ good, we may be doing less good
on the whole, than if we had acted otherwise. Self-sacrifice may be a
real duty; just as the sacrifice of any single good, whether affecting
ourselves or others, may be necessary in order to obtain a better
total result. Hence the fact that an action is really to my interest,
can never be a sufficient reason for doing it: by shewing that it is
not a means to the best possible, we do not shew that it is not to my
interest, as we do shew that it is not expedient. Nevertheless there is
no necessary conflict between duty and interest: what is to my interest
may also be a means to the best possible. And the chief distinction
conveyed by the distinct words ‘duty’ and ‘interest’ seems to be not
this source of possible conflict, but the same which is conveyed by
the contrast between ‘duty’ and ‘expediency.’ By ‘interested’ actions
are _mainly_ meant those which, whether a means to the best possible
or not, are such as have their most obvious effects on the agent;
which he generally has no temptation to omit; and with regard to which
we feel no moral sentiment. That is to say, the distinction is not
primarily ethical. Here too ‘duties’ are not, in general, more useful
or obligatory than interested actions; they are only actions which it
is more useful to praise.


=103.= (5) A fifth conclusion, of some importance, in relation to
Practical Ethics concerns the manner in which ‘virtues’ are to be
judged. What is meant by calling a thing a ‘virtue’?

There can be no doubt that Aristotle’s definition is right, in the
main, so far as he says that it is an ‘habitual disposition’ to
perform certain actions: this is one of the marks by which we should
distinguish a virtue from other things. But ‘virtue’ and ‘vice’ are
also ethical terms: that is to say, when we use them seriously, we mean
to convey praise by the one and dispraise by the other. And to praise
a thing is to assert either that it is good in itself or else that it
is a means to good. Are we then to include in our definition of virtue
that it must be a thing good in itself?

Now it is certain that virtues are commonly regarded as good in
themselves. The feeling of moral approbation with which we generally
regard them partly consists in an attribution to them of intrinsic
value. Even a Hedonist, when he feels a moral sentiment towards
them, is regarding them as good-in-themselves; and Virtue has been
the chief competitor with Pleasure for the position of _sole_ good.
Nevertheless I do not think we can regard it as part of the definition
of virtue that it should be good in itself. For the name has so far
an independent meaning, that if in any particular case a disposition
commonly considered virtuous were proved not to be good in itself, we
should not think that a sufficient reason for saying that it _was_ not
a virtue but was only _thought_ to be so. The test for the ethical
connotation of virtue is the same as that for duty: What should we
require to be proved about a particular instance, in order to say
that the name was wrongly applied to it? And the test which is thus
applied both to virtues and duties, and considered to be final, is the
question: Is it a means to good? If it could be shewn of any particular
disposition, commonly considered virtuous, that it was generally
harmful, we should at once say: Then it is not really virtuous.
Accordingly a virtue may be defined as an habitual disposition to
perform certain actions, which generally produce the best possible
results. Nor is there any doubt as to the kind of actions which it is
‘virtuous’ habitually to perform. They are, in general, those which
are duties, with this modification that we also include those which
_would_ be duties, if only it were possible for people in general to
perform them. Accordingly with regard to virtues, the same conclusion
holds as with regard to duties. If they are really virtues they must be
generally good as means; nor do I wish to dispute that most virtues,
commonly considered as such, as well as most duties, really are means
to good. But it does not follow that they are a bit more useful than
those dispositions and inclinations which lead us to perform interested
actions. As duties from expedient actions, so virtues are distinguished
from other useful dispositions, not by any superior utility, but by the
fact that they are dispositions, which it is particularly useful to
praise and to sanction, because there are strong and common temptations
to neglect the actions to which they lead.

Virtues, therefore, are habitual dispositions to perform actions which
are duties, or which would be duties if a volition were sufficient on
the part of most men to ensure their performance. And duties are a
particular class of those actions, of which the performance has, at
least generally, better total results than the omission. They are, that
is to say, actions generally good as means: but not all such actions
are duties; the name is confined to that particular class which it is
often difficult to perform, because there are strong temptations to the
contrary. It follows that in order to decide whether any particular
disposition or action is a virtue or a duty, we must face all the
difficulties enumerated in section (3) of this chapter. We shall
not be entitled to assert that any disposition or action is a virtue
or duty except as a result of an investigation, such as was there
described. We must be able to prove that the disposition or action in
question is generally better as a means than any alternatives possible
and likely to occur; and this we shall only be able to prove for
particular states of society: what is a virtue or a duty in one state
of society may not be so in another.


=104.= But there is another question with regard to virtues and duties
which must be settled by intuition alone--by the properly guarded
method which was explained in discussing Hedonism. This is the question
whether the dispositions and actions, commonly regarded (rightly or
not) as virtues or duties, are good in themselves; whether they have
intrinsic value. Virtue or the exercise of virtue has very commonly
been asserted by moralists to be either the sole good, or, at least,
the best of goods. Indeed, so far as moralists have discussed the
question what is good in itself at all, they have generally assumed
that it must be either virtue or pleasure. It would hardly have been
possible that such a gross difference of opinion should exist, or that
it should have been assumed the discussion _must_ be limited to two
such alternatives, if the meaning of the question had been clearly
apprehended. And we have already seen that the meaning of the question
has hardly ever been clearly apprehended. Almost all ethical writers
have committed the naturalistic fallacy--they have failed to perceive
that the notion of intrinsic value is simple and unique; and almost all
have failed, in consequence, to distinguish clearly between means and
end--they have discussed, as if it were simple and unambiguous, the
question, ‘What ought we to do?’ or ‘What ought to exist now?’ without
distinguishing whether the reason why a thing ought to be done or to
exist now, is that it is itself possessed of intrinsic value, or that
it is a means to what has intrinsic value. We shall, therefore, be
prepared to find that virtue has as little claim to be considered the
sole or chief good as pleasure; more especially after seeing that, so
far as definition goes, to call a thing a virtue is merely to declare
that it is a means to good. The advocates of virtue have, we shall see,
this superiority over the Hedonists, that inasmuch as virtues are very
complex mental facts, there are included in them many things which are
good in themselves and good in a much higher degree than pleasure.
The advocates of Hedonism, on the other hand, have the superiority
that their method emphasizes the distinction between means and ends;
although they have not apprehended the distinction clearly enough to
perceive that the special ethical predicate, which they assign to
pleasure as _not_ being a mere means, must also apply to many other
things.


=105.= With regard, then, to the intrinsic value of virtue, it may be
stated broadly: (1) that the majority of dispositions, which we call
by that name, and which really do conform to the definition, so far as
that they are dispositions generally valuable as means, at least in our
society, have no intrinsic value whatever; and (2) that no one element
which is contained in the minority, nor even all the different elements
put together, can without gross absurdity be regarded as the sole good.
As to the second point it may be observed that even those who hold the
view that the sole good is to be found in virtue, almost invariably
hold other views contradictory of this, owing chiefly to a failure to
analyse the meaning of ethical concepts. The most marked instance of
this inconsistency is to be found in the common Christian conception
that virtue, though the sole good, can yet be rewarded by something
other than virtue. Heaven is commonly considered as the reward of
virtue; and yet it is also commonly considered, that, in order to be
such a reward, it must contain some element, called happiness, which
is certainly not completely identical with the mere exercise of those
virtues which it rewards. But if so, then something which is not virtue
must be either good in itself or an element in what has most intrinsic
value. It is not commonly observed that if a thing is really to be a
reward, it must be something good in itself: it is absurd to talk of
rewarding a person by giving him something, which is less valuable than
what he already has or which has no value at all. Thus Kant’s view that
virtue renders us _worthy_ of happiness is in flagrant contradiction
with the view, which he implies and which is associated with his name,
that a Good Will is the only thing having intrinsic value. It does
not, indeed, entitle us to make the charge sometimes made, that Kant
is, inconsistently, an Eudaemonist or Hedonist: for it does not imply
that happiness is the sole good. But it does imply that the Good Will
is _not_ the sole good: that a state of things in which we are both
virtuous and happy is better in itself than one in which the happiness
is absent.


=106.= In order, however, justly to consider the claims of virtue to
intrinsic value, it is necessary to distinguish several very different
mental states, all of which fall under the general definition that they
are habitual dispositions to perform duties. We may thus distinguish
three very different states, all of which are liable to be confused
with one another, upon each of which different moral systems have laid
great stress, and for each of which the claim has been made that it
alone constitutes virtue, and, by implication, that it is the sole
good. We may first of all distinguish between (_a_) that permanent
characteristic of mind, which consists in the fact that the performance
of duty has become in the strict sense a habit, like many of the
operations performed in the putting on of clothes, and (_b_) that
permanent characteristic, which consists in the fact that what may be
called good motives habitually help to cause the performance of duties.
And in the second division we may distinguish between the habitual
tendency to be actuated by one motive, namely, the desire to do duty
for duty’s sake, and all other motives, such as love, benevolence, etc.
We thus get the three kinds of virtue, of which we are now to consider
the intrinsic value.

(_a_) There is no doubt that a man’s character may be such that he
habitually performs certain duties, without the thought ever occurring
to him, when he wills them, either that they are duties or that any
good will result from them. Of such a man we cannot and do not refuse
to say that he possesses the virtue consisting in the disposition to
perform those duties. I, for instance, am honest in the sense that
I habitually abstain from any of the actions legally qualified as
thieving, even where some other persons would be strongly tempted to
commit them. It would be grossly contrary to common usage to deny
that, for this reason, I really have the virtue of honesty: it is
quite certain that I have an habitual disposition to perform a duty.
And that as many people as possible should have a like disposition
is, no doubt, of great utility: it is good as a means. Yet I may
safely assert that neither my various performances of this duty, nor
my disposition to perform them, have the smallest intrinsic value.
It is because the majority of instances of virtue seem to be of this
nature, that we may venture to assert that virtues have, in general,
no intrinsic value whatsoever. And there seems good reason to think
that the more generally they are of this nature the more useful they
are; since a great economy of labour is effected when a useful action
becomes habitual or instinctive. But to maintain that a virtue, which
includes no more than this, is good in itself is a gross absurdity. And
of this gross absurdity, it may be observed, the Ethics of Aristotle is
guilty. For his definition of virtue does not exclude a disposition to
perform actions in this way, whereas his descriptions of the particular
virtues plainly _include_ such actions: that an action, in order to
exhibit virtue, must be done τοῦ καλοῦ ἕνεκα is a qualification which
he allows often to drop out of sight. And, on the other hand, he seems
certainly to regard the exercise of _all_ virtues as an end in itself.
His treatment of Ethics is indeed, in the most important points, highly
unsystematic and confused, owing to his attempt to base it on the
naturalistic fallacy; for strictly we should be obliged by his words
to regard θεωρία as the _only_ thing good in itself, in which case
the goodness which he attributes to the practical virtues cannot be
intrinsic value; while on the other hand he does not seem to regard
it merely as utility, since he makes no attempt to shew that they are
means to θεωρία. But there seems no doubt that on the whole he regards
the exercise of the practical virtues as a good of the same kind as
(_i.e._ having intrinsic value), only in a less degree than, θεωρία; so
that he cannot avoid the charge that he recommends as having intrinsic
value, such instances of the exercise of virtue as we are at present
discussing--instances of a disposition to perform actions which, in
the modern phrase, have merely an ‘external rightness.’ That he is
right in applying the word ‘virtue’ to such a disposition cannot be
doubted. But the protest against the view that ‘external rightness’ is
sufficient to constitute either ‘duty’ or ‘virtue’--a protest which is
commonly, and with some justice, attributed as a merit to Christian
morals--seems, in the main, to be a mistaken way of pointing out an
important truth: namely, that where there is only ‘external rightness’
there is certainly no intrinsic value. It is commonly assumed (though
wrongly) that to call a thing a virtue means that it has intrinsic
value: and on this assumption the view that virtue does not consist
in a mere disposition to do externally right actions does really
constitute an advance in ethical truth beyond the Ethics of Aristotle.
The inference that, if virtue includes in its meaning ‘good in itself,’
then Aristotle’s definition of virtue is not adequate and expresses a
false ethical judgment, is perfectly correct: only the premiss that
virtue does include this in its meaning is mistaken.


=107.= (_b_) A man’s character may be such that, when he habitually
performs a particular duty, there is, in each case of his performance,
present in his mind, a love of some intrinsically good consequence
which he expects to produce by his action or a hatred of some
intrinsically evil consequence which he hopes to prevent by it. In
such a case this love or hatred will generally be part cause of his
action, and we may then call it one of his _motives_. Where such a
feeling as this is present habitually in the performance of duties, it
cannot be denied that the state of the man’s mind, in performing it,
contains something intrinsically good. Nor can it be denied that, where
a disposition to perform duties consists in the disposition to be moved
to them by such feelings, we call that disposition a virtue. Here,
therefore, we have instances of virtue, the exercise of which really
contains something that is good in itself. And, in general, we may say
that wherever a virtue does consist in a disposition to have certain
motives, the exercise of that virtue _may_ be intrinsically good;
although the degree of its goodness may vary indefinitely according to
the precise nature of the motives and their objects. In so far, then,
as Christianity tends to emphasize the importance of motives, of the
‘inward’ disposition with which a right action is done, we may say that
it has done a service to Ethics. But it should be noticed that, when
Christian Ethics, as represented by the New Testament, are praised for
this, two distinctions of the utmost importance, which they entirely
neglect, are very commonly overlooked. In the first place the New
Testament is largely occupied with continuing the tradition of the
Hebrew prophets, by recommending such virtues as ‘justice’ and ‘mercy’
as against mere ritual observances; and, in so far as it does this, it
is recommending virtues which may be _merely_ good as means, exactly
like the Aristotelian virtues. This characteristic of its teaching must
therefore be rigorously distinguished from that which consists in its
enforcement of such a view as that to be angry without a cause is as
bad as actually to commit murder. And, in the second place, though the
New Testament does praise some things which are only good as means, and
others which are good in themselves, it entirely fails to recognise
this distinction. Though the state of the man who is angry may be
really as bad in itself as that of the murderer, and so far Christ
may be right, His language would lead us to suppose that it is _also_
as bad in every way, that it _also causes_ as much evil: and this is
utterly false. In short, when Christian Ethics approves, it does not
distinguish whether its approval asserts ‘This is a means to good’ or
‘This is good in itself’; and hence it both praises things merely good
as means, as if they were good in themselves, and things merely good in
themselves as if they were also good as means. Moreover it should be
noticed, that if Christian Ethics does draw attention to those elements
in virtues which are good in themselves, it is by no means alone in
this. The Ethics of Plato are distinguished by upholding, far more
clearly and consistently than any other system, the view that intrinsic
value belongs exclusively to those states of mind which consist in love
of what is good or hatred of what is evil.


=108.= But (_c_) the Ethics of Christianity are distinguished from
those of Plato by emphasizing the value of one particular motive--that
which consists in the emotion excited by the idea, not of any
intrinsically good consequences of the action in question, nor even
of the action itself, but by that of its rightness. This idea of
abstract ‘rightness’ and the various degrees of the specific emotion
excited by it are what constitute the specifically ‘moral sentiment’ or
‘conscience.’ An action seems to be most properly termed ‘internally
right[23],’ solely in virtue of the fact that the agent has previously
regarded it as right: the idea of ‘rightness’ must have been present
to his mind, but need not necessarily have been among his motives. And
we mean by a ‘conscientious’ man, one who, when he deliberates, always
has this idea in his mind, and does not act until he believes that his
action is right.

  [23] This sense of the term must be carefully distinguished from
  that in which the agent’s intention may be said to be ‘right,’ if
  only the results he intended would have been the best possible.

The presence of this idea and its action as a motive certainly seem
to have become more common objects of notice and commendation owing
to the influence of Christianity; but it is important to observe
that there is no ground for the view, which Kant implies, that it is
the _only_ motive which the New Testament regards as intrinsically
valuable. There seems little doubt that when Christ tells us to ‘Love
our neighbours as ourselves,’ He did not mean merely what Kant calls
‘practical love‘--beneficence of which the _sole_ motive is the idea of
its rightness, or the emotion caused by that idea. Among the ‘inward
dispositions’ of which the New Testament inculcates the value, there
are certainly included what Kant terms mere ‘natural inclinations,’
such as pity, etc.

But what are we to say of virtue, when it consists in a disposition to
be moved to the performance of duties by this idea? It seems difficult
to deny that the emotion excited by rightness as such has some
intrinsic value; and still more difficult to deny that its presence
may heighten the value of some wholes into which it enters. But, on
the other hand, it certainly has not more value than many of the
motives treated in our last section--emotions of love towards things
really good in themselves. And as for Kant’s implication that it is
the sole good[24], this is inconsistent with other of his own views.
For he certainly regards it as _better_ to perform the actions, to
which he maintains that it prompts us--namely, ‘material’ duties--than
to omit them. But, if better at all, then, these actions must be
better either in themselves or as a means. The former hypothesis would
directly contradict the statement that this motive was _sole_ good,
and the latter is excluded by Kant himself since he maintains that
no actions can _cause_ the existence of this motive. And it may also
be observed that the other claim which he makes for it, namely, that
it is _always_ good as a means, can also not be maintained. It is as
certain as anything can be that very harmful actions may be done from
conscientious motives; and that Conscience does not always tell us the
truth about what actions are right. Nor can it be maintained even that
it is _more_ useful than many other motives. All that can be admitted
is that it is one of the things which are generally useful.

  [24] Kant, so far as I know, never expressly states this view,
  but it is implied _e.g._ in his argument against Heteronomy.

What more I have to say with regard to those elements in some virtues
which are good in themselves, and with regard to their relative degrees
of excellence, as well as the proof that all of them together cannot be
the sole good, may be deferred to the next chapter.


=109.= The main points in this chapter, to which I desire to direct
attention, may be summarised as follows:--(1) I first pointed out how
the subject-matter with which it deals, namely, ethical judgments
on conduct, involves a question, utterly different in kind from the
two previously discussed, namely: (_a_) What is the nature of the
predicate peculiar to Ethics? and (_b_) What kinds of things themselves
possess this predicate? Practical Ethics asks, not ‘What ought to be?’
but ‘What ought we to do?’; it asks what actions are _duties_, what
actions are _right_, and what _wrong_: and all these questions can
only be answered by shewing the relation of the actions in question,
as _causes_ or _necessary conditions_, to what is good in itself. The
enquiries of Practical Ethics thus fall entirely under the _third_
division of ethical questions--questions which ask, ‘What is good as
a means?’ which is equivalent to ‘What is a means to good--what is
cause or necessary condition of things good in themselves?’ (86-88).
But (2) it asks this question, almost exclusively, with regard to
actions which it is possible for most men to perform, if only they
_will_ them; and with regard to these, it does not ask merely, which
among them will have _some_ good or bad result, but which, among all
the actions possible to volition at any moment, will produce the best
_total_ result. To assert that an action is a duty, is to assert that
it is such a possible action, which will _always_, in certain known
circumstances, produce better results than any other. It follows that
universal propositions of which duty is predicate, so far from being
self-evident, always require a proof, which it is beyond our present
means of knowledge ever to give (89-92). But (3) all that Ethics has
attempted or can attempt, is to shew that certain actions, possible by
volition, _generally_ produce better or worse total results than any
probable alternative: and it must obviously be very difficult to shew
this with regard to the total results even in a comparatively near
future; whereas that what has the best results in such a near future,
also has the best on the whole, is a point requiring an investigation
which it has not received. If it is true, and if, accordingly, we give
the name of ‘duty’ to actions which _generally_ produce better total
results in the near future than any possible alternative, it may be
possible to prove that a few of the commonest rules of duty are true,
but _only_ in certain conditions of society, which may be more or less
universally presented in history; and such a proof is only possible
_in some cases_ without a correct judgment of what things are good
or bad in themselves--a judgment which has never yet been offered by
ethical writers. With regard to actions of which the _general_ utility
is thus proved, the individual should _always_ perform them; but in
other cases, where rules are commonly offered, he should rather judge
of the probable results in his particular case, guided by a correct
conception of what things are intrinsically good or bad (93-100).
(4) In order that any action may be shewn to be a duty, it must be
shewn to fulfil the above conditions; but the actions commonly called
‘duties’ do not fulfil them to any greater extent than ‘expedient’
or ‘interested’ actions: by calling them ‘duties’ we only mean that
they have, _in addition_, certain non-ethical predicates. Similarly by
‘virtue’ is mainly meant a permanent disposition to perform ‘duties’
in this restricted sense: and accordingly a virtue, if it is really
a virtue, must be good _as a means_, in the sense that it fulfils the
above conditions; but it is not _better_ as a means than non-virtuous
dispositions; it generally has no value in itself; and, where it has,
it is far from being the sole good or the best of goods. Accordingly
‘virtue’ is not, as is commonly implied, an unique _ethical_ predicate
(101-109).



CHAPTER VI.

THE IDEAL.


=110.= The title of this chapter is ambiguous. When we call a state of
things ‘ideal’ we may mean three distinct things, which have only this
in common: that we always do mean to assert, of the state of things in
question, not only that it is good in itself, but that it is good in
itself in a much higher degree than many other things. The first of
these meanings of ‘ideal’ is (1) that to which the phrase ‘_The_ Ideal’
is most properly confined. By this is meant the _best_ state of things
_conceivable_, the Summum Bonum or Absolute Good. It is in this sense
that a right conception of Heaven would be a right conception of the
Ideal: we mean by the Ideal a state of things which would be absolutely
perfect. But this conception may be quite clearly distinguished from a
second, namely, (2) that of the best _possible_ state of things in this
world. This second conception may be identified with that which has
frequently figured in philosophy as the ‘Human Good,’ or the _ultimate_
end towards which our action should be directed. It is in this sense
that Utopias are said to be Ideals. The constructor of an Utopia may
suppose many things to be possible, which are in fact impossible; but
he always assumes that some things, at least, are rendered impossible
by natural laws, and hence his construction differs essentially
from one which may disregard _all_ natural laws, however certainly
established. At all events the question ‘What is the best state of
things which we could _possibly_ bring about?’ is quite distinct from
the question ‘What would be the best state of things conceivable?’
But, thirdly, we may mean by calling a state of things ‘ideal’ merely
(3) that it is good in itself in a high degree. And it is obvious that
the question what things are ‘ideal’ in this sense is one which must
be answered before we can pretend to settle what is the Absolute or
the Human Good. It is with the Ideal, in this third sense, that this
chapter will be principally concerned. Its main object is to arrive
at some positive answer to the fundamental question of Ethics--the
question: ‘What things are goods or ends in themselves?’ To this
question we have hitherto obtained only a negative answer: the answer
that pleasure is certainly not the _sole_ good.


=111.= I have just said that it is upon a correct answer to this
question that correct answers to the two other questions, What is the
Absolute Good? and What is the Human Good? must depend; and, before
proceeding to discuss it, it may be well to point out the relation
which it has to these two questions.

(1) It is just possible that the Absolute Good may be entirely
composed of qualities which we cannot even imagine. This is possible,
because, though we certainly do know a great many things that are
good-in-themselves, and good in a high degree, yet what is best does
not necessarily contain all the good things there are. That this is so
follows from the principle explained in Chap. I. (§§ 18-22), to which
it was there proposed that the name ‘principle of organic unities’
should be confined. This principle is that the intrinsic value of a
whole is neither identical with nor proportional to the sum of the
values of its parts. It follows from this that, though in order to
obtain the greatest possible sum of values in its parts, the Ideal
would necessarily contain all the things which have intrinsic value in
any degree, yet the whole which contained all these parts might not be
so valuable as some other whole, from which certain positive goods were
omitted. But if a whole, which does not contain all positive goods, may
yet be better than a whole which does, it follows that the best whole
_may_ be one, which contains _none_ of the positive goods with which we
are acquainted.

It is, therefore, _possible_ that we cannot discover what the Ideal
is. But it is plain that, though this possibility cannot be denied,
no one can have any right to assert that it is realised--that the
Ideal _is_ something unimaginable. We cannot judge of the comparative
values of things, unless the things we judge are before our minds. We
cannot, therefore, be entitled to assert that anything, which we cannot
imagine, would be better than some of the things which we can; although
we are also not entitled to deny the possibility that this may be the
case. Consequently our search for the Ideal must be limited to a search
for that one, among all the wholes composed of elements known to us,
which seems to be better than all the rest. We shall never be entitled
to assert that this whole is Perfection, but we shall be entitled to
assert that it is _better_ than any other which may be presented as a
rival.

But, since anything which we can have any _reason_ to think ideal
must be composed of things that are known to us, it is plain that
a comparative valuation of these must be our chief instrument
for deciding what is ideal. The best ideal we can construct will
be that state of things which contains the greatest number of
things having positive value, and which contains nothing evil or
indifferent--_provided_ that the presence of none of these goods,
or the absence of things evil or indifferent, seems to diminish the
value of the whole. And, in fact, the chief defect of such attempts as
have been made by philosophers to construct an Ideal--to describe the
Kingdom of Heaven--seems to consist in the fact that they omit many
things of very great positive value, although it is plain that this
omission does _not_ enhance the value of the whole. Where this is the
case, it may be confidently asserted that the ideal proposed is not
ideal. And the review of positive goods, which I am about to undertake,
will, I hope, shew that no ideals yet proposed are satisfactory. Great
positive goods, it will appear, are so numerous, that any whole,
which shall contain them all, must be of vast complexity. And though
this fact renders it difficult, or, humanly speaking, impossible, to
decide what is The Ideal, what is the absolutely best state of things
imaginable, it is sufficient to condemn those Ideals, which are formed
by omission, without any visible gain in consequence of such omission.
Philosophers seem usually to have sought only for the _best_ of single
things; neglecting the fact that a whole composed of two great goods,
even though one of these be obviously inferior to the other, may yet be
often seen to be decidedly superior to either by itself.

(2) On the other hand, Utopias--attempted descriptions of a Heaven
upon Earth--commonly suffer not only from this, but also from the
opposite defect. They are commonly constructed on the principle of
merely omitting the great positive evils, which exist at present, with
utterly inadequate regard to the goodness of what they retain: the
so-called goods, to which they have regard, are, for the most part,
things which are, at best, mere means to good--things, such as freedom,
_without_ which, possibly, nothing very good can exist in this world,
but which are of no value in themselves and are by no means certain
even to produce anything of value. It is, of course, necessary to the
purpose of their authors, whose object is merely to construct the
best that may be possible in this world, that they should include,
in the state of things which they describe, many things, which are
themselves indifferent, but which, according to natural laws, seem
to be absolutely necessary for the existence of anything which is
good. But, in fact, they are apt to include many things, of which
the necessity is by no means apparent, under the mistaken idea that
these things are goods-in-themselves, and not merely, here and now,
a means to good: while, on the other hand, they also omit from their
description great positive goods, of which the attainment seems to be
quite as possible as many of the changes which they recommend. That
is to say, conceptions of the Human Good commonly err, not only, like
those of the Absolute Good, in omitting some great goods, but also by
including things indifferent; and they both omit and include in cases
where the limitations of natural necessity, by the consideration of
which they are legitimately differentiated from conceptions of the
Absolute Good, will not justify the omission and inclusion. It is, in
fact, obvious that in order to decide correctly at what state of things
we ought to aim, we must not only consider what results it is possible
for us to obtain, but also which, among equally possible results, will
have the greatest value. And upon this second enquiry the comparative
valuation of known goods has a no less important bearing than upon the
investigation of the Absolute Good.


=112.= The method which must be employed in order to decide the
question ‘What things have intrinsic value, and in what degrees?’
has already been explained in Chap. III. (§§ 55, 57). In order to
arrive at a correct decision on the first part of this question, it is
necessary to consider what things are such that, if they existed _by
themselves_, in absolute isolation, we should yet judge their existence
to be good; and, in order to decide upon the relative _degrees_ of
value of different things, we must similarly consider what comparative
value seems to attach to the isolated existence of each. By employing
this method, we shall guard against two errors, which seem to have
been the chief causes which have vitiated previous conclusions on the
subject. The first of these is (1) that which consists in supposing
that what seems absolutely necessary here and now, for the existence of
anything good--what we cannot do without--is therefore good in itself.
If we isolate such things, which are mere means to good, and suppose
a world in which they alone, and nothing but they, existed, their
intrinsic worthlessness becomes apparent. And, secondly, there is the
more subtle error (2) which consists in neglecting the principle of
organic unities. This error is committed, when it is supposed, that,
if one part of a whole has no intrinsic value, the value of the whole
must reside entirely in the other parts. It has, in this way, been
commonly supposed, that, if all valuable wholes could be seen to have
one and only one common property, the wholes must be valuable solely
_because_ they possess this property; and the illusion is greatly
strengthened, if the common property in question seems, considered
by itself, to have more value than the other parts of such wholes,
considered by themselves. But, if we consider the property in question,
_in isolation_, and then compare it with the whole, of which it forms
a part, it may become easily apparent that, existing by itself, the
property in question has not nearly so much value, as has the whole to
which it belongs. Thus, if we compare the value of a certain amount of
pleasure, _existing absolutely by itself_, with the value of certain
‘enjoyments,’ containing an equal amount of pleasure, it may become
apparent that the ‘enjoyment’ is much better than the pleasure, and
also, in some cases, much worse. In such a case it is plain that the
‘enjoyment’ does _not_ owe its value _solely_ to the pleasure it
contains, although it might easily have appeared to do so, when we
only considered the other constituents of the enjoyment, and seemed
to see that, without the pleasure, they would have had no value. It
is now apparent, on the contrary, that the whole ‘enjoyment’ owes its
value quite equally to the presence of the other constituents, _even
though_ it may be true that the pleasure is the only constituent having
any value by itself. And similarly, if we are told that all things
owe their value solely to the fact that they are ‘realisations of the
true self,’ we may easily refute this statement, by asking whether the
predicate that is meant by ‘realising the true self,’ supposing that it
could exist alone, would have any value whatsoever. Either the _thing_,
which does ‘realise the true self,’ has intrinsic value or it has not;
and if it has, then it certainly does not owe its value solely to the
fact that it realises the true self.


=113.= If, now, we use this method of absolute isolation, and guard
against these errors, it appears that the question we have to answer
is far less difficult than the controversies of Ethics might have led
us to expect. Indeed, once the meaning of the question is clearly
understood, the answer to it, in its main outlines, appears to be so
obvious, that it runs the risk of seeming to be a platitude. By far the
most valuable things, which we know or can imagine, are certain states
of consciousness, which may be roughly described as the pleasures of
human intercourse and the enjoyment of beautiful objects. No one,
probably, who has asked himself the question, has ever doubted that
personal affection and the appreciation of what is beautiful in Art
or Nature, are good in themselves; nor, if we consider strictly what
things are worth having _purely for their own sakes_, does it appear
probable that any one will think that anything else has _nearly_ so
great a value as the things which are included under these two heads.
I have myself urged in Chap. III. (§ 50) that the mere existence of
what is beautiful does appear to have _some_ intrinsic value; but I
regard it as indubitable that Prof. Sidgwick was so far right, in the
view there discussed, that such mere existence of what is beautiful
has value, so small as to be negligible, in comparison with that which
attaches to the _consciousness_ of beauty. This simple truth may,
indeed, be said to be universally recognised. What has _not_ been
recognised is that it is the ultimate and fundamental truth of Moral
Philosophy. That it is only for the sake of these things--in order that
as much of them as possible may at some time exist--that any one can
be justified in performing any public or private duty; that they are
the _raison d’être_ of virtue; that it is they--these complex wholes
_themselves_, and not any constituent or characteristic of them--that
form the rational ultimate end of human action and the sole criterion
of social progress: these appear to be truths which have been generally
overlooked.

That they are truths--that personal affections and aesthetic enjoyments
include _all_ the greatest, and _by far_ the greatest, goods we can
imagine, will, I hope, appear more plainly in the course of that
analysis of them, to which I shall now proceed. All the things, which I
have meant to include under the above descriptions, are highly complex
_organic unities_; and in discussing the consequences, which follow
from this fact, and the elements of which they are composed, I may hope
at the same time both to confirm and to define my position.


=114.= I. I propose to begin by examining what I have called aesthetic
enjoyments, since the case of personal affections presents some
additional complications. It is, I think, universally admitted that the
proper appreciation of a beautiful object is a good thing in itself;
and my question is: What are the main elements included in such an
appreciation?

(1) It is plain that in those instances of aesthetic appreciation,
which we think most valuable, there is included, not merely a bare
cognition of what is beautiful in the object, but also some kind of
feeling or emotion. It is not sufficient that a man should merely see
the beautiful qualities in a picture and know that they are beautiful,
in order that we may give his state of mind the highest praise. We
require that he should also _appreciate_ the beauty of that which he
sees and which he knows to be beautiful--that he should feel and see
_its beauty_. And by these expressions we certainly mean that he should
have an appropriate emotion towards the beautiful qualities which he
cognises. It is perhaps the case that all aesthetic emotions have some
common quality; but it is certain that differences in the emotion seem
to be appropriate to differences in the kind of beauty perceived: and
by saying that different emotions are _appropriate_ to different kinds
of beauty, we mean that the whole which is formed by the consciousness
of that kind of beauty _together with_ the emotion appropriate to it,
is better than if any other emotion had been felt in contemplating that
particular beautiful object. Accordingly we have a large variety of
different emotions, each of which is a necessary constituent in some
state of consciousness which we judge to be good. All of these emotions
are essential elements in great positive goods; they are _parts_ of
organic wholes, which have great intrinsic value. But it is important
to observe that these wholes are organic, and that, hence, it does not
follow that the emotion, _by itself_, would have any value whatsoever,
nor yet that, if it were directed to a different object, the whole thus
formed might not be positively bad. And, in fact, it seems to be the
case that if we distinguish the emotional element, in any aesthetic
appreciation, from the cognitive element, which accompanies it and
is, in fact, commonly thought of as a part of the emotion; and if
we consider what value this emotional element would have, _existing
by itself_, we can hardly think that it has any great value, even
if it has any at all. Whereas, if the same emotion be directed to a
different object, if, for instance, it is felt towards an object that
is positively ugly, the whole state of consciousness is certainly often
positively bad in a high degree.


=115.= (2) In the last paragraph I have pointed out the two facts,
that the presence of some emotion is necessary to give any very high
value to a state of aesthetic appreciation, and that, on the other
hand, this same emotion, in itself, may have little or no value: it
follows that these emotions give to the wholes of which they form a
part a value far greater than that which they themselves possess.
The same is obviously true of the cognitive element which must be
combined with these emotions in order to form these highly valuable
wholes; and the present paragraph will attempt to define what is meant
by this cognitive element, so far as to guard against a possible
misunderstanding. When we talk of seeing a beautiful object, or, more
generally, of the cognition or consciousness of a beautiful object,
we may mean by these expressions something which forms no part of
any valuable whole. There is an ambiguity in the use of the term
‘object,’ which has probably been responsible for as many enormous
errors in philosophy and psychology as any other single cause. This
ambiguity may easily be detected by considering the proposition, which,
though a contradiction in terms, is obviously true: That when a man
sees a beautiful picture, he may see nothing beautiful whatever. The
ambiguity consists in the fact that, by the ‘object’ of vision (or
cognition), may be meant _either_ the qualities actually seen _or_ all
the qualities possessed by the thing seen. Thus in our case: when it
is said that the picture is beautiful, it is meant that it contains
qualities which are beautiful; when it is said that the man sees the
picture, it is meant that he sees a great number of the qualities
contained in the picture; and when it is said that, nevertheless,
he sees nothing beautiful, it is meant that he does _not_ see those
qualities of the picture which are beautiful. When, therefore, I speak
of the cognition of a beautiful object, as an essential element in a
valuable aesthetic appreciation, I must be understood to mean only the
cognition of _the beautiful qualities_ possessed by that object, and
_not_ the cognition of other qualities of the object possessing them.
And this distinction must itself be carefully distinguished from the
other distinction expressed above by the distinct terms ‘seeing the
beauty of a thing’ and ‘seeing its beautiful qualities.’ By ‘seeing
the beauty of a thing’ we commonly mean the having an emotion towards
its beautiful qualities; whereas in the ‘seeing of its beautiful
qualities’ we do not include any emotion. By the cognitive element,
which is equally necessary with emotion to the existence of a valuable
appreciation, I mean merely the actual cognition or consciousness of
any or all of an object’s _beautiful qualities_--that is to say any or
all of those elements in the object which possess any positive beauty.
That such a cognitive element is essential to a valuable whole may be
easily seen, by asking: What value should we attribute to the proper
emotion excited by hearing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, if that emotion
were entirely unaccompanied by any consciousness, either of the notes,
or of the melodic and harmonic relations between them? And that the
mere _hearing_ of the Symphony, even accompanied by the appropriate
emotion, is not sufficient, may be easily seen, if we consider what
would be the state of a man, who should hear all the notes, but should
_not_ be aware of any of those melodic and harmonic relations, which
are necessary to constitute the smallest beautiful elements in the
Symphony.


=116.= (3) Connected with the distinction just made between ‘object’
in the sense of the qualities actually before the mind, and ‘object’
in the sense of the whole thing which possesses the qualities actually
before the mind, is another distinction of the utmost importance for
a correct analysis of the constituents necessary to a valuable whole.
It is commonly and rightly thought that to see beauty in a thing which
has no beauty is in some way inferior to seeing beauty in that which
really has it. But under this single description of ‘seeing beauty
in that which has no beauty,’ two very different facts, and facts
of very different value, may be included. We may mean _either_ the
attribution to an object of really beautiful qualities which it does
not possess _or_ the feeling towards qualities, which the object does
possess but which are in reality not beautiful, an emotion which is
appropriate only to qualities really beautiful. Both these facts are
of very frequent occurrence; and in most instances of emotion both
no doubt occur together: but they are obviously quite distinct, and
the distinction is of the utmost importance for a correct estimate of
values. The former may be called an error of judgment, and the latter
an error of taste; but it is important to observe that the ‘error
of taste’ commonly involves a false judgment _of value_; whereas the
‘error of judgment’ is merely a false judgment _of fact_.

Now the case which I have called an error of taste, namely, where the
actual qualities we admire (whether possessed by the ‘object’ or not)
are ugly, can in any case have no value, except such as may belong
to the emotion _by itself_; and in most, if not in all, cases it is
a considerable positive evil. In this sense, then, it is undoubtedly
right to think that seeing beauty in a thing which has no beauty is
inferior in value to seeing beauty where beauty really is. But the
other case is much more difficult. In this case there is present all
that I have hitherto mentioned as necessary to constitute a great
positive good: there is a cognition of qualities really beautiful,
together with an appropriate emotion towards these qualities. There
can, therefore, be no doubt that we have here a great positive good.
But there is present also something else; namely, a belief that these
beautiful qualities exist, and that they exist in a certain relation
to other things--namely, to some properties of the object to which
we attribute these qualities: and further the object of this belief
is false. And we may ask, with regard to the whole thus constituted,
whether the presence of the belief, and the fact that what is believed
is false, make any difference to its value? We thus get three different
cases of which it is very important to determine the relative values.
Where both the cognition of beautiful qualities and the appropriate
emotion are present we may _also_ have either, (1) a belief in the
existence of these qualities, of which the object, _i.e._ that they
exist, is true: or (2) a mere cognition, without belief, when it is
(_a_) true, (_b_) false, that the object of the cognition, _i.e._ the
beautiful qualities, exists: or (3) a belief in the existence of the
beautiful qualities, when they do not exist. The importance of these
cases arises from the fact that the second defines the pleasures of
imagination, including a great part of the appreciation of those
works of art which are _representative_; whereas the first contrasts
with these the appreciation of what is beautiful in Nature, and the
human affections. The third, on the other hand, is contrasted with
both, in that it is chiefly exemplified in what is called misdirected
affection; and it is possible also that the love of God, in the case of
a believer, should fall under this head.


=117.= Now all these three cases, as I have said, have something in
common, namely, that, in them all, we have a cognition of really
beautiful qualities together with an appropriate emotion towards
those qualities. I think, therefore, it cannot be doubted (nor is it
commonly doubted) that all three include great positive goods; they
are all things of which we feel convinced that they are worth having
for their own sakes. And I think that the value of the second, in
either of its two subdivisions, is precisely the same as the value
of the element common to all three. In other words, in the case of
purely imaginative appreciations we have merely the cognition of really
beautiful qualities together with the appropriate emotion; and the
question, whether the object cognised exists or not, seems here, where
there is no belief either in its existence or in its non-existence, to
make absolutely no difference to the value of the total state. But it
seems to me that the two other cases do differ in intrinsic value both
from this one and from one another, even though the object cognised and
the appropriate emotion should be identical in all three cases. I think
that the additional presence of a belief in the reality of the object
makes the total state much better, if the belief is true; and worse,
if the belief is false. In short, where there is belief, in the sense
in which we _do_ believe in the existence of Nature and horses, and do
_not_ believe in the existence of an ideal landscape and unicorns, the
_truth_ of what is believed does make a great difference to the value
of the organic whole. If this be the case, we shall have vindicated
the belief that _knowledge_, in the ordinary sense, as distinguished
on the one hand from belief in what is false and on the other from
the mere awareness of what is true, does contribute towards intrinsic
value--that, at least in some cases, its presence as a part makes a
whole more valuable than it could have been without.

Now I think there can be no doubt that we do judge that there is
a difference of value, such as I have indicated, between the three
cases in question. We do think that the emotional contemplation of a
natural scene, supposing its qualities equally beautiful, is in some
way a better state of things than that of a painted landscape: we
think that the world would be improved if we could substitute for the
best works of representative art _real_ objects equally beautiful. And
similarly we regard a misdirected affection or admiration, even where
the error involved is a mere error of judgment and not an error of
taste, as in some way unfortunate. And further, those, at least, who
have a strong respect for truth, are inclined to think that a merely
poetical contemplation of the Kingdom of Heaven _would_ be superior
to that of the religious believer, _if_ it were the case that the
Kingdom of Heaven does not and will not really exist. Most persons,
on a sober, reflective judgment, would feel some hesitation even in
preferring the felicity of a madman, convinced that the world was
ideal, to the condition either of a poet imagining an ideal world, or
of themselves enjoying and appreciating the lesser goods which do and
will exist: But, in order to assure ourselves that these judgments are
really judgments of intrinsic value upon the question before us, and
to satisfy ourselves that they are correct, it is necessary clearly to
distinguish our question from two others which have a very important
bearing upon our total judgment of the cases in question.


=118.= In the first place (_a_) it is plain that, where we believe, the
question whether what we believe is true or false, will generally have
a most important bearing upon the value of our belief _as a means_.
Where we believe, we are apt to act upon our belief, in a way in which
we do not act upon our cognition of the events in a novel. The truth
of what we believe is, therefore, very important as preventing the
pains of disappointment and still more serious consequences. And it
might be thought that a misdirected attachment was unfortunate solely
for this reason: that it leads us to count upon results, which the
real nature of its object is not of a kind to ensure. So too the Love
of God, where, as usual, it includes the belief that he will annex to
certain actions consequences, either in this life or the next, which
the course of nature gives no reason to expect, may lead the believer
to perform actions of which the actual consequences, supposing no
such God to exist, may be much worse than he might otherwise have
effected: and it might be thought that this was the sole reason (as it
is a sufficient one) why we should hesitate to encourage the Love of
God, in the absence of any proof that he exists. And similarly it may
be thought that the only reason why beauty in Nature should be held
superior to an equally beautiful landscape or imagination, is that
its existence would ensure greater permanence and frequency in our
emotional contemplation of that beauty. It is, indeed, certain that
the chief importance of most _knowledge_--of the truth of most of the
things which we believe--does, in this world, consist in its extrinsic
advantages: it is immensely valuable _as a means_.

And secondly, (_b_) it may be the case that the existence of that which
we contemplate is itself a great positive good, so that, for this
reason alone, the state of things described by saying, that the object
of our emotion really exists, would be intrinsically superior to that
in which it did not. This reason for superiority is undoubtedly of
great importance in the case of human affections, where the object of
our admiration is the mental qualities of an admirable person; for that
_two_ such admirable persons should exist is greatly better than that
there should be only one: and it would also discriminate the admiration
of inanimate nature from that of its representations in art, in so far
as we may allow a small intrinsic value to the existence of a beautiful
object, apart from any contemplation of it. But it is to be noticed
that this reason would not account for any difference in value between
the cases where the truth was believed and that in which it was merely
cognised, without either belief or disbelief. In other words, so far
as this reason goes, the difference between the two subdivisions of
our second class (that of imaginative contemplation) would be as great
as between our first class and the second subdivision of our second.
The superiority of the mere _cognition_ of a beautiful object, when
that object also happened to exist, over the same cognition when the
object did not exist, would, on this count, be as great as that of the
_knowledge_ of a beautiful object over the mere imagination of it.


=119.= These two reasons for discriminating between the value of the
three cases we are considering, must, I say, be carefully distinguished
from that, of which I am now questioning the validity, if we are to
obtain a correct answer concerning this latter. The question I am
putting is this: Whether the _whole_ constituted by the fact that
there is an emotional contemplation of a beautiful object, which
both is believed to be and is _real_, does not derive some of its
value from the fact that the object _is_ real? I am asking whether
the value of this whole, _as a whole_, is not greater than that of
those which differ from it, _either_ by the absence of belief, with
or without truth, _or_, belief being present, by the mere absence of
truth? I am not asking _either_ whether it is not superior to them as
a means (which it certainly is), _nor_ whether it may not contain a
more valuable _part_, namely, the existence of the object in question.
My question is solely whether the existence of its object does not
constitute an addition to the value of the whole, quite distinct from
the addition constituted by the fact that this whole does contain a
valuable part.

If, now, we put this question, I cannot avoid thinking that it should
receive an affirmative answer. We can put it clearly by the method of
isolation; and the sole decision must rest with our reflective judgment
upon it, as thus clearly put. We can guard against the bias produced
by a consideration of value _as a means_ by supposing the case of an
illusion as complete and permanent as illusions in this world never can
be. We can imagine the case of a single person, enjoying throughout
eternity the contemplation of scenery as beautiful, and intercourse
with persons as admirable, as can be imagined; while yet the whole of
the objects of his cognition are absolutely unreal. I think we should
definitely pronounce the existence of a universe, which consisted
solely of such a person, to be _greatly_ inferior in value to one in
which the objects, in the existence of which he believes, did really
exist just as he believes them to do; and that it would be thus
inferior _not only_ because it would lack the goods which consist in
the existence of the objects in question, but _also_ merely because
his belief would be false. That it would be inferior _for this reason
alone_ follows if we admit, what also appears to me certain, that the
case of a person, merely imagining, without believing, the beautiful
objects in question, would, _although these objects really existed_,
be yet inferior to that of the person who also believed in their
existence. For here all the additional good, which consists in the
existence of the objects, is present, and yet there still seems to be
a great difference in value between this case and that in which their
existence is believed. But I think that my conclusion may perhaps be
exhibited in a more convincing light by the following considerations.
(1) It does not seem to me that the small degree of value which we may
allow to the existence of beautiful inanimate objects is nearly equal
in amount to the difference which I feel that there is between the
appreciation (accompanied by belief) of such objects, when they really
exist, and the purely imaginative appreciation of them when they do not
exist. This inequality is more difficult to verify where the object
is an admirable person, since a _great_ value must be allowed to his
existence. But yet I think it is not paradoxical to maintain that the
superiority of reciprocal affection, where both objects are worthy and
both exist, over an unreciprocated affection, where both are worthy
but one does not exist, does not lie solely in the fact that, in the
former case, we have two good things instead of one, but also in the
fact that each is such as the other believes him to be. (2) It seems to
me that the important contribution to value made by true belief may be
very plainly seen in the following case. Suppose that a worthy object
of affection does really exist and is believed to do so, but that there
enters into the case this error of fact, that the qualities loved,
though exactly like, are yet not the _same_ which really do exist.
This state of things is easily imagined, and I think we cannot avoid
pronouncing that, _although_ both persons here exist, it is yet not so
satisfactory as where the very person loved and believed to exist is
also the one which actually does exist.


=120.= If all this be so, we have, in this third section, added to our
two former results the third result that a true belief in the reality
of an object greatly increases the value of many valuable wholes.
Just as in sections (1) and (2) it was maintained that aesthetic and
affectionate emotions had little or no value apart from the cognition
of appropriate objects, and that the cognition of these objects had
little or no value apart from the appropriate emotion, so that the
whole, in which both were combined, had a value greatly in excess of
the sum of the values of its parts; so, according to this section, if
there be added to these wholes a true belief in the reality of the
object, the new whole thus formed has a value greatly in excess of the
sum obtained by adding the value of the true belief, considered in
itself, to that of our original wholes. This new case only differs from
the former in this, that, whereas the true belief, by itself, has quite
as little value as either of the two other constituents taken singly,
yet they, taken together, seem to form a whole of very great value,
whereas this is not the case with the two wholes which might be formed
by adding the true belief to either of the others.

The importance of the result of this section seems to lie mainly in two
of its consequences. (1) That it affords some justification for the
immense intrinsic value, which seems to be commonly attributed to the
mere _knowledge_ of some truths, and which was expressly attributed
to some kinds of knowledge by Plato and Aristotle. Perfect knowledge
has indeed competed with perfect love for the position of Ideal. If
the results of this section are correct, it appears that knowledge,
though having little or no value by itself, is an absolutely essential
constituent in the highest goods, and contributes immensely to their
value. And it appears that this function may be performed not only
by that case of knowledge, which we have chiefly considered, namely,
knowledge of the reality of the beautiful object cognised, but also
by knowledge of the numerical identity of this object with that which
really exists, and by the knowledge that the existence of that object
is truly good. Indeed all knowledge, which is directly concerned with
the nature of the constituents of a beautiful object, would seem
capable of adding greatly to the value of the contemplation of that
object, although, by itself, such knowledge would have no value at
all.--And (2) The second important consequence, which follows from
this section, is that the presence of true belief may, in spite of a
great inferiority in the value of the emotion and the beauty of its
object, constitute with them a whole equal or superior in value to
wholes, in which the emotion and beauty are superior, but in which a
true belief is wanting or a false belief present. In this way we may
justify the attribution of equal or superior value to an appreciation
of an inferior real object, as compared with the appreciation of a
greatly superior object which is a mere creature of the imagination.
Thus a just appreciation of nature and of real persons may maintain its
equality with an equally just appreciation of the products of artistic
imagination, in spite of much greater beauty in the latter. And
similarly though God may be admitted to be a more perfect object than
any actual human being, the love of God may yet be inferior to human
love, _if_ God does not exist.


=121.= (4) In order to complete the discussion of this first class
of goods--goods which have an essential reference to _beautiful_
objects--it would be necessary to attempt a classification and
comparative valuation of all the different forms of beauty, a task
which properly belongs to the study called Aesthetics. I do not,
however, propose to attempt any part of this task. It must only be
understood that I intend to include among the essential constituents of
the goods I have been discussing, every form and variety of beautiful
object, if only it be truly beautiful; and, _if_ this be understood,
I think it may be seen that the consensus of opinion with regard to
what is positively beautiful and what is positively ugly, and even with
regard to great differences in degree of beauty, is quite sufficient to
allow us a hope that we need not greatly err in our judgments of good
and evil. In anything which is thought beautiful by any considerable
number of persons, there is probably _some_ beautiful quality; and
differences of opinion seem to be far more often due to exclusive
attention, on the part of different persons, to different qualities
in the same object, than to the positive error of supposing a quality
that is ugly to be really beautiful. When an object, which some think
beautiful, is denied to be so by others, the truth is _usually_ that it
lacks some beautiful quality or is deformed by some ugly one, which
engage the exclusive attention of the critics.

I may, however, state two general principles, closely connected with
the results of this chapter, the recognition of which would seem to
be of great importance for the investigation of what things are truly
beautiful. The first of these is (1) a definition of beauty, of what
is meant by saying that a thing is truly beautiful. The naturalistic
fallacy has been quite as commonly committed with regard to beauty
as with regard to good: its use has introduced as many errors into
Aesthetics as into Ethics. It has been even more commonly supposed that
the beautiful may be _defined_ as that which produces certain effects
upon our feelings; and the conclusion which follows from this--namely,
that judgments of taste are merely _subjective_--that precisely the
same thing may, according to circumstances, be _both_ beautiful _and_
not beautiful--has very frequently been drawn. The conclusions of this
chapter suggest a definition of beauty, which may partially explain
and entirely remove the difficulties which have led to this error. It
appears probable that the beautiful should be _defined_ as that of
which the admiring contemplation is good in itself. That is to say: To
assert that a thing is beautiful is to assert that the cognition of it
is an essential element in one of the intrinsically valuable wholes
we have been discussing; so that the question, whether it is _truly_
beautiful or not, depends upon the _objective_ question whether the
whole in question is or is not truly good, and does not depend upon
the question whether it would or would not excite particular feelings
in particular persons. This definition has the double recommendation
that it accounts both for the apparent connection between goodness
and beauty and for the no less apparent difference between these two
conceptions. It appears, at first sight, to be a strange coincidence,
that there should be two _different_ objective predicates of value,
‘good’ and ‘beautiful,’ which are nevertheless so related to one
another that whatever is beautiful is also good. But, if our definition
be correct, the strangeness disappears; since it leaves only one
_unanalysable_ predicate of value, namely ‘good,’ while ‘beautiful,’
though not identical with, is to be defined by reference to this,
being thus, at the same time, different from and necessarily connected
with it. In short, on this view, to say that a thing is beautiful
is to say, not indeed that it is _itself_ good, but that it is a
necessary element in something which is: to prove that a thing is truly
beautiful is to prove that a whole, to which it bears a particular
relation as a part, is truly good. And in this way we should explain
the immense predominance, among objects commonly considered beautiful,
of _material_ objects--objects of the external senses; since these
objects, though themselves having, as has been said, little or no
intrinsic value, are yet essential constituents in the largest group of
wholes which have intrinsic value. These wholes themselves may be, and
are, also beautiful; but the comparative rarity, with which we regard
them as themselves _objects_ of contemplation, seems sufficient to
explain the association of beauty with external objects.

And secondly (2) it is to be observed that beautiful objects are
themselves, for the most part, organic unities, in this sense, that
they are wholes of great complexity, such that the contemplation of
any part, by itself, may have no value, and yet that, unless the
contemplation of the whole includes the contemplation of that part, it
will lose in value. From this it follows that there can be no single
criterion of beauty. It will never be true to say: This object owes its
beauty _solely_ to the presence of this characteristic; nor yet that:
Wherever this characteristic is present, the object must be beautiful.
All that can be true is that certain objects are beautiful, _because_
they have certain characteristics, in the sense that they would not
be beautiful _unless_ they had them. And it may be possible to find
that certain characteristics are more or less universally present in
all beautiful objects, and are, in this sense, more or less important
conditions of beauty. But it is important to observe that the very
qualities, which differentiate one beautiful object from all others,
are, if the object be truly beautiful, as _essential_ to its beauty,
as those which it has in common with ever so many others. The object
would no more have the beauty it has, without its specific qualities,
than without those that are generic; and the generic qualities, _by
themselves_, would fail, as completely, to give beauty, as those which
are specific.


=122.= II. It will be remembered that I began this survey of great
unmixed goods, by dividing all the greatest goods we know into the two
classes of aesthetic enjoyments, on the one hand, and the pleasures of
human intercourse or of personal affection, on the other. I postponed
the consideration of the latter on the ground that they presented
additional complications. In what this additional complication
consists, will now be evident; and I have already been obliged to
take account of it, in discussing the contribution to value made by
true belief. It consists in the fact that in the case of personal
affection, the object itself is not _merely_ beautiful, while possessed
of little or no intrinsic value, but is itself, in part at least,
of great intrinsic value. All the constituents which we have found
to be necessary to the most valuable aesthetic enjoyments, namely,
appropriate emotion, cognition of truly beautiful qualities, and true
belief, are equally necessary here; but here we have the additional
fact that the object must be not only truly beautiful, but also truly
good in a high degree.

It is evident that this additional complication only occurs in so far
as there is included in the object of personal affection some of the
_mental_ qualities of the person towards whom the affection is felt.
And I think it may be admitted that, wherever the affection is most
valuable, the appreciation of mental qualities must form a large part
of it, and that the presence of this part makes the whole far more
valuable than it could have been without it. But it seems very doubtful
whether this appreciation, by itself, can possess as much value as the
whole in which it is combined with an appreciation of the appropriate
_corporeal_ expression of the mental qualities in question. It is
certain that in all actual cases of valuable affection, the bodily
expressions of character, whether by looks, by words, or by actions, do
form a part of the object towards which the affection is felt, and that
the fact of their inclusion appears to heighten the value of the whole
state. It is, indeed, very difficult to imagine what the cognition of
mental qualities _alone_, unaccompanied by _any_ corporeal expression,
would be like; and, in so far as we succeed in making this abstraction,
the whole considered certainly appears to have less value. I therefore
conclude that the importance of an admiration of admirable mental
qualities lies chiefly in the immense superiority of a whole, in which
it forms a part, to one in which it is absent, and not in any high
degree of intrinsic value which it possesses by itself. It even appears
to be doubtful, whether, in itself, it possesses so much value as the
appreciation of mere corporeal beauty undoubtedly does possess; that is
to say, whether the appreciation of what has great intrinsic value is
so valuable as the appreciation of what is merely beautiful.

But further if we consider the nature of admirable mental qualities,
by themselves, it appears that a proper appreciation of them involves
a reference to purely material beauty in yet another way. Admirable
mental qualities do, if our previous conclusions are correct, consist
very largely in an emotional contemplation of beautiful objects;
and hence the appreciation of them will consist essentially in the
contemplation of such contemplation. It is true that the most valuable
appreciation of persons appears to be that which consists in the
appreciation of their appreciation of other persons: but even here a
reference to material beauty appears to be involved, _both_ in respect
of the fact that what is appreciated in the last instance may be the
contemplation of what is merely beautiful, _and_ in respect of the fact
that the most valuable appreciation of a person appears to _include_
an appreciation of his corporeal expression. Though, therefore, we
may admit that the appreciation of a person’s attitude towards other
persons, or, to take one instance, the love of love, is far the most
valuable good we know, and far more valuable than the mere love of
beauty, yet we can only admit this if the first be understood to
_include_ the latter, in various degrees of directness.

With regard to the question what _are_ the mental qualities of which
the cognition is essential to the value of human intercourse, it is
plain that they include, in the first place, all those varieties of
aesthetic appreciation, which formed our first class of goods. They
include, therefore, a great variety of different emotions, each of
which is appropriate to some different kind of beauty. But we must now
add to these the whole range of emotions, which are appropriate to
persons, and which are different from those which are appropriate to
mere corporeal beauty. It must also be remembered that just as these
emotions have little value in themselves, and as the state of mind in
which they exist may have its value greatly heightened, or may entirely
lose it and become positively evil in a great degree, according as the
cognitions accompanying the emotions are appropriate or inappropriate;
so too the appreciation of these emotions, though it may have some
value in itself, may yet form part of a whole which has far greater
value or no value at all, according as it is or is not accompanied by
a perception of the appropriateness of the emotions to their objects.
It is obvious, therefore, that the study of what is valuable in human
intercourse is a study of immense complexity; and that there may be
much human intercourse which has little or no value, or is positively
bad. Yet here too, as with the question what is beautiful, there seems
no reason to doubt that a reflective judgment will in the main decide
correctly both as to what are positive goods and even as to any _great_
differences in value between these goods. In particular, it may be
remarked that the emotions, of which the contemplation is essential
to the greatest values, and which are also themselves appropriately
excited by such contemplation, appear to be those which are commonly
most highly prized under the name of affection.


=123.= I have now completed my examination into the nature of those
great positive goods, which do not appear to include among their
constituents anything positively evil or ugly, though they include
much which is in itself indifferent. And I wish to point out certain
conclusions which appear to follow, with regard to the nature of the
Summum Bonum, or that state of things which would be the most perfect
we can conceive. Those idealistic philosophers, whose views agree
most closely with those here advocated, in that they deny pleasure to
be the sole good and regard what is completely good as having some
complexity, have usually represented a purely spiritual state of
existence as the Ideal. Regarding matter as essentially imperfect, if
not positively evil, they have concluded that the total absence of
all material properties is necessary to a state of perfection. Now,
according to what has been said, this view would be correct so far
as it asserts that any great good must be _mental_, and so far as it
asserts that a purely material existence, _by itself_, can have little
or no value. The superiority of the spiritual over the material has,
in a sense, been amply vindicated. But it does not follow, from this
superiority, that a perfect state of things must be one, from which
all material properties are rigidly excluded: on the contrary, if our
conclusions are correct, it would seem to be the case that a state of
things, in which they are included, must be vastly better than any
conceivable state in which they were absent. In order to see that this
is so, the chief thing necessary to be considered is _exactly what it
is_ which we declare to be good when we declare that the appreciation
of beauty in Art and Nature is so. That this appreciation _is_ good,
the philosophers in question do not for the most part deny. But, if we
admit it, then we should remember Butler’s maxim that: Everything is
what it is, and not another thing. I have tried to shew, and I think
it is too evident to be disputed, that such appreciation is an organic
unity, a complex whole; and that, in its most undoubted instances,
part of what is included in this whole is _a cognition of material
qualities_, and particularly of a vast variety of what are called
_secondary_ qualities. If, then, it is _this_ whole, which we know to
be good, and not another thing, then we know that material qualities,
even though they be perfectly worthless in themselves, are yet
essential constituents of what is far from worthless. What we know to
be valuable is the apprehension of just these qualities, and not of any
others; and, if we propose to subtract them from it, then what we have
left is _not_ that which we know to have value, but something else. And
it must be noticed that this conclusion holds, even if my contention,
that a true belief in the existence of these qualities adds to the
value of the whole in which it is included, be disputed. We should
then, indeed, be entitled to assert that the _existence_ of a material
world was wholly immaterial to perfection; but the fact that what we
knew to be good was a cognition of _material qualities_ (though purely
imaginary), would still remain. It must, then, be admitted on pain of
self-contradiction--on pain of holding that things are not what they
are, but something else--that a world, from which material qualities
were wholly banished, would be a world which lacked many, if not all,
of those things, which we know most certainly to be great goods. That
it _might_ nevertheless be a far better world than one which retained
these goods, I have already admitted (§ 111 (1)). But in order to shew
that any such world _would_ be thus better, it would be necessary to
shew that the retention of these things, though good in themselves,
impaired, in a more than equal degree, the value of some whole, to
which they might belong; and the task of shewing this has certainly
never been attempted. Until it be performed, we are entitled to assert
that material qualities are a necessary constituent of the Ideal;
that, though something utterly unknown _might_ be better than any
world containing either them or any other good we know, yet we have no
reason to suppose that anything whatever would be better than a state
of things in which they were included. To deny and exclude matter,
is to deny and exclude the best we know. That a thing may retain its
value, while losing some of its qualities, is utterly untrue. All that
is true is that the changed thing may have more value than, or as much
value as, that of which the qualities have been lost. What I contend is
that nothing, which we _know_ to be good and which contains no material
qualities, has such great value that we can declare it, _by itself_, to
be superior to the whole which would be formed by the addition to it of
an appreciation of material qualities. That a _purely_ spiritual good
may be the _best_ of single things, I am not much concerned to dispute,
although, in what has been said with regard to the nature of personal
affection, I have given reasons for doubting it. But that by adding
to it some appreciation of material qualities, which, though perhaps
inferior by itself, is certainly a great positive good, we should
obtain a greater sum of value, which no corresponding decrease in the
value of the whole, as a whole, could counterbalance--this, I maintain,
we have certainly no reason to doubt.


=124.= In order to complete this discussion of the main principles
involved in the determination of intrinsic values, the chief remaining
topics, necessary to be treated, appear to be two. The first of these
is the nature of great intrinsic _evils_, including what I may call
_mixed_ evils; that is to say, those evil wholes, which nevertheless
contain, as essential elements, something positively good or beautiful.
And the second is the nature of what I may similarly call _mixed_
goods; that is to say, those wholes, which, though intrinsically good
_as wholes_, nevertheless contain, as essential elements, something
positively evil or ugly. It will greatly facilitate this discussion,
if I may be understood throughout to use the terms ‘beautiful’ and
‘ugly,’ not necessarily with reference to things of the kind which
most naturally occur to us as instances of what is beautiful and ugly,
but in accordance with my own proposed definition of beauty. Thus I
shall use the word ‘beautiful’ to denote that of which the admiring
contemplation is good in itself; and ‘ugly’ to denote that of which the
admiring contemplation is evil in itself.

I. With regard, then, to great positive evils, I think it is evident
that, if we take all due precautions to discover _precisely what_ those
things are, of which, _if they existed absolutely by themselves_, we
should judge the existence to be a great evil, we shall find most of
them to be organic unities of exactly the same nature as those which
are the greatest positive goods. That is to say, they are cognitions of
some object, accompanied by some emotion. Just as neither a cognition
nor an emotion, _by itself_, appeared capable of being greatly good,
so (with one exception), neither a cognition nor an emotion, _by
itself_, appears capable of being greatly evil. And just as a whole
formed of both, even without the addition of any other element,
appeared undoubtedly capable of being a great good, so such a whole,
_by itself_, appears capable of being a great evil. With regard to the
_third_ element, which was discussed as capable of adding greatly to
the value of a good, namely, _true belief_, it will appear that it has
different relations towards different kinds of evils. In some cases the
addition of true belief to a positive evil seems to constitute a far
worse evil; but in other cases it is not apparent that it makes any
difference.

The greatest positive evils may be divided into the following three
classes.


=125.= (1) The first class consists of those evils, which seem always
to include an enjoyment or admiring contemplation of things which
are themselves either evil or ugly. That is to say these evils are
characterised by the fact that they include precisely the same emotion,
which is also essential to the greatest unmixed goods, from which they
are differentiated by the fact that this emotion is directed towards an
inappropriate object. In so far as this emotion is either a slight good
in itself or a slightly beautiful object, these evils would therefore
be cases of what I have called ‘mixed’ evils; but, as I have already
said, it seems very doubtful whether an emotion, completely isolated
from its object, has either value or beauty: it certainly has not much
of either. It is, however, important to observe that the very same
emotions, which are often loosely talked of as the greatest or the only
goods, may be essential constituents of the very worst wholes: that,
according to the nature of the cognition which accompanies them, they
may be conditions either of the greatest good, or of the greatest evil.

In order to illustrate the nature of evils of this class, I may take
two instances--cruelty and lasciviousness. That these are great
intrinsic evils, we may, I think, easily assure ourselves, by imagining
the state of a man, whose mind is solely occupied by either of these
passions, in their worst form. If we then consider what judgment we
should pass upon a universe which consisted _solely_ of minds thus
occupied, without the smallest hope that there would ever exist in it
the smallest consciousness of any object other than those proper to
these passions, or any feeling directed to any such object, I think
we cannot avoid the conclusion that the existence of such a universe
would be a far worse evil than the existence of none at all. But, if
this be so, it follows that these two vicious states are not only, as
is commonly admitted, bad as means, but also bad in themselves.--And
that they involve in their nature that complication of elements,
which I have called a love of what is evil or ugly, is, I think, no
less plain. With regard to the pleasures of lust, the nature of the
cognition, by the presence of which they are to be defined, is somewhat
difficult to analyse. But it appears to include both cognitions of
organic sensations and perceptions of states of the body, of which
the enjoyment is certainly an evil in itself. So far as these are
concerned, lasciviousness would, then, include in its essence an
admiring contemplation of what is ugly. But certainly one of its
commonest ingredients, in its worst forms, is an enjoyment of the same
state of mind in other people: and in this case it would therefore also
include a love of what is evil. With regard to cruelty, it is easy
to see that an enjoyment of pain in other people is essential to it;
and, as we shall see, when we come to consider pain, this is certainly
a love of evil: while, in so far as it also includes a delight in
the bodily signs of agony, it would also comprehend a love of what
is ugly. In both cases, it should be observed, the evil of the state
is heightened not only by an increase in the evil or ugliness of the
object, but also by an increase in the enjoyment.

It might be objected, in the case of cruelty, that our disapproval of
it, even in the isolated case supposed, where no considerations of
its badness as a means could influence us, may yet be really directed
to the pain of the persons, which it takes delight in contemplating.
This objection may be met, in the first place, by the remark that it
entirely fails to explain the judgment, which yet, I think, no one, on
reflection, will be able to avoid making, that even though the amount
of pain contemplated be the same, yet the greater the delight in its
contemplation, the worse the state of things. But it may also, I think,
be met by notice of a fact, which we were unable to urge in considering
the similar possibility with regard to goods--namely the possibility
that the reason why we attribute greater value to a worthy affection
for a _real_ person, is that we take into account the additional good
consisting in the existence of that person. We may I think urge, in
the case of cruelty, that its intrinsic odiousness is equally great,
whether the pain contemplated really exists or is purely imaginary. I,
at least, am unable to distinguish that, in this case, the presence
of _true belief_ makes any difference to the intrinsic value of the
whole considered, although it undoubtedly may make a great difference
to its value _as a means_. And so also with regard to other evils of
this class: I am unable to see that a true belief in the _existence_
of their objects makes any difference in the degree of their positive
demerits. On the other hand, the presence of another class of beliefs
seems to make a considerable difference. When we enjoy what is evil
or ugly, in spite of our knowledge that it is so, the state of things
seems considerably worse than if we made no judgment at all as to the
object’s value. And the same seems also, strangely enough, to be the
case when we make a false judgment of value. When we admire what is
ugly or evil, believing that it is beautiful and good, this belief
seems also to enhance the intrinsic vileness of our condition. It must,
of course, be understood that, in both these cases, the judgment in
question is merely what I have called a judgment of taste; that is to
say, it is concerned with the worth of the qualities actually cognised
and not with the worth of the object, to which those qualities may be
rightly or wrongly attributed.

Finally it should be mentioned that evils of this class, _beside_ that
emotional element (namely enjoyment and admiration) which they share
with great unmixed goods, appear always also to include some specific
emotion, which does not enter in the same way into the constitution
of any good. The presence of this specific emotion seems certainly
to enhance the badness of the whole, though it is not plain that, by
itself, it would be either evil or ugly.


=126.= (2) The second class of great evils are undoubtedly mixed
evils; but I treat them next, because, in a certain respect, they
appear to be the _converse_ of the class last considered. Just as it
is essential to this last class that they should include an emotion,
appropriate to the cognition of what is good or beautiful, but directed
to an inappropriate object; so to this second class it is essential
that they should include a cognition of what is good or beautiful, but
accompanied by an inappropriate emotion. In short, just as the last
class may be described as cases of the love of what is evil or ugly, so
this class may be described as cases of the hatred of what is good or
beautiful.

With regard to these evils it should be remarked: First, that the vices
of hatred, envy and contempt, where these vices are evil in themselves,
appear to be instances of them; and that they are frequently
accompanied by evils of the first class, for example, where a delight
is felt in the pain of a good person. Where they are thus accompanied,
the whole thus formed is undoubtedly worse than if either existed
singly.

And secondly: That in their case a true belief in the existence of the
good or beautiful object, which is hated, does appear to enhance the
badness of the whole, in which it is present. Undoubtedly also, as in
our first class, the presence of a true belief as to the _value_ of the
objects contemplated, increases the evil. But, contrary to what was the
case in our first class, a _false_ judgment of value appears to lessen
it.


=127.= (3) The third class of great positive evils appears to be the
class of _pains_.

With regard to these it should first be remarked that, as in the case
of pleasure, it is not pain itself, but only the consciousness of pain,
towards which our judgments of value are directed. Just as in Chap.
III., it was said that pleasure, however intense, which no one felt,
would be no good at all; so it appears that pain, however intense, of
which there was no consciousness, would be no evil at all.

It is, therefore, only the consciousness of intense pain, which can
be maintained to be a great evil. But that this, _by itself_, may be
a great evil, I cannot avoid thinking. The case of pain thus seems to
differ from that of pleasure: for the mere consciousness of pleasure,
however intense, does not, _by itself_, appear to be a _great_ good,
even if it has some slight intrinsic value. In short, pain (if we
understand by this expression, the consciousness of pain) appears to
be a far worse evil than pleasure is a good. But, if this be so, then
_pain_ must be admitted to be an exception from the rule which seems to
hold both of all _other_ great evils and of _all_ great goods: namely
that they are all organic unities to which _both_ a cognition of an
object _and_ an emotion directed towards that object are essential. In
the case of pain and of pain alone, it seems to be true that a mere
cognition, by itself, may be a great evil. It is, indeed, _an_ organic
unity, since it involves both the cognition and the object, neither of
which, by themselves, has either merit or demerit. But it is a less
complex organic unity than any other great evil and than any great
good, _both_ in respect of the fact that it does not involve, _beside_
the cognition, an emotion directed towards its object, _and also_ in
respect of the fact that the _object_ may here be absolutely simple,
whereas in most, if not all, other cases, the object itself is highly
complex.

This want of analogy between the relation of pain to intrinsic evil and
of pleasure to intrinsic good, seems also to be exhibited in a second
respect. Not only is it the case that consciousness of intense pain
is, by itself, a great evil, whereas consciousness of intense pleasure
is, by itself, no great good; but also the _converse_ difference
appears to hold of the contribution which they make to the value of
the whole, when they are combined respectively with another great evil
or with a great good. That is to say, the presence of pleasure (though
not in proportion to its intensity) does appear to enhance the value
of a whole, in which it is combined with any of the great unmixed
goods which we have considered: it might even be maintained that it
is _only_ wholes, in which _some_ pleasure is included, that possess
any great value: it is certain, at all events, that the presence of
pleasure makes a contribution to the value of good wholes greatly in
excess of its own intrinsic value. On the contrary, if a feeling of
pain be combined with any of the evil states of mind which we have been
considering, the difference which its presence makes to the value of
the whole, _as a whole_, seems to be rather for the better than the
worse: in any case, the only additional evil which it introduces, is
that which it, by itself, intrinsically constitutes. Thus, whereas pain
is _in itself_ a great evil, but makes no addition to the badness of a
whole, in which it is combined with some other bad thing, except that
which consists in its own intrinsic badness; pleasure, conversely, is
not _in itself_ a great good, but does make a great addition to the
goodness of a whole in which it is combined with a good thing, quite
apart from its own intrinsic value.


=128.= But finally, it must be insisted that pleasure and pain are
completely analogous in this: that we cannot assume either that the
presence of pleasure always makes a state of things better _on the
whole_, or that the presence of pain always makes it worse. This is the
truth which is most liable to be overlooked with regard to them; and
it is because this is true, that the common theory, that pleasure is
the only good and pain the only evil, has its grossest consequences in
misjudgments of value. Not only is the pleasantness of a state _not_
in proportion to its intrinsic worth; it may even add positively to
its vileness. We do not think the successful hatred of a villain the
less vile and odious, because he takes the keenest delight in it; nor
is there the least need, in logic, why we should think so, apart from
an unintelligent prejudice in favour of pleasure. In fact it seems to
be the case that wherever pleasure is added to an evil state of either
of our first two classes, the whole thus formed is _always_ worse than
if no pleasure had been there. And similarly with regard to pain. If
pain be added to an evil state of either of our first two classes, the
whole thus formed is _always_ better, _as a whole_, than if no pain
had been there; though here, if the pain be too intense, since that
is a great evil, the state may not be better _on the whole_. It is in
this way that the theory of vindictive punishment may be vindicated.
The infliction of pain on a person whose state of mind is bad may, if
the pain be not too intense, create a state of things that is better
_on the whole_ than if the evil state of mind had existed unpunished.
Whether such a state of things can ever constitute a _positive_ good,
is another question.


=129.= II. The consideration of this other question belongs properly to
the second topic, which was reserved above for discussion namely the
topic of ‘mixed’ goods. ‘Mixed’ goods were defined above as things,
which, though positively good _as wholes_, nevertheless contain, as
essential elements, something intrinsically evil or ugly. And there
certainly seem to be such goods. But for the proper consideration
of them, it is necessary to take into account a new distinction the
distinction just expressed as being between the value which a thing
possesses ‘_as a whole_,’ and that which it possesses ‘_on the whole_.’

When ‘mixed’ goods were defined as things positively good _as wholes_,
the expression was ambiguous. It was meant that they were positively
good _on the whole_; but it must now be observed that the value which
a thing possesses _on the whole_ may be said to be equivalent to the
sum of the value which it possesses _as a whole_, _together with_ the
intrinsic values which may belong to any of its parts. In fact, by the
‘value which a thing possesses as a whole,’ there may be meant two
quite distinct things. There may be meant either (1) That value which
arises solely _from the combination_ of two or more things; or else (2)
The total value formed by the addition to (1) of any intrinsic values
which may belong to the things combined. The meaning of the distinction
may perhaps be most easily seen by considering the supposed case of
vindictive punishment. If it is true that the combined existence of two
evils may yet constitute a less evil than would be constituted by the
existence of either singly, it is plain that this can only be because
there arises from the combination a positive good which is greater than
the _difference_ between the sum of the two evils and the demerit of
either singly: this positive good would then be the value of the whole,
_as a whole_, in sense (1). Yet if this value be not so great a good
as the sum of the two evils is an evil, it is plain that the value of
the whole state of things will be a positive evil; and this value is
the value of the whole, _as a whole_, in sense (2). Whatever view may
be taken with regard to the particular case of vindictive punishment,
it is plain that we have here _two distinct things_, with regard to
_either_ of which a separate question may be asked in the case of every
organic unity. The first of these two things may be expressed as _the
difference_ between the value _of the whole thing_ and the sum of the
value of its parts. And it is plain that where the parts have little or
no intrinsic value (as in our first class of goods, §§ 114, 115), this
difference will be nearly or absolutely identical with the value of
the whole thing. The distinction, therefore, only becomes important in
the case of wholes, of which one or more parts have a great intrinsic
value, positive or negative. The first of these cases, that of a
whole, in which one part has a great _positive_ value, is exemplified
in our 2nd and 3rd classes of great unmixed goods (§§ 120, 122); and
similarly the Summum Bonum is a whole of which _many_ parts have a
great _positive_ value. Such cases, it may be observed, are also very
frequent and very important objects of Aesthetic judgment; since the
essential distinction between the ‘classical’ and the ‘romantic’ styles
consists in the fact that the former aims at obtaining the greatest
possible value for the whole, _as a whole_, in sense (1), whereas
the latter sacrifices this in order to obtain the greatest possible
value for some _part_, which is itself an organic unity. It follows
that we cannot declare either style to be necessarily superior, since
an equally good result _on the whole_, or ‘as a whole’ in sense (2),
may be obtained by either method; but the distinctively _aesthetic_
temperament seems to be characterised by a tendency to prefer a good
result obtained by the classical, to an equally good result obtained by
the romantic method.


=130.= But what we have now to consider are cases of wholes, in which
one or more parts have a great _negative_ value--are great positive
evils. And first of all, we may take the _strongest_ cases, like that
of retributive punishment, in which we have a whole, exclusively
composed of two great positive evils--wickedness and pain. Can such a
whole ever be positively good _on the whole_?

(1) I can see no reason to think that such wholes ever are positively
good _on the whole_. But from the fact that they may, nevertheless, be
less evils, than either of their parts taken singly, it follows that
they have a characteristic which is most important for the correct
decision of practical questions. It follows that, quite apart from
_consequences_ or any value which an evil may have as a mere means,
it may, _supposing_ one evil already exists, be worth while to create
another, since, by the mere creation of this second, there may be
constituted a whole less bad than if the original evil had been left
to exist by itself. And similarly, with regard to all the wholes which
I am about to consider, it must be remembered, that, even if they are
not goods _on the whole_, yet, where an evil already exists, as in this
world evils do exist, the existence of the other part of these wholes
will constitute a thing desirable _for its own sake_--that is to say,
not merely a means to future goods, but one of the _ends_ which must
be taken into account in estimating what that best possible state of
things is, to which every right action must be a means.


=131.= (2) But, as a matter of fact, I cannot avoid thinking that there
are wholes, containing something positively evil and ugly, which are,
nevertheless, great positive goods on the whole. Indeed, it appears
to be to this class that those instances of virtue, which contain
anything intrinsically good, chiefly belong. It need not, of course,
be denied that there is sometimes included in a virtuous disposition
more or less of those unmixed goods which were first discussed--that
is to say, a real love of what is good or beautiful. But the typical
and characteristic virtuous dispositions, so far as they are not
mere means, seem rather to be examples of mixed goods. We may take
as instances (_a_) Courage and Compassion, which seem to belong to
the second of the three classes of virtues distinguished in our last
chapter (§ 107); and (_b_) the specifically ‘moral’ sentiment, by
reference to which the third of those three classes was defined (§ 108).

Courage and compassion, in so far as they contain an intrinsically
desirable state of mind, seem to involve essentially a cognition of
something evil or ugly. In the case of courage the object of the
cognition may be an evil of any of our three classes; in the case of
compassion, the proper object is pain. Both these virtues, accordingly,
must contain precisely the same cognitive element, which is also
essential to evils of class (1); and they are differentiated from these
by the fact that the emotion directed to these objects is, in their
case, an emotion of the same kind which was essential to evils of class
(2). In short, just as evils of class (2) seemed to consist in a hatred
of what was good or beautiful, and evils of class (1) in a love of what
was evil or ugly; so these virtues involve a _hatred_ of what is evil
or ugly. Both these virtues do, no doubt, also contain other elements,
and, among these, each contains its specific emotion; but that their
value does not depend solely upon these other elements, we may easily
assure ourselves, by considering what we should think of an attitude of
endurance or of defiant contempt toward an object intrinsically good
or beautiful, or of the state of a man whose mind was filled with pity
for the happiness of a worthy admiration. Yet pity for the undeserved
sufferings of others, endurance of pain to ourselves, and a defiant
hatred of evil dispositions in ourselves or in others, seem to be
undoubtedly admirable in themselves; and if so, there are admirable
things, which must be lost, if there were no cognition of evil.

Similarly the specifically ‘moral’ sentiment, in all cases where it has
any considerable intrinsic value, appears to include a hatred of evils
of the first and second classes. It is true that the emotion is here
excited by the idea that an action is right or wrong; and hence the
object of the idea which excites it is generally not an intrinsic evil.
But, as far as I can discover, the emotion with which a conscientious
man views a real or imaginary right action, contains, as an essential
element, the same emotion with which he views a wrong one: it seems,
indeed, that this element is necessary to make his emotion specifically
_moral_. And the specifically moral emotion excited by the idea of a
wrong action, seems to me to contain essentially a more or less vague
cognition of the kind of intrinsic evils, which are usually caused
by wrong actions, whether they would or would not be caused by the
particular action in question. I am, in fact, unable to distinguish, in
its main features, the moral sentiment excited by the idea of rightness
and wrongness, wherever it is intense, from the total state constituted
by a cognition of something intrinsically evil together with the
emotion of hatred directed towards it. Nor need we be surprised that
this mental state should be the one chiefly associated with the idea
of rightness, if we reflect on the nature of those actions which are
most commonly recognised as duties. For by far the greater part of the
actions, of which we commonly think as duties, are _negative_: what we
feel to be our duty is to _abstain_ from some action to which a strong
natural impulse tempts us. And these wrong actions, in the avoidance
of which duty consists, are usually such as produce, very immediately,
some bad consequence in pain to others; while, in many prominent
instances, the inclination, which prompts us to them, is itself an
intrinsic evil, containing, as where the impulse is lust or cruelty,
an anticipatory enjoyment of something evil or ugly. That right action
does thus so frequently entail the suppression of some evil impulse,
is necessary to explain the plausibility of the view that virtue
_consists_ in the control of passion by reason. Accordingly, the truth
seems to be that, whenever a strong moral emotion is excited by the
idea of rightness, this emotion is accompanied by a vague cognition of
the kind of evils usually suppressed or avoided by the actions which
most frequently occur to us as instances of duty; and that the emotion
is directed towards this evil quality. We may, then, conclude that the
specific moral emotion owes almost all its intrinsic value to the fact
that it includes a cognition of evils accompanied by a hatred of them:
mere rightness, whether truly or untruly attributed to an action, seems
incapable of forming the object of an emotional contemplation, which
shall be any great good.


=132.= If this be so, then we have, in many prominent instances of
virtue, cases of a whole, greatly good in itself, which yet contains
the cognition of something, whereof the existence would be a great
evil: a great good is absolutely dependent for its value, upon its
inclusion of something evil or ugly, although it does not owe its
value _solely_ to this element in it. And, in the case of virtues,
this evil object does, in general, actually exist. But there seems no
reason to think that, when it does exist, the whole state of things
thus constituted is therefore the better _on the whole_. What seems
indubitable, is only that the feeling contemplation of an object, whose
existence _would_ be a great evil, or which is ugly, may be essential
to a valuable whole. We have another undoubted instance of this in the
appreciation of tragedy. But, in tragedy, the sufferings of Lear, and
the vice of Iago may be purely imaginary. And it seems certain that,
if they really existed, the evil thus existing, while it must detract
from the good consisting in a proper feeling towards them, will add
no positive value to that good great enough to counterbalance such a
loss. It does, indeed, seem that the existence of a true belief in the
object of these mixed goods does add _some_ value to the whole in which
it is combined with them: a conscious compassion for real suffering
seems to be better, _as a whole_, than a compassion for sufferings
merely imaginary; and this may well be the case, even though the evil
involved in the actual suffering makes the total state of things bad
_on the whole_. And it certainly seems to be true that a _false_ belief
in the actual existence of its object makes a worse mixed good than
if our state of mind were that with which we normally regard pure
fiction. Accordingly we may conclude that the only mixed goods, which
are positively good _on the whole_, are those in which the object is
something which _would_ be a great evil, if it existed, or which _is_
ugly.


=133.= With regard, then, to those mixed goods, which consist in an
appropriate attitude of the mind towards things evil or ugly, and which
include among their number the greater part of such virtues as have any
intrinsic value whatever, the following three conclusions seem to be
those chiefly requiring to be emphasized:--

(1) There seems no reason to think that where the object is a thing
evil in itself, which _actually exists_, the total state of things is
ever positively _good on the whole_. The appropriate mental attitude
towards a really existing evil contains, of course, an element which
is absolutely identical with the same attitude towards the same evil,
where it is purely imaginary. And this element, which is common to
the two cases, may be a great positive good, on the whole. But there
seems no reason to doubt that, where the evil is _real_, the amount of
this real evil is always sufficient to reduce the total sum of value
to a negative quantity. Accordingly we have no reason to maintain the
paradox that an ideal world would be one in which vice and suffering
must exist in order that it may contain the goods consisting in the
appropriate emotion towards them. It is not a positive good that
suffering should exist, in order that we may compassionate it; or
wickedness, that we may hate it. There is no reason to think that any
actual evil whatsoever would be contained in the Ideal. It follows that
we cannot admit the actual validity of any of the arguments commonly
used in Theodicies; no such argument succeeds in justifying the fact
that there does exist even the smallest of the many evils which this
world contains. The most that can be said for such arguments is that,
when they make appeal to the principle of organic unity, their appeal
is valid _in principle_. It _might_ be the case that the existence of
evil was necessary, not merely as a means, but analytically, to the
existence of the greatest good. But we have no reason to think that
this _is_ the case in any instance whatsoever.

But (2) there _is_ reason to think that the cognition of things evil
or ugly, which are purely imaginary, is essential to the Ideal. In this
case the burden of proof lies the other way. It cannot be doubted that
the appreciation of tragedy is a great positive good; and it seems
almost equally certain that the virtues of compassion, courage, and
self-control contain such goods. And to all these the cognition of
things which would be evil, if they existed, is analytically necessary.
Here then we have things of which the existence must add value to
any whole in which they are contained; nor is it possible to assure
ourselves that any whole, from which they were omitted, would thereby
gain more in its value _as a whole_, than it would lose by their
omission. We have no reason to think that any whole, which did not
contain them, would be so good _on the whole_ as some whole in which
they were obtained. The case for their inclusion in the Ideal is as
strong as that for the inclusion of material qualities (§ 123, above).
_Against_ the inclusion of these goods nothing can be urged except a
bare possibility.

Finally (3) it is important to insist that, as was said above, these
mixed virtues have a great practical value, in addition to that which
they possess either in themselves or as mere means. Where evils do
exist, as in this world they do, the fact that they are known and
properly appreciated, constitutes a state of things having greater
value _as a whole_ even than the same appreciation of purely imaginary
evils. This state of things, it has been said, is never positively
good _on the whole_; but where the evil, which reduces its total value
to a negative quantity, already unavoidably exists, to obtain the
intrinsic value which belongs to it _as a whole_ will obviously produce
a better state of things than if the evil had existed by itself,
quite apart from the good element in it which is identical with the
appreciation of imaginary evils, and from any ulterior consequences
which its existence may bring about. The case is here the same as with
retributive punishment. Where an evil already exists, it is well that
it should be pitied or hated or endured, according to its nature; just
as it may be well that some evils should be punished. Of course, as in
all practical cases, it often happens that the attainment of this good
is incompatible with the attainment of another and a greater one. But
it is important to insist that we have here a real intrinsic value,
which must be taken into account in calculating that greatest possible
balance of intrinsic value, which it is always our duty to produce.


=134.= I have now completed such remarks as seemed most necessary to
be made concerning intrinsic values. It is obvious that for the proper
answering of this, the fundamental question of Ethics, there remains
a field of investigation as wide and as difficult, as was assigned
to Practical Ethics in my last chapter. There is as much to be said
concerning what results are intrinsically good, and in what degrees,
as concerning what results it is possible for us to bring about: both
questions demand, and will repay, an equally patient enquiry. Many of
the judgments, which I have made in this chapter, will, no doubt, seem
unduly arbitrary: it must be confessed that some of the attributions
of intrinsic value, which have seemed to me to be true, do not display
that symmetry and system which is wont to be required of philosophers.
But if this be urged as an objection, I may respectfully point out
that it is none. We have no title whatever to assume that the truth on
any subject-matter will display such symmetry as we desire to see--or
(to use the common vague phrase) that it will possess any particular
form of ‘unity.’ To search for ‘unity’ and ‘system,’ at the expense
of truth, is not, I take it, the proper business of philosophy,
however universally it may have been the practice of philosophers.
And that all truths about the Universe possess to one another all
the various relations, which may be meant by ‘unity,’ can only be
legitimately asserted, when we have carefully distinguished those
various relations and discovered what those truths are. In particular,
we can have no title to assert that ethical truths are ‘unified’ in
any particular manner, except in virtue of an enquiry conducted by
the method which I have endeavoured to follow and to illustrate. The
study of Ethics would, no doubt, be far more simple, and its results
far more ‘systematic,’ if, for instance, pain were an evil of exactly
the same magnitude as pleasure is a good; but we have no reason
whatever to assume that the Universe is such that ethical truths must
display this kind of symmetry: no argument against my conclusion,
that pleasure and pain do _not_ thus correspond, can have any weight
whatever, failing a careful examination of the instances which have
led me to form it. Nevertheless I am content that the results of this
chapter should be taken rather as illustrating the method which must
be pursued in answering the fundamental question of Ethics, and the
principles which must be observed, than as giving the correct answer
to that question. That things intrinsically good or bad are many and
various; that most of them are ‘organic unities,’ in the peculiar and
definite sense to which I have confined the term; and that our only
means of deciding upon their intrinsic value and its degree, is by
carefully distinguishing exactly what the thing is, about which we ask
the question, and then looking to see whether it has or has not the
unique predicate ‘good’ in any of its various degrees: these are the
conclusions, upon the truth of which I desire to insist. Similarly, in
my last chapter, with regard to the question ‘What ought we to do?’
I have endeavoured rather to shew exactly what is the meaning of the
question, and what difficulties must consequently be faced in answering
it, than to prove that any particular answers are true. And that these
two questions, having precisely the nature which I have assigned to
them, are _the_ questions which it is the object of Ethics to answer,
may be regarded as the main result of the preceding chapters. These
are the questions which ethical philosophers have always been mainly
concerned to answer, although they have not recognised what their
question was--what predicate they were asserting to attach to things.
The practice of asking what things are virtues or duties, without
distinguishing what these terms mean; the practice of asking what ought
to be here and now, without distinguishing whether as means or end--for
its own sake or for that of its results; the search for one single
_criterion_ of right or wrong, without the recognition that in order
to discover a criterion we must first know what things _are_ right or
wrong; and the neglect of the principle of ‘organic unities’--these
sources of error have hitherto been almost universally prevalent in
Ethics. The conscious endeavour to avoid them all, and to apply to
all the ordinary objects of ethical judgment these two questions and
these only: Has it intrinsic value? and Is it a means to the best
possible?--this attempt, so far as I know, is entirely new; and its
results, when compared with those habitual to moral philosophers, are
certainly sufficiently surprising: that to Common Sense they will not
appear so strange, I venture to hope and believe. It is, I think,
much to be desired that the labour commonly devoted to answering such
questions as whether certain ‘ends’ are more or less ‘comprehensive’
or more or less ‘consistent’ with one another--questions, which, even
if a precise meaning were given to them, are wholly irrelevant to the
proof of any ethical conclusion--should be diverted to the separate
investigation of these two clear problems.


=135.= The main object of this chapter has been to define roughly
the class of things, among which we may expect to find either great
intrinsic goods or great intrinsic evils; and particularly to point
out that there is a vast variety of such things, and that the simplest
of them are, with one exception, highly complex wholes, composed of
parts which have little or no value in themselves. All of them involve
consciousness of an object, which is itself usually highly complex,
and almost all involve also an emotional attitude towards this object;
but, though they thus have certain characteristics in common, the vast
variety of qualities in respect of which they differ from one another
are equally essential to their value: neither the generic character
of all, nor the specific character of each, is either greatly good
or greatly evil by itself; they owe their value or demerit, in each
case, to the presence of both. My discussion falls into three main
divisions, dealing respectively (1) with unmixed goods, (2) with evils,
and (3) with mixed goods. (1) Unmixed goods may all be said to consist
in the love of beautiful things or of good persons: but the number of
different goods of this kind is as great as that of beautiful objects,
and they are also differentiated from one another by the different
emotions appropriate to different objects. These goods are undoubtedly
good, even where the things or persons loved are imaginary; but it
was urged that, where the thing or person is real and is believed to
be so, these two facts together, when combined with the mere love of
the qualities in question, constitute a whole which is greatly better
than that mere love, having an additional value quite distinct from
that which belongs to the existence of the object, where that object
is a good person. Finally it was pointed out that the love of mental
qualities, by themselves, does not seem to be so great a good as that
of mental and material qualities together; and that, in any case, an
immense number of the best things are, or include, a love of material
qualities (113-123). (2) Great evils may be said to consist either
(_a_) in the love of what is evil or ugly, or (_b_) in the hatred of
what is good or beautiful, or (_c_) in the consciousness of pain.
Thus the consciousness of pain, if it be a great evil, is the only
exception to the rule that all great goods and great evils involve both
a cognition and an emotion directed towards its object (124-128). (3)
Mixed goods are those which include some element which is evil or ugly.
They may be said to consist either in hatred of what is ugly or of
evils of classes (_a_) and (_b_), or in compassion for pain. But where
they include an evil, which actually exists, its demerit seems to be
always great enough to outweigh the positive value which they possess
(129-133).



INDEX.


  Aesthetic
    enjoyments 189-202, 203
    judgment 215
    temperament 216

  Aesthetics 200

  Affection
    beauty of 204-5
    misdirected 195, 198
    reciprocal 198
    value of 188-9, 203-5

  Altruism 96-7, 167

  Analytic judgments 7, 29, 33-4, 35, 220-1

  Appreciation 189-90, 200, 204-5, 221

  Approval 131

  Approve 60

  Approbation 171

  Appropriate, inappropriate 192, 199, 204-5, 209, 211, 220
    defined 190

  Aristotle 4
    definition of virtue 171
    valuation of virtues 176-7
    valuation of knowledge 199

  Art
    value of 188
    _representative_, value of 193, 195, 196, 200

  Autonomy 127


  Bad 5, 27, 28, 95, 140, 143, 157, 178, 181, 188, 209, 210, 213, 214,
    216, 218

  ‘Based on’ 38, 49, 54, 114, 115, 118, 120, 122, 144

  Beauty
    corporeal 203-4
    no criterion of 202
    definition of 201-2, 208
    mental 203-5
    ‘seeing’ of 190-1
    value of 28, 81-2, 83-5, 86, 94, 188-9, 201-2, 209, 211, 224

  Being, dist. from existence 110-11

  Belief, value of 193-200, 208, 210-11, 212, 219, 224-5

  Benevolence, Sidgwick’s ‘principle of Rational’ 102-3

  Bentham 145
    naturalistic fallacy 17-19
    quantity of pleasure 77-8

  Bradley, F. H.
    pleasure and desire 70
    theory of judgment 125

  Butler, Bishop 86, 206


  Casuistry 4-5

  Causal judgments
    relation to Ethics 21-7, 36, 146-8, 149, 180

  Causal relations 31-3, 34-6

  Chastity 158

  Classical style 215-16

  Christ
    on value of motives 178
    on love 179

  Christian Ethics 178
    on ‘external’ rightness 177
    on ‘internal’ rightness 178-9
    on value of motives 177-9
    on value of virtue 174

  Clifford, W. K. 40

  Cognition
    of evil 217-19
    dist. from knowledge 194
    relation to will and feeling 129-30, 133, 135-6, 141
    value of 85, 189-92, 194, 199, 208, 212, 224, 225

  Commands, confused with moral laws 128-9, 141

  Common sense 224
    on value of pleasure 86, 91-2, 94-5
    on duties 156-9

  Compassion 217, 219, 220, 225

  Conduct, relation of to Ethics 2-3, 146, 180

  Conscience
    defined 178
    not infallible 149, 180

  Conscientiousness 218
    defined 179
    utility of 180

  Contempt 211, 217

  Corporeal beauty 203-4

  Courage 217

  Crimes 161

  Criterion
    of beauty 202
    evolution as 46, 50, 55-6
    of goodness 137-8
    pleasure as 91-2, 94-5, 108
    of right and wrong 223
    will as 137-8
    of truth 133

  Cruelty 209-11, 218


  Darwin 47

  Definition, nature of 6-9, 18-20

  Desirable, meaning of 65-7, 73

  Desire, cause and object of 68-70, 73-4

  Duty
    = cause of or means to good 24-5, 105, 146-8, 167, 180, 223
    fuller definitions of 148, 161, 180-1, 222
    incapable of being known 149-50, 181
    mainly negative 218
    object of _psychological_ intuition 148
    relations to expediency 167-70, 181
      interest 170-1, 181
      possibility 150-2
      rightness 148
      utility 146-7, 167-70
      virtue 172
      will 160, 161
    not self-evident 148, 181
    self-regarding 168


  Egoistic Hedonism 18

  Egoism, as doctrine of end 18, 96-105, 109
    contradiction of 99, 101-5, 109
    relation to Hedonism 97-8
    relation to Naturalistic Hedonism 104-5
    Sidgwick’s ‘Rational’ 98-9, 102-4

  Egoism, as doctrine of means 96-7, 105, 167

  Emotion
    aesthetic 190
    value of 189-92, 199, 203, 204-5, 208, 209, 211, 212, 217, 224, 225

  Empirical 39, 111, 123

  Empiricism 103, 124-5, 130

  End = effect 32

  End = good in itself 18, 24, 64-6, 72, 73, 79-81, 83, 85, 94-5, 184,
    216
    dist. from ‘good as means’ 24, 72, 74, 79-81, 89, 90, 94-5, 106-7,
      173-4, 178, 216, 223
    ‘ultimate’ 51, 83, 85, 96-7, 99-102, 183, 189
    ‘never justifies means’ 147, 163

  End = object of desire 68, 70, 71, 72

  Enjoyment 77, 96, 188, 208
    aesthetic 188-9, 203
    of evil and ugly 208-11, 218
    sexual 95

  Envy 211

  Epistemology 133, 140-1

  Ethics
    Evolutionistic 46, 50, 54, 58
    Metaphysical 39, 58, 113-15
    Naturalistic 39-41, 58, 59
    Practical 115-18, 140, 146, 149, 151, 154, 180, 222
    province of 1-6, 21, 24, 26-7, 36, 37, 77, 115, 118, 142-6, 184,
      222-4

  Eudaemonist 175

  Evil 153, 156, 158, 160, 186, 193, 205, 207-14, 224, 225
    mixed 208, 209, 211
    positive value of 216-22, 225

  Evolution 46-8, 54-8

  Evolutionistic 46, 50, 52, 54, 58

  Existence
    dist. from being 110-12
    judgments about 123-5
    relation to value 115-18, 118-22, 125-6, 194, 196, 197-9, 206, 210,
      216, 219, 220, 221, 225

  Expediency 167-70, 181


  Feeling
    supposed analogy to cognition 129-31, 141
    supposed bearing on Ethics 129-31, 141

  Fiction 121-2

  Freedom, value of 86, 186

  Freedom (of Will) 127


  God 82, 102-4
    love of 113, 194, 195-6, 200

  Good
    indefinable 6-16, 41, 79, 110-11, 142-4
    = means to good 21, 24
    the Absolute 183, 184, 186
    the Human 183, 184, 186
    mixed and unmixed 208, 209, 214, 215, 217, 219-20, 224
    my own 97-9, 101, 170
    ‘private’ 99
    _the_ 8-9, 18
    ‘Universal’ 99-102
    Will 174-5, 179 _n._ 2, 180

  Green, T. H. 139

  Guyau, M. 46


  Habit 171, 175-6, 177

  Hatred 211, 214
    of beautiful and good 211, 217, 225
    of evil and ugly 178, 217, 218, 220, 221, 225

  Health 42-3, 65, 157, 167

  Heaven 115, 174, 183, 185, 195
    upon Earth 186

  Hedonism 39, 52, 59-63, 90-1, 96, 108-9, 174
    Egoistic 18
    Ethical 70, 144
    Intuitionistic 59, 74-6, 144
    Naturalistic 46, 50, 53, 54, 68, 104, 105
    Psychological 18, 68, 69, 70, 73
    Universalistic 103

  Hegel 30, 34, 110

  Heteronomous 127

  Higher 48-9, 78

  Hobbes 97

  Honesty 175-6

  Hypothetical laws 22, 155


  Ideal
    three meanings of 183-4
    _the_ 183, 185, 205-7, 220-1

  Idealistic 130, 205

  Imagination, value of 193, 194, 196, 197, 210, 219, 220, 221, 224

  Imperative 128

  Industry 157, 167

  Intention 179 _n._ 1

  Interest 102
    meaning of 97-8, 106, 170-1
    dist. from ‘duty’ 170-1, 181

  Intrinsic
    evil 207, 213, 218, 224
    value 17, 21, 25-30, 36, 147, 173-7, 187, 189, 207, 214-16, 222-4

  Intuition
    = proposition incapable of proof 59, 77, 108
    in psychological sense 75, 79, 85, 92, 108, 144, 148-9, 173

  Intuitionism
    in Sidgwick’s sense 59, 76, 144
    in proper sense 106, 148


  Judgment
    error of 192-3
    two types of ethical 21, 23-7, 115, 146, 148, 222, 224

  Justice 178

  Justify 97, 101, 147, 163


  Kant 110, 129
    ‘Copernican revolution’ 133
    value of Good Will 174-5, 179 _n._ 2, 180
    value of Happiness 174-5
    theory of judgment 125
    ‘Kingdom of Ends’ 113
    ‘practical love’ 179
    connection of ‘goodness’ with ‘will’ 126-8

  Knowledge
    involves truth of object 132, 134
    involves belief 194
    value of 82, 86, 194, 195, 196, 197, 199, 211, 221


  Lasciviousness 209-10

  Law
    ethical 155
    hypothetical 22, 155
    legal 126, 128
    moral 126-8, 146, 148, 160, 162, 165
    natural 26, 29, 57, 126, 183, 186
    scientific 22-3, 124, 155

  Legal 126, 128

  Leibniz 125

  Life 15, 46, 50, 52, 156

  Logical
    dependence 61, 110, 118, 122, 139, 143-4
    fallacy 140-1

  Love
    Christ and Kant on 179
    of beautiful and good 177-9, 199, 204, 217, 224
    of evil and ugly 209, 210, 211, 217, 225

  Lucian 45

  Lust 209-10, 218

  Lying 154


  Mackenzie, Prof. J. S. 114, 120

  Material qualities, value of 204, 205-7, 221, 225

  Matter, value of 205-7

  Meaning, ‘to have no’ 31, 34-5

  Means = cause or necessary condition 18, 21-3, 89, 180
    dist. from ‘part of organic whole’ 27, 29-30, 32, 220
    goodness as, dist. from intrinsic value 21, 24, 26, 27, 37, 72, 74,
      79-81, 89, 90, 94-5, 106-7, 115, 118, 173-4, 178, 187, 195-6,
      197-8, 216, 223
    ‘not justified by end’ 147, 163

  Mental
    beauty of 203-5, 225
    value of 205-7

  Mercy 178

  Metaphysical 39, 58, 110-15, 139-40

  Method
    of discovering intrinsic value 20, 36, 59-60, 64, 89, 91, 92, 93, 95,
      142-5, 173, 185-6, 187-8, 195, 197-8, 206-7, 209, 223
    of discovering value as means 22-3, 146, 148-54, 172-3

  Mill, J. S. 145
    Hedonism 63-81, 108
    naturalistic fallacy 40, 66-7, 69, 72-3, 74, 104, 108
    Psychological Hedonism 68, 72, 73-4
    quality of pleasure 77-81, 108
    Utilitarianism 104-5

  Moral
    approbation 171
    law 126-8, 146, 148, 160, 162, 165
    obligation 128
    sentiment 168, 178, 217-19

  Motive 67, 70, 177, 178-80

  Murder 148, 151, 154, 156-7, 178


  Natural
    laws 26, 29, 57, 126, 183, 186
    objects and properties 13-14, 39-41, 58, 110-11
    selection 47

  Natural = normal 42-4, 58

  Natural = necessary 44-5, 58

  Naturalism 20, 40, 58, 144

  Naturalistic
    Ethics 39-41, 58, 59
    fallacy 10, 13-14, 18-20, 38-9, 48, 57, 58, 61, 64, 66-7, 69, 72-3,
      74, 104, 108, 114, 118, 124, 125, 139, 173, 176, 201
    Hedonism 46, 50, 53, 54, 68, 104, 105

  Nature 40-1, 110, 111, 112

  Nature, life according to 41-2, 113

  Nature, value of 188, 193, 195, 200, 206

  Necessity
    analytic 22, 33-4, 35, 220, 221
    causal or natural 29, 31-2, 34, 186, 187

  New Testament 177, 178, 179


  Object
    of cognition 141, 191, 192, 193, 211
    of desire 68-70
    natural 13-14, 39-41, 58, 110-11

  Objective 82, 201

  Obligation
    moral 103, 128, 147

  Obligatory 25, 148, 170

  Organic relation, unity, whole
    common usage 30-6
    my own usage 27-31, 32-3, 36, 93, 96, 149, 184, 187, 189, 190, 202,
      206, 208, 212, 215, 220, 223

  Ought
    to aim at 24-6, 100
    to do 26, 105, 115, 116, 117, 127, 128, 140, 146, 148, 173, 180, 223
    to be or exist 17, 115, 118, 127, 128, 148, 173, 180, 223


  Pain 64, 65, 210, 212-4, 217, 222-3, 225

  Particular 3-4

  Perception 111, 112, 134, 136

  Pessimism 51, 53, 156

  Plato
    on Egoism 98
    on goods 178
    on Hedonism 88
    on value of Knowledge 199
    on universal truths 111

  Pleasure 12-13, 16
    consciousness of 87-91, 109, 212
    as criterion 91-2, 108
    and desire 68-71, 73-4
    and ‘pleasures’ 79
    ‘quality of’ 77-81
    value of 39, 46, 50-4, 59-66, 71-2, 74-5, 79-81, 83, 85-96, 144,
      146, 171, 173, 174, 188, 205, 212-14, 222-3

  Pity 217, 221

  Positive science 39

  Possible action 150-1

  Practical 216, 221
    Ethics 115-18, 140, 146, 149, 151, 154, 180, 222
    Philosophy 2

  Practice 2, 20

  Praise 171

  Preference 77-9, 131

  Promises 157

  Property, respect of 157

  Propositions, types of 123-6

  Prove 11, 65, 66, 74, 75-7, 99, 112, 137, 141, 143, 145, 169, 181

  Prudence 168
    ‘Maxim of’ 102-4

  Psychological 11, 130, 140, 148
    Hedonism 18, 68, 69, 70, 73

  Punishment 164
    retributive or vindictive 214, 215, 216, 221


  Reason 143-4

  Representative art 193

  Reward 174

  Right 18, 24-5, 105, 146, 180, 216, 218, 223
    dist. from ‘duty’ 148
    relation to expediency 167
    externally 176-7
    internally 179 _n._ 1

  Romantic style 215-16

  Rousseau 42


  Sanctions 159, 164

  Secondary qualities 206

  Self-evidence 143, 144, 148, 181

  Self-realisation 113, 114, 120, 188

  Self-sacrifice 170

  Sensation 134

  Sensationalist 130

  Sidgwick, Henry 145
    value of beauty 81-4, 85-7
    on Bentham 17-19
    rationality of Egoism 99-103
    ‘good’ unanalysable 17
    Hedonism 59, 63, 64, 81-7, 91-6, 108-9
    ‘method’ of Intuitionism 59, 92-4
    value of knowledge 82, 86
    neglects principle of organic wholes 93
    pleasure as criterion 91-2, 94-5
    quality of pleasure 77, 81
    value of unconscious 81-4

  Sins 161

  Spencer, Herbert 46, 48-58

  Spinoza 110, 113

  Spiritual, value of 205-6

  Summum Bonum 183, 205

  Stoics 41, 110

  Synthetic 7, 58, 143


  Taste, error of 192-3, 211

  Taylor, A. E. 60

  Temperance 157, 168

  Theodicies 220

  Tragedy 219, 221

  Truth
    relation to existence 111, 124-5
      cognition 130, 132-4, 136, 141, 196
      knowledge 134, 194
    types of 111-12, 124-5
    value of 85-6, 193-200, 208, 210, 211, 212

  Tyndall 40


  Ugly 208, 209-11, 214, 216-19, 221

  Ultimate end 51, 83, 85, 96-7, 99-102, 183, 189

  Unity 222
    organic, see ‘Organic’

  Universal
    Good 99-102
    truths 21-3, 27, 57, 111, 126, 154-5, 181

  Universalistic Hedonism 103

  Useful 106, 146, 167

  Utilitarianism 63, 96, 99, 104-7, 109

  Utopias 183, 186


  Value
    intrinsic 17, 21, 25-30, 36, 147, 173-7, 187, 189, 207, 214-16, 222-4
    as means 21, 174, 195-6
    negative 215, 216

  Vice 171, 209, 211

  Virtue
    definition of 171-3, 181, 223
    three kinds of 175
    mixed 221
    relation to ‘duty’ 172
    value of 83, 85, 86, 87, 173-80, 181-2, 217-19, 221-2

  Volition
    supposed coordination with cognition 129-30, 133, 135-6, 141
    supposed bearing on Ethics 130, 136, 141


  Whole
    good as a 208, 214-16, 219, 221
    good on the 214-16, 219, 220, 221
    organic, see ‘Organic’

  Wickedness 220

  Will
    as criterion of value 137-8
    relation to duty 160, 161, 180
    the Good 174-5, 179 _n._ 2, 180
    supposed analogy to cognition 129-30, 135-6
    supposed bearing on Ethics 126-7, 128-31, 135-9, 141

  Wrong 180, 218, 223



  PRINTED IN ENGLAND BY J. B. PEACE, M.A.
  AT THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS





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