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Title: An ethical philosophy of life presented in its main outlines
Author: Adler, Felix
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation and accents have been standardised but all other
spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

Footnotes are located at the end of the chapters.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.

                              AN ETHICAL
                          PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE


                              FELIX ADLER

                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                        NEW YORK         LONDON

                          COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

                Printed in the United States of America


This book records a philosophy of life growing out of the experience
of a lifetime. The convictions put in it are not dogmatic, for dogma
is the conviction of one man imposed authoritatively upon others. The
convictions herein expounded are submitted to those who search, as the
writer has searched, for light on the problems of life, in order that
they may compare their experience with his, and their interpretations
of their experience with his interpretation.[1]

It is a great hope that some of the readers of this book may find the
general world-view expounded congenial, and for them also real and
true. It is believed that others may find the practical suggestions as
to the conduct of life in which the theory issues helpful in part, if
not in whole, as many of us accept from the teachings of the Stoics, or
of other thinkers, practical precepts, without on that account adopting
the philosophy from which these precepts are derived.

The book is divided into four parts: the first an autobiographical
introduction describing the various stations on the road by which
the author arrived at his present position, and offering incidental
appreciations and appraisements of the Hebrew religion, of Emerson,
of the ethics of the Gospels, of Socialism and of other social reform

The second part expounds the philosophical theory.

The third part contains the applications of the theory to the more
strictly personal life, under the captions of the Three Shadows of
Sickness, Sorrow and Sin, and also to the principal so-called Rights to
Life, Property, Reputation.

The fourth part applies the theory to the social institutions, to the
Family, the Vocation, the State, the International Society, and the
Church, these institutions being considered as an expanding series
through which the individual is to pass on his pilgrimage in the
direction of the supreme spiritual end.

The principal problems considered are:

1. How to establish the fundamental ethical dictum that every human
being ought to count, and is intrinsically worth while. This dictum has
been denied by many of the greatest thinkers, who assert the intrinsic
inferiority of some men, the intrinsic superiority of others. The
practice of the world also runs most distinctly contrary to it. How
then is it to be validated?

2. The problem of how to attach a precise meaning to the term
“spiritual,” thereby divesting it of the flavor of sentimentality and
vagueness that attaches to it.

3. How to link up the world’s activities in science, art, politics,
business, to the supreme ethical end.

4. How to lay foundations whereon to erect the conviction that there
verily is a supersensible reality.

For the repetitions that occur throughout the volume indulgence is
requested. In presenting an unfamiliar system of thought they may
sometimes assist the reader in retaining the thread.

The work is conceived as a whole, and should be read through before any
part of it is more minutely examined. The theory of Part II especially
should be read in the light of the applications submitted in Parts III
and IV.




  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

     I. PRELUDE                                                        3

    II. THE HEBREW RELIGION                                           14

   III. EMERSON                                                       27

    IV. THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS                                        30

     V. SOCIAL REFORM                                                 43




     I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: CRITIQUE OF KANT                        73

    II. CRITIQUE OF KANT (_Continued_)                                82

            THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES                                     91

    IV. THE IDEAL OF THE WHOLE                                       100





     I. INTRODUCTION                                                 147

    II. THE THREE SHADOWS: SICKNESS, SORROW, SIN                     154

   III. BEREAVEMENT                                                  162

    IV. THE SHADOW OF SIN                                            171

            CLOSELY WITH SOME THAN OTHERS                            179

    VI. THE MEANING OF FORGIVENESS                                   202

            THE BEST IN OTHERS AND THEREBY IN THYSELF                208

  VIII. THE SUPREME ETHICAL RULE (_Continued_)                       220

            OTHERS                                                   223



            REVERENCE                                                241

    II. THE FAMILY                                                   249

   III. THE VOCATIONS                                                260

    IV. THE PRACTICAL VOCATIONS                                      270

            OF THE RELATION OF ART TO ETHICS                         277

            WITH THE STATE                                           289

   VII. THE STATE                                                    305

            ORGANIZATION OF MANKIND                                  324

            INSTITUTION                                              341

     X. THE LAST OUTLOOK ON LIFE                                     354


  APPENDIX I: SPIRITUAL SELF-DISCIPLINE                              365

            FREEDOM                                                  369

  INDEX                                                              375

                                BOOK I




What this book offers is a system of thought and of points of view as
to conduct, as these have jointly grown out of personal experience. It
will be useful to introduce them with an autobiographical statement.
The ideas which follow are such as have been found by me, the author,
to be fruitful. Certainly I claim for them objectivity; but I do so
because of what I have found them to mean in my own life. He who has
been scorched by lightning knows that the effects of the lightning will
be felt by all who are exposed to the same experience. I narrate my
experience; let others compare with it theirs.

There is, however, a serious, and most embarrassing difficulty in
the way of discussing the phases and vicissitudes of one’s ethical
development. Self-appraisement is necessarily involved in the
narration. The outstanding subject of ethics is the self and its
relations. The physicist, the chemist, the biologist, however the
methods they use may differ in other respects, agree in the endeavor
to eliminate the personal equation. The psychologist likewise does his
best to see the procession that moves across the inner stage like an
interested but detached spectator. In the case of ethics, however, the
personal factor cannot be eliminated, because the personal factor is
just the Alpha and the Omega of the whole matter; and if this be left
out of account, the very object to be studied disappears.

Ethical standards are exacting, separated often from performance by the
widest interval. To set up a standard, therefore, is to reflect upon
oneself, to expose oneself to the backstroke of one’s own deliverances,
to be plunged perhaps into deep pits of self-humiliation. How shall
anyone have the courage to face so searching a test, or the hardihood
to discuss with a lofty air, and to recommend to others ideals of
conduct against which he knows that he daily offends? How can anyone
teach ethics or write about it? The words of the Sermon on the Mount,
“Judge not that ye be not judged,” seem to apply very closely. Do not
judge others, do not lay down the law for others, because in so doing
you will be judged in the inner forum, becoming a repulsive object in
your own eyes, or standing forth a whited sepulcher. In brief, to touch
the subject of ethics is to handle a knife that cuts both ways, to cast
a weapon which returns upon him who sends it.

The difficulty then which confronts the ethical writer is that the
attitude of detachment possible in other branches of investigation is
found to be impossible when one attempts to sound the profundities
of that kind of inner experience which is called ethical. The self
obtrudes itself at every point, and it instinctively refuses to be
humbled. What may be denominated the struggle for self-esteem has
indeed played a leading rôle both in the outer and inner history of
mankind. This struggle, whose immense importance is often overlooked,
accounts for even more interesting facts than the biological struggle
for existence. The desire to exercise power over others, often ruthless
in the means adopted, is frequently nothing more than a miserable
attempt to save self-esteem by covering up the inner sense of the
weakness of the self. But the same struggle penetrates also into the
realm of theoretical ethics with which we are concerned. Here it
tampers with the standards which mortify self-esteem, by inventing
such ethical theories as seem to make the problems of personality easy
of solution, and by blinking the tragic facts of guilt, remorse, etc.
Various ethical systems that are in vogue at the present time are, at
least in part, exemplars of this process—the theory for instance that
ethics is nothing more than a calculus of self-interest, or a matter
of sympathetic feeling, or a balancing of the more refined against the
grosser pleasures. The instinct of self-preservation, in the shape of
the preservation of self-esteem, is quite incorrigible, and against its
insidious suggestion we have reason to be particularly on our guard in
the discussion which we are entering.

Are we then to refrain, out of sheer regard for decency, from touching
on this subject at all? Is everyone who writes on ethics, or attempts
to teach it, either a pedant or a hypocrite? But we cannot avoid
discussing it, nor resist the impulse to teach and write about it, for
it is the subject on which more than any other we and others sorely
need help and enlightenment. And we shall get help in the endeavor
to afford it to others. This, then, is my position: I do not presume
to lay down the law for anyone. I find that I can set forth the
better standards which in the course of trial and error I have come to
recognize. I would not shamelessly expose mere private failures and
failings after the manner of Rousseau in the “Confessions”; for there
is a tract of the inner life which ought to be kept from publicity and
prying intrusion. I shall then deal with deflections only in so far as
they can be traced to false standards or principles, and as they tend
to illustrate the flaw in those standards and principles.

What I state as certain is certain for me. It has approved itself as
such in my experience. Let others consult their experience, and see
how far it tallies with that which is here set forth. A distinction,
however, I wish to call attention to between the theory as expounded
in the second part of this volume, and the practical applications to
be found in the third and fourth parts. Persons who are not trained
in metaphysical thinking or interested in it, may do well to omit the
reading of the second part. To those who are competent in philosophical
thinking, and who disagree with the positions there taken, I may
perhaps be permitted to suggest that one can dissent from a philosophy
and yet find help in the applications to which it leads. And, after
all, it is the practice that counts.

With these preliminaries, I now proceed to delineate briefly the stages
of inner development which have led me slowly and with much labor to
the system of thought described in the following pages.

One of the leading principles to which I early gave assent, and to
which I have ever since adhered as a correct fundamental insight, is
expressed in the statement that every human being is an end _per se_,
worth while on his own account.[2]

Every human personality is to be safe against infringement and is,
in this sense, sacred. There is a certain precinct which may not be
invaded. The experience which served me especially as the matrix of
this idea was the adolescent experience of sex-life,—the necessity
felt of inhibiting, out of reverence for the personality of women, the
powerful instincts then awakened.[3]

The fact that I had lived abroad for three years in frequent contact
with young men, especially students, who derided my scruples, and in
the impure atmosphere of three capital cities of Europe, Berlin,
Paris and Vienna, where the “primrose path” is easy, tended to make
the retention of my point of view more difficult, and at the same time
to give it greater fixity, also to drive me into a kind of inward
solitude. I felt myself in opposition to my surroundings, and acquired
a confidence, perhaps exaggerated, to persevere along my own lines
against prevailing tendencies.

I ought next to mention the decay of theism which took place in my mind
in consequence of philosophic reading. Already at an early age I had
stumbled over the doctrine of Creation. I remember asking my Sunday
School teacher—How is creation possible? How can something originate
out of nothing? The answer I received was evasive, and left me uneasy
and unsatisfied. On another occasion I ventured to suggest to the same
authority—a revered and beloved authority—that the conception of God
seemed to me too much like that of a man, too much fashioned on the
human model; and he amazed me beyond words by replying that he himself
sympathized more or less with the ideas of Spinoza. This chance remark
set me thinking, and seemed to open wide spaces in which my mind felt
free to travel—though I never tended in the direction of Spinoza.[4]

My thoughts were driven still further by reaction against the narrow
theology of the lectures on Christian Evidences as taught at that time
in Columbia College, where I was a student. And all these influences
came to a head in the atmosphere of the German university at Berlin.
There I heard Zeller, Duhring, Steinthal, Bonitz. Above all I came into
contact with Herman Cohen, subsequently and for many years professor
of philosophy at the University of Marburg, and undertook to grapple
in grim earnest with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. The net outcome
was not atheism in the moral sense,—I have never been what is called
an atheist,—but the definite and permanent disappearance of the
individualistic conception of Deity. I was attracted by the rigor,
the sublimity, of Kant’s system, and especially by his transcendental
derivation of the moral law. The individualistic basis of his ethics,
which is quite uncongenial to me, I ignored, and for a time simply
accounted myself a follower of Kant. Very often since then I have
discovered that men, unbeknown to themselves, are apt to sail under
false flags, ranking themselves Kantians, Socialists, or what not,
because the system to which they give their adherence attracts them
at some one outstanding point, the point namely, where it sharply
conflicts with views which they themselves strongly reprobate; and they
are thus led to overlook other features no less important in which the
system is really uncongenial to them. Thus a person who recognizes the
evils of the present wage system may label himself a Socialist, simply
because Socialism is most in evidence as an adversary of the wage
system, while he may by no means agree with the positive principles
that underlie Socialism, when he comes to examine them dispassionately.

I thought at that time of the Moral Law as that which answers to
or should replace the individualistic God-idea. I believed in an
unknown principle or power in things of which the Moral Law is
the manifestation, and I found the evidence of the moral law in
man’s consciousness. Matthew Arnold’s “the power that makes for
righteousness” is a phrase which at that time would have suited
me,—though perhaps not entirely even at that time. I have since come
to see that “making for righteousness” is a conception inapplicable to
the ultimate reality, and is properly applied only to human effort;
since purpose implies that the end sought has not as yet been realized,
and non-realization and ultimate reality are contradictory ideas. The
power that only makes for righteousness cannot be the ultimate truth in
things. The utmost we can say is that the ultimate reality expresses
itself in the human world as the power that inspires in men moral

To return to my personal experiences, there fell into my hands, while
still a student abroad, a book by Friedrich Albert Lange entitled
_Die Arbeiterfrage_ (The Labor Question), which proved epoch-making
in my life. Bacon says in his essay _Of Studies_: “Some books are
to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and
digested.” He might have added that there are books that make a man
over, changing the current of his existence, or at least opening
channels which previously had been blocked.[5]

_Die Arbeiterfrage_ is not a great book. In the literature of the
subject it has long since been superseded. Yet it opened for me a
wide and tragic prospect, an outlook of which I had been until then
in great measure oblivious, an outlook on all the moral as well as
economic issues involved in what is called the Labor Question. My
teacher in philosophy, Cohen, once said to me sharply, that if there
is to be anything like religion in the world hereafter, Socialism
must be the expression of it. I did not agree with his statement that
Socialism spells religion, and have not seen my way to this day toward
identifying the two. But I realized that there was a measure of truth
in what he said,—and that I must square myself with the issues that
Socialism raises. Lange helped me to do this.

He aided me in other respects as well. His _History of Materialism_
dispelled some of the fictitious glamor that still hung about the
materialistic hypothesis at that time,—though the last chapter on the
ultimate philosophy of life, in which he identifies religion with
poetry, is distinctly weak. I read his book on the Labor Question with
burning cheeks; no work of fiction ever excited me as did this little
treatise. It was ethical in spirit, if not in its ruling ideas. It
favored productive co-operation, and seemed to point a way to immediate
action, as Socialism did not.

The upshot of it was that I now possessed a second object, namely, the
laborer, to whom I could apply my non-violation ethics. I had always
felt an instinctive, idealizing reverence for women, and this had its
influence in the first practical outcome of the philosophy of life with
which I started on my career. I would go out as the minister of a new
religious evangel. Instead of preaching the individual God, I was to
stir men up to enact the Moral Law; and to enact the Moral Law meant at
that time primarily to influence the young men with whom I came into
contact to reverence womanhood, and to keep inviolate the sacred thing,
woman’s honor. And now I had a second arrow in my quiver. I was to go
out to help to arouse the conscience of the wealthy, the advantaged,
the educated classes, to a sense of their guilt in violating the human
personality of the laborer. My mother had often sent me as a child
on errands of charity, and had always impressed upon me the duty of
respecting the dignity of the poor while ministering sympathetically
to their needs. I was prepared by this youthful training to resent the
indignity offered to the personality of the laborer, as well as the
suffering endured by him in consequence of existing conditions.

Accordingly, on returning from abroad, my first action consisted in
founding among men of my own or nearly my own age a little society
which we ambitiously called a Union for the Higher Life, based on
three tacit assumptions: sex purity, the principle of devoting the
surplus of one’s income beyond that required for one’s own genuine
needs to the elevation of the working class, and thirdly, continued
intellectual development. A second practical enterprise attempted was
the establishment of a co-operative printing shop. This having failed
because of the selfishness actuating the members, the Workingman’s
School was founded, with the avowed object of creating a truly
co-operative spirit among workingmen.

I must, however, pause at this point to explain how the development
described led me to separation from the Hebrew religion, the religion
in which I was born, and to the service of which as a Jewish minister
it was expected that I should devote my life.


[1] In view of the writer’s connection with the Ethical Culture
Societies it is fitting to state expressly that the philosophical
positions herein set forth are not to be taken as an official
pronouncement on behalf of the Ethical Culture Movement. The Ethical
Societies as such have no official philosophy. _See_ Book IV, Chapter 9.

[2] Though I must at once mention the first great error which
accompanied the true insight, the shadow which went alongside of the
light, namely, my understanding of the above principle mainly in a
negative sense. My ethics was largely what may be called non-violation

[3] The relation of chastity to the birth of the idea of personality
among the Hebrews I have touched upon elsewhere. The Hebrew people
abhorred promiscuity, or the dishonoring of oneself by indiscriminate
mingling. It is instructive that this did not stand in the way of
polygamy. Those persons whom the Hebrew received, so to speak, into
the sphere of his personality, did not imperil his sense of personal
intactness. And personal intactness seems to have been the determining
motive in the severe attitude taken toward prostitution. The fact
that the worship of other gods, the worst of crimes in the eyes of
the Hebrew legislator, was described as “whoring after other gods” is
particularly significant. The sacred, sensitive self, the holy thing
whatever it might be, which the Hebrew discovered within his own sex
experience, was thereafter attributed also to others, and especially to
those who had the same aversion to promiscuity as he. Hence perhaps the
limited ascription of holiness to members of the Hebrew people.

[4] Pantheism has always seemed to me the least satisfactory of
theological or ethical solutions. The system of thought which will
be found later on in this volume may have a certain superficial
resemblance to Pantheism, but in reality is as far from it in origin
and purpose as pole from pole.

[5] There are also passages in books that have the same revolutionizing
effect (Cf. the passage quoted from St. Paul in St. Augustine’s
“Confessions”). However, it is curious to observe that the effect
brought about may be quite out of proportion to the cause. The book or
the passage may prove to be of inferior value, so far as its subject
is concerned, and may yet serve suddenly to call attention to the
subject itself, and give rise to trains of thought that eventually
go far beyond the impetus that set them in motion. “Ripeness,” says
Shakespeare, “is everything,”—ripeness to receive the impetus.
Relatedness to the state of mind of the recipient is the decisive
factor, and this accounts for the astounding changes that result.



The separation was not violent. There was no sudden wrenching off.
There were none of those painful struggles which many others have had
to undergo when breaking away from the faith of their fathers. It was
all a gradual, smooth transition, the unfolding of a seed that had long
been planted. I have never felt the bitterness often characteristic of
the radical, nor his vengeful impulse to retaliate upon those who had
imposed the yoke of dogmas upon his soul. I had never worn the yoke. I
had never been in bondage. I had been gently guided. And consequently
the wine did not turn into vinegar, the love into hate. The truth is, I
was hardly aware of the change that had taken place until it was fairly
consummated. One day I awoke, and found that I had traveled into a new
country. The landscape was different; the faces I encountered were
different; and looking casually into a mental mirror, as it were, I
perceived that I too had become different. And I was sure also that I
had gained, not lost, that into my new spiritual home I had taken with
me, not indeed the images of my gods, like Æneas, fleeing from Troy,
but something for which those images had stood, and which in other ways
would remain for me a permanent possession.

It has been said that the science of today lives only in so far
as it supersedes the science of yesterday. Whatever may be true
of science (and the statement is certainly not true without large
qualifications—the science of Newton and Darwin has not been
“superseded”—and it may even come to pass that outreachings of a more
ancient science frustrated at the time will hereafter be taken up anew
with fairer results than formerly were attainable), in religion at
all events there is no such thing as the bare substitution of the new
for the old. The religions of the past, at least the more advanced
religions, are not simply to be cast on the scrap heap, or treated as
exploded superstitions. There is in all of them a certain fund of truth
which may not be allowed to perish, but should be rescued out of the

On the other hand, even the most advanced religions contain a large
admixture of error, survivals of primitive taboos, mythological
elements having their root in polytheism, while the very truths which I
have just admitted to be infinitely precious require to be restated so
as to fit them into a larger synthesis.

It is not easy to define my attitude toward the Old Masters, I mean
the Old Masters in religion, the incomparably great religious teachers
of the past, who tower above us like giants. My attitude is one of
profoundest reverence—toward the Hebrew prophets and Jesus especially.
The Hebrew religion first sounded the distinctively spiritual note.
Zoroaster had emphasized the struggle of the powers of Light and
the powers of Darkness, but the conception of light in his system
remained to a considerable extent materialistic. Buddha emphasized
Enlightenment in the sense of escape from Illusion, and in conjunction
with it sympathy for all who remain under the spell of illusion.
Confucius endeavored to walk, and taught his followers to walk, with
equipoise in the Middle Path; he emphasized what he thought to be the
cosmic principle of balance or equilibrium. Plato, taking his stand on
the highest terrestrial platform, caught, or believed himself to have
caught, sight of transcendental beauty as the ultimate principle in
things. But the prophets of Israel assigned to the ethical principle
the highest rank in man’s life and in the world at large. The best
thing in man, they declared, is his moral personality; and the best
thing in the world, the supreme and controlling principle, is the moral
power that pervades it.

The predominance of the ethical principle in religion dates from the
prophets of Israel. The religious development of the human race took
a new turn in their sublime predications, and I for one am certainly
conscious of having drawn my first draught of moral inspiration from
their writings.[6]

But nevertheless I found myself compelled to separate from the religion
of Israel. Now why was it necessary for me to take this step? Why not
continue along the path first blazed by the Hebrew prophets—smoothing
it perhaps and widening it? Why not separate the dross from the
gold, the error from the truth, explicating what is implicit in that
truth, and adapting it to the needs and conditions of the modern
age? The answer is that the truth contained in the Hebrew, and as I
shall presently show, in the Christian religion, is not capable of
such adaptation. It claims finality. I have mentioned that there is
an element of permanent value in both the Hebrew and the Christian
religion, and that it should be restated and fitted into a larger
synthesis. But this is impossible unless the Hebrew or Christian
setting be broken, unless the element to be preserved is taken out of
its context, and treated freshly and with perfect freedom. A religion
like the two I am concerned with is a determinate thing. It is a closed
circle of thoughts and beliefs. It is capable of a certain degree
of change but not of indefinite change. The limits of change are
determined by its leading conceptions—the monotheistic idea in the one
case, and the centrality of the figure of Christ in the other. Abandon
these, and the boundaries by which the religion is circumscribed are

The great religious teachers are men who see the spiritual landscape
from a certain point of view, including whatever is visible from their
station, excluding whatever is not. The religion which they originate
is thus both inclusive and sharply exclusive. What they see with
their rapt eyes they describe with a trenchancy and fitness never
thereafter to be equaled.[7] But in order to progress in religion it is
necessary to advance toward a different station, to reach a different,
a higher eminence, and from that to look forth anew upon the spiritual
landscape, comprehending the outlook of one’s predecessors in a new
perspective, seeing what they saw and much besides.

Religious growth may also be compared to the growth of a tree. To
expect that development shall continue along the Hebrew or Christian
lines is like expecting that a tree will continue to develop along
one of its branches. There is a limit beyond which the extension of a
branch cannot go. Then growth must show itself in the putting forth of
a new branch.

But let me now state with somewhat greater particularity the reasons
that compelled me to depart from the faith of Israel, and to leave my
early religious home, cherishing pious memories of it, but nevertheless
firmly set in my course towards new horizons.[8]

1. The difficulty created by the claim that Israel is an elect people,
that it stands in a peculiar relation to the Deity. This claim, at
the time when it was put forth, was neither arrogant nor unfounded.
It was not arrogant because the mission was understood to be a heavy
burden not a privilege: or if a privilege at all, then the tragic
privilege of martyrdom, a martyrdom continued through generations.
And the claim was not unfounded or preposterous at the time when it
was put forth because the Hebrews were in reality the only people who
conceived of morality in terms of holiness. It was not absurd for them
to assert their mission to be the teachers of mankind in respect to
the spiritual interpretation of morality, since there was something,
and that something infinitely important, which they actually had to
teach. Moral thinking and moral practices of course had existed from
immemorial times everywhere, but the conception of morality as divine
in its source, as spiritual in its inmost essence,—this immense idea
was the offspring of the Hebrew mind. On the other hand, I asked
myself, has not the task of Israel in this respect been accomplished?
Have not its Scriptures become the common property of the civilized
nations? And does not that teacher mistake his office who attempts to
maintain his magisterial authority after his pupils have come to man’s
estate, and are capable of original contributions? The “nations” are
not to be looked upon in the light of mere pupils. The ethical message
of Israel so far as it is sane is universalistic. It is founded on
the conviction that there is a moral nature in every human being, and
that the moral nature is a spiritual nature. And if this be so, then
the utterances, the insights, the new visions with which the spiritual
nature is pregnant, cannot be supposed to be restricted to members of
the Jewish people. If the teaching function is to be maintained it
must be exercised by all who have the gift. If there is to be an elect
body (a dangerous conception, the meaning of which is to be carefully
defined), it must consist of gentiles and Jews, of men of every race
and condition in whom the spiritual nature is more awakened than in
others, peculiarly vivid, pressing towards utterance.

2. Aside from the spiritual interpretation of morality, the mission
of the Jewish people has been said to consist in holding aloft the
standard of pure monotheism as against trinitarianism. But pure
monotheism is a philosophy rather than a religion. Taken by itself it
is too pure, too empty of content to serve the purposes of a living
faith. The attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, etc., ascribed to
Deity are highly abstract, too abstruse to be even thinkable, save
indirectly, and they certainly fail to touch the heart. As a matter
of fact it was the image of the Father projected upon the background
of these abstractions, that made the object of Jewish piety. Jahweh
is the heavenly spouse; Israel is to be his faithful earthly spouse.
The Children of Israel are pre-eminently his children. Other nations
likewise are his children,—some children of wrath to be cast out
and destroyed like the rebellious son in Deuteronomy, others to be
eventually gathered into the patriarchal household. But this view comes
back to the same general conception of the relations of Israel to other
nations which has just been discussed. Moreover, the Father image, as
representing the divine life in the world, even when extended so as to
include all mankind on equal terms, is open to a serious objection.[9]

3. If, nevertheless, the Jews have a mission, is it perhaps this: to
rehabilitate the prophetic ideal of social justice? Is it not social
justice that the world is crying for today? Were not the prophets of
Israel the great preachers of righteousness in the sense of social
justice? Did they not affirm that religion consists in justice and in
its concomitant mercifulness, but above all in justice? Did not Isaiah
say: “When ye come to tread my courts, who has demanded this of you?
Go wash you, make you clean. Put away the evil that is in your hands.
Cease to do evil; learn to do good.” And later on, “That ye let the
oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke.” These are solemn,
marvelous words assuredly! They have been ringing down through the
ages, and still find their echo in our hearts. And yet the justice
idea of the prophets is inadequate to serve the purpose of social
reconstruction today. To go back to it would mean repristination, not
renovation. It is sound as far as it goes, but it does not go far
enough. It is negative, rather than positive; it is based on the idea
of non-violation. What we require today is a positive conception, and
this implies a positive definition of that holy thing in man that
is to be treated as inviolable. To the mind of the prophets justice
meant chiefly resistance to oppression, since oppression is the most
palpable exemplification of the forbidden violation. The prophets in
their outlook on the external relations of their people stood for the
weak, the oppressed, against the strong, the oppressor. They stood for
their own weak little nation, the Belgium of those days, against the
two over-mighty empires, Egypt and Assyria, that bordered it on either
side. In the internal affairs of Israel they espoused the cause of
the weak against the rich and strong: “Woe unto them that add house
to house and field to field, that grind the faces of the poor.” Ever
and ever again the same note resounds, the same intense, passionately
indignant feeling against violation in the form of oppression. But this
aspect of justice, as I have said, is the negative aspect,—inestimably
important, but insufficient. Where oppression does not occur, have the
claims of justice ceased? Is there not something even greater than
mere non-infringement, greater than mercifulness or kindness, which in
justice we owe to the personality of our fellows, namely, to aid in the
development of their personality? Righteousness, yes, by all means,—but
does the righteousness of the prophets of Israel exhaust or begin to
exhaust the content of that vast idea?

The universalistic ethical idea in the Hebrew religion is bound up with
and bound down by racial restrictions. The issue between monotheism
and trinitarianism is no longer a vital issue of our day. The Father
image as the symbol of Deity raises expectations which experience does
not confirm. The ideal of social justice as conceived by the prophets
of Israel is a valid but incomplete expression of what is implied in
social justice. These are weighty considerations that make it difficult
to retain the belief in the elect character attributed to the people of
Israel. There is one other, of very deep-reaching importance, that must
be noticed. An elect people is supposed to be an exemplary people, one
that sets a moral example which other nations are expected to copy. But
it has become more and more clear to me that the value of example in
the moral life has been overestimated and misunderstood. No individual,
for instance, can really serve as an example to others so as to be
copied by them. The circumstances are always somewhat different, the
natures are different, and the obligations, finely examined, are never
quite the same. In fact, the best that anyone can do for another by his
example is to stimulate him to express with consummate fidelity his
different nature in his own different way. I do not of course deny that
there are certain uniformities, chiefly negative, in moral conduct, but
I have come to think that the ethical quality of moral acts consists
in the points in which they differ rather than in those in which they
agree. The ideally ethical act, to my mind, is the most completely
individualized act.

And what is true of individuals is no less true of peoples. No people
can really be exemplary for other peoples, and in this sense elect.
Every people possesses a character of its own to which it is to give
expression in ways which I shall indicate in the last part of this
work. But the way rightly adopted by one nation cannot be a law or a
model for its sister nations. If the ideal of the modern Zionists were
realized, if the Jews were to return to Palestine, to speak once more
the language of the Bible, to cultivate their distinctive gifts, they
would not therefore produce a pattern which could be copied in Japan,
or among the 400 millions of China, or in the United States, or among
the Slavic or Latin peoples.

In concluding these reflections, I may not conceal from myself or
from others that the objection to the function of exemplariness, if
sustained, affects at the root both the theology and the ethics of the
past. If no individual can be in the strict sense an example to others,
neither can an individual Deity be an example to be copied by men,
neither can Christ be the perfect exemplar to be imitated. There can
be no single perfect exemplar. Virtues that bear the same name are not
therefore the same virtues. Often it is only the name that is the same,
not the substance; and where they are in a broad way the same, yet
there remains a difference of accent. The natures of men are unlike.
Their moral destiny is to work out the unlikeness of each in harmony
with that of the others. The moral equivalence of men, rather than
their moral equality, is for me the expression of the fundamental moral

At the early stage of my career to which I am still adverting it was
urgently put to me that with all the changes that had taken place in
my inner life, I need not separate myself from the religion of the
Fathers, nay, that I might remain a servant and teacher of religion
within the Jewish fold, gradually weaning away from the beliefs which
they held those whom I might contrive to influence, and drawing them
up—such was the phrase used—to my own “higher level.” But this advice
was repelled by every inmost fibre of my being, and could not but be
utterly rejected. I was to publicly represent a certain belief with
the purpose of undermining it. I was to trade upon the simplicity of
my hearers in order to rob them of what they, crudely and mistakenly
perhaps, considered their most sacred truth, by feigning provisionally,
until I could alter their views, to be in agreement with them. Would
this be fair to them or to myself? Was I to act a lie in order to teach
the truth? There was especially one passage in the Sabbath service
which brought me to the point of resolution: I mean the words spoken
by the officiating minister as he holds up the Pentateuch scroll, “And
this is the Law which Moses set before the people of Israel.” I had
lately returned from abroad where I had had a fairly thorough course in
Biblical exegesis, and had become convinced that the Mosaic religion is
so to speak a religious mosaic, and that there is hardly a single stone
in it which can with certainty be traced to the authorship of Moses.
Was I to repeat these words? It was impossible. I was certain that they
would stick in my throat. On these grounds the separation was decided
on by me, and became irremediable.


[6] I still go back to that fountain-head for refreshment and
inspiration, much as a modern poet may go back to Homer, without
attempting to copy him, or as a modern sculptor or architect may go
back to the Greek artists without relinquishing his right and his duty
to help in producing a different kind of art, which perchance may one
day culminate in masterpieces like theirs, though his own performance
be but the poor beginning.

[7] Compare the ejaculatory deliverance of Isaiah, the Sermon on the
Mount, and the Parables of Jesus. Who can attempt in language to
express what they saw as they did?

[8] No seriously religious person will attempt to strike out into a
new path unless he be under inward coercion to do so. The advantages
of what is commonly called historic continuity (I have just shown
wherein real continuity consists, that of growth along the trunk, and
not of growth along the branch) are great. There is for one thing
the support derived from leaning on an ancient tradition, the proud
humility felt in passing on the torch that had been held by mighty
predecessors, the self-dedication to that which is larger than self,
_i.e._, to an institution and ideas that existed in the world before
one was born, and will exist after one is gone. There is the strength
drawn from contact with a large and powerful organization, powerful
both in sustaining one’s efforts, and in restraining and correcting
them when need be. There are, on the other side, the perils of
innovation, the errors into which one is led for lack of restraint and
correction, the too great dependence on self, the spiritual loneliness
and the lack of many gracious and useful aids to the religious life
such as a noble ritual, majestic music, the fit emotional expressions
of religious feeling, which are not to be had for the asking, the
fine embellishments that are precious in their way, and that, like
the fruits in the Gardens of the Gods, ripen slowly, and may not be
extemporized or anticipated.

[9] See Chapter IX on the Religious Society in Part IV of this volume.
It gives rise to the belief that men as individuals or collectively
are the objects of a special Providence, and that the universe is
so arranged as to be adapted to man’s needs, not to say his wishes;
whereas the facts show that man must adapt himself to the universe,
and find his physical safety and his ethical salvation in so doing.
The belief in the Father who allows not one hair of our heads to fall
unnoticed raises expectations to which actual experience fails to

As to the issue between monotheism and trinitarianism, it has long
since become obsolescent, if not obsolete. The forward-looking men and
women of our time are absorbed in far other issues—Is the mechanical
theory propounded by science the ultimate account of things? Is the
world in which we live a blind machine? Is man a chance product of
nature, like the beasts that perish? Not is God one in unity or is He
a Triune God, but, is there a God at all? Is there a supersensible
reality? Is religion capable of a new lease of life, and of giving a
new lease of life to us who now are spiritually dead?

[10] Of many ethical types of behavior no examples whatever as yet
exist, for instance, of the ethically-minded employer or merchant,
ethically-minded in thought and in practice. The standard of ethical
behavior which we apply is at present higher and more exacting. The
standard itself indeed is in process of being defined, and there are
no illustrations of it, or none but very imperfect ones, on which to
dwell with satisfaction. But the same is true of other vocations. We
are very thankful for any examples that can be found. They seem to
prove that that which ought to be can be. But we may not lean on them
too hard. They are never quite adequate, even in their limited sphere;
and there is ever an Ought-to-be beyond that which has been even
partially realized, beyond that which has even as yet been conceived.
To make too much of example is to check moral progress. Along with a
due appreciation of past moral achievements, there should be encouraged
a spirit of brave adventure, a certain intrepidity of soul to venture
forth on voyages of discovery into unknown ethical regions, taking the
risks but bent upon the prize.



I find on looking backward that my development proceeded with the help
of a series of definitions fixing my attitude toward teachers who made
a special appeal to me, and toward great historic tendencies past and
present. I was helped both by what I was able to appreciate in them,
and, where I diverged, by what they forced me to think out for myself.
Here let me acknowledge a passing debt to Emerson. As in the case
of Kant, a strong attraction drew me toward Emerson with temporary
disregard of radical differences,—although the spell was never so
potent or so persistent in the latter instance as in the former. I made
Emerson’s acquaintance in 1875. I came into touch with the Emerson
circle and read and re-read the _Essays_. The value of Emerson’s
teaching to me at that time consisted in the exalted view he takes
of the self. Divinity as an object of extraneous worship for me had
vanished. Emerson taught that immediate experience of the divine power
in self may take the place of worship. His doctrine of self-reliance
also was bracing to a youth just setting out to challenge prevailing
opinions and to urge plans of transformation upon the community in
which he worked. But I soon discovered that Emerson overstresses
self-affirmation at the expense of service. For a time indeed I
reconciled in my own fashion the two contrary tendencies. The divine
power, I argued, flows through me as a channel—hence the grandeur
which attaches to my spiritual nature. But the divine power manifests
itself in redressing the wrongs that exist in the world, and in putting
an end to such violations of personality as the sexual and economic
exploitations which disgrace human society. So for a time I continued
to walk on air with Emerson, and had my head in the clouds,—the clouds
in which Emerson enveloped me.

Out of this false sense of security, this quasi-pantheistic
self-affirmation, the experiences of the next few years effectually
roused me. I came to see that Emerson’s pantheism in effect spoils his
ethics. Be thyself, he says, not a counterfeit or imitation of someone
else. Be different. But why! Because the One manifests itself in
endless variety. Penetrating below the surface, however, one finds that
in this kind of philosophy the value of difference, to which I attach
essential importance on ethical grounds, is nothing more than that of
a foil. According to Emerson life is a universal masquerade, and the
interest of the whole business of living consists in the ever-renewed
discovery that the face behind the different masks is still the same.
Difference is not cherished on its own account. And here, as in the
case of the uniformity principle of Hebraism, I found myself dissenting.

Emerson is a kind of eagle, circling high up in the ether—_non soli

Emerson with his oracular sayings might have served as a priest at
Dodona or led the mysteries at Eleusis. Yet, withal, he is genuinely
American,—a rare blend of ancient mystic and modern Yankee,—a valued
poet too, but as an ethical guide to be accepted only with large



At about this time I began to occupy myself more seriously than I
had done before, with the study of the New Testament. I had, I think
a great advantage in my approach to it, for the very reason that I
had not been brought up in the Christian tradition. I came from the
outside, with a mind fresh to receive first-hand impressions. I had
not had instilled into me from childhood the kind of hesitant awe
that prevents impartial appraisement of excellences and of possible
deficiencies. On the other hand, as a searcher I was deeply interested
to ascertain what Christianity could give me, and to what extent it
could further my spiritual development. I had not the enforcedly
apologetic attitude; I did not come prepared to accept without question
nor yet to find fault; I came to test for my own use. Here am I, with
life and its problem before me—how can the teachings of Jesus help me
in my search, in my dire perplexities?

I must say to begin with that I was particularly struck with the
originality of Jesus’ teachings, a quality in them which to my
amazement I had found disputed, not only by Jews, but by representative
Christians. In Jewish circles it is not uncommon to speak almost
condescendingly of Christianity as of a daughter religion commissioned
to spread abroad the truths of Judaism, with such alloy as may be
needed to suit them to the apprehension of the gentiles. But Christian
teachers likewise—I remember particularly a recent sermon to that
effect—have taken the ground that Jesus added nothing new to the
ethical insight of mankind. His work, it is said, consisted merely in
supplying a sufficient motive for performing the duties which everyone
knows, but which, lacking this motive, we are supposedly impotent to
practice. This strange misapprehension of the intimate nature of Jesus’
contribution to ethical progress is largely due, I take it, to the
poverty of our moral vocabulary. Language puts at our disposal only
a few terms, such as Justice, Righteousness, Love,—which must needs
stand for a great variety of moral ideas. Thus Justice in Plato’s use
of the word, implies that “a shoemaker shall stick to his last,” that
those who perform the humble functions shall be content to perform
them in due subservience to their superiors. A very different meaning
was attached to justice by the Hebrew prophets as I have explained
in the last chapter. Again, a quite different conception of justice
is framed and stressed by modern social reformers. Now it is this
ambiguity of the moral vocabulary that conceals the novelty of Jesus’
precepts. Thus, to mention only a single capital instance, it has been
asserted that the Golden Rule as taught by Jesus is not original, but
substantially the same rule that had been laid down by Confucius 500
years before the time of Jesus. But on closer scrutiny it will be seen
that the two Golden Rules are by no means the same. As propounded
by the Chinese sage the rule appears to mean: Keep the balance true
between thyself and thy neighbor; illustrate in thy conduct the
principle of equilibrium. As impressed upon his disciples by Jesus it
means: Look upon thy neighbor as thy other self; act towards him as if
thou wert he.

To return to my point, the impression of novelty which I received
in reading the Gospels was definite and striking. The mythological
idealization of Jesus, indeed, I put aside as a thing that did not
concern me. On the other hand, to say with certain modern liberals
that he was just a man, an infinitely gracious personality, one who
exemplified in his life the virtues of forgiveness and self-sacrifice,
did not satisfy me either. Buddha too had taught forgiveness: “For
hatred is not conquered by hatred at any time; hatred is conquered by
love.” It could not then be the bare precept of forgiveness that lets
light on the secret of Jesus. And self-sacrifice—“Greater love hath no
man than this, that he should lay down his life for his friend”—had
been practiced within and without the pale of Hebraism.

That he continued the work of his Hebrew predecessors I made no doubt.
On the Hebrew side he was a prophet, or rather, a saint in Israel. But
I had just as little doubt that he took a step beyond his predecessors,
that his teachings bear upon them the signature of originality.

To put my thought briefly, I came to conclude that the ethical
originality of Jesus consists in a new way of dealing with the problem
of evil, that is, of evil in the guise of oppression. The prophets, his
predecessors, as we have seen, identified injustice with oppression;
and in the first flush of their moral enthusiasm the more optimistic
among them believed that justice as they conceived of it would
presently triumph and that oppression would cease altogether—“Arise,
shine, for thy light is come.” God would miraculously interfere, and
bring about on earth a state of righteousness. But years and centuries
passed by, and oppression, far from ceasing, became under the ruthless
administration of Rome ever more grinding and terrible. The yoke of
Rome weighed upon the Jews as it did upon other peoples; but perhaps,
because they were more independent in spirit, it galled them more
sorely. The fiery zealots among the Jews persisted in hoping that
by supreme desperate efforts, God coming to their aid, they might
yet succeed in shaking off this yoke—efforts which culminated in the
horrors of the last siege of Jerusalem. Jesus was not of their way of
thinking. He seems indeed to have believed that the end of the existing
order was near. It was too incredibly bad to last. The world would
be consumed by fire. A new earth and a new heaven would appear. But
in the meantime how accommodate oneself to the intolerable fact of
oppression? Jesus said, Resist not evil in the guise of oppression, it
is irresistible. He mentions in particular three forms of intolerable
oppression: a blow in the face, the stripping of a man of his garment,
and the coercing him to do the arbitrary bidding of another. He says,
Resist not evil, resist not oppression. Shall then evil triumph? Is the
victim helplessly at the mercy of the injurer? Shall he even be told
that in a servile spirit he must accept the indignities that are put
upon him? No; this is not the meaning. Quite a different meaning is
implied. And here the teaching of Jesus takes its novel turn. There is
a way, he says to the victim, in which you can spiritually triumph over
the evildoer, and make your peace with irresistible oppression. Use
it as a means of self-purification; pause to consider what the inner
motives are that lead your enemy, and others like him, to do such acts
as they are guilty of, and to so violate your personality and that
of others. The motives _in them_ are lust, greed, anger, wilfulness,
pride. Now turn your gaze inward upon yourself, look into your own
heart and learn, perhaps to your amazement, that the same evil streams
trickle through you; that you, too, are subject, even if it be only
subconsciously and incipiently, to the same appetites, passions, and
pride, that animate your injurers. Therefore let the sufferings you
endure at the hands of those who allow these bad impulses free rein in
their treatment of you lead you to expel the same bad impulses that
stir potentially in your breast; let this experience fill you with a
deeper horror of the evil, and prove the incentive to secure your own
emancipation from its control. In this way you will achieve a real
triumph over your enemy, and will be able to make your peace with
oppression. There are other intolerable evils in the world besides
oppression which nevertheless must be tolerated. The method of Jesus
can be applied to these also. This method I regard as a permanent
contribution to the ethical progress of humanity.

A second original trait in Jesus’ teaching I found in his conception
of the spiritual nature, and of his doctrine of love as dependent on
that conception. The conception or definition is still negative as
in the non-violation ethics of the Hebrew prophets. The spiritual
element in man is hidden. It cannot be apprehended as to what it
is substantively. The attributes ascribed to it are the effects in
which it manifests itself; this goes without saying. To define the
spiritual nature means to describe these effects, these manifestations.
According to the Hebrew predecessors of Jesus the spiritual power is
to be conceived of as that which prompts a man to respect the holy
precinct of personality in others and in himself. What the holy thing
is remains unknown. This view leads to acts of justice and mercy, as
above explained. According to Jesus the spiritual essence in man bids
him expel the inner, impure impulses that lead to external violations.
In brief, the spiritual power is conceived of in terms of purity. It
is the pure thing in man that thrusts out as alien to itself whatever
is impure—whatever is of the world, the flesh, and, in mythological
language, whatever is Satanic. In this sense I say that the definition
is negative. It marks out, indeed, a definite line of conduct; and it
even leads, as we shall presently see, to active efforts in a specific
direction. A negative principle may have certain positive results.
But in the main, nevertheless, the teaching of Jesus enlightens us as
to what shall not be rather than as to what shall be. From the Hebrew
prophets we learn that there shall not be violation of personality or
injustice, the positive concomitant being mercy; from Jesus’ teachings
we learn that there shall not be impurity in the inner forum, the
positive by-product being the doctrine of love.

Taking over the Hebrew heritage, Jesus affirmed that the spiritual
nature exists in all human beings. In every man there is presumed to
be this inner power to reject the unclean admixtures, to ward off and
repel the carnal solicitations, to withdraw from the “world,” and to
move upward toward the source of purity, which is God. The spirituality
of man consisting of purity, the Father-God, the Father of Lights,
is likewise conceived as the absolutely pure, in this sense as the
most holy. In every man there is a ray of the eternal light emanating
from the eternal luminary, and all men are one in so far as their
rays converge at the focus of Godhead. To love men is to be conscious
of one’s unity with them in the central life, and to give effect to
this consciousness. Hence Christian love, the love that Jesus taught,
is no earthly love, no mere sentiment, or outreaching of the human
affections. On the contrary, the natural human ties are repeatedly set
aside in the _logia_. To love another is to love him in God. Later the
current phrase became, to love him in Christ; that is, to think of him,
and act towards him, as if he possessed the same capacity for purity
with oneself.

The love of others in God or Christ encouraged a particular kind of
earthly beneficence, and it especially inspired the followers of
Jesus with an unparalleled zeal in works of remedial (though never of
preventive) charity. This may at first sight seem paradoxical. The
young man is advised to dispossess himself of all he has, and in the
same breath is told to distribute his possessions among the poor.
Why not rather scatter them to the winds? Why should not the poor too
cease to toil and spin and take heed for the morrow? For their simple
necessities God would provide. The two-fold attitude, however, is easy
to understand if we remember that certain acts of helpfulness have a
symbolic significance, as attesting the value we set upon the person to
whose needs we minister, much as a flower offered to a beloved person
emblematically intimates our sense of the beauty and worth of the one
to whom the tribute is offered. Christian charity, on its earthly
side, has a similar meaning and purpose. It is intended to efface the
indignity to which human beings are subjected when reduced to extreme
indigence or allowed to suffer without relief, for it is the disdain
of the spiritual personality thus evinced which Jesus disallows. He
bids his followers intimate by earthly tokens their consciousness of
the super-earthly worth of their fellow-beings. But the pursuit of
riches as such he nowhere encourages—quite the contrary. And it is
certainly a mistake to represent Jesus, as has recently been done, as
a kind of precursor of modern Socialism, and to think of him as one
who, if he had lived in our time, would have laid stress on equality
of opportunity for all to gain earthly possessions. He who advocated
wealth for none could not be supposed to have sympathized with a social
movement whose first object it is to secure wealth for all.

It is this interpretation of love that helped me to understand the
interior meaning of the doctrine of the forgiveness of enemies
as taught by Jesus, and to perceive wherein it differs from the
apparently identical mode of behavior enjoined by Buddha and the Stoic
Seneca. It plays a capital rôle in Jesus’ teaching. As illustrated
by the proto-martyr Stephen it probably effected the conversion of
Paul. Jesus says: “Bless them that curse you.” But how is it possible
to bless those that curse us? How, for instance, was it possible for
Stephen to bless the men of blood at the very moment when they were
crushing him under stones? To bless them that curse you, to bless them
that despitefully use you, means to distinguish between the spiritual
possibilities latent in them and their overt conduct, to see the human,
the potentially divine face behind the horrible mask, and to invoke the
influence of the divine power upon them in order that it may change
them into their purer, better selves.

With complete and eager appreciation of the points of excellence
contained in these teachings, with a reverence which it is impossible
to express in words for their incomparable Author, and with a large
sense of the beneficent influence which they have exercised on human
history, I still could not avoid the question, so vital for me, Have
these ethical teachings of the great Master the stamp of finality upon
them? Has Jesus really spoken the last word in ethics? Is nothing left
for us but further to expand and apply the truth which he laid down
once and for all? When theology goes, the last stand of apologetic
writers is apt to be made on the ethics. The instinct to claim finality
for the religion in which one has been brought up asserts itself in the
claim that the moral teachings at least are unexceptionable and valid
for all time to come. The searcher who is in great moral perplexities
and who seeks help for others and himself, is bound to ask and will ask
in no captious spirit, is this so?

The decisive point is whether the ethical teachings of Jesus supply
a principle which enables us to work with zest in the world, to take
the keenest interest in all the manifold activities of human society,
to embrace the world with the view of penetrating it with a spiritual
purpose and of thus transforming it. Do these teachings exhibit a
way of making the world and the flesh instrumental to the spirit, or
do they serve to turn us away from the world and its interests, to
abandon the world in despair? Is the conception of spirituality as
purity adequate? Purity is certainly one aspect of morality; is it
the sole or the principal factor in it? The other-worldly attitude
in the Gospels is certainly clearly marked. It is the background on
which the ethical precepts stand forth. Tyrrel has argued as against
Harnack for the close connection between the thought of Jesus and the
apocalyptic vision. I asked myself, Can the apocalyptic vision, that
is to say the other-worldliness, be dissociated from the ethics, or
is the relation between them necessary?[11] If the world is speedily,
almost immediately, coming to an end, then it is justifiable to prefer
celibacy to marriage, to ignore the state, to counsel disregard of the
toiling and the spinning. All of this is warranted on the assumption
that the order of things in which these institutions and activities
have their place is about to disappear.

But if this expectation is deceived, if things continue in their
ancient course, if the world and the flesh persist, taking on ever new
and more baffling shapes, how is a system of ethics which is based on
the assumption of one state of things to be reconciled with a state
of things exactly the opposite? How shall an ethical person conduct
himself in a world which his philosophy of life teaches him to reject,
but with which the necessities of his existence compel him to come to
terms day by day and hour by hour? There must then be compromise. And
the history of Christianity up to the present moment is the record of
such compromises. Monasticism was one of the earliest. A distinction
was made, so to speak, between perfect and imperfect Christians,
between a class of men and women who lived in ascetic seclusion, as if
the world did not exist, and another class, the greater number, who
managed ethically as best they could, dependent on the supererogatory
merits of the real Christians or saints to eke out their unholiness.
Another species of compromise is illustrated, especially in Protestant
countries. It appears as a division between the contracted sphere
of holiness and the circumambient sphere of the practical life, in
both of which, however, the same individual has his place. Chastity,
forgiveness of personal enemies, and the like virtues are to be
practiced in the contracted sphere of private life, the ability to
practice these virtues being derived from mystical identification
with Jesus. In the Christian’s public life no such identification is
possible, and he is left to be consciously or unconsciously unholy. As
a politician, as a competitor in the struggle for wealth, he remains
without ethical direction. The ethical ideal of the Gospels requires
for its setting the apocalyptic vision. It derives its cogency from the
belief that the world is about to perish. Can it serve as a sufficient
guide to those who must live in the world, and affirm their ethical
personality in dealing with it? In politics, in business, in science,
in art, must we not somehow see our way to the conception that these
great interests are not alien to the spiritual nature, introducing
perchance impure admixtures into it, but rather can be made subservient
or instrumental to it? Yes; but instrumental in what way? At this
point, not only the Christian system, but every one of the systems of
ethics that have arisen since then has failed. And it is, moreover,
perfectly evident that the instrumental function of the sex relation
or of the pursuit of knowledge or of patriotism cannot be determined
unless we first answer the one question which the ethical writers are
in the habit of evading—Instrumental to what end? What is the ethical
end? Instruments are means to ends—how can the means be rightly
appraised without a definite conception of the end? And if the end be
the affirmation of our ethical personality, of our spiritual nature, of
that holy thing in us without which man loses his worth (and without
which the rule of non-violation itself falls to the ground, since where
there is nothing inviolable there can be no infringement), it is plain
that we must seek a positive definition of the spiritual nature which
shall serve as a principle of regulation where the empty concept of
purity has manifestly failed.

Christian ethics has promoted the moral development of mankind in a
thousand ways. It has helped even by its mythological embodiment of a
transcendental idea to place the individual more firmly on his feet. It
has emphasized the inner springs of conduct; it has given prominence to
certain principal virtues of the private life; but, like every product
of the mind and aspirations of man, it exhibits the limitations of the
time and of the social conditions under which it arose. The conditions
have since changed. Society has become infinitely more complex, and
in consequence new moral problems have forced themselves upon men’s
attention; and with the help of Christianity itself the human race has
advanced beyond the point of view for which Christianity stands.[12]

Speaking again only for myself I could not assent to the position
that finality appertains to the ethical teachings of the Gospel, that
they or their Author have spoken the last word in ethics. I could not
persuade myself that this is so because I failed to get from these
teachings, inestimably precious as they are, an answer to the question
that most pressed upon me—Instrumental in what sense, instrumental to
what end?


[11] I am aware that a highly esteemed school of modern theologians
maintain that the apocalyptic element is a secondary and even an
embarrassing feature for Jesus. But I am unable to convince myself of
the justice of this view.

[12] See the similes used in the previous chapter on the growth of the
tree as manifested in the putting forth of a new branch, and the ascent
of an eminence which includes the part of the spiritual landscape
previously seen, but also that part which from the previous station was



My position at that time may be summarized as follows: There is a
divine power in the world, not individual, manifest in the moral law
as revealed in human experience. The moral law involves recognition
of the presence of a something holy in each human being. Since the
world presents innumerable examples of the grossest violation of human
personality (e.g., prostitution and exploitation of laborers), the
business immediately in hand is to make an end of these violations.
There was as yet in my mind no positive definition of personality.
Clarification and further development were promoted by the necessity of
grappling with the problems of poverty and with the attempted solutions
of the Socialists and of other social reformers. At this period, the
notion of personality in my mind being still without determinate
content, empirical matter intruded, and a species of millennialism for
a time vitiated my thinking. In order to set up a goal for humanity, I
dallied with Utopias, and flattered my imagination with the vision of
something like a state of ultimate earthly felicity. The cheap cry of
“Let us have heaven on earth” was also on my lips, though the delusion
did not last long and perhaps never penetrated very deeply.

The problem of poverty, as mentioned above, engrossed me early. I
acted as chairman of the meeting at which Henry George was first
introduced to the public in New York City. But Henry George’s
remedy,—a single draught of Socialism with unstinted individualism
thereafter—never attracted me, while his descriptions of the misery
of the poor, eloquent as they were, and fitted to awaken persons
unacquainted with actual conditions, conveyed to me no novel message. I
had before then been profoundly stirred by the chapters in Karl Marx’s
_Kapital_ in which he collects from the English Blue Books frightful
evidence of the mistreatment of laborers and especially of children in
the early part of the nineteenth century. My errands in the tenement
slums of New York had also made me fairly familiar with the bitter
facts, and throughout my life I have been in touch in a practical way
with the appalling complexus of misery and wrong which we abstractly
designate as the Labor Question. I shall not here take time to discuss
Socialism or other social reform movements in detail. My intention is
to sketch a certain philosophy of life, and to trace the steps by which
I reached it. My reaction against Socialism and related movements,
however, was a prime factor in this inner development; and it is of
this reaction and the causes of it that I must speak.

The evils inherent in poverty are, in the first place, obviously, the
privations entailed by it; secondly, the fact that the greater part
of the life of the poor is consumed in efforts to provide the bare
necessaries, the mind being thus kept in bondage to bodily needs and
prevented from rising to other interests more appropriate to rational
beings; thirdly, the fact that the first two wrongs are caused,
not wholly it is true, but yet in a large measure, by fellow human
beings.[13] The sting in poverty is not so much the hardships suffered,
as the contempt for the manhood of the poor, exhibited by their
exploiters,—the inequity being thus turned into iniquity.

Now my reaction against Socialism was and is that it neglects the
third, the moral evil, and stresses only the first and second. I
am now speaking of Marxian Socialism, with which in its rigid form
I early acquainted myself. The Marxian Socialist does not deny the
pain felt in consequence of the inequity, nor the desire of those who
suffer to become the equals of their masters; but he regards this
desire as a fact of nature explicable on deterministic grounds, a
consequence of improvement in the technique or tools of industry. He
does not deny that there are so-called moral ideas, but he considers
them epiphenomena or by-products of economic development. The tendency
toward equilibrium of power in human society, termed democracy, is to
him just a fact and nothing more. The mere desire for it apart from
the rightness of the desire is the efficient cause which leads to
social readjustments. But evidently this account of the matter will
be persuasive only in case the efficient cause proves to be really
efficient, that is to say, in case the desire for equilibration is
on the point of effectuating itself. If it is not, if the desire
of the masses for power is thwarted, if the realization of their
hopes is indefinitely postponed, then the foundations of the theory
are undermined. Hence Marxian Socialism has been coupled with and
depends on a belief which is a kind of materialistic parallel of the
apocalyptic vision of Jesus,—the belief that the end of the present
world (the world of the wage system) is close at hand, only with
the difference that the end is to be brought about not by divine
interference but automatically by the acquisition of power on the part
of the masses.

To me neither hunger nor the bondage of the mind to physical
necessities nor the bare fact of inequity seem sufficient to justify
the demand for social reconstruction, apart from moral right. If there
be no such thing as morality, or if morality be but an epiphenomenon of
economic conditions, what warrant have the hungry or the disadvantaged
for complaining? Animals, too, hunger and sicken. If man be like them
a mere chance product of nature, why should he not share their fate?
Let the weak succumb! Surely the bald fact that the democratic masses
today chafe under the yoke of their masters and demand a better state
of things, is no more a ground of obligation for the former than the
tendency toward an ultimate equilibrium in nature of which scientists
speak can be a ground of obligation. The tendency will effectuate
itself or not as the acting forces determine. There is in truth no such
thing as obligation from this point of view. Then why not fold our arms
and wait for what will happen? The notion of democracy currently held
is obnoxious to the same criticism. Leave out the moral basis in the
claim to equity, and nothing remains but the brute fact that men, being
egotists, fret under the exercise of superior power by their fellow
egotists. But let Nietzsche or some one else demonstrate that certain
higher values, higher merely because subjectively relished as higher,
are incompatible with equilibrium of power, and he will be justified
at least in his own eyes in scoffing at equality and scourging the
democratic dogs back to their kennels. No one denies that the masses
have the desire to be treated as the equals of their masters (very
inconveniently for the latter), but it is quite another matter whether
their desire ought to be gratified. Social reconstruction, in other
words, must be motivated by other considerations than those by which
according to Marx the great change is to come about.

I have not stopped to consider whether the Socialistic scheme is
workable, whether the run of mankind are capable of coöperative effort
on a large scale without the preëminent leadership of master minds;
whether Socialism, if carried out, would really breed, as it is
expected to, the sentiment of ideal brotherhood; whether the sentiment
of brotherhood itself, unless it be rooted in the closer family and
national ties, is morally sound, whether the emotional forces that
sweep through and overwhelm large aggregations of men, can be bridled
and sufficiently enlightened to promote the ends of Socialism. All such
questions as these touch the feasibility of the ideal proposed; my own
reaction was and is against the ideal _itself_. Instead of pronouncing
as some do that mankind are not yet ripe to carry out so high an
ideal, I found myself seriously challenging and finally rejecting the
very ideal on the ground that it is not a genuine moral ideal at all.
It is ethically spurious, because it omits the notion of right and
substitutes for it that of power.

A different objection lies against certain modifications of Socialism
and against many of the social reform movements of our time. In
these movements the idea of personality is not absent as in Marx’s
theory. The inherent dignity of every human being is deeply felt, and
_per contra_ the indignity of the present condition of the greater
number. Man is worth while; and for the sake of the worth in him, the
unfavorable circumstances which stifle the promise of his nature are
to be changed. My objection in this case is that the higher spiritual
nature of man, or the notion of personality, is left indefinite and
remains vaguely in the background. It supplies indeed the initial
motive for practical efforts; but the instrumental relation of the
goods of life to the supreme good is not apprehended positively. And
thus the door is left open, as we shall presently see, for corrupting
influences to enter in.

There seems, it is true, at first sight, considerable warrant for
demanding certain instant reforms without troubling about ulterior
spiritual ends. We are confronted in modern society with evils which
seem to require immediate abolition. Exploitation is palpably one of
them. It is the clearest possible case of trespass on personality. Why
not then demand respect simply for personality in general, without
inquiring into the nature of personality? Is it not beyond all
question dishonoring to human nature that some should be on the verge
of starvation while others are even themselves injured by excessive
possessions; that the energies of children should be exhausted by
premature toil; that adults should be worked like beasts of burden?
Why not leave in abeyance the definition of the supreme end, and
concentrate effort on the removal of these incontestable evils?

My answer to this is, in the first place, that we cannot gain the
best leverage even for these initial reforms without a high and
defined conception of man as a spiritual being. Efforts directed
toward improving even material conditions are apt to be fluctuating,
spasmodic, and are ever in danger of dying down, unless material
improvement is seen in its relation towards something else that
commands the highest respect—implicit respect. Sympathy alone is
altogether inadequate. It often works grave harm; it is notoriously
intermittent, at one time broadly expansive and then again contracting
upon the nearest objects. Furthermore, we can at best sympathize
genuinely with only a very limited number of persons. If anyone were
to open his heart to the sufferings of all the millions of human
beings at present engaged in conflict on the battlefields of Europe;
if he were to try to realize the indirect consequences of this war; if
he were to take a still wider sweep and embrace in his imagination
the populations of India, China, and the races of Africa, the effect
upon him would be simply paralyzing. The possible effect of one’s
sympathetic action upon this huge volume of human suffering would
appear so insignificant as to make exertion on his part seem quite
irrational. We are assisted by sympathy in the matter of social reform
by the narrowness of our horizons; and even within these narrow
boundaries the efficiency of the motive depends largely upon the
transciency of the sympathetic mood. Sympathy as a permanent attitude
would disintegrate the self.[14]

The second answer is that by ignoring the ultimate end we _install
proximate ends in its place_. The reform movements of our day abstain
from attempting to set up an ultimate good. They are content, as they
say, “to evaluate the tangible goods ready at hand.” In consequence
these tangible goods inevitably usurp the place of the supreme good.
Begin as we may with the high notion of personality, we become
materialists before we have proceeded very far, and we infect the
laboring masses with our materialism if we omit to define the relation
of proximate ends to the ultimate aim. For remember that the ultimate
end is that which prescribes the limits within which the nearer aims
are to be sanctioned,—the limit for each being the degree in which it
conduces toward the highest end. Without a goal set up, without an
explicit conception of its regulative function, the proximate ends
abound, and are likely to expand _ad indefinitum_. This is evident,
for instance, in the case of wealth-getting. The poor have not enough
wealth, the rich have too much. “Let us then redress the balance by
at least securing enough for the poor. The necessary limitations
we can discuss after they shall have at least reached the limit of
sufficiency.” But we are thus kindling the desire for wealth; and this
desire and its possible gratifications are boundless. It is in the
nature of desire to be prolific of new desire, and to aim unceasingly
at new satisfactions. First, a decent dwelling, sufficient food,
education for the children, are wanted, then luxury, then millions,
then multi-millions. Secondary motives take the place of primary ones.
Wealth becomes a token; the satisfactions it gives are no longer
related to actual wants or needs, but solely to a fantastic desire for
preëminence. Has not this been the actual history of many of those
who have risen from poverty to great riches? But the same desires are
present, though suppressed, unsatisfied, in the masses, who look up to
the few with admiration or envy. And suppressed desires are often even
more insidiously poisoning, more contaminating in their effects than
satisfied desires.

The psychological fact is that human volition as expressed in action
is always determined by some end. A means is never adopted without
there being some object or purpose in view. Leave out the ultimate aim
and the means become themselves the ends. A decent subsistence should
be treated as related to the ultimate end,— a decent living, for
example, as a means to fit the worker for the duties of fatherhood and

It may again be urged that what has been said is true only of the
ambitious minority, and that the masses would be quite content with a
decent subsistence if only that much could be assured them. But the
prevalence of cheap imitations of luxury among the poor points in the
opposite direction. At least in a democratic community, the ambitions
of the few are apt to be contagious. And where this is not the case, as
in some of the older countries of Europe, a certain sordid Philistinism
is apt to manifest itself. The life of the middle class in Europe is
without the restless brilliance that characterizes the upward-striving
class in America,—is not daringly but meanly materialistic. Redeeming
features are, of course, not wanting, yet how anyone can conceive the
social ideal as a state of things in which the laboring people shall
be raised to the level at present occupied by the “middle class” is
difficult for me to understand. Nor is it a sufficient rejoinder to
say that the present complexion of the middle class, its narrowness
and Philistinism, are due to isolation from the social classes
beneath them, and that the broad sentiment of universal fellowship
and fraternity, when it shall have come to prevail, will purify the
atmosphere on the middle level. I have sufficiently indicated my doubts
as to the efficiency and soundness of what is called fraternalism.

In brief, if we are to preserve a man’s respect for himself as a moral
being, we must find a ground on which he can maintain his self-esteem
apart from the material conditions in which he is placed, and in
the interval before the desirable material changes can possibly be
accomplished. This interval is certain to be long. The betterment of
social conditions is sure to be gradual. The slum ought to be abolished
immediately, but until it goes we must find a reason to respect the man
in the slums even now, and a reason why he should respect himself even
now. This reason can only be derived from the spiritual nature of man,
from the spiritual end for which he exists; and on this account, above
all others, it is indispensable that the spiritual end be defined. How
painfully social reformers may be led into error by slighting this
consideration is seen in the readiness with which some have subscribed
to the amazing opinion that the issue between chastity and dishonor for
the working-girl depends ultimately on the amount of her wages.

There are two fallacies that affect the social reform movements of
today. The substitution of power for right is one. What I venture to
call the fallacy of provisionalism is the second. This is the fallacy
of the opportunist movements. “Lead the laboring classes provisionally
up to the level of sufficiency, or of decent existence, and then we
shall see.” But man does not act without ends, and unless we define the
ultimate end, we give license to the proximate ends. In other words, we
simply cannot act provisionally. We cannot ignore our spiritual nature
without offending against it. We may start with the idea of serving it,
but without explicit definition of it we shall presently find ourselves
disgraced in all sorts of idolatries.

What I am trying to show is how I came to perceive the inadequacy
of the non-violation ethics. Its formula is: “Admit the existence of
personality; do not infringe upon it. In your actions for the good of
others, try to abolish the manifest infringements or violations. Since
there must be some positive content to the idea of good, accept the
material or empirical goods as the provisional content with the general
understanding that they are to be instrumental to the higher life but
without troubling to define exactly how.”

The aberrations to which this view leads on the side of action toward
others I have pointed out. A word now as to the injurious effect on
self. Of these the following are the most important:

1. The leader in social reform is apt to be regarded by his followers
and to think of himself as a kind of savior. It is his sincere
intention to save society from some of the glaring evils with which it
is afflicted. But if salvation is sought in the betterment of external
conditions, the social savior is apt to become the victim of a false
sense of moral security. He is likely to be off his guard at the weak
points of his own character, and to fall abruptly from high levels into
the ditch.

2. The social reformer who adopts the fallacy of provisionalism is apt
to be absorbed in the _mechanical_ details of his work,—the settlement
or the municipal reform society, or the charitable association tend
to become highly organized and efficient pieces of machinery. But
moral idealism declines in proportion as this kind of efficiency
increases,—the salt loses its savor.

3. The social reformer who sets his heart on external changes is apt to
become _impatient_ to bring about those changes. For since he attempts
to work from without inwardly, and not at the same time from within
outwardly, he has nothing to show for his pains unless the desired
outward changes are actually effected. In this way may be explained a
certain dictatorial manner, a certain arbitrariness sometimes observed
in social workers of whose earnestness and devotion there can be no
question, the preposterous outcome being that in attempting to carry
out plans of reform in a democratic community such reformers offend
against the very principle of democracy by over-riding the personality
of others.

4. The Social reformer who concentrates his attention on external
changes is apt to be ambitious of large results, to measure betterment
by statistical standards. Though quality be not overlooked, _quantity_
is likely to be over-emphasized.

5. The painful spectacle is sometimes presented of a leader in social
movements who _goes to pieces morally in his private relations_
(becomes a bad father, a worthless husband, an unscrupulous sponge on
his friends, etc.). Absorption in extensive public movements has this
danger in it that it often tends to make men neglectful of the nearer

Facts of this kind, which came repeatedly under my observation in
the course of years, drove home to my mind the conviction that the
provisional method in social reform (the method of working for external
changes without definition of the end) is morally perilous, both in its
effects on those who are to be benefited, and in its reaction on the
character of the reformer himself. I parted company with opportunism in
every one of its forms; I became more and more imbued with the belief
that no one can really help others who in the effort to do so is not
himself morally helped, i.e., whose character is not improved in every
respect, who does not become a _better_ father, husband, citizen, a
more upright man in all his relations in and because of his endeavors
to benefit society. I became convinced that the ethical principle must
run like a golden thread through the whole of a man’s life, in a word,
that social reform unless inspired by the spiritual view of it, that
is, unless it is made tributary to the spiritual, the total end of
life, is not social reform in any true sense at all.[15]

The fundamental question, therefore, echoed and re-echoed with ever
intenser insistence: “What then is the holy thing in others? What
is the supreme end or good to which all the lesser goods should be
subordinate and subservient? And what is the holy thing in me?—for
I may not spiritually sacrifice myself. My own highest good must be
achievable in agreement with that of others. What definition of the
essential end is possible that shall reconcile egoism and altruism by
transforming and transcending them? And if there be such end thinkable
and definable, how establish the applicability of this end to empirical
man, either in the person of others or in my own?”

I shall have to dwell on this subject at length in the sequel. Here at
the outset I cannot forbear expressing my sense of the obliquities, the
folly, the meanness, the cruelties which human nature often exhibits
on the empirical side when dispassionately contemplated. That there
are also finer traits in people, gleams of gold in the quartz, I do
not deny. But even in the best exemplars of the race the alloy is
not wanting. And it is an open question how far any human being, if
his whole make-up and all the circumstances that influenced him be
considered, can be called predominantly good, assuming that goodness
is a matter of desert and not of chance. How, therefore, a being that
to actual, impartial observation reveals himself as so dubiously worth
while, can be regarded as possessing the quality of transcendent worth
(which seems to be implied in the idea of personality as inviolable
and precious) will be the starting-point of my inquiry into the
philosophical first principle in the second part of this volume.


[13] I say _caused_, but perhaps not deliberately intended, although
there are instances of the latter. An act is diabolical when
maliciously designed to inflict a wrong on another; as rape for the
purpose of dishonoring a family. It is cruelly selfish but not fiendish
when it springs from scorn of others as if they were only fractional
human beings. The Brahmin’s attitude towards the lower castes, the
attitude of the feudal lord toward the serf, of Shakespeare’s nobility
toward the common citizens, and of some modern theorists toward the
democratic multitude, are instances in point. In such cases the moral
sense itself is astray, but there is perhaps no deliberate sinning
against the light.

[14] I have not touched upon the further question to what extent we can
really compass the happiness, except at rare moments, even of a single
human being. The altruistic philosophy is apt to confound the removal
of manifest evils with positive benefaction. But the removal of one
kind of evil lets in new kinds; and wherein then consists the gain so
far as happiness is concerned?

[15] To ward off the most serious misunderstanding, I must remind
every reader of the chapter on Social Reform, as well as on the Hebrew
religion and on the ethics of the Gospels, that I am narrating the
phases of my own development. I am not attempting to do justice to
all that is excellent in those great religions and in these great
social movements; I am trying to show at what points, despite those
excellences, I myself felt compelled to diverge from them, to push
beyond them. In regard to Socialism I recognize the immense service
it has performed in awakening the conscience of modern society to the
sufferings of the working class. And in pointing out the dangers of
opportunism, the fallacy of provisionalism, I am speaking of dangers
from which I felt that I must escape, not casting a slur on the noble
personalities that have appeared in the field of social reform during
my own time and among my friends and acquaintances. Such personalities,
because of their inbred fineness, may be immune against tendencies
which yet undeniably exist, and which therefore require to be
explicitly apprehended.



The present chapter deals with my inner development as I believe it
to have been furthered by my connection with the Society for Ethical
Culture. The functions intrusted to me in this connection were, first,
various forms of so-called philanthropic activity. The effects of the
experience gathered in them has been described in a preceding chapter;
they may be summed up in the formula: littleness in the external
results achieved, consciousness of moral danger to self.

Secondly, the ministerial function of offering “edification” in public
addresses to Sunday assemblies, the solemnizing of marriages, and
the conducting of funeral services,—while in addition a large part
of my vocational life consisted in the building up of an educational

_The Public Addresses._ Edification, or building up, as I understood
it, involved the profoundly difficult task of supplying a working
philosophy of life without traveling into the field of metaphysics,
teaching the practicable counterpart of a connected system of thought
concerning the problems of life,—the system being so firmly knit as to
make the appropriate feelings and impulses more or less natural to its
exponent. In my case, not having fallen heir to such a system, the task
of edification became doubly difficult. It meant from the beginning
unceasing self-edification, with a view to edifying others.[17] Setting
out with a general scheme along Kantian lines, I proceeded to fill in
the outline in the course of my public teachings, with the result that
the content filled in eventually disrupted the scheme, and compelled
a thoroughgoing reconstruction. The Holiness conception had been my
starting point. I never gave it up. I was attracted to Kant because
he affirmed it. I broke with him because he does not make good his

I began with Kantianism, which is predominantly individualistic, and I
found that in dealing with the problems of the family, with the labor
question, and in the attempt to reach an ideal of democracy beyond
the materialistic conception of it which is at present current—I
was introducing into my initial sketch elements incompatible with
individualism, and necessitating formulation in social terms. And since
I retained and stressed the notion of personality, I had to seek a way
of interpreting the term Social spiritually, as Kant had undertaken to
interpret the term individual spiritually. I certainly could not fall
in with Darwinism or other evolutionary interpretations of sociality,
inasmuch as they all leave out the concept of inviolable personality,
the indefeasible factor in my ethical thinking.

These things are here alluded to in order to emphasize the influence
of the public Sunday addresses delivered by me regularly for more than
forty years in stimulating, I had almost said forcing, my ethical
growth. To care for anyone else enough to make his problem one’s own
is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development. To care for
a group of people in the sense of being challenged to suggest to
them ideas and ways of behavior that shall really be of use to them
in the storm and stress of life, is the most searching incentive to
self-development imaginable. It is more powerful than the desire to
get truth for one’s own sake. The closet philosopher may be serious
enough in his search for truth, and he may succeed in constructing a
symmetrical system which at the time seems complete. Will it stand wear
and tear? Will it in the bitter moments of his life hold together? If
not, he has failed; but then he only is the loser, it is only his ship
that has gone down. But the situation is different when a company of
people venture with you on the same voyage, and trust to you as in a
way their pilot.

The challenge that comes from the expectant eyes of those who are in
trouble, of those whose relations to their friends or the members of
their family have become tangled, the challenge that comes from the
larger public towards which every public speaker has a certain ethical
duty—all these challenges press home the question: are the things that
you believe true, so true that you may confidently expect them to be
confirmed by the experience of those who in some measure depend upon
you? Are they genuinely of use?

There is also another kind of challenge that in a way is even more
taxing and searching: the silent appeal that comes from those who are
spiritually dead, from those who are sunk in sloth or sensuality, or
who waste their precious days in the pursuit of trivial, frivolous
ends, and from the insensitive consciences of the self-righteous and
the self-complacent. In the Bible we read that the prophet Elisha
once threw himself on the body of a dead child, in order with his own
life to kindle there the life that seemed extinct. In some such way
in public addresses, in which it is not the word but the personality
behind the word that counts, the speaker is bound to throw himself
body and soul, as it were, upon those who are spiritually numbed, and
to _enhance the life within himself_ in order to stir up life in them.
All of which means that the task of edifying others involves continuous
efforts at self-edification.

_The Solemnizing of Marriages._ In solemnizing marriages I had
the experience that some of those at which I had officiated ended
disastrously,—there had been no real marriage at all. Though such
instances were not numerous in my own experience, yet the statistics
of divorce prove that the number of unfortunate marriages in this
and other countries is very large, and is increasing. What are
the foundations of a permanent relation such as would tend to the
development of personality in and through marriage? was the question
urged upon me. Here is a social tie in which two individuals, and later
the offspring, are combined in the closest propinquity. How can an
ethical theory of marriage be reached, that is, a theory dependent
on the idea of the joint realization of the highest end of life by
the members of the family group? This ethical theory of marriage will
be set forth in a subsequent part of this volume. Here I wish again
to mark the retroactive effect of the function I was called upon to
exercise in the Ethical Society on the development of theory. The most
incisive effect of my practical experience, however, was the being
compelled to encounter the effect of _frustration_. How reluctant is
the natural man to face this fact! How he shrinks, and puts up screens
between his face and the head of Medusa! In my earliest marriage
addresses I remember how I used to describe the relation as one in
which each of the partners receives the cup of happiness at the hands
of the other. The second time I performed the ceremony, the bride
was the only child of excellent friends, whose life was completely
wrapped up in their one daughter. She was a charming young girl, and
the bridegroom was a fine-grained person entirely devoted to her. That
marriage feast I shall never forget. A little less than a year after,
the young wife having died in child-birth, I was called in to speak
at her bier. Where, then, was the exchange of happiness? How suddenly
had the house of bliss fallen into ruins! A similar experience that
touched me even more deeply was that of a friend, the first one among
my associates who believed with me in the possibility of a religious
society without a dogmatic creed. The course of love in his case had
not run smooth. The marriage between himself and the lovely young
woman he wedded was the happy culmination of many trials, a haven
of peace after storms. Hardly more than two years elapsed when he
suddenly developed a fatal form of mental disease, and lingered for
ten years in a long, slow, degrading decline. I thus became acquainted
with frustration in one of its most woeful shapes. I remember how the
poor young wife, during those ten years, widow in all but name, sought
alleviation in various directions for her intolerable grief. Work to
occupy her mind was one; caring for the needs of the poor another. I
remember also how futile these devices seemed. She had lived “on the
heights”; she must now descend to lower levels; she had had first best,
she must now put up with second or third best. Gladly indeed would she
have exchanged places with some of the poor women whom she assisted,
could she have kept her husband at her side as they had theirs. It was
well enough for her to try to alleviate the troubles of these people,
but what were their sorrows compared to hers? And to keep the mind
occupied by work, what was it at best but a temporary anodyne? When
the work was over, in the still, lonely hours of the night, the storm
of grief would break with all the greater violence. I had not taught
these my friends a really valid spiritual conception of the purpose
of marriage: I had failed in that: and when they were in need of it
they did not have it to support them. They had looked on marriage as a
scene of felicity; they had not been taught to make allowance for the

I had not made preparation for the palpable frustrations just
mentioned, nor yet for others, for the discovery that the beloved
person is faulty, that the nimbus of divine personality does not
coincide with the character. And especially did the lack of any
explicit idea of personality prove fatal in those cases where the
frustration is most serious, where real or apparent incompatibilities
appear, or where actual degeneration occurs, and the hope of
regeneration becomes remote.

_Bereavement_ was the second shape in which the fact of frustration
most often came home to me. Hundreds of times I have spoken to people
in the moment of the last leave-taking. The usual consolations, aside
from those that depend on mythological beliefs, are: Submit to the
inevitable; clinch your teeth and face the storms of fate. Remember
the debt you owe to the living. There is work that remains for you
to do. See to it that you do not by excessive grieving destroy your
capacity for work. Instead of indulging in sorrow for your own loss,
take upon yourself the sorrows of others. In particular it is uplifting
for one who has been more severely afflicted to take upon himself the
sorrow of those whose burden is lighter. Be grateful for what you have
possessed. Think not so much of what you have lost, as of what you were
privileged for a season to call your own. Make the virtues of those
who are no longer living a force for good in your own life. Paint the
portrait of your friend incessantly. Retouch it. Eliminate what was of
merely transient value in him. Remember him in the light of his best
qualities, and live so as to be able to endure his purified glance.
Or, in the case of those whose lives were stained, seek to expiate
their faults in your life. Purify and perpetuate them in this way
in yourself. Memory is not a mere passive receptacle, it is rather
a creative faculty. Let it play upon the lives that are no longer
sensibly present, and thus maintain the connection with them. A friend
living across the sea, whom you will never see again, may yet be a
living presence for you if you continue by the aid of memory to be in
communication with him. In the case of the departed, likewise, their
effectual influence may remain none the less real.

These various modes of consolation have each a certain value. To
the one last mentioned I attach the greatest value. Bereavement is
a challenge for a fresh start in spiritual development. It should
not mean putting up with the second best, but reaching out toward
first best. The object to be achieved by the ethical teacher on such
occasions is to help the bereaved to tie anew the threads that have
been sundered, or rather to substitute a more ethereal but firmer tie
for the contacts mediated by the senses. But this task of the reweaving
of ties, spiritually, not sensibly, depends entirely for its success
upon a spiritual conception of personality. And if this be lacking, the
attempt is hopeless. Frustration itself must be recognized as partial
if it is to lead beyond itself. There must be found in man that which
cannot be defeated if the defeat is not to be accepted as final.

A third kind of frustration was brought home to me by the problem of
specialization, as it presented itself in the course of my efforts to
work out an ethical theory true to the facts of life. To discharge
competently my own special function, I saw that I ought to be
acquainted with the best ethical thought of the past. This meant an
exhaustive study of the philosophical systems of which the ethical
thought of the philosophers is the fruit. I ought further to be
familiar with the great religions, in which so much of the ethical
insight of mankind is incorporated. I ought to acquaint myself with
the moral history of mankind in so far as it is accessible, including
that of the primitive races. I ought to gain a survey of the variations
of moral opinion that have so staggered belief in the possibility of
ethical truth. I ought to master at least the general principles of the
physical and biological sciences, since it is impossible that the first
principles of ethics should not be related to the governing principles
that obtain in other departments of knowledge. I ought in addition to
master in their ethical aspect the economic and political problems of
the present day, as well as the psychology of individual and social
life, in order to be able to apply with some degree of competence the
directives of ethics to actual conduct. There are in addition other
subjects, such as jurisprudence, poetry and the fine arts, that have
ultimate relation to ethics, and that may not safely be neglected.
Behold, then, the problem of specialism in one of its most appalling
forms. For how can any one individual hope to adequately fill out such
a programme? And what I have said is but my own personal illustration
of a general problem that more and more besets every reflective person
in our time. And it is a problem that has direct bearings upon the
question of human personality. The personality is not a detached and
isolated thing. It is a center that radiates out in every possible
direction, and depends for the release of its energy on the influences
received in turn from all directions. On the one hand, to have a
footing at all in reality one must be a specialist, and the fields of
specialism are becoming more and more restricted. To know one thing
well is the indispensable condition of the sense of mastery, yes, of
self-respect. And yet it seems to be becoming increasingly clear that
one cannot really master a single specialty without knowing of other
specialties whatsoever is related to one’s own. Narrowness, and loss
of power, and consequent decay of the special function itself, seems
the one alternative. Dilettantism, the other. But again I ask, who can
actually fill out such a programme? The frustration of effort thus
appears, in its intellectual guise, as one more manifestation of that
general fact of frustration which we meet with wherever we turn.[18]

On the side of character the same reflections occur. Unity in the
direction of distinctiveness or uniqueness is the end and aim.
But instead of unity of character, conflict of inner tendencies,
ever-recurrent rupture of provisional harmonies, a duality of self
or multiplicity of selves, are the facts attested by one’s inner
experience. And frustration here, at the core of a man’s being, is
perhaps more painful and more seemingly contradictory of the very ideal
and purpose of ethical development than in any of the forms previously

The last instance of frustration that I will mention appears in
connection with the cosmic relation of our race. The thought of the
death of the individual may be overcome by the idea of perpetuity in
the lives of successors. The death of the human race, its eventual
extinction, is capable of no such assured compensation. We are ethical
beings, committed to the pursuit of an ideal end, yet the cosmic
conditions are such as to make the end unattainable within the limits
of a finite world. This unattainableness of the end it is true is the
very ground and foundation of the supersensible interpretation of
ethical experience. Yet this thought itself can only be made good by a
positive interpretation of personality (of the spiritual nature), which
we are yet to seek. As viewed empirically, the human generations are
but accidents of nature, waves on the sea of life, passing shadows. And
viewing ourselves in this manner our self-respect goes to pieces. The
idea of obligation vanishes. Man’s claim to infinite worth is bitterly
mocked. Unless we can reach the spiritual view of life, the frustration
of purpose in the large, that is, of humanity as a whole, is final.

These then, summarily stated, are the problems with which an ethical
philosophy of life has to deal.

1. How to remedy the belittlement of man, the infinitesimal
insignificance of him as a creature of time and space, when compared
with the immensities of the world around him—its spatial and temporal
immensities. What is man in the presence of these myriads of worlds, of
this unending procession of time that he should attribute to himself
significance, nay, worth? Is he perhaps an infinitesimal member of an
Infinite?—preserving in this way the sense of his littleness, and of
the vastness that bears down upon him, and yet maintaining himself
irrefragably at his station, as indispensable to the perfection of the

2. How to discover a way of retaining the connection between man and
the lower forms of life that preceded him, not doing violence to the
facts which the evolutionists have brought out, and yet at the same
time assuring man’s spiritual distinction? Does he perhaps possess in
his ethical nature a window, so to speak, through which he can catch at
least a glimpse of the ultimate reality, of the infinite life which is
the real life, behind the picture screen of sea and mountain, plants
and animals?

3. How to overcome the various types of frustration mentioned above:
frustration on its intellectual side, or the reconciliation of
specialist efficiency with breadth and relatedness; frustration on the
character side.

Frustration in the social relations, as in marriage, or as in the case
of defective children.

Frustration through bereavement, or the privation suffered by the going
out of our life of lives with which we are inseparably connected by
ethical as well as affectional ties.

Frustration in the attempt to carry out projects of social betterment;
on what moral ground to assert the possible moral value of life in the
slums today, and at the same time to put forth and to stimulate the
most assiduous efforts to abolish the slum; on what grounds to affirm
that the best life is possible under the worst conditions, and yet not
to cease or for an instant relax the effort to change the conditions.

The problem of how to support and console the wretched multitudes
of mankind in the interval that must elapse before the reform of
conditions can take real effect; the problem of support and consolation
in fatal sickness, on the deathbed, and in the harrowing recollection
of irremediable and irrevocable wrong done to others; the problem
raised by the prospective extinction, or the possible old age and
degeneration before extinction of mankind—all these problems should be
taken together, not one, for instance the so-called social problem,
accentuated, leaving the rest out of sight. From one peg they all
hang, on one cardinal idea they all depend—the idea of personality
as positively defined, of the holy thing as not merely inviolable
without regard to its content, but inviolable because of a certain
positive content. The ascription of worth to man, in this sense, is the
fundamental problem of all, and to the full discussion of this we shall
turn in the constructive part of the volume which is now to follow.


[16] See the published accounts of the Ethical Culture School.

[17] The word “edification” as commonly used has a sentimental flavor.
It does not as a rule convey the idea of constructiveness at all. It
frequently suggests a kind of warm, moist, semi-tropical atmosphere for
the emotions of the hearer to simmer in. But in its genuine meaning of
“building up” it is too valuable a word to lose.

[18] A new conception of culture is needed, based neither on exclusive
specialism, nor on the ambition to know everything after the manner of
Goethe in his early days, and such a conception of culture must supply
the foundation of an educational philosophy.

                                BOOK II

                         PHILOSOPHICAL THEORY



I begin my statement of the ethical ideal with a critique of Kant.
The reason for this is that Kant stands forth preëminent among all
philosophers as the one who emphatically asserts that the attribute
of inviolability attaches to every human being, in his formula that
_every_ man is to be treated as an end _per se_, and never to be
used as a mere tool by others. The formula as thus worded by him is
subject to grave objections which will be dealt with later on. But the
grand conception of the moral worthwhileness of all men is specially
connected with the name of Kant. Did he succeed, on the basis of his
system, in establishing this conception? He seems to make it the
corner-stone of his ethics. Is the corner-stone secure?

Referring again to my individual development, I should find it
difficult to express how much Kant’s _Metaphysik der Sitten_ and
_Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_ at one time meant to me.

The one ethical fact of which I was so to speak perfectly assured,
the “inviolability” so often mentioned in previous chapters, is
extremely hard to justify to the thinking mind. The empirical school
of philosophers scoff at the very notion of it. The practice of the
world is a perpetual, painful evidence of the small attention paid
to it, and even idealistic philosophers from Plato down have found it
quite possible to construct quasi-ethical systems based on the idea,
not of human equality, but of the inferiority of the greater number.
In Kant, however, one encounters an epoch-making philosopher who not
only accepts as a fact the idea of inviolability, and of the kind of
equality that goes with it, but who undertakes to set it forth in such
a manner as to command the assent of the reason. For a long time I
believed that he had succeeded in his great enterprise; and it was only
after years of discipleship, not indeed without suppressed misgivings,
that I began to see that I had been mistaken.

My eyes were opened when I realized certain extremely questionable
moral consequences to which his doctrine led him: for instance, his
unspeakable theory of marriage, his defense of capital punishment,
the stiff individualism of his system, and his failure to establish
an instrumental connection between the empirical goods, of wealth,
culture, and the like, and the supreme good or supreme end as defined
by him. I was forced by these unsound conclusions to ask myself whether
the foundations of the system are sound. Surely if it is true of any
system of thought, it is true of an ethical system that it must be
judged by its fruits. The Kantian system is indeed vastly impressive,
and even sublime in some of its aspects. We travel on the road along
which Kant leads with a certain sense of exaltation, but when at the
end of our journey we find that we have reached a goal at which we
cannot consent to abide, it is imperative to inquire whether the point
of departure was well taken.

The point of departure in Kant’s exposition is the existence in all men
of a sense of duty. Moral relations subsist only between moral beings.
All men possess a sense of duty,—therefore all men are moral beings,
therefore all are morally equal,—therefore no one may be used as a mere
tool for the benefit of others, but is to be treated as worth while on
his own account. Thus runs the argument.

The sense of duty is the consciousness of being bound to render
implicit obedience to a categorical imperative. Our rational nature
tells us categorically what is right to do. Our rational nature issues
absolute commands. The sense of duty is man’s response to them. Kant
does not for a moment imply that either he or anyone else has ever
adequately obeyed. The moral dignity, the moral equality of men, does
not depend on the obedience but on the consciousness of the obligation
to obey—on acknowledged subjection to the command. The actual moral
performances of some men are certainly better than those of others; but
of no one, not even of the best of men, can it be shown that the moral
principle in its purity, that is, unadulterated by baser incentives,
was ever the actuating motive of his conduct. The different members of
the human species differ morally in degree, but are of the same moral
kind, being distinguished from the lower animals not because they obey
the moral law, but because they recognize the obligation to obey it.
This sort of consciousness may be dim in some, but it exists in all.
The most brutal murderer is dimly aware of the holy law which he has

The great dictum of the universal moral equality of mankind is thus
made to depend on an assumed fact. If this fact can be successfully
disputed, the dictum itself is imperilled. It has been disputed, not
flippantly, but most seriously, and it is in my opinion obnoxious to
fatal objections. I do not indeed believe it possible to establish the
negative, to wit, that the sense of duty does not lurk somewhere, is
not latent somewhere in the consciousness of persons morally the most
obtuse; but I hold it to be impossible to prove the affirmative, to
wit, that a sense of duty does exist in all human beings, even in the
most degraded. Kant’s dictum of equality depends on making good the
affirmative proposition, but this he has failed to do.

One circumstance especially which at first sight seems favorable to
Kant’s contention turns against him. He has been assailed on the
ground that his categorical imperative is a fiction, that no such
an imperative plays a rôle in the actual experience of men. On the
contrary, the actual experience of men is replete with categorical
imperatives. Nothing in the life of man plays a greater rôle than these
imperatives. The danger that threatens Kant’s demonstration is due
to the number of rival categoricals that compete with his, and from
which the one he sets up is not with certainty distinguishable. To put
the matter simply, what is called in technical language a categorical
imperative is nothing else than a way of acting somehow felt by the
individual to be obligatory upon him, whether he likes it or dislikes
it. It is a constraint in which he is bound to acquiesce, a public rule
of some sort which overrides his private propensities.

Constraints of this sort are numerous. Many of them no one would think
of designating as moral. Some are distinctly antimoral. I will mention
a few:—for instance, the rules of behavior derived from the _tabu_
notion. Certain kinds of food may not be eaten; certain objects like
the Ark of the Covenant in David’s time may not be touched.[19] Strict
_tabus_ obtain in regard to marriage such as the rules of endogamy and
exogamy. Certain persons may not even be looked at. A feeling of horror
is felt toward those who transgress these rules; and the transgression
of them is often considered far more reprehensible than a moral sin.
It would evidently be absurd to characterize a Hottentot or a Fiji
Islander as the moral equal of a civilized man on the ground that, like
the latter, he possesses the sense of duty, consisting in his case
of an unquestioning acknowledgment of the categorical imperative of

Gang loyalty is another instance in point. In one of our prisons a
certain convict is at present paying the penalty of a crime which was
really committed by one of his pals. He could have got off scot free
if he had “squealed.” But “squealing” is contrary to the honor code of
the gang and he preferred to sacrifice his liberty rather than prove
recreant to the claims of gang loyalty. There are some writers who hold
that this is an instance of morality, genuine as far as it goes, but
restricted within too narrow a circle. The fact that it is restricted
within too narrow a circle, that fidelity to a few is compatible with
violent hostility against the community at large, seems to me to
prove that the moral quality is absent. Morality is either universal
or nothing. Gang loyalty is a social phenomenon, but not an ethical
phenomenon. The distinction between the two terms will be enforced
later on. In any event the sense of constraint is manifest. The moral
character of the constraint I deny.

Another example of an imperative which is categorical enough but
at the same time non-ethical is furnished by Darwin’s well-known
explanation of the original of conscience. He assumes that certain
ways of behaving which our ancestors found to be socially useful, have
become registered as it were in our organisms, and constitute a kind
of race-consciousness which persists in each individual. This latent
consciousness is potent as a tendency, though often not masterful
enough to repress the recalcitrant egoistic impulses. A conflict
ensues. The deep ingrained tendency makes itself felt. And as social
beings we are aware that we ought to side with it. But the egoistic
impulses break out on the surface of consciousness and vehemently
urge us in the opposite direction. The feeling of obligation, and
thereafter of remorse, are the record of the inner struggle. I do not
here undertake to discuss at length the truth of Darwin’s theory.
There are a number of weak spots in it, to which I shall merely allude
in passing. First, he speaks of acts found to be socially useful in
primitive communities. Is it possible to show that the same or similar
acts retain their utility in a developed industrial society like that
of the present day? Is not the term “socially useful” extremely vague,
and can the notion implied in it be expanded without the assistance
of a truly ethical principle?[20] Then again, why should the thing
called social utility overawe the individual mind and thwart individual
purpose? Why should not the daring egotist affirm his right to be and
flourish in the present hour, in the teeth of social utility? It will
be said that the claims are insistent, that the tendency is ingrained,
that it has become instinctive in him, and that he cannot release
himself from the control it exercises over him. But instincts can be
weakened and in time extinguished, like the fear of the dark, when
the absence of an objective cause is recognized. Why should not the
altruistic impulse likewise, by the method of Freudian analysis, if you
please, be exposed to the light, and the egotist thereby be enabled to
disembarrass himself of the interference of dead ancestors in his life
purposes, and to proceed on his way undisturbed by any inward qualms?

These examples serve to illustrate the point with which we are here
concerned, namely, that the presence and operation of undoubted
constraints does not establish the existence in all men of the sense
of duty on which Kant founds universal moral equality. Kant would
indeed object that all these so-called constraints or imperatives are
hypothetical, and not really categorical. By an hypothetical imperative
he understands one in which the command depends upon an “if”—_if_ there
be invisible spirits such as primitive men imagined, then the rules of
_tabu_ follow. _If_ the safety of the gang is an object of commanding
interest, then gang loyalty is obligatory. _If_ the preservation and
prosperity of human society in general (a society superior to that
of ants and of bees indeed but like them a product of nature and not
radically distinct from them) be regarded as the supreme end of desire
and endeavor, then the rules of social behavior are to be obeyed. But,
he would say, none of these objects are fit to rank so high. They all
are optional ends. An hypothetical imperative is one in which the end
pursued is optional, the imperative extending only to the means. If the
end be desired, then it is reasonable, and in so far imperative, that
we adopt the means that lead to its attainment. An imperative truly
categorical, however, is one in which the obligation extends to the end
proposed as well as to the means. It is not left to our inclination to
embrace or to refuse the end, it being of such a kind as absolutely to
constrain us to accept it.

But if this be so, then in this first part of our criticism we turn
upon Kant and declare that he has nowhere given us reason to believe
that the acceptance of an absolute end is implied in the kind of
constraints to which the generality of men submit. And again if such
acceptance cannot be proved, then the universal moral equality of men
based by him on the presence in all of the sense of duty disappears,
and his lofty ethical structure breaks down at this point.


[19] See II Samuel, VI, 6, 7.

[20] Primitive communities valued coöperation because it was socially
useful. But there are different kinds of coöperation. Which kind shall
we of today adopt? The mere idea of coöperation affords no clue. The
self-sacrifice of the individual to the whole of which he is a part is
socially useful. But on what occasions and to what degree is it useful?
Altruism is socially useful. We are to serve others. But what in them
shall we serve? Their physical needs, their intellectual needs, all
their needs together? Is that humanly possible? Here again an ethical
principle is required to define the quality and the limits of the
service. The latent race-consciousness of which Darwin speaks affords
no light on the ethical problems proper. The concept of social utility,
if not valueless, is at best only of subsidiary value in any attempt to
solve these problems. So far from reading once and for all the riddle
of conscience, Darwin has not read aright the terms of the riddle.


CRITIQUE OF KANT (_Continued_)

I now proceed to the second point of criticism, which strikes at the
heart of Kant’s ethics. Man according to Kant is worth while on his
own account (an end _per se_), never to be used as a mere tool or
thing. He is a person, an object towards whom we are bound to evince
absolute respect. Yet Kant immediately goes on to say that there is
no object in all the world, neither man nor any other, that is worth
while on its own account, that deserves such respect. Kant’s views
of actual human nature are tinged with somber pessimism. (Compare
the chapter on Radical Evil in his _Religion Within the Limits of
Pure Reason_.) A strange paradox is thus presented to us. Man is
to be accepted as a worth while object, and yet there is no worth
while object. How does Kant seek to escape from this predicament? He
says, not the man primarily, but something that happens in the man,
is supremely significant: certain acts are worth while on their own
account,—the agent only in so far as he performs such acts (or, let
us add with a sigh, as he tries to perform them)—namely, acts which
have as their sole motive respect for universal law. Then he informs
us that similar processes occur in other agents, in fellow human
beings, or, more precisely, that these others are capable of trying to
act as I myself feel bound to try to act. Consider how far fetched
is the argument, on what wavering foundations has been placed the
ethical pronouncement of human worth and human equality in which our
interest is so profoundly engaged. We do wish to be assured of this
cardinal truth. No other truth is practically and theoretically of
greater importance. As against the iniquitous practices of the world,
as against the exploitation of labor, as against the degradation of
woman, as against political tyranny whether exercised by kings or by
mobs, we raise up for our shield the indefeasible worth of men—not of
some men but of all men. And now, behold! the thinker to whom we owe
the forcible expression of this truth seems to have left it in the air.
I scrutinize my neighbors, and find in their behavior no sure sign of
real worth. I fall back on myself and I discover what? The idea of an
act which, if I could perform it, would stand on its own merits (would
be self-justified). I then find that I am bound to try to perform such
acts. I cannot affirm that in a single instance I have ever performed
such an act. I next infer—on what tenuous ground has been shown in
the last chapter—that my fellow-beings have the same inner experience
as mine. And it is for this reason that by a circuitous inference I
declare them to be worth while objects.

That Kant has formulated a truth of the utmost importance for
mankind (that no man is to be treated as a mere tool), seems to me
incontestable. That he has not made good his own proposition is my
contention, and that the whole problem must therefore be taken up
_de novo_. It will assist us in doing so to expose the flaw in his
categorical imperative, or the formal principle of universality and
necessity applied to human actions, which in his view imprints upon
them the character of absolute rightness.

Note that Kant approaches the problems of ethics from the side of
physical science, and with the bias of the physical scientist. The
ethical principle he sets up, the bare idea of universal necessity or
of law in general, is derived by way of abstraction from the particular
laws of nature. It is a physical principle in disguise. To understand
Kant’s system, it is simply indispensable to keep this point in mind.
He was pre-occupied during the major portion of his life with profound
speculations on scientific subjects. The title of the _Critique of
Pure Reason_ might not be inappropriately changed into “A treatise on
the fundamental assumptions of science, as handled by Newton and his
successors.” He was undeniably interested in ethics. His ultimate aim
was to clear the way for the confident holding of ethical principles.
(See the Preface to the _Critique of Pure Reason_.) But he could not
divest himself of the prejudice of his temperament and of his lifelong
pursuit. He is not singular in this respect. To borrow the first
principle of ethics from some other field is a common and apparently
ineradicable error. Mechanics, æsthetics, and recently biology, have
been laid under contribution for this purpose. A consistent attempt to
study ethical phenomena on their own ground, to mark off what is really
distinctive in the data of ethical experience, and then to search for
some principle which shall serve to give a coherent account of them,
has to my knowledge never yet been undertaken. Always ethics has been
treated as an annex to some other discipline. Always we behold the
attempt to assimilate before the distinctive traits and characteristics
have been carefully investigated. Never yet has the independence of
this wonderful aspect of human nature been truly acknowledged. Kant
indeed freed ethics from its long tutelage to theology; but he left
it still in subjection, subject to his own favorite study, physical

But though the notion of necessity, together with that of universality,
which he derived from physics was employed by him as a fundamental
principle of rightness in conduct, the principle itself insensibly, and
as it would seem unbeknown to himself, underwent a remarkable change
in the course of his undertaking to give it a new application. The
following brief comments will serve to elucidate this point.

In physics, whenever an antecedent phenomenon has been exactly
described, and a sequent phenomenon is defined in the same fashion,
the connection is pronounced to be necessary—as for instance the
transformation of mechanical energy into heat, and conversely. A
single carefully guarded experiment may suffice to establish the
necessary nexus between two phenomena. And after having established
the necessity, we are confident of the universality. If exceptions
should occur and contravene the supposed law, the calculations or the
observations are to be corrected. But never in physical science do
we start from universality and predict necessity therefrom. Kant in
his ethics invariably couples together the two terms Universal and
Necessary. But he reverses the procedure of science, he _begins with
the universality and thereupon affirms the necessity_.

Universality is for him the test of moral necessity. If an act can be
universalized, the performance of it, according to him, is morally
necessary. For instance, the question is asked, Is it right to kill?
Look at the act of killing, says Kant, and see whether it can be
universalized, that is to say, whether if everybody felt at liberty to
kill, the act of the murderer would or would not be self-defeating? He
kills in order to affirm his life at the expense of another’s. If his
action were to be generally imitated, his own life would be forfeit,
or at least in danger, and he would be annulling what he intends to
affirm. Hence murder is morally wrong: to sacredly respect the life of
others is right.

But not only is the order reversed, so that necessity follows on the
heels of universality, but the very meaning of the term necessity is
altered. _A logical necessity is substituted for a physical necessity._
The idea of necessity as handled by physical science denotes the
connection between one thing and something else. It is not the thing
itself but its relation to some other thing that is necessary. It is
not the phenomenon A nor the phenomenon B, in the case of a cause
and its effect, that is declared to be necessary, but the sequence
of B on A, the circumstance that B is tied up to A, must follow in
its wake. But the term Necessity as used by Kant in his _Ethics_,
denotes a relation of a thing to itself. It is in fact equivalent to
self-consistency, which is a logical notion derived from the principle
of self-identity. A is A, and it is not thinkable that it should
be non-A. Similarly Kant says: If a man desires to affirm his life,
that is, to be self-preserving, it is not thinkable, it would not be
rational or logical on his part, to perform an act which would be
self-defeating. Kant does not say that a man might not irrationally
take another man’s life, regardless of the consequences to himself; he
says that as a rational intelligence acting on purely logical motives
he could not do so.[21] To repeat, then, physical necessity is a
relation of one thing to another thing: the logical necessity involved
in self-consistency is a relation of a thing to itself.

My next contention, and this touches the root of the matter, is
that the notion of end is incompatible with self-consistency as the
paramount principle in ethics. For a self-consistent rational being
is a being in harmony with himself, one who if this harmony should in
some unaccountable way ever be broken would by his own endeavor seek
to return to himself. (Kant declares that the morality of any one man
cannot be affected by his fellows, by any influence from the outside;
it must be his own act.) But an end presupposes some outside object
as a means: means and ends are inseparable correlatives. On the other
hand, an entity which merely affirms itself, or if somehow alienated
from self endeavors without assistance from beyond its sphere to
return to itself, is no true end at all, and cannot be designated as
such. It is no end because it employs no means.

What warrant then has Kant for introducing the foreign notion of end
into a world of pure self-consistency? When we use the term Necessity
in relation to physical phenomena, as of cause and effect, we assert
unalterable sequence, unity of temporal and spatial differentiæ.
When we use the same term as Kant uses it, we assert the unity of a
thing with itself. But this in the nature of the case does not admit
the intrusion of the alien concept of the outside. The spiritual
society or pattern to which human society ought to be conformed, is
according to Kant a society of ends, of ends _per se_. This is his
great pronouncement. But the very idea on which he lays so much stress,
the idea of end, on closer scrutiny of his premises disappears. The
entities composing that society are self-sufficing, and moreover
intrinsically unrelated to each other. Rational self-preservation is
the only character that can be predicated of any of them.

I have laid stress on the fact that Kant derived his ethical principle
from his physics. The passage in which he speaks of the ethical order
as a universal and necessary order like that of nature is to my mind
conclusive. I now urge in addition that this sort of second nature
superimposed upon existing nature would not have to our contemplating
minds a dignity superior to that of physical nature. The moral order
as thus exhibited would not possess the worth we attribute to it as
exalted above what is called the natural order. The falling stone is
a perfect illustration of physical necessity. Necessity passed through
human consciousness, or bathed in human consciousness, is not on that
account a more eligible principle. Nay, since human consciousness
interferes and causes contingent actions, due to passion, appetite,
etc., the moral order constructed by men should be even less worth
while than the physical order of nature, if indeed necessity be the
touchstone of worth.[22]

To summarize: according to Kant man as an object is unfit to warrant
the claim of unconditional obligation on the part of others toward
himself. An abstract principle must be sought. This principle is
universality, and necessity based on universality. Respect for this
purely abstract notion is that which alone imparts a moral quality to
so-called moral acts. We start, according to Kant, with the declaration
that man is an end _per se_. But we reject him as an object, and take
refuge in a formal principle. We then assume that every human being is
conscious of the working within himself of this formal principle and
acknowledges his subjection to it, whether he is able to analyze it out
or not. And thus indirectly we derive out of emptiness a ray of glory
which we allow to fall upon each and every man.

The question now is, since this approach to the ethical problem
manifestly fails, must we not begin at the opposite end, and take the
attribution of worth to men, however unworthy they may actually be, as
our starting-point?


[21] He also assumes a society not only of rational intelligences
determined by the same rational motives, but equal in ability to carry
out their motives. (See my article in _Mind_ [new series, Vol. XI, No.
42, p. 162], reprinted in the volume dedicated to William James, by the
Philosophical Faculty of Columbia University.)

[22] Surefootedness, or certainty in thinking and in acting seems
to have been the chief desideratum at which Kant aimed. As against
scepticism or mere empirical groping this element of the inner life is
obviously of exceeding value. But it is far from being the only element
to be taken into account.



The moral equality of men is a corollary of the attribution of worth
to all men. Did we not ascribe worth to them, there is no reason why
we should not make servile use of them. But there are admittedly
formidable difficulties in the way of attributing worth to human nature.

The first and most obvious of these is the existence of repulsive
traits in human beings, such as sly cunning, deceit, falsehood,
grossness, cruelty: _homo homini lupus_! Secondly, there is the
prevalent error of employing ethical terms, like good and bad, to
denote the merely attractive and repellent traits.[23] Attractive
traits, such as gentleness, sweetness, kindness, a sympathetic
disposition, are, in those fortunate enough to possess them, pleasing
accidents of nature. We delight in them, but have no reason to ascribe
the superlative quality of worth to those who possess them. If the evil
that men do revolts us, the so-called good in them does not give us the
right to surround their heads with the nimbus of worth. Thirdly, and
perhaps even more deterrent than the ever-present spectacle of evil
and the inadequacy of so-called goodness, is the commonplaceness, the
cheapness of men.

It must be admitted that, with rare exceptions, our estimates of others
are apt to be low rather than lofty. Can we ascribe worth to those
whom we hold cheap? The reason of our habitual under-estimation of
fellowmen I think is that we regard them from the standpoint of the
use to which we can put them, and do not see them from the inside,
as it were, in the light of the marvelous energies of which human
nature is the scene. The grossest matter, the most ordinary physical
happenings, reveal to the instructed eye of the scientist the play of
forces which it taxes the most powerful intellects in some measure to
apprehend and describe. Yet these miracles escape the dull senses of
those of us who deal with the forces of nature from the point of view
of their immediate use. We turn on the electric light, but have little
more than a crude surmise of the things that the word electricity
meant to Faraday, Clerk Maxwell, or Hertz. And as we turn on the
electric light, so we turn on our fellowmen, as it were, to use them.
The thought of the poet—“What a piece of work is man, how infinite
in faculty!” occurs to us only at scattered moments. And yet things
transpire in the inner life of human beings far more marvelous than the
chemical processes or the flux of electric waves, did we but attend to
them. There is in particular one kind of energy to which the quality
of worth may well attach itself. It is unlike the physical forces; it
is not a transformed mode of mechanical energy. It is _sui generis_,
underivative, unique; it is synonymous with highest freedom; it is
power raised to the Nth degree. It is ethical energy. To release it
in oneself is to achieve unbounded expansion. Morality, as commonly
understood, is a system of rules, chiefly repressive. Ethical energy,
on the contrary, is determined by the very opposite tendency; a
tendency, it is true, never more than tentatively effectuated under
finite conditions. And because the energy is unique, it points toward
a unique, irreducible, hence substantive entity in man, from which it
springs. This entity is itself incognizable, yet the effect it produces
requires that it be postulated. The category of substance, which is
almost disappearing from science, is to be reinstalled in ethics.
Ethics cannot dispense with it. This, as a prelude, may suffice to
indicate the path along which we shall proceed.

_The Reason Why the Method of Ethics Must Be the Opposite of the Method
Employed by the Physical Sciences_

Physical science begins from the bottom and builds upwards. It analyzes
phenomena into their elements, and thereupon seeks to combine these
elements into structures that shall correspond to experience. In this
business it never comes to a finish. Its analysis of the elements is
provisional. Every element is hypothetical. Indeed it is plain in the
nature of the case that no element can be ultimate. An element is a
unit, and every empirical unit necessarily conceals in its bosom a
plexus of which it is the unification. The very idea of unit requires
for its complement a manifold of some kind. In hypothetical units, or
ideal constructs that have for their purpose to lead to the discovery
and arrangement of real phenomena, science abounds. Atoms, electrons,
energy conceived as a substance by Ostwald, Spencer’s physiological
units, are examples.

The results achieved by science are never more than approximations in
the sense that the units, the bricks with which the house is built, are
liable to be rejected, and the constructions achieved are subject to

The point however which I wish to emphasize is that the scientist is
satisfied of the truth, the reality of its partial results. Newton,
for instance, in formulating the law of gravitation has, so to speak,
marked off a strip of reality. The ground covered cannot be lost; when
some natural law is enunciated, the proper conditions for its discovery
and verification having been observed, a sure footing in reality has
been gained, science standing to this extent on _terra firma_, though
beyond the domain within which the law applies the phenomena may be
heaving and billowing like the sea.

Now the question I am intent upon is, Why is it possible for science
to be content with partial acquisition? Why does it profess to know
positively a part without knowing the whole? And why can ethics not
take a step without an ideal of the whole?

Kant’s chief purpose in the _Critique of Pure Reason_ was to vindicate
the certainty of the physical knowledge of a part as being compatible
with total ignorance of the whole. The older metaphysics was engaged
in the attempt to supply the whole, to sketch it out in order to
give certainty to the part that is within the reach of science. The
older metaphysics said to science: You have in hand the conditioned,
but remember the conditioned depends on the unconditioned. Unless,
therefore, you round out what you possess, with the help of the
unconditioned, the certainty you seem to have within the field of the
conditioned disappears. Again, science traces causes, and the older
metaphysicians insisted that the whole chain of causes hangs in air
unless it be attached to a first cause. Now Kant’s _Critique of Pure
Reason_ really amounts _in nuce_ to this: you do not require the whole
in order to explain the part. Link the partial phenomena together in a
certain way, a way dependent on the joint action of the space and time
intuitions and the categories, and you will gain the desired certainty.
The certainty is in the linkage. We may add link to link of the chain
of reality without troubling to consider by what piers it is supported
or on what shore the piers rest—if indeed there be piers and shores at
all. The bridge hangs over the River of Time and we can safely travel
on it. How we get on to this bridge we do not know, and where we shall
leave it we cannot know either.

It is a mistake to speak of Kant as a rationalist pure and simple. When
he expelled the older metaphysics he antagonized pure rationalism.
The older metaphysics held that the mere existence of the conditioned
proves the existence of the unconditioned, requires the unconditioned.
In Kant’s answer to this lies the gist of his enterprise in philosophy:
You are quite right, he says, that the _idea_ of the conditioned
requires the idea of the unconditioned, logically, rationally. But
observe well, nature is not just logical or rational. There is an
irrational element in it, namely, extended manifold and temporal
sequence. Juxtaposition and sequence are irrational, because, if I
interpret him rightly, in the case of each the relation presented to
the mind is that of parts outside each other—in the one case alongside,
in the other before and after; while in the logical or rational
relation the parts are implicit in the whole as in the case of the
premises of a syllogism and the conclusion, the relation of a genus to
the species, the universal to the particular.

We have in nature, according to Kant, a partnership between the
irrational and the rational factors. And thereupon he proceeds to
argue that we impose laws on nature, understanding thereby that we get
hold of reality or objectivity in so far as we are able to imprint
the rational element upon the irrational. The positing of the thing
_per se_, which has proved a stumbling-block to many, is no more than
a confession that we shall never succeed entirely in this business of
subjecting the irrational to the rational factor. The thing _per se_ is
the X that remains over when the rational function has done its utmost.
A thing, a real object, is that which is imprinted with, penetrated
with, rationality. The manifolds of space and time, of juxtaposition
and sequence are incapable of completely receiving this imprint, that
is, of completely responding to our quest for reality, and this their
incompetency is expressed in the notion of the thing _per se_.

To return to the main question as to the difference between the method
by which science proceeds and the reverse method prescribed to ethics,
I ask, Why is absolute knowledge of nature impossible? The answer
is, Because absolute knowledge would mean the completely rational
construction of nature, and this is prevented by the irrational element
existing in it. But why has the relative knowledge we possess the
character of certainty? Why are we sure of the law of gravitation? Why
are we justified in saying that science within certain limits plants
her foot on _terra solida_? Because at certain points the sense data do
coincide with the rational requirements. There are recurrent phenomena
of such a kind, coupled together in such a way, that each is capable of
mathematical measurement, and that the sequence of the one after the
other can therefore be predicted.

Nature might have been arranged quite otherwise. The time spans might
have been so long, as to prevent our observing the recurrences. A
day-fly cannot observe the periodicity of the earth’s revolution around
its axis. The fact however that there is this partial correspondence
between human rationality and the unknown nature of things is a bare
fact, incapable of explanation.[24] The answer, then, I take it, is:
our knowledge of nature is relative, which means incompletely rational,
because of the foreign element in nature unamenable to the operation
of the rational, the synthetic, function. This relative knowledge is
none the less certain, that is, in some sense absolute, because of
the partial coincidence of the phenomena of nature and the synthetic
processes of the mind.

With this degree of certainty we must perforce content ourselves, in
dealing with outside nature. In trying to understand and interpret
that which is not ourselves, we hit upon barriers which cannot be
transcended, upon a foreign factor which opposes itself to our
endeavors. But it is otherwise in the sphere of conduct. Here, if there
is to be certainty at all, in regard to right as distinguished from
wrong, if there is to be such a thing as right in the strict sense,
we cannot content ourselves with the paradoxical, relative-absolute
just described. For here we not merely interpret but act, and we must
possess an ideal plan of the whole if we are to be certain of our
rightness in any particular part of conduct. _For in conduct there is
no such partial coincidence between the rational and the irrational as
in the case of physical law._ There is not a single partial rule of
conduct, neither “Thou shalt not kill” nor “Thou shalt not lie,” nor
any other that, taken by itself, is of itself ethically right. It may
be right, it may be wrong. It takes its ethical quality from the plan
of conduct as a whole, and without reference to the whole it is devoid
of rightness.[25]

I have thus indicated the ground of the distinction between the method
of science and the method of ethics, a distinction, it is true, to
which Kant himself did not adhere. Partial coincidence of the rational
with the irrational is expressed in physical law; absence of such
concurrence destroys any attempt to build up an ethical theory on the
empirical method. We cannot plant our feet on the part, gaining there
the sense of certainty: we must creatively conceive the ideal of the
whole and educe every partial mode of ethical conduct from that.

But how shall we proceed in the construction of such an ideal, for it
is obvious that knowledge, in the scientific sense of the word, is
entirely out of the question?


[23] See the more extended remarks on this subject in Book III.

[24] In Kant’s view the rational element is projected on the
irrational. In this way spatial juxtaposition is ideally transformed
into a spatial continuum. In the same manner temporal sequence is
ideally changed into a uniform temporal flux. Without the former,
geometry could not have established its propositions; without the
latter Galileo could not have measured the fall of the stone.

[25] The ethical character of acts depends on the worth of the agent
and the object. Is it right to kill or to enslave a fellowman? We do
not hesitate to kill an animal, or to harness horses to vehicles, or to
use them as beasts of burden. Why not kill men, or use them as beasts
of burden in like manner?—Only because they possess a worth which gives
them a different standing.

Is it on grounds of sympathy that I should observe the so-called moral
rules? But if I am not sympathetic by nature, why should I be subject
to censure in case I refrain from displaying a tenderness which I do
not feel? Why should I sympathize with the pleasures and pains of
fellow human beings any more than with the pleasures and pains of
inferior sentient creatures, unless men have worth? And worth, as will
appear in the subsequent chapters, signifies indispensableness in a
perfect whole. No detached thing has worth. No part of an incomplete
system has worth. Worth belongs to those to whom it is attributed in
so far as they are conceived of as not to be spared, as representing a
distinctive indispensable preciousness, a mode of being without which
perfection would be less than perfect.

So that morality depends on the attribution of worth to men, and
worth depends on the formation in the mind of an ideal plan of the
whole—or instead of a complete plan let me say more precisely a rule of
relations whereby the plan is itself progressively developed.



To recapitulate and at the same time to enlarge somewhat the points
thus far covered in Book II: Kant proclaims man an end _per se_. This
promises a philosophic basis for an ethical world-view. The promise is
not kept. Kant takes as his point of departure absolute obligation, and
attempts to deduce out of an empty formula a worthwhile object. Kant’s
formula is: Treat man never merely as a means, but also as an end _per
se_. But how far man may be treated as a means, and what the relation
of the means to the end may be is left undetermined. An upper crust of
morality is formed, as it were, upon the empirical flood of passions,
desires, etc. A straight line is drawn beyond which the under world in
every man may not emerge. But a truly instrumental view of the means as
related to the end is not established. This is one of the great gaps
in Kant’s system. Note the almost puerile reason given for culture: we
should cultivate our talents _weil sie zu allerhand Zwecken nützlich
sein mögen_.

Kant’s ethical order is a duplicate of the physical order. The notion
of law is taken from physics, and expanded into the concept of law
in general. Ethical behavior is represented as behavior motivated by
the notion of lawfulness. Law is characterized by universality and
necessity. Chapter II, however, shows that in physics universality is
predicated on the ground of an ascertained necessary connection. In
physics, necessity has its true meaning as pertaining to a relation
between one thing and another. If the linkage can be established, the
universality follows. In Kant’s ethics, on the contrary, necessity is
taken as the consequence of the universality and the proper meaning of
necessity is lost. Self-consistency takes the place of the relation
to something else. The ideal society, as described, would therefore
be a society of self-preserving rational intelligences, ethically

Next we began the investigation into the idea of worth. Why do men
hold themselves and others cheap? They regard each other from the
point of view of the _use_ to be made of others and of their own life,
and not from the point of view of the energies deployed. The turning
on of electric power was used as an illustration. Nevertheless, even
exceptional men, men regarded as illustrating in the highest degree the
mental energies implicit in human nature, would not possess the quality
of worth, that is, of being ends _per se_, merely on the score of their
scientific or their artistic activities. We cannot say that the world
would be less perfect if there were no scientists to discover its laws.
There is a supreme, a unique energy and it is to this that the quality
of worth belongs.[26]

The ethical quality called worth is the supreme good, and must be
accessible to all, even to those to whom the lesser goods are denied.
Ethics is a system of thought which stands or falls with the contention
that while the better may be within reach only of the exceptional few,
the best is within reach of all.

In attempting to approach the task of building up a world-view based
on ethical experience, it became unavoidable to consider the method
by which the approach might be made, and for this purpose to contrast
the methods of science and the methods of ethics. Science, as we have
seen, collects its bricks and builds its house by composition. Science
analyzes phenomena into units, which it then combines. The mystery is
how science can achieve certainty in respect to certain phenomena of
nature without previous knowledge of the whole of nature. Kant’s answer
is that there is partial congruity between the mental functions and the
data that come to us from the unknown. Kant’s _Critique of Pure Reason_
faces in two directions. It expels the older metaphysics which assumed
that the empirical world is rational throughout, or rationalizable, and
which thence argued the existence of the unconditioned as necessarily
implied in the existence of the conditioned, and of a first cause as
actually implied in the chain of causes and effects. Kant contends
that there is an irrational element, namely, bare juxtaposition
(part outside part), and bare sequence (part before and after part),
while the logical or rational relation implies that the part is to
be conceived as implicit in the whole. Juxtaposition and sequence,
therefore, can never be completely rationalized. On the other hand,
Kant undertakes to prove that whatever of reality we know is traceable
to the projection of the rational factor upon the irrational. One
might even say that, according to Kant, the mind itself produces the
irrational factor, since the intuitions of space and time are according
to him, functions of the mind itself—the mind setting up a manifold so
constituted as to receive sense impressions. At any rate the capital
point to which we were led up was that science puts her foot on _terra
firma_ in a restricted area, without reference to what lies beyond,
while if we are to proceed in ethics at all, we must begin with some
ideal plan of the whole, since in ethics we are not interpreting a
foreign nature, but act upon natures similar to our own; and since,
in the case of conduct, there is no such partial concurrence of
the rational and irrational as in physics, no one of the so-called
moral modes of behavior being moral when taken separately. Hence the
conclusion that there is no possibility of establishing the conception
of worth unless we have some ideal of the whole in which and in
relation to which the incomparable worthwhileness of a human being can
be made good.

We need hardly again remind ourselves that this conception of worth,
or of man as end _per se_, is not a mere abstraction, and that our
interest in it is not academic. Every outcry against the oppression
of man by man, or against whatsoever is morally hideous, is but the
affirmation of the cardinal principle that a human being as such is
not to be violated, is not to be handled like a tool, but is to be
respected and revered as an end _per se_. But what do we mean by end
_per se_, and how account for this notion? Does it come into our mind
like a bolt from the blue, or is it revealed as prefigured in the human
mind when we follow it into its intimate constitution?

Our knowledge of the world we live in is extremely limited—in its
details it is confined to the planet we live on, extending to
the myriads of celestial bodies beyond us only by means of scant
generalizations. If we have knowledge of only so small a portion, how
can we frame an ideal of the whole? At the same time we must remember
that the world we actually know, this earth and yonder starry myriads,
is in very truth _our_ world, the world as it exists for us, a world
which with the help of data coming to us from the unknown, we ourselves
have built up on certain constructive principles; and that these
principles have been found, within certain limits, availing.[27] I
say availing within certain limits. The defeat they meet with beyond
those limits is due to the intractable elements of juxtaposition and
sequence, of the time and space manifolds, which in themselves are
incapable of being completely rationalized.

Now the ideal of the whole is a plan or scheme in which the
constructive principles of the mind are conceived as having untrammeled
course and unhindered application, and the task of world-building, or
rather universe-building, is in idea carried out to completion.

The attempt to present an ideal forecast, or outline of the whole of
reality, as it would satisfy a mind constituted like ours, an ideal
landscape of this sort, is not at all to be confounded with the
arrogation of _a priori_ knowledge. _A priori_ knowledge is supposed
to be a kind of knowledge, and _knowledge_ of the whole is utterly
and confessedly beyond our reach. The phrase _a priori_, too, is
objectionable and unfortunate for two reasons. First, as just said,
because it has been supposed to be a kind of knowledge. By some
theologians men were supposed to possess _a priori_ knowledge of
God.[28] Secondly, because the word _a priori_ suggests precedence
in time, and our knowledge of the human mind and of its irreducible
capacities comes out only in the course of experience. Much that has
been called _a priori_, that is implicit in experience, did not become
explicit until after prolonged experience. The Greek thinkers before
Aristotle doubtless thought in terms of syllogism, but it was not until
Greek science had attained a certain ripeness that Aristotle was able
to dissect out the logic which had previously been employed more or
less unconsciously.

Instead, therefore, of using the term _a priori_, which gives rise to
the two-fold misapprehension of an _a priori_ knowledge and of temporal
precedence, and instead of throwing out the child with the bath, that
is, of ignoring the independent part played by our mental constitution
in building up experience, and in affording us the conviction of
certainty, and of reality, it is highly desirable that a new term be
found to take the place of _a priori_. The term “functional finality”
suggests itself to me for this purpose.[29]

My field is ethics. I am entirely desirous of sticking to my own last,
that is, dealing with such concepts as the data of my subject force
upon me. I do not wish to trespass, or to seem to trespass, on the
domain of my neighbors. Hence in dealing with functional finalities I
must deal with them primarily as they appear in the field of ethics,
that is, in the domain of the actions and reactions of human beings
upon one another. Irreducible _principia_ of ethics are the functional
finalities, which prescribe rules for such intercourse, or better which
create a scheme of ideal intercourse whereby the conduct of men shall
be measured and determined.

I must, however, glance for a moment at fields outside my own, for the
purpose not of controversy but of elucidation; not to deal with the
subject matter of my neighbors, but to mark off my own more definitely.
What then, I ask, is the most general expression by which to designate
the singularities of the human mind, the principles on which it acts,
its immutable modes of behavior, the invariants that recur amid all
the complex varieties of its processes? The principal invariants are
the positing of a manifold of some kind, and the apprehending of
that manifold as coherent. The manifold is not given, but is posited
by the mind. The positing is a mental function, just as much as the
apprehending of the plurality as coherent is a mental function. The
particular manifolds of space and time experience are said to be given,
but they would not be received by the mind were not the function of
manifold-positing prepared to apprehend them.

In recent physical science the notion of the manifold plays a
conspicuous rôle. Subtle speculations are employed to define the
kinds of manifold which the physicist finds opportune, and the kind
of unity of which these manifolds are respectively capable. The two
terms mentioned are themselves the most abstract conceivable, and
naturally, that which is here taken to underlie all the constructive,
world-building activity of the mind in every possible direction can
only be expressed in the most sublimated language. But the notions
themselves, or rather the acts of the mind, the functions designated,
are rich and replete with concrete utility when applied to subject
matter in the different fields.

Wherever we turn we find that the assurance of reality depends on the
joint use of the two principles mentioned, the joint operation of
the two kinds of mental action; that is to say—on the positing of a
manifold and on the simultaneous apprehension of the subject matter to
which it relates as coherent, as unified.

The simultaneity, the inseparableness of the two mental acts or
functions in regard to the same subject-matter is the essential point
on which hangs the web of the argument here submitted. Thus in geometry
space must be regarded as a continuum, unbroken, uninterrupted at any
point, and at the same time the same space must be treated as capable
of puncture, of linear and superficial delimitations; that is to say,
of division. That which is one must yet be apprehended as divided;
that which is divided, or delimitated, must yet be apprehended as one.
The difficulties that arise spring from the vain endeavor to separate
the two inseparable acts—the act of apprehending the manifold of space
_sub specie pluralitatis_, and the act of apprehending it _sub specie
unitatis_. Hence arises the puzzling question: How can that which is
continuous be divided, how can chasms between the parts of space,
however infinitesimal, be bridged? Witness the problem of Zeno, and
the pragmatist solution of it by a demonstration that satisfies us
indeed as to the fact (which no one doubts), but leaves the mental
puzzle as before; and also Bergson’s Method of accounting for division
by a comparison of the inner and the outer flux, wherein he seems to
overlook the difficulty that for the purpose of comparison two points
must be fixed, one in each flux, that is to say, the division in the
flux must be regarded as already existing.

In the physical sciences we are compelled to assume on the one hand
the atomic or granular constitution of matter, in other words,
manifoldness. On the other hand, if “action at a distance” is to be
escaped, we are bound to assume a continuum of some sort like the
ether. Again, in the organic world there is the manifold of structures
and functions, and the unity of organism. To whatever object of
inquiry we give our attention, we find ourselves not only restricted
fundamentally to the two functions described, but we discover that to
their insunderable co-operation we owe whatever of truth we possess.

Now the business of ethics is to define its own subject-matter, that
is to say the particular kind of manifold with which it deals, and the
kind of unity of which that manifold is susceptible. But as I approach
this first goal of my enterprise, there is one obstacle which I must
try to remove out of the way of the reader, before I can hope to win
him to a hospitable consideration of my conclusions. The jointness
or inseparableness of the two acts out of which certainty or reality
issues has created all the difficulties. The fact that the manifold
must be regarded as remaining a manifold, unaltered in its character
as such, not derivative from the One (there is no such One), and that
the unity does not contrariwise result from the manifold in the sense
of springing from or being derived from it;—in other words that we
must see the same landscape of things and events both _sub specie
pluralitatis_ and _sub specie unitatis_—has been the stumbling-block.
The history of philosophy might be written under the two headings: 1,
monistic systems that undertake, collapsing in their futile effort, to
derive the world and its plurality from the One, as if there were such
an One, out of whose bosom philosophy might evoke the many (creational
systems, pantheistic systems, emanation systems, evolution systems); 2,
pluralistic systems that essay, with equal lack of success, to explain
the unity as somehow the offspring of the plurality.

Why then have these systems flourished? Why are these vain undertakings
still renewed? The reason is that we cannot understand the joint action
of the two functions, and the very point where enlightenment is needed
is for us to recognize that no fundamental truths can be understood
by us, that we can only look at them, contemplate and accept them.
The point, I say, where enlightenment is needed is that the habit of
trying to understand is due to a prejudice, to what may be called the
_superstition of causality_.

I shall have to explain this hardy assertion with some care to prevent
misconception. Causality, it will be objected, is the one thread that
leads us through the labyrinth of nature. The search for causes enables
us to become at home in our world by foreseeing events. In what sense
then can it be permissible to speak of the prejudice of causality,
nay, of the superstition of it? With what warrant prescribe a limit to
the aspirations of the human intellect to push its inquiries to the
farthest limit, even so far as to understand the functional finalities
themselves, if such there be?

The answer, succinctly put, is this: explaining or understanding things
means tracing effects to their causes, and this is only one mode, a
somewhat _disguised_ mode, of the joint functional activity of which
I have spoken. The manifold in this case is that of the temporal
sequence of phenomena, of differences due to change of position in
time; and the unity established between them (as for instance energy,
of which the sequent phenomena represent the transformations) is an
ideal, fictive unity, mentally superimposed (real despite its ideal
or imaginary character, because of the necessity we are under to view
the sequent phenomena _sub specie unitatis_). That there is nothing
in the antecedent to compel the sequent to follow has been since the
days of Hume a commonplace in philosophy. That nevertheless there is
such a thing as the prediction of eclipses was made by Kant the basis
of his doctrine of synthesis _a priori_. Be the terms used what they
may, what counts is the fact that the _joint action of two functions,
which itself is inexplicable_, not to be understood, that is, not to be
referred back to a preceding cause (as if there could be such a thing
as a cause why we think in terms of causality) is the foundation of all
so-called understanding.

Moreover causality is an incomplete example of the fundamental
functional process. We never do thoroughly understand; we gain a
certain relief, a certain increased ease of mind by pushing the problem
back a step. And what I have called the prejudice of causality, is the
unwillingness on our part to acknowledge the fact that we are face to
face, in the case of causality, with the inexplicable; that that which
helps us partially to understand (and serves for practical purposes
well enough) is in its nature not to be understood, one of the modes in
which the joint action of the functional finalities manifests itself.

An ultimate principle has been defined as one which is presupposed in
every attempt to account for it. The functional finalities of which I
speak bear the test of this definition. The upshot of it all is that
the constitutive principles of the human mind cannot be explained or
understood, but can nevertheless be verified. And verification, in the
last analysis, means exemplification. If we look at these ultimate
truths, whether in geometry, in physics, or, as we shall later see, in
ethics and æsthetics, as enunciated abstractly, baldly, we confront
them blankly, we are as it were dumbfounded in their presence. They
seem arbitrarily imposed upon us. And why? Because we are endeavoring
to understand them. We have acquired the habit of trying to get hold of
truth by referring back to some antecedent. And therefore we are uneasy
and disconcerted. But the moment we see them exemplified, as in the
constructions of the geometer, in the laws or uniformities established
by the physicist, etc., we are convinced. The subject-matter of ethics
is different. The kind of exemplification is likewise different. But
verification is exemplification in ethics as elsewhere; and this will
be found to mean that the life, the ethical experience, must lead to
the certainty.

And now we have reached the point where a brief discussion of the
ethical manifold and its mode of unification comes up in proper order.


[26] To rate anyone as an end _per se_ means that in a world conceived
as perfect his existence would be indispensable. The world we know may
not be perfect, is not perfect, but we do conceive of an ideal world
that is. And to ascribe to anyone the quality of worth, to denominate
him an end _per se_, is to place him into that world, to regard him as
potentially a member of it.

[27] For a creature endowed with different senses, and having a mind
unlike our own, the world would be a totally different world.

[28] To deny such _a priori_ knowledge of the object called God is
not to deny that the production of this object is due to constructive
principles of human thinking; while, in turn, to assert the functional
derivation of the God-idea is not to validate that idea itself as
permanent and inexpugnable. It may have owed its origin to a permanent
disposition of the mind, and yet be fallible because of the historical
conditions under which it arose and the defective data in which it was
expressed. By way of illustration we might apply the same reflection
to the Ptolemaic astronomy. The mathematical processes by which this
astronomy was constructed may be traced to permanent singularities of
human thinking, yet the astronomical theory of Ptolemy is not on that
account _a priori_ true.

[29] It must, however, be understood that the formula in which a
finality is expressed is not itself a final formula. The business of
definition is precarious, liable to error and dogmatic abuse, and
the formulas of finality are to be constantly subjected to revision.
Possible and even probable abuse, however, does not warrant the
negative attitude at present taken; it does not justify the revulsion
of feeling against _A Priorism_ which is just now general. Exasperation
with absolutism does not of itself justify recourse to the opposite
extreme of pragmatism.



The ethical manifold, conceived of as unified, furnishes, or rather is,
the ideal of the whole. The ethical manifold is the true universe, not
“Universe” in the sense in which the word is too laxly used at present
to designate those fragmentary and in many respects unconnected lines
of experience which might better by way of discrimination be called

The ideal of the whole, as the terms imply, must fulfill two
conditions: it must be a whole, that is, include all manifoldness
whatsoever; and it must be ideal, or perfectly unified. In such an
ideal whole the two reality-producing functions of the human mind would
find their complete fruition.

 Point 1.—The totality of manifoldness must be comprised.

 Point 2.—The connectedness must be without flaw.

From point one it follows that the ethical manifold cannot be
spatial or temporal, since juxtaposition and sequence lapse into
indefiniteness, abounding without ceasing, but never attaining or
promising the attainment of totality. Our first conclusion then is that
the ethical manifold is non-temporal and non-spatial.

Furthermore it is necessary and decisive for the theoretical
construction here attempted to keep sharply in view, that the
manifoldness may not be derived from the unity, or conversely. The
manifold remains forever manifold. This means that in the ethical
manifold each member[30] will differ uniquely from all the rest,
and preserve his irreducible singularity. The member of the ethical
manifold was not created by _the_ One or any One. He is not derived
as effect from any cause. Causality does not apply to the ethical
manifold, being a category of spatial sequence. The member of the
ethical manifold, or the ethical unit, as we may now call him (I say
him metaphorically and provisionally) is unbegotten, induplicable,
unique. In the ethical manifold each infinitesimal member is
indispensable, inasmuch as he is one of the totality of intrinsically
unlike differentiæ. A duplicate would be superfluous. Inclusion implies
indispensableness; no member acquires a place within the ethical
universe save on the score of his title, as one of the possible modes
of being that are required to complete the totality of manifoldness.

But the reality-producing functions of the mind are two, and they
act jointly. The same manifold that is regarded as the scene of
irreducible manifoldness, is also regarded _sub specie unitatis_.
The immense practical importance of holding fast to diversity as
indefeasible, and at the same time stressing the unity, will amply
appear in the course of the third Book. It is this insistence on the
two aspects _jointly_, that distinguishes the theory here worked out
from preceding ethical philosophies, and will be found to open new
ethical applications to conduct. It is this insistence on the joint
action of the two reality-producing functions that will enable us to
see in the ideal of the whole _a pattern traced_, and to derive from
this pattern of relations a supreme rule of conduct. If the differences
that exist among the members of the manifold be slurred over, if the
indefeasible singularity of each member be overlooked, if the many be
derived from the One, since the One is an empty concept, we shall gain
no light upon the conduct to be followed by each of the many. It is
true that our notion of the distinctive difference or the uniqueness of
each ethical unit is also empty as far as knowledge goes. The unique
is incognizable. Yet we are able to apprehend, and do apprehend, a
determinate relation as subsisting between the ethical units, and this
relation supplies us with an ideal plan of the ethical universe and a
first principle and rule of ethics. The relation is that of reciprocal
universal interdependence.

Consider that an infinite number of ethical entities is presented to
our minds—each of them radically different from the rest. In what
then possibly can the unity of this infinite assemblage consist? In
this—_that the unique difference of each shall be such as to render
possible the correlated unique differences of all the rest_. It is in
this formula that we find the key to a new ethical system, in this
conception we get our hand firmly on the notion of right, and by means
of it we discover the object which Kant failed to find, the object to
which worth attaches, the object which is so indispensable to the ideal
of the whole as to authenticate unconditional obligation or rightness
in conduct with respect to it. It is as an ethical unit, as a member of
the infinite ethical manifold, that man has worth.[31]

In accordance with the above, the first principle of ethics may be
expressed in the following formulas:

A. Act as a member of the ethical manifold (the infinite spiritual

B. Act so as to achieve uniqueness (complete individualization—the most
completely individualized act is the most ethical).

C. Act so as to elicit in another the distinctive, unique quality
characteristic of him as a fellow-member of the infinite whole.

A and B are comprised in C. I am taking three steps toward a fuller
exposition of the meaning of the principle. To act as a member
according to A is to strive to achieve uniqueness as declared in
B. To achieve uniqueness as declared in C is to seek to elicit the
diverse uniqueness in others. The actual unique quality in myself
is incognizable, and only appears, so far as it does appear, in the
effect produced by myself upon my fellows. Hence, to advance towards
uniqueness I must project dynamically my most distinctive mode of
energy upon my fellow-members.

Since the finite nature of man is a clog and screen, clouding and
checking the action of man viewed as an ethical unit, it follows that
no man will ever succeed in carrying out completely the rule which is
derived from the ideal pattern. He will invariably meet with partial
frustration in his efforts to do so, and yet in virtue of his ethical
character he will always renew the effort. While in physical science
the recurrence of phenomena supplies the occasion for exemplification
or verification, in conduct, or the sphere of volition, not recurrence
but the persistence of the effort after defeat is at least a help to
verification, arguing in one’s self a consciousness, however obscured,
of the relation of reciprocal interdependence and of subjection to the
urge or pressure thence derived.[32] It is our own reality-producing
functions, exerted to their utmost, to which we are delivered over.
Hence the final formulation: So act as to raise up in others the ideal
of the relation of give and take, of universal interdependence in
which they stand with an infinity of beings like themselves, members of
the infinite universe, irreducible, like and unlike themselves in their
respective uniqueness.

The simile that may be used is that of a ray of light which has the
effect of kindling other rays, unlike but complementary to itself.
Each ethical unit, each member of the infinite universe, is to be
regarded as a center from which such a ray emanates, touching other
centers, and awakening there the light intrinsic in them. Or we may
think of a fountain from which stream forth jets of indescribable
life-power—playing out of it, playing into other life, and evoking
there kindred and yet unkindred life-waves, waves effluent and
refluent. Whatever the symbolism may be, inadequate in any case, the
idea of the enmeshing of one’s life in universal life without loss of
distinctness—the everlasting selfhood to be achieved on the contrary,
by means of the cross-relation—is the cardinal point.

I have here to answer one question. By what warrant do I ascribe worth
to any human being? Where is the head deserving that this ray that
streams out from me shall light upon it? What man or woman merits that
he be invested with this glory? Does not the same objection opposed
to Kant hold with respect to my own view? It is true that he found no
object at all, and sought indirectly to draw from the empty notion
of obligation the inference that man is an end _per se_. Perhaps
it will be admitted that the supremely worthwhile object has now
been found, the holy thing (holy in two ways, as being inviolable,
reverence-inspiring, holding at a distance those who would encroach:
and intrinsically priceless as a component of the ethical manifold, as
indispensable in a perfect whole). But this object, you will say, is
in the air, or in the heavens, and how shall it be made to descend on
empirical man?

My answer is that certainly I do not discover the quality of worth
in people as an empirical fact. In many people I do not even
discover value. Judging from the point of view of bare fact, many
of us could very well be spared. Many are even in the way of what
is called “progress.” And the suggestion of some extreme disciples
of Darwin that the degenerate and defective should be removed, or
the opinion of others that pestilence and war should be allowed to
take the unpleasant business off our hands, is, from the empirical
point of view, not easily to be refuted. I can also enter into, if
I do not wholly share, the pessimistic mood with regard to actual
human nature expressed by Schopenhauer and others. To the list of
repulsive human creatures mentioned by Marcus Aurelius in one of his
morning meditations,—the back-biter, the scandal-monger, the informer,
etc.—might be added in modern times, the white-slaver, the exploiter of
child-labor, the fawning politician, and many another revolting type.
And even more discouraging in a way, than these examples of deepest
human debasement—the copper natures, as Plato calls them, or the
leaden natures, as we might call them—is the disillusionment we often
experience with regard to the so-called gold natures, the discovery of
the large admixture of baser metal which is often combined with their

It is imperative to acquaint oneself, nay, to impregnate one’s mind
thoroughly with these contrary facts, if the doctrine of worth, the
sanest and to my mind the most real of all conceptions, is to be saved
from the appearance of an optimistic illusion.

The answer to the objection is that I do not _find_ worth in others
or in myself, I _attribute_ it to them and to myself. And why do I
attribute it? In virtue of the reality-producing functions of my own
mind. I create the ethical manifold. The pressure of the essential
rationality within me, seeking to complete itself in the perfect
fruition of these functions, _i.e._, in the positing of a total
manifold and its total unification, drives me forward. I need an idea
of the whole in order to act rightly, in such a way as to satisfy the
dual functions within me. My own nature as a spiritual being urges me
to seek this satisfaction. This ideal whole, as I have shown, is a
complexus of uniquely differentiated units. In order to advance toward
uniqueness, in order to achieve what in a word may be called my own
truth, to build myself into the truth, to become essentially real,
I must seek to elicit the consciousness of the uniqueness and the
interrelation in others. I must help others in order to save myself;
I must look upon the other as an ethical unit or moral being in order
to become a moral being myself. And wherever I find consciousness of
relation, of connectedness, even incipient, I project myself upon
that consciousness, with a view to awaking in it the consciousness
of universal connectedness. Wherever I can hope to get a response
I test my power. Fields and trees do not speak to me, as Socrates
said, but human beings do. I should attribute worth to stones and to
animals could they respond, were the power of forming ideas, without
which the idea of relation or connectedness is impossible, apparent in
them. Doubtless stones and trees and animals, and the physical world
itself, are but the screen behind which lies the infinite universe.
But the light of that universe does not break through the screen where
it is made up of stones and trees and the lower animals. It breaks
through, however faintly, where there is consciousness of relation: and
wherever I discover that consciousness I find my opportunity. It is
quite possible that the men and women upon whom I try my power will not
actually respond. The complaint is often heard from moral persons, or
persons who think themselves such, that what they call the moral plan
of rousing the moral consciousness in others will not work. Perhaps the
plan they follow is not the moral plan at all, but the plan of sympathy
or of some other empirically derived rule. But be that as it may,
the question is not whether we get the response but whether we shall
achieve reality or truth ourselves; in theological terms, save our own
life, by trying to elicit the response.

And here one profoundly important practical consideration will come to
our aid, namely, the sense of our own imperfection, coupled indeed with
the consciousness of inextinguishable power of moral renewal. Instead
of attributing the lack of response to the hopeless dullness of the
person upon whom we labor, a sense of humility, based on the knowledge
of our own exceeding spiritual variability—best moments followed by
worst moments, imperfect grasp on our own ideals, most imperfect
fidelity in executing them—will lead us to turn upon ourselves, and
far from permitting us to despair of others, will impel us rather to
make ourselves more fitting instruments of spiritual influence than
obviously as yet we are.[33]


[30] Say not _part_ or _element_, but _member_, to distinguish the
components of the ethical manifold from such concepts as are used in
mathematics and physical science.

[31] The distinction between value and worth must be stressed for
it is capital. Value is subjective. The worth notion is the most
objective conceivable. Value depends on the wants or needs of our
empirical nature. That has value which satisfies our needs or wants.
We possess value for one another, for the reason that each of us has
wants which the others alone are capable of satisfying, as in the case
of sex, of coöperation, in the vocation, etc. But value ceases when
the want or need is gratified. The value which one human being has for
another is transient. There are, in the strict sense, no permanent
values. The value which the majority have for the more advanced and
developed members of a community is small; from the standpoint of value
most persons are duplicable and dispensable. Consider only the ease
with which factory labor is replaced, in consequence of the prolific
fertility of the human race. The custom of speaking of ethics as a
theory of values is regrettable. It evidences the despair into which
many writers on ethics have fallen as to the possibility of discovering
an objective basis for rightness.

[32] But the verification itself is the clearer and more explicit
vision of the ethical relation, as it ought to be.

[33] The term “ethical unit” used above should be found useful. The
chemists have found the concept of the atom useful, though no one
has ever seen an atom. And all the sciences have recourse to similar
inventions,—such as the electron, or the ion, or energy regarded as
a substance, and in mathematics the sublimated, space-transcending
concepts. Looking through the eyes of science, we are taught to see,
underlying the grossest forms of matter, imaginary entities which are
well-nigh metaphysical in nature. Science starts from the realm of
the sensible, and constructs its super-rarefied devices on mechanical
models. Then it leaves the field of the intuitively perceptible, and
rises by the path of analogy into realms where the notions with which
it operates are no longer imaginable. I do not wish, in speaking of an
ethical, invisible, and unimaginable entity, to derive the postulation
of this conception from science. The ethical concept transcends wholly
the field of sensible experience. It is not discovered by way of
analogy. It is frankly and overtly supersensible. It is not exemplified
in the effects it produces in the world of volition as the most
nearly metaphysical concepts of science are exemplified in the field
of phenomena by the recurrences or uniformities which they serve to
account for. The ethical concepts are not verified by their results
at all, not by recurrences of phenomena, but by the persistence of
the effort to attain that which is finitely never attained, and _by
the more explicit perception of the ideal itself_ which follows the
persistent effort; for as has been shown above, when face to face with
fundamental truth, _seeing is believing_. But I allude to these matters
in order to show that the movement in ethical thinking represented
by the system which I propose is not contrary to the present-day
movement in science, but in line with it, though beyond it. It does
not ask leave of science; it does not base its certainty on scientific
precedent; but neither does it expect a veto from the lips of science.
The worthwhileness of scientific endeavor itself depends at bottom
on the sanction which the ideal of the complete carrying out of the
reality-producing functions lends to their incomplete execution in the
world of the space and time manifold.



We have seen whence the ideal of a spiritual universe arises. It is
unnecessary to prove that the universe is moral. What it is necessary
to verify is that a universe exists; for “universe” is an ethical
ideal, it is the ethical manifold, or, if we distinguish ethical as
concerning relations between man and man, then we may use the term
“spiritual” to designate that infinite system of interdependence
in which men as ethical units have their place. We begin with the
affirmation—Man is an end _per se_. This wonderful affirmation,
which the democracies are darkly and confusedly trying to express in
political and social arrangements, constitutes the problem of all
problems. It is the great datum of ethics, of which ethical theory
must give an account. All other data or problems that have been thrust
into the foreground—freedom of the will, responsibility, altruistic
self-sacrifice—are secondary, in the sense that they depend for their
solution on a right conception of man as end _per se_. As possessing
worth on his own account he is an ethical unit. Only as a member
of the infinite spiritual universe does he possess the two-fold
attributes implied in worth—inviolability with respect to outsiders
and indefeasible, intrinsic preciousness. Therefore I say that around
the individual, the ethical unit, we build up as a necessary postulate
the spiritual universe. Man ethically considered carries with him this
infinite environment.

Does this universe exist or is it a mere figment? It is the product of
the reality-producing functions in their ideal completion. It is the
necessary postulate required if the idea of right is to have validity,
and the idea of right is required by man in so far as he is an agent
and not merely a spectator of life. The ethical manifold, the spiritual
universe, exists in so far as there is a right.

Have we then reinstated the idea of God as existent? Not the idea of
God as an individual. We have on the contrary set aside that idea by
affirming that manifoldness cannot be derived from unity, that the
positing of plurality is just as much a primary function of the mind as
the positing of unity. We have discarded the God-idea as the _locus_ of
unity, since the unity subsists in the relation of the units. Strictly
speaking, we have replaced the God-idea by that of a universe of
spiritual beings interacting in infinite harmony.

But at this point I must go back for a moment to Kant, using his ideas
once more as a foil to make my own more explicit. Wilhelm von Humboldt
said of Kant that some of the things he had destroyed would never
be rebuilt, and that some of the things he had built would never be

For more than a hundred years the impression has prevailed that among
the things forever destroyed by Kant are the proofs of the existence
of God. He is represented as an intellectual giant whose blows have
forever shattered the proofs on which the existence of a supersensible
reality rested. Kant’s mind was preëminently scientific. He was the
philosopher who made explicit the principles underlying Newtonian
science as Aristotle had made explicit the logic underlying the Greek
science. His philosophy is essentially agnostic. The use that he
continues to make of the God-idea can be dissociated from his system
with advantage to the latter.[34]

But did Kant indeed destroy the idea of a supersensible reality
as existent, or are we warranted in undertaking to build anew the
supersensible world.[35] “_Du hast sie zerstörrt, die schöne Welt,
In deinem Busen baue sie wieder_”—not indeed in the realm of mere
feelings, but in the sphere of will. The spell of Kant’s shattering
attack still rests upon the intellectual world today. The notion of a
supersensible reality, if held at all, is held timidly, apologetically
and is apt to be based on subjective emotional need. The wish is more
or less admitted to be father to the faith—the will to believe is
defiantly asserted in despair of sound foundations. A scientist like
Dubois-Reymond enumerates seven world riddles, or mysteries that cannot
be explained, and after saying that they cannot be explained, he seems
to see that no alternative remains but to take refuge in resignation:
“Ignoramus, ignorabimus!”

That “explanation” is not the only avenue to truth, that the referring
of effects to their causes is not the highest operation of the
reality-producing functions, I have pointed out in a previous chapter.
But Kant, as has been said, is supposed to have utterly annihilated
the arguments intended to demonstrate the existence of God, and it
will clear up the matter at issue if we consider wherein he actually
succeeded and wherein he quite failed. As he himself declares, his
method is regressive; he does not attempt the progressive method path.
He seeks to ascertain whether by going backward along the chain of
effects and causes, or of conditions, he can somewhere find God as
first cause or as unconditioned. He does not look forward looking to
the ideals of the will. He does not enter into the realm of ends, where
the necessity of determining action in obedience to some universal plan
or scheme of relations might have forced itself on his attention. His
approach, like his habit of mind, is scientific. He is not primarily
an ethicist. Proceeding in this manner he shows that the notion of a
first cause is untenable, and he attacks in particular the ontological
argument by which every other argument supplements itself at the point
where it breaks down.

Did Kant, however, annihilate the Ontological Argument? Yes, in the
scholastic form in which it was held. No, in a form, based on the idea
of the ethical manifold, in which it can be restated. In the scholastic
form it runs: “There is such a thing as the idea of a perfect being.
Existence is an element of perfection. If the perfect being did not
exist it would be less than perfect. But the _ens realissimum_, the
perfect being, is present as an idea in the mind. Therefore it exists.”
The disproof of this amounts to the curt statement that what exists in
the mind does not necessarily exist outside of it, or, as Kant put it:
“The idea of 100 thalers in the head of a man is one thing, lacking no
element of conceptual integrity; while the existence of the 100 thalers
in the man’s purse is an entirely different matter.” The evidence of
existence, in other words, depends on the synthesis of the data of
sense as arranged in the space and time manifold in accordance with the
categories of the understanding. Existence is temporal and spatial. To
prove that God exists we should have to prove that he exists in the
world of the senses. Of any other kind of existence we are agnostic.
Kant’s disproof of the Ontological Argument thus depends on his

But suppose that on ethical grounds we find ourselves compelled to
affirm that there is an object which has worth, and that to account for
the inviolableness, indispensableness and preciousness of this object
we are compelled to give free rein to the reality-producing functions,
and to place this object having worth as a member in a manifold
not spatial and temporal but infinite: and suppose we say that the
existence of this worth-endowed object, of this ethical unit with its
compeers, is as certain as the notion of rightness is certain, have we
not then without blame widened the conception of existence, and placed
the Ontological Argument where Kant’s disproof does not even touch

One more important remark is here in place, suggested by Kant’s
designation of God as the ideal of reason, and by his designation of
our highest nature as the rational nature.

Is “rational” equivalent to intellectual? If it be so, then feeling
must be classed as irrational, and impulse likewise, since neither
feeling nor impulse is subject to logical rules. And then the war will
be on between the intellectualists or rationalists and the champions of
irrational conceptions of life, since feeling and impulse actually make
up the major part of life, and can neither be left out of account nor
compressed into intellectualist formulas.[37]

Plainly, there is a deep misunderstanding between the two parties. An
error is involved somewhere. It appears to consist in assuming that
objectivity can be supplied only by the intellect, in overlooking the
fact that the feelings and still more the volition possess intrinsic
controls and norms of their own, that Science, the work of the
intellect, and art and ethics, spring from a common root, namely,
the reality-producing functions. The manifolds with which each of
the three respectively deals are different, the methods of synthesis
are different, but the root principle, synthesis of the manifold, is
identical in all.

To describe our highest nature, therefore, as the rational nature is
perilous, since the word rational suggests intellectual. Either we must
strain the signification of reason to include feeling and will, which
is contrary to common usage, or we should select some other term, such
as _spiritual_, to designate that nature within us which operates in
science and art and achieves its highest manifestation in producing the
ethical ideal.

Finally, if what has been said regarding the ethical manifold holds
good, then a genuine philosophy of life can only be reached by the
ethical approach to the problems of life. This has never yet been
consistently attempted. The approach has been made from the scientific
or the logical side, or as in the case of Plato from the æsthetic,
or as in modern times from the biological. Yet the ethical approach
is full of promise. A philosophy of physical nature may be feasible
without it, a philosophy of art may be possible without it, but not so
a philosophy of life. It has not been tried because ethics has lain
in the lap of theology, which was itself corrupted by the attempt to
apply to ethical problems the inadequate principle of causality in the
form of creation theories, while again in recent times, by way of
reaction against theology, the solution of ethical questions is sought
for in the empirical disciplines where a measure at least of objective
certainty has rewarded the investigators. Even Kant, who asserted
the independence of ethics, actually made it dependent on Newtonian
science. The great task now is, strictly to carry out the idea of the
independence of ethics, not indeed as if its principles were unrelated
to those of science and art, but in the sense of independently
investigating the problems _peculiar_ to ethical consciousness. I am
well aware that the attempt made in this volume to take the ethical
line of approach to a general philosophy of life, is tentative and
defective in a hundred ways, nevertheless it is an attempt in a new

In the next book I shall take up the practical consequences that
follow from the theory here advanced. Having delineated the ethical
ideal, and discovered the invaluable fact that there is a structural
plan contained in it, we shall see that our actual human duties
may be derived by applying this ideal scheme to the quasi-organic
groups already existing in human society. There are provocative
correspondences to the ethical ideal in the social life of men;
otherwise it would be impossible to apply it. There are human groups
in which a quasi-correlative membership in a common life already
exists. In the case of each of these groups we find some sort of
empirical multiplicity which must be studied scientifically, and also
an empirical motive which may be utilized in the interest of developing
the ethical relation. The family is the first of these groups which
offers a footing in the world of experience for the ideal. In the
family natural affection is the motive; in the vocational group, the
desire to express a talent or special gift; in the state, patriotism;
in the church, the need felt to integrate all human ideals.

Thus the things of earth are to be used as instrumentalities by
which we are to become aware of the spiritual reality. Only that the
disparateness of the physical world and the ethical universe should
ever be kept in the foreground. Every effort to solve the riddle by
somehow identifying the two has failed. To account for the existence of
a finite world of indefinite extensibility side by side with a universe
_ex hypothesi_ infinite is impossible. Instead of seeking to explain
let effort go toward utilizing. Let the _world_ be used instrumentally
for the purpose of verifying the existence of _universe_.

For the average man, and indeed for all men, the test of the truth of
a theory is in the practice to which it leads. Abstract metaphysical
arguments appeal only to a few, and even for them the formula in its
abstract guise is unconvincing. Look at the mathematical figure, and
see whether the axioms hold good. Look at the sequent phenomena and see
whether the so-called law of nature is exemplified. And so with respect
to conduct: look at the ways of human behavior traced out in accordance
with the plan of the ethical manifold, and see whether such behavior
wins the approval of the spiritual nature implicit within you.[38]


 There are various points at which the system sketched in the text
 deviates from current opinion, but in regard to the underlying
 proposition the reader’s particular attention is called to the remarks
 on the “prejudice of causality” and to the statement that verification
 is exemplification.

 How can ethical truth be verified? How can we be sure that ethical
 ideals are more than fine wishes, expressing subjective aspiration,
 but having no counterpart in the ultimate constitution of things? This
 is the dark doubt that haunts the minds of ethical writers, as well
 as of the average man. We ask to have the things we believe in, the
 objects of our supreme aspiration, verified. How can they be verified?

 I think that we shall see light in this matter once we have grasped
 the thought that verification, both in science and in ethics, is
 nothing more than exemplification. In the case of causality, in
 science, verification does not consist in mere recurrence. For if
 we find, even by a single carefully guarded experiment, that a
 given phenomenon A is the true antecedent of B, then we take leave
 to predict that B will always follow A, without regard to the
 repetition of the sequence in our experience.[39] Indeed, no amount
 of repetition would justify prediction. The problem in the case of
 causality is to determine the true antecedent and the true consequent.
 For at any moment there are innumerable phenomena that might possibly
 be antecedents of B. How obtain certainty that A is the causal
 antecedent? By the synthetic process. We assume a unity, say energy.
 We assume that there are differentiæ, say a certain mathematically
 determined quantum of mechanical energy in A, and a determined
 quantum of thermal energy in B. No sooner have these differentiæ
 been mathematically determined, than in virtue of the assumed unity
 of energy underlying the differences, we pronounce the nexus to be
 necessary. We predict that B will always follow A.

 Causality, therefore, is an example of a synthesis which over-arches
 sequences. The fact that the phenomena are sequent does not affect the
 principle involved. Whenever we contemplate an example of synthesis,
 that is, defined differentiæ of some sort, and a defined underlying
 unity of some sort, the mind affirms that reality exists. There
 are degrees of reality. The degree of completeness with which the
 synthetic function is carried out in any instance determines the

 Ethical verification is likewise exemplification, though in another
 sense. When the ideal plan of ethical relations is presented, the
 ideal plan being a synthesis not of sequences but of all co-existent
 entities whatsoever, the mind assents to this ideal plan as
 representing the complete synthesis or the complete reality. The
 more explicitly and definitely the relation between the ethical
 units is conceived, the greater the conviction of reality resulting.
 Now frustration after partial achievement has the effect of making
 more explicit the idea of the plan of relations as it ought to be
 carried out in human life. And in this sense I would have the reader
 understand the main practical argument of the book—that frustration
 is the condition of our intensified conviction as to the reality of
 the supersensible universe.

 In virtue of the constitution of our minds we cannot help
 acknowledging as real that which is synthesized. Synthesized and
 real are synonymous terms. Hence the idea of the completed synthesis
 necessarily is the idea of the ultimate reality.


 The three principal respects wherein Kant has failed to justify his
 affirmation that every human being is to be regarded as an end _per
 se_, and not to be used as a tool, are:

 1. Out of the bare experience of oughtness, absolute constraint, he
 seeks to derive personality. Out of the empty categorical imperative
 he seeks to draw a substantive entity—a being possessed of worth.

 2. The society of ends _per se_ described by him is not a true
 society, but a collection of atomic individuals juxtaposed. The
 capital flaw in his ethics is here. He begins by detaching the
 individual. He studies the individual, and discovers, or believes
 himself to have discovered, that something happens in him (the
 consciousness of absolute constraint) which entitles him to be
 considered worth while on his own account.

 Next, since the formula of university proposes imitability by others
 as the test of a moral act, all others are called in as concomitants
 of the detached atom first considered. Each of the concomitants in
 turn is an atomic entity. It is in this mechanical way that the
 conception of a kingdom of ends, or a holy community, is supposed
 to be validated. Kant’s mistake is to assume that an individual
 regarded as an isolated being can be worth while, can be an end _per
 se_. The notion of end involves relation to others, not mechanical
 juxtaposition, but intrinsic connection. No one is worth while by
 himself. He has worth only as an organic member of a spiritual whole.
 The unique quality which lends him incomparable distinction is the
 creative life which emanates from him and quickens cognate but
 diversely modified life in his associates.

 3. Kant’s version of the ethical rule is strong on the side of
 interdiction, but quite inadequate on the positive side. He tells us
 that we are to look on others not merely as means to our own ends, but
 also ends _per se_. The vagueness is in the formula “not merely ...
 but also.” Where the dividing line is to be drawn he does not tell. I
 am at liberty to use the services of others in the prosecution of my
 own interests, as they may use mine, since we are social beings and
 dependent on one another. But how far may I go in this direction? On
 this point we are left wholly in the dark. Kant admits into his system
 the so-called natural ends,[40] such as wealth, culture and the like,
 gives them leave to abound, only with the proviso that they may not
 overpass a certain limit,—the limit beyond which they would interfere
 with the rights of fellowmen. An instrumental view of wealth, science,
 culture, as positively promoting the ethical end of man, he does not
 and cannot establish.[41] But the instrumental view is precisely that
 in which modern society has most at stake, on the working out of
 which the solution of our most pressing problems,—such as the labor
 problem, the problem of the family, the problem of patriotism and
 international relations—is entirely dependent. If Kant has failed at
 this point, as I believe he has, his usefulness as a guide in the
 reconstruction of modern life is seriously diminished. What he had
 set out to demonstrate, the inalienable worth of man, remains; but
 foundations other than his must be found. For the formula “not merely
 as a means but also as an end” I would substitute: Treat every man
 as a spiritual means to thine own spiritual end and conversely ...
 treat the extent and the manner in which we are to use one another as
 means being determined by the criterion that our exchange of services
 shall conduce to the attainment of each other’s ends as ethical beings


 I would also ask the reader to consider well the effect upon the
 philosophy of life of the position taken throughout this volume that
 there is no intellectual bridge between the finite order and the
 infinite order. This involves dropping creation at the beginning and
 immortality in its usual sense at the end. Creation is an attempt to
 show how the world, including man, proceeded out of the infinite.
 Immortality is an attempt to express how man returns to the infinite.
 In this volume man’s dealings with the finite order are represented
 as having for their purpose the achievement of the conviction that
 there verily is an infinite life, a supersensible universe. Creation
 systems, pantheistic systems, certain evolutionary systems, also
 the Hegelian system, are futile attempts to explain the How. But
 explanation is impossible; for to explain means to understand, and to
 understand means to trace an effect to its cause. And causality is not
 the kind of synthesis applicable to a co-existent totality.

 Among practical consequences note the difference between the theistic
 attitude in fatal sickness and the spiritual attitude.[42] The theist
 presupposes that there is a God to whose will he must patiently
 submit. But theism is a principle of explanation, the God-idea being
 employed to account for the finite order. God is thus made responsible
 for the suffering of the sick as well as for all other evils in the
 world. Hence the very idea which is presupposed in order to produce
 patience raises up doubts and perplexities, which imperil patience.
 If God made the world why does he permit pain and evil? The spiritual
 attitude, on the contrary, ethically interpreted, does not presuppose
 the idea of a divine order as a dogma, but offers it as the product
 of the experience of suffering itself. The conviction that there is
 in man an essential spiritual self, a holy thing, and a spiritual
 universe, a holy community, are not gifts to which we fall heir at
 birth, or by some sort of revelation borrow from the experience of
 ancient teachers; they are a supreme good to be arduously worked out
 by ourselves. And the interpretation given to the facts of suffering
 and frustration is that they can be used as the means of bringing to
 birth in us that supreme conviction.

 In general it may be said that the purpose of existence, both of the
 individual and of the race, is so to work in the finite world as to
 become possessed with ever greater distinctness of the conviction
 of the reality of the wholly real world, the infinite supersensible

 The attitude of the Christian is other-worldly. He shuns intimacy
 with the finite world and turns his face toward his “true home.” The
 attitude herein described is that of hearty attack upon the business
 of life, and close embrace of all the partial reality which finite
 experience contains, with a view of thus acquiring in some measure an
 appreciation of the utter reality of which these partial realities are
 hints and glimmerings.


 In the case of any new theory, it is true that one must live with it
 for a considerable time before acquiring the habit of thinking in
 accordance with it. The older habits constantly crop up and interfere
 with the correct understanding of any new point of view. This is
 especially so of a new attitude towards reality. The world seems
 topsy-turvy to one who learns for the first time that grass and the
 leaves of trees are not really green apart from the eye that sees
 them, that beings with different organs might interpret differently
 that which stimulates the human eye to its specific color reactions.
 The heliocentric theory, when first announced by Copernicus, outraged
 naïve commonsense. It exacted a new habit of thinking in regard to
 the relation of the sun to the earth,—the real relation, apprehended
 by intercalated mental processes being the direct opposite of the
 apparent relation. The sun evidently revolves around the earth,
 nevertheless the truth is that the earth revolves around the sun.

 Modern science reveals behind the palpable world around us
 unimaginable fluids, speeds, and physical units which are so
 sublimated in thought as to be barely distinguishable from
 metaphysical entities. The habit of penetrating with radium-like
 glance the concrete screen of things, and of seeing behind the screen
 the company of atoms, ions, etc., may be gradually acquired; but the
 older habit of regarding the palpable and visible as the truly real
 continues to assert itself in conflict with the new habit.

 The ethical unit in an ethical manifold postulated in the text as the
 closest, though still symbolic, reading of the ultimate reality, makes
 a similar demand upon the reader, and requires of him in like manner
 the formation of a new habit of thinking, against which the older
 habits will doubtless continue to protest.

 The most obstinate of the older habits that stand in the way has
 been dealt with in the note on causality, namely,—the unscientific
 habit of ignoring the boundaries of science, and of taking the method
 employed in the physical sciences as the sole method that leads to
 certainty. The prejudice of causality is probably ineradicable, just
 as the illusion that the sun revolves about the earth persists. But
 we can at least reach the point of realizing that it is a prejudice,
 and to this extent overcome it. If it be synthesis, or the employment
 in inseparable conjunction of the two functions mentioned, that for
 the human mind spells reality, then one kind of synthesis called
 causality, that of sequent phenomena, does not exclude the ampler,
 though ideal synthesis, which is carried out in the mental production
 of the ethical manifold. So much I wish to add to the statements
 contained in the text in regard to the theory.

 But there is also a new habit to be acquired in regard to the
 practical ethical consequences of the theory. The chief of these is
 the prizing of distinctive difference above uniformity or sameness.
 The ethical quality is that quality in which a man is intrinsically
 unique. The ethical act is the most completely individualized act (I
 ought perhaps to say personalized, but the completely individualized
 act _is_ that of a unique personality). In brief, the emphasis is
 here put on that in which a man differs from all others, and not on
 the common nature which he shares with the rest; or rather, since the
 common nature is not denied, the stress is put on the intrinsically
 different mode in which the common nature is expressed in him.[43]

 The accentuation in current ethical discussion of the common nature of
 man, and the fallacious assumption that the common interests are the
 pre-eminently moral interests, that uniformity is the test of ethical
 quality, is easy to understand. It is the reaction of the modern world
 against feudalism, a social system not yet entirely outgrown, in
 which the empirical differences of rank and birth were made the basis
 of intolerably oppressive discriminations, and in which it was an
 accepted axiom that some men are baked of better clay than others. It
 is also a reaction against the capitalistic system that has taken the
 place of the feudal, in which wealth is to a considerable extent made
 the standard of social appraisement.

 It is against these false discriminations that the voice of humanity
 is now indignantly raised, affirming the moral equality of all men.
 But equality is mistakenly taken to mean likeness in the sense of
 sameness, not in the sense of that fundamental likeness on the
 background of which the desirable unlikenesses stand forth. And this
 notion of equality as identical with sameness leads to great practical
 aberrations. Thus, for instance, women are not only to be recognized
 as the equals of men, but are to be the same as men,—their education
 patterned on that of men, their specific functions, as far as
 possible, ignored. For unlikeness is supposed to connote inferiority,
 and inferiority is justly repelled as morally intolerable. But aside
 from this one example, the stressing of the common nature, or of the
 basis of likeness at the expense of the outstanding unlikenesses,
 leads to other leveling tendencies of which modern democracies
 furnish many unpleasing illustrations. Thus uniform popular opinion,
 encompassing the individual on every side, penetrates into his inmost
 thinking, so that he hardly ventures to hold to his own judgment
 against the judgments of the majority. And the impulses of the mass
 tend also to threaten his independence in action. There is indeed a
 certain intoxication in the very sense of being submerged in a large
 whole, a certain glad loss of self in great impersonal movements, a
 certain strain of democratic pantheism, as it were, that takes the
 place with some of mystic absorption in Deity. But whatever the value
 that may attach to these upswellings of feeling, it is counterbalanced
 by the circumstance that in proportion as indiscriminate devotion to
 society as a whole becomes the paramount motive, the sub-organisms of
 society, the family, the vocation and the state, in which the ethical
 personality is ripened, are threatened with effacement. Instead of
 moral equality it were better to use the term “moral equivalence.” The
 differences are to be stressed; they are the coruscating points in the
 spiritual life of mankind. That every man is the equal of his fellows
 means that he has the same right as each of the others to become
 unlike the others, to acquire a distinct personality, to contribute
 his one peculiar ray to the white light of the spiritual life.


 [34] I do not however agree with those who regard the shreds of
 theology remaining in his system as a concession, not wholly
 ingenuous, to orthodoxy. He was brought up in the pietistic faith,
 and had probably not entirely outgrown the emotional impressions
 of those early teachings. The noumena, however, play a part in the
 system itself distinct from the theology, and are not to be taken as
 supersensible realities. They are limiting concepts intended to serve
 as incentives or lures, winning the mind to continue without cessation
 its advance along certain paths within the field of experience;
 but they are not supposed to give any clue as to what is beyond
 experience. That which is beyond the field of experience is simply
 unknowable. Thus the noumenon called “thing _per se_” is notice given
 to the mind not to be deterred in its proper business of unifying the
 space and time manifold by the difficulties which arise when the time
 and space manifold is taken as an ultimate account of reality. The
 thing _per se_ is a welcome to science and not a bar set up in its

 The noumenon of freedom is an incentive to man urging him to act
 as if he were capable of practicing the law of universality and
 necessity. In fact the phrase “as if” plays a leading rôle in the
 Kantian philosophy. The noumenon of God, as will presently be shown,
 is afflicted with this conditional “as if” character to even a higher
 degree. We are to assume God in order to look upon the vast field of
 possible experience as if it were unified, as if a being who himself
 stands for unity had been its creator. This assumption is supposed to
 be necessary in order to encourage the scientist in his search for
 the thread of unity, lest he flag by the way. As a matter of fact
 scientists have contented themselves with the simple assumption of
 the uniformity of nature as necessary to the prosecution of their
 investigations, and have as a rule troubled themselves little to
 hypostasize the notion of unity. Nor has recent progress in science
 been associated with and influenced by the belief in an individual
 Deity. The noumenon of God is unnecessary for science while in Kant’s
 ethical application of it it is positively harmful. He introduces the
 God notion as an artificial device for linking together happiness and
 virtue, a device quite inconsistent with the noble austerity of his
 ethical system, whatever its other defects may be.

 The noumena, then, are apparitions that appear at the end of certain
 paths in the field of experience, far off where the sky and the ground
 seem to meet. These paths run off in different directions. At the
 end of each is one of these limiting apparitions, and the society of
 noumena is disconnected internally: there is no relation of unity
 between the unifiers.

 [35] The difference between “supersensible” and “supernatural”
 is capital. I do not encourage relapse into supernaturalism. The
 supernatural is the opposite of the supersensible. It is an attempt to
 represent in natural or _sensible_ guise what is supposed to be beyond
 the senses; and the naturalistic representation of the supersensible
 is then taken not metaphorically but literally.

 [36] He allows indeed the _Ens Realissimum_ to remain, and calls it
 the ideal of the reason, the ideal of unity hypostasized, centralized
 in an individual, and somehow harboring within itself all real
 properties whatsoever. But it is quite impossible to conceive how all
 real properties can belong to a single individual. For the properties
 as we know them are incompatible with each other. Surely an individual
 cannot be both great and small, beautiful and ugly, of all colors and
 sounds, etc., etc. Or again if all properties were somehow assembled
 in one individual, since that individual is conceived of as an
 hypostasized unity, it would be impossible to speak of a relation
 between them, and yet upon the relation of the differentiæ depends the
 ethical utility of the idea of a supreme reality.

 [37] Compare, for instance, the anti-intellectualistic philosophy
 of Bergson, with its emphasis on planless spurts of energy, the
 irrationalist philosophy of Schopenhauer, etc.

 [38] The above exposition is not a transcendental derivation of
 ethics. The ideal of the infinite society is a fulguration _out
 of_ ethical experience, to be ever renewed _in it_. We build not
 only our world, but our universe. The ethical principle is not a
 working hypothesis, like those provisionally used in science. It is
 the outgrowth of the functional finalities. It is a postulate. The
 specific moral laws, or expressions of the ethical principle indeed,
 are changeable, being the product of the principle with the varying
 empirical conditions of human society. The fundamental principle is

 The consciousness of universal interrelation is not to be described as
 mystical consciousness. The identity of the self remains intact; it is
 never lost in the One or the All. The ethical consciousness includes
 indeed the consciousness of other selves related to our own, in a kind
 of superindividual consciousness. But this is reached along the sunlit
 path of action (So _act_, etc.), and not along the dreamy flux of
 emotionalism or in the silent depths of quietism.

 [39] The frequent recurrence gives us a sense of safety in expecting
 the consequent on the appearance of the antecedent. But the sense of
 safety should not be confounded with the sense of the certainty. We
 expect that day will follow night, because it has followed innumerable
 times. But no amount of repetition can warrant the assertion that it
 will and must do so. The Pragmatist view explains the sense of safety
 in expectation, but does not appear to account for the certainty in
 prediction, as for instance in the astronomer’s prediction of an

 [40] A hybrid conception, since in nature there are only happenings,
 but no ends.

 [41] His efforts in some measure to remedy this defect in the Doctrine
 of Virtue are artificial and unconvincing.

 [42] See Book III for a fuller development of this point.

 [43] Difference in the ethical meaning is not to be confounded with
 mere idiosyncrasy, or originality, not to say eccentricity. It is
 the kind of difference which elicits correlated difference in all
 spiritual associates.

                               BOOK III




Three main thoughts should be kept clear: the end to be realized, the
incongruity of the finite and the infinite order, and hence, thirdly,
the indispensable ministry of frustration in the realization of the
purpose of life.

In regard to the so-called moral end of life, there has been much
variety and contrarity of teaching. I shall touch only upon that
aspect of the doctrine expounded in the previous book wherein it seems
to resemble other doctrines, and where a distinct statement of the
difference is therefore imperative. “So act as to develop the faculties
of thy fellowman” is not the rule proposed. “So act as to develop
the so-called good qualities in the man” is not the rule proposed.
The rule reads, “Act so as to bring out the spiritual personality,
the unique nature of the other.” Now, in putting the matter in this
way, we incurred the danger of seeming to concentrate attention on
the individual as a detached being, we seemed to have him only in
mind, though it is true, in respect to what is intrinsic in him, the
irreducible ethical unit which he essentially is. We must, therefore,
constantly remind ourselves that the ethical unit, while unique, is
at the same time an inseparable member of a society of differentiated
units; that its very distinctiveness consists in injecting, as it
were, streams of dynamic energy into its fellow-beings. Or, as I have
elsewhere figuratively put it, the distinctiveness of any ethical
being consists, so to speak, in emitting a ray the color of which is
nowhere else to be found, the miraculous quality of which consists in
acquiring this color at the very instant in which it causes counter or
complementary colors to appear in its fellow-being. (I am using the
words “instant,” “miraculous,” “ray of light,” etc., of course, in a
wholly figurative sense.)

We have at last, this is my belief, achieved a positive definition of
the spiritual nature. The spiritual nature is that which forever is
social in a supra-social sense, as embracing not only human society,
but a universal society of spirits. The spiritual nature is that
of which the very life consists in starting up unlike but equally
worthwhile life elsewhere, everywhere. The spiritual experience to get
hold of, therefore, is the consciousness of this interrelation.

The moral end to be realized, in accordance with the deductions
of Book II, is “So to act upon another as to evoke in him, and
conjointly in oneself, in the same movement and counter-movement the
consciousness of the interlacedness of life with life, the reciprocal,
universal, infinite interrelatedness.”

Now, as a fact, we never realize this end. If we did we should possess
what alone is properly called freedom,—freedom in the positive sense
being the exercise of power peculiar to ourselves, welling up out of
our veriest self, and executing the totality of its effects. Freedom is
marked by these two signs: energy coming unborrowed out of self, and
producing the totality of its effects. I am free when the thing I do
is verily my own, when the power released is the power of my essential
self; and when that power is nowhere checked, inhibited or interrupted,
so that it produces its due, that is, its universal effects.

An ethical being in an ethical universe would be free. The dynamic
energy proceeding from it would be aboriginal. And since it would
radiate upon every other member of the infinite society, it would also
produce the unstinted plenitude of its effects. Each ethical unit, at
its station, would be at once the _producer and the recipient of the
totality of life_.[44]

It is apparent from what has been said that the superlative, sublime
thing, freedom, is not realizable except in an infinite world. And
hence that the supreme end to be realized by man as a finite being
cannot be the full release of unique power in himself. But neither can
the end be approximation. In so serious a business as a philosophy of
life we ought not to play with words, nor delude ourselves with the
implication of proximity seemingly contained in the word approximation.
For it being admitted that we cannot reach the ideal, approximation
seems to suggest that we come into its neighborhood. But the truth
is that the more we advance the less do we arrive in the immediate
neighborhood of the ideal, the distance at which it lies becoming ever
more remote. The moral end, therefore, for a finite nature, like that
of man, is just to realize the unattainableness of the end. There must
be no heaven-on-earth illusions, no resting in the development of our
inadequate human faculties, and no illusions as to approximation. The
unattainableness of the infinite end in the finite world by the finite
nature is the Alpha and Omega of the doctrine, as I propound it. Only
after this truth has been fully faced and recognized, shall we be in
a position to take in the vast significance of the fact that we are
nevertheless under a certain coercion to persist in our efforts to
attain the unattainable, and in inquiring into the source from which
this pressure comes, we shall be led to infer the influence in us of
an infinite nature enshrined in this finite nature of ours. In other
words, to admit the unattainableness of the end in a finite world by
a finite being is the very condition of our acquiring the conviction
that there is an infinite world, and that we, as possessing an infinite
nature, are included in it.[45]

I have now covered the points mentioned: the end to be realized,
the incongruity of the two orders, and the cardinal importance of
frustration as a spiritual experience, as a means of spiritual

From this point of view the whole question of how to deal with the
frustrations of life assumes a new aspect. Lessing published his
well-known essay on the Education of the Race towards the close of the
eighteenth century.[46] Interest in the subject has since been obscured
by the scientific movement, and especially by the evolutionary
philosophy. The latter excludes the idea of education in the proper
sense, and substitutes for it a natural process, a genetic unfolding.
The education of the human race, and of the human individual from the
spiritual point of view consists in a series of efforts never to be
intermitted, but not necessarily following each other in an orderly
series, aiming to embody the infinite in the finite.

Both partial success and failure in these efforts are instrumental
to the achievement of the task of mankind. Both serve to make more
explicit the character and extent of the ideal, while the ultimate
inevitable failure painfully instructs man in the fact of the
incongruity of the two orders. The only outcome of human history that
we can view with satisfaction on a large scale, is the same as that
which we should regard as the best outcome of an individual life,
namely, the growing conviction and the clearer vision of the eternal
spiritual universe as real. We might say that that man had lived best
who on his deathbed could declare with perfect truth: “I have achieved
the certainty, and in through the vicissitudes of my life, that there
is a universe.” I here emphasize again the distinction between universe
and world. To say that the universe is “good” is equivocal. The term
“good,” as commonly used, describes the moral striving of a finite
nature, and not the quality that belongs to the spiritual universe
and its members, thinking of them as ideally we must, as freed from
finite limitation. Of the spiritual universe, we might use the term
“supra-good,” only we should then be careful to add that the “beyond
good” is to be conceived as lying in the direction of the good, while
transcending it. Thereby we avoid the pitfall of Nietzsche and of
others who speak in a totally different sense of the “beyond good and
evil.” We read of a man blessing his children on his deathbed. The
highest type of man is the one who _in articulo mortis_ can bless the

The discrepancy of the finite and the infinite order appears on the
physical and moral sides. On the physical side it thrusts itself upon
our attention in the circumstance that juxtaposition and sequence are
incapable of being unified, or totalized. Space and time and that
which fills them, matter, are by nature incongruous with spirit. On
the moral side the incongruity appears in the deflecting forces of
appetite and passion which hinder us in the attainment of the spiritual
end and in the fact that our so-called higher faculties are in
irreconcilable conflict with one another. The harmonious union of all
of them in any individual is a fiction. It is impossible to be fully
developed on all sides. And in addition the social substrata in which
the spiritual relation has to be worked out, are themselves too deeply
beset with internal contrarieties to serve their purpose adequately.
The sex relation, for instance, is to a certain extent favorable to the
achievement of spirituality, that is, of living in the life of another;
yet on the other hand there are elements in it that defeat this very

I write, therefore, at the head of such words of counsel as I can hope
to give in respect to the conduct of life, the word _Frustration_.
It is understood that this word is not used in the pathetic sense.
First because there is partial achievement, moments in life at which
the rainbow actually seems to touch the earth. Love and marriage, the
completing of a beautiful work of art, the discovery of a new law of
nature, the emancipation of an oppressed class, are examples. But these
partial successes are presently seen to be partial; they are followed,
or even in the moment of triumph, permeated, with the sense of
incompleteness and the foreboding of new obscurities and perplexities
advancing upon the mind. Yet essentially the doctrine is not a
melancholy doctrine, because frustration, though a painful instrument,
is yet a necessary instrument of spiritual development. We are not open
to the reproach of dampening the zest and relish for life of those who
are setting out to try the hazard of their fortunes. They shall put
forth their best effort to succeed, but let them be so guided herein
that they may meet in the right attitude of mind the disillusionment
which is the condition of the revelation. The shadows will and must
descend before they can be parted, disclosing the landscape of the
spiritual universe.


[44] Incidentally it may be remarked that in introducing the category
of interrelation we remove the objection against freedom which remains
unmitigable so long as freedom is supposed to be a kind of causality,
competing with natural causality. Causality is the unity of a temporal
manifold of sequent phenomena. The concept of interrelation is the
concept of the unity of co-existent entities.

[45] See some fine remarks on the unattainableness in Tyrrel’s
_Christianity at the Cross-roads_.

[46] _Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts._



Having concentrated attention upon the point that the end is not the
development of any particular faculty or assemblage of faculties,
but the awakening in man, in and through his development, of the
consciousness of interrelation, of life in life, we shall now turn to
the three great shadows: sickness, sorrow, sin. In the case of sickness
the suffering, however acute, must be made to pass over into action.
There is a certain work to be done, something to be accomplished on the
sick bed. What is it? I shall briefly review a few of the answers that
have been given.

First, the Stoic says: A man in pain is to resist the pain by an act
of will, thereby demonstrating that his essential self is inaccessible
to bodily suffering. “If there is a pain in thy limb, remember that
the pain is in thy limb, and not in thyself.” Now the fortitude of the
Stoic is admirable as far as it goes; his counsels are bracing and
manly. But, because he is a materialistic pantheist, the reason he
gives for his defiance of pain is not convincing. In effect his appeal
is rather to the empirical than to the spiritual nature of man. The
spiritual nature is characterized by humility; the appeal of the Stoic
is to pride. Fate with all its sledgehammer blows shall not crush him.
Yet the Stoic’s pride when put to the supreme test does not avail, and
the proof of it is that at the last it breaks down in suicide.

We come to a second answer. There is business in hand for the sufferer
on the sick bed. What is the business? To hide the expression of his
suffering, so that the cloud which rests on him may not cast its shadow
upon others, obscuring their sunshine. But, we are bound to ask, are
others always worthy of such consideration? Is not our sympathetic
regard for their pleasures, their sunshine, often misplaced? Are not
their pleasures often selfish and frivolous? The Greeks believed that
outcries in situations of great distress are perfectly legitimate,
since they seem to afford a kind of relief. Is it not cruel to forbid
such outcries? In our age the view prevails that it is a proof of moral
grandeur to suppress the signs of suffering. But the cynical question
obtrudes itself whether it may not be the collective selfishness of the
multitude that imposes this rule. The common run of men desire to go
on their way undisturbed by cries that emanate from the sick chamber,
and perhaps it is on this account that they impose a rule of behavior
based, not on the principle of human worth, but on its opposite. The
individual forsooth is not to count; the unhappiness of one is not to
interfere with the happiness of the greater number!

There is, however, another view of the matter possible. Everyone
carries his own particular burden. When tortured by some painful
malady, we are apt to think that others, because they wear a smiling
exterior, are therefore free from pain. But often those who seem in
sound health are in fact as great sufferers as we, or even greater. And
physical pain is not the only kind of suffering. Why, then, should I,
for one, add to the troubles of others by imposing my own upon them?
Put in this way, it is plain that there is an ethical element in the
kind of behavior that is expected of a manly person. But the reason
assigned, sympathy with the pleasures of others, is unconvincing.
Unless there be some good to which grievous suffering can be made
instrumental, there is no warrant for enduring it. As for the Stoics,
so for the philosopher of sympathy, the logical end would be suicide,
at least when the pain is exceptionally intense.

There is a third answer. Something is to be worked out on the sick bed.
What is it? To be purified in the furnace, to learn patience and humble
submission to the inscrutable will of God. Patience is the supreme
virtue. “Be patient, Oh, be patient,” I once heard a dying man repeat
with touching accents. But patience for the sake of what? There must be
some object to be gained by the patience to make it commendable. I can
be patient in a storm at sea if I may entertain the hope of reaching
port. I can be patient in conducting a difficult scientific experiment
if I may hope that it will issue in an important discovery, or prepare
the way for such discovery by others. I can be patient in sickness if
I have any reason to expect a return to health. But patience for mere
patience’s sake is absurd. Well, then, the third answer is,—patience
for the sake of manifesting your faith and trust in a wise and
beneficent Deity. Why he has sent this suffering, why he has so made
the world that it is replete with the agony of sentient creatures we do
not know. We cannot know. But he knows. Trust him, have faith in him:
“Though he slay me yet will I trust him.”

Here a genuine characteristic of the spiritual attitude has been
expressed, but the ground on which it is put is once more unconvincing.
How do I know that there is such a being as this wise and loving Deity
of whom you tell me? By the evidence of his works, by the testimony
of the world he has created, by the life for which I am indebted to
him. But the world is the playground of good and evil forces. There
is a semblance of design; there is on the other hand apparently the
wildest disorder. The stars in their courses travel with incredible
celerity in every direction, but no astronomer has ever yet been
able to discern a plan in their journeyings. Human life is full of
sorrow as well as joy; and whether there be more sorrow or more joy
in the lives of most persons, who will venture to say? There is
kindness, but there is also cruelty. There is coöperation, and there
is merciless competition. There is health and bloom, and there is
miserable physical decay. At present, in my case, suffering and sorrow
are in the ascendant. The picture of the Deity as fashioned from the
evidence of experience is dark and bright, cruel and kind. If he be
omnipotent, why did he introduce the elements of discord and trouble
into his creation? Why, in particular, does he at present torture me
so cruelly? In order that I may believe in him despite the evidence!
But how can I believe, seeing that in my own case the evidence on the
bad side preponderates? Thus the mind of the sufferer on his couch
of pain gropes in the labyrinth of argument and counter-argument—for
the intellectual processes are often preternaturally acute in times of
physical suffering—and there is no outlet. In a fine spiritual nature
there is something which pleads that the counter-arguments ought not
to prevail. Desperately, by an act of faith, a man lays hold on his
God. But presently his faith again relaxes, his state of mind becomes
confused, and unless supported by strong impressions received in and
retained from childhood on, the third answer will not avail him.

There is business in hand on the sick bed. What is it? The fourth
answer, the answer as it appeals to me, depends on the very incongruity
of the finite and the infinite order. Every attempt to explain this
incongruity breaks down, every theodicy is a fiction. To explain is to
find the cause of effects. But the notion of cause does not apply to
the relation between the finite and the infinite. And of the infinite
order itself we possess only the plan or scheme of relations. The
members of this ideal world are related to one another in such a manner
that the essential uniqueness of the one is to be provocative of the
diverse distinctiveness of the others. This, as I think, is a very
fruitful formula, furnishing a rule of conduct to be applied to our
finite relations. But it sheds no light on the uniqueness itself, which
is forever ideal. What in its ultimate constitution our spiritual being
may be, remains unknown. Did we know, were we capable of comprehending
the infinite order, and seeing things in that supersolar light, we
might then be able to solve the insoluble riddle, the coexistence
side by side of the finite and the infinite. As it is, the problem of
finiteness especially in its human aspect of suffering and evil is
impenetrable, inexplicable. _But if we cannot explain suffering and
evil, we can utilize them for a definite spiritual end._ And that end
is to achieve through the ministry of frustration and the persistence
of the effort toward the unattainable, the consciousness of the reality
of the spiritual universe and of our membership in it.

The answer, therefore, which I should offer, is based on this pivotal
distinction between explaining and using. And thus the business in
hand, the end to be gained, is the intensified realization of our
spiritual interconnectedness with others, the life in life. To this end
we accept from the Stoic, though for a reason which he does not give,
resistance to pain, and from the philosopher of sympathy the obligation
of not clouding the life of others with our shadow, and from the
theologian the law of patience—and we take a step beyond all three.

Let me carry this out somewhat more in detail. To gain the
consciousness of interrelation, there must be an object outside of
myself of supreme interest to me, enabling me to transcend the ego.
Now, pain has the opposite effect, that of concentrating attention
on the ego. Pain builds a prison around us, raises up high walls
which shut us in. Anyone in great pain is incessantly reminded of his
physical state. In order that the mind may pass out of the prison
cell and over the encompassing wall, there needs to be some object
beyond the wall appealing enough to solicit the outward movement.
This object is the spiritual self of my fellowmen. It is my concern
for their spiritual self which is their highest good, it is my eager
wish to reinforce what is best in them that works the transcendence of
the ego and of its pains. In such supreme moments the lesser values
dwindle into relative insignificance. And what is best in others is
the same consciousness on their part of the interrelation. It is this
that I am to awaken in them, to strengthen in them by the intensity
with which I myself realize it. In the case of loving kin and friends,
they, too, suffer with me. In vain I try to hide my sufferings. They
divine what I try to suppress; and the more I try to suppress it, the
more they suffer with me. They suffer not only with the suffering, but
with the attempt to conceal the suffering. I have seen this in the
case of a mother at the bedside of her dying daughter. They go with me
to the brink of life. They enter into the anxieties and forebodings
that haunt my mind as I face death. There may be young children that
still need fostering care. Dangers to the family may arise after I am
gone. The more my life is implicated in the lives around me, the more
as I stand on the edge of life will my thoughts be occupied, not with
the obliteration of my empirical self, but with the future of those
that survive—that best future of theirs which I long to assure. And
they, in turn, if they are fine natures, will pass through this inward
experience with me. Thus I descend into the darkness and the depths,
and they descend with me; and I am also to rise out of the darkness and
the depths, and am to gain the force to do this in order that I may
lift them with me.

This is the business in hand. I am to draw myself out of the depths,
to overcome the centralizing, egotizing effects of physical and mental
pain, in order by my effort to make those around me realize the
intensity with which I feel my interrelatedness with them, and thereby
to reveal to them the same spiritual power in themselves. Plans for
the future education of the children, counsels of peace, by way of
anticipation for the too lonely hours that await the most loving and
the most beloved,—these things have value chiefly in so far as they are
insignificant of the indissoluble interlacing of life with life.[47]


[47] I have spoken of the sick bed as surrounded by loving friends
and near of kin. There are sick beds where the situation is quite
different,—in the poor wards of hospitals for instance. Nevertheless,
the loneliest person is never without certain human relations. It may
be the pauper in the next bed, the nurse, or the physician, to whom his
behavior will be of lasting meaning.

I would add a word as to the attitude of a person who is threatened
with insanity, and who is aware that the disease is approaching. His
last conscious act should be to honor the community to which he belongs
by voluntarily putting himself out of the way of harming them. Not that
the physical harm is itself the principal thing, but that the wish not
to harm physically is the sign of his sense of the ethical relation in
which he stands to his fellows. Also a person threatened in this way
ought to be willing to put himself in the keeping of others, even of
strangers, as being no longer himself competent to judge rightly of
what shall be done to him. It is true that in accepting the judgment of
strangers as a substitute for his own he is taking the risk of being
treated with insufficient consideration, and possibly even mistreated.
Yet the jeopardy in which he thus puts his future, the sacrificial act
he performs, is evidence of mental nobility at the very moment when
mental night is about to set in for him.



When we reflect on what actually happens in cases of bereavement, we
shall find great diversity in different situations. It may be that the
deceased person has led a worthless life, and that the grave is allowed
to close over him without much regret. Nevertheless, the honor due to
worth that _never appeared in him_ ought to be shown. In the worst
cases we may not treat human beings like animals. Besides, there are
generally one or more persons who seem to have an unreasoning natural
affection for the wretched being, and so he does not go wholly without
the tribute of tears. Others, like sufferers from cancer, pass through
days, weeks, months of acute pain before they die. In their case it is
said that death comes as a relief, and often the final relief from the
suffering obscures the loss.

Again, in most men’s lives there is an upper and an under side. Though
the public career of statesmen, poets, artists may be dazzling, yet
their faults or obliquities are probably well enough known to those
who have seen them at close range. Obituaries are seldom truthful.
Sometimes, however, the reverse happens; men whose names are held up
to public obloquy are not always as black as they are painted. Their
worst side becomes known to the public, yet they sometimes possess
wonderfully fine traits.

Very pathetic is the mourning for a baby, and its unfulfilled promise,
or for a defective child, long a burden, yet strangely grieved for when
its feeble little flame of life is extinguished.

The most poignant sorrow is that which cannot be communicated to others
or shared by others, because the tie severed by bereavement, like
that of husband and wife, is between two only. The loss by death of
a beloved life companion is apt to lead to an inconsolable state of
mind, because in this relation, when finely interpreted, the empirical
and the spiritual appear almost to coincide. The ethical rule, Live
in the life of another, live so as to enhance to the highest degree
the possibilities of another, seems almost no longer a counsel of
perfection but an actual experience. Hence the utter grief into which
the sundering of the tie is apt to plunge the survivor. On the other
hand, Jonathan Edwards said on his deathbed to his wife: “Our relation
has been spiritual, and therefore is eternal.” And there is indeed an
element of eternality in marriage, only it is not the sex relation as
such that is or can be conceived of as eternal. It is not man and woman
in their empirical form to which this attribute belongs. Marriage is
the sign; the spiritual relation that which is signified.[48]

It may be objected that marriage being a tie strictly between two, one
can hardly think without repugnance of an equally intimate, nay, far
more intimate, relation with all spiritual beings whatsoever. Yet the
spiritual relation is one in which the ethical being is conceived to be
in touch with each of the infinite beings that comprise the spiritual
universe, pouring its essential life into them, and receiving theirs in
return. Is not then the sign incompatible with and contradictory to the
thing signified? But it is not of the multitude of mortal men and women
surrounding us that we think when we speak of the eternal hosts. From
this surrounding swarm of mortals, we retreat, taking refuge in the
inmost privacy which we share with one other only. Yet this very inmost
intimacy, so far as it is pure, is the emblem of that pure intercourse
of essential being with essential being in which we are related to

Following up the subject of bereavement, we find the following
consolations employed:

The first to be mentioned is, “Bow to the inevitable.” I include
this because frustration is inevitable, on account of the discrepancy
between the finite and the infinite order, and because we are to use
inevitable frustration for the purpose of experiencing the reality
of the ideal. But without this use in mind, the inevitable presents
itself as a mere blind necessity, in which we can see neither right nor
reason, a hostile doom that simply crushes us. The psychological effect
of the thought of an event as inevitable, it is true, is in any case
calming, but the tranquillity thus induced is a heavy and hopeless one.
And those who accept the inevitable in this stupefying manner often
become meaner in their way of living. The light of life is for them
extinguished. They put up perhaps with creature comforts, or with work
that merely keeps the mind occupied, and prevents it from fretting the
wound, thus allowing slow time to cicatrize it.

There is, however, a larger way in which a materialist may regard the
inevitable. The world in his view being a vast machine, he may, as it
were, identify himself with the machine, and thereby rise in thought
superior to the injury it inflicts on him. But though we can imagine
someone thus deadening his feelings when he himself is the victim, we
cannot well conceive of the same remedy applying when a beloved person,
say an only child, is being crushed under the Juggernaut car of the
world-machine. _The great test of one’s philosophy of life is whether
it helps us in the case of those whom we love, rather than in the case
of the sufferings we experience in our own person._

A second consolation is: Remember the universality of sorrow. Look
around you, behold the vast multitude who are suffering like you;
remember the countless generations who have suffered in the past,
think of the generations to come that will suffer in like manner. Such
are some of the consolations of the choruses in the Greek tragedies.
Latent perhaps in this mournful view of the facts of existence is
another aspect of the matter, namely, the uprising from frustration
toward ideal realization. And in so far as this other uplifting view is
indeed latent or suggested, the thought of the universality of sorrow
has an ennobling effect. On the other hand, without the explication of
what may be regarded as implicit in them the consolations of the Greek
choruses are inexpressibly saddening.

A third and active variant of the former consolation is: Seek to
mitigate the sorrow and trouble of thy fellow-sufferers. Appease the
passion of thine own grief by compassion and the works to which it
leads. And by as much as activity of any kind is better than passivity,
or mere feeling, by so much is this third kind of consolation better
than the ones above mentioned. But at bottom the same criticism applies
to it. It leaves still unanswered the question, To what end this
suffering both of others and of oneself? Not Why? is the question,
but To what end? How bereavement may be used so as to bring it into
relation with the final end of life?

A fourth consolation is the popular belief in immortality. This
is a resort to supernaturalism, and the supernatural should ever
be distinguished from the supersensible. Immortality as popularly
held involves the continued existence in some empirical form of the
essential, central entity in man. For the suggestion that new organs
may replace the wornout terrestrial body does not alter the empirical
character of the conception. The new organs are still conceived in some
vague fashion as similar to those with which we are acquainted.

Finally, my own interpretation of consolation may be set forth in
contrast to all these. Again I say that for the bereaved, as for the
sick, there is business in hand, there is a task to be performed, a
work to be done. What is it? Let me endeavor to explain. The spiritual
nature of man is incognizable, only the plan of the relations between
spirit and spirit being given. Yet to think of a relation at all
we must think of entities or objects between which it subsists. Of
the spiritual part of our fellow-beings, therefore, we are bound to
fashion mentally a symbolic image, one that shall stand for the real
object, the spiritual nature, though we are well aware that it does not
adequately express it.

When the beloved person is no longer visibly present, the work we do
upon the symbolic image of him is not to cease. We are to review, to
summarize the whole existence of a departed friend, as we have probably
never done while he was with us. We are to get the total perspective of
his life, to see the fine qualities standing out more distinctly; to
seize the net result of his existence so far as those character traits
are concerned which in him were most analogous to spiritual traits.
This image we can now ideally contemplate with the advantage that none
of the actual infirmities of his nature can mar it, and that no future
events can henceforth alter our impression. The work of clarifying
the image of our friend goes on unimpeded. And our own activity in
the process of purifying his image of all that was merely fallible in
him benefits us in return. The effect of this activity of ours on the
datum of his life is our permanent gain. Thus both what he was and what
he was not is stimulative. While he lived we performed the function
of elimination and concentration with a view of producing progress in
him and in ourselves jointly. Progress, induced by us, so far as he
is concerned, for all we know is at an end. Progress so far as we are
concerned is assured by the activity we continue to expend as long as
we live on his memory. And the memory, or the image, stands for the
beloved person. There is real mental intercourse wherever there is a
movement of one mind towards the outgoings of another, even though the
retroactive relation be suspended. The beloved person benefits me,
though I no longer benefit him, except indirectly so far as in my own
life I possibly expiate his shortcomings and in so far as I bestow on
other living persons the advantage I receive from my mental intercourse
with him.[50]

What, then, is the business in hand? What is the work to be done?
Plainly to tie anew the threads that were broken, to bring it about
that the loss, infinitely painful though it be, shall lead to gain,
to substitute for the mixed relation of touch and sight the purely
spiritual relation.

One more remark must be made in connection with the above. There is
at present a tendency to dishonor the past in comparison with the
future. Interest seems to lie in what lies ahead. Hence a breathless,
forward-urging mood. One consequence of this is that the dead are less
honored than of old. Within a single generation, for instance, I have
seen not a few eminent persons in the city of New York pass away who
up to the time of their death and in their obituaries were greatly and
justly praised. I have hardly ever seen their names publicly mentioned
since. Already they seem practically forgotten. In our national history
likewise only a few of the most eminent are remembered. In like manner
in families, the names even of father and mother are seldom mentioned
by their surviving adult children, and ancestors at second remove
are barely remembered. Now excessive reverence for the past, as in
China, is a mark of stationariness. A retrospective point of view
is inconsistent with progress. Our face must necessarily be turned
toward the future. And yet forgetfulness of those human beings whom
we have known, and who represented to us while they lived much of the
best that life had to give, seems inhuman and incredible. It is true
that I have drawn a sharp distinction between the empirical selves
and those spiritual selves which the former for a time enshrined. The
empirical selves have now disappeared. The gleam of love in the eye,
the luster of beauty, whether of form or of expression, that touched
for a season the sacred features, have vanished. On the other hand, the
spiritual self as a member of the spiritual universe is confessedly
past knowing and past imagining. On what object then shall memory
dwell? It may dwell on the empirical self in so far as it was the sign
of the thing signified, in so far as the being we knew and loved was
to us convincing of the reality of that spiritual world which itself
is incognizable by sense or mind. The greatest boon any human being
can confer on another is to serve him in attaining the end for which
he exists; and the supreme end for us all is the realization of our
interrelation with the infinite community of spirits. The woman whom
we say we loved, we loved precisely because she revealed to us that
spiritual galaxy—because she was a Beatrice, ascending with us, and
opening to our sight the eternal expanses.


[48] In the New Testament, despite the preference expressed for
celibacy, the relation of the bridegroom to the bride is used
metaphorically to represent that of Christ with the church, and among
the mystics the same figure represents the union of Christ with the
believing soul.

[49] I call attention to the difference between the view here expressed
and that of Emerson in the last paragraphs of his _Essay on Love_,
where he says: “Our affections are tents of a night. Our warm loves
are clouds that pass over the firmament of mind with its overarching
vault, its galaxies of immutable lights. In the personal relations
we are put in training for impersonal submergence and absorption in
God.” In my own view the infinite community of spiritual beings that
takes the place of God consists altogether of personalities. Godhead,
if you choose to apply that name to this infinite society, is not a
person but a community of personalities. Personality is not drowned in
the impersonal. On the contrary, the individual becomes a personality
through his relation to his associates in the eternal life.

[50] I have real intercourse with Aristotle and Kant, as the outgoings
of their minds are still effectual in me—more vital intercourse than
with many of those who surround me.



If any term in the moral vocabulary stands in need of strict
redefinition, it is sin. Three elements combine to complete the idea
of sin: first, that the deed was one that ought not to have been done,
not so much because of its painful consequences to others or to self,
or to both, or, by repercussion on society as a whole; but because it
was opposed to what is intrinsically right: in other words, because it
contravened the kind of interrelation which would exist in its purity
in the ethical manifold.

Secondly, the idea of sin implies that the sinner himself is the doer
of the deed, or that there is to this extent freedom of the will. I do
not say that he is the cause of which the deed is the effect. Causality
appertains to sequent phenomena. As regards freedom of the will,
the distinction between the category of interdependence and that of
causality is vital. A long series of causes, such as bad heredity, bad
environment, etc., may have led A to determine to murder B.[51]

The notion of the freedom of the will as here viewed signifies that
no matter what the causal series may have been which leads up to the
act, when the act itself is about to be performed, when B is about to
experience the effect of A as cause, in that moment the relation of
interdependence between A and B ought to arise before the mind of A and
withhold him from completing his evil purpose.

Thirdly, it is characteristic of sin that the fuller knowledge that the
harmful deed is sinful _comes after the act_,—that it is the Fruit of
the Tree, the enlightenment of the eyes. As the serpent said: “If ye
eat of the fruit ye shall be as gods.”

Many a man has done what is called evil, and done it most deliberately,
knowing evil as evil. Remember the career of a Cæsar Borgia, the
extermination of the Caribbean Indians by the Spaniards, the outrages
on women perpetrated during the present war, the exploitation of human
labor practiced on a large scale among the civilized nations. That the
blackest crimes may be committed with a full knowledge of the horrible
consequences to the victims seems hardly to admit of doubt. Evil is
known as evil.

But evil in its character as sin cannot be fully recognized prior
to the act. In this respect the Greeks had a certain prescience of
the truth when they asserted that no one can knowingly commit evil;
only they failed to distinguish between evil and sin. A man _can_
knowingly commit evil, but cannot with full consciousness commit sin.
The knowledge of the sin is the divine elixir which may be distilled
from the evil deed (“Ye shall be as gods”), and the object of every
kind of punishment should be to extract that pain-giving but ultimately
peace-giving elixir.

Above I mentioned the criminal as the extreme type. But evils in
less formidable guise, though not on that account less evil, refined
invasions of the personality of others, spiritual oppressions,
sometimes deliberate, often unwitting, are included in everyone’s
experience. And the process of expiation, by which evil is transcended
through the recognition of sin (with its prostrating effect at first,
its strangely elevating effect later on) is alike applicable to all.
The best of men have to go through this ordeal as well as the worst.
Especially is unwitting transgression inevitable. Sophocles makes it
the text of his philosophy in the _Œdipus_, though the solution offered
is that of Greek enlightenment and not that of the more profound
ethical consciousness.

We have next, in close connection with sin, to consider the tremendous
question of responsibility, interpreted from the point of view of our
ethical principle. Responsible means answerable. Answerable to whom,
and in what sense? As commonly understood, it means answerable to God
the Law-giver, to God regarded as the Author of the moral law. God is
likened to a sovereign. Any infraction of his law is an offense against
the sovereign. Answerable means subject to the pains and penalties
which it suits the sovereign to annex to moral offences. There is no
intrinsic connection implied between pain and redemption. The pain is
supposed to break the will of the offender, or to mellow him, so that
he will in future obey the mandates of the sovereign without a murmur.

Again, responsibility may mean responsibility to society. Crime is
infectious. A fissure opening at any one point in the dykes erected
against crime may let in a flood. The social order as a whole is
threatened in every single violation of law. The offender must answer
for his defiance of the public will by being subjected to the pains or
penalties which society annexes to his crime. The object is the same
as before, to break him into submission, to fit or force him into the
social mould, to make him harmless, or if possible what is called a
“useful citizen.” No internal redemptive change in the nature of the
evildoer is contemplated, except as it may be necessary to lead him to
a useful or at least a harmless life. The antisocial attitude is to be
replaced by the social attitude. Appeals to enlightened self-interest,
and to the sympathies are commonly thought sufficient for this purpose.

Thirdly, responsibility means responsible to oneself. There is an
inner forum, a tribunal in which the spiritual self sits in judgment
on the empirical self. Conscience, the voice of this spiritual self,
pronounces the verdict. (Cf. the passages in Kant in which this figure
of speech is used.) These are metaphorical expressions.

To grasp the meaning of responsibility from the ethical standpoint, we
must lift into view the concept of _the task of mankind as a whole_,
and of the individual as a factor in the fulfilment of that task. This
introduces a momentous turn into the discussion of the subject.

The task of mankind is to arrive through its commerce with the finite
world, through its unremitting efforts to incorporate the infinite
plan within the sphere of human relations, at an increasingly explicit
conception of the ideal of the infinite universe; and through partial
success and frustration to seize the reality of that universe.
Responsibility means _participation in this task_, sharing its doom,
and attaining in oneself, in part, its sublime compensation. The
evildoer is to achieve the knowledge that his evil deed is sin, that is
to say, that it not only carries with it harm to others and indirectly
to himself, but that it is _the defeat in him_ of the task which is
set for the human race as a whole on earth. Instead of doing his share
in fulfilling this task, in gaining a footing in the finite world for
the spiritual relation of living so as to enhance the life of others
and thereby his own, he has miserably sought to enhance his life at
the expense of other life. The knowledge that he has so acted sears
his awakened soul like fire, but it is also the beginning of healing.
The transgressor, now sees what he did not see before. He sees by way
of contrast the holy pattern of relations which in his act he has
travestied, the holy laws which he has infringed, and in imputing
sin to himself for transgressing them, he at the same time proclaims
himself in his essential being holy, that is, capable of executing
them, or at least of striving unceasingly to do so. It is thus that
he opens within himself the sources of redemption, unseals the deeper
fountains of spiritual energy.

That man is responsible means that he is answerable to do his share in
discharging the task of mankind. And when he is inwardly transformed
by the consciousness of the holy laws, and of himself as intrinsically
committed to holiness, he does thereby advance the business of his kind
on earth. In him humanity does take a step forward on the spiritual
road. In him one other member of our race has been lifted out of evil,
becoming perhaps, from the spiritual point of view, a more advanced
member of the forward-pressing host than those who have never passed
through an experience like his, who have not been overtly tempted, who
have remained conventionally moral, who have not realized the evil
that remains unexpurgated within them, and have not passed through the
cleansing process of self-condemnation and rebirth.

The incongruity between the finite and the infinite order is the basis
of this doctrine of responsibility. Mankind is responsible for seeking
to embody the infinite in the finite. It fails to do so, but gains
its compensation. The individual shares this responsibility, but both
mankind and the individual jointly take a step forward whenever an
evil deed is recognized, branded and expiated as sinful. The object
of punishment, whether inflicted by society or self-inflicted, is to
promote this regeneration which is the expiation.[52]


 Evil in its ethical meaning presupposes worth as attaching to human
 beings. To do evil is to offend against worth. To assert the worth of
 man is to view him as one of an infinite number of beings, united in
 an infinite universe, each induplicable in its kind. Of this spiritual
 multitude ideally projected by us as enveloping human society only our
 fellow human beings are known to us. _The moral law is the law which
 reigns throughout the infinite spiritual universe applied within, the
 narrow confines of human society. It is applied within those confines,
 it is spiritual, universal in its jurisdiction._

 The task of humanity as a whole is to embody more and more the
 universal spiritual law in human relationships, and thus to transform
 and transfigure human society. In the New Testament we read the
 expression: “the light of God reflected in the face of Christ.” The
 ideal here indicated may be expressed in the phrase, The spiritual
 universe with its endless lights reflected on the face of human
 society! The task of humanity is one which can never be completed, one
 from which mankind may never desist. To see evil as sin is to see it
 as contravening the collective task of mankind, the task of weaving
 the human groups more and more into the fabric of the spiritual

 To see evil as sin is to see any single act or series of acts ideally
 in their infinite connections. This is what I mean when I say that the
 knowledge of sin comes after the act. I do not mean that there may not
 be before the act a vague consciousness of the ramified consequences
 of evil, but that the fuller knowledge of it as sin is the fruit
 of the act. Nor do I mean that evil in its deeper significance is
 revealed to every guilty person. The opposite is obviously true. What
 I mean is that it is possible after having eaten of the Fruit of the
 Tree to gain the enlightenment, in other words, to become aware of
 the intrinsic holiness of our nature in consequence of our offense
 against the holy laws. If anyone should ask “Must I then do evil in
 order to gain the enlightenment?” the answer is that this question
 is an idle one. No one can escape doing evil. If not in its grosser
 forms, then in ways subtler and more complex, but not therefore less
 evil, every one is bound to make acquaintance with guilt. He need not
 go out of his way to seek occasion, let him see to it that he improves
 the occasion when it comes, as inevitably it will, to his spiritual


[51] The category of interdependence implies that the lines of energy
between A and B cross, so that A is subject to B’s influence, B subject
to A’s influence, simultaneously. The simultaneity of the relation
distinguishes the category of interdependence from that of causality.

[52] This implies that the evil deed shall not be lost sight of, simply
forgotten. Compare the inadequate account of repentance as given by
Goethe in _Faust_ and elsewhere.



_The Right to Life_

The thoughts presented above on the subject of sin naturally lead over
to the next topic, the obligations we are under regarding the life,
the property and the reputation of others. The ancient moral laws
unquestionably remain: “Thou shalt not kill”; “Thou shalt not steal”;
“Thou shalt not bear false witness.” But their application is extended
and their significance intensified by the positive definition which has
been given to the term _Spiritual_.

So long as the mere inviolateness of the human personality is
emphasized, without any defined conception of what it is that is
inviolate (the inviolateness without the infinite preciousness),
there is danger that the physical part of man will be invested with
the sacred character that belongs to the spiritual, that the two, the
spiritual and the physical parts, will be identified.

The result will be mischievous in two ways: First, while the act
of killing will be reprobated, a kind of tabu being attached to
bloodshed, the taking of the life of fellow-beings in more indirect
ways, or what may be called constructive murder, will be lightly
regarded. The following case is mentioned by a recent writer. The
directors of a railroad refused to vote the sum of five thousand
dollars to provide a certain safety appliance for their cars. Soon
after an accident occurred, in which a number of men were killed.
The accident might have been prevented had the five thousand dollars
required for the installation of the safety appliance been voted.
Now the men were undoubtedly killed by the directors of the company.
As to the difference in the degree of guilt in the case of direct
and indirect murder, there is room for casuistical debate. The
consequences it is true were not present to the directors’ minds. But
are they not responsible for the very fact that the consequences were
excluded from their view? They were intent on their dividends, and
ignored the endangered lives. But is not this the substance of their
guilt? Does not moral progress lie in the direction of extending the
sense of responsibility so as to cover the indirect taking of life?
Similarly the use of poisonous substances in industry, bad sanitation,
inadequate fire protection, must be stigmatized as indirect murder. The
Commandment “Thou shalt not kill” must extend over a far wider area
than it has covered in the past.[53]

Secondly, the positive definition of the spiritual nature enables us
to perceive more distinctly that the physical part is the means and
the spiritual part the end, and to draw the necessary consequences.
That which is means is not to be cherished if to do so would defeat
the end itself; hence the physical life is _not_ to be preserved if by
preserving it we deny or defeat the very purpose which the physical
part is to serve. So long as men have the tabu feeling about bloodshed,
the fact that life ought of right to be taken in certain instances will
seem a hopeless contradiction of the general rule against killing.
Keeping in mind the spiritual end of existence on the other hand, we
affirm unhesitatingly that it is better that a man should die than
commit a heinous crime. It was better for the young girl mentioned
in a well-known tale, threatened with outrage, and seeing no other
possible way of escape, to strangle herself with her own hair rather
than submit. According to the opinion of certain scholastic writers on
ethics, dishonor resides solely in the consent of the soul, and where
this is absent the mere physical infringement cannot leave a moral
stain. This is a helpful point of view in regard to the victims of the
atrocities of war, the inmates of certain Belgian nunneries, and the
hapless objects of unspeakable brutality in certain Polish villages.
The anguish of a pure-minded woman who becomes a mother under such
circumstances is hardly conceivable. And to discriminate between the
infamy done to her and her own unpolluted soul is a plain duty, as well
as to relieve the innocent offspring of outrage from any participation
in the guilt to which it owes its existence. But the case to which
I refer is different. It is one in which the choice remains between
voluntary death and submission to intended violation. Submission in
such a situation argues a kind of consent, or at least the absence of a
sufficient revulsion.

It is right to kill an intending murderer supposing that there is no
other way of preventing him from committing his crime, whether the
intended victim be oneself or someone else. It is not only the life
thus protected from attack that is saved, but the murderer in a sense
is saved as well, so far as he can be saved, by the intervention. Also
the members of his family are saved, humanity is saved from moral
disgrace in his person. The same reasoning applies to the position
of the extreme non-resistants. They will not, they tell us, do a
wrong to prevent a wrong. In their eyes to take the physical life of
another is in every possible instance an absolute wrong. They fail to
take account of the instrumental relation between the physical and
the spiritual parts. And on the same grounds, a defensive war, a war
to ward off aggression, may be theoretically justified. But here the
application of the theory is dubious as well as dangerous. Exceptional
cases of high-handed aggression that ought to be resisted occur, but
aggression is rarely, if ever, one-sided. As a rule, there is more or
less wrong on both sides, and the tangle of accusations and mutual
recriminations is almost impossible to unravel. Very rarely, indeed, if
ever, is right altogether on one side, and wrong on the other, though
predominant right may be on one side and predominant wrong on the
other. And aside from this, the instruments of destruction in modern
warfare have become so monstrous, the efficiency notion applied to war
has led to such ruthlessness, the attempt to distinguish between the
civilian population and the armed forces has so nearly broken down,
that right-thinking persons everywhere are now eagerly intent on how to
prevent aggression before it can take effect, rather than to resist it
after it has occurred.


 The casuistical question may be raised whether from this point of
 view we are not all murderers. The amount I spend on my house, food,
 recreation, might if divided prolong the life of many a child in the
 slums. Am I not then actually a parasite, that is, a murderer? It is
 this shocking scruple that has led fine people to live among the poor,
 and to try to equalize their mode of living with that prevailing in
 the environment. The motive is noble, though as a matter of fact they
 may never succeed in doing what they set out to do because they never
 actually touch bottom. There are always depths of poverty to which
 they can not descend. They may spend comparatively little, yet that
 little is far in excess of the spending of the most indigent. And had
 they stripped themselves of everything they would have been face to
 face with the _reductio ad absurdum_ of their method, for they would
 have abandoned civilization and degraded their human life to the level
 of the wayside tramp.

 What is inspiring in their example is just the immense compassion,
 the willingness to give up so much. But the method itself is not a

 Are we then murderers, all of us? Perhaps a distinction may be drawn
 between acts which in themselves are hostile to the life of fellowmen,
 like overtaxing the worker, and acts which tend positively to maintain
 the higher values of life,—such as the providing of decent shelter,
 support and education, for the members of one’s family. It is true
 that, as Tolstoy warns us, we easily slip into indefensible luxury
 under the pretence of maintaining the higher values. But this does not
 affect the validity of the distinction itself.

 And yet the distinction does not relieve us of what may be called our
 share of the social or collective guilt. The exploiter is chargeable
 with individual guilt. I who am trying to keep up the standard of
 civilized living within my little sphere am nevertheless conscious of
 participating in the social guilt, the guilt of a society that has
 permitted and still permits such misery to exist. Well, it does exist,
 and I can do but a very little to change it. Can I then endure the
 contrast between my own lot and that of the greater number. Is it not
 true after all that if I give up the comforts, or let me say the helps
 to the maintenance of the higher values, I should be saving the lives
 of many children? Those children are dying because I am not dividing
 my possessions among the poor. Can I stand up and look at that fact,
 at those deaths?

 The only answer which it is possible to give at the point we have thus
 far reached in our exposition is: push on, perfect civilization, a way
 will eventually be found to uplift the masses and make them partakers
 of the future civilization. The other alternative, that of Tolstoy,
 is stagnation. Yet I cannot disguise from myself the fact that in the
 meanwhile, while we are trying to push on, millions are perishing.
 This is the true “burden of world pain,” not the sentimental world
 pain due to the fact that one is not having oneself the best kind of a
 time in the world, but the pain caused by the fact that while we are
 reaching forward to help the suffering masses, those masses, though
 composed of individuals morally as worth while as ourselves, and many
 of them doubtless better, if we only knew it, are perishing before
 our very eyes, and that we stand by and cannot save them. I have said
 that in the meanwhile while we are trying to push on, millions are
 perishing. The actual moral problem so often overlooked is underlined
 in the words “in the meanwhile.”

 There is one pathetic consolation. Envy is not the widespread vice
 which it is sometimes represented to be. Those who are in trouble take
 the will very largely for the deed. People in the worst conditions are
 grateful to anyone who shows a real desire to help, even if his actual
 performance does not go very far. And there is a still finer trait
 in ordinary human nature, namely, the tendency to find a certain
 vicarious relief in the joy of the few, provided that their joy be

_The Right to Property_[54]

“Property,” according to Blackstone, “is the sole and despotic dominion
which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the
world in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the

Orthodox jurisprudence, like orthodox religion, is characterized by the
absoluteness of its formula. It ignores the genesis of its concepts in
the long line of antecedent historical development, and it disdains to
entertain the demand for modification, though the circumstances of the
time loudly call for it.

“The sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises,”
etc., may be a fact, but it is not a right. Property can only be
regarded as a right if shown to be subservient to the ethical end,—the
maintenance and development of personality. Orthodox jurisprudence
effaces the end, and treats that which is or has been at one time a
means as if it possessed a sanctity of its own. On the other hand, the
empirical treatment of jurisprudence, in dismissing the supposedly
absolute means, tends to leave out of sight the ethical end, and to
treat the social institutions as subservient to mere convenience.

The following propositions will indicate the changes in the conception
of the right of property required by our ethical theory.

1. Property is a relation between a person or persons and things. There
can be no property right in persons, but only in things.[55]

2. The right of property faces in two directions: Toward outside nature
and toward fellow human beings. We have a right over the external
things of nature. We have a right to the services, though not to the
personality, of fellow human beings. These two aspects of the right of
property must be kept apart and defined.

It is sometimes held that the human race as a whole, as over against
nature, has the right of dominion. Nature, it is said, is our quarry,
we can take out of it the stones we need to construct the edifice
of civilization. Nature is our tool. The laws of nature, as science
discovers them, become our servants. Nature offers the raw material
which we consume. Nature has no rights as against man. But I hold
that neither has man rights as against nature, except in so far as
he rightly defines the end in the interest of which he makes use of
nature—the maintenance and development of personality.

To suppose that the right of property as the extension of personality
over things is tenable without regard to its instrumental use, to
suppose that bare appropriation of nature as of “treasure trove” is
a prerogative of man, is to lend countenance to the false notion of
occupation, or first appropriation, which has confused the ethics of
the subject in the literature of jurisprudence, and prevented a right
understanding of it. If bare appropriation be the foundation, then the
first comer has a right against his successors, since the extension
of personality over the thing has been actually accomplished by him,
and that is all there is to be said about it. Again, on this view, a
case may be made out for vested interests, that is to say, for those
who have successfully appropriated the earth, yes, and the fullness
thereof, and who having thus effectually extended their personality
over things without regard to the uses they make of their possessions,
are then to be entitled to remain indefinitely in secure ownership of

Without an ethical standard, without the notion of an end to be
subserved, stubborn possession will always be able to resist
modification, and on the other hand attempts at modification will be
haphazard. Neither the human species collectively nor the individual
has a right simply to appropriate the things of the external world.
Neither the first occupier nor the last is entitled to his goods unless
he can make out a greater good in the interest of which he should be
allowed to possess them.

But the case of primary occupation is academic. It occurs on Robinson
Crusoe’s island and in legal fiction. Even when the white race invades
Africa, it does not commonly take possession of unoccupied land, but
dispossesses the natives. On what ground does it dispossess them?
Is there an ethical standard by which the dealings of the civilized
nations with the populations of Africa can be measured? Is the
introduction of the appliances of modern civilization, the opening up
to trade, a sufficient ground for the subjection or the extermination
of the inhabitants? In this connection it becomes clear how urgent a
more clarified conception of property rights is. False ideas of this
so-called right are to no small extent responsible for the massacre
of the inferior races, and the mutual slaughter of those who covet
their lands. A proclamation of the Queen of England or of the Emperor
of Germany, or the signature of an irresponsible chief to a treaty
the meaning of which he scarcely understands, transfers millions of
subjects and their territory to one or other of the European powers.
What right of property have these European powers in the territory and
the peoples acquired by them in this fashion?

The last example shows that the right of ownership, except in very
rare instances, is not in question in respect to the dealings of man
with nature, but comes into play chiefly in the relation of man to his
fellows. There are competitors to be outstripped, thwarted. There are
weaker fellow-beings to be subdued. The use of force and cunning in
acquiring property is well nigh the general rule. Are there any ethical
ideals which, if they could be realized, might disclose a better way,
might bring order into this frightful chaos, and abate the conflicts?
From the ethical ideal as outlined in previous chapters this follows:

The extension of personality over things is a right in so far as things
are employed to maintain and develop potential personality. The use of
the services of a fellowman is a right in so far as his services are
used in such a manner as to preserve and develop his personality as
well as that of the user.

In speaking of the use of the services of others we touch upon the
social aspect of the property relation, and here is the crux of the
whole matter. It is coming to be affirmed more and more that property
is a “social” concept, that it cannot be explained either as implying
a relation of the individual to outside nature, save exceptionally,
nor as a relation of the individual considered atomistically to other
atomic individuals. The social tie, it is held, is intrinsic. The
nature of man as such is social, but the word “social” in current
discussion is very ill-defined, and is commonly understood to denote
merely the fact of the interdependence of men upon one another, without
conveying the idea of a rule or standard by which the system of
interdependence may be regulated. Vague notions, such as that of social
happiness, are believed sufficient to take the place of such a standard.

Let me then consider first the bare fact of interdependence, and see
what follows from it, and how far it will take us.

Every man has manifold wants for the satisfaction of which he depends
on others. His wants are legion; his ability and opportunity to satisfy
them exceedingly limited. It is this cross relation that expresses
the so-called social nature of man. But the reciprocal dependence
of men upon one another for the satisfaction of their wants by no
means constitutes an ethical tie. The tie between the Greek master
and the Greek slave, as described by Aristotle, was social, but not
ethical. The same is true of the tie that united the Southern planter
to his negro slaves. The relation was indeed far more social than that
between the modern mill-owner and the operatives in his factory, but
still it was not ethical. The reason is clearly stated by Aristotle
himself. According to him the slave is a living tool: the purpose of
his existence is not realized in himself but in his master. He fulfils
the end of his being by setting free the higher functions exercised by
his master. But from the ethical point of view no man may be regarded
as the tool of another. Each human being is an end _per se_, and the
highest object of his existence is to be fulfilled, not in others, but
jointly in them and in himself.

I have just said that the social and the ethical views are not
synonymous or coincident, as the loose use of language in current
literature would imply. I go farther and say that the social and the
ethical point of view are even on their face contradictory. It cannot
be denied that the natural system of interdependence resembles that of
the body and its members. A hierarchy of organs and of functions is
apparent in the human body, and likewise in the social body. Some men
do the lowest kind of work. Their function appears to be to produce
food, clothing and shelter, to satisfy the mere physical wants.
Some are the hands, so to speak, of society, while only a very few
effectually represent the brain. The simile has been carried out in
detail by well-known writers, in both ancient and modern times. It
is quite true that the artist and the scientist are dependent on the
manual laborer, just as he in turn is dependent on them. But then,
consider the difference in the dignity of the services they render one
another. Was not the Greek, who saw things dispassionately as they are,
right in asserting that, taking society in the large, the purpose of
human life is fulfilled in the few, and that the greater number exist
in order that by their inferior services they may enable these few to
express humanity in its highest terms?

It seems to me that the kind of social arrangement contemplated by the
great Greek philosophers, and by some of the mediæval publicists, as
well as by certain modern thinkers, is unquestionably social. The fact
of interdependence is stressed by them. The ethical note of equality,
or, as I should prefer to put it, equivalence, is left out.

I have endeavored in a recent book to indicate how the ethical system
may be superinduced over the social system.[56] Here I am concerned
chiefly to mark as strictly as possible the distinction between the
two terms social and ethical. And I must, therefore, at once amend my
previous statement that property is a social concept by saying that it
is the concept of a social relation considered as the substratum in
which is to be worked out the ethical relation.

The general consequences of the property concept as defined are these:

1. He who will not work, neither shall he eat; or better, he who will
not work if able-bodied shall be disciplined and trained in such a
manner that he will work. The fruits of nature do not fall into the lap
of mankind. We are not living in a state of Paradise. The human race
is engaged in the arduous labor of constantly renewing the capital on
which it subsists. As a member of the race, everyone is bound to do his

2. No one has a property right in harmful or superfluous luxuries,
since property is the control of external things for the maintenance
and development of personality; and luxury, so far from maintaining,
undermines personality, and hinders its development.

No one has ethically a right of property in great fortunes like those
accumulated under the modern system of industry. Whatever is in excess
of one’s needs, rightly estimated, is not appropriate to one, not
proper to one, not his property. Since the present system of ownership
cannot be changed abruptly, the idea of the stewardship of wealth has
been suggested to quiet the consciences of those who have come to
realize that they have no moral right to excessive wealth. But the idea
of stewardship should be held with fear and trembling. It is at best
a makeshift, a bridge leading over to something more sound. It may be
so taught and received as to seem to justify by philanthropic use the
possession of great fortunes. But the power to dispose of vast funds
for philanthropic uses may come to be itself a badge of superiority.
And even if this be not so, if surplus wealth be used modestly, and
with a sincere intention to apply it in the best possible way, there
is yet no surety that any individual owner will have the breadth of
vision, the experience, the insight, to discharge adequately the
function of distributor. The defects of his early education, habits
ingrained in him in the course of his business career, may lead him to
bestow lavishly in one direction while turning a deaf ear to the appeal
of other needs even more urgent and fundamental. Nothing short of the
collective wisdom of the community, the collaboration of the best, can
safely direct the surplus wealth available for social benefaction.

3. Everyone is ethically entitled to a share of the products furnished
by nature and worked up into usable shape by his fellows, and also to
the direct services of fellow human beings, in so far as that share
and those services are necessary in order to enable him to perform in
the best possible way the specific service which he in turn is capable
of rendering. Our ethical theory here supplies us with a principle
which takes the place of remuneration. There is no such thing as a just
remuneration of labor, there is no such thing as a fair wage, if the
wage be considered as the equivalent of, or the reward for the work
done. It is not possible by any process of calculation to construct
an equation between labor and reward. The laborer is assuredly
not entitled to the product of his labor, as the current formula
awkwardly puts it, for it is an entirely hopeless undertaking to try
to ascertain what the product of any man’s labor is. In the modern
forms of industry, the contributions of the different factors engaged
in production are intimately intermingled, play into one another, and
are inseparable. Neither the so-called workers alone are the producers
of wealth, nor the employers and capitalists, nor yet both together
irrespective of the labors of past generations of which they enjoy the
usufruct. The question, what is a fair wage, or a fair profit, is badly
posed. There is no such thing as a fair wage or profit in the sense of
a fair compensation for the work performed.

The proper payment of the human factors engaged in production is
unascertainable genetically, _i.e._, if one goes back to the origin
of the product. It can only be approximately determined by fixing
attention on the end to be served. And the end in each case is the
maintenance and development of personality. In other words, that is
a fair wage which suffices to enable the different functionaries
coöperating in production each to perform his function, or render
his service, in the most efficient possible manner. The solution of
the labor question must be along teleological not genetic lines.
Adequate nourishment as to quantity and quality, suitable dwellings,
educational opportunities, etc., are all indispensable to the rendering
of service, even by “common laborers.” Specific requirements come up
for consideration with respect to the different special functions, and
those who perform them.

My intention in this chapter is to indicate the bearings of the ethical
theory on living questions of the day. Nothing is more emphatic in the
programmes of the working-class than this demand for social justice.
Nothing is more discouraging than to see the futile efforts made to
define social justice by extemporizing a notion of fair adjustment
which goes to pieces in every serious labor controversy.

One more remark should be made in regard to what is meant by property
as a relation between persons and things considered as a means of
developing personality. A convenient illustration is the use of a block
of stone by a sculptor. The sculptor’s attempt at self-expression is
an effort to combine two things in themselves uncongenial, an ideal
image, and an external tangible thing, the block of stone. The mental
image does not leap from the mind upon the stone and transform it
magically into its own likeness. The external thing, the stone, offers
resistance, and the resistance limits the artist’s effort. But the
limitation itself becomes in time an indispensable aid. For the ideal
image as at first it started up in the artist’s mind was vague, and the
limitations imposed by the intractable nature of the material compel
him to articulate the image, to grasp more firmly its complex details,
and thus to become more surely possessed of it. The same is true of the
mental thing which we call the relation of cause and effect in the mind
of the scientist, and of his endeavor to impose this mental relation
on the sequence of phenomena observed by him. And the same is again
true of that supreme thing which we call the ethical ideal, and of the
effort to embody it in the social relations. The attempt to express
the ethical ideal in human society inevitably hits on limitations, and
leads to frustrations. We have in our heads fine schemes of universal
regeneration. We find elements in human nature that resent and resist
our Socialisms, our communisms. We desire to enlarge men’s moral
horizon, the field of their moral interest, to lead out from the family
to the nation, to fraternity in general. We presently discover that
we are losing the benefit of the closer ties. In the very process of
building we seem to be in danger of destroying the foundations, and to
be building in the air. In this way our formulations of the ethical
ideal are tested. We are compelled to recast them, and the frustrations
which we meet with become the means of clarifying and articulating
the ideal itself, and of enabling us to experience more vividly the
coercive impulses that go out from it.

_The Right to Reputation_

The ethical rule is to show a sacred respect for the reputation of
others. In the present discussion intellectual and moral reputation may
be considered separately.

Under the first head of intellectual reputation, certain points suggest
themselves, one of them in regard to controversies concerning priority
of scientific discovery. What is the sense of such controversies? What
difference does it make whether the law of the conservation of energy
was first enunciated by Helmholtz or by Robert Mayer, or whether the
method of fluxions was invented by Newton or Leibnitz,—not to mention
lesser contrarieties of claims? Would it not argue, on the part of
the scientists and their friends, a more entire devotion to objective
truth if they showed themselves indifferent to personal credit? The
discovery, the invention, it may be said, is important, not the
reputation of the discoverer or the inventor. Nevertheless, such
controversies are carried on in a lively spirit. And it is usually felt
that something more than vanity is at stake, that a man is entitled to
be named in connection with the productions of his mind.

Such controversies resemble a suit at law undertaken to determine a
disputed title to some valuable property. Plagiarism is different. It
is barefaced intellectual theft. The title to the property in this case
is not disputed. The plagiarist just steals an idea or a form of words
in which an idea has been happily expressed, and palms it off as his
own, hoping to escape with his stolen goods undetected. In this case
too, it seems, one might say the idea is important, not the authorship.
Nevertheless, a profound resentment is felt, not only by the author,
but by the general public, against a plagiarist.

A rule is ethical when the conduct prescribed is instrumental to the
development of personality. Respect for reputation is ethical because
reputation is a help to the development of personality. A man projects
his mind outward, so to speak, into the productions of his mind. As
a thinking being he anchors himself in outside reality. He transfers
himself, as it were, into an external thing,—a discovery, an invention,
the expression of an idea in apt language,—each a thing that goes on
existing independently of himself. To deny his connection with it is to
infringe upon his personality, to efface his personality in so far as
his personality is enshrined in his mental product.

Again, a man’s reputation as a scientist or scholar is a prop to his
personality as a thinker. A man can never be quite certain of the
validity of his thinking until it is approved by the consensus of the
competent. To win that approbation is to know that as far as he has
gone he is on sure ground. He can thence proceed, can turn toward new
problems with a sense of power and a measure of self-confidence not
previously attained. To rob him of his reputation is to deprive him of
this invaluable aid to further mental development.[57]

Coming next to moral reputation, we find that the ethical rule
requiring respect for the moral character of others is even more
exacting, and that any contravention of it deserves an even more
strenuous reprobation. The Decalogue prohibits the bearing of false
witness and this rule is extensible from courts of law to ordinary
conversation, since the principle involved is the same. The Sermon on
the Mount menacingly warns against judging others: “Judge not that ye
be not judged.” Buddha enjoins his followers to refrain from malicious
gossip, and includes a prohibition to this effect among the principal
pronouncements of his religion. All the great teachers of ethics and
religion insist on this point, perhaps because the natural propensities
of men constantly tend in the opposite direction, and are so hard
to restrain. To stab one’s neighbor in the back, morally speaking,
to insinuate base motives, to spread damaging reports about him, to
suggest as possibly and then as probably true rumors which one does not
positively know to be untrue, to allow private repugnance to take the
place of evidence,—are infringements of the moral reputation of others
with some of which notoriously many even of the so-called best people
are chargeable. I do not here speak of the grosser attacks, attacks on
character inspired by envy, rivalry, and greed. The soundness of the
rule is generally admitted, though its violations are past belief and
without number.

But is the rule itself as to moral reputation tenable? There is a
difference between intellectual and moral reputation at which we must
at least cast a glance. Intellectual reputation is a fairly safe index
of merit; moral reputation is not. A man’s mind is reflected in his
intellectual performances. Is the same true of his moral character?
Is not the moral character an interior, elusive thing? The real
character escapes the eye of the outside spectator and judge; and if
this be so, why should it be so important a matter to safeguard a man’s
moral reputation, seeing that the reputation he deserves is past
finding out? A public official, for instance, is accused of corrupt
practices. He is innocent, and his friends and he are indignant at the
damaging accusations brought against him. But if not guilty of the
palpable derelictions with which he is charged, yet, in view of his
opportunities and education, he may not be less blameworthy for other
acts with which he has not been charged, and in his heart of hearts he
knows that this is so. Why then, this outcry?

Other examples might be adduced. The honor of a young woman is attacked
by the circulation of atrocious rumors, and the reaction at this most
sensitive point is certain to be extreme when the falseness of the
accusation is exposed. But is outward decorum, correct behavior, always
a sure sign of inward purity?

There is this difference then between the intellectual and the moral
character. The one can be measured, the other cannot. But the reply
to these sophistical objections is still the same as before. The
purpose of the ethical rule is to furnish aids in the development
of personality. The aim in view is not genetic, but teleological,
not to determine how far in analyzing a man’s character down to the
bottom he may be found to be already admirable, but to help him in
attaining excellence, by progressively advancing toward strength and
virtue. And moral reputation is a great help to this end. It is a prop
on which he can lean. He who does right acts and has the credit for
them, is thereby encouraged to do other right acts. And if the inner
voice whispers, as it is sure to do in the finer natures, that the
good opinion of his fellows, founded on his correct deportment, is
undeserved, the shame of it may lead him to more determined efforts
to merit the character which, on however insufficient evidence, is
attributed to him.

Reputation is sacred because it is an almost indispensable means to
further mental and moral progress.


[53] _Vide_ note at the end of the Chapter.

[54] A right is a claim of one person upon another or others, and the
justification consists in its relation to personality. Rights exist
between persons for the sake of the maintenance and development of

[55] Animals, for the purpose now in hand, may be regarded as things,
being devoid of personality, though certain modifications in the
treatment of animals are prescribed by the fact that they are sentient
creatures. But there is no moral interdiction of the involuntary
servitude of animals.

[56] See Chapter VII on “An Ethical Programme of Social Reform” in _The
World Crisis_, published by D. Appleton and Company, 1915.

[57] A remark may here be in place regarding the erudition expended in
determining which of the writings attributed to some great philosopher
like Plato are spurious, and which genuine. Is the time and labor spent
on such researches worth while? The object in this case is not so much
to clear or vindicate the reputation of the philosopher, or to give him
his due, as to rescue for posterity, free from corruptions, a living
and quickening thing to which he has given birth, and which the world
cannot afford to lose. For the work of a great philosopher like Plato
is alive, and is valuable because it is still quickening. And it is
quickening, not because of any positive formulation of truth (like a
scientific law), but because of the élan of the human spirit with which
it is vibrant in attacking the eternal problems of life and destiny.
The same applies to the industry of modern critics in collecting
material wherewith to facilitate the deeper understanding of some great
poet like Dante or Goethe.



In the last chapter we treated the imputation of evil to the innocent.
We must now consider the right attitude toward actual evildoers.

In discussing sin, one of the points emphasized was that of the moral
solidarity between the individual and society. The moral interest of
the individual is always identical with the moral interest of society;
and, on the other hand, the failure of the individual is a social
failure. The human race sags morally at the point of some particular
member of it.

Again, we defined the task of humanity as the incessant endeavor
to embody the ideal spiritual order in the finite sphere of human
relations. This effort meets both with partial success and with
failure. The gain derived by the human race from its experiences,
its labors, its sufferings, is that the spiritual universe in its
unattainable elevation and sublimity is more and more revealed to
the inner eye; in other words, that by way of effort and recoil, and
renewed effort and renewed recoil from the finite, the infiniteness of
the infinite world is realized. The essential point is that the boon of
realization must be gained both through partial success and failure.
Now sin is failure; everyone fails, everyone is convicted of sin. There
is no exception. In insisting on this point the Christian account
is exact. Only it should be remembered that sin or failure itself is
one of the instrumentalities by which the end of human existence is
achieved. These preliminaries being understood, certain propositions
may be brought forward as to the treatment of sin, and in particular as
to repentance, punishment and forgiveness.

Repentance is recoil, recoil not from the bad act and its painful
consequences, but from the principle underlying the act. Every kind of
sin is an attempt in some fashion to live at the expense of other life.
The spiritual principle is: live in the life of others, in the energy
expended to promote the essential life in others. Moral badness is
self-isolation, detachment. Spirituality is consciousness of infinite

Punishment, rightly regarded, is a name for the steps taken to lead the
unrepentant up to the point of repentance, _i.e._, up to the recoil.
Punishment is itself criminal when undertaken for any other object.
Punishment on the vindictive _lex talionis_ theory, or on the bare
deterrent theory, is excluded. Reformatory punishment as commonly
understood is no less inadequate, because it restricts the idea of
reformation as a rule to the externals of conduct.[58]

The steps taken to lead the evildoer up to the point of repentance
are to be criticised from this point of view. Transient or prolonged
separation from ordinary society may be necessary. Severe discipline
may be indispensable. Capital punishment, however, is wholly out of
the question, since the prevention of the crime now being impossible,
the achievement of the spiritual gain is the point to be aimed at. But
the most effectual aid in promoting repentance is faith in the better
nature of the wrongdoer, in that spiritual principle resident within
him which no crime committed by him can wholly crush, and which in
the most apparently hopeless cases is still to be presumed. But faith
in the good that persists in those whom we call bad must go hand in
hand with the acknowledgment of the bad that remains unexpurgated in
those whom we call good. The prison reformer who poses as impeccable
and righteous himself can never win the confidence of the poor human
derelicts with whom he has to deal nor effect in them the desired
change. He must share with them the conviction of sin if he would
impart to them the power of the resilience which he experiences within

Faith in the potential power of goodness resident in the evildoer is
often confounded with forgiveness. The distinction between the two,
however, should not be obliterated. Faith is help proffered from the
outside to effectuate the inner change. Forgiveness is a record of the
fact that the change has actually taken place, and belief that it is
likely to be permanent. Forgiveness, in the mind of spiritually-minded
persons, takes place almost automatically when the conditions on which
it depends are fulfilled. So long as he remains unrepentant a man
cannot be forgiven, although we may have the conviction that it is in
his power to repent and the earnest desire to bring about the change
in him. Jesus on the Cross says: “Forgive them, for they know not what
they do.” Perhaps “open their eyes so that they may see the Light” may
be the more just interpretation of the meaning—not “forgive” in the
strict sense, for forgiveness is not feasible while the heart of the
offender remains closed.[59]

Both faith and forgiveness are factors in regeneration: the one to
assist in accomplishing the change, the other to assist in making it
permanent. But both the faith and the forgiveness are exceptionally
difficult in the case of our personal enemies. _Enemies in the
spiritual sense there are and can be none._ Every human being, even
one who has done me the most cruel harm, is yet, from another point of
view, a fellow member of the spiritual society. But to discriminate
between the two relations in which the man stands to me—that in which
he is my foe, and the other in which he is my fellow—to be able to put
aside as less important the harm he has done, the suffering he has
forced me to endure, and to desire with perfect sincerity that the
recoil, the transformation, may take place in him, that is the most
searching test of one’s own ethical character.[60]

The forgiveness of personal foes, when complete, establishes a
strangely tender spiritual fellowship between the pardoner and the
pardoned. Both have transcended their normal empirical selves, both
have become partners in a sublime transaction: the one delivered from
the clinging of his baser desires, the other released from his first
crude reaction against evil. They will never forget what they thus owe
to one another. They will continue to walk hand in hand, the one still
leaning, the other supporting and himself unspeakably strengthened by
the support he gives.

Finally, to forgive is not to forget—quite the contrary. To forgive is
to remember the past action, but to remember it as belonging to the
past, as the act of one who has since undergone the great change. The
miracle of the change of water into wine at the feast of Cana would
not have seemed so wonderful to the guests had they not remembered
that what was turned into wine had before been water. To forgive is to
remember that what was water has become wine. And he, too, who has
been forgiven may not forget. The remembrance of the past he will need
as a warning and a safeguard.[61] Not to see the essentially divine
nature in others, and thus also in one’s self is the essence of the
wrong. To teach the guilty to see it is the object of punishment. To
forgive is to declare that what before was ignored is now seen and


[58] I mean that it is usually considered sufficient, for purposes
of reformation, to bring the wrongdoer up to the average standard of
law-abiding citizenship, to restore him to the bosom of society as a
safe and industrious member. Whereas a person who has had the searching
experience of deep guilt is a candidate for a higher station in the
moral scale. Humanity having fallen in him, he should be helped to rise
to a higher than the average altitude. This at least should be the
aim. Consider the fact that Jesus selected some of his most spiritual
companions from among publicans and harlots.

[59] Compare the words addressed by Sir Thomas More to his judges
when sentence of death had been pronounced upon him—“For though you
have been my judges to condemnation, may we meet merrily hereafter in
everlasting salvation.”

[60] Everyone admires a disinterested prison reformer, one who is able
to see and to call out the good in a so-called bad man; but it is one
thing to be disinterested and generous towards men who have acted badly
towards others, and quite another thing to take the ethical attitude
towards those who have acted wickedly towards oneself. Hence the
touchstone of the character of the prison-reformer is to be found in
the way in which he behaves and feels towards his personal enemies, for
instance, towards those who malignantly attack him and interfere with
the business of prison reform on which he has set his heart.

[61] Perhaps I may add a word as to the forgiveness of those who,
by an extension of meaning, may be called our intellectual enemies.
By intellectual enemies I understand those whose point of view is
radically opposed to our own, whose principles and premises, if
accepted, would render the entire theory of life on which we act,
and on which we found our convictions, untenable. We are apt to be
exasperated in listening to them, or in reading the works in which
they express their opinions. We are apt to feel that there is no room
in the world in which we live for such ideas as theirs, that we and
they cannot exist side by side. The bitter feuds of rival religious
factions, the notorious _odium theologicum_, and in more recent times
the thinly veiled animus shown in the controversies of philosophical
schools are all alike traceable to this source. Racial antagonisms,
too, are partly to be accounted for on the same ground. There are
certain primary attitudes of mind, modes of feeling and directions of
impulse, the correctness of which we cannot demonstrate just because
they are primary, and which we all the more vehemently assert when we
find them disputed. Love your intellectual enemies, may usefully be
added to the stock of moral commandments; keep an open and hospitable
mind to opinions and ways of acting, thinking and feeling which
naturally repel you. And it will help us to discipline ourselves in
this difficult behavior if we reflect that the views most contrary to
our own are nevertheless sure to contain some element of truth which
we cannot afford to disregard, and which will serve the purpose of
correcting and supplementing such truth as we may ourselves possess.



It is difficult to see the potentially divine nature in men when masked
by the forbidding traits which human beings so often exhibit.

A number of vital considerations will now have to be emphasized as
pertinent to the subject we are dealing with.

The first point is that the character of every person contains contrary
elements.[63] Let the two kinds of qualities be called the fair and
foul, or more simply still the plus and minus traits. The bright
qualities, the plus traits, are undoubtedly more predominant in some,
the dark or minus traits in others. But potential plus qualities exist
in the worst characters, and potential minus traits may be surmised,
and on scrutiny will be found, in those whom the world most admires.

A second point is mentioned as an hypothesis not indeed as yet
verified, but I believe verifiable, namely, that certain defined minus
traits will be found to go with certain plus traits. Wherever bright
qualities stand out we are likely to meet with _corresponding_ dark
qualities or dispositions, and conversely. There are, I am persuaded,
uniformities of correspondence between the plus and minus traits, and
it would be of greatest practical help in judging others and ourselves
if these uniformities could be worked out. A kind of chart might then
be made, a description of the principal types of human character,
with the salient defects and qualities that belong to each. Extensive
statistical treatment of a multitude of biographies would lay the
foundation for such an undertaking; also sketches of the prominent
characteristics of nations, like those furnished by Fouillée, would be
utilized. Also the study of the character traits of primitive races as
partially carried out by Waitz in his _Anthropology_ and the character
types of animals, so far as accessible to observation, might be used
for comparison. Instructed in this manner, we should, on coming into
contact with others, either on their attractive or repellent side,
be prepared to expect and to allow for the opposite traits. And we
should learn to see ourselves in the same manner; we should see our
empirical character as it really is, the dark traits side by side with
the bright. The courage to wish to know the truth about one’s self is
rare, and when the revelation comes or is forced upon us, it often
breeds a kind of sick self-disgust and despair. The saint at such times
in moral agony declares himself to be the worst of sinners. He has
striven to attain a higher than the average moral level, and behold
he has slipped into only deeper depths. The minister of religion, the
revered teacher, the political and social leader, when abruptly shocked
into self-examination by some evidence of grossness or deviousness
in themselves, no longer to be glossed over or explained away, are
fated to go through the same ordeal. A profound despondency is the
consequence. It is not only the badness now exposed, but the previous
state of hypocrisy that seems in the retrospect intolerable. Some
persons live what is called a double life in the face of the world.
But who is quite free from living a double life in his own estimate?
Achilles said of himself ἄχθος ἀροῦρας (“cumberer of the ground”). Many
a man has echoed that cry with a bitterness of soul more poignant than
that which Achilles felt when he uttered the words.

Now the principle of the duality[64] of character traits, or as we may
also designate it, the principle of the polarity of character, applies
to our natural or empirical character, and our empirical character is
not our moral character. The distinction between the two will serve, as
we shall presently see, to rescue us from the state of moral dejection
just described. But first it is indispensable to fix attention on the
natural character, to recognize that we are composite, each and every
one of us, and that the all-important thing to know is which of our
plus qualities go with which of the minus. Here the psychologist
can help us. Here a great field is open for a practical science of
ethology. This would give us a more adequate knowledge of the empirical
character, the substratum in which ethical character is to be worked

Point three opens up a great enlightenment in regard to the whole
subject. It is that the distinction must be drawn, and ever be kept in
mind, between the bright and dark qualities and the virtues and vices.
The bright qualities are not of themselves virtues. The dark qualities
are not of themselves vices. To suppose that they are, to confuse the
bright with virtue and the dark with viciousness, is the most prevalent
of moral fallacies.[65]

A person is found to be kind, sympathetic, gentle, and on this score is
said to be virtuous or good. But gentleness, kindness, a sympathetic
disposition, while they lend themselves to the process of being
transformed into virtues, are not of themselves moral qualities at all,
but gifts of nature, happy endowments for which the possessor can claim
no merit. And sullenness, irascibility, the hot, fierce cravings and
passions with which some men are cursed, are not vices, though it is
obvious how readily they turn into vices as soon as the will consents
to them.

The question becomes urgent: What then is a virtue? The fair qualities
are the basis, the natural substratum of the virtues, the material
susceptible of transformation into virtues. In what does the
transformation consist? When does it take place? The answer is, when
the plus quality has been raised to the Nth degree, and in consequence
the minus qualities are expelled. This result, of course, is never
actually achieved. The concept here presented is a concept of limits.
But in the direction defined lies growth and continuous development
not of but toward ethical personality. In public addresses I have
often said: Look to your virtues, and your vices will take care of
themselves. I can put this thought more exactly by saying: Change your
so-called virtues into real virtues: raise your plus qualities to the
Nth degree. And the degree to which you succeed in so doing you can
judge of by the extent to which the minus qualities are in process of

One or two examples will illustrate the pivotal thought thus reached
in the exposition of our ethical system with respect to its practical
consequences. To raise to the Nth degree is to infinitize a finite
quality, or to enhance it in the direction of infinity. I shall take
two examples, one _self-sacrifice_, the other _justice_, both viewed
in their finite aspect as plus traits requiring to be subjected to the
process of transformation.

The empirical motive of self-sacrifice may be egocentric or altruistic.
In egocentric self-sacrifice, doing for others is a means of exalting
the idea of self to the mind of the doer. He uses others, not as sacred
personalities, worth while on their own account, but subtly exploits
them by benefiting them. He uses them as objects by means of which to
achieve a finer self-aggrandizement. He may indeed go to the utmost
lengths of devotion for his friends. He may perform for them the most
repulsive offices. He may give freely of his means, denying himself
meanwhile comforts and even necessaries in order perhaps to extricate
them from pecuniary difficulties. He may contribute in refined ways
to their pleasure. As a physician he may watch night after night
at the bedside of the sick, foregoing sleep though fatigued to the
point of exhaustion in order to be at hand to mitigate the pains of
the sufferer, jeopardizing his own health in order to assist others
in recovering theirs. Yes, he may even give of his own blood to
renew their ebbing life. In all this he will look for no material
compensation. Gratitude, especially gratitude expressed in words, is
repugnant to him. The lofty image of self which he strives to create
would be marred if any such coarsely selfish motive were allowed to
intrude. All that he requires, but this he does inexorably require,
is that his beneficiaries shall silently confess their dependence on
him, that he shall see the exalted image of himself mirrored in their
attitude, and that they shall move in their orbits as satellites
around his sun. The egocentrism is veiled and easily confounded with
the purest moral disposition. But it is there all the same, and the
proof of it is that the very same person who is thus friendly to his
friends, and an unstinting benefactor to those who pay him the kind
of homage he exacts, is capable of behaving with almost inconceivable
hardness and even cruelty toward others who will not stand in this
subordinate relation to him, or who in any way wound his self-esteem.
Sister Dora, serving enthusiastically in a small-pox hospital, while
neglecting the nearer duties at home, intent on dramatic, histrionic
self-representation, is likewise a palpable instance of egocentric

The self is precious on its own account. The non-self, the other,
equally so. A virtuous act is one in which the ends of self and of
the other are respected and promoted jointly. It is an act which has
for its result the more vivid consciousness of this very jointness.
Egocentric self-sacrifice errs on the one side, the personality of
another being made tributary to the empirical self, despite the actual
benefits conferred. Altruistic self-sacrifice errs in the opposite way.
In it the personality of the self is effaced or made servile to the
interests or supposed interests of another. Not, let me add, to the
real interests, for the spiritual interests are never achievable at the
expense of other spiritual natures. The wife or mother is an instance,
who slaves for husband or children, obliterating herself, never
requiring the services due to her in return and the respect for her
which such services imply, degrading herself and thereby injuring the
moral character of those whom she pampers. An historic instance of the
altruistic error on a larger scale is afforded by the Platonic scheme
of scientific breeding under state supervision, a suggestion revived
in modern times, in which freedom of choice between the sexes, and the
integrity of the personality of those concerned, is sacrificed to the
supposed interests of the community. Nietzsche’s doctrine may possibly
be regarded as a compound of the two errors described, the Superman
representing the egocentrism, while altruistic self-sacrifice, entire
annulment of their personalities is expected of the multitude.

It is easy to distinguish the plus and minus qualities in the
characters of the egocentrist and the altruist: in the one case,
beneficence combined with hardness; in the other, service of others
combined with absence of self-respect.

The second example to be briefly considered is the finite trait
commonly mistaken for justice. A typical illustration of this is
presented by the merchant who ascribes to himself a just character on
the ground that he is punctual in the payment of his debts, that his
word is as good as his bond; or by the manufacturer who entertains
the same opinion of himself because he pays scrupulously the wages
on which he has agreed with his employees.[66] One wonders that so
great and profound a notion as that of justice should be understood
so superficially, restricted to such narrow limits, and that rational
human beings should claim to possess so lofty a virtue on the score of
credentials so inadequate. The reason is that the empirical substratum
of justice is mistaken for the ethical virtue itself. This substratum
may be described as an inborn propensity toward order in things
and in relations, a natural impatience of loose fringes, a certain
mental neatness. Hence insistence on explicitly defined arrangements
and on simple, over-simple formulas. These are favored because they
keep out of sight the complex elements which if considered might
introduce uncertainty and possibly disorder into the situation. Thus
a manufacturer, impatient of looseness, over-rating explicitness,
will be led to grasp at a formula of justice which reduces it to the
bare literal performance of a fixed agreement, no matter with what
unfreedom, owing to the pressure of want, it was entered into by
the wage-earners, and no matter how deteriorating the effect of the
insufficient wage may prove to be on their standard of living.

But it is a far cry from this empirical predisposition to the sublime
ethical idea itself. The idea of “the just” as exemplified in any act
performed by me includes the totality of all those conditions which
make for the development of the ethical personality of others in so far
as it can be affected by my action. To do a just act is to act with the
totality of these conditions in view, in order to promote the end in
view, which is the liberation of personality or at least the idea of
personality in others and in myself.

It is thus evident that a just act—an ideally, perfectly just act,—can
be performed by no man. First because the right conditions of human
development are but very imperfectly known, and are only brought
to light by slow degrees. Secondly because even as to the known
conditions of justice, for instance the abolition of the evils of the
present industrial wage system, a single employer, or even a group of
well-intentioned employers can bring about the desired changes only to
a very limited extent.

Raising the finite quality underlying justice to the Nth degree
therefore means opening an illimitable prospect. The ethical effort
in this, as in all other instances, is destined to be thwarted. It is
an effort in the direction of the finitely unattainable; the effort
itself, with the conviction it fosters as to the reality of that
which is finitely unattainable, being the ethically valuable outcome.
The just man, therefore, in any proper sense of the word, is one who
is convinced of the fact that he is _essentially not a just man_,
and a deep humility as to both his actual and possible achievements
will distinguish him from the “just man” so-called, who arrogates to
himself that sublime attribute on the ground of the scrupulous payment
of debts, or the fulfilment of contracts. Humility in fact will be
found to be the characteristic mark of those who have attained ethical
enlightenment in any direction. It is the outward sign from which we
may infer that the finite quality in them is in process of being raised
to the Nth degree.

I have given these few specific illustrations of my meaning, but what
has been said applies equally to any of the plus qualities. The plus
qualities are the ones which are favorable for transformation into
the infinitized ethical quality. The ethical principle itself is one
and indivisible. Any one of the plus qualities, when ethicized, will
conduce to the same result. From whatever point of the periphery of the
ethical sphere we advance toward the center we shall meet with the same
experience. Thus self-affirmation or egoism when in idea raised to the
Nth degree will reveal that the highest selfhood can be achieved only
when the unique power of a spiritual being is deployed in such a way as
to challenge the unique, distinctive power that is lodged in each of
the infinite multitude of spiritual beings that are partners with us in
the eternal life.

And altruism, or care for others, at its spiritual climax, will
conversely involve the recognition that true service to others can
only be perfectly performed when the power that is resident in
ourselves is exercised in its most vigorous, most spontaneous, and most
self-affirming mode. And as the diverse empirical qualities which we
observe in one another all appear to be modes of or cognate with these
two principal tendencies—the self-affirming and the altruistic—the
method of transfiguring empirical qualities which has been set forth
may be found to apply in every instance.


[62] Or more exactly act so as to elicit the sense of unique
distinctive selfhood, as interconnected with all other distinctive
spiritual beings in the infinite universe.

[63] The conception underlying Robert L. Stevenson’s sketch of Jekyl
and Hyde is to be taken seriously, and applied without exception
_mutatis mutandis_ to every human being whatsoever (but see footnote p.
76). It is not original with Stevenson. The French, who are perhaps the
keenest psychologists, long ago invented the _apercu_ that everyone has
the defects of his qualities.

[64] The use of the term duality is not intended to exclude the
possibility of multiplicity, but only to call attention to one striking
bifurcation of human character.

[65] Stevenson falls into this error. He confounds Jekyl with the
virtuous and Hyde with the vicious side of character. In reality the
one should stand for the empirical plus traits, the other for the
empirical minus traits.

[66] Contract-keeping is peculiarly the moral rule applicable to
mercantile transactions. To apply it without modification to the
dealings of employers and wage-earners is to intrude the mercantile
standard into the industrial sphere. This is what we are now
witnessing. The industrial standard is only in process of development
and clarification, and the accepted mercantile standard is really in
conflict with it. Among merchants it is of the very essence of their
transactions that a contract shall not be invalidated, despite the
injurious consequences to one or the other party which it may turn
out later on to involve. The security of commercial transactions
would be gone if revision of the contract should be permitted
whenever consequent loss appears. Again, and this is particularly
important, merchants are assumed to be on a footing of equality in
dealing with one another, equally free in accepting or rejecting a
proposed contract, equally competent to take care of their respective
interests. The relation of employers to wage-earners however is not
that of economic equals, but of the economically stronger with the
economically weaker. And this difference is of cardinal importance in
determining the rule of justice as it should obtain in the industrial
sphere. I do not of course intend to imply that an agreement between
employer and wage-earners once made should not as a rule be kept as
scrupulously as that between merchant and merchant. What I affirm is
that in view of the greatness of the injury possibly inflicted upon
the weaker, the economically stronger party is bound at least to share
the responsibility with the weaker for the essential fairness of the
terms of the agreement before it is finally completed. Nay, I would go
a step farther, and say that despite the indispensable condemnation of
contract-breaking, provision should be made for possible revision in
cases where it can be shown that exceptional hardships have appeared,
unforeseen and unforeseeable at the time when the agreement was made.



Whatever the steps that have thus far been taken, they are preliminary
to the final step. And the _method_ of “salvation,” the distinctive
feature wherein this ethical system differs from others, may now be
briefly stated. So act as to elicit the unique personality in others,
and _thereby_ in thyself. Salvation is found in the effort to save
others! The difference in method consists in the joint pursuit of the
two ends, that of the other and that of the self. The controlling
idea is that the _numen_ in the self is raised out of potentiality
into actuality by the energy put forth to raise the _numen_ in the
other,—the two divinities greeting each other as simultaneously they
rise into the light.

It is thus that both egoism and altruism are transcended. To be
egoistic is to assert one’s empirical self at the expense of other
empirical selves. To be altruistic is to prefer the empirical selves
of others to one’s own. It is not true that self-realization, keeping
to the empirical signification of self, leads insensibly to altruistic
conduct. The life of the great “self-realizer,” Goethe, may be cited
in evidence of this. Nor is it true that preference for the empirical
self of another necessarily involves maintaining the integrity of one’s
own empirical self. In the empirical field egoism and altruism are
conflicting and mutually contradictory. It is in the spiritual field
that they cease to be so, because both disappear in an object of the
will which includes them both and transcends them both. If this be so,
it may be asked why does the formula we have adopted read: So act as to
elicit the unique personality in others, and thereby in thyself? Why
not conversely:—So act as to realize the unique personality in thyself,
and thereby in others?—since in any case the ends in view are to be
achieved conjointly. The answer is that in the pure spiritual field,
in the world of ideal ethical units, it would make no difference from
which point of view the relation were regarded. But when the spiritual
formula is applied as a regulative rule to the mutual relations
of empirical beings there is a difference. Thus applied, it must
necessarily be couched in such terms as will make the spiritual birth
of the other the prime object, and the spiritual birth of the self its
incidental though inseparable concomitant. This is so because ethics
is a science of energetics, which has to do with the potencies of our
nature in their most affirmative efferent expression. All our higher
faculties are active, and touch for good or ill the lives of those who
surround us. Even the secret thoughts which seem only to affect our own
individuality, inevitably project their influence upon our associates.

Now ethics is a science of _right_ energizing. And since as a matter of
fact we do inevitably energize in such a manner as to affect others,
the fundamental question in ethics is: how are we to regulate the
incidences of our natures that fall upon other lives so that they shall
be right? Since we cannot help acting upon them and influencing them,
how can we act rightly toward them and rightly influence them? And the
rule supplied by the ethical principle is: Act upon their empirical
selves in such a manner as to draw from their empirical natures the
hidden personality, or at least the consciousness of it. And the
repercussion of the rule is: in the attempt to do so you will convert
your own empirical self into a spiritual personality, or at least evoke
in yourself the idea of yourself as a spiritual personality.

Incontestably, in the attempt to change others we are compelled to try
to change ourselves. The transformation undergone by a parent in the
attempt to educate his child is an obvious instance. No parent is a
true parent at the outset. As his perception deepens of the real needs
of the child, which is so entirely dependent on his self-control, on
his wisdom as well as his love, he will realize more and more his
own deficiencies, and seek to remedy them. The same is true of the
professor in relation to his students, of a leader and his followers,
of a religious teacher and those who look to him for advice and help.
In all such relations when rightly understood there is simultaneous
growth on both sides. In the ethical sphere there is a law of
levitation, the contrary of the law of gravitation that obtains in the
realm of matter. We actually tend to rise from a lower to a higher
level in proportion as we bend downward to lift those still lower than



We now have to consider how to acquire the faculty of seeing the light
that in our fellowmen is often so deeply hidden. We can love only that
which is lovable. If we could see holiness, beauty concealed within our
fellow-beings, we should be drawn towards them by the most powerful
attraction, willingly living in their life, and permitting them to live
in ours. We should then love all men, for we should see in all what is
unspeakably lovable. But the empirical man stands between us and the
spiritual man, and the empirical woman between us and the spiritual
woman; and very often the former are most repulsive, even when their
ugly traits do not affect us personally, even when as spectators merely
we observe how they behave.

Much more is it well-nigh insuperably difficult to worship, in the
sense of holding worthy, those whose characteristic traits directly
offend us, or are perpetual thorns in our side. We must somehow learn
to regard the empirical traits, odious, harmful or merely commonplace
and vulgar as they may be, as the mask, the screen interposed between
our eyes and the real self of others. We must acquire the faculty of
second sight, of seeing the lovable self as the true self. And how
without self deception we can possibly succeed in doing so is the

In the first place, it is my own craving for resurrection out of that
death in life to which I seem doomed that must impel me to penetrate to
the essential life in others. My own spiritual nature is in fetters,
and to burst the fetters, to escape from the prison, there is but one
way. The unique personality, which is the real life in me, I cannot
gain, nor even approximate to, unless I search and go on searching for
the spiritual _numen_ in others.[67] The force which incites me to
penetrate beyond the empirical traits of others, to surmount the walls
which surround the shrine in them, is the consciousness that unless I
do so I am myself spiritually lost, I remain myself spiritually dead.
For it is only face to face with the god enthroned in the innermost
shrine of the other that the god hidden in me will consent to appear.

The expression “death in life” means living, even living passionately
and in a way efficiently, with a sense, nevertheless, underneath of the
hollowness, the futility of the objects of pursuit. The death in life
is the state of discontent that slowly gathers and augments in a man’s
mind as he pursues his customary ends, as he reviews his intellectual
achievement, the books he has written, the pictures he has painted,
the meager outcome of his schemes of social reform, the uncertain
result of his efforts at moral self-development. It is the ensuing
distaste for what he has actually accomplished, the disallowance of
it as in any way ultimately satisfying. And yet this death in life is
itself the well-spring of resurrection, out of which is engendered
an irrepressible yearning of the mind to attach itself to something
greater than all ephemeral interests, to something that has eternal
worth, and is of such a kind as to communicate of its eternal nature to
him who touches it. The god in the other, the eternal personality in
the inner sanctuary of the other, is that object which must be sought
and touched. The cry of my own soul for salvation is the impulse that
leads me on to search for that object. Without the previous discontent,
I shall not seek; without the appraisement of the temporal ends and
interests of man as in the last analysis unsatisfying, I shall not set
out on my quest. Enmeshed in the jungle of the empirical world, I shall
find no exit. I shall remain the victim of the illusion that the peace
I need can be found in the realm of temporal desire. I shall commit
what the theologians called Original Sin, that is, the preferring of
“the works of the Creator to the Creator himself.”

But there is a second force that must act in conjunction with this keen
desire for personal liberation or highest personal self-affirmation.
It is the sense of the _dependence of others_ upon what I can do for
them. Notoriously it is the dependence of the child that evokes in the
parent the noblest qualities of which he is capable, the self-denial,
the incessant willingness to labor for the good of the offspring. It is
the dependence of the student on the teacher, of the disciple on the
master that elicits the latter’s best thought. It is the dependence of
the multitude on the religious teacher that puts him on his mettle. But
if the dependence of others upon oneself is to produce its appropriate
results, that dependence will have to be interpreted in a spiritual
sense. We shall have to think of others as dependent on us not only for
the necessary empirical services we are bound to render them, but those
empirical services themselves will have to be regarded as instruments
by means of which we may render them the highest spiritual service.

This leads to a more _rigorous scrutiny of the notion of service_ than
has hitherto been customary.

The question we must answer, and it is one that has never been
adequately met, is: What is it in the other that we are to serve,
what is the true object of our service? Man is worth while on his own
account. Now no one can pretend that the welfare of the animal part of
man is an object worth while on its own account. To satisfy the hunger
or the thirst of another, or to promote his health is to serve his
body. But the body is the servant of a master. And I am not bound to
serve a servant. If I am to serve the servant at all it must be for the
sake of the master. Who then is the master?

The same argument applies also to the intellect. Human science is after
all but a narrow littoral along the illimitable continent of nescience.
No one who compares the intellectual achievements of mankind with the
problems that remain unsolved will pretend that the accomplishments
of the intellect are worth while on their own account. The mental no
less than the physical part of us has a master. There is an object
higher than the acquisition of knowledge to be attained in the course
of the mind’s endeavors to acquire knowledge, namely the growth of the
scientist towards unique personality, as will be shown in the chapter
on the Vocations in the last Book. Analogous considerations apply to
art and its achievements.

And if someone should say that neither the satisfaction of the body
alone, nor of the intellect, nor of the æsthetic sense, nor of the
affections, but of all of them taken together, is to be the object
of our service, the answer is that this would be merely serving a
whole household of servants, and still not serving the master. This
quite aside from the fact that the ideal of happiness as consisting
in the harmonious gratification of the various elements enumerated is
chimerical. Since some of the most indispensable elements of happiness,
such as freedom from disease and from bereavement, are beyond our
control. While even the higher faculties are far from harmoniously
coöperating, the one-sidedness of human nature being such that a marked
development in one direction is actually incompatible with complete
development in other directions.

Unless, then, there be some master end in everyone’s life, one
paramount to all others, to which all others are subordinate (the
subordination and the renunciation involved being themselves means
of spiritualizing one’s nature) there is no point to the notion of
service. That master end I have defined as the attainment of the
conviction of one’s infinite interrelatedness, the consciousness of
oneself as a member of the spiritual universe, a ἄπαξ λεγόμενον[68]
in the eternal life, a source of energy induplicable in its kind,
which radiates out and touches at the center each one of the infinite
multitude of spiritual associates, and receives from them the effect of
their aboriginally diverse modes of energizing in return.

I have mentioned two motives that impel me to search for the _numen_
in others. The one, the craving for my own liberation from the death
in life, my own desperate outreaching toward salvation; the other, the
sense of the dependence of others upon me. Yes, but this dependence
of theirs I must now interpret as spiritual dependence. I must look
for them also beyond the death in life to life itself. I must have
the courage and the truthfulness to look upon neighbor, friend, wife,
husband, son, daughter _sub specie æternitatis_, that is, as primarily
spiritual beings, and estimate any physical, intellectual or emotional
help I can give them by the consideration whether it does or does not
advance them toward the master end of their being.

Courage of this sort is rare, because precisely the physical, mental
and emotional wants of those who depend on us are the most obvious
and clamorous. I do not of course mean that we should not attend
effectually to their immediate wants. How could we avoid doing so? How
could we neglect the health, the education, etc., of our children? What
I say is that we should acquire the habit of looking upon the immediate
ends as instrumental, and keep in view the supreme end which they in
turn are to serve, and that we should beware of what I have called the
fallacy of provisionalism—that of supposing that we are at liberty to
provide for the lower immediate necessities first, leaving the higher
and the highest needs to be attended to later on.

The manner in which parents commonly plan for the future of their sons
and daughters is perhaps the fittest illustration of the idea I am
here seeking to exclude. During the period of infancy they pilot the
child through the dangers that beset its physical existence. Later on,
what is called education, the preliminary mental training required to
fit the young for the business of life, is felt to be imperative. Then
comes the selection of a vocation with a view of assuring the material
basis of subsistence. Still later, the advancement of the sons or
daughters in their chosen vocations, or their social success occupies
perhaps the parent’s mind. Thoughts of a happy marriage flatter the
parent’s imagination. If the moral side receives attention, the
utmost that as a rule is demanded is that the young person shall not
fall below the average moral standard that happens to prevail in the
community. And it is in such ways as these that we are apt to respond
to the claims of those spiritual beings for whose essential future
welfare we are to so large an extent responsible.

To widen this all too narrow conception of our responsibilities, the
following reflections may be found useful. A father in the last decade
of his life realizes acutely the brevity of his own past existence.
The curve of his life is now rapidly descending. Supposing him to be
nearing seventy, his adult sons and daughters may by this time have
reached the age of thirty or forty. Looking back on the thirty or
more years that separate him from them, and remembering how like a
dream the intervening years have glided by, it may come home to him
with sudden force how soon these, his sons and daughters too, though
now in their prime, will reach the point at which he has arrived. The
error of parents is to think of their grown sons and daughters only
as moving on the upward curve of life. They stop short in imagination
there. They look forward to marriage, vocational success and the like,
as finalities for those who are still young. We ought to remember
that the upward curve in the lives of our children will presently
descend just as ours has descended, that the few decades which separate
them from old age will pass as quickly for them as they have passed
for us,—almost in the twinkling of an eye,—and we ought to ask on
their behalf as we must on ours,—What is to be the result of it all?
What does it all profit? And it is this thought that will turn our
attention for them as for ourselves to the spiritual end which should
be dominant at all times,—in the morning, at noon, and in the evening
twilight of a human existence.

All that has been said has to do with the arousing in us of the desire
to see in others the god, the _numen_, the master end. The wish to
escape from our own death in life, the sense of the dependence of
others on us as interpreted,—these two are the means of stirring us up
to go forth upon the quest, and the seeking is already more than half
the journey. Seek, and ye shall find. But what exactly is it that we
are to seek? What are we to see in the other?—The spiritual nature. But
what is the spiritual nature? I have frequently urged that the lack of
a definite description of the spiritual nature is the chief defect in
ethics up to the present time. This defect I endeavor to supply. The
spiritual nature is the unique nature conceived as interrelated with an
infinity of natures unique like itself. The spiritual nature in another
is the fair quality distinctive of the other raised toward the Nth
degree. We are to paint ideal portraits of our spiritual associates. We
are to see them in the light of what is better in them as it would be
if it were transfigured into the best. We are to go on as long as we
live painting these ideal portraits of them. We are to retouch their
portraits constantly. We are not indeed to obtrude or impose upon
others these sketches, these mental creations of ours, but to propose
them diffidently, reverently, to hold them up as glasses in which our
associates may possibly see themselves mirrored. It is for them to
accept in whole or in part our rendering of their inner selves or to
reject it. But we are not to desist from our labor in creating the
ideal portraits, for in this consists the spiritual artistry of human

Our friends we are to see in the light of these glorified sketches,—our
friends and our enemies too. For only thus can we win them, and be
essentially their benefactors. There is no power so irresistible,
it has been said, as love. I do not quite accept the word Love. It
signifies the feeling that goes with the ideal appreciation of others;
and mere feeling supplies no directive rule of conduct. But it is
true that the power of ideally appreciating others, of seeing them in
the light of their possible best, and the feeling of love consequent
on this vision, is the mightiest lever for transforming evil into
good, and for sweetening the embittered lives of men. No greater boon
can anyone receive from another than to be helped to think well of
himself. Flattery is the base counterfeit of appreciation. Spiritual
appreciation, appreciation of the inner self despite the mask, is
the greatest of gifts, to manifest it is the greatest of arts. In
its supreme form it is the art of going down to the lowest of human
beings—the man in the ditch, the woman on the street—and making them
think well of themselves because of possibilities in their nature
they themselves hardly surmise. It is also the art of making the most
developed and advanced human beings realize in themselves something
still higher and better than they have ever reached. It is this art
by which the supreme human benefactors have worked their spiritual
miracles, and it is an art which to the extent of our ability we must
each acquire and practice, if human society is to be redeemed.

There are specially two points to be remembered: the one, that of
seeing the unattained excellence in those who are already in the way of
excellence; the other, where there is or seems to be a complete absence
of fine qualities or of the promise of development, as in the case of
backward children, that we should still not abate one jot of hope or
effort, seeking to win even the smallest improvement, in the conviction
that the best possible under the circumstances is incalculably worth
while. For, compared with the infinite ideal even the achievements of
the most advanced and most developed fall infinitely short, and what
are they more than the best possible under the circumstances. The best
possible under the circumstances represents for us the absolute best.

Now a word in regard to those who resist the better influence which we
may seek to exercise over them, for instance, the so-called black sheep
in families. Our chief concern should here be to prevent the resistance
from infecting ourselves and provoking unethical reactions. Ethics is
a system of relations. The ethical point of view consists in seeing
the relation between the offending person and ourselves as it ought
to be, in seeing with perfect objectivity the kind of conduct ideally
required by the relation on both sides, seeing it and thereby assisting
the other to see it. But we shall never succeed in doing this until we
purge from our thoughts and speech every trace of private irritation.
If we can point out to the one who has gone wrong how he has hurt
another, and has spiritually hurt himself; if while we do this we see
the fineness that is possible to him and make him realize that we see
it, we shall not utterly fail. I am aware that other methods should
accompany the spiritual appeal. In some cases, a temporary separation
is indicated, in other cases, a prolonged change of environment, or
the gradual formation of new habits of industry and application, the
awakening of interest in some pursuit that leads the mind away from
egocentric pre-occupation. Psychology and experience crystallized,
into commonsense have valuable counsels to give. But, along with the
technical aids, the spiritual influence should never be lost sight of
or relegated to the second place.

And finally two ideas should be mentioned which are pertinent to broken
relations, as for instance to the unhappy marriage relation and to
interrupted friendships: One that the break is never complete. There
remain certain threads unsundered, which should be most sedulously
preserved intact. They may serve as points of attachment to weave the
tie anew. Again, and this is still more important, thought that the
break would never have occurred if the relation had been as finely
conceived as it ought to have been on my side as well as on the others.
Take friendship as an example. A friendship of many years’ standing
is suddenly wrecked. Why? What were the terms on which the friendship
had been based? What had friendship meant to me?—A certain personal
attraction, mutual aid and comfort, taking counsel together, sympathy
in joy and sorrow. These are valuable elements of friendship, but
they do not even touch the essential point. They do not describe the
principal function which a friend has to fulfil. The friend ideally
is one who stands alongside another as the spectator of his spiritual
development, as one who appraises his friend’s advance toward the
master end of life disinterestedly, and yet with deepest personal
concern. He is the mirror in which his friend may see the stages of
his spiritual progress reflected. Now I have lost my friend. Why have
I lost him? Because he was never a true friend to me, and, I must add,
because I was never a real friend to him. I have not really lost him,
because I never really possessed him. And on making this discovery I
shall have a new light shed on what friendship might mean. I may never
be so fortunate as to find the actual friend, but I shall know what he
ought to be, and what it is in me to be to him. And when I say, “what
it is in me to be to him,” I think of resources of my inner being which
have never been called out; I think of the worth that belongs to me
as a spiritual being capable of giving forth and receiving highest
spiritual influence, and I am thereby immeasurably aggrandized in my
own esteem, the self in me is lifted nearer as it were to its infinite
counterpart in the eternal life. I walk henceforth on a higher level, I
dwell amid serener presences. And this aggrandizement of the self, not
on the ground of what I am but what I may be, and of others too, not on
the ground of what they are, but what they may be, is the compensation
derived from the bitter experience of broken relations. And what has
been said of friendship by way of example is true of frustration in
marriage as well, and of frustrations of every kind.


 I may mention a certain test case for trying out the proposed rule,
 namely, to idealize the fair quality in others, and thereby achieve
 the concomitant transformation of the self. I mean the case of the
 victims of a cruel race prejudice, such as is entertained against the
 colored people of the South by the more brutal whites. I remember a
 long evening which I once spent in the company of a leader among the
 colored people, and one of the best men I have ever known. I looked
 that night deep into a suffering, sensitive human soul, and I tried
 to put myself in his place. I realized the hardships of his lot, the
 anguish that I myself should suffer if I were in his position. But
 would there be the spiritual equivalent? Would the way I had found
 in trials less poignant be the way of release? To make the situation
 clear, I selected two points in which the white man, my supposed
 oppressor, has the advantage, two fair qualities of which he can
 boast. His family life is purer on the average than that of a large
 number of the colored people. And he has also learned in the case
 of white men to distinguish between the criminal and the innocent.
 He will protect the latter, and give up the former to justice. Now
 my own people, putting myself in the place of the colored man, are
 backward in both these respects. In consequence of the long centuries
 of slavery their family relations are often unstable, while they are
 apt to shield the colored criminal from the arm of the law. In both
 respects I want to represent to myself the white man as he ought to
 act. He ought to help me lift up my race, first, by making their
 family life purer and more stable. But instead, many of the whites
 debauch the women of my race, while perhaps respecting those of their
 own race; moreover, by refusing decent accommodation on railroads they
 compel educated and refined colored women to travel in cars in which
 the coarsest men are herded together.

 Again, how can I, as a leader among my people, teach them to
 distinguish between the criminal and the innocent of their race so
 long as mobs of white men indiscriminately lynch the innocent and
 the criminal of my race alike on the barest suspicion? Against their
 actual behavior I set up in my mind a picture of how the superior
 race, superior in point of civilization, but still morally backward,
 ought to act. I can but suggest this picture, keep it in view as a
 constant protest, or still better as an imperative model.

 But I can do more. I can turn upon myself, and upon others of my own
 people who are in advance of the majority of them, and presently
 I shall be compelled to admit that amongst ourselves something
 of the same pride of superiority exists, something of the same
 prejudice against those who are lower in the scale. For there is
 also a stratification and a hierarchy of higher and lower among the
 oppressed. And the relatively higher are apt to behave toward the
 lower in the same fashion as their common oppressors behave toward
 them all. We find the same tendency among other oppressed races, as
 for instance in the attitude of certain of the Spanish and the German
 Jews toward the Polish and the Russian. Purge thyself, therefore, is
 the incisive monition; purify thine own nature of that pride which
 hurts so cruelly when it is directed upon thee from without. Let the
 sin committed against thee be the means of purifying thee from the
 like sin. This is the spiritual compensation, this the thought that
 leads to inward peace!


[67] In a previous chapter I remarked that the cheap estimate of others
and of oneself is due to the habit of regarding human beings from the
point of view of the use they can be put to, ignoring the wonderful
and mysterious energies and potencies which are exhibited day by day
in every human being. If the force stored in an infinitesimal particle
of radium is calculated to excite admiration, how much more the forces
exhibited in man, looking at him merely as the stage on which the
spectacle of these forces is displayed. Consider the occurrence of such
a thing as thought, the sheer miracle of mentality, the working of the
constructive imagination in the artist, etc. If we sufficiently dwell
on these inward facts about men, instead of merely emphasizing their
external utility to one another, we shall thereby be put in tune, as
it were, for the higher spiritual view of man. The difference I have
said is like that between understanding the theory of electricity and
merely turning on electric power in the workshop or the home. And yet
the scientific contemplation of the miracles of human nature as seen
from within, while it serves as a propædeutic, cannot actually bring
us up to the ethical point of view. For this sort of contemplation
reveals only the working of impersonal forces or powers, thought,
feeling, impulse in their endless actions and reactions, similar, in
so far as they are impersonal, to the forces observed in nature. The
ethical point of view alone discloses a centrality, an underivative,
irreducible core, a substantive being, personality.

[68] An expression occurring once only.

                                BOOK IV

                            RELATIONS, ETC.



The social institutions, the family, the organs of education, the
vocation, the political organization, the organization of mankind, the
ideal religious society are to be treated as a progressive series. The
individual is to pass successively through them, advancing from station
to station toward ethical personality.

In designating the social institutions as an ethical series, care
must be taken not to confound the terms of the series as now existent
with the terms as they would be did they conform to their ethical
functions. For instance, even the monogamic family is as yet only in
part ethically organized. School and university are adrift as to their
ethical purpose. The majority of mankind are engaged in occupations
which it would be absurd to call vocations, and the international group
exists as yet barely in embryo. Hence when we speak of the social
institutions as a progressive series through which the individual is
to advance towards personality, we are describing the aim of social
reconstruction, not the present state of things. The spiritual nature
of man must create for itself appropriate social organs. It has been
painfully engaged in the attempt to do so since the existence of our
race on earth.

In each of the social institutions we are to distinguish between the
empirical substratum and the spiritual imprint which it is to receive.
We find in each ready to hand some natural non-moral motive or set of
motives of which we are to avail ourselves in the endeavor to evoke the
spiritual result. Thus in the family the non-moral motive is affection
due to consanguinity; in the school sociality, the school society being
the first society into which the child enters; in the vocation there
is the craving for mental self-expression, in the state, patriotism,
or the feeling we have for the larger whole in which we are included
on the basis of similarity of language, historic tradition, etc. The
natural basis of the international group of society is the empirical,
and as yet in no way ethical, fact of the commercial and industrial
interdependence of the different countries, a fact used by M. Bloch and
his more recent followers as an argument against war.

In popular literature the empirical substratum and the spiritual
relation to be produced by means of it are constantly confused. In any
genuinely ethical system they must be carefully discriminated.[69]

In each of the social institutions, or, as we may now call them, the
phases of life experience through which the individual must pass on the
way toward personality, the winning of the ethical result depends on
observance of _the three-fold reverence_. What I mean by the three-fold
reverence must be explained in some detail, especially as the reader
might otherwise be led into identifying my view with that expressed by
Goethe in _Wilhelm Meister_. The three modes of reverence mentioned
by Goethe in his sketch of the “pedagogical province” have for their
background the poet’s pantheism. The view here set forth is based on
ethical idealism.

In order to introduce my thought let me go back to the phrase
repeatedly used in Book III—“the task of humanity.” Mankind as a whole,
the generations past, present and to come, have a certain work to do, a
task to accomplish. A collective obligation rests on our race, spanning
the generations.

The spiritual conception of the collective task is the basis of the
three-fold reverence. The spiritual result, as was said above, is in
every instance to be superinduced upon an empirical substratum. The
empirical substratum in this case is mankind considered as a developing
entity, which partially reproduces in the present the mental and moral
acquisitions of ancestors, partially increases the heritage and passes
it on to the newcomers. I, as an individual, am also inextricably
linked up backward and forward with those who come before and those who
are to come after. I cannot take myself out of this web. The task laid
upon human society as a whole is also laid upon me. I am a conscious
thread in the fabric that is weaving, conscious in a general way of the
pattern to be woven.

But viewed empirically the development of humanity is haphazard. Much
is preserved from the past that ought to be cast aside. Many traces
of past error remain unexpunged in the life of the present. A mixed
stream, compounded of good and evil, passes through our veins into
our successors’. The empirical fact is simply the fact of partial
reproduction, partial augmentation and partial transmission. The
ethical conception of progress depends on the view that there is an
ideal pattern of the spiritual relation in the mind of man, destined
to become more explicit as it is tested out and that the present
generation ought to appraise the heritage of the past according to this
pattern, preserving and rejecting and adding its own quota in such a
way as to enable the succeeding generations to sift the worthful from
the worthless more successfully, and to see the ideal pattern more

The three-fold reverence has been described as reverence towards
superiors, equals and inferiors. For this inadequate description
I would substitute the following: In place of reverence towards
superiors, reverence for the valid work of ethicizing human relations
already accomplished in the past, reverence for the precious permanent
achievements and for those who achieved them,—the “Old Masters.” The
human race has gained a certain ethical footing in the empirical
sphere. The general task has not to be begun _ab initio_. In the act
of separating what is worth while from what is worthless, in the very
process of revision and reinterpretation, we manifest our reverence for
the past. It is thus that true historicity is distinguished from blind
conservatism. And besides, by studying the old masters, we acquire
a certain standard of excellence. Since those who have contributed
epoch-making advances in philosophy, in religion, in science, inspire
us by the grandeur of their attack on the great problems; and the
spirit of their attack, is unspeakably stimulating to us, even when we
reject their solutions. We cannot too humbly sit as disciples at the
feet of the great masters if discipleship has this meaning.

Reverence of the first type prescribes the same attitude towards
preëminent personalities among our contemporaries. They rank with the
great predecessors inasmuch as they are in a way for us predecessors.
They are in advance of us. To revere them is to endeavor to come
abreast of them, to obtain the advantage of the forward movement which
their superior capacity enabled them to initiate, and to start where
they leave off, adding our small quota.

The second kind of reverence is directed toward those who are, in
respect to their gifts and opportunities, approximately on the same
level with us, but whose gifts differ from and are supplementary
to ours. In our relation to them we may learn the great lesson of
appreciating unlikeness, and working out our own correlative unlikeness
by way of reaction.

The third kind of reverence is directed toward the undeveloped,
among whom I include the young, the backward groups among civilized
peoples, and the uncivilized peoples. We are to reverence that which
is potential in all of these individuals and groups, and we do so by
fitting ourselves to help them actualize their spiritual possibilities.
Reverence of the third kind takes the highest rank among the three.
The spiritual life of the world is a deep mine as yet explored only
near the surface. The unrealized possibilities of mankind are the chief
asset. But in order to effectuate our purpose with respect to the
undeveloped, we must have reverence toward the great Old Masters, to
gain a certain standard of excellence; and reverence towards unlikeness
in others to become ourselves differentiated individualities, and in
order to respect the unlikeness which we shall presently likewise find
in the backward and the young. So that the three reverences play into
one another and are inseparable from one another, the first two being
indispensable to the third. They are in truth a “trinity in unity.”
But the third reverence is the supreme one. The chief objective must
be the undeveloped, because our face must be turned toward the future,
because the task of mankind is as yet in its early stages. The third
reverence is supreme. Now it is only when we have grasped the meaning
of the triple reverence that we can fully appreciate the significance
of the family as the first matrix in which the reverential attitudes
are to be acquired. It is only then that we can rightly conceive of
the organs of education, and of the end upon which the activities of
school and university should converge. And similarly we shall find
our interpretation of the vocation, the state, and the international
society illuminated by this conception of the three-fold reverence.

In popular religious teaching the individual is thrust into the
foreground. His salvation as a detached entity is the principal object.
In positivism and evolutionalism society in its empirical aspect is
exalted, and the individual tends to be regarded as a stepping-stone.
In the spiritual interpretation of the collective task as outlined,
the individual remains integral and sacrosanct. The spiritual society
of which the image is to be imprinted on human society is a society
of indefeasible ethical personalities.[70] The individual even now at
his station in the present attributes to himself this lofty character
and the various obligations which he already recognizes, and which he
endeavors to fulfil, afford him ample opportunity to vindicate his
spiritual selfhood. If in addition he looks forward longingly to the
future, and to the greater spiritual fulfilment that may be expected
among posterity, this expectation is founded on the belief that what he
already possesses in germ will then be more unfolded, that the ideal
of the indefeasible worth of man of which he is already conscious
in himself will then be more completely recognized and its infinite
implications be more fully understood.[71]


[69] Thus the interdependence of nations in respect to their material
interests is often erroneously expatiated on as if it constituted an
actually ethical bond between them.

[70] While at the same time the ethical personality, unlike
the “windowless monads” of Leibnitz is effectuated only in the
cross-relations which subsist between each one and his spiritual

[71] I may here point out the bearings of this general point of view
on the much-mooted and confused question of the value of the study
of history. Ranke holds that the aim of the historian should be to
reproduce factually the occurrences of the past. Robinson insists on
the uses of history. But uses to what end? The history of the past is
fragmentary and full of gaps. The data with respect to some of the
most important periods are irrecoverable. The attitude of the human
race towards its own history, I take it, should be like that of an
individual towards his past. I cannot really resuscitate my past.
Memory is treacherous. Much has been forgotten. The events of my youth
are discolored when seen in the perspective of later years. I should
try to know myself as far as I can, but with a view of pressing on and
realizing with such light upon myself as I have, the ethical aim. The
same applies to mankind. And the important point is in the review to
disengage the ideas that controlled the principal social institutions
in the past, and to appraise these ideas from the standpoint of our
present ethical insight. Thus, in treating the history of the family,
we should single out the ideas that controlled the family relation, the
idea of the _patria potestas_, the feudal idea, or the connection of
the family with landed property. In writing the history of the organs
of education, we should bring into view priestly education as among the
Brahmins, musical or æsthetic education as among the Greeks, the idea
of princely education, the idea of preparation for the government of
an empire, which accounts for the system of the English universities,
the controlling idea of the German universities. And then at the end of
our survey we shall be in a better position to discern what is to be
the ideal of school and university education in an ethical democracy.
The same applies to the controlling ideas of the state, and of the
remaining social institutions.



The family is in process of change. We should fix attention on the kind
of change that is desirable. The change desirable is the more perfect
expression of the ethical ideal in the life of the family. One striking
fact is that in the past the family was never supposed to exist merely
for the “benefit” of its individual members. The latter view is an
individualistic novelty of our age, and, as commonly understood, it is
radically false.

Under the caste system the family subordinates the welfare of its
members to the function of the caste. Society being stationary
and stratified, the family is the organ for the reproduction of a
stratified social system.

A similar view prevails under feudalism. We of today resent the idea
underlying primogeniture. From the modern point of view we ask why the
eldest born should be preferred to his brothers. Primogeniture appears
to us to assert the inequality of individual men; but from the feudal
point of view the eldest born was preferred, not as an individual, but
as the steward of the family property. The family had a fixed place
in the social hierarchy, and to maintain this place the estate was to
remain undivided in the hands of one person.

Now what is amiss with the modern family? This is profoundly amiss—that
the idea of the family as serving a larger purpose is disappearing,
and that the family is supposed to exist for the benefit of its
individual members, benefit meaning happiness. Frequent divorce and
disintegration are the natural consequences of this view, for if the
tie exists solely for the happiness of those bound by it, then it ought
indeed to be dissolved when the relation entails suffering.

Society has passed from status to contract, and many seem to hold
that contract is the last word, the true expression of freedom. We
have passed from status to contract, we must pass on from contract to
organization, and thus to true freedom.

Status is based on the analogy of the animal organism. The caste
society and the feudal society, ethically regarded, are spurious
organisms. This spurious type of organization is no longer viable,
and now bald individualism is taking its place. The malady with which
the family is afflicted is individualism. The desirable change is
genuine organization on the basis of the spiritual equivalence of all
functions.[72] The relation of the family to the general social task of
organization is two-fold. The family is the seminary in which shall be
implanted the germinal principle of organization, that principle which
is destined to transform all the subsequent terms of the social series,
the instrumentality to be employed being the three-fold reverence.
Again, the family will reach its more perfect form in proportion as the
succeeding social institutions, the school, vocation, state, shall
themselves be essentially organized, the influence of the later terms
retroacting on the first term.

The family, in the spiritual view of it which I am sketching, differs
from the family of other days, and also from the modern family, in two
particulars. It does not recruit some one social class or stratum.
It does not direct the offspring into a single specific vocation. It
is the vestibule that leads into all the different professions and
vocations. And secondly, the family does not prepare the young to enter
into a vocation for the purpose of securing happiness. It does not
regard the vocation as servile to the empirical ends of the individual,
but as a phase through which he is to pass on the road toward ethical
personality, the fulfilment of the objective aims of the vocation being
the means of acquiring the ethical development which the vocation is
competent to furnish. Thus we regain, but on a much higher plane, what
the family possessed before it began to break down under the influence
of modern individualism, namely, an ulterior greater purpose imbedded
within itself and yet extending beyond itself.

When we have grasped this relation of the family to the subsequent
terms of the social series, and bear constantly in mind as we should
that the three-fold reverence is the instrument by which _organization_
is to be effected, we shall then be able to give adequate reasons why
the monogamic ideal alone is the true ethical ideal, why the marriage
relation, if it is to be ethical, must be permanent between two and
exclusive of all others.

Let me briefly point out the relation of the monogamic family to
the three types of reverence. The third type ranks highest. The
tie of consanguinity between parents and offspring supplies the
empirical substratum. To be interested in the undeveloped, to surmise
possibilities as yet wholly unapparent, to go to infinite pains to
nurture and educate an immature being like a child, for all this
natural affection is almost indispensable. As a rule no one can so
love a child as its own parents do. The plan of state education for
infants to replace home education is advocated by some on the ground
that professional kindergartners and teachers are more competent to
train the budding human mind than unpedagogical fathers and mothers.
The function to be performed by the scientific educator in co-operation
with the home is doubtless not to be missed; but taking children away
from under the care of their parents, assembling them in what would be
equivalent to state orphan asylums, is a procedure which precisely for
pedagogical reasons would be preposterous. For the parent supplies that
concentrated love for the individual child, that intimate cherishing
which the most generous teacher, whose affections are necessarily
distributed over many, can never give. And the child needs this
selective affection. The love of the parent is the warm nest for the
fledgling spirit of the child. To be at home in this strange world
the young being with no claims as yet on the score of usefulness to
society or of merit of any kind, must find somewhere a place where it
is welcomed without regard to usefulness or merit. And it is the love
of the parents that makes the home, and it is his own home that makes
the child at home in the world.

It does not follow that parents in general do reverence the spiritual
possibilities latent in their children. The natural affection is there,
but the empirical substratum and the spiritual relation are not to be
confounded. The kind of reverence of which I speak is an ideal thing to
be worked towards, not something that as yet actually exists, save in
exceptional cases. In the caste family and the feudal family the father
incarnated, as it were, the social system so far as that stratum or
class was concerned to which he belonged. He inspired awe. He demanded
implicit obedience. It was the existing social system that spoke from
his lips. But this system itself had an arbitrary character, and the
worship of the father was hardly ethical. The modern family goes to
the opposite extreme. In it the relations between parents and children
are loose, and tend to become more and more so. Reverence is scarcely
looked for by the parent, and is not likely to be accorded. On the
individualistic theory the child at a very early age is treated as an
equal, and whether encouraged to do so or not is apt to assert its
independence. The members of the family are not joined in an organic
connection, but resemble a collection of atomic units that easily
fall apart. The ethical relation, the real reverence must spring from
the service the parent renders in bringing to light the specific
individuality of the child with an eye to the transmutation which it is
to receive in the later terms of the social series. Not only highest
gratitude but genuine reverence are due to the parent who performs
this office. “You have given me physical birth, you are now giving me
spiritual birth,” will be the child’s response to the parent’s efforts.

Thus much may be said as to the reason why the marriage relation should
be exclusive. The principal reason why it should be lifelong, is that
the office of the parent in furthering the spiritual development of
the children does not end when they reach the threshold of manhood or
womanhood. On the contrary, the finest touches are often added to the
work of education when the sons and daughters have become established
in a business or profession, and have founded families of their
own. The wisdom gathered from the experience of their elders, the
disinterested counsel inspired by love, will then be of the greatest
use to them. The young mother, especially, confronted with the problems
of child-rearing, will naturally turn to her own mother for advice.
The son, who comes to close quarters with the difficulties of life,
will find in the father, who is detached from life and has the tranquil
vision of old age, his best friend.

In speaking of the third type of reverence I have already included all
that need here be said of the first type. The reverential relation
is mutual. The child will truly reverence the parent who on his side
reverences the child’s spiritual possibilities. The child does not
understand the word Spiritual, but is unconsciously affected by the
thing itself which I am here describing. A person who has the vision,
who has the gift of divining what is as yet unmanifested, will convey
to others the illumination of his vision. The child will realize in his
parent the presence of something higher, and will revere it, worship
it. Certain looks, certain expressions of the countenance, certain
gestures, though not understood in their meaning at the time, will be
imprinted on memory to be recalled in later life and then understood.
But it is essential, in order to evoke reverence in the young, to have
it oneself. He who does not steadfastly revere something, yes, someone
greater than himself, will never elicit reverence in others.

The second type of reverence, towards those who are unlike ourselves
but none the less our equals, can be inculcated in an elementary way
in the family through the relations of brothers and sisters. Fraternal
feeling is an empirical means whereby to produce or at least prepare
the way for a very notable spiritual result—the willingness not only to
respect difference in others, but to welcome it. In current teaching
the emphasis in fraternity is placed on likeness. It should rather be
placed on the unlikeness. These exist, and are sometimes very marked
between brothers, and often cause discord and separation. The novices
in life should therefore be taught betimes to overcome their repugnance
to those who are unlike themselves, and the common relation of the
brothers to their parents will be helpful to this end. Naturally we
dislike the unlike. Alienness is ever productive of disharmony. The
fact, however, that the unlike person in the case of a brother is the
child of the same parents draws us powerfully toward him despite the
tendency to recoil.

I must not omit to mention that the triple reverence is most naturally
and easily learned in the family, because of the simplicity of the
relations, and the limited number of persons involved.

The question may be raised whether the single family should remain the
primary social unit, or whether a group of families united in close
coöperation would better fulfil the purposes for which the family
exists. The privacy and separateness of each family would not need
to be disturbed, coöperation might be limited to specific objects,
such as simplifying the work of the household, providing kindergarten
education for the young children, better play facilities, separate
study rooms for adolescents, common entertainments for all, and a
service of song at the beginning or close of the day. One obvious
difficulty in constituting such a group would be: the diversities of
tastes and opinions, particularly such as are not perceived at the
outset, but emerge on nearer acquaintance, and as the younger members
grow up and develop their idiosyncrasies. One great advantage, however,
would result if care were taken to include in the group persons
belonging to different vocations—scientist, scholar, architect, lawyer,
artist. Young persons as they mature would then have the benefit of
contact with those who are intimately familiar with different lines of
vocational activity, and would be helped to know their own mind as to
their future career better than they commonly do now. Personal contact
with one who is engaged in a certain line of work is a far better
instruction as to the nature of the work than reading about it or
observation from a distance.

The ethical theory of marriage has been developed in my published
addresses.[73] But certain topics not there treated I would at least
allude to here in passing, and among them the need of a more careful
study of the causes that lead to infelicity in marriage. Kant mentions,
as an instance of the discrepancy between the natural and the moral
order, the fact that the sex passion is often at its height before
the period when marriage may be wisely entered into. There are other
seemingly radical incongruities, for instance, that between the
face, the features of a person and his real character. The one may
be borrowed so to speak from some ancestor, while the real nature is
quite at variance with the impression created by the face, so that
one who thinks he marries A really marries B. There are diversities
also between partners in marriage that only show themselves in the
latter part of life, when the outlines of character are apt to stand
forth bare. Besides, there is assumed to be, by some modern writers, a
certain fundamental sex antagonism.

The whole question of the characteristics of sex requires to be far
more carefully investigated than it has been. And here let me take the
opportunity to express my positive appreciation of empirical science in
connection with ethical theory. The chief object of this volume is to
work out the general plan of the ethical relations, or the regulative
principle in ethics, and this I am deeply convinced is supersensible
and non-empirical. Applied ethics, however, is dependent not only on
the regulative principle but on empirical science, that is, on an
extended and ever-increasing knowledge of physiology, psychology,
and of the environmental conditions that influence human beings, and
I am keenly desirous to ward off the possible misunderstanding that
the ethical theory here proposed is intended to replace the empirical
science of man, individual or social

    Without the way there is no going.
    Without the truth there is no knowing;

says Thomas à Kempis. The way is the empirical knowledge, the truth is
the regulative principle. The way itself, as we proceed along it, will
shed additional light on the truth. Nevertheless, without the outlines
of the truth, without a goal in view, we should but be wandering

It is likely that the relations between persons in marriage will in
future become more complex, and the difficulties of adjustment more
serious, in proportion as under the influence of the new education
the individualities of men and women become more developed. Problems
hardly as yet envisaged will then become pressing. But whatever the
difficulties, they can be overcome if the ideal purpose of marriage be
kept in view, namely, that two beings of opposite sexes shall spend
their lives in the spiritual reproduction of offspring. The relation is
triangular. Husband and wife are each to elicit the distinctive best
in the other, incited, impelled to do so in order jointly to evoke
the distinctive best in the young. And the young represent posterity.
What the parents do for their own children they do for posterity,
since children are that portion of posterity which comes under their
immediate influence. And in this sense it may be said that marriage is
an organ for the spiritual reproduction and advancement of the human


[72] Spurious or bastard organization was based on the empirical
preëminence of some function like that of the priest or the warrior.

[73] See _Marriage and Divorce_, D. Appleton & Co.



The next term in the series of social institutions is the school,
inclusive of its higher departments. But for reasons which will
sufficiently appear to anyone who carefully reads this chapter, it is
advisable to treat the vocations first.

A more ludicrous mistake cannot be conceived than that of taking the
ideal for the fact, the wish for the deed, in matters touching the
social institutions. Thus the term “vocational guidance” is often used,
as if the occupations of the majority of men already answered to what
is implied in the idea of a vocation as if, for instance, industrial
labor in a factory were a “vocation” into which the young only needed
to be guided, whereas guidance means, in this case, being directed into
some mechanical _occupation_ not already overcrowded, or turned into
other unvocational occupations when they happen not to be over-filled.
But what is true of monotonous, mechanical labor in factories is true
in a greater or less degree of all human occupations. None of them at
least are as yet vocations in the highest sense.

I dwell on this because, in describing the vocation as the third term
in the series, I would not have the reader imagine that this third
term exists in any adequate manner. Rather is it to be the task of
what is often loosely called “social reform” _to create the ethical
series_,—not only the third term (the vocation), but the whole
series from beginning to end, the family, the school, the state, the
international society, the ideal religious society. The phrase “social
reform” is strictly correct only when used comprehensively in this
way. To confine its usage to the more equable repartition of wealth,
or to changes in economic conditions is unwarrantably to narrow its
signification. Social reform is the _reformation of all the social
institutions in such a way that they may become successive phases
through which the individual shall advance towards the acquisition of
an ethical personality_.

In sketching the ideals of the different vocations, I have to
consider in what way each contributes to the formation of an ethical
personality. There is an empirical side to each vocation. Every
vocation satisfies some one or more of the empirical human needs; but
in the very act or process of doing so, it ought, in order to deserve
the name of a vocation, to satisfy also a spiritual need, to contribute
in a specific way toward the formation of a spiritual personality.[74]
Agriculture furnishes food. The different trades minister to a great
variety of wants. The scientist extends our knowledge of nature.
With this empirical aspect of the vocations, however, I am not here
concerned. A scientific classification of the vocations is not a task
to which I need address myself. _My task is an ethical classification
of the vocations._ As this has never been undertaken, the first
attempt is difficult and perforce provisional.

I outline my topics as follows:

1. The theoretical physical sciences (including mathematics) considered
from the point of view of the specific way in which the ethical
personality may be developed by those who pursue them.

2. The practical counterparts of the theoretical sciences, _e.g._,
engineering, and the industrial arts in so far as they depend on and
illustrate and use principles and methods furnished by science. Work
in factories, mines, and also in the fields, is to be regarded as the
executive side of theoretical science.

3. The historical sciences, those which have to do with mentally
reproducing the life of the human race in the past, including history
proper, philology, archæology, etc.

4. The vocation of the artist.

5. The vocation of the lawyer and the judge.

 The vocation of the statesman.

 The vocation of the religious teacher.

The three last mentioned are classed together as educational vocations,
that is, as vocations which, in respect to their highest significance,
are branches of the _pedagogy of mankind_, having for their object
to educate the human race; the ethical object of the lawyer being to
educate society in the idea of justice; of the statesman to educate
society in the idea of the state; of the religious teacher to educate
society in the idea of the spiritual universe.

This conception of the lawyer, the politician, etc., as primarily
educators, is a point to which particular attention is directed. The
significance of it will appear further on. I shall now indicate in
bare outline what I conceive to be the specific contribution of the
vocations mentioned to the formation of a spiritual personality.


Conspicuously important in this connection is the question whether
and by what means the pursuit of the physical sciences can be linked
up to the supreme spiritual end of man. The scientist may develop
into a great thinker in the course of comprehensive and intricate
investigations, but he does not thereby necessarily develop into a
personality. His mind will become in this way a mirror of the orderly
procession of nature’s phenomena. He will be the accurate recorder of
what happens, the knowing spectator of the play, whose eye recognizes
the actors, the forces, beneath their disguises. The pursuit of
knowledge of this kind for the sake of knowledge, or it may be for the
sake of exercising the faculty of cognition, represents the purely
scientific conception of the aim of science. Whatever moral qualities
are exacted of the scientist, such as accuracy or intellectual
veracity, self-abnegation, scorn of mere vulgar pecuniary reward or
celebrity, and at least a provisional disregard of the practical
benefits to be derived by mankind from scientific discovery—all these
fine traits of character are prized as subordinate to the strictly
scientific object. The ethical character of the man himself is
not regarded as the supreme end to be fostered by his scientific
occupation, but as instrumental to his occupation the aims of which are
said to be purely _impersonal_.

There is thus a scientific conception of the aim of science; on the
other hand, there is an ethical conception of it. The former points
in the direction of the indefinite extension of knowledge which never
embraces a totality of the knowable, never reaches a limit, even in
idea. The latter points to the _infinite_, not to the _indefinite_,
sets up an ideal of the infinite as the goal, takes the man out of the
flux, centralizes his individuality into a personality by relating him
to the infinite, not as the mere spectator and scribe of nature, but
through his action or other potential spiritual beings like himself.

The scientist, in brief, like every one else, becomes a personality
by eliciting the potential spiritual nature in other human beings.
But be it noted that he is to perform this task _as a scientist_. His
particular occupation is to be the means of producing a particular
spiritual result in others as well as in himself, and by this means his
occupation is to be converted into a vocation.

How? Through partial success and frustration. Partial success in the
case of a scientist means for one thing, increased mental grasp, the
power to hold before the mind ever more and more complex relations,—a
faculty supremely serviceable in mastering complexities of relation in
the economic, in the political spheres, in the sphere of international
intercourse, in the sphere of the social relations in general, and
wherever the ethical principle has to be applied. The scientific
occupation trains powers which are to be exercised so as to illuminate
obscurities in the ethical field.

The frustration which the scientist meets with when he reflects in
thoroughgoing fashion on the business he has in hand is the inevitable
realization that _Alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichniss_, that the
sphere of the finite in which he labors, though capable of indefinite
extension, is forever incapable of being rounded out to a true
infinity, and hence that the complete unification of the manifold (in
which alone the reality-producing functions of the mind can find repose
and ultimate satisfaction), can never be carried out in the manifold
of juxtaposition and sequence with which, as a physical scientist, he
deals. He will thus be led to face in thought the limits of what is
finitely attainable, not only by him as an individual scientist, but
by physical science in general. And in proportion as his spiritual
nature is energetic it will then assert itself all the more resiliently
after this defeat, and turn in a new direction, and towards another
kind of truth, the truth which is discovered in the realm of _will_,
in the sphere of intercourse with fellow human beings. The propædeutic
result of science with respect to ethical personality is the training
of the more complex mental faculties. The positive result following the
frustration is the new turn toward the spiritual, the escape from the
spell wherewith the physical world enchains the mind, the dissipating
of the widespread illusion that the truths of physical science are the
only kind of truth, the more determined setting of the face towards a
different kind of truth. The scientist, in brief, is to travel along
the paths of the finite in order to arrive and stand at the gate of the

I have said that the boon of personality is gained in intercourse with
others, through the influence which we exert on others. How does the
scientist as a scientist spiritually affect others? The great specific
service, as I have just said, which he is to render is to destroy the
illusion that the material world is a finality. And it is just he, the
scientist, who works most successfully in the field of physical truth
who must assist the rest of us in escaping from the spell to which we
are all subject. He is the one, he who more than others succeeds in
unifying the manifold of juxtaposition and sequence, to whom we look to
liberate others as well as himself from the deceptive belief that the
reality-producing functions of the human mind can be satisfied in the
temporal and spatial manifold. Not from the tyro, not from the purveyor
of “popular science” can we hope to learn the profoundest lessons as to
the incapacity of physical nature to appease the spirit of man. It is
from the familiar friend of nature, from one more deeply read than we
are in her secrets, that we are to obtain this great instruction, to
receive this boon.

Ethics is a science of reactions. Each vocation reacts upon the others.
The general reaction of science I have mentioned. In addition the work
of the scientist reacts upon agriculture, industry, etc. The industrial
arts, as has been stated, are to be regarded as the executive
auxiliaries of science, receiving from it the knowledge of the
uniformities of nature, and in turn setting for science new problems by
attention to which scientific theory is advanced.

The relations of science to art also need to be considered at greater
length than is possible here. I have in mind inquiries into the
scientific basis of music like those of Helmholtz, the scientific
theory of color and the like, and also detailed studies of the return
gift which art confers on science, especially the value to the
scientist of that cultivation of the imagination which is gained by
the contemplation and study of works of art. There are different kinds
of imagination: the purely artistic, the scientific, the mechanical
imagination, the ethical imagination. The function of the imagination
in advancing science has been discussed by Tyndall and others, but the
subject is far indeed from being exhausted.

The scientist then may be defined as one who stands in reciprocal
relations to all other departments of human interest and activity, who
gives to each from his specific standpoint as a scientist, and receives
from each, from religion,[75] from art, from the practical vocations,
etc. Ideally speaking, every man participates in all the principal
interests and activities of the human mind. Every man is something of
an artist, something of a practical or executive worker, scientist,
religious being. But in each individual the different interests are
colored by his special pursuit, and the influence he wields in return
is modified in the same fashion.[76]

There are three great tasks that occupy human life:

1. To build our finite world (science and its adjuncts).

2. To create in the finite the semblance of the infinite, or spiritual
relation (art).

3. To strive to realize the spiritual relation in human intercourse
(ethics and religion).

This discussion of science affords me the opportunity to give an
exact definition of the word “instrumental” as I use it. And the word
“instrumental” is of decisive importance as to the entire ethical
conception of life. Instrumental in what sense? The finite ends of man
are to be the means used in the pursuit of the infinite end. But in
what manner are they to be the means? To be a _cheerful world-builder_,
to take an active and whole-hearted interest in the improvement of
material conditions, in political reforms, in the embellishment of
earthly life—how is it possible to do this and at the same time keep
the spiritual end in view as the supreme end?

Christianity in its pristine form,[77] abandons the task in dismay.
Instead of seeking action in the finite world as a means, it counsels
renunciation and withdrawal. Modern social reform movements, on the
other hand, are devoted to finite ends, more or less ignoring the
spiritual. How is it possible to work in the world, in the finite
sphere, for an end beyond the finite? The answer, as I have shown in
the case of science (and the same applies to all other vocations), is
to be found in the words “partial success and frustration.” The finite,
lesser ends, are means to the highest end in so far as we are partially
able to embody the spiritual relation in the finite world, and in so
far as the inevitable defeat of our effort to do so serves to implant
in us the conviction of the reality of the infinite ethical ideal.

The points contained in this chapter may be briefly summarized as

What is the relation of science to the ethical end? We are seeking to
link up the world to spirit. Along what line can the connection be
marked out in the case of science? Science is instrumental in founding
more securely the empirical basis of self-respect, inasmuch as it
gives to man to a certain extent a sense of mastery over nature. With
the help of science he feels himself no longer the helpless sport of
nature’s forces.

The training in complex thinking afforded by science is favorable to
the ethical reformer. Science also incidentally encourages the virtues
of veracity, and the like.

Knowledge for knowledge’s sake cannot be the final end of the pursuit
of science, since the world of space and time with which science
deals is not only not as yet rationalized but is not ultimately

While in all the respects just mentioned the pursuit of science is
indirectly instrumental to the spiritual end—instrumental to the
instrument—it is directly instrumental to it in so far as, at the hand
of the supreme scientist, man is conducted through the finite as far as
the gate of the infinite.


[74] Just as the family is the organ of physical reproduction, but
in that very capacity is ethically required to bring to birth the
spiritual nature of its members.

[75] All that I have said in the beginning as to the relation of the
finite and the infinite belongs under this head.

[76] There is one point too obvious to be overlooked, but perhaps it
had better be expressly mentioned. The scientist helps us to build our
world, the physical nest in which we live, first by mastering nature’s
procedures, then by making possible inventions, which increase the
security of our footing in the physical world; dispense us from the
brute task of pitting our merely physical strength against the forces
of nature; render communication between distant peoples feasible, and
thereby lay the first foundation for an international society.

[77] _Vide_ Introduction to the First Book.



Medicine is the executive of the science of physiology, and the others,
on which it depends. The physician has a certain work to do, a certain
need to satisfy—the need of health, the alleviation of pain. In
endeavoring to satisfy this need he uses the sciences that underlie his
vocation and in turn promotes those sciences.

On the lower levels of agriculture and the industrial arts the same
holds true. Our physical necessities vociferously demand satisfaction.
They cannot wait. Men must have food or they perish. The agriculturist
supplies the food they need. But the spiritual view of life declares
that man, _while_ engaged in satisfying his material wants, shall in so
doing assert his spiritual nature. He is to hammer out his personality
on the anvil of his empirical necessities. Even as human beings do not
partake of food like animals, but indicate by the manner in which they
take it the superior worth of the being who is dependent on food, so
the agriculturist who raises the food should testify to his spiritual
character. He does so in part at least by his reaction on the sciences
which he applies, biology, chemistry, etc. The same holds good of the
industrial occupations. The work a man does should be the means of
promoting the development of his mental and æsthetic nature, and of his
will. The mental and æsthetic development is acquired by mastering
and reacting on the science and the art that enter into the trade. The
development of the will, the most important of all, depends on the
organic relations of the industrial workers among themselves and to
their chiefs.

This raises the problem of the right organization of “industrial
vocationalists” from the ethical point of view, and the following
questions present themselves: Shall the present division into the two
hostile camps of trade-unionists and employers continue? Or is it to be
regarded as a makeshift, perhaps necessary during the present period
of transition, but certainly untenable in the long run? Is the uniform
arrangement contemplated by Socialism desirable, the government of
every industry and indeed of every vocation by the representatives
of the community as a whole? Shall what is called coöperation be
adopted, that is, the formation of independent groups of workers on the
voluntary principle, associated for the purpose of equably dividing the

The three alternatives mentioned may be examined from various points of
view. Here we consider them from the ethical point of view. Assuming
that the ethical end of life is to be supreme, what kind of industrial
re-organization of society will be most in harmony with it? All three
plans are open to the ethical objection that they concentrate attention
on the material gain to be derived from the industry instead of on the
specific service which those who follow the industry as a vocation are
to render. Collective bargaining between unions and employers is after
all just bargaining. Socialism differs from trade-unionism not in the
object so much as in the means. Instead of securing for the workers a
larger share it would secure for them at once an approximately equal
share. Coöperation aims at the same result as Socialism by voluntary
association instead of by collective compulsion.

None of the three plans is ethically satisfying, and a fourth
arrangement should be contemplated. Its characteristics are the

1. The idea of service to be pre-eminent instead of the gain, the wage
or salary to be apportioned as the means of sustaining the worker in
the best possible performance of the service.

2. The work done by the workers to be the means of developing them
mentally, æsthetically and volitionally, the educational features
therefore to be pre-eminent.

3. The industrial group to be transformed into a social sub-organism
(in the ethical sense a sub-organ of the larger organism of the
nation). By this is meant that the employers cease to be employers and
become functionaries, while each worker in his place and in his degree
likewise becomes a functionary. A common social service group will thus
be formed embracing the chiefs and the humbler workers. The chiefs
will be the executive and administrative functionaries, and will be
safeguarded in the due discharge of their proper functions. The workers
will not attempt to wrest from their chiefs as they do at present the
directive functions which properly belong to the latter (subject,
however, to due control). To each of the lesser functionaries in turn
will be assigned a sphere within which a relative independence would be

The industry as a whole will be an _organ_ of the _corpus sociale_, and
this its character will be expressed in its government. The workers,
not required to render implicit obedience to rules imposed upon them
by masters and superintendents, will have a voice in the legislation
of the industry, in framing the policy of the industry, in electing
the chiefs, and in this way the development of the will, upon which
I lay the greatest stress, will be attained. The will of the worker,
at present fettered, will be liberated by the opportunity given it to
become enlightened and effectual.

I am not here describing a scheme which is to be immediately launched
in its completeness. I am illustrating the ethical principle as I see
it as applied to this particular vocation. I am endeavoring to show
how an occupation can be changed into a vocation. The constitutional
government of industries would be an intermediate stage between the
present autocratic form, in which more or less absolute power is vested
in the employer, and that organic constitution of industry which is
ethically desirable.

Thus far the following plans have been before the minds of social

A. Competition, or life and death struggle.

B. Modified competition, or raising the plane of competition, as it is
called, that is, doing away with the more ferocious and unscrupulous
methods of competition.

C. Socialism.

D. Coöperation.

I propose to add (E) organization in the ethical sense. The word
“organization” is deplorably misused at present. It is commonly
employed as a synonym for aggregation, which is the very reverse of
organization. Thus “organized labor” really means aggregate labor,
labor acting _en masse_.

A further remark on the difference between industrial vocationalism as
outlined and Socialism may be of use in clarifying the main idea. The
relative independence of the social sub-organism is the salient point.
This kind of independence is based on the general conception underlying
my entire ethical philosophy, that the ethical quality resides in
uniqueness in distinctiveness, that ethical progress consists in
driving towards individualization in the sense of personalization.
This as opposed to those philosophies of life that see the ethical
quality in uniformity. Socialism is on the side of uniformity. It is
indeed an extreme expression of it. If sometimes it is urged that the
relative independence of the vocational groups might be recognized in
the socialistic state, the answer is that the tendency would be in the
opposite direction. And besides, the all-important question is to what
end the relative independence is to be used. Under socialism it would
be used for the purpose of increasing the quantity of valuable products
at the disposal of the community as a whole. From the ethical point of
view, the independence of the organic group would be used to insure
reciprocal relations, and by means of these the development mentally,
æsthetically and volitionally of _the producers_. The distinction
certainly is clear enough to its members, whichever way the reader may

_The Historical Sciences_

I refer now briefly to historical science. The ethical aim of history
and its adjunct sciences is to redeem from oblivion as far as is
possible the past of the human race, its documents, its monuments,
the knowledge of its political adventures, its customs, laws and
institutions, its religious beliefs. In view of the lacunae in our
knowledge a complete revival of the past is impossible. We must
therefore principally seek to understand the ruling ideas that have
governed our ancestors, in the family, in the state, etc. The task of
the historian is to present these ideas as seen in the light of their
consequences, so as to help us revalue them from the point of view of
present experience and insight. The historian will thus enable us to
carry over from the past what is truly valuable, for the business we
have in hand.

There is just now a strong reaction against the kind of historical
science which deals principally with wars and the actions of princes or
of great leaders. Detailed attention is being given to the more obscure
life of the people. But it must be remembered that mere penetration
into the lower strata of bygone societies, the mere heaping up of facts
concerning mass movements, is as unprofitable as the more picturesque
recitals with which works on history were formerly adorned. The mass
movements and _the ideas_ which gave rise to them should be set clear
as far as possible; but without the evaluation and the revaluation, or
the ethical appraisement, the voluminous knowledge of details is merely
stupefying, and leaves us as much at sea as ever.[79]

Many men have read many books on history, and filled their minds with
information on subjects like the Protestant Reformation or the French
Revolution, without being in the least wiser themselves, or more fitted
to enlighten others in respect to the religious and ethical problems
which were involved in these great movements, and which still touch us
so closely today. As to the ordinary high school or college student,
what as a rule does he carry away from his study of past “history”?


[78] The vocational group must be independent because the expert
familiar with the conditions under which a service is performed is
specially competent to decide on the improvements required to render
the conditions more favorable to the development of human nature, the
service more adequate. The representatives of the collective community,
that is of the inexpert, outside mass (inexpert in respect to this
particular service) can never perform the same office.

With regard to the present state of industry the gigantic obstacle in
the way of improvement is obviously the subjection of the man to the
machine. The great hardship which the millions of factory operatives
suffer is not only the insufficient wage, it is the depersonalizing
effect produced by the substitution of the machine for the hand and the
blind subjection of adult workers to the arbitrary will of superiors.
(Compare what I have said on this subject in the chapter on “An Ethical
Programme of Social Reform” in _The World Crisis_.)

[79] Think of Mommsen, the author of a thousand treatises, whose
knowledge of the facts of Roman history was unsurpassed and probably
unequalled. Yet is his judgment on Cæsar or Cæsarism helpful as an
ethical appraisement?



The three great directions of effort are: to work in the finite; to
create in the finite the semblance of the infinite; to realize through
effort the reality of the infinite. The vocation of the artist is to
create the semblance of the spiritual relation between the parts of
an empirical object. The object may be a vase or a lamp; it may be a
human figure, it may be a group of _dramatis personae_. By introducing
into the discussion of art the idea that a semblance of the spiritual
relation is to be produced by the artist, we get rid at the outset of
the barren formula of unity in variety.

Let me endeavor to elucidate the main ideas that flow from this
definition of the spiritual aim of art.

1. The two points to be discussed are: What is meant by semblance? and
What is meant by the quasi-spiritual relation as subsisting between the
parts of a work of Art?

First, then, there is the semblance of _totality_. The spiritual
relation is characterized by the totality of the parts related. That
totality is realized only in the universal manifold. But a semblance of
totality is furnished in the case of colors by the circumstance that
the chromatic scale is cut off at the bottom and top in consequence
of our inability to perceive the colors below and above; the musical
scale likewise presents a quasi-totality, and the human figure in its
contours presents a thing cut off from its surroundings, and in so far
relatively complete in itself.

Because the spiritual relation involves the idea of the perfect
totality, a relative totality, due to the accidental limitations of our
sensory organs and power of attention, may become a semblance of the
spiritual totality. I say, _may become_. A certain relation must be
established between the parts of the relative totality in order that
the semblance shall result.

One thing is clear; the subject of the work of art must possess
relative completeness, and be capable of being contemplated as
circumscribed and separated off. It must stand out like a tree, or like
an oasis encircled by the desert, or like an island. The subject of art
cannot be a mere length of cloth cut off from the fabric of things as
they reel unceasingly from the loom of time—the mistake of Realism.

The point, emphasized in our third Book, namely, that an empirical
substratum is to be spiritualized, and that ethics consists in
spiritualizing this physical and psychical substratum, applies to
art, but with the difference, that in the case of art the physical or
psychical substratum cannot be spiritualized, but is to be made to take
on the semblance of spirituality.

Now what is meant by this kind of transformation? I can perhaps
explain by using as an illustration the color scheme of a picture.
The transformation appears in the difference between the colors on
the palette and the colors on the canvas. The colors on the palette
represent the empirical substratum, the natural colors; the colors seen
on the canvas show the same natural tints after they have taken on a
new or second nature.

The second nature,—in what does it consist? In the circumstance that
each color on the canvas, by its juxtaposition and its relation to the
rest, is altered in tone and value, and that all the rest are altered
by it. The spiritual relation is a give and take relation actually
carried out. The semblance produced in art is the illusive appearance
of such a relation as seen by the beholder.

We have thus set down two points—the apparent totality, and the
apparent give and take relation between the parts (the second nature
assumed by the parts, the illusory transformation of the substratum).

A third point involved in the second is that each part of a work of
art shall remain invincibly individualized, despite the closeness
of the relation which connects it with the rest. The individual
member of a work of art may never be submerged in the whole, may
never merely convey the abstract idea of unity amid variation. The
“unity in variety” formula is not only empty but misleading, based
on the same misconception which we have noted in dealing with Kant
and with the Pantheists. The unity of a work of art consists in the
reciprocal effect produced by the members on each other. Hence the more
accentuated, the more distinctive the members are, always provided that
the reciprocal relation is maintained, the more artistically satisfying
will be the result. In this manner the work of art will be true to its
essential character as a semblance of the spiritual relation.

I have thus far spoken of the form. In regard to content I have
only remarked that it must be capable of relative detachment. It
must also be capable of interior articulation. The idea that an
empirical substratum is to be transformed will here be found helpful
in determining what is and what is not a fit subject for art. A vase
or a pitcher is a utensil. As such it is a detached thing. Is it
capable of articulation _without destroying_ its utility? If it is, as
the beautiful vases show, it is a fit subject for art to treat. The
embellishment of utensils, of tables, chairs, etc., that is to say,
the giving of artistic form to objects with which we bodily come into
contact, is a means of casting the appearance of the spiritual relation
over these objects, and thus in a fine sense making them congenial to
ourselves as spiritual personalities. This justifies the time spent by
artist artisans on their handiwork, and also justifies our availing
ourselves of their products (provided that the store set by these
symbolic reminders of the spiritual relation do not divert us from the
main business of life, which is to attempt to _realize_ that relation
in human intercourse). The war song sung by a primitive tribe is a
detachable, empirical thing, and possesses natural articulation. It has
its slow beginning, its gradual rise, its paroxysmic culminations, its
wild ecstasy, its final dying down.

The love passion expressed in lyric form has for its basis the natural
ups and downs, dejections and transports characteristic of that passion.

The theme of a tragedy, as Aristotle says, must have a beginning, a
middle, and an end. Repetition (always with a difference), contrast,
apparent triumph, defeat, and somehow a triumph in defeat—whatever
may be the elements with which the tragic poet deals, the crude
substance of them is furnished by the theme itself. And the result
becomes artistic when the articulation is such that each part becomes
a member of an organized whole, that is, when each part exchanges its
first nature for the second nature mentioned above in connection with

The next point of interest to consider is whether beauty is to
be regarded as the invariable object of art. Relative detachment
and susceptibility to articulation in the manner described are
indispensable. But if tragedy is to be included, beauty cannot be the
exclusive object. Lear, on the heath, the harpy daughters, Lear and
Cordelia perishing together, are not beautiful objects. The task of
the artist is to produce the semblance of the spiritual relation in
any material which is capable of bearing that imprint. In the great
tragedies we are lifted into an exalted mood by the form of the work
even though the subject treated evokes horror—perhaps because of the
very contrast between the form and the subject-matter. Beauty, on
the other hand, is produced when both subject-matter and form are
satisfying to our needs or aspirations. A vase is beautiful when
perfectly adapted to its use and at the same time perfect in form. For
this reason any kind of embellishment, for instance, in architecture
not structurally in place is offensive, while on the other hand mere
structural utility without the formal touch is mechanical. It is not
true that utility itself inevitably flowers into beauty.

It should be added, however, that the artistic expression even of
unsatisfied desires may come within the scope of beauty. The “Lycidas”
is beautiful, Wordsworth’s “Laodamia” is beautiful, the Gothic form of
architecture is beautiful, and so is Keats’ “Ode to the Nightingale,”
and Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind.” In such productions the adequate
expression of the need itself affords relief and induces tranquillity.
The mind ceases to strive toward a beyond longed for, and rests
tranquillized in the longing itself. That it should thus aspire and
long, in consequence of its higher nature, and the assurance of the
existence of this higher nature, as evidenced by the longing, is

But it is hardly possible to discuss even in the most cursory manner
the subject matter or content of a work of art without drawing
attention to the ideals which at various times have been expressed in
art, and to the function of art in respect to these ideals. For here
the _grandeur_ of the great art as connected with the ultimate aim and
purpose of life appears.

Art in its fictions has endeavored to present to men the solution of
the problem of life, the things most worth striving for. The ideals, of
course, have varied. In the Greek epic the heroes contend around the
walls of wind-swept Ilion. They themselves are wind-swept apparitions.
Life is short; presently they too will pass out of sight, yet their
names and deeds will live after them. Fate is inscrutable. There is no
ulterior meaning in things. To glitter for a time in shining armor, and
then to be remembered in the song of the rhapsodists is alone worth
while. It is this ideal of life that Homer records.

The romantic ideal of feudalism is reflected in the poems of chivalry.
The ideal of the English Renascence is found in Shakespeare. The
religious ideals are expressed in the Hindu temples, in the Parthenon,
in the mediæval cathedrals, and in the poems of Dante and Milton. The
ideals of the oriental monarchs are visibly embodied in the Assyrian
and Babylonian palaces; the ideal of the merchant class in the stones
of Venice, in the architecture of the German and Flemish cities, etc.
The plastic arts especially owe their rise and prosperity to the
princely and religious ideals—to the demand for temples, churches and
palaces suitable for monarchs or merchant princes to dwell and worship
in. The aim of the artificer is to furnish a splendid setting for
princes and divinities.

Mankind at different periods is in labor to give birth to ideals
representing the purpose for which man exists, or the things that make
life worth while, and art _assists in bringing to the birth these
ideals_. It seeks to express them, and in the effort to do so it helps
to develop and clarify them. This, and not merely to give pleasure, is
its _grand_ function.

In an age like the present, in which a new ideal is in the early stages
of formation, art is likely to become, as in fact it has become,
uncertain of its function, and hence apt to lose its direction, either
turning back to the servile reproduction of past art forms, or seeking
to achieve progress in the perfection of technical detail, or in the
ways of subjective impressionism.[81]

The efforts of a serious artist today, in so far as he undertakes to
assist in bringing to the birth a new ideal by his endeavor to express
it, must necessarily be tentative, if not crude. But such as they are
their worth, if wholly sincere, can hardly be overestimated.

In the vocation of the artist, as everywhere, the three-fold reverence
is the capital point. Reverence for the great masters, as shown not in
slavishly copying them, but in understanding the qualities that made
them great, and in delivering from past art the things that are to be
reincorporated and to live on; reverence for those who in different
fields are intent on the problem of art today—all this to prepare the
way for future artists, for the greater art that is to come.

The relation of art to ethics, or to the spiritual life, is now
sufficiently clear. In general it is to produce the semblance of the
spiritual relation, and thereby to rejuvenate the world’s workers, to
give them the joy of relative perfection, and thus to stimulate them to
persevere in the real business of life, which is to approximate toward
actual perfection. The specific task of the artist _at its height_
is to enshrine in his creation the ideals of the age with respect to
the ultimate purpose of human existence, and in the endeavor so to
incorporate them as to assist in defining them.

The dangers of pre-occupation with art, however, must not be passed
over. Just because it creates the illusion of perfection it is apt to
encourage the indolence of our nature, which ever prefers to content
itself with illusion, and to desist from effort. It is on this account
that periods in which art greatly flourishes are apt to lead to the
halting of progress and eventually to decay. A second danger is that
the artist, in applying the ideal of present perfection, is in danger
of selfishly subordinating other persons to himself (cf. Goethe as
a notable example), or of setting up a special kind of morality for

In a full account of the matter, the different so-called fine arts
should be specifically treated from the point of view of this chapter.
The particular contribution of each to the general purpose of art
should be noted, the distinctions marked between painting, sculpture,
poetry, etc., and in each case the kind of art which is favorable to
the spiritual development of man be discriminated from that which is
hostile to it. Plato attempted to do this in the case of music.

To summarize: What has been attempted in this chapter is a theory
not of art but of the relation of art to ethics. The dominating
thought is this: in a work of art each line, color, sound, word,
must be irreplaceable, and on that account convincing. Each member
must be indispensable in its place and the connection with the rest
inevitable. Substitute for line, color, sound, etc., a life—an ethical
being,—conceive the members to be not a few but in number infinite, and
you have the spiritual ideal, which is the reality whereof the art work
is a semblance. This is the relation of art to ethics—the quality which
we call in art “convincing,” in ethics we call “worth.”


 As one example architecture may be mentioned. Architecture furnishes
 _the envelope for the social life_, the dwelling, the nest of the
 family, the workshops that house the vocational life, the public
 buildings that provide a habitation for the political life, the
 temples, the churches that enshrine the religious life. The relation
 of the enshrining dwelling to the inner social life should be the
 same as that of the body to the soul in sculpture. That which goes on
 within should be significantly indicated externally. The progress
 of architecture will depend on its holding fast to this idea, and
 changing the outside as the inner life changes. Thus, we have, or
 are beginning to have, a conception of the family very different
 from that which prevailed at the time when the princely mansions of
 the Renaissance were built. To reproduce these princely mansions
 because they beautifully expressed the princely idea is a mistake. To
 provide a proper dwelling-place for the modern family the architect
 should clearly apprehend what functions go on in the family, what the
 distribution of functions should be, and the rank to be assigned to
 the different functions. There is to be, for instance, in addition
 to the ordinary requirements, provision for separate study rooms,
 places of retirement, refuges of intellectual solitude for the adult
 members; a playroom for children, a place of reunion for the household
 religion. The formation of a number of families into a larger group
 (_vid. supra_) would help in the solution of this problem.

 In like manner the conception of what a religious society should be is
 changing. The church-building, the Mosque, the Synagogue, certainly
 no longer declare the spirit and the purpose that animate the new
 religious fellowships that are forming among us today. The progress of
 architecture will thus depend, not on the out of hand invention of new
 styles, but on a thorough understanding of _the new kind of life which
 is to be domiciled within buildings_, accepting this as the empirical
 substratum, and articulating it in accordance with the spiritual
 relation of give and take between the parts; and the architect will
 assist in clarifying the ideal of the new kind of life that is to
 be lived within the buildings by endeavoring to give it outward

 One more remark: The limitations opposed to the artist, for instance
 to the sculptor, by the material in which he works, are a helpful
 illustration of one of the most important ethical truths. The material
 is found to be intractable to the idea. The hardness of the stone,
 the veins that run through the marble, the unpropitious qualities of
 the wood, are so many hindrances to execution. The value of these
 hindrances is that they compel the artist to achieve a more definite
 grasp of the ideal itself. Before the attempt to carry it out into
 stone, the idea is apt to be vague in the mind of the artist. The same
 is true of every ideal conception—that of the author before he writes
 a book, that of the social reformer before he attempts to carry his
 scheme into practice. And it applies no less to the ethical ideal of
 life in general. The empirical analogue or substratum is ductile to a
 certain degree, else we could never achieve even partial success. But
 it is also hostile and mutinous in many ways, and the fact that it is
 so compels us to adapt our ideal to existing empirical requirements,
 and to make it more explicit in the process of adapting it.


[80] Aristotle regards the _Œdipus Rex_ as the most perfect example
of tragedy; let it serve the purpose of illustrating the idea here
proposed. Read the play and get the total impression of it. Analyze it
into its parts. Synthesize after the analysis. You will not fail to
realize how every character, every speech and act, contributes to the
total effect, and how in turn every single factor in the play receives
a new significance from its relation to the rest, while still retaining
its obvious meaning (the meaning it would have when taken out of the
context of the play). Take the first speech of Œdipus as an example.
He is the king solicitous for the welfare of his subjects, to whom
they look up with admiration and gratitude. He is the father of his
people. Read this speech again after you have taken in the entire play,
and note how its color is changed. How the firmness, the fatherly,
protective attitude is now seen to be the outward mask of a fugitive
soul, unsure of itself, haunted by hideous fears.

[81] The use made of pageantry, the revival of English and other
folk-songs, the morris-dances and the like, the attempt to ennoble the
leisure of the industrial workers by leading them back to forms of art
which sprang up centuries ago in foreign countries, is evidence of the
keen desire for art rather than a step in a new direction.

[82] Art, like science, is to be subordinate. The relation between
persons and persons is mankind’s supreme concern. The views above
expressed differ radically from those of Schiller. See his _Æsthetic
Education of Man_.



Every vocation on its ethical side is educational. The reason for
accentuating the educational aspect of the vocations connected with the
state is that this educational significance is generally overlooked.
The vocations referred to are those of the lawyer, the judge, the
statesman, the teacher in the narrower sense of the word (the teacher
in schools and universities).

_The Vocation of the Lawyer_

Vocation, as I use the term, invariably means related to the spiritual
end of life. A profession or occupation becomes a vocation when he
who follows it seeks to respond to the _call_ of the latent spiritual
possibilities in his fellowmen. If this be not the common definition
of calling or vocation, yet I think it will bear scrutiny. It is the
vocation of the lawyer to be the _teacher of justice_ to his clients,—I
mean of justice in so far as it is already embodied in law,—and at the
same time to promote a desire for and a preliminary understanding of
the justice which is not yet embodied in law.

The lawyer is commonly regarded as the learned _alter ego_ of his
client. The lawyer is the client as he would be if he were versed
in the law, and skilled to employ it in his interest. The client is
supposed to be an egotist, intent solely on securing his advantage
to the fullest extent possible under the existing system of social
regulations. The lawyer is his expert substitute. The judge appears on
the scene as the impartial representative of the law.

From the vocational point of view the lawyer is an assistant to the
judge, the agent not so much of his client as of justice. He is as much
interested in the just issue of the suit as is his legal opponent. His
educational function is to teach his client to take the same point
of view. Another point, no less important, is the following: Law is
a system of general rules, at best a rude social mechanics. And even
as such it is constantly deflected from its ostensible purpose by
selfishness and prejudice. The discriminations against women, the
conspiracy laws against combinations of laborers, the laws enacted in
the interests of landed aristocracies, are ample evidence in point.
In every country the law as it stands is still largely infected with
unfair discriminations, and it is the special duty of those who follow
the legal vocation to open the eyes of their clients and of the public
to these defects and to suggest remedies.

Every vocation has its special vice, that is, a kind of behavior
the very opposite of that prescribed by the particular ethical
function with which it is charged. The vice of the lawyer is
_blind_ conservatism (unless he is at the same time progressive and
conservative he fails to fulfil his ethical function).

The judge, too, is a teacher, especially in criminal cases. The
voice of the judge, when he pronounces sentence on a criminal, should
reverberate throughout the whole of society, awakening all men to the
fact that society as such shares the guilt.

_The Vocation of the Statesman_

What I have to say on this subject will find its proper setting in the
next chapter. In general, it is the vocation of the statesman to teach
the citizens a sublime conception of the state. He is neither to be the
obedient tool of the mass—the docile “public servant” in that sense—nor
yet to impose his arbitrary will upon the people, consulting only his
own genius. The one type is seen in the average American politician,
who is or affects to be a mere instrument executing the public will;
the other type is exemplified by the supermen statesmen of ancient and
modern times. The ethically-minded statesman is to evoke the spiritual
conception of the State in the minds of his constituents, and in the
process of doing so to become more essentially a citizen himself.

_The Vocation of the Educator_

It was unavoidable to discuss the vocations and their aims before
considering the school, college and university; for these institutions
are orientated towards the vocations, are preparatory to the latter,
and the true aim of school and university cannot possibly be defined
unless the vocational outlook be first distinctly spread before our

In dealing with the vocation of the teacher, I shall necessarily be
led to define the purpose of the social institution in which he labors
and I shall for the sake of brevity use the word school to designate
the social organs of education, which cover the period of childhood,
adolescence and the beginning of manhood and womanhood.

The school is like the hundred-gated Thebes. It leads out into a
hundred vocational avenues. But note the following: its aim is far
greater than merely to prepare the student for that future vocation to
which he is best suited. It should no less supply the incentive for
creating new vocations, and for changing what are at present still
occupations into vocations. The school searches out the individuality
of its pupils. It undertakes to differentiate and to personalize
individualities. But when it has done its part, it sends the pupils
into a world where little account is taken of the finer differences
of aptitude, where occupations predominate and vocations are few, and
where most things, ethically speaking, are still in the rough. The
school cannot indeed transform society by merely raising its indignant
voice and asking society to pay heed to the finer things which it has
fostered, and which often are subsequently crushed. But it can at least
contribute to the vocational evolution of society by reiterating its
unsatisfied demands.

Taking the three-fold reverence for my guide, I lay it down in the
first place that the school is an organ of tradition. True conservatism
has its place in the school. In it are preserved the knowledges
and the skills of the past. The heir of today comes to his own by
appropriating the products of past thinking and past labor, and the
school superintends the process of appropriation and assimilation. At
the same time it sifts in tradition what is clean from what is unclean,
what is true from what is false, what is usable from what is dead.
Reverence is shown in this very sifting process. To revere the past is
to make the past live again; but only what is vital can go on living.

The teaching should be reverential in spirit. The business spirit,
the drive towards mere efficiency, cannot in the long run satisfy.
Efficiency as commonly understood has in view the utilities of the
moment. It merely exploits the past for the sake of present interests,
and as a rule is unmindful of the future. Industrial efficiency,
in particular, reverses the right ethical relation between work
and personality; instead of work being so contrived as to liberate
personality, it is mechanized so as to sacrifice personality.

The teacher should be reverent towards the great masters of his own
craft, his own art. No one is reverenced by others who does not himself
habitually revere someone. The teachers should be acquainted at first
hand with the master educators, such as Plato, Comenius, Pestalozzi and
the others.

I pass on to speak of the second type of reverence. This involves
cordial reciprocally stimulating relations between the members of the
teaching staff. It is generally agreed that no other factor counts for
more in shaping the character of the young than personal influence. The
best personal influence, however, is not unilateral, like that which
radiates from a single teacher upon his class. The best is that which
proceeds from cross-relations between a number of teachers. Just as in
the home it is not the father singly, nor the mother singly, but the
reciprocal relations between the two that touch child life to finer
issues and create a spiritual atmosphere in the learner, so also in
the school the best spirit is created by the relations of reciprocal
furtherance between the teachers, each doing his work in such a way as
to make easier and more successful the work of his colleagues, with a
strong sense of partnership in the common work of man-building.

The teachers as an organized body should also relate themselves to an
organized body of parents. Home and school should not merely coöperate
but interpenetrate. The interests and efforts of both are centered on
the same young lives. The home is supremely concerned in what goes on
in the school, and the school in the kind of influence that prevails in
the home. An organized conference of parents is in a position to render
signal service to a school by appraising its ideals, by keeping tally
on the extent to which acknowledged standards are carried out, and by
joining in the unceasing endeavor to advance the standards. Schools
must be backed by the interest and appreciation of the community.
Parents whose children are pupils of a school are for that particular
school the best representatives of the community.

The school is to prepare its charges, not only for vocational life, but
for citizenship. Teachers must be good citizens. They cannot give what
they do not possess. They must keep in living contact with the civic
and social movements of the time.

The first and second types are instrumental to the third. Now here,
if anywhere, a new departure in educational philosophy is called
for. For when we discuss this third kind of reverence, the question
of all questions is raised: To what end do we educate? What is to be
the aim and outcome of all our effort? And our answer to this question
will depend on our philosophy, and if our philosophy is ethical our
answer must be distinctively ethical. Froebel was a pantheist, and his
pantheism colored his conception of the educational end. Pestalozzi was
an eighteenth century humanitarian. Many modern writers on education
are biological evolutionists. Others even expressly disclaim any
general outlook, and appear to be exclusively interested in perfecting
the technique of schoolmastering. Reverence of the third type is
reverence for the undeveloped human being,—for the new generation,
for our successors. What is it that we are to revere in a child? Its
spiritual possibilities, its latent personality. To bring to birth its
personality is the supreme educational end. We show our reverence for
the child in the effort to personalize it. Let us consider in brief
some of the practical consequences of this idea.

To personalize the individual the first step is to discover the
empirical substratum in his nature. There is ever an empirical
substratum subject to ethical transformations. The empirical substratum
of personality is individuality! Individuality manifests itself in a
leading interest of some kind, a predominant bias which indicates the
thing which the individual is fit to be and do. To discover the bent or
bias is the first step, and the difficulties in the way of taking even
this first step are admittedly great. Children and even adolescents
often show no marked intellectual preferences whatever. Many adults
too appear to be neutral so far as their mental life is concerned.
Circumstances ran them perhaps into a certain mould—they might have
been run into some other just as well. It is the task of the educator
to discover the predominant interest where it exists, and to try to
produce such an interest where it does not. What nature has not done in
such cases art must attempt.

When the leading interest is found it should next be made the means
of creating interest in subjects to which the pupil is naturally
indifferent or even averse. I have illustrated the process here implied
in a paper on the prevocational art school which is connected with
the Ethical Culture School. Young persons devoted to art are often
unwilling to take up subjects which seem to them unrelated to what
they really care for, like science and history. They are obsessed by a
single passionate ambition. They are all eagerness to become artists—to
draw, paint, model, etc. Time spent on any other subject seems to them
misspent. If indulged in this one-sided activity, the chances are
that they will not even become competent artists. In any case they
will lack breadth and vision. They will lack a cultural background.
They will be inferior as human beings. They will not be personalized.
For personality, on its mental as well as on its social side, depends
on relatedness,—depends not so much on what one does, as on the
interrelation between what one does and what other people do.

In order to expand the interest of the young art student, the method
employed in the school just mentioned is to present those subjects
which appear to be alien in such a way as to bring out the art aspects
of them, the contact points between them and art. Thus in history
special prominence is given to the age of Pericles, the age of
Rembrandt. In science special attention is paid to the theory of color,
the chemistry of etching. And all other branches of knowledge are
treated similarly. The aim is not indeed to exploit the other subjects
in the interest of art, but so to utilize the artistic interest as to
lead the mind out to a larger comprehensive interest in other related
branches on their own account. Or rather, to put my thought precisely,
and thus to connect it with the underlying ethical theory, the aim is
to prepare the future artist for the give and take relation between his
own pursuit and the activities of men in other vocations. He should be
helped to enrich his own life as an artist by drawing upon all that the
sciences and the humanities can give him, with a view to eventually
returning with interest the profit he has derived. What the artist can
do for the scientist, the religious teacher, etc., I have indicated in
the previous chapter.

Precisely the same cultural idea should be worked out in prevocational
schools of commerce, of technology, of science, etc. In each case the
paramount interest should be the starting-point, the center from which
lines of interest are to be made to radiate out into the correlated

If this ethical idea is carried out the whole educational system
will be remodeled. The cæsura in education will then fall about the
sixteenth year. Before that the task will be to lay the general
foundations and to reconnoiter the individuality of the pupil. After
that there will be a system of _prevocational schools_. The college, a
legacy which has come to us from a type of society unlike our own, will
disappear, and the university will become an organism of vocational
schools succeeding the prevocational.[83]

I mentioned at the end of Book I the problem of specialization, the
increased necessity of restricting oneself to a limited field in
order to achieve anything like the consciousness of mastery, and the
inevitable fractionalizing of men which is the consequence of this very
tendency toward specialization. In the idea of outreaching radiations
of interest and of the give and take relation there is the promise of
liberation from the narrowness of specialism without the calamity of
dilettantism. That this idea cannot be fully realized, that no one
can actually extend his web of interest so far, that his reactions
at best will be feeble, is perhaps a palmary instance of that law of
frustration which fatally besets all human effort. But the effort will
be in the right direction, and the effort counts.

_The University_

In sketching the ethical or spiritual side of the University, initial
stress is to be laid on the meaning of the word _universitas_. The term
as at present used hardly suggests more than all-inclusiveness. A
modern university is an institution in which all the different schools,
the school of engineering, the school of science, the school of
philosophy, etc., _exist side by side_, under a single governing body,
and in which the various branches of knowledge are pursued without any
visible systematic connection between them! The spiritual ideal of a
university is that of system, of organic connection, for this is what
spiritual means.

In looking back on the history of the higher institutions of learning
one cannot but be struck by the close correspondence of those
institutions to the general ideals of life of the people among whom
they flourished. I call to mind the Hindu education with its Brahmanic
background; the Mandarin education, with Confucianism as its inspiring
principle; the musical education of the Greeks; the theological
education of Jews and Mohammedans; then among the Western nations, the
English university a seminary for training rulers of the Empire; the
German university, a training institution for the higher bureaucracy;
the French university, visibly reflecting the logical tendency of the
French mind.

We in America, instructed by the survey of the past, are bound to face
the question: In what way shall the American university differ from
universities elsewhere? What characteristic shape shall the American
university take on? _How can the American university correspond to
the American ideal of life?_ At present our notions in this respect
are in a formative, not to say in a chaotic, condition. The college
still survives—an institution designed for the education of gentlemen.
Practical tendencies, looking toward materialistic success, prevail
in many of our Western universities. The German research idea has come
in as a third factor, penetrating deeply in some of our institutions,
less deeply in others, but inharmonious everywhere with the rival
conceptions that still persist.

The principal circumstance that retards our university development
doubtless is that the ideal of American life itself, which the
university is to express and to promote, is as yet undefined in the
minds of the American people. But without presuming to anticipate what
must be the outcome of gradual and prolonged growth, it may still be
serviceable to clear our minds as to the goal towards which we desire
that the development shall tend. The fundamental ideal of the American
people is that of freedom! The notion of freedom is crude as yet, but
is capable of being ennobled and refined. To be free is to express
power. To be free in the highest sense is to express the highest kind
of power. The highest kind is that which is exercised in such wise as
to elicit unlike yet cognate power in others. A people is to be called
free when all the different social or vocational groups of which it is
the integrated whole spontaneously react upon one another, and when in
each group each member of it realizes some mental gift of his own. A
free people is not one which is merely released from the authority of
autocrats. That is only a condition of freedom, not freedom itself. A
free people is not one in which strong individuals are permitted to
thrive parasitically at the expense of the weak. Nor yet one in which
merely equal opportunity is afforded to all in the race for material
well-being. A free people is one in which the essential energies of
all effectuate themselves unhindered, the life of each swelling the
surrounding tide of life, and being enriched in turn by the returning
tide. This to my mind is liberty,—the liberation of what is best in
each. This is freedom,—the free flow of life into life. The ideal
American University is one which expresses and promotes this ideal of

A university is a group of vocational schools. A truly democratic
university is an organic system of vocational schools, one which in
the relations that subsist between its schools affords a shining,
stimulating example of the kind of relations that ought to subsist
between the vocational groups in the state.

The aim of an American university should be to furnish leaders for
all the various groups who will undertake the great business of truly
organizing democracy.

_Education for Adults_

Education should be continuous through life. The University Extension
movement is endeavoring to meet this demand. It has already to its
credit a considerable extension of knowledge, as well as the stirring
up of interest in things of the mind among those whom it reaches. But
far greater tasks than it has yet attacked remain. The academic method
is not suited to the instruction of adults. A method will have to be
worked out for teaching a subject to mature minds different from that
which is appropriate in introducing the subject to the relatively
immature minds of students. The student who has not yet entered
vocational life needs to be put in possession of the principles by
which he can lay hold of life. A mature person who is deficient in
theoretical education needs to be helped to interpret his vocational
experience in such a manner as to find his way back to the principles.
In the one case there is the outlook and the emptiness; in the other
case the fullness of content without the comprehensive outlook.

Secondly, the stages of vocational development through which the
worker has already passed in his vocation are to be borne in mind, and
the teaching adapted to the different stages. I have suggested four
divisions: that of apprenticeship, that of initial mastery, that of
more complete mastery, and the emeritus stage.[84]

Thirdly, it is getting to be increasingly difficult for a specialist in
any one branch to keep abreast of the progress made in other branches.
Popularization of the ordinary kind does not satisfy. It means, as a
rule, diluting the subject-matter, not truly simplifying it. Provision
should be made, in any large and generous scheme of public education,
for enabling ripe minds to assimilate the ripest fruits produced by
contemporary thinkers and writers who work in other fields.


 A few outstanding points in regard to what is called Moral Education
 may be added to this chapter.

 There should be ethical teaching in the universities. The kinds of
 ethics taught should be adapted to the university period of life,
 emphasis being put on the experiences of the student at that time of
 life,—on friendship, the sex relation, the vocational outlook, etc. be
 included in the programme for the education of adults.

 Systematic moral education in schools and high schools is advisable.
 It is frequently criticised on the ground that it is apt to be
 schematic and unreal. Moral counsels given as the occasion arises
 are believed to be more effective. They hit the nail on the head and
 drive it home. The reply to this is that incidental moral advice
 and exhortation is not excluded, but that it by no means adequately
 answers the purpose. The occasions for giving the necessary guidance
 simply do not arise. This kind of moral teaching is apt to be patchy.
 In the next place, ethical instruction, when rightly planned, has
 two objects: the one to bring into clear relief the life axioms that
 underlie the entire home and school experience of the pupil, and
 secondly, to give to the pupil a provisional chart and compass or
 ethical outlook upon his future life. Ethical teaching conceived of
 and conducted in this manner is neither schematic nor artificial. It
 does not drive home a nail here and there, it constructs a mental
 house in which the mind of the pupil can be at home,—with windows in
 it, looking out upon a large landscape outside.

 The capital significance of right relations, ethical relations,
 between the members of the teaching staff has been noted in the text.
 In every school clubs should be formed consisting of pupils specially
 interested in any one subject and of the special teachers of that
 subject:—or if not formal clubs, then at least more intimate personal
 relations should exist between the special teacher and those selected
 pupils, the object being through personal intercourse to introduce
 the young aspirant to a knowledge of the problems on which the older
 person is intent. There is nothing nearly so educative for the young
 as to be taken into the counsels of their elders.

 The more gifted pupils of the school should be invited to take a
 personal interest in helping the more backward students. In every
 school, high school and university there are social misfits,—shy,
 sensitive, solitary youths who fail to come into easy touch with their
 fellows, and suffer acutely. They are objects of the most delicate,
 deferential charity, and the task of bringing them into fellowship
 offers one of the finest opportunities for ethical education.

 A vital system of self-government is to be used as a means of
 placing real responsibility upon the students under due advice. To
 exercise responsibility is to acquire character. Self-government is
 particularly important so far as it relates to the administration of
 justice in a school. Cases of discipline should be used as means to
 create the right conception of punishment, the right attitude towards
 those who have erred.

 The relation between the adolescent boy and girl and the parents is
 of prime significance as illustrating in a way that young persons
 can understand the general conception of the ethical relation as
 _reciprocal_. The youth should be shown that he can be not only the
 recipient but a giver of benefits, that he can be a real help to his
 parents, chiefly by sympathetically entering into the problems and
 difficulties with which they have to contend. The parents, instead
 of being regarded by the young as an earthly providence, existing
 only for the purpose of bestowing benefits, should be seen in their
 true light as struggling, and often heavily burdened human beings.
 At the same time the young son or daughter will in this way gain an
 invaluable preparation for comprehending the difficulties under which
 the effort to live must be carried on.

 In regard to patriotism, it is important that the errors and mistakes
 committed by one’s nation in the past should not be overlooked or

 The school should furnish to the students various outlets for social
 service such as they in their period of life are capable of rendering.


[83] Compare with the spiritual conception of culture here outlined
Matthew Arnold’s “knowing the best which has been thought and said”;
and a recent definition of culture by an eminent American as “the
knowing one thing well and a little of everything else,” without
correlation of the little one knows of everything else with the one
thing one is supposed to know extremely well.

[84] See the chapter on “Ethical Development Extending Through Life” in
_The World Crisis_.



The leading theories of the state should be kept in view for comparison
with the ethical theory here set forth—the theories of Aristotle
and Plato, St. Augustine and the mediæval schoolmen, Rousseau’s
contract theory, and the German conceptions of the state propounded by
Kant, Fichte, Hegel. Moreover, since the ideas actually embodied in
governments, in the Persian monarchy, for instance, in the Greek City
State, Venice, etc., are not identical with the constructions of the
philosophers, the leading facts of the history of politics should be
borne in mind as well as the leading theories.

The state has two aspects: (1) It is the balance wheel of the
vocational groups included within it. (2) It is the political
expression of the national character, and its ethical purpose is to
develop this empirical national character into a spiritual character. I
shall speak of the first aspect in this chapter.

1. The state exists in order to furnish increasingly from age to age
the conditions under which the reactions between the groups described
above can take place effectually. In concentrating attention upon the
vocational groups as the entities to be harmonized with one another,
account is taken by implication of the family and of the individual.
The sub-organisms are embraced within the superior organisms. A
more general statement would be that the state supplies the external
conditions required for development towards ethical personality by
those who pass through the institutions of the family, of the vocation,

The state possesses a spiritual character in so far as it supplies
these conditions, and in as much as it has a spiritual character it
is not merely justified but ethically required to use force. Force is
spiritualized when employed to establish the conditions indispensable
to spiritual life. The conditions enforced must be such as in the
opinion of the preponderant number of citizens indisputably make
for the development of personality. Examples of such conditions are
protection of life, property, reputation, compulsory education, the
maintenance of the monogamic family, protection against foreign
invasion, etc. All the functions of the state commonly enumerated
follow from the ethical principle. But over and above the recognized
ones, new and nobler functions of the state will appear.

The redeeming thought with respect to the use of force by the state
consists in regarding _force as ethical discipline_, and in making the
extent to which it is favorable to spiritual freedom the measure and
test of its rightful use.[85] When men are compelled to spend the major
part of their time in the protection of bare life, as was the case,
for instance, in the early days of feudalism, they are to that extent
unfree. Freedom consists in energizing the highest and most distinctive
human faculties.

_The development of the state_ should proceed in two directions. It
should withdraw from many functions exercised by it in the past,
notably from such as properly belong to the sub-organisms. At the
same time, it should lay its coercive hands upon new matters,
imposing new limitations on capricious freedom in the interest of
spiritual freedom, as soon as the pertinency of such limitations
to the ethical end becomes clear. For instance, the state may, and
doubtless will, interfere with marriage to a far greater extent
than it has yet done. It will forbid the marriage of the unsound.
If a study of character-types should ever become advanced enough—a
hazardous conjecture—to make it predictable that the union of certain
character-types will lead to infelicitous marriage, the state will be
justified in prohibiting such unions.

_Law_, ideally defined, is the sum total of conditions, capable of
being enforced, which are necessary or favorable to the development
of personality. The purpose of law is two-fold: to maintain the more
developed members of society at the level they have reached, and, by
educative penalties, to bring the backward up to the same level. In
the article on “Force and Freedom” referred to above, law is compared
to such bodily actions as walking, which at first are superintended by
consciousness, and then become automatic, thereby setting consciousness
free to attend to new and more important business. Similarly, law is
designed to render the conditions favorable to personality so explicit
that their observance shall become automatic, and that mankind shall be
at liberty to discover new and more significant conditions which in
their turn are again to become automatic.

Because of the lack of the ethical point of view, the exercise of force
by the state has seemed purely arbitrary, and has given rise to a
perverted and disastrous conception of _sovereignty_. The sovereignty
of the state has two aspects: the one internal, the other external.
Sovereignty means supremacy. The state is sovereign, within limits,
however, with respect to its citizens. The state is also sovereign,
within limits, however, with respect to other outside states.

With respect to the internal aspect of sovereignty some writers hold
that citizens have no rights as against the state—only rights accorded
by the state. But this from the ethical point of view is a wholly
untenable position. There are rights of the individual, rights of
the family, rights of the vocational group, which the state does not
create but is bound to acknowledge and which its power cannot properly
infringe. As against the state the individual has, for instance, the
right which is commonly designated as “the freedom of conscience.” The
family has rights against the state; the law cannot interfere with
the intimacies of the marriage and parental relations. The vocational
group likewise is only partially subject to public reglementation. I
have defined law as the sum total of the conditions. The state can
prescribe the conditions, but cannot trace the ways of freedom within
the conditions. The state prescribes the enforceable conditions; it has
no concern with unenforceable inner processes.

It thus appears that sovereignty or supremacy is an attribute not
peculiar to the state, although it looms up larger and more impressive
when exercised by the state. Supremacy belongs to the individual in
his private sphere, to the family in its proper province, to the
vocation, etc. Sovereignty or supremacy belongs to each of the social
institutions within its precincts, in so far as the supremacy within
that precinct is requisite for the accomplishment of the ethical end
to be therein attained. But sovereignty is not absolute in any sphere;
neither in that of the individual, nor of the family, nor yet of the
state. _The absolute conception of sovereignty is the result of the
lack of an ethical conception of the social institutions._ The state is
sovereign only so far as the exercise of its supremacy is necessary to
the spiritual end of citizenship. On this account and for this purpose
it may rightfully constrain the sub-organisms within it, and may also
pronounce its _noli me tangere_ as against the larger group of states
encompassing it. But so far as the spiritual ends to be achieved in
the international relations are concerned, the state with respect to
these is subject to international sovereignty,—a new conception which
mankind is striving to bring to the birth today. The false notion of
state sovereignty as arbitrary and absolute, is admittedly today a
chief stumbling-block in the way of the formation of an international
organization of peoples.

_The System of Representation Which Is Required to Give Expression to
the Organic Idea of the State._

The ethical aim of political reformation and reconstruction may be
put in a single word, Organization. _The state and especially the
democratic state must be organized._[86] This means practically that
the basis of representation shall be the vocational group, that
vocational representation shall replace representation by geographical
districts.[87] The law-making body on this basis will consist of
representatives or delegates of the agricultural, the commercial, the
industrial, the scientific group, etc. Women belonging to these groups
will exercise the franchise within them. There will also be a distinct
group of home-makers; motherhood will be recognized as a vocation.

Attention may be called to certain practical advantages of the
proposed rearrangement of the representative system. It will tend to
bring forward in political life the best citizens, instead of the
mediocre or the base. This is likely to come about because there is no
distinction that men more ardently covet than that of being considered
_primus inter pares_; as, for instance, the first or one of the first
of the city’s merchants, or one of the most eminent scientists, or an
artist whom his fellow-artists select as the fittest to represent them
in the great council of city, state, or nation. And if only this much
can be gained by the new representative system, that the law-making
body shall consist of the most experienced, the most enlightened, the
wisest, the actual leaders in the various walks of life, in brief,
that the elected shall be the elect, certainly one of the principal
evils with which individualistic democracy is afflicted will tend to be

But other advantages will accrue. This, in particular, that the
constituencies, instead of merely delegating their powers, will
share in the business of law-making, will be in vital touch with
their leaders or representatives, while the latter conversely will
politically educate the constituencies. The mode of procedure under the
system here sketched will be somewhat as follows:

Take, as an illustration, the group of industrial laborers. They will
first meet in a primary assembly, and discuss measures deemed by them
important in the interests of their group. The leader who represents
them in the legislature will take part in the initial discussions, and
exercise no doubt a strong influence in bringing matter finally to a
head. He will then carry into the law-making body,—which consists of
representatives of the various social groups,—the sifted-out demands
of the laborers, the measures which they desire to have enacted into
law. He will bring forward these measures in the legislature. But
there objections are likely to be raised. The representatives of the
other groups will discover what the laborers naturally failed to
note, that the proposed law or laws, if enacted, will have certain
injurious effects on the interests of the other groups. The sifting-out
process, therefore, will now begin anew and be carried on on a higher
level in the legislature. The representatives of all the various
groups will separate the wheat from the chaff in what is proposed
by any one group. The next stop will be that the representative of
the laborers, returning to his constituency, will communicate to
them the difficulties that were raised, the decisions reached, and
will thus impart to them the wider vision which he himself gained
in the discussions of the law-making body. In this way he will be
the instructor, the political teacher of his constituents. And the
principle by which the value of any new measure will finally be judged
will be simply this: that the supposed interests of one group cannot be
its true interests unless they are found to promote the interests of
all the other vocational groups.[88]

The law-making body should be a council of the groups. It should not be
a “Parliament,” or “talking body,” but a sifting body. Nor yet a body
of mandatories commissioned to merely give effect to a public opinion
or a public sentiment already existing. In fact, public opinion or
public sentiment in the raw is apt to be a poor index of what is really
for the public good. Public opinion is apt to be unripe, haphazard,
impulsive rather than reflective. Besides, it is often contaminated
at its very source, the facts on which the public depend for their
opinions being deliberately falsified or placed in false perspective;
while the opinions furnished in newspaper editorials are almost
inevitably biased. Only on great occasions, when simple moral issues
are presented, can the common sense and moral sense of the people be
wholly depended on. But such occasions are episodical; and the orderly
business of government cannot be carried on by spurts. Government by
public opinion may be and in some respects is better indeed than class
government; in other important respects it is worse. A class at the
head of the state at least as a rule knows what it wants, and proceeds
methodically to carry out its purposes. Public opinion, on the other
hand, like all opinion, is unsure, unsafe, as Plato has long since
made dialectically clear. And public sentiment, like all sentiment, is
fluctuating. To build the state on public opinion and public sentiment,
as many of our writers on politics would have us do, is after all a
good deal like building a house on sand.[89]

Instead of “public opinion” and “public sentiment” let us say public
reason and public will!—reason and will to discover in conjunction
what the public good really is. For what it really is no one as yet
knows. The “public good” is a problem to be approximately solved. The
public good will be consummated when the conditions are furnished
necessary and favorable to the development of personality in each of
the constituent groups of the social body. To study these conditions is
the office of the law-making body, and therefore that body must be so
constituted as to include these groups in their capacity as groups.

Another advantage to be expected from vocational representation is that
the different interests of society,—I stress the fact that they are
different, and often temporarily conflicting,—will be compelled under
this plan to come out into the open. An industry, for instance, may
require the assistance of a protective tariff, in its infant stages,
and the agricultural group may rightly be asked to make the necessary

In the long run there will be compensation. The agriculturists will
eventually benefit by the diversification of the national life.
But “in the long run” means that the next generation will benefit,
not the present agriculturists, a distinction sometimes somewhat
cavalierly ignored. The present generation will be called upon to make
a sacrifice, precisely as in the family some of the members may have
to sacrifice a part of their income to provide for a weaker member.
But the circumstance that the sacrifice is recognized as a sacrifice
will serve to put an end to the protection when the special need for it
has ceased. Under the present system, on the other hand, the state is
supposed to have no concern with the special interests of any group.
All the same, there are the special interests, and in consequence
that which is for the interest of one group has to be advocated as
if it were for the general interest of the entire community. And
since general interest is easily mistaken for perpetual interest, the
protection is apt to be continued long after its particular usefulness
has ceased.[90]

I am earnestly concerned that vocational representation shall not
be regarded as a mere device in the mechanism of politics, like the
substitution of the long for the short ballot, or the initiative
and referendum. Innovations of the latter kind leave the prevalent
conception of democracy untouched, they are merely intended to improve
the machinery by which that conception is to be worked out in practice;
they are mechanical contrivances, not fundamental reconstructions.
Vocational representation, in my view of it, is the appropriate
expression of the organic idea of the state. The state is the soul. The
soul must have a body. Vocational representation is that body.

Two remarks may here be added. One relates to a question which has
given rise to considerable discussion, namely, the question where
the state resides? In a monarchy it seems to reside visibly in the
person of the king. Louis XIV is said to have declared “I am the
state.” But where does it reside in a democracy? The chief executive,
the law-making body, and even the constituencies, are organs of the
state. But where does the state itself have its habitation? The state
has no separate domicile. So far as it truly exists at all it exists
in the minds of the individuals who truly conceive of it. The object
of political life is to educate the citizen so that he may more and
more truly conceive of the state, so that he may give birth to the
state idea within himself. To do this is to pass through one of
the necessary phases on the road to personality. In the family the
individual is in reactive relations with a few, in the vocation with
a larger number. In the state or nation he may be one of a hundred
millions or more. Yet it is not the numerical extension as such that
constitutes the enlargement. It is rather the diversity of the points
of contact, and the complexity of the relations by which the spiritual
ideal is more fully illustrated in the finite world in proportion as
the circle widens. To engender the idea of the state in oneself is to
place oneself ideally into reactive relations with the diverse groups
embraced within one’s nation. And to do this is a spiritual achievement
of no mean order. I should prefer to use the word “stateship” instead
of citizenship. Stateship is attained by one who brings to birth
within himself the idea of the state, and in whom that idea becomes a
controlling ethical force.

A second remark concerns the perplexed subject of the conflict of
duties. The nearer duties are sometimes preferred to the more remote,
and at other times we are asked to sacrifice everything to the larger
whole. We owe our first devotion, it is said, to the members of our
family; but then again we must be willing to sacrifice life itself and
the welfare of our family to our country when it calls upon us in its
need. Largeness alone certainly does not serve as an ethical ground for
preference. The quantitative standard implied in such phrases as “the
greatest good of the greatest number” is out of place when we deal with
ethical relations, which in their very nature are qualitative. Now
the account of the social institutions given in previous chapters as
successive stations on the road to the spiritual goal may throw some
light on this difficult subject. Normally, the claims of the anterior
stations are to be preferred—the claims of the family for instance
to those of the vocation, because the family is the matrix of the
three-fold reverence, and the individual must pass under the ethical
influence of family life before he is fit to use vocational life
ethically to good purpose. The anterior groups are not merely smaller,
they are germinal. The training received in them is the condition on
which spiritual progress depends later on. On the other hand, the later
groups are the more complete and more explicated expressions of the
spiritual ideal; hence if the very existence of one of the later groups
is threatened, or is in danger of being denatured of its spiritual use,
then the later group is to be preferred to the earlier, the _terminus
ad quem_, precisely because it is the _terminus ad quem_, to the
_terminus a quo_.

To give a familiar illustration. In our time, which is a time of
transition and doubt, many a religious teacher finds himself in sore
straits to decide between the claims of the vocation and the family.
As a religious teacher he is pledged to teach only what in his heart
of hearts he believes to be true; he is especially under obligation to
use words in such a way as to convey to others the same meaning that
he attaches to them himself. But this may mean exposing his family to
serious privations. The situation is full of perplexity and pain, but
the line of choice is plain enough. The claims of his high vocation
must in this case take precedence. In like manner, when the existence
or the integrity of the state is at issue, the claims of the state as
the _terminus ad quem_ override those of the vocation, the family, and
the state, and may even demand the sacrifice of the physical existence
of the individual himself.


 1. The idea of democracy is often neatly put—all too neatly, into the
 following formula: In antiquity the individual existed for the sake of
 the state, in modern democracy the state exists for the sake of the
 individual. Both of these statements as they stand are mischievous
 and misleading and require to be qualified. It is not true that in
 antiquity the individual existed for the sake of the state in the
 sense that his separate existence was extinguished. The citizen class
 in Aristotle’s state, the rulers in Plato’s state, and even a member
 of one of the inferior classes, each in his own way fulfilled a
 distinct function. He was not suppressed in the state, he expressed
 his function by the action appropriate to his station. The philosophic
 rulers might do the thinking and governing. They were the head of the
 body politic—others the hands and feet. The underlying conception was
 what may be called spuriously organic, borrowed more or less from the
 animal type of organism.

 The second limb of the formula is no less superficial. In no modern
 nation does the state exist, or at bottom is it supposed to exist, for
 the benefit of the individuals who at any time compose it. If this
 were the ruling conception, how could the democratic state require its
 citizens to give up their lives in its defense? If the state existed
 for the benefit of the individuals, the state would be the means, and
 the so-called good of the individual the end. And in that case it
 would surely be irrational to sacrifice the end for the sake of the
 means, in other words to put an end to one’s life in defense of the
 state, a mere instrument for the protection and prosperity of one’s
 own life.

 To reply that the state exists for the sake not of one individual but
 of all (observe however that the formula says “the individual,” and is
 ambiguous and slippery at this point), nor even only for the sake of
 all the individuals now living, but also for the sake of the millions
 yet unborn—to say this is once more to introduce an ideal entity which
 it was the very object of the formula as quoted to banish. The formula
 was intended to give us, in place of “the metaphysical entities” of
 the Greeks and the Germans, a very palpable thing—the good of the
 individual. The good of the individual seemed to be a palpable thing,
 though in truth it is the most impalpable thing in the world. And by
 defining the state in this wise we were supposed to come onto solid
 ground. But now, behold, it is the good of unborn millions which is to
 be the object of our devotion, and who can imagine what this good of
 unborn millions is likely to be?

 The fact is that without ideal entities the conception of the state
 in any noble shape cannot be construed at all. The organic conception
 must now take the place of the individualistic. The organic conception
 indeed as it was worked out in antiquity, or as it lived on in the
 theories of mediæval writers, or as it survives in the works of
 certain German publicists, who use it to defend the feudalistic
 structure of society, has rightly fallen into discredit,—not because
 it is organic, but because it is pseudo-organic, that is, based on the
 type of the animal organism. The individualistic conception of the
 state at present current in America and in all modern democracies,
 is a violent reaction against this false idea of organization. The
 inestimable germ of truth individualism contains is that no such
 distinction can be allowed as between head and hands or feet in
 political life, that all the multitudes of “hands” who work in the
 factories, for instance, must be respected as personalities having
 not only hands but also heads and hearts. But individualism, though
 it affirms this idea, belies it in practice, as the actual state of
 society in America and elsewhere abundantly proves. And it is bound
 to do so, because personality implies more than material well-being,
 either for a single individual or for all individuals now living
 or for all future individuals. Personality implies truly organic
 relations to other fellow-beings—and this can only be achieved by
 organizing the society in which men live.

 The way taken has been, by reaction from pseudo-organization, to
 extreme individualism and concomitant materialism. The way out lies in
 the direction of genuine organization.

 2. Certain evils observable in the workings of American democracy may
 be traced to the following causes:

 (a) The people as a whole are still in the pioneer stage. A country
 enormously rich in material resources stimulates wealth-production.
 A host of immigrants escaped from poverty abroad are stung into
 wealth-getting here. The frontier line is now far to the West, but the
 influence of the pioneer movement still in progress flows back upon
 the Eastern states.

 (b) More important still are the evils due to the crude
 individualistic idea of democracy just characterized. If the state
 exists for the good of the individual, and if the good of the
 individual is conceived to be the acquisition of wealth, then private
 business will take precedence of the public business. Yet under the
 democratic system of frequent elections the public business demands
 constant attention. In consequence, a special class of professional
 politicians arises, comprising a minority of disinterestedly
 patriotic men, and a majority of persons whose private business
 is not sufficiently remunerative to divert them from the public
 service. The appearance of the political dictator called “boss” is
 the inevitable outcome of these conditions. This army of professional
 politicians, and in particular the vulgar figure at their hand, is the
 chief disgrace of the American democracy, and has been the target of
 incessant invective by American writers. But it is idle to stigmatize
 the effect and overlook the cause, to squander invective upon the
 symptom and at the same time to leave the malady untouched. The malady
 itself is the individualistic conception of democracy, and until this
 is replaced by a better one, the evil in question may be modified in
 form but will certainly not disappear.

 A way must be found for the citizen to attend to his private business,
 which is coming to be more and more exacting, and to the public
 business at the same time. The system of vocational representation
 offers an opportunity in this direction. Citizens will be voting
 in their vocational groups for measures intended to advance their
 vocational interests, but will be taught to advance them in such a way
 that the related interests of other groups, or the public interest,
 shall be thereby promoted.

 3. Proportional representation, which is at present being tested
 abroad, and earnestly considered in France, England and Germany, may
 be a bridge leading over from the present plan of geographical to that
 of vocational representation. The proportional system itself, it is
 true, is still based on the individualistic idea. It is a movement
 on behalf of submerged minorities. It quarrels with the present
 arrangement for the reason that the will of the greater number of
 individuals, but not of all individuals, is brought to bear on public
 decisions. But if adopted it may well offer, without violent change, a
 way for the collective representation of vocational groups.

 4. Citizenship should be graded. A youth of twenty-one is scarcely
 prepared to exercise the duties of the citizen intelligently. As
 long as the view prevails that the functions of the state are to be
 restricted to a minimum, it is perhaps not wholly absurd to admit a
 mere stripling to a share in the conduct of government. But the sphere
 of government is steadily enlarging, and its problems are becoming
 more and more intricate. Twenty-five would certainly be a better
 minimum age. Under vocational representation there is likely to be an
 Upper House consisting of members who have served in the Lower House.
 Citizens who have attained the age of twenty-five might be empowered
 to vote for members of the Lower House, those who have attained the
 age of thirty-five for members of the Upper House, but these are
 details upon which it is unfitting to expatiate here. The point I have
 in mind is that citizenship should be graded.


[85] _Vide_ Appendix II, on _Force and Freedom_.

[86] I use the word Organize in its spiritual sense. The empirical,
animal organism is commonly taken as the type upon which the notion of
organism is modeled. The animal organism, however, fails to express
the implicit idea, for the following reasons: The number of members
is limited; the combination of organs is, so far as we can know,
accidental, and the relation is hierarchical,—there are inferior and
superior organs. The spiritual conception differs in each of these
points. The number of members is infinite; the relation is necessary;
and they are equal, that is, of equal worth. To distinguish the
spiritual pattern from the animal type the term metorganic may be used
for the former, in analogy to such terms as metempirical, metaphysical,
etc., and the system of ethics expounded in this volume may be called
the _metorganic system of ethics_.

[87] Representation by geographical districts is the logical outcome
of the individualistic conception of democracy. Where this prevails,
the state is supposed to take account only of the common interests,
those in respect to which all individuals are alike, such as security
of life and property, those interests being ignored in respect to
which the groups that constitute society, the farmers, the merchants,
the industrial laborers, etc., differ. Hence any convenient number
of citizens, pursuing their life purposes side by side within a
certain geographical area, may serve as a constituency. The absence
of regard for the real diversity, and often the clash of interests,
between persons belonging to such constituencies, is due to the
atomistic, individualistic notion of democracy just mentioned. But
sheer individualism is everywhere on the wane, and is bound to become
less and less dominant in the degree that the industrial evolution
of society proceeds, and the various groups stand out distinctly as
different against one another in their functions and in the conditions
subservient to those functions. Society is in fact not an aggregate of
human atoms. It is already an imperfect organism, destined to become
more and more adequately organized. And the system of representation
has got to be remodeled and adjusted to this fact and this ideal.

[88] By “interests” I understand fulfilment of the social function with
which the group is charged.

[89] And, as a matter of fact, because this is so, there is no state,
no democracy, in which public opinion or public sentiment actually
does rule, save by fits and starts. Government is usually in the hands
of more or less selfish coteries, who operate behind the scenes, who
do know what they want and who, like the Piper of Hamelin, are past
masters of the art of leading the political children whither they will.

[90] I am not of course discussing the merits or demerits of the
protective tariff as such, but am using it as illustration. As such it
will serve the purpose.

The practice of “log-rolling” may at first sight seem to resemble the
proposed plan. But, in reality, the two are diametrical opposites. By
“log-rolling” is meant the kind of concessions made by the shipping
interests to the manufacturers by the manufacturers to the farmers, or
to the workingmen when the latter happen to be strong enough to enforce
their demands. Each group persists in pursuing its selfish aims; only,
in order to achieve them it makes concessions to the selfishness of the
others. Each follows the path into the Hades of egotism, and throws the
necessary sops to Cerberus on the way. The plan outlined in the text,
on the other hand, has for its object the interlocking of the various
social interests, the fitting them reciprocally into one another; or
better, the object is to cure each group as far as possible of its
selfishness by so modifying its claims, that the granting of them shall
become beneficial to the rest.



There is such a thing as a national character.[91] The national
character is reflected in the language, literature, laws and customs,
arts, institutions and religion of a people. Even when the religion
professed by different peoples is the same in name it is strongly
tinctured in the different countries by the national differences.
Compare for example the Christianity of Prussia with that of France, or
that of England with that of Russia.

The national character, like that of the individual, has its plus and
minus qualities, its excellent and its repellent traits.

The national character is to be spiritualized by raising the plus
traits to the Nth degree.

To this end, as before, the three-fold reverence and especially the
third reverence is the means. _The backward peoples of the earth are
the paramount object of reverence._ The more advanced peoples are to
bring to light the spiritual life latent in the backward. In order
to do so, they are to carry out the principle of reverence toward
past civilization, to sift out what is vital in the work of previous
generations. And further, they are to conform to the second principle
of reverence, that toward contemporaries approximately on the same
level, _i.e._, toward the other civilized nations. No single nation is
really competent to undertake the great task of awaking the stationary
peoples of India and China, of educating the primitive peoples of
Africa. A union of the civilized nations should be formed in order
that together they may jointly accomplish _the pedagogy of the less
developed_. The educational point of view once again appears as the
ethical. The relation of the less developed to the more advanced
peoples should be analogous to that of the child towards the parents.
Just as neither the father singly nor the mother alone can release
spiritual life in the offspring, so the different civilized nations,
each of which has its own gift, its own plus traits, are to interact
for the purpose of jointly awakening the creative energies within the
slumbering souls of the undeveloped peoples.

It follows that a nation cannot even be defined ethically except as
a member of an international society, and we begin to see the help
afforded by the spiritual conception in solving at least ideally the
problem of right international relations. Whereas hitherto the notion
of the sovereignty of each nation has been a formidable impediment to
the formation of an overarching world society, the ethical conception
not only permits this expansion of sovereignty, but necessitates
it. A nation, ethically defined, is a unique member of the _corpus
internationale_ of mankind. As unique it maintains of right its
relative independence, as a member it is bound by intrinsic ties
to its fellow-members, and is subject to the greater sovereignty
including them all alike.[92] A nation indeed cannot even maintain
its independence against other nations except by sheer might if it
acknowledges none but capricious ties between itself and them, such
as treaties, or Hague Conference agreements which can be dissolved at
pleasure. There must be recognized an inner ethical tie between nation
and nation, and it must receive legal formulation. This ethical tie is
the true _vinculum societatis humanæ_ and supplies what has hitherto
been absolutely lacking,—an ethical basis for international law.

The ethical relation between nations is founded on the fact that each
nation represents a significant type of humanity, that each nation
has certain plus and minus qualities, that it is dependent on other
nations to supplement its defects; and more than this, that it can
expurgate, as it ought, its minus qualities only by striving to evoke
the spiritual life in other peoples.

One salient point I must emphasize. The national character with its
plus and minus traits is empirical, and the development of the
empirical character is not itself the highest aim of the state. The
spiritual transformation of this empirical character, as I must take
pains to repeat, is the aim.

And herein appears the difference between the point of view taken in
this chapter and the political doctrine of the eminent Swiss publicist
Bluntschli. He too recognizes the development of the national character
as the aim of the state; and in so far as he does this he is in advance
of writers who limit the state’s functions to the protection of life
and property, to defense against foreign aggression, promotion of
prosperity, and of power and prestige. Bluntschli has the insight to
perceive that a nation is a collective entity, having a certain defined
character, and the development of the distinctive national gifts
is in his eyes the supreme purpose of national life, the political
organization of the state being a means to this end. But he falls into
a grave error by identifying the empirical with the spiritual character
of the nation, and setting up the former as an end worthy on its own
account. The empirical character of a collective entity is in this
respect no more worthy of honor, and no more fit to be a ground of
obligation, than the empirical character of the individual. And the
conclusions at which Bluntschli arrives are a sufficient proof of the
ethical inadequacy of his vision. Some nations, a very few he thinks,
possess political capacity, and they are to rule other peoples. Here
we have the “White Man’s Burden”—an obvious violation of the ethical
principle of national independence. Further, the world state, which is
to include all nations, is to concern itself only with their common
interests. Bluntschli thus accepts the uniformity principle in ethics,
excluding the idea of the reaction of differences which is of the very
essence of the ethical relation; while the ideal future as he sees
it is that of nations coexisting peacefully side by side, competing
peacefully with each other, and doubtless borrowing from one another
the best fruits produced by each. But it is idle to expect peaceful
coexistence so long as the strong exist by the side of the weak without
there being acknowledged an _intrinsic_ spiritual tie between them;
and competition between peoples will result, like competition between
individuals, in strife and exploitation; while the mere borrowing by
each of the fruits produced by the rest omits the vital point, upon
which I lay the greatest stress, of the eliciting of the fruits in each
by the spiritualizing influence of the rest.

Surveying Bluntschli’s doctrine as a whole, it is clear that his
empirical conception of the state leaves it a purely secular
institution concerned with externals, and not really related to the
inner life, certainly not a station in the development of personality.
He practically acknowledges as much when he says that the state is man
writ large, and the church woman writ large; that the state represents
the masculine principle, the church the feminine principle. For the
feminine, according to him, is the spiritual principle. The state deals
with externals; to the church is reserved the prerogative of entering
into and transforming the inner life.[93]

But what shall be the motive force for the creation of an international
society? I hold that the sense of national sin, or of national guilt,
must supply the motive force. At present all the more advanced nations
are to be censured because of their pride. Germany prides itself on
its science and its efficiency, England on its political liberalism,
France on its logical conception of equality, America on its democratic
individualism. Each of the great nations dwells complacently upon
its fair traits, and vaunts its special type of civilization as that
which should rightfully prevail among mankind generally. The national
defects, acknowledged perhaps by the critical few, are glozed over.
Indeed the consciousness of a collective national character though
latent is not yet distinct. It must be evoked. National self-knowledge
must be promoted by the leaders and teachers of mankind, and with it
must come, as in the case of the individual, the conscious recognition
of deep defects—in the case of Germany the narrowness of the conception
of the expert:[94] in the case of England the discrepancy between
political liberalism as applied to the white inhabitants of the British
Isles and of the self-governing dominions on the one hand, and the
“benevolent despotism” exercised over the subject millions of India on
the other; in America the effacement of true individualism under the
crushing pressure of mass opinion, etc.

Moreover not only will the defects be admitted, but their detrimental
influence on other peoples will have to be frankly avowed—every nation
must cry its _Peccavi_—the effect for instance on Europe of the French
love of glory, the effect of the efficiency notion of the Germans
as it is at present penetrating all other nations,[95] and in the
still wider view the effect of Western civilization as a whole on the
stationary civilization of China, on Egypt, on the myriads of Africa.
The civilized peoples of the earth have sinned their sins and are best
seen when we consider:

A. The spoliation and outrages perpetrated by the Western nations, for
instance at the time of the entrance of the Allies into Pekin, the
wholesale destruction of human life and the mutilations of the natives
on the Congo. It has been stated that some ten millions of the natives
of Africa perished as victims of the white race. If these acts do not
warrant our speaking of the sins of the civilized nations, what kind of
human behavior does deserve that name?

B. The effect of European example in practically forcing the peoples of
the Orient to adopt militarism and navalism.

C. The effect of Western individualism in undermining the religious
foundation in Eastern civilization.[96] The spreading of Christianity
itself, despite the exemplary influence of the higher type of
missionary, must yet be classed, in one important respect, among
the detrimental influences exercised by the West upon the East. For
Christianity, in the form in which it is usually taught, tends to
break up the sense of solidarity which is often strong among the less
civilized peoples, without supplying an adequate principle upon which
solidarity might be reëstablished on a higher plane. Hence Christian
teaching in the Orient and in Africa, however friendly and merciful in
intention, and however beneficent in many ways, is yet a disintegrating

The great problem of the spiritual education of the lower races
will have to be taken up anew. Not only are individual missionaries
of broader mental and moral horizons needed, the civilized nations
as such must reach a common understanding and establish a union
among themselves, the keynote of which shall be reverence for the
undeveloped, that is to say divination of what, under right educational
influence, they, the undeveloped, may come to mean for humanity. And
a union of this kind, consecrated to a noble object, will at the same
time be the means of leading the Western world out of the chaotic
condition in which it is at present weltering. The object for which
nations combine may not be their own peace, their own prosperity.
The key to peace between the adult peoples is a common, effectual
resolve to win new varieties of spiritual expression from the child
and adolescent peoples of the earth. Peace must come incidentally.
The common object must be disinterested, spiritual, because there is a
duty on the part of the civilized towards the uncivilized to exercise
a spiritual function. The task of humanity in general consists in
extending the web of spiritual relations so as to cover larger and
still larger areas of the finite world. The family is only partly
spiritualized. The vocations, the state, are not yet spiritualized. The
international society hardly exists. But what I here endeavor to sketch
is the human world as it would be in the light and under the influence
of the spiritual ideal. And I set down as the saving task of the
civilized nations that of extending the spiritual realm so as to cover
backward, undeveloped peoples, so as to embody them in the _corpus
spirituale_ of mankind.

_Some of the Principal Obstacles That Stand in the Way of the
Organization of Mankind._

The first obstacle is to be found in the inadequate theories that
underlie international law. Seventeenth and eighteenth century thinking
is still, strange to say, the theoretical foundation. Grotius and
Vattel remain the chief authorities. Grotius’s theory is a system of
empirical individualism with Christian individualism grafted upon it,
to mitigate its harsher features. The right of conquest is admitted.
A nation is allowed to punish another, punishment being taken in
the crude sense, while what has been permitted under natural law is
subsequently modified by counsels of perfection derived from Christian

Vattel is the intellectual grandchild of Leibnitz. He derives from
Leibnitz through Wolff. Vattel envisages the various states as so many
individual entities without intrinsic ties. Peaceful coexistence and
unhindered pursuit by each people of its own perfection or welfare with
mutual aid to be voluntarily rendered are the ultimate conceptions
beyond which this thinker does not venture. And if the root principles
are thus infertile, small wonder that the fruit of the tree should be
what it is. In any handbook of international law, the preponderant
space is allotted to the laws of war, and yet international law has
proved impotent to restrain the passion of war, or even to prevent its
excesses. International law binds the Samson of war with green withes
which the giant snaps in derision. It is plain that we are still in
the earliest stages, not only of international practice, but even of
international thinking. The problem of the right ethical relations
between the nations has hardly been broached.

Another conspicuous obstacle in the way of international progress is to
be seen in false hopes. Among the false hopes I class:

A. The hope that increased facilities of intercourse will automatically
bring about more friendly relations. To expect this is to forget that
closeness accentuates repugnances as well as congenialities, increases
antipathy as well as amity. When nations come within short range of
each other they resemble antipathetical kinsmen who are compelled
to live together. The Czechs and Germans in Bohemia would not hate
each other as they do were they not such near neighbors. Spatial
rapprochement, for instance, between East and West will not of itself
guarantee moral rapprochement—far from it.

B. The hope that science may be relied on to bring the nations
together. Science is neutral. Science is subservient to evil as well
as good. Science is at present distilling the poisonous gases used on
the European battlefields as well as inventing the improved methods
of surgery. It has made possible instruments of destruction such as
savages might have shrunk from using. Moreover, scientific as well as
artistic interests are partial manifestations of a people’s life and
the ethical relation is between peoples as totalities or collective
entities—just as the ethical relation between man and man is between
the whole man and the whole man, and not between some partial aspect
of the man and of his fellows. Hence it is easy to explain why the
scientists and the scholars of the different belligerent peoples were
swept away by the war passion like the rest, and in their utterance
have even carried animosity to greater lengths, expressing it in
language calculated to wound more deeply and to leave more permanent
scars. They felt that they belonged to the people as a whole, and
when the occasion came for them to choose between their scientific
co-workers across the frontier and their fellow-nationals, they sided
with the latter.

C. The hope that reliance can be placed on international trade to bring
about ethical relations between nations. But trade, like science,
is ethically neutral. In its own interest it is favorable to order
and security in colonies and dependencies, and when, sufficiently
enlightened, to the impartial administration of justice. The European
nations abolished the slave trade in Africa because it decimated the
native population, and decreased the supply of labor.[97] On the other
hand England in the eighteenth century, even at that time the most
liberal country of Europe, did not hesitate to wage war with Spain for
the maintenance of the monopoly of the hideous slave-trade, and the
Opium War occurred in the “full light” of the nineteenth century. But
the most striking example of the ethical neutrality of the commercial
mind is to be found in the recent partition of Africa between England,
France, the Congo Free State and Germany. The methods which these four
nations adopted in the “scramble for Africa” were marked by a perfect
disregard of the rights of the native populations of the African
continent. Two devices were used—proclamations, and treaties with
native chiefs. The Queen of England proclaimed that a certain territory
would thenceforth be a British possession, as if proclamation could
convey a right to the territory. The German emperor indulged in the
same fiction. And there was a veritable race between French and English
in the West; between Germans and English in the East, as to which of
the two could outdistance or outwit the other in treaty-making. Karl
Peters came in disguise with a stock of blank treaties in his pocket.
Forty or fifty treaties were concluded by the French annually for
several years in the West—as if a treaty with a native chief, who
might be bribed or coerced into lending his signature, could be the
foundation of moral right to the territory occupied by his tribe. The
European nations artfully employed the fictions of sovereignty in
order to varnish their acts of plunder with a semblance of legality.
Of course these proclamations and treaties were not intended to
justify exploitation in the eyes of the natives—the natives were not
consulted or regarded—but rather to base thereon the division of the
spoils between the exploiters. A proclamation or the conclusion of a
treaty with a chief was notice given to rivals not to interfere with
the spoils reserved for the nation that had issued the proclamation or
secured the treaty. It meant “hands off” to competing exploiters.

If it be asked whether this picture is not too dark? Whether the
civilized nations of the twentieth century in their dealings with the
helpless natives were merely selfish? Whether their motives are so
sinister? Whether they are not animated by better, more moral aims?
the answer is that the commercial mind, and it is the commercial
mind that chiefly rules the world today, allays its scruples and
justifies its aggressions by the fallacy that to extend trade is to
spread civilization, and to spread civilization is to contribute to
the advancement of the human race. The interests of trade and of
civilization are simply identified. To build railroads, to stretch
telegraph lines across the Dark Continent, to launch steamboats on
lakes that never heard the whistle of a steam engine before, these
are assumed to be the evidences of “progress.” Besides are not the
natives disciplined in habits of industry, are they not encouraged to
cultivate the raw products needed by Europe, and in return to receive
the overflow of European markets? The instruments of civilization are
thus confounded with civilization itself; the means with the end; while
the real object, veiled by sophistry, is nevertheless the material
benefit to be secured by the white race. Even the humane treatment of
the natives, where it is humane, resembles somewhat too unpleasantly
the fattening of the calf prior to its consumption by the owner.

Furthermore, the interests of Trade being supposed to be paramount,
it is held that any country the people of which do not sufficiently
cultivate the products desired by other peoples, or who close their
doors against the industrial surplus of Europe, may be annexed, the
land forcibly seized, and the inhabitants subjugated, and moreover
that such action is right and proper and in the interests of humanity.
So long as this view obtains, there will be no peace on earth. The
competition for foreign territories and foreign markets, the scramble
between the “civilized” exploiters, will be indefinitely provocative of
new wars.

The root disease that afflicts the world at the present day is the
supremacy of the commercial point of view. Intercourse and exchange
of products is no doubt desirable. The education of backward peoples
in agriculture and in industry for their own good and along their own
line is indispensable. The fallacy of the commercial mind consists
in erecting the means into the paramount end, in brusquing the love
of independence which is so strongly entrenched, even among many
primitive peoples, and in preventing their development in the direction
prescribed by their own natures. All this for the sake of the
immediate increase of material wealth. The white race shall have the
lion’s share of the wealth; the native population are to be accorded a
lesser share, with which they must be content. This is the extent of
the concession to humanity. This is, in plain words, what is signified
by the haughty phrase—“the spread of civilization.”

The commercial mind is neither benevolent nor malevolent—as little as
science is. It seems at times to be beneficent; at other times it seems
to be almost fiendish—as in the case of the atrocities perpetrated on
the Congo. It is not fiendish, it is simply ethically neutral or blind.

From this series of reflections, certain conclusions may be drawn as
to fundamental points of view relating to international law. The main
principle is respect for the total personality of peoples, recognition
of them as potential members of the spiritual body of mankind.

The territory of a people is to be regarded as the body of that
people’s soul. Their independence is to be strictly respected.
Expropriation or annexation is to be characterized as outrage.
Intrusion, except for purposes of education, is to be forbidden. The
conception which underlies the scramble for Africa and for the Far
East—that the material interests of the advanced nations entitle them
to force the backward to become receptacles of the industrial overflow
of the West, the producers of raw material for the factories of the
West must be abandoned.[98]

And now the main point may once more be stated. The salvation of the
civilized peoples, their spiritualization in the effort to spiritualize
the less advanced demands a new turn in the history of humanity. _Union
in a common sublime object will overcome the antagonisms and discords
that prevail among the civilized nations themselves._ The sword will
never be turned into a plow-share until the nations come to love the
work of the plow—the work of spiritual _tilth in the human_ field. The
strong peoples will never cease to harm the weak, and in so doing to
harm themselves, until they see in the weak, members of the _corpus
spirituale_ of mankind, depositaries of potential spiritual life in
liberating which they the strong themselves will find increased life.
And the task of uplifting the lower peoples will never be successfully
prosecuted until it is seen to be part of the task of humanity in
general, which is to spread the web of spiritual relations over larger
and ever larger provinces of the finite realm.[99]


[91] See Fouillée’s _Esquisse psychologique des Peuples européens_,
also the Chapter on German, English and American Ideals in _The World

[92] Each term in the series of social institutions is ethically
defined by referring to the succeeding terms. The family prepares for
the vocation, the vocation for the state or nation, the nation for
the international society, and all the successive terms receive their
ultimate definition from the infinite spiritual universe which includes
them, and broods over them and dwells in each, so that the expanding
ethical experience gained at the successive stations is spiritually the
_ratio cognoscendi_, not the _ratio essendi_.

[93] It is true that the state is concerned with those conditions of
the spiritual reactions that are capable of being enforced, but in
instituting such conditions the spiritual content is inevitably kept in
view. And in the very process of fitting the body to the spirit, the
form to the content, the content itself will be discerned more clearly
and explicitly.

[94] See the chapter in _The World Crisis_.

[95] To myself as an individual I say: look to your radiations,
consider the effects you produce on others; if the effects are
harmful trace them to faults in your character, and let your desire
and obligation to influence others beneficently be the spur to lead
you to transform your own character. The same each people should
say to itself. For instance the obvious faults of our democracy
have retarded the progress of democracy in Europe. Our failure in
municipal government is constantly quoted abroad as an argument against
democracy. This should be a real incentive to rouse us out of our

[96] Cf. Lord Cromer’s remarks on this subject in his book on Egypt.

[97] See, however, the importation of Indian and Chinese coolies, and
the surreptitious resurrection of the slave trade mentioned by Sir
Charles Dilke in his _Problems of Greater Britain_.

[98] As to practical steps that might be taken to give effect to
this conception of international law, see my published address “The
Great Rôle of the United States After the War,” in which is discussed
the creation of an international law-making body or a Parliament of
Parliaments. In connection with the latter, I should attach particular
importance to the institution of commissions which may serve as a
link between the international legislature and the less civilized
peoples—the commissions to study the needs and gifts of those peoples
with a view to securing their development along their own lines. In the
case of civilized peoples that have until recently been stationary,
like the Chinese, the commission representing the Western nations would
sit in consultation with the most enlightened leaders of the Chinese
people themselves, the common object being to discover the points
of attachment in Chinese civilization which may wisely be made the
starting point of a more modern and progressive evolution. For instance
the filial piety of the Chinese, the rectitude of their merchants, the
absence of an aristocracy, and their civil service resting on education
(despite its defects). In this manner it may become possible to avoid
the abrupt, superficial, and infinitely destructive substitution
of modern ideas for the system at present existing, and gradual
development will take the place of intrusive and uncongenial change.

[99] I add that this conception will react on the internal life of
democracy. Democracy is at present regarded as a relation between
equals. In fact, we have in America the negro population, the
illiterate and backward immigrants. A truer conception of democracy
depends on our realizing that within each people as well as between
people and people there is the distinction of the more advanced and
the less advanced groups. Democracy rightly conceived will be found to
consist in the effort spent by the more advanced in each vocational
group to uplift the less advanced, the more advanced themselves coming
into possession of their spiritual worth in the degree that they
realize this their task of leadership and its great responsibilities.



In this chapter I shall undertake to sketch the plan of a religious
society as determined by the spiritual ideal herein set forth.
The religious society is the last term in the series of social
institutions, and its peculiar office is to furnish the principle for
the successive transformation of the entire series. It is to be the
laboratory in which the ideal of the spiritual universe is created
and constantly recreated, the womb in which the spiritual life is
conceived. No single religious society can adequately fulfill this
purpose. The spiritual ideal itself must necessarily be conceived
differently by different minds; but the great general purpose will be
the same, despite variations in shades of meaning and points of view.

The fellowship of the religious society must be based on the voluntary
principle; membership must be a matter of free choice.[100] In
antiquity the boundaries of the political and religious organizations
coincided. The citizen was under obligations as a part of his civic
duty to worship the divinities of the state. In modern times a state
church is still maintained in some countries and supported out of the
public funds, while dissenting and nonconformist bodies exist more
or less on sufferance at its side. But this arrangement is harmful,
especially so to those whom it seems to favor. Erastianism paralyzes
religious spontaneity. The state, it is true, is profoundly interested
in the flourishing of ethical idealism, and in the constant rebirth in
its midst of spiritual ideals. But it is not competent to determine
what the character of these ideals shall be. The moment they cease to
be freely produced they lose their life-giving power. The state within
limits may enforce actions; it may not even attempt to enforce beliefs.

On the other hand, the “secularization of the state” has given rise
to the deplorable impression that the state exists only for so-called
secular purposes, and has stripped the idea of the state of the lofty
attributes with which the greatest thinkers of antiquity had clothed
it. It is the function of the religious society, dwelling uncoerced in
the midst of the state, to reinvest the state with the sacred character
that belongs to it. I do not of course intend to exalt the state after
the manner of Hegel, as if it were a kind of earthly god or to set it
up as an object of religious or quasi-religious devotion. The object
of religious devotion is the infinite holy community, the spiritual
universe. The function of the religious society is to generate the
ideal of the infinite holy community, of the spiritual universe. The
family, the vocation, the nation, are sub-groups of this, lesser
entities. Even mankind itself is but a province of the ideal spiritual
commonwealth that extends beyond it. To concentrate worship upon the
state or nation as some propose, would be to usurp for the part the
piety that belongs to the whole.

In describing a religious society three main aspects are to be borne in

The teaching, the organization, the worship.

_A. The Teaching_

In the religious society as here conceived there is to be worked out
a body of doctrine, and there is to be a body of specially designated
teachers. An ethico-religious society cannot ignore or dispense with a
general philosophy of life and statements of belief. It cannot restrict
itself to encouraging practical morality without regard to what are
called metaphysical subtleties. A moral society of this kind would soon
become ossified. On the contrary, an ethico-religious society should
excel in the fertility with which it gives rise to new metaphysical
constructions and original formulations of ethical faith. The will
cannot be divorced from the intellect. The active volitional life
cannot be successfully stimulated and guided without the assistance of
the mind as well as of the imagination.

But the relation between philosophy and formulas of belief on the one
hand and volitional experience on the other should be the reverse of
what it has been in the past. Here there must be a new departure. The
doctrine, the formulations, whatever they may be, must not be dogmatic
but flexible. Growing originally out of ethical experience, they must
ever prove themselves apt to enlarge and deepen ethical experience.
By this test they will be judged and they must therefore ever be
subject to revision and correction. Every dogma, every philosophic or
theological creed, was at its inception a statement in terms of the
intellect of a certain inner experience. But then it claimed for itself
eternal validity, compressing the spiritual life within its mold, and
checking further development. The body of doctrine which I desire and
foresee will likewise be an interpretation of ethical experience,
intended to make explicit the fundamental principles implicit in
ethical experience, and thereby clarifying it, and assisting its
further unfolding. But it is not and should never be allowed to
become dogmatic. The difference, I take it, is plain: in the one case
experience contracted in procrustean fashion into a rigid formula, in
the other case an elastic formula adapted to and subordinated to the

Thus much for the body of teachings. There should also be a body
of teachers. A teacher in an ethico-religious society will retain
something of the character of his predecessors—priest, prophet, rabbi,
pastor. The priest is the mediator of grace; the prophet is the seer
of visions; the rabbi is learned in the Divine law, and the pastor is
the helper of the individual in securing his individual salvation.
But these functions will now be seen in an altered light, and will be
radically modified in their exercise. The magical attribute of the
priest disappears. The confident prediction of future events, based
on the assumption that the moral order is to be completely realized
in human society, has ceased to be convincing. The Divine law is no
longer identical with the Law revealed in the Scriptures and their
commentaries, and the salvation of the individual is to be accomplished
by other means.

The religious teacher of the new kind is to resemble his predecessors
in being a specialist. The word specialist in this connection may,
perhaps, awaken misgivings, and these must be removed. He is not a
specialist in the sense of having a conscience unlike that of others,
or in being the keeper of other men’s consciences. Nor shall he impose
his philosophy of life or his belief authoritatively, but propose
it suggestively. His best results will be gained if he succeeds in
so stimulating those whom he influences that they will attain an
individualized spiritual outlook of their own, consonant with their
own individual nature and need. But specialists of this kind are
indispensable. The generality of men have neither the time nor the
mental equipment to think out the larger problems of life without
assistance, and the attempt on their part to do so leads to crudities
and eccentricities of which one meets nowadays with many pathetic
examples among those who have severed their connection with the
traditional faiths, and have tried in their groping fashion to invent
a metaphysic or a creed of their own.[101]

The preparation of the ethical teacher for his special task consists in
making himself thoroughly acquainted with the great religious systems
of the past, in which much that is of permanent spiritual value is
enshrined.[102] He is to fit himself to revitalize what is vital, not
to repristinate what is obsolete. There is required of him a first-hand
knowledge of the great ethical systems, and of their philosophical
backgrounds: furthermore acquaintance, so far as it is as yet
accessible, with the moral history of mankind, as distinguished from
the history of ethical thinking; in addition, he should intensively
study the economic, social and political problems of the time from
the ethical point of view, and the psychology both of individual
and national character, so far as that fascinating and difficult
subject has been opened up by competent writers. Apprenticeship in
the social reform movements of the day, direct touch with the inner
life of people, on its healthful as well as on its sick side, is also

Since no single person can be adequately prepared in these various
subjects, and since a variety of gifts and talents is demanded, it
follows that the teaching function shall be exercised by a body
or group of teachers, not by a single pastor at whose feet the
congregation are supposed to sit. Some of the persons engaged in this
work will excel as public speakers, others as writers, others as
teachers of the young, others as leaders of vocational groups. But all
these different functionaries must learn to work, not only in harmony,
but in organic, reciprocal support, themselves illustrating in their
group life the spiritual relation, the knowledge and the practice of
which they are to carry out into the world. The guild or group idea
must be applied to the religious teachers of the future.

_B. The Organization_

Every religion exhibits a certain form of organization peculiar to
itself and derived from its controlling idea. The organization of the
Buddhist fellowship is dependent on the Buddhist ideal of preparation
for absorption in Nirvana. The constitution of the Jewish synagogue
reflects the conception of the relation of the Chosen People, as an
_élite_ corps of the divinity. The organization of the Christian church
is characterized by its bifurcation into an _ecclesia militans_ and an
_ecclesia triumphans_, and further by the idea of incorporation into
the body of Christ, a difficult mystical conception as of a typical
divine individual including within his body a multitude of other

The organization of the ethico-religious society has been foreshadowed
in the chapter on the vocations. The society is to be divided into
vocational groups. In each vocational group is to be worked out the
specific ethical ideal of that vocation. In the groups the general
ethical philosophy of life is to be applied, tested and enriched.
The so-called ethical teachers will here come into fruitful contact
with those who are in touch at first hand with actual conditions,
and are cognizant of the difficulties to be surmounted in ethicizing
vocational standards. The members of the groups in democratic fashion
will contribute to the advancement, not only of ethical practice, but
of ethical knowledge, and thus become on their side teachers of the
teachers. The danger of the formation of an ethical clergy will be
averted. The teachers will be in certain respects the pupils of the
taught, and the relation be reciprocal, that is, ethical.

Among the groups the vocational group of Mothers will occupy the
central place. The influence of women, especially of the mother group,
must penetrate the religious society through and through, for the
purpose of drawing the entire fellowship together into a coherent
unity. Women henceforth will take a deeper interest in the ethical
development of human society. A main factor, if not the only factor
in the ethical development of human society, is the elevation of the
vocational standards. The group of mothers will therefore be in close
touch with the other vocational groups in order to gain a knowledge of
the higher standards therein proposed, in order to appraise them, and
to inspire the growing generation with the devoted purpose to carry
these standards out in practice.

_C. The Worship or Public Manifestation of Religion_

The ideal of worship likewise must undergo transformation. It has
meant an act of homage toward a superior or supreme individual; it
has meant eulogistic affirmation of the power, wisdom, goodness, of
that individual; it has meant prayer or petition for help from that
individual. It has also meant spiritual edification.

In all these various modes, religious worship heretofore has focused
attention on a single individual deity as one who embodies in himself
the sum of perfection. In thus presenting the ideal of perfection, it
has encouraged preference for unity at the expense of plurality. The
salient feature of the spiritual ideal sketched in this volume is the
affirmation, on ethical grounds, that plurality is of equal dignity
with unity, and hence that the divine ideal is to be represented not as
One, but as manifold; not as an individual, however supereminent, but
as an infinite holy community,—every human being being in his essential
nature a member of that community.

But can worship be offered to the members of a holy community? In a
certain sense one might say, Yes, preëminently so, since worship may
be taken to mean Worthship, and the worth intrinsic in our fellowmen
is the object of our unceasing homage. At the same time very different
associations have gathered about the word. Public worship consists
largely of eulogistic singing, prayer, adoration, genuflexion, and
these are appropriate only to deity conceived as an individual. We
cannot even say with the Psalmist “the heavens declare the glory
of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.” For though the
beauty and order apparent in Nature is one aspect of nature on which
we delight to dwell, yet we cannot disingenuously suppress the
counter evidence of disorder, ugliness and suffering which Nature
no less obtrudes on our sight. The argument from design implied in
the Psalmist’s words is no longer tenable. Certainly we cannot any
longer pray for material assistance as our forefathers did, or invoke
supernatural intervention in situations where human science and human
helpfulness are impotent. But worship also aims at ethical edification,
by holding up to the mind the moral ideal as an object of imitation,
and as a rebuke to man’s shortcomings. This indeed is its highest
function. Nevertheless the moral ideal, as we conceive it, is incapable
of being presented in the guise of an individual being, no matter by
what superlative language the limitation inseparable from individuality
be concealed. The bare attributes of omniscience and omnipotence are
abstract and convey no positive meaning whatever. In actual worship
a concrete image is invariably associated with the notion of the
individualized Deity, such as the Father image or the Christ image. And
as soon as this is done, the vast ethical ideal tends to shrink to the
dimensions of a human image; and instead of the ideal in its fullness,
only certain selected but inadequate aspects of ethical excellence are
presented to the worshiper.

And yet in an ethico-religious society also the public manifestation of
religion is indispensable. Of what elements shall it consist?

First, there are to be the public addresses by the teachers, having
for their main object to arouse or intensify a certain kind of
spiritual distress, and then as far as possible to appease it. Every
religion in my judgment originates in a particular kind of anguish,
and is an attempt to assuage it. The spiritual distress in which the
ethico-religious society has its origin is the agonizing consciousness
of tangled relations with one’s fellow-beings, and the inexpressible
longing to come into right relations with them. He is fit to be a
public teacher of this religion who profoundly experiences this
distress, who desires nothing so much as to cease to be, for his part,
a thorn in his neighbor’s side. We are that, each of us, inevitably.
The more this feeling is strong in him the more will he arouse similar
feelings in others, and thus awaken those who are spiritually asleep,
the self-righteous, the self-satisfied, and he will then indicate to
the utmost of his power, the way of relief.

The specific ethical ideals of life are also to be presented in public
assemblies—the ideals of private ethics, of marriage, friendship,
and the rest. These expressions of the specific ideals, charged with
feeling, and taking on appropriate imagery, will gradually attain a
certain classical fitness—classical at least for a time—and may be used
as public readings.

But is there a substitute for prayer?

Among the advantages of prayer is often mentioned this: that in it
the soul reaches out towards its source, and in so doing wonderfully
recruits its spiritual energy. It finds, ethically speaking, its second
wind. It reaches down beneath its utmost strength to find an increment
of strength not previously at its disposal. The question is whether
this increment of strength cannot be obtained more surely and to better
purpose in another way, namely, by concentrating attention on the
spiritual need of the fellow-beings with whom we are in daily touch,
and by becoming aware to what an extent the finer nature imprisoned in
them is dependent for its release upon our exertions. The appeal of the
God in our neighbor is the substitute for the appeal in prayer to the
God in heaven, the call of the stifled spiritual nature in the men and
women at our side, is to draw out of us our utmost latent force, the
strengths underneath the strength.

The common life we share with our fellow-members in the religious
society demands expression in song and in responsive services. The
high wave of this common life welling up in us, rising to the surface,
makes the glow of religious meetings, gives them fervor, and a touch of
rapture, not indeed the common life conceived as a uniform life, but as
the life we live in others, and they in us.

The addresses that awaken and appease spiritual pain, the presentation
of the various modes of right living, the songs that lift the
individual above his private self and help him to live, not indeed
submerged, but rather spiritually accentuated in the life of the whole,
these are the public manifestations of ethical religion as I see them.
They will contribute to make of the society itself the symbol of its
ethical faith. We shall not have an external symbol like the cross: the
fellowship itself will be our symbol.

There will also be festivals. Every religion must have its
festivals. In place of Baptism the solemn taking of responsibility
for the spiritual development of the child. A festival of vocational
initiation, like the ancient assumption of the _toga_. Festivals of
citizenship, inspired by the ideal of the national character as one to
be spiritually transformed. Festivals of humanity in connection with
the commemoration of great events in the history of our race and of
great leaders who were inspired in some degree by the ideal task of
humanity. Festivals of the seasons, deriving their significance from
the spiritual interpretation of the corresponding seasons of human
life,—youth, middle age, old age. And a solemn though not mournful
festival in commemoration of the departed.

The religious assembly should itself be organized; the members of the
different vocational groups should be allocated to different parts
of the meeting hall, as were the Guilds in certain of the mediæval

Besides the public manifestations, the private religion will receive
attention. The religious society as a whole is to be the microcosm of
the spiritual macrocosm, a miniature model of the ideal society, but
care must also be taken for the private communion of the individual
with the spiritual presences which the ideal evokes. There should be a
special breviary for the sick, a Book of Consolation for the bereaved,
a Book of Friendship, a Book of direction for those who pass through
the experience of sin, and a book of preparation for those who face the


[100] Among other ethical relations based on free election, friendship
is the most important. In a separate _Book of Friendship_ which I hope
to publish, I intend to review the ideals of friendship as they have
arisen from time to time in the history of civilized mankind—the ideal
of Pythagorean friendship, the ideals presented by Aristotle, Kant,
Emerson. And I shall endeavor to show in each case the connection
between the friendship ideal and the general philosophy of life. I
shall then set forth that ideal of friendship which is the corollary
of the spiritual conceptions outlined in this volume: the friend being
in my view one who assists spiritual development as a spectator. He
is the faithful mirror of his friend’s progress toward personality,
the benevolent yet incorruptible recorder and appraiser. By this token
friendship is distinguished from the interlocking relations such as
that between partners in marriage, vocational co-workers, etc.

[101] In certain Ethical Societies abroad, the fear of encouraging
the rise of a new clericalism led to the plan of drawing for ethical
teachers on professors of universities, and others engaged in various
lines of practical activity. These persons could of necessity give
only the leavings of their time and thought to the complex questions
which they undertook to discuss; and the experiment, as might have been
foreseen, proved disastrous.

[102] It has been said that the science of today lives only in
superseding the science of yesterday. Whether this be true of science
or not it is not true of religion. The religions of the past are not
merely superseded. There is much in them that is to be reinterpreted,
and thus perpetuated.



The view of life that man has on leaving it is the final test of his
philosophy of life. These are my thoughts: It is time to detach thyself
from this earth. The shadows are lengthening. Look around you and note
the strange changes that have taken place in the men and women of your
acquaintance. Those that you once knew in their prime are now old and
wrinkled,—and how many already dead! As you survey the procession of
life, how many vacant places are there in it! How many true and loyal
comrades have been swept away! Or go into the busy streets of the
city, and look at the multitude passing through them. You are still
one of this multitude. Presently you will drop out. There will perhaps
be a little ripple on the surface, and then the stream will flow on
as before. How curious is it to think that this frame of life which
sustains such high faculties should crumble into a little heap of dust
at the touch of the wand of death! Detach thyself, therefore, relax
thy hold by anticipation as thou shalt soon relax it actually. But
detachment does not mean cold inattention or unnatural shrinking from
the earthly scene, like that of the monk in his cell. Relax thy hold
on what is earthly in the earthly scene, and fix thy loving attention
all the more on what is _spiritually significant_ in it. Regard with
a friendly eye the beauty of the natural landscape around thee—yonder
lake and yonder noble mountain summit. They are earthly, yet are they
also hieroglyphs and symbols.

Still more is this true of thy social relations. Detach thyself means
relax thy hold on what is transient in those relations. Cling all the
more firmly to what is spiritual in them. The earth is thy foundation,
thou art Antæus as long as thou remainest in contact with the earth.
Until the very last thou must lean for strength upon the earthly bases
and substrata.

Consider the drive of the human race through the time and space world,
and its net result. Thou standest now on a high tower. Lean over
the parapet and peer as far out into the future as thou canst. Thou
standest as did Moses on Mount Pisgah. Strain thy eyes to catch sight
of the Promised Land. But remember that the Promised Land turned out
to be a land still of promise, not of fulfilment,—a land in which the
prophetic soul of Israel matured its visions of a fulfilment never on
earth to be attained.

Remember that as thou art linked to thy ancestry, so art thou linked
to posterity. The future centuries of the human race are like the
future years of an individual. Thou art keenly interested in what may
happen hereafter to the race with which thou art interlinked. But the
race, like the individual, will be cut off and become extinct before
ever the ideal is reached. Remember, therefore, that the purpose for
which humanity exists is achieved at every moment in everyone who
appropriates the fruits of partial success and frustration. Whosoever
standing on the earth as a foundation builds up for himself the
spiritual universe attains the purpose of human existence. There is
indeed progress in the explicitness with which the spiritual ideal is
conceived, and we are immeasurably interested in the greater light to
be attained by our posterity. But the essential fruition of the contact
of the infinite that is in us with the finite world is achievable at
every moment in every human being. And this gives an entirely new
meaning to the spiritual gains achieved in solitude, which seem vain
because there are no witnesses. But neither will there be witnesses
when the last human beings perish on earth. The spiritual bravery of
the shipwrecked man who sinks on the lonely ocean springs from the
conviction that though the sea can overwhelm him there is that in
him greater than ocean’s immensity; a conviction achieved through
the experience of living in the life of others. The same is the gain
achieved by the sick man who lies in solitude like a helpless log in
the darkened room. The altruistic philosophy fails in accounting for
the moral grandeur that attaches to the spiritual victories gained in
silence and solitude.

Face the terrors of life before you leave life. Be resolute to the
last not to cherish illusions. Face the terrors of life, the absence
of observable design, the cruelties, the ferocities. Think of William
Blake’s poem “The Tiger”: “Did he who made the lamb make thee?” In your
philosophy there is no question any longer of a Creator. Creation is an
attempt to explain the coexistence of the imperfect with the perfect,
to account for a lower stage in terms of a higher. The ultimate
inability of man to understand, to explain, is one of the principal
frustrations he meets with, is the crucifixion of man at the point of
his intellect.

The radical incompetence of man to grasp with his intellect the
world as a “universe,” is to be faced by him and accepted without
qualification. It marks off this philosophy of life from those
philosophies and theologies which have attempted to explain the
universe, and which, while affecting humility, are the dupes of an
unwarranted self-confidence. Unqualified admission of the incompetence
of the human intellect to resolve the world riddle is the determining
factor in the more profound humility which characterizes the religion
of ethical experience. Agnosticism on the intellectual side is the very
condition of the transcending ethical conviction subsequently attained.
Without intellectual agnosticism there is no ethical certainty.

Consider now frustration and its supreme outcome, or the various
points at which man is crucified. I have mentioned the intellectual
crucifixion, due to the incompetence of the mind to understand. I must
now speak of still more poignant experiences due to the incompetence of
man adequately to fulfill the moral law, or to carry out the spiritual
relation in finite terms.

I have reached the bourne, or am very near it. The shadows lengthen,
the twilight deepens. I look back on my life and its net results. I
have seen spiritual ideals, and the more clearly I saw them, the wider
appeared the distance between them and the empirical conditions, and
the changes I could effect in those conditions. I have worked in
social reform, and the impression I have been able to make now seems to
me so utterly insignificant as to make my early sanguine aspirations
appear pathetic. I have seen the vision of democracy in the air, and on
the ground around me I have seen the sordid travesty of democracy—not
only in practice but in idea. I have caught the far outlook upon the
organization of mankind, the extension of the spiritual empire over the
earth by the addition to it of new provinces, and I do not find even
the faintest beginnings, or recognition of the task which the advanced
nations should set themselves. I scrutinize closely my relations
to those who have been closest to me,—and I find that I have been
groping in the dark with respect to their most real needs, and that my
faculty of divination has been feeble. I look lastly into my heart,
my own character, and the effort I have made to fuse the discordant
elements there, to achieve a genuine integrity there, and I find the
disappointment in that respect the deepest of all.

These are the various points of my life at which I have undergone the
crucifixion. I am like Arnold Winkelried, who gathered the sheaf of
spears into his breast, and even pressed them inward, to make a way for
liberty. So do I press the sharp-pointed spears of frustration into my
breast to make way for spiritual liberty. For these cruel spears turn
into shafts of light, radiating outward along which my spirit travels,
building its final nest—the spiritual universe.

Consider the new and profounder humility. In ethical experience is
revealed the plan of the spiritual relations, but the entities or
substances which are thus related are incognizable, unknowable. Did
I know them I should be able to solve the riddle of the universe. I
should know how it is that the finite exists side by side with the
infinite. But I cannot know. I cannot enter into the counsels of
the multiform godhead. There are the mighty powers that weave and
interweave behind the veil, but the veil between them and myself is
down, not to be lifted. Within the palace of light is the solemn and
serene assembly of the gods: I, man, stand at the gate.

The world as we know it is itself the veil, the screen, that shuts out
the interplay, the weavings and the interweavings of the spiritual
universe. But at least at one point, in the ethical experience of man,
is the screen translucent. The plan of the spiritual relation is there
traced in outline. It is this plan that conveys the certainty as to
what verily exists beyond, within, beneath.

As to my empirical self, I let go my hold on it. I see it perish with
the same indifference which the materialist asserts, for whom man is
but a compound of physical matter and physical force. It is the real
self, of which the empirical was the substratum, upon which I tighten
my hold. I do not assert immortality, since immortality, like creation,
is a bridge between the phenomenal and the spiritual levels. Creation
is the bridge at the beginning; immortality the bridge at the end. Were
I able to build the bridge, I should know. I do not affirm immortality.
I affirm the real and irreducible existence of the essential self. Or
rather, as my last act, I affirm that the ideal of perfection which
my mind inevitably conceives has its counterpart in the ultimate
reality of things, is the truest reading of that reality whereof man is
capable. I turn away from the thought of the self, even the essential
self, as if that could be my chief concern, toward the vaster infinite
whole in which the self is integrally preserved. I affirm that there
verily is an eternal divine life, a best beyond the best I can think
or imagine, in which all that is best in me, and best in those who are
dear to me, is contained and continued. In this sense _I bless the
universe. And to be able to bless the universe in one’s last moments
is the supreme prize which man can wrest from life’s struggles, life’s

I look back upon my life once more, and am grateful for the eternal
worth which it was permitted me in this frail vessel of my mortal
existence to hold, for the shimmer of the spiritual reality of things
which I was permitted to see; grateful especially to those who loved
me, and whom I was permitted to love, and who were to me in some
measure revealers of the eternal life.

Consider lastly the peace that passeth understanding. Now, if ever,
this peace should descend upon me. There is a kind of peace that is
accessible to the understanding, and there is the peace that passeth
understanding. The peace that can be understood is that which consists
in the relief of pain. It arises in various ways. After an acute attack
of physical pain how like balm is felt the succeeding absence of pain.
After a prolonged sickness, when the convalescent takes his first walk,
what a sweet tranquillity fills his mind! There is also the mental
relief that comes when some danger has been safely passed; the peace
of the sheltered fireside to one who has passed through a storm. Again,
there is the peace that follows pecuniary anxiety, or the removal of
some carking care, as when an erring son is reclaimed, or an estranged
wife or husband is found anew.

But the peace that passeth understanding is that which comes when the
pain is _not_ relieved, which subsists in the midst of the painful
situation, suffusing it, which springs out of the pain itself, which
shimmers on the crest of the wave of pain, which is the spear of
frustration transfigured into the shaft of light.

It is upon those we love that we must anchor ourselves spiritually in
the last moments. The sense of interconnectedness with them stands
out vividly by way of contrast at the very moment when our mortal
connection with them is about to be dissolved. And the intertwining of
our life with theirs, the living in the life that is in them, is but
a part of our living in the infinite manifold of the spiritual life.
The thought of this, as apprehended, not in terms of knowledge, but in
_immediate experience_, begets the peace that passeth understanding.
And it is upon the bosom of that peace that we can pass safely out of
the realm of time and space.




The preceding volume in its entirety and in every part is nothing else
than a book of spiritual self-discipline. Every religion presents to
its followers as real objects that the eye has not seen. The certainty
of the existence of these objects, religious certainty, religious
conviction, springs from one or other kind of need and distress. The
object that the eye has not seen is believed in because it corresponds
to that need, and relieves that distress. Furthermore, the conviction
is strengthened, the certainty intensified, by two methods: (1)
elaboration of the ideas presented; (2) performing acts in the doing
of which the existence of the objects is presupposed. Thus the idea of
the Heavenly Father corresponds to the childlike need of protection.
The elaboration of this idea in theological systems strengthens its
hold, every idea being powerful as an active force in proportion as it
is worked out in detail and linked up with other ideas. And ceremonies,
prayers, acts of worship in the doing of which the reality of the
Father-God is presupposed, strengthen the belief in him. Conduct is
one of the chief sources of belief. The more frequently a devout
Roman Catholic prays to the Virgin Mary, the more firmly will he be
convinced that she exists and hears him. These features are common to
all religion: unseen objects are presented as real; the belief in their
reality is augmented by elaboration of the ideas; and above all their
hold is reinforced by practice founded on and presuming the reality of
the ideas.

The unseen object which the religion of spiritual experience presents
is the unique personality. The lines along which the ideas are to be
elaborated have been sketched in the above. Conduct based on the
presumption that the divine nature exists in every human being is the
principal means of fortifying that conviction, and this presumption
itself rests on the fundamental fact of worth.

The difference in rank between the various religions depends on the
kind of need which they seek to satisfy. It may be physical, as when
the worshiper prays for large herds and fruitful crops. It may be the
urging of a passion, as when a man prays for revenge on his enemies.
And it may be ethical. And if ethical, it may be purely ethical, or
ethical with non-ethical elements admixed. A religion is neither
approved nor condemned because it satisfies a need. The judgment passed
on it depends on the kind of need it undertakes to satisfy.

Seek to raise the plus traits to the Nth degree. Seek through spiritual
sex interaction to release the spiritual life in the child. Bring
to birth in thyself the idea of the state, etc. Every chapter of
this volume contains some direction as to the lines of conduct to be
followed. The principal self-discipline consists in the effort to
follow these lines.

But experience tells us that the effort may be hindered or helped in
certain ways. I shall mention a few of the helps and hindrances:

Physical and Mental _Athleticism_ are helps to Moral Athleticism.
Ethics is a science of energetics. Bodily and mental energy is
favorable to ethical energizing. By mental energy I understand
especially the habit of vigorously attacking complex and difficult
mental problems.

Right _Asceticism_ is related to Ethical Development. I exclude
self-abnegation and self-repression practiced as drill apart from any
particular occasion requiring them, holding that self-repression should
always be incidental to self-expression. This applies especially to the
hygiene of the sex passion. A positive ideal of the sex relation, as in
marriage, is an invaluable help in ennobling and thereby restraining
the passion.

The Ethical Life is the supremely Planful Life. There is a hierarchy of
ends of which the ethical is the apex. The ethical end is the supreme
end to which all others are to be planfully subordinated. The habit of
conducting one’s life planfully is favorable to ethical behavior. I say
planfully, not pedantically, due regard being always had to spontaneity.

Among hindrances to Ethical development may be mentioned the tendency
to be satisfied with the _minor perfections_. The better is the
greatest enemy of the best. The disproportionate value set on the
embellishments of life is but one illustration of this point.

A great hindrance to the spiritual life is the necessity under which
we lie of restricting our actual ethical relations to a _few persons_.
We cannot extend our influence to the millions of China and India.
We cannot even deeply influence a considerable number of our fellow
citizens. On ethical grounds we do acknowledge the claims of each
individual, of all these myriads of human beings. Yet as far as any
actual good we can do them is concerned, we are powerless, and must
leave them to their fate. The tragic aspect of life comes home to us
sharply at this point. Intensity must take the place of extensity.
Intensive spiritual relations with a few will teach us at least to
conceive worthily of those personalities whom we cannot directly
affect, and to invest them in idea with the honor which is their due.

Intimate spiritual relations with a few will also counteract the
unethical habit of labeling those with whom we come into casual
contact according to the special functions they happen to exercise.
Thus a letter-carrier is apt to be thought of as an animated machine
to carry letters, a stenographer as a kind of animated machine to
take dictation, the servant in the house a machine to render physical
service. The more complete our appreciation of personality is in the
case of the few, the more we shall be impelled to transfer the concept
of personality, at least in its outlines, to all others. In this way
our friendships, our close relations, will not restrict our ethical
horizon. In the narrower circle we shall engender those ideas which
in thought at least we can carry out to the farthest limits of human

But among the hindrances to ethical practice the two most conspicuous
must not be omitted. They are _pity_ and _terror_, pity for the pain
suffered by others, fear of pain for oneself. Aristotle regarded it
as the high function of the tragic drama to liberate men from these
disturbing factors. The two are combined and in consequence exacerbated
to an extreme degree in those situations where the pain suffered by
another person is at the same time poignantly felt as one’s own pain.
And the anguish felt in seeing the physical suffering of another is
even exceeded in witnessing the moral degradation of another, as of an
erring son or an apparently irreclaimable husband or wife. The doctrine
of frustration as explained in this volume is intended to show the way
of relief in such situations. But it is only by not shirking the pain,
by permitting it fully to penetrate, by uncovering the breast entirely
to the entrance of the pointed spear that we shall have the experience
of the transformation of it into the shaft of light.



Force is a moral adiaphoron. The stigma attaching to the use of force
belongs rather to its abuse. The employment of force is good or bad
according as the ends for which it is used are good or bad.

The precept of non-resistance in the Sermon on the Mount is to be
understood as a piece of ethical irony.

The right, or to be more explicit, the duty, of society to coerce
individual members of it rests on the same ground and holds within
the same limits as the duty of the individual to coerce himself.
Self-coercion depends on the difference in the quality of one’s
impulses, on the choice one is bound to make between competitive ends.
Self-coercion is of two kinds: stimulative and repressive; stimulative
to overcome inertia, repressive to subject wrong to right impulses.

He who denies the duty of self-coercion, to be consistent, must
fall back on the position of the Cynics. For the Cynics were indeed
consistent. They asserted not only the right of the individual to be
free from outside compulsion, but also the right of each individual
moment of the individual’s life to be lived without regard or
subjection to future moments. Hence they rejected civilization and
its tasks, inasmuch as the prosecution of any task involves the
subordination of the present to the content of some future moment.

But if the coercion of a man by himself be admitted, it follows that
the exercise of force upon a man by society must in principle be
likewise admitted. For we are social by nature; we take an interest in
the achievement by each one of his ends, and we regard such achievement
as a social-benefit.

As to the limits within which outside interference is to be permitted
and welcomed, these can best be ascertained by fastening attention
upon the end to be attained. And here the positive conception of
freedom seems to be the most helpful,—freedom defined as the release
in each one of his essential self, that is, of his distinctive gift
and capability, or of that in him which is unique or most nearly so. A
society in which such valuable contributions were elicited from each
would be the ideal society. Stimulative and repressive social coercion
are justified in so far as they provoke energy and check disturbing
impulses,—always of course without discouraging spontaneity, which is
the very good to be secured.

The antithesis of reason and force common in discussions of this
subject seems misleading and inadequate; since reason is a faculty of
inference and not of preference, has to do with the adapting of means
to ends, and does not of itself afford guidance in the choice of ends.

The concept of freedom as defined is more illuminating. Let freedom and
force be contrasted, not reason and force.

The idea of law that would follow from what has been said may be
illustrated by comparing the action of law with that of automatism
in the human body. The system of co-ordinations by which we learn to
walk, or acquire any kind of skill, such as that of performing on a
musical instrument, is at first painfully and consciously acquired.
Consciousness superintends every step in the process. But after a
time the sequences reel off automatically. Consciousness retires from
the field, ascends to a higher plane, and devotes itself to more
interesting and significant business. Law, taking it in its broadest
sense, may be regarded as the automatic machinery of freedom. It is
the system of stimulations and repressions which the experience of
mankind at any given time has found conducive to the attainment of the
superior ends of life. In the minds of the more advanced members of
the community repressive laws like the prohibitions of murder, theft,
etc., have already become automatic. Such a thing as questioning or
transgressing these laws never once in a lifetime occurs to them. (Of
the stimulative laws, such as the requirement to pay taxes in support
of the progressive interests of society, the same is not yet true.) As
regards the backward members of society, however, the repressive laws
are educative. Just as in certain diseases the convalescent needs to
acquire anew the art of walking, which his neighbors exercise without
thinking, so the backward members of society have to learn painfully
those habits of repression which for others have sunk below the
threshold of consciousness.

Social compulsion therefore may be defined as discipline in the
interest of positive freedom. We may expect that in future this
salutary kind of compulsion will go to even much greater lengths than
it has yet gone. Society as organized in the state has undoubtedly
the right to interfere in the choice of the sexes by prohibiting the
marriage of persons afflicted with infectious disease. If the study of
human character could ever be so far developed as to determine what
kind of temperaments are radically incompatible with one another (a
bare throw in the air of course), it would be within the province of
the state to prohibit the conjugal union of such temperaments, and
thus to prevent the disastrous effects on real freedom which such
incompatibilities are apt to cause.

I am well aware of the perils of this point of view. There is a
brutal factor in the action of society, as in that of individuals. A
given community is apt to mistake its prejudices for principles, its
torpor for conservatism, its superstitions for spirituality. Such
apprehensions as those that weighed on the mind of John Stuart Mill as
set forth in his _Essay on Liberty_ are not to be lightly dismissed.
And yet the main trend of his argument was plainly determined by an
individualistic conception of liberty which many of us no longer share.
It is safe to say that on the whole the benefits of coercion outweigh
the detriments. We have only to picture to ourselves a state of society
in which these coercions should not exist to realize that this is so.
The dangers are real, but are due to the abuse of force and not to the
exercise of it under the controlling idea of positive freedom which is
here proposed.


[103] A paper read before the Fourth Conference on Legal and Social
Philosophy at Columbia University, November, 1915. (Reprinted from the
_International Journal of Ethics_, April, 1916, pp. 420-423.)


  Achilles, 210

  Africa, exploitation of, 187f, 335

  Altruism, 79, 218, 220, 256

  Antæus, 355

  ἄπαξ λεγόμενον, 228

  A priori knowledge, 105f, 111

  Architecture, 286n

  Aristotle, 105, 127, 168n, 190, 281, 305, 319, 365

  Ark of the Covenant, 77

  Arnold, Matthew, 10, 298

  Arnold von Winkelried, 358

  Art, relation to Ethics, 277f;
    limitations, 287n;
    students of, 296

  Asceticism, 363

  Bacon, _On Studies_, 10

  Baptism, 353

  Beatrice, 170

  Beauty, 281f

  Bereavement, 64, 162f

  Bergson, 108, 131n

  Blackstone, 185

  Blake, William, 356

  Bloch, 242

  Bluntschli, 327f

  Buddha, 16, 32, 199, 347

  Cæsar Borgia, 172

  Cana, feast at, 206

  Categorical Imperative, 75f;
    and hypothetical, 80

  Causality, “prejudice of,” 110f, 136, 141, 171

  Christianity, an estimate of, 30-42;
    other-worldliness of, 140, 268;
    national, 321;
    forced on the East, 331

  Church, 347

  Citizenship, 322

  Confucius, 16, 31, 299

  Congo, atrocities in, 330, 335, 338

  Conscience, origin of, 78

  Copernicus, 141

  Creation, doctrine of, 139, 356

  Cromer, Lord, 331n

  Crucifixion, of man, 357f

  Cynics, 366

  Dante, 198n, 283

  Darwinism, 59, 78f, 120

  “Death in Life,” 225

  Decalogue, 198

  Democracy, ethical aspect of, 125, 143;
    political, 319n;
    evils in, 321, 330n;
    new conception of, 340n

  Dependence, 226

  Dilke, Sir Charles, 335n

  Discipline, 244f

  Duality, of character traits, 208f

  Duty, in Kant, 75f;
    conflicts of, 317f

  Education, state, 252;
    as vocation, 291f;
    for adults, 301f;
    moral, 302n

  Edwards, Jonathan, 163

  Egoism, 220

  Elisha, the prophet, 61

  Emerson, estimate of, 27-29;
    _Essay on Love_, 164n

  Ends, proximate and ultimate, 50-51;
    in Kant, 74, 89;
    instrumental, 138, 166, 229f, 268;
    unattainable in finite world, 149f, 158;
    hierarchy of, 363

  Enemies, 205;
    intellectual, 207n

  Erastianism, 342

  Ethical Culture, Society for, 58, 346n;
    School, 58n, 276

  Ethics, as non-violation of personality, 7, 35, 54;
    individuality of, 24;
    as science of ends, 40, 50f;
    and social reform, 48;
    relation to other subjects, 66;
    Kantian, 73f;
    an independent discipline, 84f, 132f;
    energizing quality of, 93, 101, 135n, 221, 228, 274, 363;
    contrast with physical science, 93, 99;
    its peculiar manifold, 109f, 114f, 126, 132, 141;
    verification in, 112;
    and social structure, 191;
    and empirical traits, 212f, 223f, 242f;
    the law of levitation, 222;
    as science of relations, 233;
    and industry, 272f;
    and art, 277f;
    and nationality, 325f;
    historical systems of, 346;
    and worship, 349, 352

  Evil, problem of, 32-34;
    immediate reform, 49;
    contrasted with sin, 172f

  Family, as empirical group, 133, 249f;
    spiritual view of, 251f

  Festivals, religious, 353

  Feudalism, 142

  Force, as ethical discipline, 356f;
    and freedom, 366f

  Forgiveness, 202f

  Fouillée, Alfred, 209, 324

  Freedom, 148f, 300, 306, 366f

  Freud, 79

  Friendship, 234f

  Froebel, 295

  Frustration, in marriage, 62f, 235;
    in bereavement, 64;
    in intellectual ambition, 65f, 227;
    cosmic, 67;
    in social betterment, 69;
    in achieving ethical uniqueness, 118;
    and ethical plan, 137, 140, 147, 150f;
    mission of, 152f, 165, 195, 365;
    in science, 265;
    in vocation, 269;
    final realization of, 356f

  “Functional Finalities,” 106, 111f

  Galileo, 97n

  Gang Loyalty, 77

  George, Henry, 44

  Goethe, 67n, 176n, 198n, 220, 243, 285

  God, idea of, 136, 139, 362;
    submission to will of, 156;
    worship, 350

  Greek, art, 16n;
    philosophy, 105;
    treatment of suffering, 155, 166;
    idea of evil, 172;
    social system, 190f;
    epic, 283;
    education, 299

  Grotius, 332

  Hague Conference, 326

  Happiness, 227f

  Harnack, Adolf, 39

  Hebrews, sex purity, 7;
    religion, 14-26;
    as elect people, 19;
    their mission, 21f;
    and problem of evil, 33

  Hegel, 139, 343

  Helmholtz, 196, 267

  History, value of, 247n;
    ethical aim of, 275f

  Humboldt, William von, 126

  Hume, 111

  Ilion, 283

  Imagination, 267

  Immortality, 139, 166f, 359

  Individual, the, 246, 250, 295, 319f

  Industry, organization of, 271, 274;
    representation of, 312

  Insanity, 161n

  Intellect, 227

  Internationalism, 325f;
    obstacles to, 332f;
    organized, 338n

  Isaiah, 22

  Jerusalem, siege of, 33

  Jesus, as exemplar, 25;
    his teaching, 30-42;
    and the problem of evil, 33f;
    and socialism, 37;
    attitude toward sin, 204n, 205

  Jews, 347

  Justice, social, 194f;
    commercial, 215f;
    ethical, 217;
    legal, 289

  Kant, individualistic ethics, 9;
    and holiness idea, 59;
    Critique of Ethical Ideal, 73f, 137f;
    his pre-occupation with physical science, 84f, 88, 100, 133;
    doctrine of ends, 74, 80, 87, 100;
    _Critique of Pure Reason_, 84, 95, 102;
    not a pure rationalist, 95f;
    _a priori_ doctrine, 111;
    doctrine of worth, 119;
    and God idea, 126f;
    and ontological argument, 129;
    on marriage, 257

  Keats, 282

  Labor, remuneration of, 193

  Lange, Albert, _Die Arbeiterfrage_, 10;
    _History of Materialism_, 11

  Law, 290, 307;
    international, 332f;
    divine, 345;
    and freedom, 367

  Lawyer, vocation of, 289

  Lear, King, 282

  Leibnitz, 196, 247n, 332

  Lessing, 150

  Life, right to, 179f

  Louis XIV, 316

  “Lycidas,” 282

  Manifold, of time and space, 96;
    in physical science, 107f;
    ethical, 109f, 132, 134, 141

  Marcus Aurelius, 120

  Marriage, and happiness, 61f;
    _tabu_ notion of, 77;
    spiritual relation in, 163, 258f;
    monogamic, 251, 254;
    infelicitous, 257;
    state control of, 307

  Marx, Karl, _Das Kapital_, 44;
    type of socialism, 45f

  Materialism, of middle class, 52

  Mayer, Robert, 196

  Mill, J. S., 368

  Mommsen, 276n

  Monasticism, 40

  Monotheism, 20f

  Moral Law, as worshipful, 10, 12;
    obligation to obey, 75;
    universality of, 177;
    and worship, 350

  More, Sir Thomas, 205n

  Moses, 26, 355

  National Character, 324;
    sins of, 330, 336f

  Nature, exploitation of, 186f

  Necessity, applied to ethics, 85f;
    Kantian, 88

  Newton, 84, 94, 196

  Nietzsche, 47, 152, 214

  Non-resistance, doctrine of, 182

  _Noumena_, Kantian, 127n

  _Numen_, spiritual, 220, 224, 228, 231

  _Œdipus Rex_, 173, 281n

  Ontological Argument, 129f

  Ostwald, 94

  Pantheism, 8n

  Paul, St., 38

  Peace, spiritual, 360

  Pekin, 330

  Personal Factor in Ethics, 3-6

  Personality, 197, 222, 247, 321

  Pestalozzi, 295

  Peters, Karl, 335

  Philistinism, 52

  Philosophy, monism and pluralism, 110

  Plagiarism, 197

  Plato, transcendent vision of, 16;
    his idea of justice, 31;
    ethics of, 74, 120, 132;
    influence of, 198n;
    and eugenics, 214;
    and art, 286;
    and the State, 305, 313, 319

  Poverty, evils of, 44f;
    relief of, 51

  Pragmatism, 106n, 136n

  Prayer, 351f

  Property, its rights, 185f;
    as a social concept, 189

  Ptolemy, 105n

  Public Good, 314

  Punishment, its object, 176, 203;
    capital, 204

  Race Prejudice, 236n

  Ranke, 247n

  “Reality-producing functions,” 114f, 124n, 126, 130, 132, 265

  Religion, Types of, 363

  Religious Society, 341f;
    its teaching, 343f;
    organization, 347f;
    worship, 349f

  Repentance, 203f

  Representation, in State, 310n, 322;
    proportional, 322

  Reputation, right to, 196f

  Responsibility, definition, 173f;
    for others’ life, 180;
    for poverty and suffering, 183f

  Reverence, three-fold, 241f, 250;
    in family, 253;
    in artist, 284f;
    in education, 292;
    among nations, 324

  Reymond, Dubois, 128

  Rousseau, _Confessions_, 6;
    idea of State, 305

  Schiller, 285n

  School, 292;
    and home, 294;
    objects of, 295f;
    prevocational, 298;
    moral education in, 303;
    self-government in, 304

  Schopenhauer, 120, 131n

  Science, as vocation, 263f;
    and internationalism, 334

  Self-discipline, 362f

  Self-sacrifice, 212f

  Sermon on the Mount, 4, 198, 366

  Service, 226f

  Shelley, 282

  Sin, 171f, 202f

  Social reform, 48f;
    fallacies of, 53f, 268;
    spiritual view of, 56;
    its object, 261;
    various schemes of, 273;
    ethical program of, 275n

  Socialism, 11, 37, 43f, 56n, 196, 271f, 274

  Socrates, 122

  Sophocles, 173

  Spencer, Herbert, 94

  Spinoza, 8

  Spiritual Nature, 148, 224, 231

  State, ethical conception of, 305f;
    sovereignty of, 308f;
    organization of, 310f;
    as lawmaker, 313;
    duty towards, 319;
    and individual, 319n;
    international relations, 326f;
    and religion, 342f

  Stephen, the Martyr, 38

  Stevenson, R. L., 208n, 211n

  Stoicism, 154, 159

  Suffering, various attitudes toward, 154f;
    ethical attitude, 159f

  Sympathy, as ethical motive, 49f, 99n, 156

  _Tabus_, 77, 179

  Tariff, 314, 315n

  Tasks of Life, 268

  Thomas à Kempis, 258

  Tolstoy, 184

  Trade, international, 334f;
    slave, 335

  Tyndall, 268

  Tyrrel, Father, 39, 150n

  Universe, spiritual, 125f, 134;
    last blessing of, 360

  University, ideal of, 298f;
    American, 300f

  Value, _vs._ Worth, 117n

  Vattel, 332

  Verification in ethics, 112, 118, 135n

  Virtue, 211

  Vocation, influence on development, 58f;
    _vs._ occupation, 260f;
    an ethical classification, 262f;
    practical, 270f;
    educational, 289f;
    represented in State, 310f, 322

  Wages and wage-earners, 194, 215n, 216

  Waitz, _Anthropologie_, 209

  War, when justified, 182f

  Wealth, 51;
    stewardship of, 192

  Whole, ideal of, in ethics, 100f, 114f, 121

  Women, in State, 311;
    in religious societies, 348

  Wordsworth, 282

  Worship, religious, 349

  Worth, in human personality, 57, 68, 70, 224n, 247;
    Kant’s doctrine of, 82f, 89f, 101;
    ethical justification of, 91f, 98n;
    attributed to man, 101n, 102f;
    as member of ethical manifold, 117, 119, 121;
    _vs._ value, 117n;
    homage to, 349, 360

  Zeno, 108

  Zionism, 24

  Zoroaster, 15

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