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Pour le philosophe . . . il ne doit 
pas y avoir dans la conduite un seul 
element dont la pensee ne cherche a se 
rendre compte, une obligation qui ne 
s'explique pas, un devoir qui ne donne 
pas ses raisons. 



This volume, which is offered for the use of college and 
university classes, has grown out of the author's experience 
in trying to introduce students to the fundamental problems 
of ethics. It is hoped, however, that the book may make an 
appeal to a wider circle of readers — to men and women of 
various callings to whom neither convention nor authority 
seems to offer satisfactory answers to the insistent problems 
of the moral life. If such readers do not feel an interest in 
the more technical questions of philosophy, they are cer- 
tainly concerned with those universal human problems that 
arise out of all genuine experience in the business of living. 
The titles and divisions of chapters will indicate the por- 
tions of the work best suited to individual readers. The 
attention of the general reader may, however, be called to 
Chapter VII, the World of Values, to Chapter VIII, In- 
dividual and Social Values, and also to the discussions of 
Moral Law, Freedom, and Morality and Religion. Several 
sections of this last chapter are devoted to the problem of 
evil. Contemporary events have served to make this prob- 
lem keenly felt in many quarters where its significance has, 
in the past, been sUghted or ignored. 

The appearance of another book in the field of ethics may 
seem to demand justification by the presence of features that 
distinguish it from the many able works already extant. 
The most obvious characteristic of the present work is sug- 
gested by its title. All the problems of morality are here 
treated as problems of value. The principle of value is car- 
ried through from the first chapter to the last, where it is 
applied to the questions of religion. All human activities, 
it is shown, are judged to be good or bad, better or worse, 


according to the contribution which they are thought to 
make to the worth of human Hfe as a whole. Man is indeed 
the only being we know that subjects his conduct to this 
test; he alone keeps accounts, and reckons the profit and 
loss of his transactions. 

In making use of the concept of value I do not fail to re- 
mind myself that there is no magic in a word, and that no 
term must be allowed to conceal difficulties or to offer an 
escape from the task of rigorous thinking. But the choice 
of terms is not indifferent; and, quite apart from other ad- 
vantages, the idea of value tends to bring ethics into more 
significant and helpful relations with the other sciences of 
value to which an increasing attention is now being given. 
I also recognize the inevitable abstractness which must mark 
every formulation of the moral ideal in terms of a single uni- 
fying principle. To avoid "vicious" abstractions, appeal 
has been made to the concrete interests of life, which alone 
furnish the specific content of value. The effort towards con- 
creteness finds perhaps its most complete expression in the 
chapter on The World of Values, which is entirely devoted 
to the task of showing where this content must always be 

In these days of the tragic conflict of warring human loy- 
alties, when the supreme sacrifice has been unhesitatingly 
made by millions on both sides, it ought to become clear, 
even to the most ordinary intelligence, that no feeling of 
inner loyalty or conscientiousness can prove a sufficient 
principle of conduct. It has seemed worth while, therefore, 
to disentangle with care the inner and the outer, the sub- 
jective and the objective factors in moral judgment. Chap- 
ters II and X are devoted to this purpose. Chapter II offers 
a criticism not only of Kantian formalism but also of the 
more subtle forms of subjectivism, including Professor 
Royce's doctrine of Loyalty. 

One conclusion at least will, it is hoped, be clear to every 


reader — that morality is nothing more or less than the 
business of living, with all the many-sided and complex 
interests which this business involves. Only confusion of 
thought and practical harm have resulted from the popular 
idea that morality is a special interest among other special 
and competing interests, and that "mere morality" can be 
satisfied by the observance of certain conventional virtues, 
as these are interpreted by current standards. What has 
been contended for is that morality is a regard for all human 
interests in just proportion and harmony. Wherever a 
narrower conception prevails there is sure to be, at essential 
points, a fatal divorce between morality and life. A solution 
of the pressing questions of the economic and social order, 
of political organization, and of international relations will 
never be found until they are recognized as of the very 
essence of moraUty. 

In offering the book to teachers of ethics, two or three 
further remarks may not be out of place. 

The text-book form has been deliberately avoided from a 
conviction that the elaborately subdivided and analyzed 
paragraphs of the traditional manual fail to tax adequately 
the powers of the student, and also tend to leave him with 
fragmentary ideas rather than to lead him to work through 
the meaning of fundamental principles. 

For elementary classes whose work is limited to a single 
semester, it may prove desirable to make selections from the 
text. The topics into which the chapters are divided will 
in general provide a ready means of such selection. 

Apart from the numerous references to the literature of 
the subject that appear in the foot-notes, no bibliography 
has been added. Useful bibliographies abound, and every 
teacher has his favorite selections of literature for the use of 

I have endeavored to acknowledge, in the pages that 
follow, my chief obligations to various writers. But there 


are less tangible forms of indebtedness for which specific 
acknowledgment cannot so easily be made — the early 
guidance of teachers, the discussions with colleagues, and 
the almost unconscious influence of academic associations. 
I shall always feel deep gratitude to Dr. E. Benjamin An- 
drews for an initial impulse to the study of philosophy, and 
to Professor James Seth of Edinburgh University for valued 
instruction in the period of graduate study. The happy re- 
lations, continuing unbroken through many years, with 
President W. H. P. Faunce and Professor E. B. Delabarre 
in the department of Philosophy in Brown University have 
been full of encouragement. I am especially indebted to 
Dr. Alexander Meiklejohn, President of Amherst College, 
for discussions, often of almost daily occurrence, during a 
close comradeship of fifteen years at our Alma Mater. 

During a year spent at Berkeley, California, in the final 
preparation of this volume, I received many kindnesses, and 
not a few helpful suggestions, from colleagues in the de- 
partment of philosophy, and from former pupils now teach- 
ing in the University of California. 

My thanks are due to my daughter, Mrs. C. D. Mercer, 
and to several friends for kindly assistance in proof-reading 
at a time when circumstances made it impossible for me to 
give undivided attention to this part of the work. To my 
colleague. Professor Alfred H. Jones, I am especially grate- 
ful for many valued criticisms made both in the manuscript 
and proof. But my chief indebtedness has been to my 
daughter Helen, whose untiring devotion, clear insight, and 
rare enthusiasm for these problems have made possible the 
completion of the work at this time. 

Walter Goodnow Everett. 
Brown University, 
October 25, 1917. 




I. The Field of Ethics i 

II. Ethics a Science of Value 6 

III. The Relation of Ethics to Philosophy 9 

IV. Descriptive and Normative Sciences 14 

V. Natuee of the Humanistic Sciences 20 

VI. Moral Theory and Moral Practice 25 

Vn. Ethical Reflection Constructive , 30 




I. Meanings of the Term Value 36 

II. Teleology and Formalism 38 

in. Kantian Formalism 40 

IV. The Inadequacy of Formalism. Criticism of Royce's Loyalty 45 

V. Necessity of a Doctrestb of Ends 49 

VT. Teleological Character of the Virtues 54 

VII. Does the End Justify the Means? 57 


I. Hedonism Among the Greeks 60 

11. Modern Development of Hedonism 64 

III. Mill's Utllitarlanism 67 

IV. Sidgwick's Contribution to Hedonism 69 

V. Hedonism in Evolutionary Ethics 72 


I. Rise of the Perfection Theory Among the Greeks 77 

II. Plato 79 




m. Aribtotlb 83 

IV. Stoicism 86 

V. Spinoza 9* 

VI. Hegel 97 

VII. Self-Realuation and Energism lOI 


I. Psychological and Ethical Hedonism 105 

II. Criticism of Psychological Hedonism 108 

in. Ethical Hedonism and a Theory of Value 112 

IV. Feeling and the Value Experience 117 

V. Hedonistic Implications of Optimism and Pessimism 128 

VI. Happiness an Element in Every Value 134 

VII. Some Criticisms Considered 137 

VIII. The Hedonistic Paradox 142 

IX. The Inadequacy of Hedonism 143 



I. Meaning of Perfection 147 

II. Value a Union of Objective and Subjective Factors 151 

III. Organic Relation of Feeling and Function 154 

IV. Progress and Happiness 158 

V. The Content of the Good Life 161 

VI. Some Conditions of Progress 165 

VII. Relation of Happiness and Perfection 168 



I. The Task of Morality Illustrated by Plato's Myth 178 

II. A Table of Values 182 

III. Narrower and Wider Interpretation of Morality 184 

IV. Economic Values 188 

V. Bodily Values i93 

VI. Values of Recreation 196 

VII. Values of Association i99 



VIII. Character Valttes 202 

IX. ^Esthetic Values 203 

X. Intellectual Values 208 

XI. Religious Values 214 

Xn. Definition of Civilization 218 

Xm. The Organization of Values 219 



I. The Truth of Individualism 225 

n. The Individual a Soclal Being 227 

m. Egoism and Altruism 232 

IV. Conflict of Individual and Social Interests 235 

V. Science and Soclal Organization 241 

VI. The Fallacy of Numbers 243 

VII. Problems of Social Betterment 245 



I. Duty Dependent on Value 250 

II. Can a Man Do More than His Duty? 253 

in. Theories of Conscience: Intuitionalism and Empiricism 256 

IV. Criticism of Intuitionalism 262 

V. The Historical View 267 

VI. The Authority of Consciencb 274 

VIL The Social Conscience 277 

Vni. Coercive and Spontaneous Elements in the Moral Life 280 



I. The Two-fold Judgment of Conduct 284 

n. Virtue as Subjective or Formal Goodness 286 

in. The Place of Virtue in Ethical Theory 290 

IV. Knowledge and Virtue 295 

V. The Unity of the Virtues 299 

VI. Militant and Spontaneous Virtue , , , , , 302 




I. Meanings of the Word Law 308 

II. Moral Law and Jxjral Law 309 

III. Moral Law and Natural Law 312 

IV. The Natural Sanctions of Morality 318 

V. Moral Scepticism; Historical Survey 320 

VI. The Answer to Scepticism 324 

VII. Objectivity of the Moral Law 33d 



I. Statement of the Problem 335 

n. Kantian Dualism .^ 338 

III. The Natural History of Indetermintsm 339 

IV. Points of Agreement Between Determinists and Indeterminists 343 
V. The Mechanism of Choice 345 

VI. The Nature of the Self 349 

VII. Unity of Efficient and Final Causation 351 

VIII. Indeterminism at Variance with Practice 353 

IX. Freedom Consistent with Determinism 356 

X. Objections to Determinism Answered 360 

XI. Fatalism and Determinism 363 

XII. Further Objections Answered 365 

XIII. Responsibility and Punishment 369 

XIV. The Determinist's Attitude towards Life 374 


I. The Scientific Temper in the Study of Religion 377 

n. Distinction Between Morality and Religion 380 

m. The Nature of Religion 382 

rv. The Interaction of Morality and Religion 390 

V. Non-Ethical, Ethical, and Anti-Ethical Elements of Religion. . 396 

VI. The Problem of Evil 405 

Vn. Dualistic and Pluralistic Solutions 406 



Vin. Monistic Soltjtions 4io 

IX. Evil No Illusion 4i6 

X. The FtmrRE of Religion 42i 

XI. The World-denying and the World-affirming Spirit 425 

XII. True and False Optimism 428 



I. The Field of Ethics 

What is the field of ethics? What are the special facts 
which it undertakes to examine and explain? This is nat- 
urally the first inquiry raised by one entering upon the 
study of the problems of morality. The question may be 
answered in a prehminary way by the statement that the 
field of ethics is the field of conduct. But as all conduct is 
not commonly regarded as of moral significance, that portion 
of conduct with which ethics deals must be more exactly 
defined. First of all, ethical conduct may be distinguished 
from such activity as is seen in the processes of nature. To 
these we ascribe no moral quality. It is true that we call 
them good or bad according as they serve or oppose our 
interests, but it is obvious that these terms are not used here 
in their moral sense. It is, however, a striking fact that in 
the earlier stages of civilization men often treated the objects 
of nature as if they were morally responsible, and even in- 
flicted legal punishments upon them. The Athenians had a 
special tribunal for the trial of inanimate things, and Plato 
in the Laws recognizes that a kind of guilt may attach to 
them. Even in modern civiHzation traces of the same 
idea have continued in legal codes to a very recent date.^ 
Such primitive animism is still seen in the anger with which 
children, and occasionally older persons, treat the inanimate 

^Cf. Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, Vol. I, 
pp. 260-264. 


objects which have caused them pain or injury. Reflection, 
however, unhesitatingly excludes all activity of unconscious 
objects from the field of moral conduct. 

There is also general agreement that the actions of animals 
are not properly moral. The mediaeval practice of punishing 
animals, in the same manner in which human beings were 
punished for like offenses, has passed away as men have come 
to a clearer understanding of the differences between human 
and brute intelligence. Animals are believed to exhibit the 
germs of moral feeling, and their behavior doubtless throws 
some light upon certain problems in the evolution of conduct. 
But we know so little of the processes of animal conscious- 
ness, and those that bear resemblance to moral feeling in 
man are so rudimentary, that we are justified in excluding 
animal conduct from our investigation. The field of conduct 
to be examined is, therefore, at once narrowed to human 

Not all human action, however, is of moral import, and 
the elimination of activities which are not significant for 
morality must be carried further. There are large classes of 
involuntary activities which are excluded from the sphere 
of moral judgment. These vary from unconscious reflex and 
automatic actions, like the beating of the heart or the move- 
ments of the eyelids, to conscious motor responses to external 
stimuli, as when one withdraws the hand from contact with 
a hot iron or starts at a sudden flash of light. Similarly the 
action of an epileptic in a fit, or of a patient under the in- 
fluence of an anaesthetic, is no part of moral conduct. What 
is here excluded from the sphere of morality indicates by 
implication what is to be included within that sphere. Only 
voluntary action, action that is willed, is properly subject to 
moral judgment. But a stfll further requirement seems to 
be made in order that conduct may be judged as morally 
good or bad; it must be not merely voluntary, but intelli- 
gently so. Intellectual disability commonly excludes even 


voluntary action from the field of moral conduct. Children 
under a certain age, idiots, and the insane, are not held, in 
modem civilized communities, to be fully responsible. The 
history of jurisprudence, which in an important way reflects 
the moral sentiment of different peoples and periods, shows 
great diversity of opinion concerning the limits of responsi- 
bility as affected by intellectual disabiHty.^ 

This is strikingly exhibited in the treatment of the insane. 
Among some peoples, the ancient Egyptians for example, 
these unfortunates were freed from responsibility for their 
acts, and even treated with a measure of religious veneration, 
whereas among other peoples they have been punished for 
misdemeanors or crimes with the greatest severity. The 
passing of the belief in possession by demons, and the recog- 
nition of insanity as pathological, have done away, among 
the more enUghtened nations, with both of these extremes, 
and have placed the mentally diseased in the class of the 
morally irresponsible. The nicer questions that arise con- 
cerning degrees of responsibility under intellectual disabil- 
ity cannot here be discussed. Nor can we consider the still 
more difficult questions of the possible limitation of respon- 
sibility in cases of drunkenness and of temporary loss of 
mental balance due to other causes. The final conclusion 
reached is that ethical conduct is limited to the purposive, 
or willed, acts of normal and intelligent human beings. 

But are all such acts of moral significance, or are some 
morally indifferent? At first glance it would seem that there 
is a relatively large class of indifferent acts, and this is cer- 
tainly the popular view. It is also held by many students of 
morality. Herbert Spencer, while recognizing that "con- 
duct with which morality is not concerned, passes into con- 
duct which is moral or immoral, by small degrees and in 
countless ways," at the same time says that "from hour to 

^ See Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, Vol. I, Chap. 


hour most of the things we do are not to be judged as either 
good or bad in respect of either ends or means." ^ In op- 
position to such a view it has been held that no conduct is 
strictly indifferent. ^ The attitude which one takes towards 
this problem will depend to a large extent upon the general 
theory of conduct which one finally accepts. A detailed 
discussion of the question hardly belongs to the initial step 
in ethical inquiry. But the difficulties which beset the limi- 
tation of morality to a narrow circle of rare or imusual acts 
can be appreciated at this point without undue refinement 
of analysis. To make the ordinary business of the day or 
hour morally indifferent is at once to remove the larger 
part of human activities from the field of morals. Very little 
reflection is needed to show that by far the greater part of 
these activities are related to ends from which they derive a 
clear moral value. Eating and drinking, amusement and 
recreation, expenditure and saving, work well-done or ill- 
done — these can all be seen to be of vital concern for morality. 
Carlyle's description of the slovenly carpenter at work upon 
his house, breaking "the whole decalogue at every stroke 
of his hammer," hardly exaggerates the immoraHty of care- 
less work. It is clear, too, that no general group or class of 
acts can be regarded as indifferent, because all general types 
of action are intimately related to habits which are full of 
meaning for moraUty. No single act, however trivial, can 
be declared to be indifferent in the absence of a knowledge 
of the particular circumstances in which it finds its setting. 
While, for example, it is usually morally indifferent which 
chair in the drawing-room one chooses to occupy, even this 
choice may bear such relation to the comfort or pleasure of 
others, or possibly to one's own protection from a draught of 
cold air, that it is no longer indifferent. If we begin with 
the choices which are most momentous in their effect upon 

^ Data of Ethics, p. 6. 

* Cf . Bradley, Ethical Studies, pp. i»95 ff . 


human life, and descend through all grades of importance 
to those which are trivial, we shall find it exceedingly hard to 
draw a sharp line at any point and say, "Here all moral 
significance ceases; here morality is at an end, and a non- 
moral taste, fancy, or whim, may determine action." Every 
act is potentially moral or immoral. In practice, however, 
the moral significance of our more trivial acts is largely dis- 
regarded, and theory follows of necessity the same course, 
fixing attention chiefly upon those parts of conduct which 
exhibit clear and indisputable moral value. 

When we think of an act as expressing the purpose of a 
moral being, we pass from its outer to its inner side, from 
the external activity to the internal character that prompts 
and directs it. Conduct and character are only different 
aspects of the same fact, the two poles of the sphere of moral 
life. Conduct expresses character and in turn forms it. 
Character is a habit of will, the consciously organized system 
of one's desires and activities. This unity of conduct and 
character Hes embedded in the life-history of the very words 
"ethics" and "morals." Ethics takes its name from the ad- 
jective derived from the Greek noun ^Oo<i, which came 
frequently to have the meaning of character. An aUied 
form, 6^09, denoted habitual action, manners, or customs. 
Similarly the word "moral" is derived from the Latin mores 
(customs, habits, character) through the adjective form 
moralis, a word introduced into the language by Cicero as an 
equivalent for the corresponding Greek adjective. In these 
etymologies ^ is seen the intimate relationship existing be-' 
tween conduct and character, between what one does and 
what one is. 

It is clear, then, that whereas it is customary to define 
ethics in terms of conduct, this usage does not neglect char- 
acter, but necessarily includes it. It may be added that 
character is to be distinguished from native disposition or 

^ Cf . the German Siite and its derivatives. 


temperament, which represents the active tendencies, apti- 
tudes, or tastes of the individual, apart from the modifica- 
tions effected by the play of external forces and the growth 
of an inner, organizing intelligence. Such original endow- 
ment is in many ways profoundly significant for the acquired 
character, but it is the material out of which the character 
is fashioned, not the character itself. 

II. Ethics a Science of Value 

Acts that are consciously purposive, or willed, have an- 
other very important aspect; they are directed towards ends. 
In this fact lies their meaning. The same is true even at 
the lower level of instinctive action. By imreflecting in- 
stinct the animal is guided to its appointed goal. But in 
man there supervenes upon this blind procedure the con- 
sciousness of ends, the debate over competing interests, and 
the possibiUty of error and long wandering in the search 
for his true goal. If we consider for a moment the immediate 
ends that we pursue from hour to hour, they appear almost 
numberless, so varied are human desires and interests. It 
is clear, however, that they are not equally important; some 
are less, others more, comprehensive and significant. The 
lesser ends are constantly referred to the greater, and be- 
come means in relation to them. There is, indeed, a hier- 
archy of ends in which can be seen an ascending gradation 
from the least to the most important. We count "the life 
more than meat, and the body than raiment." And we also 
recognize that even bodily life itself may be preserved at a 
price which we should be unwilling to pay. 

Now the principle which determines the subordination 
of one end to another is always that of value. Estimates of 
value fix for us the place of each element in a system of 
human ends. And a system of human ends, too, necessarily 
implies a view of the interests of life as a whole, unified by 
the idea of value. Whether we consider the material factors 


of life such as wealth and bodily well-being, or the more 
ideal interests of science, art, and religion, or even the ac- 
cepted principles of right conduct, like truthfulness, justice, 
and benevolence, each factor will be found to take its place 
at last in a system of ends according to the estimate of its 
worth. Here, in the idea of value, the appreciation of good, 
we have reached the most universal and significant element 
in conduct, the very nerve of moral thought and action. 

The idea of value is, therefore, the basal conception of 
ethics. No other term, such as duty, law, or right, is final 
for thought; each logically demands the idea of value as 
the foundation upon which it finally rests. One may ask, 
when facing some apparent claim of morality, "Why is 
this my duty, why must I obey this law, or why regard this 
course of action as right?" The answer to any of these 
questions consists in showing that the requirements of duty, 
law, and right tend in each case to promote human welfare, 
to yield what men do actually find to be of value. If, as 
we here maintain, the idea of value occupies the primary 
position in moral thought and action, the definition of ethics 
should be constructed around this idea as a center. The task 
of science in any field may be described as the attempted 
unification of knowledge within that field. By the aid of a 
central concept science seeks to organize all its observed 
facts into a harmonious system. In accordance with this 
view of science, ethics attempts to unify the facts of conduct 
by means of the idea of value. 

If a more formal definition is desired, it may be said that 
ethics is the science of values in their relation to the conduct 
of life as a whole. Ethics might be called the science of 
comparative values because every moral choice is a selection 
of a greater or a less value, positive or negative, according 
to the nature of the choice as good or bad, better or worse. 
Fearing to impair the absolute authority of morality, thinkers 
have often been unwilling to recognize the relative char- 


acter of human values. But as we shall later see, the ab- 
soluteness of morality Hes not so much in the values them- 
selves as in the unconditional claim which relative values 
may have when they become objects of choice. Moral 
values are further regarded as elements in a totaHty of at- 
tainable value, an ideal system of worths; so that the final 
unity sought must comprehend all forms of value, not merely 
as they are successively experienced from moment to moment, 
but as elements in a completed span of life. Thus ethics is 
concerned with nothing less than the whole business of 

The effort to secure a harmony of all values in the life of 
action is one of the features which distinguish ethics from 
the other sciences of value. The primacy of ethics consists in 
its right to settle the conflicting claims which various values 
may make upon us. Every science of value is of course 
supreme in its own sphere. Economics, for example, is the 
final authority in questions of market value, as is aesthetics 
in matters of beauty, and logic in matters of truth. But when 
values from these various spheres are found to be in conflict 
one with another, or when the limitations of practical life 
forbid — and they always do forbid — the equal reaHzation 
of all valuable ends, the decision between them must be 
the task of ethical judgment. The ethical standard of value 
has in such decisions final authority. 

Without prejudice to the definition just given, it may be 
admitted that no single definition of ethics can be made so 
complete and exact as to exclude all others. Of several def- 
initions each may express some aspect of the subject with 
especial success. At best, any definition must at the outset 
appear largely formal, a mere skeleton that is to take on the 
substance of life from the entire discussion. But the idea 
of value which has here been made the central element of the 
definition is confidently believed to be the most significant, 
both for theory and for practice, of any that can be selected. 


It helps to maintain a close relationship with other sciences 
of value, and to keep the discussion of necessarily abstract 
principles in fruitful contact with the concrete choices of 
daily life. 

III. The Relation of Ethics to Philosophy 

Ethics has been defined as a science. It is, however, com- 
monly classified as one of the departments of philosophy, 
and many thinkers have insisted that the problems of 
human conduct are so bound up with the ultimate ex- 
planation of the universe in which morality has developed 
that ethical questions cannot be rightly studied independ- 
ently of metaphysical theory. While the issues involved are 
too complex to be treated at length in an introductory 
chapter, a brief consideration of the question may shed 
some light upon the relation of ethics to general philosophical 

First of all, the distinction between science and philosophy 
is too sharply drawn. This is partly due to our unfortunate 
English terminology, which suggests that what is philo- 
sophical is not scientific, and that what is scientific cannot 
be philosophical. The misleading implication of such ter- 
minology is strengthened by the imfortunate tendency of 
many writers to limit science to the field of physical phe- 
nomena, and to ignore those sciences which deal with man 
as a conscious spiritual being. ^ Philosophers are also doubt- 
less partly responsible for this unfortunate situation. They 
have often given to the world, under the name of knowledge, 
speculations that are not merely hypothetical, but highly 
questionable, without recognition of the fact that such 
"knowledge" has not the same status as the verified and 
verifiable results of science. But such an attitude is no less 
false to philosophy than to science. Surely philosophical 

1 There is no commonly accepted English equivalent for the philosophische 
Wissenschaften of the Germans. 


investigations should be as scientijic in method and spirit 
as investigations in physics or biology, although from the 
nature of the subject-matter the procedure cannot be iden- 
tical, nor can philosophical inquiries attain the exactness of 
quantitative measurement. Philosophy, however, should 
not be less careful in observation of facts, less accurate in 
reasoning, or less disinterested in temper. 

The effort of the present day to give to ethics a scientific 
character does not mean that it disregards its necessary 
relations to philosophy. Ethical reflection, if at all adequate, 
must issue in a philosophy of life, ui a view of our relations 
both to society and to the world order. This will involve 
the recognition of all established truths of metaphysics and 
religion. There can be little doubt that the natural tend- 
ency of a study of moral experience is to cultivate a more 
wholesome temper of mind towards all fundamental prob- 
lems. Neither dogmatism nor scepticism, partisanship nor 
indifference, finds encouragement in such a temper. A 
sense of the importance of intellectual beUefs grows in 
strength with increasing insight into moral relations. Our 
attitude towards questions that seem remote from daily 
choices takes on a new meaning. To disregard the limits of 
assured knowledge, to fail to distinguish between verified 
and unverified theory, between the certain and the uncertain, 
to refuse to acknowledge the mysteries of existence on the 
one hand, or on the other to be frightened by them, to deny 
that by the progress of knowledge more light may be given 
us — all these are seen to be ethically indefensible; they 
affect directly the conduct of life, and become habits of 
mind that block the wheels of progress. 

True morality, then, involves a sane attitude towards 
the insights attained in the slow but unceasing struggle of 
mankind to solve the riddle of the universe. But we need 
not wait until the metaphysician has given a final verdict 
before a study of ethics is undertaken. Indeed, as matter 


of intellectual procedure, thought must advance from the 
more specific truths of science to the more universal concepts 
of philosophy, from the relatively known to the relatively 

But there are those who, not content with the view that 
ethics and other sciences should prepare the way for a study 
of more ultimate problems, insist that ethics is dependent 
upon metaphysics. The acceptance of this programme would 
mean that one must determine the general nature of the 
universe in which morality has appeared, before discussing 
the nature of morality itself. After a theory of the universe 
had been established, it would be possible, upon this view 
of the matter, to pass by processes of deduction to the prin- 
ciple or principles that govern the moral life of man. 

It is at once evident that grave difficulties attach to such 
a method. The disagreement among thinkers in their final 
interpretation of reality augurs ill for the success of ethical 
inquiry if it must wait until this far more difficult task is 
completed. It is a noteworthy fact that agreement in ethical 
theory and practice is far greater than that found in meta- 
physical theories. However much men dijBfer in their theo- 
ries of conduct, they differ here far less than in their philo- 
sophical views. Hedonism and self-realization, the chief 
theories of modem ethical thought, are never exclusive of 
each other. The representatives of the one are always found 
in the last resort to recognize an important element of truth 
in the other. Still more striking is this agreement if one turns 
from the theoretical questions of ethics to the field of con- 
crete moral endeavor. Here idealist and materialist, agnostic 
and orthodox believer, Romanist and Protestant, Jew and 
Gentile, are often found working side by side for common 
moral ends. Implicit in this practical endeavor there is no 
small degree of theoretical agreement. This larger agree- 
ment in questions of conduct is natural and explicable. Our 
knowledge of human conduct is much more complete than 


our knowledge of that larger reality within which it exists. 
We understand even the most perplexing aspects of morality 
far better than the world-old riddles of the universe. 

As already stated, the metaphysical method inverts the 
true order of procedure; it disregards the fact that ethics 
precedes and leads up to metaphysics rather than follows 
its completion. The central reason for believing in the logi- 
cal priority of ethics is that all those values with which ethics 
has to do are developed in the historical life of man, and are 
disclosed to our knowledge by methods of observation and 
analysis that are essentially scientific. Metaphysics has 
never discovered a new type of moral value. From Plato 
to the modern idealist, who finds all possible values realized 
in the all-embracing consciousness of the Absolute, the 
types of value depicted are those, and those only, which are 
found in immediate experience and recognized by the scien- 
tific analysis of such experience. The same is true of theo- 
logical systems. It is not the task of metaphysics and the- 
ology to discover new human values. Both, it is true, deal 
with values, but deal with the problem of their preservation 
and completion in a larger and more ideal order. In this 
relation values can, at most, be reinterpreted; they cannot 
be created or annulled. 

A specific example may help to make clear the point under 
discussion. Among representatives of the metaphysical 
method the ideal of personality in some form is the most 
commonly accepted principle of value. The development 
of morality both in the individual and in the race is regarded 
as the temporal manifestation of an Eternal Self. ^ The 
effort of all finite selves to realize their complete develop- 
ment receives in this view the sanction and backing of the 
Eternal Self. Now while such a theory, if it can be estab- 
lished, is profoundly significant for metaphysics, it throws 
no ray of light upon the specific problems of morahty or 

^ See especially T. H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics. 


upon the ways in which they have been, and are to be, solved. 
All this still remains for empirical determination. And 
further, a purely empirical judgment concerning the worth 
of personality always lies back of the attempt to justify 
such a use of the principle of personality in metaphysics. 
This empirical judgment is the spur that goads on reflection 
to an attempt to link what is precious to a universal and en- 
during order. But the same conviction with regard to the 
supreme value of personal Hfe is held by large numbers of 
the most unmetaphysically minded, as also by many specu- 
lative thinkers who reject the form of idealism in question. 
In his upward flight from the field where he has observed 
and studied human conduct the metaphysical moralist takes 
with him only what he has there gathered, and when he 
returns from his long flight he brings back only the values 
he took with him. Moral values are never changed in their 
essence by projection into an unseen order. Whether they 
are high or low depends upon their own nature, not upon 
their temporal or even their eternal fortunes. The base 
and ignoble would not be rendered worthful by being made 
part of an eternal process, nor can that which is precious be 
denied all value because it may be transitory. 

In pursuing the method of science ethics also accepts the 
limitations of science. It consciously restricts the scope of 
its inquiries in order that it may the better accomplish its 
chosen task. This task is the observation, analysis, and 
explanation of the facts of the moral life. The questions 
that lie outside of this field it does not attempt to answer, 
but leaves them to metaphysics and religion. Ethics ac- 
cepts the existing moral order, but docs not attempt to ex- 
plain why there should be such a moral order in the world. 
The good and evil of human life are its high theme, but it 
does not push its inquiries beyond the region of actual ex- 
perience. In other words, ethics does not attempt to de- 
termine the cosmic fortunes of our human values, or to dis- 


cover whether or not they are so linked with reaUty as to be 

It must be admitted, however, that while all the sciences 
reach results the implications of which they do not fuUy 
develop, the sciences which deal most intimately with our 
conscious life are more closely related to the fundamental 
problems of philosophy than are the sciences of external 
nature. It is more than an historical accident of the uni- 
versity curriculum that ethics, psychology, logic, and aesthet- 
ics are grouped with philosophy. The closeness of their 
relationship could well be indicated, if our EngUsh usage 
were amended, by designating them the philosophical sci- 

rV. Descriptive and Normative Sciences 

The admission just made naturally leads to another prob- 
lem. Although ethics is treated as a science, must it not be 
sharply distinguished in nature and method from the phys- 
ical sciences? Indeed, are not all sciences of value to be 
separated from sciences of fact? Are there not two worlds 
which must be recognized in our quest for truth, a "world 
of description", and a "world of appreciation"? ^ 

The familiar distinction between descriptive and norma- 
tive sciences may serve as the point of departure for a brief 
discussion of this question. The former sciences, it is often 
said, describe existing facts, but remain wholly indifferent 
to their values; the latter seek a standard of value to serve 
as the measure of what ought to be, and the source of rules 
for its realization. The descriptive sciences, dealing with 
what actually exists, formulate all their results in so-called 
"is- judgments," or judgments of fact; the normative sci- 
ences, dealing with what ought to be, irrespective of whether 
the ideal is existent or not, present their results as "ought- 
judgments." Examples of the first class are found in such 

^ Cf. Royce, The Spirit of Modern Philosophy, Lecture XII. 


sciences as geography, astronomy, physics, geology, biology, 
and psychology; of the second, in rhetoric, architecture, 
medicine, ethics, logic, and aesthetics. 

Such a classification of the sciences, however, can serve 
only as a point of departure, for the sharp distinction be- 
tween them at once breaks down when subjected to exami- 
nation. Difficulties arise from the side of each group. All 
the normative sciences, in order to be sciences at all, must 
have as their data facts which are as real and indisputable 
as those of the so-called descriptive group. What, for ex- 
ample, could be said of a science of medicine as yielding the 
standards of health if it were not based upon observed facts 
of bodily structure and function? What of a rhetoric that 
should ignore the study of the established usages of speech, 
or of an architecture that disregarded the nature of building 
materials and the laws of mechanics? And what defense 
could be offered for a theory of conduct which was not, 
from first to last, faithful to the facts of human nature and 
practical life? No science can advance a single step without 
dealing descriptively with the phenomena which belong to 
its field of investigation. The norm which sciences of value 
seek, if it is to possess any degree of validity, must be found 
within the facts, not outside of them. The distinction also 
breaks down on the other side, since every fact of descrip- 
tion is also in some aspect a fact for appreciation. All per- 
ceived facts stand in some relation to human interest, and 
thereby possess some degree of value. Even the most barren 
bit of earth-crust which geography or geology has to de- 
scribe becomes, from the point of view of scientific interest, 
if from no other, a thing of value. Feelings of appreciation 
play in and out through the most prosaic facts of our ex- 
perience. In fine, we appreciate the world of description, 
and we describe the world of appreciation. 

Still another consideration makes the sharp distinction 
of descriptive and normative sciences untenable, the fact, 


namely, that the descriptive sciences all take on a normative 
phase in relation to practical interests. These sciences 
become the basis of the various arts for which they yield 
a standard, or norm, of action. Astronomy and geography 
stand in such a relation to navigation, geology and mineral- 
ogy to mining; botany by its descriptive method yields 
standards for agriculture and horticulture; and chemistry 
and physics furnish rules of procedure for the various in- 

We are compelled, therefore, to abandon the distinction 
between the descriptive and the normative sciences in the 
form in which it has often been held. This division of the 
sciences implies a difference in nature and method which 
does not exist. Especially is it false in its assumption that 
the sciences of value are not descriptive like the other sci- 
ences. But the distinction cannot be wholly disregarded, 
and it is necessary to attempt a different formulation of it. 
Instead of distinguishing the two groups of sciences by their 
methods, we must rather distinguish them by the character 
of the data with which they deal. Now the one group 
disregards the value aspect of its facts, while the other con- 
cerns itself solely with this aspect. The distinction, then, 
is no longer one between descriptive sciences of what is, and 
non-descriptive sciences of what is not, but what ought to 
be; it is a distinction between descriptive sciences of facts in- 
different in value, and descriptive sciences of what may be 
called value-facts. This difference may be illustrated by a 
comparison of psychology and ethics. Psychology is con- 
cerned with the description and explanation of mental pro- 
cesses, and disregards the values involved in them, save as 
these values are significant merely for the explanation of the 
processes. The choice of evil illustrates the process of choice 
as well as does the choice of good, and for the purposes of 
psychology it is quite indifferent whether the one or the other 
is chosen. For psychology, one choice is worth as much as the 


other; for ethics, it is precisely the worth element that con- 
stitutes the whole problem. Other aspects of the facts are 
considered only in so far as they throw light on the value 
elements. Further illustrations of the difference between 
the two groups of sciences might be multiplied at will. To the 
science of geology, a Calabrian earthquake is neither good nor 
bad, but a fact of change in the earth's crust that requires 
explanation. From the point of view of economics, on the 
contrary, this same event is bad because it involves the de- 
struction of a vast amount of wealth. We cannot satis- 
factorily explain the difference between the two points of 
view by saying that descriptive sciences like psychology 
and geology are abstractions that do not represent the "real" 
facts. Each view is equally real, and each, too, represents 
an abstraction of certain elements of the total reality. 

What, then, is the relation of the "ought" to the "is" 
in morality, of the ideal to the real order? It is clear, first of 
all, that ethics deals primarily with what is, and finds all its 
data in the moral experience of the race. No ideal " ought " 
can have any meaning, either in theory or in practice, sepa- 
rated from what actually exists. If by the study of the moral 
experiences of men all moral judgments can be reduced 
to universal principles, then such principles will be valid for 
all future conduct. But this does not mean that ethics 
creates any new principle of value; at most it can only dis- 
cover those that are implicit in moral experience. The types 
of value which it accepts must be those which human beings 
have realized, and are still realizing, in conduct; and if such 
values were not realized in the concrete acts of daily life, 
ethics would be helpless — ^as helpless as logic if it had the 
task of creating concrete reasoning. As in Locke's words, 
"God did not make men bipeds and leave it to Aristotle 
to make them logical," so, happily, it has not been left to 
the student of ethics to make men moral. He has the hirni- 
bler task of interpreting morality, of making clear and ex- 


plicit by description and explanation the moral values al- 
ready existing in human experience. 

An objection to such a statement of the task of moral re- 
flection is likely to arise at this point. What has been said, it 
will be admitted, is true for the history of morality; and as 
long as ethics keeps to the firm groimd of historical interpre- 
tation, it has a scientific task which can be executed with as 
much success as the perfection of the sciences of history and 
psychology will permit. But one of the most characteristic 
features of ethical theory, from the days when the Greeks 
depicted the character of the "wise man" down to the trea- 
tises of contemporary writers, has been the effort to point 
the way to a more perfect embodiment of moral values. 
Here at least, it is said, ethics parts company with all the 
descriptive sciences, and attempts to become a science of 
what ought to be. What relation does this aspect of ethical 
theory bear to scientific procedure? The answer, I believe, 
is that it bears essentially the same relation to scientific 
procedure that any hypothesis of physical science bears to 
the facts which it seeks to explain. Such an hypothesis, 
outrunning the power of full demonstration, is made in 
obedience to the demand for intellectual unity and complete- 
ness. The ethical ideal is similarly reached by a process of 
extension under the spur of the desire for consistency and 
completeness. The demand for an ideal completion of its 
task dominates every department of science, and ethics no 
less than the others. Thus it is that by this ever-present 
demand one is led to ask how we must picture the increas- 
ingly perfect embodiment of those principles of morality 
which have been the guides, conscious or unconscious, of the 
moral struggles of the past. But the facts of moral experi- 
ence furnish the sole material out of which such an ideal is 
constructed. No new principle is invoked. 

A misunderstanding with regard to the "ought" of a more 
perfect morality may easily arise. For such an " ought " can 


never be affirmed as a present obligation without reference to 
the actual capacities of men. It can be applied to the im- 
perfect life of the present only in the same way in which the 
ideals of manhood can be applied to the boy, or the ideal of a 
high civilization to a people just emerging from barbarism. 
The boy ought, we say, to develop the qualities of the man, 
and the primitive society ought to realize the richer life of 
civilization. But here the " ought " is prospective, not im- 
mediate. Such an " ought " involves present obligation only 
for the first step of the long way; for the rest it is anticipatory 
of future situations. Both child and primitive people, if 
true to the " ought " of the present, will realize the more com- 
plete type of life. In no other sense than this can one speak 
of an ideal ' ' ought ' ' for humanity. Every ought- judgment is 
forever linked to an is-judgment, and by the same token 
ethics, like any other science, can deal only with existing 
facts when forming its theory of what ought and ought not 
to be. 

Ethics, as we have maintained, does not differ from the so- 
called descriptive sciences in being non-descriptive. The 
difference in question is rather one of data, of the kind of 
facts to be described. Description, as applied to the sciences, 
it must be remembered, does not consist merely in analysis 
and classification, but also in explanation by general prin- 
ciples. All such explanation is necessarily abstract. From 
the concrete individual facts in all their variety, the scientist 
abstracts those aspects which are significant for his own pur- 
pose. The success of his undertaking depends upon the 
choice for abstraction of the really significant features, as 
well as upon the thoroughness, impartiality, and acuteness 
with which the work is done. This applies to ethics as fully 
as to the other sciences. From all our experiences of moral 
value, warm with the emotions and interests of life, ethics 
strives to select the essential elements of value, and to render 
them clear to reflective thought. To do this it must use 


abstract concepts. It is a pure illusion to suppose that 
logical procedure can do otherwise. By no process of "in- 
terpretation" can reflective thought escape "conceptual ab- 
stractions." ^ To reflect systematically upon the world of 
values is to move straight towards such abstraction. Ethics 
is of necessity just as abstract as psychology or physics. 
The difference is not in the degree of abstraction but in the 
nature of the elements abstracted. The only escape from 
the abstractions of description is in the rejection of the effort 
to think, in the complete surrender to immediate and unre- 
flective experience. But this surrender leads, as the mystic 
has always taught, to the land of silence where the voice of 
science or philosophy is never heard. Science and philos- 
ophy exist only as the result of reflection upon experience; 
when they become non-descriptive, they become also "non- 

V. Nature of the Humanistic Sciences 

We have so far considered the more familiar aspects of a 
scientific interpretation of ethics. But a number of impor- 
tant questions, less commonly discussed, at once present 
themselves whenever one touches the difficult problem of the 
relations existing between ethics and the allied sciences of 
human life. Let us approach these by a new path. 

First of all, one must guard against the misleading impli- 
cations of the departmental view of these sciences which 
would seem to represent human experience as a sphere spHt 
up into various segments, each one of which is handed over 
to a special science and regarded as its sole possession. In 
this familiar interpretation, psychology, economics, aesthetics, 
ethics, and religion, to mention no other departments, each 
takes a portion of human activity for examination, whereas 
the total life of man is considered as consisting of these 
parts pieced together. This view disregards the important 

' For the view here criticized cf. Miinsterberg, Science and Idedism, p. 15. 


fact that each one of these sciences necessarily has to do 
with our experience as a whole; it is quite impossible to 
divide it between them in the customary fashion. On the 
contrary, the truth to be seized and held firmly in mind is 
that each of these disciplines is concerned with the whole of 
life, though always from its own point of view and for its 
own special purpose. The sphere, instead of being divided 
between the sciences, is surveyed as a whole by each one 
from a particular angle of vision. Each one of these human- 
istic sciences is inclusive of all the facts of the others just in 
so far as these others afifect its special interest. 

Psychology is indeed sometimes interpreted as the one 
universal science of human experience, because all experience 
of whatever kind is obviously psychical, an affair of mental 
processes. Statements of this fact often carry the implica- 
tion that sciences like logic, ethics, and aesthetics are mere 
branches of psychology or "elaborations of certain phases 
of psychology." ^ But this statement is in danger of obscur- 
ing the distinctive point of view of psychology. And it also 
loses sight of the fact that all conscious experience may be 
regarded as material for logic, aesthetics, ethics, religion, or 
any other of the anthropological sciences. The distinctive 
task of psychology is the explanation of the processes of 
experience, the events of the mental life in their interrela- 
tions. Psychology is indifferent to the values of our mental 
life save as it is interested in the clear understanding of the 
processes by which value is experienced. 

Again, a too narrow interpretation of the task of political 
economy has been a limitation of the older classical econo- 
mists, and of those who have followed their methods. It has 
tended to prevent them from dealing adequately with the 
human valuation of economic effort, and from making needed 
studies in the field of applied economics. At all events, it is 
clear that a strictly scientific economics can permit no limi- 

1 Cf. Ames, The Psychology of Religious Experience, p. 23. 


tation of data within the complex whole of human ideas 
and activities; they are all facts for economic study. Every 
interest and ideal that men cherish exercises direct influence 
upon the economic situation. There is no "economic man" 
who without aesthetic, moral, and religious preferences en- 
gages in the work of production, or seeks satisfaction in the 
consumption of what is produced. Not a single article of 
manufacture can be named to the making of which some con- 
sideration of aesthetic form has not been given. Moral 
standards have condemned slavery and demanded the largest 
possible freedom for the worker; they have limited the hours 
of employment, especially of women and children, and have 
otherwise changed the conditions of labor. These are only 
outstanding examples of the way in which moral ideas have 
affected directly the structure of industrial life. In fact 
every subtle spiritual mood, whether inspired by art, moral- 
ity, or religion, makes of man a different economic being. 
Give a man a new idea, awaken in him a larger sympathy, 
or kindle in his soul an ardor for the higher things of life, and 
you have changed in some measure the existing economic 
system. The production of things different from those 
hitherto desired, and by methods different from those 
hitherto employed, will be demanded. Economics, to be 
sure, like every science that is in the making, cannot yet 
deal with all the delicate phases of our complex life. It is 
compelled to take the more obvious and significant phases 
of experience for its scientific treatment. If we imagine 
or assume an ideally complete science of economics, not a 
single element would be left out of the account. Yet, from 
beginning to end, all this varied and complex human experi- 
ence would be expressed by economics in its own character- 
istic terms and principles. 

The same truth applies to aesthetics. Although it is com- 
monly associated with a somewhat limited field of objects, 
in its wider ranges it may include all possible elements of 


experience. Every object of the outer world and every idea 
or emotion within the mind of man may, in some aspect or 
relation, be subject to judgments of beauty or ugliness. How 
far the aesthetic judgment extends for any given individual 
depends upon the development of personal taste. No limit 
can be set to its possible scope. One may, for example, 
regard the economic life of a people as satisfying or failing 
to satisfy the demands of aesthetic taste. To men like 
Ruskin and William Morris the existing order of industry 
seemed to deserve condemnation, not merely because of con- 
ditions that they regarded as morally degrading, but also 
because of its sordid and ugly features. Moral character and 
conduct are similarly capable of aesthetic treatment, and are 
frequently so judged. The beauty and even the sublimity of 
character, when it rises to heroic or tragic heights, find ex- 
pression in nearly all languages.^ Religion has in an espe- 
cial degree been the field of aesthetic appreciation, and has 
summoned to its service many arts : embroidery, sculpture, 
painting, music, and architecture. 

All who reflect upon the nature of religion recognize that 
it seeks, from its own point of view, the unity of experience, 
striving to relate all its varied elements to a universal order. 
The conception of God is that of a Being who somehow em- 
braces and unifies the manifold elements of experience, both 
inner and outer, in one organic life process. All the struggles 
of mankind, whether to develop economic wealth, to create 
beauty, or to realize perfection of personal life, are within, 
not outside of, a religious view of the world. Such an inter- 

^ Compare, for example, the Hebrew idea of the "beauty of holiness;" the Greek 
conception of the essential identity of beauty and goodness, expressed again and 
again in Greek literature; the "schdne Seek" of the German; the "belle nature" 
of the French; and similar phrases in other languages. For the more sublime as- 
pects of character, sinister as well as noble, one may refer to such expressions as 
Renan's characterization of Caesar Borgia, "beau comme une tentpHe, comme un 
abime;" and to Kant's association of morality with the wonder of the heavens, in 
the familiar words, "der bestirnte Himmel iiber mir und das moralische Gesetz in 


pretation of religion involves no necessary conflict with any 
other human interest. If we regard each of the sciences 
Tepr^enting these interests as inclusive of the facts with 
\vhich the others deal, the rights of all are guaranteed, while 
at the same time their functions and limits are defined by 
their special tasks. 

Coming now to ethics, we must regard its aim as that 
of attempting to appraise and organize our experience from 
the point of view of the worth of human life as a whole. It 
is the supreme effort at human valuation, the evaluation of 
all values for the life that we now know. Wealth, beauty, 
health, character, and religion are all included in its judg- 
ments of worth, and so in its scheme of duties. The defects 
and excellencies of the economic order in its relation to himian 
welfare must here find ultimate appraisal. As far as art 
and other forms of aesthetic appreciation enrich Uf e they will 
be approved by ethical judgment. If, on the contrary, the > 
aesthetic impulse becomes perverse or degenerate, and so 
threatens the integrity of individual or social life, ethics will 
not hesitate to condemn it. The ethical criticism of religion 
is an unceasing process that is always going on before our 
eyes. Men rightly ask for the effect upon conduct of re- 
ligious dogmas, rites, and ceremonies. By the steady opera- 
tion of this criticism the crude and often destructive forces 
of primitive religions have been modified, and made to con- 
form to higher standards of value. On the other hand, every 
true and worthful element of religion becomes a part of the 
system of values which ethics seeks to construct. 

Finally, it might be shown that logic possesses a like uni- 
versality. It aims to secure intellectual consistency through- 
out the whole of our experience. Every science in its pro- 
cedure is subject to logical principles, and, to be vaHd, must 
possess internal consistency. Our thinking is not satisfied 
with the isolated sciences as independent systems of knowl- 
edge; it demands a world view in which the results achieved 


by aU the sciences are brought into the harmony of a uni- 
versal system. The goal of logic is the unity of experience 
in the interest of truth. 

The reader who has followed this discussion will see how 
fundamentally the traditional departmental view of these 
sciences must be modified, not in the interest of any pre- 
conceived theory, but in recognition of their actual and 
necessary procedure. The one world of our experience is 
open to all inquiring minds. What aspect of this whole 
each student chooses to examine and to bring into ordered 
form depends upon the purpose of his investigation. How 
far any science can deal successfully with this whole for 
its own purpose depends upon its degree of completeness. 
But as life is an organic whole, in which every single element 
is in constant interaction with all the others, we need to 
beware of those processes of separation and of hasty ab- 
straction which ignore the unity, and deal with the parts 
as if they were the whole. 

VI. Moral Theory and Moral Practice 

A statement of the nature and aims of a scientific study 
of ethics may naturally raise various questions concerning 
the relation of moral theory to moral practice. For what end 
is moral reflection undertaken? Is it for the direct better- 
ment of conduct, or has it an end of its own, independent of 
its application to practical life? Is the reflective moralist 
the pioneer who blazes the path of progress, or is he simply 
the painstaking maker of the map of life, the outlines of 
which have been drawn by others? And if the student of 
human conduct is successful in discovering the principles 
of moral value, is he thereby better equipped for the task of 
realizing these values? Or has he only won an insight that, 
like other knowledge, may yield satisfaction and contribute 
to culture, but has after all little more than an academic 
significance? May not one go further and maintain that the 


temper of scientific inquiry is often hostile to the interests of 
positive morahty? Does not reflection upon the instincts 
which give to positive morality so much of its power, tend 
to destroy the instincts themselves? 

It may be admitted, first of all, that the study of morality 
is not undertaken primarily in the interests of better morals, 
but in response to an intellectual demand. Man desires to 
understand the facts of the moral life just as he desires to 
understand other facts which are matter of scientific in- 
vestigation. The same intellectual curiosity which impels the 
search for insight into the laws of nature also urges us to 
discover the principles of our spiritual life. As we seek to 
rationalize the one realm, so we seek to rationalize the other. 
But this intellectual demand for clear and systematic under- 
standing of the moral life is not to be confused with the im- 
pulse to positive morality. It is one thing to understand 
right action, another to act rightly. So, too, it is one thing 
to teach men a rational system of ethics, and quite another 
to train them in ways of moral righteousness. The one re- 
quires serious study and reflection on the part of the indi- 
vidual in maturity, the other demands the constant opera- 
tion from infancy of healthful influence and wise training. 
Positive morality is developed within one slowly in the pro- 
cess of life's unfolding. To be practically effective it must 
be wrought into the very fiber of one's being; it must be in a 
man as the instincts of the race are in him, as the blood of his 
father and the spirit of his country. 

The effort to understand morality must therefore be 
clearly distinguished from the effort to produce morahty, the 
task of the student from that of the preacher. Indeed, the 
very purpose of the preacher to exercise a controlling in- 
fluence over the will of another, and the accompanying emo- 
tional tension, are obviously unfavorable to a scientific 
temper. The intrusion of such elements into the search for 
truth has always worked against scientific insight. Dis- 


interested observation and analysis, the desire to discover 
and explain the facts, in a word, objectivity of temper, con- 
stitute the necessary condition of successful study, whether 
in the field of nature or of human conduct. Whenever the 
will hurries one on to a predetermined result, or dictates 
conclusions in behalf of immediate practical interests, the 
clarity of reflection is disturbed. Spinoza expressed the 
true spirit of the scientific study of conduct when he said, 
*' I determined neither to laugh nor to weep over the actions 
of men, but simply to understand them." 

The recognition of the disinterested temper of scientific 
inquiry, and the fear of its dissolving power upon the in- 
stinctive elements of morality, have often led to a kind of 
misology, a distrust of reason in its influence on the moral 
life. Students of ethics have themselves not infrequently 
recognized the danger, if not of reflection itself, at least of 
the undue hastening of the period of such reflection. They 
have seen that, once inquiry is started, the most cherished 
ideals will be challenged and made to yield answer to the 
persistent "Why" of investigation; that no principle of 
conduct is so sacred as to escape the demand for an explana- 
tion of its origin and validity. Plato long ago depicted with 
rare skill and humor the dangers of a too early appearance 
of "the questioning spirit." "You know that there are 
certain principles about justice and honor, which were taught 
us in childhood, and imder their parental authority we have 
been brought up, obeying and honoring them. . . . Now, 
when a man is in this state, and the questioning spirit asks 
what is fair or honorable, and he answers as the legislator 
has taught him, and then arguments many and diverse 
refute his words, until he is driven into believing that noth- 
ing is honorable any more than dishonorable, or just and 
good any more than the reverse, and so of all the notions 
which he most valued, do you think that he will still 
honor and obey them as before? . . . For youngsters. 


as you may have observed, when they first get the taste 
in their mouths, argue for amusement, and are always 
contradicting and refuting others in imitation of those 
who refute them; Hke puppy-dogs, they rejoice in pulling 
and tearing all who come near them. . . . And when they 
have made many conquests and received defeats at the 
hands of many, they violently and speedily get into a way 
of not believing anything which they believed before, and 
hence, not only they, but philosophy and all that relates to it 
is apt to have a bad name with the rest of the world." ^ 

Doubts of the practical advantages for conduct of the 
scientific study of morality have sometimes included those 
who have long passed beyond the period of youth. George 
Eliot is credited with a saying to the effect that after long 
study of ethics men succeed in conducting themselves al- 
most as well as they did before. And I fear that some would 
be inclined to apply to ethics Mr. Bradley's epigram con- 
cerning metaphysics, that it is "the finding of bad reasons 
for what we believe upon instinct." 

The feeling against the critical examination of current 
morality is doubtless well-grounded as far as it concerns those 
who are not sufficiently mature for the study. Most teach- 
ers of ethics would deprecate the attempt to introduce the 
study of the theory of conduct into the earher stages of edu- 
cation, a time when the child should be trained by precept 
and example in positive morality. Such early study of 
moral theory would be as ineffective for the purposes of 
practical morality as the study by yoimg children of dietetics 
for the purpose of improving the digestion. Theoretical 
instruction would also tend to make children priggish and to 
destroy the charm of their spontaneity. Premature moraUz- 
ing, like premature piety, is dangerous. Nature takes ample 
revenge in later life for the production of such untimely fruit. 

The time to make the nature and meaning of morahty 

*2?e^M6/xc, Vn, 538-539 (Jowett's translation). 


a matter of reflection may be said to have arrived when one 
cannot help reflecting upon it. And such a period is bound 
to come if normal intellectual development is unchecked. 
After thought has once been awakened one cannot act in 
unquestioning obedience to authority and tradition. If, 
as Socrates said, " the life which is imexamined is not worth 
living," it is also true that such a life is not possible for man. 
The growing mind, if it is to enter into the possession of full 
inteUectual freedom, must experience a time of awakening, 
of transition from the unconscious and externally imposed 
morality of the child to the conscious and self-determining 
morality of the man. The question is not whether there shall 
be critical examination of conduct, but whether it shall be 
serious and systematic, and shall proceed under the guidance 
of the most enlightened reflection. If this reflection seems at 
first to inflict wounds upon the instinctive moral conscious- 
ness, the cure for them is not to be foimd in the abandonment 
of reflection, but in its more perfect work. For thought has 
the marvelous power of turning upon itself and of correcting 
by a process of repeated and unceasing self-criticism not only 
its positive errors, but its omissions as well. What is most 
to be feared for the youthful inquirer is the lack of thorough- 
ness and patience in carrying the inquiry through to the 

The careful student, however, learns that morality no 
more falls because he has been compelled to revise some of 
his ideas about it, than do the heavens fall because astronomy 
has forced him to change the crude conceptions of the uni- 
verse which he formed as a child. He finds that the claims 
of duty are as real as life itself, and stand fast while Hfe 
endures. At the same time, he understands that science 
does not create, but interprets morality — that the spring of 
all goodness is in those impulses of human nature which 
urge men on to fulness of life. He also understands that, 
like other sciences, ethics deals with general principles only. 


which the individual must apply to concrete cases as they 
arise. Even if science has succeeded in making clear to con- 
sciousness the principles of the moral life, there still remains 
the supreme art of living, an art in which each of us is 
compelled to try his skill. Ethics does indeed seek to dis- 
cover the value to be realized in all the acts of the day, but 
it cannot tell in detail through what special tasks this value 
is to be won. The problem of filling the hours with worthful 
activities is our own. We cannot avoid the responsibility 
by appeal to any infallible authority; and our success in this 
undertaking will depend largely, as in all arts, upon fine 
perception and patient industry. 

VII. Ethical Reflection Constructive 

But when all these limitations are frankly acknowledged, 
do there not still remain certain services which a sound theory 
of conduct may render to the life of practice? It is not easy 
to determine the extent to which theoretical insights and 
convictions react upon conduct in special situations. Men 
do not always act with conscious reference to general prin- 
ciples, but they surely do not act in total disregard of them. 
If progress in the past has been largely the result of a kind 
of pervasive and untutored common sense, which has re- 
flected in its own way on the lessons of experience, it is also 
true that the advance of European civilization owes some- 
thing to the systems of thought which the morahsts have 
developed. No one can lightly esteem the influence upon 
conduct of such thinkers as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle 
among the classical Greeks, of the Stoic and Christian moral- 
ists of a later period, of Kant and Fichte in Germany, of 
Shaftesbury, Bentham, Mill, and others in England. A 
similar influence must be ascribed to Descartes, Pascal, 
Diderot, and their fellow-thinkers in France, where a clear- 
cut theory of life has always evoked a quick response. In 
the words of Fouillee: "Les pens^es d'un Descartes, d'uD 


Voltaire, d'un Rousseau, d'un Kant, flottent pour ainsi dire 
dans Fair ambiant; une foule d'humbles, qui n'ont jamais 
entendu prononcer ces noms, subissent inconsciemment 
les influences philosophiques qui ont contribue a la civiliza- 
tion contemporaine. II y a, grace aux penseurs, quelque 
chose de change sous le ciel et dans la conscience humaine. 
Rien ne se perd, tout se propage; les idees en apparence les 
plus abstraites, grace a la force qui leur est immanent, finis- 
sent par prendre corps et par vivre chez tous les hommes: 
c'est la le veritable mystdre de Fincamation." ^ 

Doubtless one important service of ethical theory to ethical 
practice may be seen in cases where a genuine perplexity has 
arisen as to the authority of conflicting claims. The per- 
plexity, however, must be genuine; it must not be the hesi- 
tancy of a mind seeking means to justify itself for some de- 
parture from accepted standards for the sake of personal 
pleasure, nor the self-excusing temper of one who is unwilling 
to meet the demands of a caU to special sacrifice. Whenever 
these attitudes are present, there will be found also means 
of justifying the desired solution. "The Devil can cite 
Scripture for his purpose." But cases of genuine perplexity 
do often arise. It may be the irreconcilable demands of 
freedom on the one hand and of the established order on the 
other, or the claims of affection against loyalty to truth. 
In such cases the solution wiU be found, not in the careful 
balancing of one rule against another, but in penetrating 
to the real source of the authority of both rules in such man- 
ner as to discover which one most fully expresses the stand- 
ard of value. 

Doubt and perplexity are inevitable incidents of moral 
progress. Among primitive peoples the path of duty is 
simple. It consists in following whole-heartedly the tradi- 
tional order of established custom, the reasons for which are 
seldom asked or understood. Right conduct is for them 

^ Humanitaires et Libertaires, p. 203. 


simply that which accords with existing custom, wrong 
conduct that which violates it. But few would seriously 
undertake the defense of mere tradition as the rule of con- 
duct. The man who falls back upon it with the assertion 
that what was good enough for his father is good enough for 
him, must, by the same principle, allow others to follow 
with Hke confidence in the footsteps of their fathers. Tra- 
ditional right then often turns out to be contradictory, 
for customs are exceedingly diverse. Under this principle 
men will consent both to temperance and to intemperance, 
to a stricter and a looser view of business morality, to the ob- 
servance and non-observance of many social codes, appeal- 
ing in each case to authority for their support. Reflective 
morality seeks to make us aware of such contradictions; 
to each individual it also sets the task of overcoming them 
in his own conduct. In the precise measure in which Hfe 
develops into new and richer forms, the inadequacy of mere 
custom as a principle of conduct is felt with increasing force. 
Then ensues a struggle, often tragic in its intensity, between 
reverence for the existing order and the impulse to realize 
a larger life. In such situations the conscience which is at 
war with itself can find peace and confidence only in some 
standard of more ultimate valuation which gives to both the 
existing order and the new impulse their respective values. 
There can be no doubt that with the growing complexity 
of modern life the need of intellectual clarity is ever more 
keenly felt. The enrichment of the field of himian values 
makes necessary for every individual a constant sifting which 
involves the rejection, not only of the bad in favor of the 
good, but also of the relatively good in favor of the better. 
With the wider diffusion of education there is an increasing 
number of persons to whom the clear understanding of the 
ultimate grounds of moral choice is a necessity. They can 
move forward with confidence only when they discover the 
goal towards which they are advancing. At the same time 


there appears the possibiHty of a more rapid progress for 
society by substituting for an uncertain groping the purpose- 
ful struggle towards an end that is clearly seen and con- 
sciously approved. 

Effort for moral progress by its very nature implies that 
ethical reflection must be constructive, not destructive, an 
extension of the area of moral action, not a limitation of it. 
If its work consists in part in the reconstruction of the exist- 
ing order, it also consists in carrying the accepted principles 
of moraHty into new fields. The case could not be otherwise. 
Much human activity has never been moralized at all. It 
has been commonly assumed that many important interests 
may be left to the control of untutored instincts or to natural 
forces. Until recent times, wealth, poverty, population, 
physical and mental disease, have been so regarded. Yet 
nothing is clearer than the tragic failure of such uncontrolled 
procedure. Difficult as the conquest of this new territory 
is sure to be, the conquest must nevertheless be pushed 
forward. Ethics must be content to indicate existing defects 
in terms of human value, and to point the way in which pro- 
gress lies; the detailed programme of reform, it must leave 
in each case to the science within whose domain the problem 

Those who beheve that knowledge can illumine the path of 
life, where humanity seems at times to have lost its way in 
the prevaiUng darkness, will not believe that right conduct is 
arbitrary or merely traditional, but that it has its reasonable 
grounds and its adequate sanctions. To all such the under- 
standing of conduct, both good and bad, will seem to in- 
crease rather than to diminish reverence for a deep and 
inward morality. For such an interpretation of morality 
the laws of right conduct are natural laws, in the sense that 
they are grounded in human nature and express the condi- 
tions of its highest development. One would no more expect, 
therefore, to escape the consequences of an immoral act than 


to escape the physical consequences of intemperance. Only 
the crudeness and shallowness of popular thinking prevent 
the clear perception that to foster evil thoughts or to culti- 
vate selfishness is to condemn oneself to vexatious anxieties, 
and at the same time to lose the serene joys of the pure and 
generous spirit. Ignorance of the real nature of moral laws 
is in no small degree responsible for the false glamour of 
vice. To the same cause is due the idea that, were it not for 
the extra-ethical sanctions of some future order, there would 
be real profit in the ways of evil. There is always a probabil- 
ity that he who seeks to estabUsh earthly morality by an 
appeal to something outside of it, needs both to enlarge his 
sympathy and to clarify his intellectual vision. If we should 
frankly surrender all those elements of morality which re- 
flection upon experience is unable to justify, and at the same 
time should faithfully obey all that reflection can justify, 
who is prepared to say that practical morality would not 
gain thereby? 

Finally, it may be urged that what reflection seeks to 
accomplish is to get the case for the moral life more clearly 
and completely before our eyes. This must be counted its 
chief contribution to positive morality. Everyone who has 
been in moral perplexity knows the help that comes from a 
statement of the case to another person. How often by 
this means the real issue is made clear and doubt dispelled! 
Such help is due in part to the greater objectivity which the 
problem assumes when it is frankly expressed. We view 
it more as a disinterested spectator and less as a partisan. 
But beyond this, there results a clarification of the problem 
itself by the intellectual process required for a statement of 
its full meaning. This experience of everyday life illustrates 
the essential purpose of the larger effort of a scientific study 
of conduct — the purpose to bring the issues more clearly 
before the mind, to present more adequately the case for 
morality. This done, the individual must be left to the de- 


sire inherent within him to reach the true goal of life. Such 
a desire is happily a part of the very will to Uve, for no man 
desires for himself real evil or ultimate defeat. So inter- 
preted, the business of morality is not to create a totally new 
life, but to bring order into the life that now is; not to break 
the will or uproot the desires that pulse within us, but to 
reveal their true meaning and to bring them into more com- 
plete harmony. Ethical reflection comes not to destroy but 
to fulfill. 



I. Meanings of the Term Value 

Ethics, as we have seen, is a science of values. But value 
is a word of wide and varied meaning. It may be used 
both in a positive and a negative sense; positive value will 
then be the good, negative value the evil.^ Good, in the 
language of daUy life, is everything that directly or indirectly 
ministers to our needs or advances our welfare; evil, every- 
thing that opposes and thwarts our true interests. A fertile 
plot of ground, a refreshing breeze, a beautiful sunset, ready 
tact, keen wit, an act of kindness or heroism, all these and 
innumerable other things, both trifling and important, we 
describe as good, thereby assigning to them some degree 
of positive value. A destructive earthquake, insect pests, 
extreme hunger or thirst, ennui, cowardice, stupidity, are 
among the many things we caU evil, and which may accord- 
ingly be represented by degrees of negative value. It is 
further to be observed that only in relation to conscious 
beings is anything good or evil. The good presents itself 
to consciousness, in some aspect at least, as satisfying; it 
produces a feeling which we prize and seek to retain. Our 
attitude in the presence of evil is on the contrary just the 
opposite; evil is something we fear and resist. In the words 
of Professor Royce: "To shun, to flee, to resist, to destroy, 
these are our primary attitudes towards ill; the opposing 

^ Negation of value must not be confused with negation of existence. Evil is 
of course just as real as good. We assign to it negative value, however, as being 
an experience in itself undesirable in comparison with an experience in itself desir- 



acts are our primary attitudes towards the good; and whether 
you regard us as animals or as moralists, whether it is a sweet 
taste, a poem, a virtue, or God that we look to as good, and 
whether it is a bum or a temptation, an outward physical 
foe, or a stealthy, inward, ideal enemy, that we regard as 
evU." 1 

It is evident that not all values, or goods, are in themselves 
moral. Many things most essential to life do not depend 
on human choice, and by definition are excluded from the 
sphere of morahty. This is true especially of the bounties 
of nature. Natural wealth, which is the basis of all the wealth 
that men produce by their labor, lies ready at hand awaiting 
use and development. So, too, a sound constitution, phys- 
ical strength and beauty, rare mental endowments, and 
even a happy disposition, as far as these are merely inherited 
gifts, are for the individual possessing them natural, not 
ethical, goods. In the life of the race, however, these inher- 
ited traits are intimately related to moral values. Ances- 
tors, near and remote, have helped to produce them by their 
moral choices. The child who inherits such gifts may be 
said to possess a kind of capitalized virtue which represents 
moral saving in the same way that inherited property rep- 
resents economic saving. 

Although many goods are not of our own making, but are 
the raw material of our inner and outer lives, the selection 
and use of them is to a large extent a matter of dehberate 
choice. Natural goods, constituting as they do the primary 
material of human activity, acquire moral significance 
when we purposely injure or improve them for human use, 
or when we have to do with their equitable distribution. 
All property has had ethical significance from the time 
primitive man fashioned implements for himting or built 
his first rude shelter. Natural values, therefore, are con- 
stantly acquiring moral significance. Air and sunshine, 

^ Studies of Good and Evil, p. i8. 


water and soil, even the depths of the sea and the heart of the 
mountain become instinct with moral meaning as soon as 
man enters upon the scene to claim use and ownership. 

It is evident that an analysis of evil, or negative value, 
would show distinctions parallel to those found in the good, 
or positive value. All evil is not moral evil. A clear treat- 
ment of the problem requires discrimination between the 
evil which has its source in human conduct and the evil 
which seems inherent in the order of nature. Whether this 
distinction would disappear in a final analysis of good and 
of evil, is a question that cannot be considered here; it is 
rather a problem of metaphysics. 

II. Teleology and Formalism 

Theories of ethics have usually sought for some one ulti- 
mate and universal value which would include the number- 
less particular goods that men daily seek. Moralists have 
endeavored to discover a final, comprehensive good, a 
summum bonum, which might stand as the goal of human 
effort. What, they have asked, is that which is desired, not 
as means to another end, but for its own sake? If the various 
ends which we pursue have value only as they minister to 
life, in what consists the value of life itself? When ethical 
reflection began among the Greeks it was this problem above 
all others which occupied their attention. Aristotle makes it 
the starting point of inquiry in the Nicomachean Ethics. 
"Every art and every scientific inquiry," he says, "and 
similarly every action and purpose, may be said to aim at 
some good. Hence the good has been well defined as that 
at which all things aim. As there are various actions, arts, 
and sciences, it follows that the ends are also various. Thus 
health is the end of medicine, a vessel of ship-building, 
victory of strategy, and wealth of domestic economy. But 
the highest good is clearly something final. Hence, if there 
is only one final end, this will be that object of which we are 


in search. ... If it is true that in the sphere of action there 
is an end which we wish for its own sake, and for the sake of 
which we wish everything else, and that we do not desire all 
things for the sake of something else (for if that is so the 
process will go on ad infinitum, and our desire will be idle 
and futile) it is clear that this will be the good, or the su- 
preme good. Does it not follow, then, that the knowledge 
of this supreme good is of great importance for the conduct 
of life, and that, if we know it, we shall be like archers hav- 
ing a mark at which to aim, and so a better chance of at- 
taining what we want? " ^ 

Were the Greeks justified in making the idea of some end 
to be attained, some final good, the fundamental principle 
of ethics? Or, as some moralists have claimed, is a still 
more primary element to be found in the idea of duty dic- 
tated by an unconditional law of right? The problem is to 
discover what makes an act right or wrong, to find the cri- 
terion of morality, the source of moral value. 

One school of ethical thinkers affirms that the rightness of 
any act depends essentially upon the effects which it pro- 
duces. Acts are right when they tend to promote human 
welfare, wrong when they tend to the opposite result. Think- 
ers who accept this general theory may differ as to what 
constitutes himian welfare, or as to the particular acts that 
promote it, but they agree in believing that some end to be 
realized is the supreme principle of conduct and the founda- 
tion of morality. Such a theory is called teleological. Others 
have maintained that morality consists in an absolute 
quality of will, without regard to the results that may flow 
from it or the end that ftiay be achieved. According to this 
view the moral value of an act is determined wholly by the 
rectitude of one's inner disposition, by the degree of one's 
loyalty to a command or law of unconditional authority. 
Inasmuch as a theory of this latter type regards the "how" 
^ Adapted from Chapters I and V, Bk. I, Welldon's translation. 


rather than the "what" of conduct, the form rather than the 
content, it is called formal. 

III. Kantian Formalism 

The question in dispute between formaHsm and teleology 
requires further exposition before we can give a critical 
estimate of the significance and vaUdity of each for ethical 
theory.^ The classical statement of formal ethics is found in 
the works of Immanuel Kant. He attempts to define moral- 
ity independently of any consequences, or ends, of action. 
Moral goodness, in his view, belongs to the will alone, apart 
from its relation to the objects willed. "Nothing," he says, 
"can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, 
which can be called good without qualification, except a 
Good Will." ^ It is to be remembered that the wiU which 
Kant thus exalts is not good because it wills something good. 
Its worth does not consist in being fitted, like a well-made 
instrument, to bring about desirable results. By its un- 
questioning obedience to a law which it finds prescribed for it 
by the practical reason, it is good in itseK, without reference 
to what it accomplishes. "Even if it should happen that, 
owing to special disfavour of fortune, or the niggardly pro- 
vision of a step-motherly nature, this will should wholly lack 
power to accompKsh its purpose, if with its greatest efforts 
it should yet achieve nothing, and there should remain only 
the good will (not, to be sure, a mere wish, but the summon- 
ing of aU means in our power), then, like a jewel, it would 

* The formalists have sometunes given a theological statement of their doctrine. 
God, it has been said, is the source of an absolute, unconditional law, which is good 
because He wills it. Even for Him it has no rational origin or ground in intelli- 
gence prior to its presence in His will. He does not wiU it because it is good; it 
is good simply because He wills it. A classical example of this doctrine is found in 
mediaeval thought in the teaching of Duns Scotus and his disciples, who held to the 
primacy of the will against the Thomists, who affirmed that the intellect must 
be regarded as more fxmdamental than the will, since it dictates the end to be at- 
tained by the will. 

^ Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, Abbott's translation, p. 9. 


still shine by its own light, as a thing which has its whole 
value in itself." ^ Kant goes still further and declares that 
no act which is prompted by inclination, or desire for an end, 
is morally good. This verdict is not changed even when the 
desired end is one which we fully approve. In such a case 
we can only say that it springs from the non-moral impulses 
of our life, and has natural, not moral, worth. In other 
words, a moral act is one performed not merely "as duty 
requires," but "because duty requires." When incHnation 
and duty both happen to point to the same action we can- 
not know that our act is morally good, because we are not 
sure that it was reverence for the law, not inclination, which 
prompted the deed. 

All moral requirements, to state Kant's formalism in other 
terms, are "categorical" imperatives; they express absolute 
and unconditional commands. In distinction from these, 
imperatives that are given with reference to some end are 
"hypothetical," since, if the end is rejected, the command 
no longer holds. "Thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" are 
the forms of every moral requirement, whereas all rules 
directed towards ends contain a condition, expressed or 
implied, as when we say, " Obey the rules of hygiene, if you 
would preserve your health;" "Be diligent, if you would 
prosper in business." Morality for Kant, therefore, was not 
primarily concerned with any end. "The end," he declares, 
"is conceived only negatively," and "not as an end to be 
effected." ^ And again to similar purpose he says that "the 
concept of good and evil must not be determined before the 
moral law (of which it seems as if it must be the foundation), 
but only after it and by means of it." ^ 

This brief statement presents, it is true, only one side of 
Kant's ethical theory, and obviously cannot do justice to his 

^ Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, Abbott's translation, p. lo. 

^Ihid., p. 56. 

^ Analytic of Pure Practical Reason, Abbott's translation, p. 154. 


system as a whole. It serves, however, to make clear his 
opposition to a teleological view, and suggests as well the 
rigorism of his morality, his sharp separation of the moral 
from the other elements of human nature. These latter 
features find expression in the well-known epigram of Schil- 
ler, in which he asks how one can morally do a service for a 
friend whom affection makes it a pleasure to serve. ^ This 
dilemma, if not a misrepresentation of Kant's theory of 
morals, at least does injustice to his humanity. Kant fully 
recognizes the beauty and excellence of such affection and 
service. He insists only that they belong to the non-moral 
qualities of human nature. For him all feelings are morally, 
not humanly, pathological, except the single feeling of 
reverence for the law. It was the inherent rigor of Kant's 
moral theory that dictated Fichte's saying: "I would not 
break my word even to save mankind." 

The real meaning, for contemporary thought, of the 
problem with which we are here concerned may perhaps be 
made clearer by a different statement of it. Let us approach 
it by way of the distinction between the form and the content 
of the moral life. For purposes of correct judgment we must 
distinguish the inner, subjective disposition of a moral 
agent from his deeds, viewed as a system of ends, or values. 
We thus pass two judgments upon conduct, one upon 
the disposition and motive of the actor, the other upon the 
act itself in its total consequences. Such a judgment in- 
volves a distinction between the "how" and the "what" 

1 "The friends whom I love I gladly would serve, 
But to this inclination incites me; 
And so I am forced from virtue to swerve 
Since my act, through afifection, delights me — " 

From Kant's standpoint the only answer can be: 

"The friends whom thou lov'st, thou must first seek to scom. 

For to no other way can I guide thee; 

'Tis alone with disgust thou canst rightly perform 

The acts to which duty would lead thee." 


of the moral life, between a universal formula for the spirit 
of moral action, and the endlessly varied material to which 
this spirit is applied. 

The inner, subjective temper of moral conduct, its so- 
called form, has been expressed not merely by the good-will 
of Kant, but also by other terms which are instructive for 
our purpose. In Christian, and not infrequently in oriental 
thought, love, understood as active human sympathy, has 
embodied this ideal. Love, we are frequently told, is the one 
need of the moral life, and, were it present in due measure, 
its spirit alone would dispel all perplexities and cure all 
ills from which individuals and society suffer. In this case, 
as in Kant's good-will, one all-controlling temper of mind is 
made a principle of universal guidance in conduct, without 
appeal to any objective standards of value. A further in- 
stance is foimd in the use which Professor Royce makes of 
loyalty.^ Loyalty, as inner devotion to a cause, will be 
able, we are told, to determine the causes which we should 
serve. Out of "the very spirit of loyalty itself" we may 
discover the answer to the most perplexing problems of 
conduct. We need only to be "loyal to loyalty" to know 
our duty in the world of action. 

The distinction between form and content, as it appears 
in each case, is clear. It is the difference between the one 
good-will, forever obedient to the law of duty, and the 
many deeds in which this will embodies itself; between love 
as a single animating purpose, and the various outward 
acts that express the love; between loyalty as an attitude of 
personal devotion, and the causes of a conflicting moral 
order to which the loyal man should give his allegiance. 

It will be seen that in these various expressions of a formal 
theory we have an element vital to moraUty.^ All right 

^ The Philosophy of Loyalty. 

^ The reader need hardly be cautioned against the popular interpretation of the 
word formal which often identifies it with what is external or unimportant. It is, 


conduct, viewed from within, must express good-will, love, 
or loyalty. In this inner, subjective disposition of the agent 
we have a universal element of morality. As universal 
it is also a priori; that is, it is a principle which we can un- 
hesitatingly apply to any possible moral act prior to all 
knowledge of its specific character. If any act of to-morrow 
or of next year is to be a completely good act, it will assume 
this form; it will be an act of good- will, love, or loyalty, 
not an act of perverse will, hatred, or disloyalty. Yes, 
if other planets are peopled by moral beings — ^b^lngs of a 
morality that we can recognize — they, too, will be governed 
in all right deeds by such a principle of inner devotion. We 
can see at once that such a universal, a priori principle will 
be highly attractive to speculative thought. At a stroke 
it seems to unify our many-sided moral activities. It is a 
formula that can receive any content. Like a universal 
solvent it can be appHed to the dispositions, tempers, at- 
titudes of moral agents, from the Bushman, with his crude 
ideas of right and wrong, up to the most enlightened and 
prophetic spirit that labors for causes of world-wide import. 
Under the spell of such universality, however, thought is 
tempted to carry the principle still further, and to make it 
apply not merely to the subjective dispositions of moral 
agents, but also to the choice of objective acts, ends, and 
causes. Thus the principle would attain to an absolute 
universality, unifying both the subjective and objective 
sides of conduct. 

The aim of such a speculative feat is to make the form of 
moral conduct dictate its own content by mere logical con- 
sistency, without appeal to any other principle. In practice 
this would mean that he who acts from a spirit of inner 
rectitude will, without other guidance, be directed to the 

on the contrary, so important that it requires distinct emphasis, and in a later chap^ 
ter we shall try to make clear its full significance. But for the moment we are 
concerned with the adequacy of formalism as an ethical theory. 


choice of the right deeds. Thus Kant sought to develop 
his formal principle in such a way that it should of itself 
3deld a criterion of moral distinctions, without appeal to the 
consequences of action. Likewise those who make love an 
all-sufficient principle fail to acknowledge its necessary- 
dependence upon the hard-won experience of the race for 
the insights that must guide love in all its expressions. And 
Professor Royce, as long as he holds to his principle of 
"loyalty to loyalty" as the guide of conduct, is logically 
committed to a procedure that disregards the specific values 
to which one should be loyal. 

IV. The Inadequacy of Formalism. Criticism of 
Royce's Loyalty 

It is hardly necessary to record the failure of this type of 
ethical theory, attractive as is the unity which it seeks. We 
cannot so easily escape the humble path of the empirical 
method with its careful observation and study of the grow- 
ing experience of mankind. Kant, in deciding the right or 
wrong of concrete acts, was himself obliged, as the critics 
have often shown, to abandon the principle of consistency 
for an appeal to ideals of personal and social welfare. Mere 
universaHty — Kant's test of consistency — affords no prac- 
tical rule of conduct. The true reason for deciding that an 
act is immoral is found in its tendency to work in some man- 
ner or degree against human welfare. The "kingdom of 
ends" is the true source of the law which Kant vainly sought 
to establish independently of all ends. As for the principle 
of love, we ought indeed to love our neighbor; but love alone 
will not tell us what to do for our neighbor when we love him. 
The attempt to derive the details of right conduct from 
love alone would be as unreasonable as the choice of one's 
best friend as surgeon, irrespective of his knowledge and 
skill in surgery. Nor is loyalty in a better position to tell 
us what causes we should serve. The claim that the spirit 


of loyalty will itself be able to "furnish to us the unmistak- 
able answer to this question," is itseh essentially a repetition 
of Kant's claim that the good-will can yield us guidance in 
the specific choices of the moral life.^ 

Let us see more exactly the nature of the difficulty. To 
what causes should we be loyal? The answer of Royce's 
philosophy is that we must be loyal to those causes, and to 
those only, that will further loyalty among our fellows. 
So choose your causes, he tells us, that there will be more 
rather than less loyalty in the world. And obviously the good 
cause alone can accomplish this result. An evil cause can 
never permanently nourish and support the spirit of loyalty. 
This is all true. But how choose between competing causes? 
The cause of loyalty is defined in terms of the good cause, 
and the good cause in terms of loyalty. Thought here moves 
in a circle. We are helpless until we discover other prin- 
ciples of value. He who seeks to do the right, by his very 
quest, pledges his loyalty to the good cause; his only problem 
is to discover it. 

A concrete case may help to make the issue clear. What, 
for example, shall be our attitude towards foot-ball as an 
intercollegiate sport? If the game is on the whole a good 
thing, we must give it our loyalty; if not, our loyalty must 
be withheld. Loyalty is here seeking its cause but cannot 
find the answer in itself; the circle remains closed until the 

^ The Philosophy of Loyalty, so stimulating to ethical reflection, is not, I am fully 
aware, professedly a formal system. Nor is it formal in the strict Kantian sense. 
It is saved from this extreme by its emphasis upon the causes of loyalty. My 
contention is that the doctrine tends to fall back into formalism by the overworking 
of the principle of loyalty to the neglect of other values. Contributing to this result 
is the too facile identification of the virtues as inner, subjective attitudes with a 
system of duties as objective causes to be served. Loyalty may well be used for the 
subjective temper, the inner spirit, of all right conduct, but it cannot prescribe or 
imify the objective causes to which this spirit must be loyal. One is bound to tell 
what it is in any cause that fits it to be a cause of loyalty. Precisely this is the most 
imperative need of morality. If ethics were to surrender this task it would lose its 
vitality and shrink to a statement of the obvious, viz: that one should be actively 
devoted to the good. 


good cause is defined in terms of values other than loyalty. 
Accordingly we must try to evaluate the game in terms of its 
specific results. What must be said of its economic aspects, 
of the vast sums of money directly and indirectly expended? 
What of the probability of serious accidents, and, more im- 
portant still, of the danger to the players of physical ills 
in later life? What of the influence of the sport on the in- 
tellectual interests of the students? Does it further the true 
ends of academic life? Does the game encourage success by 
low tricks and foul play, the winning of a victory at any 
cost? Or, on the other hand, are the evils incident to the 
game more than offset by positive good? What is the value 
of the recreation thus afforded, of the bodily discipline and 
clean living required? Is not the training in decisive action, 
self-control, and faif play a real gain? Does not the game 
cultivate unselfishness and a wholesome college spirit? By 
our estimate of such specific values, economic, bodily, in- 
tellectual, and social, we must make our decision. Once 
this decision is made, our waiting loyalty finds its cause. 

Doubtless to men of good-will the path of duty is clearer, 
other things being equal. The loving and the loyal possess 
an impulse towards right choices. They at least desire to 
choose the best; but when they have to determine what the 
best is, they must consult something besides this desire. It 
is not the least of the tragedies we know, that loyal souls 
so often lose their way and miss the true goal of life. 

But in spite of the fact that such a formal principle can- 
not give us adequate guidance in the choice of our many 
causes, we must not disregard its real value. It represents 
an element of all true morality. Its furtherance and increase 
among men is itself an important aim of moral effort, one of 
the causes which we should serve. ^ Thus the good- will, 

^ The relation of form and content, not only in ethics, but also in other fields of 
thought, is an important, though diflacult, problem. The distinction between them 
should not be made absolute. Form is within, not outside, the content, and so in 


as valuable, must will its own growth and triumph in the 
world; but it must also will the triumph of truth, beauty, 
justice, and every other good. Love, too, as a worthy spring 
of action, will seek its own increase. In this sense we should 
with St. Augustine "love love"; but we cannot love it alone. 
We ought likewise to be "loyal to loyalty"; yet we must 
be loyal to all other values as well. Not as untrue or unim- 
portant, is the formal theory rejected. It is criticized rather 
for its inadequacy. It represents one human value; but it is 
only one among many which every human life ought to em- 
body. To a completer end we must look for guidance. 

We have been dealing with the distinction between form 
and content. But another statement of the difference be- 
tween formalism and teleology may be made. The spirit of 
Kant's formal and rigoristic theory is well represented by 
the maxim, "duty for duty's sake." Duty is for Kant the 
feeling of reverence for the moral law. But this law, he 
holds, is, for us mortals at least, underived and ultimate; 
it has no end other than its own complete fulfillment. Re- 
flection, therefore, cannot go beyond duty to ground it in 
any other principle. To this view teleology opposes its state- 
ment, duty for the sake of the good, that is, for the sake 
of a larger system of values. This larger system of values 
is for teleology the end from which duty derives its high 

the last analysis is a part of the end which we seek to realize. A teleological theory 
must include all the truth of a formal theory. What is called the "form" of a 
player in any game may serve as an illustration. A player's form — ^his skill in plan 
and execution — influences each separate play and yet is coextensive with the game 
as a whole. Further, the cultivation of " form" may be an object of special attention 
apart from its immediate application. But such cultivation presupposes the game 
and derives all its meaning from it. So in life the cultivation of the good-will, or a 
keen sense of duty, has no significance apart from the actual tasks of life itself. 

One other aspect of form deserves emphasis. Form has here been accepted in the 
historical meaning given to it by Kant and others. But the true " form" of the moral 
life, in a logical sense, is an adequate theory, or interpretation, of its meaning. 
If only we could fully understand this meaning, and so give to each element its 
rightful place in a rational plan, such a plan would be the true form of morality, 
since it would include and fashion the whole content of life. 


authority. Duty is accordingly never the last word for 
reflection, and the formalist is found to rest his system upon 
an illusory appearance of ultimacy. Thus the issue is again 
drawn between the two theories. 

V. Necessity of a Doctrine of Ends 

At the first presentation of the problem in this form, senti- 
ment not infrequently inclines towards the formal view. 
This view seems best to express the reverence which people 
feel for morahty. "Duty for duty's sake!" What higher 
maxim can there be? What nobler ideal than unhesitating 
obedience to its requirements? But these questions betray a 
misunderstanding of the precise problem at issue. The 
teleologist admits that there is nothing higher than obedi- 
ence to duty, when duty is known. The real question is as 
to the basis or rationale of duty. The teleologist contends 
only that the sense of obligation, or duty, stands logically 
as the representative of a higher authority from which it 
derives its sacredness. Another reason for the preference 
of unreflective sentiment for formalism may be found in the 
fact that, for the individual, right and wrong are, in the 
beginning, imposed by authority as binding rules of conduct. 
The child is taught to obey before it fully understands the 
reason for the rule to which obedience is required. The 
imperative which it hears is in truth a "categorical impera- 
tive," for the welfare of the child would be imperilled if it 
never obeyed until it comprehended the purpose of the com- 
mand. One has, however, only to take the point of view of 
the parent, instead of the child, to see that the command is 
in no way arbitrary. Every requirement of a wise parent 
is justified by the end which it serves. Even if a somewhat 
heroic discipline is adopted, and strict obedience is required 
when no end of immediate importance is involved, it is for 
the purpose of cultivating the habit of obedience, which it- 
self serves an important end in human life. Little by little 


the rationale of rules of conduct becomes clear to the growing 
intelligence, and from a purely formal view the child ad- 
vances to a teleological interpretation of the rules of conduct. 
Thus the temporal priority of the formal view in the case of 
the individual does not constitute its logical priority. 

The same principle applies to that larger body of rules and 
usages which make up the code of a people's customs and 
laws. These are at first received as an inheritance from the 
past, and a measure of obedience is exacted by society, 
whether or not the individual understands the ends which are 
thereby served. In the last resort, however, our critical 
reflection approves only that portion of the existing customs 
and laws, the purposes of which we can more or less clearly 
discern. We see that logically there is nothing ultimate or 
absolute about any system of laws regarded merely as re- 
quirements, or commands. We demand that they shall be 
translated into terms of value before we give them our un- 
qualified approval. This teleological character becomes 
especially clear when we consider the slow process by which 
customs and laws, written and unwritten, are changed. The 
demand for change always rests on the conviction that the 
old order is in some way defective, that it does not ade-^ 
quately meet our human needs. 

An unconditional rule of action, a "categorical impera- 
tive," is regarded by some as affording a special leverage 
over the conduct of men. They would wish to retain such 
an imperative as a popular doctrine, whatever the theoretical 
claims of teleology. But upon analysis, even the practical 
man quickly reaches the conclusion that a command, though 
' ' categorical ' ' in form, is in effect " hypothetical. ' ' The door 
is always open to the transgressor if he chooses to accept the 
consequences of disobedience. A command given with the 
threatenings of Sinai is not a categorical imperative if one 
chooses to face the terrors of the broken law. Reflective 
minds can never be prevented from going beyond a command 


and viewing the consequences of obedience and disobedience 
to it. One may ask not only, "Why is this my duty?" but 
also, "Why do my duty?" The answer to either question 
will take one beyond the command to the end for which the 
command was given. 

The formalist often appeals to the sense of duty as the 
final and inexplicable fact of moral experience. The utter- 
ances of conscience, as revealing the requirements of duty, 
are regarded as ultimate. But mere presence in conscience 
of certain ideas and feelings does not mean that these are 
final for thought. It is the business of reflection to discover, 
if possible, their source and value, and at all events to dis- 
tinguish carefully between what can be analyzed into simpler 
elements and what is truly ultimate. Otherwise we might 
without further ado accept the mere existence of any con- 
scious experience as its own sufficient justification. But 
much which exists as indisputable fact is recognized as hav- 
ing no claim to be regarded as worthful or vaKd. We are 
constantly at war with the actual facts of experience in the 
interest of what we think ought to be. Conscience, with its 
painful reminders of duty to be done, or of duty neglected 
past the doing, in so far as it is mere matter of fact, might 
well be treated like a headache or any other physical pain; 
such pain is real enough as brute fact, but we seek to rid 
ourselves of it as quickly as possible in favor of some state 
of greater value. It is generally agreed, however, that one 
is not justified in getting rid of even the disagreeable moni- 
tions of conscience. We believe, on the contrary, that we 
should cultivate a considerable degree of sensitiveness to 
them. The ground for this lies in the fact that, in the econ- 
omy of life, conscience is found to be purposive, to serve 
the ends of human welfare.^ 

In considering the function of conscience one should bear in 
mind the distinction between the habitual and quick de- 

^ For the nature and function of conscience see Chap. IX. 


cisions of daily conduct, and the interpretation of these de- 
cisions in reflective thought. For the life of moral action a 
feeling of duty, when it represents a genuine conviction, 
not a passing sentiment or mood, is final and authoritative 
for the individual in his immediate choice. To disregard 
such a conviction is to imperil one's moral integrity. One 
must act upon it. This obligation holds even in cases where 
the conviction of duty proves to be a mistaken one; one 
is obviously limited to such moral insights as one possesses, 
and to act on them is better than to repudiate the moral task 
altogether. But for reflection the question, "Why is this 
act a duty," is vital. Reflection insists on weighing the value 
of the act in terms other than the feeling of duty itself; it 
interprets the single act as an element in a larger system of 
values. The end is doubtless implicit in ordinary practice, 
but such practice does not always make it explicit. We are 
all compeUed to depend to a large extent upon habitual and 
customary standards, without in every case pressing back 
to the ground of their authority. 

Conscience, we have said, is to be studied with reference to 
the ends which it serves in human Ufe. An instructive paral- 
lel may be drawn between the explanation of conscience in 
ethical theory, and the explanation of bodily fimctions given 
by biology. In studying any bodily organ the biologist 
seeks to understand not only the mechanical processes by was developed, but also the function which it per- 
forms in the preservation and life purposes of the organism. 
Not content with an explanation of origin alone, the biologist 
also seeks an explanation in terms of value. So the student 
of man's moral nature strives not only to understand the 
forces, individual and social, that have made conscience 
what it is, but also to explain the validity and worth of con- 
science by the ends which it serves in the higher Kfe of man. 
It is true that a point is soon reached beyond which teleologi- 
cal explanation cannot advance in its search for the principle 


of value, because an ultimate value is found. This ultimate 
value is the welfare of conscious beings. To ask why men 
prefer well-being to ill-being has the same meaning as to ask 
why man's native capacities are what they are. We have to 
recognize, as ultimate, the fact that we are so constituted as 
to be susceptible to weal and woe, and to prefer the one 
to the other. The task of reflection is to show in what 
type of experience well-being consists, and what con- 
ditions of life tend to further its realization. But the 
impossibility of carr3dng explanation beyond a certain 
point offers no excuse for stopping before this point is 

In determining the conditions of well-being our chief diffi- 
culty is not in discovering the right motive and spirit of 
conduct, but in choosing its content, the external acts and 
objective relations. If the claims of morality were fully sat- 
isfied by the formal correctness of acts, there would be no 
reason for preferring one kind of act to another, provided 
the spirit prompting them was equally good. To change the 
application of Bentham's phrase, "push-pin" would then 
indeed be "as good as poetry." "The recluses of the The- 
baid, who tired themselves out in watering dead sticks, 
furnish us with a perfect illustration of a purely formal law 
freed from every material object." ^ The content of duty 
is also found to be particular and concrete. There is in 
reality no duty or goodness in general. Human beings can 
fulfill their duty only in concrete ways, as citizens, neigh- 
bors, members of families, students, artizans, etc. This ful- 
fillment always takes place under definite conditions which 
require special forms of activity. The content of duty is, 
therefore, for each individual, highly specialized; indeed, 
for each it is unique. Reverence for moral law and loyalty 
to duty always mean the choice of a worthy content. In 
truth, the essential condition of the formal or inward right- 

* Janet, Theory of Morals, p. 31. 


ness of an act is the belief that the act will prove good in its 
consequences. What is not of such faith is of sin. 

The prejudice against the moral criterion of consequences 
is largely due to the limiting of consequences to the external 
or even material results of action. The end is thought of as 
something outside of man which he is to win or to amass. 
The true end, on the contrary, is within. It is external only 
in so far as it involves the acquisition of certain objects 
which aid him in attaining to the highest expression of the 
capacities of his own nature. No external thing has any 
value save in relation to a consciousness in which it finds 
appreciation. The distinction, therefore, between inner and 
outer possessions, between what one is and what one has, 
loses none of its importance for the teleologist. Formalism 
has no advantage in spiritual worth; it esteems character 
no more highly. Good conduct is that which tends to develop 
the highest type of life; bad conduct, that which debases 
and cripples humanity. 

VI. Teleological Character of the Vhitues 

Must we not further admit that those modes of conduct 
which we recognize as virtues and vices depend for their 
character upon the total effects connected with the practice 
of them? Truthfulness, justice, chastity, benevolence, and 
the other virtues are such, because they serve the true in- 
terests of life. For the sake of these they have been called 
into being, have been slowly developed and strengthened 
through long centuries of struggle. Truthfulness is prized 
because there are important truths to speak, because it 
makes a vast difference in human relations whether things 
are represented as they are, or are distorted out of all sem- 
blance to the reality. Were it not for this fact, truth-speaking 
would be indifferent, and one might always permit oneself 
the degree of license which is freely allowed in moments of 
gay banter and repartee. Were it not for the significant 


political, economic, and social interests of men, justice would 
be meaningless. Justice is important because there are im- 
portant causes to be adjudicated. So, too, benevolence is a 
virtue because there is daily and hourly suffering which re- 
quires the ministrations of sympathy. In the same way 
every single virtue can be shown to draw its strength and 
sacredness from some primary need of life. They are all 
teleological, they serve ends of worth. 

Imagine for a moment that these virtues were found to 
tend universally towards permanent unhappiness and the 
crippling of human powers. Should we not at once change 
our estimate of them? And if the acts now known as vices 
should chance, by some reversal of the existing order, steadily 
to serve the true interests of mankind, should we not come 
to approve them? The terms by which we now know them 
would cease to be condemnatory. We are not left to mere 
conjecture in support of this view. Actual transformation of 
virtues and vices is matter of historical knowledge. Polyg- 
amy has passed, in certain well-known cases, from a custom 
fully within the limits of virtue to a practice branded as 
immoral. A modem instance may be found in the matter 
of benevolence. The giving of alms to beggars, instead of 
being, as formerly, an approved act of charity, is now com- 
monly condemned. It is profoundly significant, too, that 
those cases in which the judgment of good men tolerates and 
even requires exceptions to the accepted rules of morality, 
are precisely those, and only those, in which these rules are 
thought to produce evil instead of good results. The ap- 
proved exceptions to the rule, "Thou shalt not kill," whether 
they are cases of self-defense, of capital punishment, or of 
justifiable warfare, we do not call murder. If men ever 
approve of an exception to the rule of truth-speaking, it is 
because they believe that the admitted evil of falsehood is, 
in a particular case, quite over-balanced by the good that is 


One is not justified, however, in assuming that the teleo- 
logical view permits an easy disregard of estabhshed prin- 
ciples of conduct. This is not true even for the historical 
forms of the most pronounced utilitarianism, to say nothing 
of the theories which include consequences other than those 
of happiness. It has often been remarked that the represen- 
tatives of utiUtarianism have been quite as strict as any class 
of men in insisting upon the observance of the standards 
of current morality. The late Henry Sidgwick, to cite a 
single example, was far more rigorous in this respect than 
most of the English clergymen who were his contemporaries. 
The established and long-tried rules of conduct express the 
general conditions of individual and social well-being, and 
the evil results of breaking down, even in a single case, what 
is so precious, would always demand a large balance of good 
on the side of any exception, as well as clear proof that the 
good aimed at could not be secured by obedience to the rule. 
And it must also be remembered that any permissible excep- 
tion is not an exception to moral principle, but only to some 
special rule in which this principle finds expression. The 
underlying principle which gives validity to the rule must, in 
case of any exception, be better satisfied by its breach than 
by its observance. Clearly the burden of proof always rests 
upon one who would make an exception, and this burden 
becomes especially heavy when the exception serves one's 
personal interests. 

It is by the skillful combination of all the elements in 
favor of an exception that Victor Hugo wins, even from the 
most scrupulous reader, approval of the lie uttered by Sister 
Simplice to Inspector Javert. The purpose of truth-speak- 
ing to an officer of the law is to further the ends of justice, 
but in the present instance the truth would almost surely 
result in gross injustice to Jean Valjean. The case for the 
exception is further strengthened by the fact that the saintly 
mm abhors a lie, and has no personal advantage to gain; 


rather will she be inclined to count the lie a stain upon her 

VII. Does the End Justify the Means? 

Teleology, it may be noted in conclusion, is not to be con- 
fused with the maxim, "The end justifies the means." This 
maxim, as commonly interpreted, true teleology rejects. 
The abuses to which the maxim has given support in the 
course of history appear on analysis to be due either to a 
wrong end, assumed to be highly important, perhaps su- 
premely important, or to a false separation of end and means. 
The teleologist, however, does not approve all ends. One 
great purpose of ethical inquiry is to discover the chief ends 
of life, which give value to all lesser ends and to all means. 
Religious persecution, for example, regarded conformity to 
a certain standard of theological belief as an end of the 
highest importance. If, with those who supported the 
Inquisition, we were to give supreme value to such con- 
formity, we could hardly quarrel with their conviction 
that torture and death were none too high a price to pay 
for it. Happily the world has rejected this end, and with 
it the means which it was supposed to sanctify. Further, 
the separation of means and end suggested by the maxim 
is not valid. End and means form one concrete whole which 
must be estimated in its totality. No act is complete in its 
meaning until all its consequences are realized. We are, 
to be sure, unable to foresee the full meaning of any act, 
but the business of reflection is to bring us to an understand- 
ing of as much of this meaning as it is possible to grasp. The 
intelligent act, as distinguished from the unintelligent, is 
the one which appreciates in fuller measure its own meaning. 

The means to a particular end, which in itself is desirable, 
may be so undesirable as entirely to over-balance the value 
of this end. The means to the preservation of life, for ex- 
ample, may be so objectionable as to destroy the value of a 


life thus preserved. Most would agree that a life preserved 
at the price of dishonor, or betrayal of one's country or 
friends, would not be worth living. Many would agree that 
a life which could be preserved only by a serious crippling 
of mental and bodily powers would not be desirable. In 
saving my life by an act of dishonor I not only save my life 
— I brand it with shame. It is no longer the same life, but a 
life that must forever bear the stain of its dishonor. There is 
a high degree of probability that any end which demands un- 
worthy means for its realization is not worth the price. To 
grasp with too eager hands any good, even though it be from 
the table of the gods, is to court disappointment and dis- 


The result of the discussion of the preceding chapter has 
been to show that a formal theory of conduct, although con- 
taining an element of truth which cannot be neglected, is 
far from adequate, and furnishes no logical basis for our 
concrete ideas of duty. We are compelled, then, to accept 
a teleological view and to inquire after those goods, or values, 
which can serve as the end of all our striving, and give us a 
secure basis for the obligations which are commonly recog- 
nized in the moral judgments of mankind. Two opposing 
ideals at once present themselves. Whether we look to the 
history of ethical reflection or to contemporary discussion, 
we are met by the rival claims of happiness and perfection 
as ends of a reasonable theory of conduct. A purely formal 
theory must necessarily reject both, or at most give them 
only a subordinate place. Kant naturally repudiates as the 
foundation of morality not only the "empirical principle" 
of happiness, but also the "rational principle" of perfection. 
Indeed, as far as he is true to his principle — the principle of 
the "good-will," which is good in itself quite independently 
of the objects that may form its content — he is not con- 
cerned with any end to be achieved by the moral life. 

A general history of ethics has no place in the present 
work. It may, however, be profitable to pass in rapid re- 
view some of the more significant forms which the history 
of ethical thought presents. Even a brief historical study 
will help to create a background for contemporary discus- 
sion, and thus will aid in understanding the significance of 
constructive criticism. 



The theory of happiness and the theory of perfection 
both took their rise, like many other formulas of thought, 
among the Greeks; and both began as relatively simple in- 
terpretations of the meaning of life. Both, too, have under- 
gone important transformations in the course of their his- 
torical growth, being modified by the various stages of 
culture in which they have appeared, as well as by the phil- 
osophical and religious systems in which they have found 
their setting. We shall first consider the origin and develop- 
ment of the happiness theory. The present undertaking will 
deal only with the principles which have guided its develop- 
ment, not with detailed views of individual representatives 
of the school. 

I. Hedonism Among the Greeks 

This theory first appeared among the Greeks as a simple 
doctrine of pleasure {'nhovrj), whence its name, hedonism. 
Aristippus,^ who is commonly recognized as the first repre- 
sentative of hedonism, claimed for it the authority of his 
master, Socrates. And it is not difficult to see how, both by 
his life and his teaching, Socrates gave a measure of sup- 
port to this claim. In practice he was no sour-faced ascetic 
who spumed the legitimate pleasures of Hfe, but one who 
could, and on occasion did, enjoy them to the full. On the 
theoretical side, too, if we may trust Xenophon, he commonly 
identified the good with that which was useful and pleasant. 
To Aristippus it seemed that the pleasure of the individual 
was the only end for which things were ultimately useful, 
and accordingly he pronounced it to be the sole good and the 
sole end of life. In view of the uncertainty of the future, he 
emphasized the desirabiKty of securing present pleasures 
as they offer themselves. He also regarded the pleasures 
of the body as more intense than those of the mind. All 
pleasure, whether physical or mental, was for him a positive 

1 Circa 435-356 B. C. 


state of enjo5mient springing from some particular activity. 
We have in the teaching of Aristippus a simple and by no 
means lofty doctrine of personal gratification as the guiding 
principle of conduct. But we must not suppose that he 
taught a wholly uncalculating enjoyment of the moment, 
or a thoughtless abandonment to the lower pleasures. Pru- 
dence is necessary even in gathering rose-buds. And pru- 
dence especially dictates a self-control by which one remains 
master of his pleasures, possessing them but not possessed 
by them — e^co, 6vk exofiai. In fine, only the wise man knows 
how rightly to select and enjoy the good things of the world. 
His conduct is guided by insight and principle, not by cir- 
cumstance or caprice, and no change would be made in his 
manner of life even if all existing laws were abrogated. 

In the teachings of Epicurus,^ the simple hedonistic 
theory of the Cyrenaics, as Aristippus and his followers were 
called, took on added elements of reflection, and assumed 
its final form for antiquity, a form which had an unbroken 
existence of six centuries or more. With the passing of 
political life among the Greeks there was a decline in the 
buoyancy of the Greek spirit, and a lessening confidence in 
the possibility of securing positive satisfaction. While 
Epicurus, equally with Aristippus, makes pleasure the only 
good and pain the only evil, he defines pleasure in negative 
rather than positive terms. It is the "absence of pain from 
the body and of trouble from the soul," tranquilKty and re- 
pose of spirit rather than the active pursuit of positive grati- 

The serenity so essential to the Epicurean ideal of life 
is secured by rational reflection, "which examines into the 
reasons for all choice and avoidance, and which puts to flight 
the vain opinions from which the great part of the confusion 
arises which troubles the soul." ^ Especially did Epicurus feel 

^ 341-270 B. C. 

' Diogenes Laertius, English translation, p. 471. 


the need of some explanation of the world which would do 
away with the necessity of appealing to supernatural powers, 
and would consequently destroy the superstitious and terri- 
fying beliefs of popular rehgion. For this purpose, the ato- 
mistic, mechanical system of Democritus was a ready instru- 
ment, and it was accordingly used to prepare the way for his 
moral regime. Every event in nature was explained as the 
result of forces inherent in matter. No deity interferes at 
any point in the system. Death, it is said, loses its terrors, 
since the wise man knows it to be the end of all conscious- 
ness. He at least does not fear the sad uncertainties of the 
world below, nor even the final meeting with the grim 
monster, death, since while he is living death is not present, 
and when death is present he is no more. 

Prudence and insight were also needed to secure a proper 
distribution of pleasure throughout the whole of life, all parts 
of which are of equal moment. Epicurus sought according to 
his light to " see Hfe steadily and see it whole." No pleasure 
should be hastily seized to-day for which one must pay too 
heavily on the morrow. And often pain will be endured in 
the present when necessary to secure a greater pleasure in the 

Epicurus further regarded the pleasures of the mind as 
greater than those of the body, since they are often repeated 
through memory and imagination, whereas physical pleas- 
ure, as such, is of short duration. He felt, of course, no pre- 
judice against physical pleasure; it was given a subordinate 
place simply as being quantitatively less. The teachings 
of Epicurus himself, however, give no support to that pop- 
ular interpretation of his doctrine which identifies it with 
intemperate indulgence or a supreme regard for sensuous 
enjoyment. "When therefore we say that pleasure is a 
chief good," he writes, "we are not speaking of the pleasure 
of the debauched man, or those which He in sensual enjoy- 
ment, as some think who are ignorant, and who do not en- 


tertain our opinions, or else interpret them perversely." ^ 
Most striking testimony on this point is furnished by Sen- 
eca, who certainly held no brief for the Epicurean school. 
" When the stranger comes to the gardens on which the words 
are inscribed, — 'Friend, here it will be well for thee to abide: 
here pleasure is the highest good,' he will find the keeper of 
that garden a kindly, hospitable man, who will set before 
him a dish of barley porridge and water in plenty, and say, 
'Hast thou not been well entertained? These gardens do 
not whet hunger, but quench it : they do not cause a greater 
thirst by the very drinks they afford, but soothe it by a 
remedy which is natural and costs nothing. In pleasure like 
this I have grown old.' " ^ One also naturally recalls the 
famiHar saying of Epicurus, "Give me barley-bread and 
water and I will vie with Zeus in happiness." The virtues 
of prudence, justice, and honor were made essential to pleas- 
ure. In the retired life of the old Athenian garden which 
was long the home of the school, friendship was also exalted 
as perhaps the chief source of human happiness, and re- 
mained a cherished ideal in the traditions of the school 
throughout its entire history. 

Epicureanism long outlived the creative period of Greek 
thought. In the Roman empire it had a career of several 
centuries before it passed, with other systems of ancient 
philosophy, to its final decline; but it received here no fresh 
elements of strength. It was ardently championed by Lu- 
cretius, who cared less for its advocacy of pleasure than for 
the atomistic philosophy of Democritus which served as its 
theoretical support; it furnished a congenial philosophy 
to a poet like Horace, who in early life reflected its spirit, 
both in his verse and in his conduct, without a too vio- 
lent contradiction of its exacting temperance; and it was 
distorted by many who found it a convenient cloak that 

* Diogenes Laertius, English translation, p. 471. 
2 Quoted by Wallace, Epicureanism, p. 48. 


seemed to cover with philosophical decency their pursuit of 
vulgar pleasures, 

II. Modern Development of Hedonism 

In modern times, the most important contributions to 
hedonism are found in the works of the British moralists. 
Hobbes/ who launched the discussion of ethical problems 
in England, implicitly accepted the principle. Locke^ 
explicitly avowed it, considering it "man's proper business 
to seek Happiness and avoid misery." These writers were 
followed by Hume,^ Paley,^ Bentham,^ and Mill,^ who, 
with other British thinkers, contribute to the development 
of the theory.^ We are at present less concerned with the 
details of special systems than with the general principles 
which have changed the theory from the form in which it was 
held among the Greeks. 

^ Thomas Hobbes, 1588-1679. 

2 John Locke, 1632-1704. 

^ David Hume, 1711-1776. 

* William Paley, 1 743-1805. 

^Jeremy Bentham, 1748-1832. 

6 John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873. 

^ To the above list must be added the name of Bishop Butler (Joseph Butler, 
1 69 2-1 75 2), whose influence upon ethical thought has been wide-spread among the 
people of his own race. In spite of other elements in his system which have tended 
to obscure his adherence to a form of hedonism, he holds that the end cannot be 
conceived as other than happiness. "It is manifest," he says, "that nothing can 
be of consequence to mankind or any creature but happiness." (Sermon XII.) 
Man, to be sure, is not left to a calculating estimate of the pleasurable or painful 
results of acts in order to determine whether they are right or wrong; he is endowed 
with a conscience which serves liim far better for moral guidance than would a pru- 
dential calculation of the effects of his acts upon happiness. He also maintains that 
the coincidence and harmony which he beUeves to exist between right acts and 
happiness-producing acts, is not always immediately discernible, perhaps "is not 
discernible at all in the present life. But he none the less stoutly afl&rms that we 
caimot reflectively justify any supposed duty except on the assumption that it is 
perfectly coincident with our interests; and if sometimes temporal interests alone 
may not seem to justify such a claim, we must then take account of the interests 
of a future life as well. For while virtue does indeed consist in the pursuit of right 
and good as such, on reflection we do not feel warranted in following any course of 
action whatever until we are convinced that it will, at least, not be contrary to our 


By far the most significant feature of this change is found 
in the emphasis upon universal, as distinguished from in- 
dividual, happiness. The frankly egoistic view of Greek 
hedonism was gradually abandoned for an altruistic view, 
individualistic for universalistic hedonism. The forces 
that effected this change in ideals of social obligation were 
many and complex, and were active through centuries of 
European civilization. Among these forces was Stoicism, 
which in the post-classical period of Greek thought had 
worked effectively to break down the barriers of class and 
race prejudice in favor of a universal human brotherhood, 
and the social obligations which such brotherhood imposed. 
A still greater factor, operative far more widely both in 
time and in space, was the influence of Christianity with its 
cardinal principle of love of one's neighbor. But the change 
was due, not merely to the express inculcation of altruism 
in moral and religious teaching, but even more, we may 
believe, to the slow growth of a pervasive feeling of social 
unity. The increasing contact of European peoples in 
widened intellectual, poHtical, and industrial relations, pro- 
duced everywhere a more intimate feeling of mutual de- 
pendence than had been known to the ancient world. But 
a full recognition in ethical theory of the significance of the 
problem of the distribution of happiness was not reached at 
once. Let us note some of the stages in the process. 

The problem had been raised by Hobbes, who represented 
man's nature as thoroughly selfish, but had nevertheless seen 
that the welfare of the individual was intimately dependent 
upon the social order. While he had abandoned a pure egoism 
as wholly impracticable, he had drawn a portrait of human 
nature which was far from pleasing. Man remained for him 
fundamentally selfish, and social organization was only a 
device for the satisfaction of egoistic impulses. The organic 
conception of society remained foreign to his thought. His 
libel of inherent selfishness later writers attempted to refute, 


emphasizing the benevolent, other-regarding impulses, and 
showing that these are just as truly a part of man's nature 
as are the egoistic, self-regarding impulses. Shaftesbury^ 
and Butler^ both impressively set forth this truth. Hume^ 
attempts to explain the origin of moral distinctions by ref- 
erence to the tendency of qualities of character to serve the 
good of mankind. Through sympathy we have a "feeling 
for the happiness of mankind," which causes us to approve 
whatever traits contribute to social happiness and to dis- 
approve whatever produce social misery. 

These important suggestions of an organic view of the 
relation of the individual to society were largely lost sight of 
by Paley and Bentham. Paley's egoism is less crude than 
that of Hobbes, who, as we have seen, admits that the in- 
dividual, in spite of his anti-social nature, is under necessity 
— an almost painful necessity, it would seem — of living in 
amicable relations with his fellows in order to escape the 
evils of an existence that is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish 
and short." Paley, however, in the formal statement of his 
system, still allows the chief weight to rest upon egoistic 
motives. This appears in his well-known definition of virtue 
as " the doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of 
God, and for the sake of everlasting happiness." ^ But in 
spite of the fact that the "violent motive" by which one is 
"urged" to right conduct is personal happiness, the content 
of right conduct, and also of happiness, is for him largely 
social. Bentham, starting with a similar view of the egoistic 
nature of human motives, appeals to external "sanctions" 
to bring due pressure to bear upon the individual in the 
performance of those acts which make for general happiness. 
These sanctions are pleasures and pains imposed from with- 

1 Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury, 1671-1713. See his In- 
quiry Concerning Virtue, or Merit. 
^ See especially Sermon XI. 
^ See his Treatise on Human Nature, Bk. III. 
'^ Principles of Moral a7id Political Philosophy, ■g.i?>. 


out, and are four in number, the physical, the poHtical, 
the moral, or popular, and the religious. The physical 
sanction consists of those pleasures and pains which spring 
from the ordinary course of nature; the political, of those 
received at the hands of persons in authority; the popular, of 
those received at the hands of persons acting spontaneously 
and not from an estabhshed rule; the religious, of those 
received either in the present or in a future life "from the 
immediate hand of a superior being." ^ 

III. Mill's Utilitarl\nism 

But it is to John Stuart Mill that we owe the most force- 
ful statement of universal as distinguished from egoistic 
hedonism. Mill insists that " the happiness which forms the 
utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct is not the 
agent's own happiness, but that of all concerned; as between 
his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires 
him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benev- 
olent spectator. In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, 
we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility. To do as 
you would be done by, and to love your neighbor as yourself, 
constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality." ^ 
But upon what may we depend to secure such other-regard- 
ing action on the part of the individual? Mill here appeals 
to the combined influence of principles already recognized 
by his predecessors but not effectively united by them, and 
brings together the external and internal sanctions. On the 
external side, the forces of law, public opinion, and religious 
behef always tend to make it to the interest of the individual 
to consider the general happiness. It is not, however, to the 
external sanctions that we must look for the primal source 
of altruistic conduct, but to the "feeling of unity with our 
fellow-creatures." To this powerful natural sentiment Mill 

^ See Principles of Morals and Legislation, Chap. III. 

2 Utilitarianism (Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. Ill, p. 323). 


appeals as the source of the real strength of the utilitarian 
morality. The social, sympathetic instincts of mankind 
constitute, in his view, a determining factor in moral con- 
duct. And he even anticipates the evolutionary moralists 
in assigning to this factor a steady growth through a kind of 
natural selection, as he believes that it tends, even without 
"express inculcation," to become ever stronger with the 
advance of civilization. These statements show how com- 
pletely Mill had escaped from eighteenth centmy individual- 
ism, and had reached the conception, so famiHar in our own 
day, of the organic nature of society. 

One new distinction in hedonistic theory appears in Mill, 
that of the quality of pleasure. From the beginnings of the 
theory among the Greeks, quantity had been the only crite- 
rion by which the value of different pleasures had been judged. 
Intensity and duration were the most obvious aspects of 
such quantitative measurement. But a much more minute 
and exact statement of the factors to be computed was at- 
tempted by Bentham, who holds that, in addition to the 
factors of intensity and duration, one must take account of 
those of "certainty," "propinquity," "fecundity," "purity," 
and "extent." ^ According to Mill, however, some pleasures 
are more valuable than others, even though not greater in 
quantity, since the quality of pleasure must also be con- 
sidered in estimating its value. In his own words : " It would 

^ Principles of Morals and Legislation, Chap. IV. 

The meaning of certainty and propinquity in the estimation of pleasures is ob- 
vious. Fecundity, Bentham defines as the chance a pleasure has of " being followed 
by sensations of the same kind"; purity, as "the chance it has of not being followed 
by sensations of the opposite kind "; and extent, as " the number of persons to whom 
it extends." Bentham expresses these criteria for the measurement of pleasure in 
the following lines: 

"Intense, long, certain, speedy, fruitful, pure — 
Such marks in pleasures and in pains endure. 
Such pleasures seek, if private be thy end : 
If it be public, let them wide extend. 
Such pains avoid, whichever be thy view: 
If pains must come, let them extend to few." 


be absurd, that while, in estimating all other things, quality 
is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures 
should be supposed to depend on quantity alone." ^ The 
test of quality is admittedly somewhat indefinite, but is 
expressed by Mill as the "preference" for one pleasure over 
another by those who, from experience and intelligence, are 
most competent to compare the values of the pleasures in 
question. "Now, it is an unquestionable fact, that those who 
are equally acquainted with and equally capable of appreci- 
ating and enjoying both do give a most marked preference 
to the manner of existence which employs their higher 
faculties. Few human creatures would consent to be changed 
into any of the lower animals, for a promise of the fullest 
allowance of a beast's pleasures: no intelligent human being 
would consent to be a fool, no instructed person would be an 
ignoramus, no person of feeling and conscience would be 
selfish and base, even though they should be persuaded that 
the fool, the dunce, or the rascal is better satisfied with his 
lot than they are with theirs." ^ The ground for such pref- 
erence of higher pleasures is, he thinks, best expressed by "a 
sense of dignity " which all possess in a greater or less degree. 
And if those in whom this sense is strong are often less satis- 
fied, they are nevertheless unwilling to part with it. "It 
is better to be a human being dissatisfied, than a pig satis- 
fied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied, than a fool satisfied. 
And if the fool or the pig are of a different opinion, it is be- 
cause they only know their own side of the question. The 
other party to the comparison knows both sides." ^ 

TV. Sidgwick's Contribution to Hedonism 

Henry Sidgwick,^ in common with many critics of Mill, 
rejects this qualitative distinction as introducing an element 

1 Utilitarianism (Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. Ill, p. 310). 

^Ibid., p. 311. 

^ Ibid., pp. 312-313. 

* 1838-1900. 


foreign to the principle of pleasure, and holds that "all 
qualitative comparison of pleasures must really resolve itself 
into quantitative. For all pleasures are understood to be 
so called because they have a common property of pleasant- 
ness, and may therefore be compared in respect of this com- 
mon property. If, then, what we are seeking is pleasure as 
such, and pleasure alone, we must evidently always prefer 
the more pleasant pleasure to the less pleasant: no other 
choice seems reasonable, imless we are aiming at something 
besides pleasure." ^ But perhaps the most fundamental 
point in the system of Sidgwick, when it is compared with 
that of Mill, is found in his attempt to give a logical proof of 
universalistic as opposed to egoistic hedonism. Sidgwick 
seeks to discover a "rational basis" for utilitarianism which 
had been wanting in the systems of his predecessors. The 
chief principle of distribution to which he appeals is his so- 
called axiom of ' ' Rational B enevolence. ' ' This demands that 
the individual shall have a regard for the happiness of another 
equal to the regard he has for his own.^ Rational benevo- 
lence, Sidgwick maintains, is an intuitive principle and pre- 
sents itself as self-evident as soon as it is clearly stated. It 
may be put as follows: in so far as anyone regards happi- 
ness as intrinsically good, good "not ovXy for him but from 
the point of view of the Universe," he must admit that "/fw 
happiness cannot be a more important part of Good, taken 
universally, than the equal happiness of any other per- 
son." ^ Or, to state it in other terms, but still in the spirit 
of Sidgwick's thought, as far as I consider happiness to pos- 
sess value whenever and wherever it may arise in the world, 
I must acknowledge that the value of a given quantum of it 
is not greater when it may chance to occur in my own ex- 

^ The Methods of Ethics, fifth edition, pp. 94-95. 

^ Equal, of course, when other things are equal, that is, when the good of any 
other individual is not judged " to be less, when impartially viewed, or less cer- 
tainly knowable or attainable" by the agent. See Methods of Ethics, p. 382. 

^ Ihid., p. 421. For a statement of the principle see especially Bk. Ill, Chap. xiii. 


perience than when it occurs in the experience of another 
person, just as I cannot regard a coin of a given denomina- 
tion in my own pocket as of intrinsically greater value than a 
coin of the same denomination in the pocket of my neighbor. 
If, then, I wish to act reasonably, that is, in accordance with 
principles the truth of which I am always compelled to admit, 
I must show impartiality between myself and my neighbor 
in the distribution of happiness. 

Two other intuitive principles which have to do with the 
apportionment, or distribution, of the good are given by 
Sidgwick. These are the principles of "Prudence" and 
"Justice." The former dictates an "impartial concern for 
all parts of our conscious life," for the "Hereafter" equally 
with the "Now." ^ Mere difference in the time of the en- 
joyment of any good, provided all the elements remain the 
same, cannot affect its value. This is essentially a restate- 
ment in more exact form of the principle recognized by the 
Epicureans, that the aim of the wise man is the good of life 
as a whole and not the good of any particular part of it. 
The principle of "Justice" means that "whatever action any 
of us judges to be right for himself, he implicitly judges 
to be right for all similar persons in similar circumstances." ^ 
The mere fact that A and B are different individuals can 
never constitute a reasonable ground for treating them differ- 
ently ; such a ground could only be found in some discoverable 
difference in the "natures or circumstances" of the persons 
in question. 

The implications of this principle of justice are important. 
It provides for a distribution of the means of happiness 
according to the discoverable differences of the "natures" 
and "circumstances" of individuals. It signifies that the 
means of happiness, if they are to produce the greatest good, 
are not to be equally distributed, because individuals are not 

^ Methods of Ethics, p. 381. 
2 Ibid., p. 379. 


equal in taste and capacity. If, for example, I have ten 
tickets of admission to a performance of a great opera, I do 
not hand them indiscriminately to the first ten persons I 
chance to meet. On the contrary I select, if possible, the 
ten persons most capable of receiving enjoyment and profit 
from the performance. Similarly, if I have a smn of money to 
give in charity, I do not give it where there is already abmi- 
dance, but where the need is most pressing. This principle 
of justice therefore applies to the distribution of all means of 
satisfaction both material and spiritual. It implies distri- 
bution according to need, and is opposed to any commu- 
nistic idea of a strictly equal division of goods. 

V. Hedonism in Evolutionary Ethics 

The most important development of ethical theory in the 
last half -century has undoubtedly been due to the influence 
of the doctrine of evolution. Although evolutionary ethics 
has not been committed exclusively to hedonism, there has 
usually been a close alliance between the two theories. 
Herbert Spencer,^ perhaps the foremost representative of the 
evolutionary school, in his Data of Ethics, has dealt chiefly 
with the principles governing the growth of morality from 
its earliest stages — ^with the problems of its natural history. 
He has, however, accepted hedonism and made it an essen- 
tial element of his system. Our judgments of conduct as 
good or bad, Spencer declares, can only be explained teleolog- 
ically. The end by reference to which both terms receive 
their meaning may be defined in general as the preservation 
and enlargement of fife. This statement holds true, however, 
only for the optimist, whereas the pessimist must accept the 
negation of such an end. 

The radical pessimist, regarding Hfe as a curse rather than 
a blessing, is logically committed to the view that the cur- 
tailment and ultimate destruction of life is the true goal of 

* 1820-1903. 


conduct. But there is a common postulate involved in the 
judgments of both optimists and pessimists, for both assume 
that "Hfe is good or bad, according as it does, or does not, 
bring a surplus of agreeable feeling." ^ Conduct, in general, 
then, is good or bad "according as its total effects are pleas- 
urable or painful." "Pleasure somewhere, at some time, 
to some being or beings," Spencer insists, "is an inexpugn- 
able element" in any ultimate view of morality. Spencer 
also seeks to give biological support to hedonism by attempt- 
ing to show that pains are the " correlatives " of acts injurious 
to the life of the organism, while those acts which further its 
welfare are normally accompanied by pleasure. 

Of especial interest is Spencer's discussion of egoism and 
altruism, in which he exhibits the mutual interdependence of 
individual and social welfare. ^ Neither the one impulse nor 
the other has an exclusive right, but both are legitimate and 
necessary. In primitive life egoism seems to have supremacy 
over altruism, but this judgment must be modified by the 
consideration that egoism is, in a secondary way, dependent 
upon altruism. An instinctive and unconscious altruism 
is operative in the very lowest stages of physical life. Self- 
sacrifice is seen to be "no less primordial than self-preserva- 
tion." As we trace the development of human society, not 
only does the mutual interdependence of egoism and al- 
truism become clear, but it is also seen that in the course 
of evolution each has become more important for the other. 
Under the present imperfect conditions of life, however, the 
two impulses are in more or less open conflict, and in prac- 
tice a compromise seems necessary. And yet such com- 
promise is not the final stage of moral development, since a 
"concihation has been, and is, taking place between the 
interests of each citizen and the interests of citizens at large; 
tending ever towards a state in which the two become 

^ For the argument see Data of Ethics, Chap. III. 
» Ibid., Chaps. XI-XIV. 


merged in one, and in which the feelings answering to them 
respectively, fall into complete concord." ^ Parental al- 
truism in its highest form is the best example of such con- 
ciliation. Although social altruism "can never attain the 
same level; yet it may be expected to attain a level at which 
it will be Hke parental altruism in spontaneity — a level such 
that ministration to others' happiness will become a daily 
need." ^ Progress towards such a state depends upon the 
growth of sympathy, the development of which is in turn 
dependent upon the pains and pleasures which its exercise 
yields. In the earlier stages of social evolution S5n3ipathy 
is largely painful, because there is so much maladjustment 
and so much consequent unhappiness, which sympathy 
must share. But with increasing adaptation to the condi- 
tions of social life, unhappiness from this source will diminish 
and the exercise of S3niipathy will become correspondingly 
more pleasurable. 

Leslie Stephen,^ another leading representative of the 
evolutionary school, presents, in his Science of Ethics,'^ a 
restatement of utilitarianism in harmony with the theory of 
evolution. He maintains that utilitarianism possesses "a 
core of inexpugnable truth," and that its fundamental error 
has been in accepting an atomistic rather than an organic 
view of society. He presents most effectively the conception 
of the social organism, the "tissue" of which is so modified 
in the process of evolution as to form the organs needed for 
the highest social efficiency. Health, rather than happiness, 
is the standard of morality. The two, however, always 
tend approximately to coincide, and the tendency of an ac- 
tion to produce happiness must be taken into account in 
judging its ethical quality. All moral conduct has this 

1 Data of Ethics, Collected Works, D. Appleton & Co., 1910, p. 243. 

^ Ibid., p. 243. 

^ 1832-1904. 

* See especially Chaps. Ill, IV, and IX. 


tendency, and any conduct which can be proved to possess 
it is thereby shown to be moral. It is a mistake, however, 
to press this general coincidence to the point of complete 
identity. As society is at present constituted, we cannot 
affirm that in all cases moral conduct is productive of the 
greatest happiness to the individual agents. "The attempt 
to establish an absolute coincidence between virtue and 
happiness is in ethics what the attempting to square the 
circle or to discover perpetual motion are in geometry and 
mechanics." ^ 

This sketch of the development of hedonistic theories has 
been confined, in the modern period, to a statement of the 
contributions of British thinkers. While hedonism has not 
been limited to British soil, it is nevertheless true that it has 
here had its chief growth, and that to this source it owes all 
its most essential features as a theory of moral conduct.^ 

One fact of importance in the development of hedonistic 
theory will be clear to every careful student of its history, 
the fact, namely, of the widening of its scope to include all 
the ideal satisfactions of human life. This process of en- 
richment is indicated, in part at least, by the free use of the 
word happiness as well as pleasure. The distinction which 
popular usage makes between these words is not recognized 
by the hedonist. Pleasure, as used by the leading represent- 
atives of the school, includes all those states of spiritual 
satisfaction which attend the noblest and most unselfish 
activities. Character is not disregarded or lightly valued. 
Mill tells us that he esteemed "the internal culture of the 
individual" to be of prime importance, and regarded "any 
considerable increase in human happiness through mere 
changes in outward circumstances" as hopeless. No fair- 
minded critic can be excused for following Carlyle in his 

^ Science of Ethics, p. 430. 

2 This fact gives point to Nietzsche's saying, "Man does not seek happiness; 
only the Englishman does so." 


vehement denunciation of utilitarianism as a "pig philoso- 
phy." No quibbling over the terms pleasure and happiness 
should be allowed to obscure the significance of the doctrine. 
The hedonist may be judicious or injudicious in the use of 
terms, he may be right or wrong as to facts, but he should 
not be misinterpreted. Hedonism, if rejected, is to be re- 
jected, not because it is low or unworthy, but because it is an 
inadequate interpretation of the facts of moral experience. 
Its inadequacy we shall examine in detail in the portion of 
the work devoted to a critical study of the theory. The real 
issue will there become clear: can the final good of which 
mankind is in quest be interpreted solely in terms of agree- 
able feeling, or does the conception of ultimate value con- 
tain other essential elements? 



The various theories of perfection, which have been offered 
as an interpretation of the moral end, do not display in their 
historical development the same steady progress that can be 
traced in the growth of the happiness theory. In the first 
place the ideal of perfection found a more adequate interpre- 
tation in ancient writers than did hedonism. In the teachings 
of Plato and Aristotle, as well as in those of the Stoics, there 
were expressions of the moral ideal which, at some points, 
have hardly been surpassed. The various perfection theo- 
ries are also found to possess less logical unity than do the 
theories of hedonism; they show a greater wealth of original- 
ity and a correspondingly greater variety of form. This 
diversity does not readily lend itself to a brief outline. We 
can here simply indicate the leading features of some of the 
more typical forms which have appeared in the history of 

I. Rise of the Perfection Theory Among the Greeks 

As in the case of hedonism, so in that of the perfection 
theory, we turn for the earliest statements to the Greeks, and 
first to the Cynics, one of the so-called Socratic schools. 
Cynicism gave crude but vigorous expression to the claims 
of reason as the highest element in human nature, as that 
which constitutes the sole dignity and worth of man. An- 
tisthenes,^ the founder of the school, claimed for his doctrine 
the authority of Socrates. This authority he could invoke 

1 Circa 444-365 B. C. 


only by an interpretation of the Socratic teaching as partial 
and one-sided as that given by Aristippus, the Cyrenaic. 
Although partial and one-sided, this interpretation contained 
an element of truth. For there were aspects of Socrates' 
teaching and practice which could not be reduced to the 
simple formula of Cyrenaic hedonism. In asserting the 
supreme importance of knowledge for the moral life, Socrates 
had seemed to make reason the one distinctive and worthful 
possession of man. No less in his conduct had he shown a 
superiority to outward possessions, a disregard for conven- 
tional standards, and a fine scorn of consequences even to 
the issue of hfe and death. Accordingly Antisthenes de- 
clares that only that which is within a man, his reason and 
virtue, can give value to life. External possessions, beyond 
absolute necessities, are not only worthless but tend to fetter 
and enslave the possessor. The wise man will not com- 
promise his independence by accepting them. The C3mic 
regards the pleasure-loving Cyrenaic as the veriest slave, 
dependent upon the uncertain favor of fortune. The sim- 
plest and surest way to secure true wealth and contentment 
is to desire nothing. Rigorously carried out by such spirits 
as Antisthenes and Diogenes, this principle involved the 
reduction of all external possessions to the lowest terms. And 
the same prudence which warned against the possession of 
material goods also dictated abstinence from ties of family 
and state. The life according to nature — ^for it is thus that 
they describe the life of reason — is interpreted as a return to 
the conditions of primitive existence, in comparison with 
which the institutions of civiHzation all appear artificial. 
On the other hand, whatever is necessary or natural to 
man's physical life is right and honorable. The leading 
Cynics were often charged with disregard not only of the 
conventions but also of the decencies of life. This doctrine, 
therefore, has on the one hand proved offensive to good taste, 
while on the other it has excited admiration by its uncom- 


promising assertion of the superiority of man's spirit to all 
merely external conditions. 

The contrast frequently drawn between the Cynics and 
the Cyrenaics, which represents the former as anti-hedonis- 
tic, is in reaHty perhaps less justified than is commonly 
supposed. The Cynics repudiated the practice of the Cyre- 
naics as unsuccessful for its own professed end, and they 
stoutly asserted that their mode of life was the happier. 
There is not a little evidence that, as they prided themselves 
on their scorn of worldly pride, so they took pleasure in 
showing their contempt for pleasure. 

II. Plato 

The Cynics have always been regarded as standing in 
close historical relation to the Stoics, who, however, reject 
the crudities and soften the harshness of their predecessors. 
But before Stoicism arose, Plato had developed an ethical 
system which, if it went far beyond the letter of Socrates' 
teaching, was still much truer to its spirit than was the in- 
terpretation of either the Cynics or the Cyrenaics. Plato's 
ethical theory is so interwoven with the total fabric of his 
philosophical thought as to render a brief exposition of it 
pecuKarly difficult. It is necessary, however, in spite of 
inherent difficulties, to present some phases of his doc- 
trine of ideas in its relation to the problems of human 

In the first period of his literary activity, Plato was occupied 
with essentially the same problems as those which had con- 
stantly engaged the thought of his great teacher, Socrates. 
This thought had concerned the nature of the several vir- 
tues, and their unity as forms of that knowledge which con- 
stitutes man's highest good. But Plato's acceptance of his 
master's method soon carried him beyond the questions of 
morality to an all-embracing philosophical system. Socra- 
tes had held that there were universal and essential qualities 


common to all particular cases of moral action, and by anal- 
ysis and criticism he had endeavored to discover them. Thus 
courage and temperance, if we understand them aright, 
express for our thought the qualities common to all possible 
acts of courage and temperance, of all men, imder all cir- 
cumstances. The general concept in which these common 
qualities are expressed would then represent the true and 
permanent nature of all the particular cases. 

If this method of knowledge is vaHd for morality, why 
should it not hold good in all spheres? Must not the objects 
of the physical world be known in the same way? Are not all 
particulars of which we have knowledge similarly related to 
universals, the oak to oak-hood, man to manhood, and every 
plant or animal, or even inanimate object, to its appropriate 
class? A further step now seemed necessary. The object 
of true knowledge must be that which really exists; hence 
we are compelled to regard reality as consisting of universal 
and permanent elements, not of particular and changing 
individuals. This identification of the object of true know'l- 
edge with real existence was not peculiar to Plato, but was 
rather a presupposition deeply rooted in Greek reflection. 

The philosophy which resulted from these movements of 
thought was an attempt at a thoroughgoing rniity of all the 
objects of human experience. Plato still regarded "the 
good" as the highest principle of both knowledge and being; 
it is the end for which everything exists; it is the sun whose 
warmth vivifies, whose light illumines the whole universe.^ 
And human life and conduct, as a part of the whole, must be 
referred to this central principle for explanation and guid- 
ance. It was thus that in the period of his constructive 
thinking Plato sought to lay the foundations of morahty 
in his doctrine of ideas. He was not content until he had, 
as he believed, linked the temporal to the eternal order, 
and found the source of man's moral life at the very heart 

1 Cf. Republic, 508. 


of reality. The connection between the two orders was 
effected within man's own nature. Reason, which is ex- 
pressed objectively in the universe by the good, is also the 
guiding element in man's own spirit. Plato's psychology 
recognized three divisions in the mental life: first the reason, 
occupying the place of honor and authority; below it the 
active, or spirited, part; and lower still the appetitive element. 
Upon this division depends the Platonic scheme of virtues. 
Wisdom, courage, and temperance correspond respectively 
to the three divisions of the soul. Justice, the fourth vir- 
tue, is the harmonious activity of all three elements, and is 
possible only when there is strict subordination of the lower 
to the higher powers of man's nature. 

From such a view of the individual life it was easy for 
Plato to pass to a parallel division of the classes in the state, 
the philosophical, or legislative, the miHtary, and the in- 
dustrial. To each class belongs the corresponding virtue, 
or excellence, and justice in the state is the same harmonious 
adjustment of functions that constitutes this virtue in the 
individual; on the wide stage of a people's life, however, it ap- 
pears "writ large." In both the individual and the state 
reason is the source of all order and harmony. The ideal of 
moral perfection may then be regarded as the health of the 
soul. This ideal may also be expressed with equal truth in 
terms of beauty. With deep feeling for this central ideal 
of Greek thought, Plato does not hesitate to affirm the com- 
plete identity of the aesthetic and the moral, of beauty and 
goodness. Moral progress is at once a growing appreciation 
of the beautiful, an advance from the love of its lower to 
the love of its higher forms, culminating in the vision of 
the one absolute beauty of which all the fair forms of sense 
are but imperfect and fleeting expressions.^ In this unifi- 
cation of aesthetics and morals Plato shows himself a true 

* Cf. Symposium, 210-212. 


From the possibility of a conflict between reason and sen- 
suous impulse springs the dualism within man's nature. 
This dualism largely determines man's earthly task, which 
is to subordinate the appetites to the well-considered rule 
of reason. In the Phaedrus ^ this task is represented under 
the figure of the charioteer who must guide aright two 
winged steeds of opposite natures, the one low-bred and 
unruly, the other of heavenly birth and noble instincts. 
The famiUar figure of the cave in the Republic^ pictures this 
same dualism as one of knowledge and ignorance, where 
progress is represented as the process of enlightenment. 
The dualism within man's nature is paralleled by that in 
the world-order between the ideas, the realm of true being, 
and the things of sense. Thus Plato appears in the Greek 
world as the herald of that doctrine, afterwards to receive 
more emphatic utterance in Christianity, of two worlds 
and of two opposing forces in human nature. Though the 
moral dualism is far less radical in Plato, it is still sufficiently 
pronounced to give support to a measure of asceticism in his 
ethical view. Philosophical living is also a dying, a constant 
negation of all those tendencies of our bodily life which hinder 
the realization of truth, beauty, and goodness. This nega- 
tive, ascetic side of Plato's morality is often so strong as to 
appear un-Greek. It was due largely to Pythagorean, and 
perhaps originally to oriental influences. 

The place of happiness in this system is not altogether 
clear and was not fully worked out by Plato himself, who 
assumes towards the problem a somewhat different tone at 
different periods. Towards current hedonism his attitude 
was naturally one of open hostility. The Greek word for 
pleasure (17801/77) connoted gratification that was chiefly 
sensuous and dependent upon external sources, leaving 
almost untouched those elements of satisfaction which most 

1 253-254. 
2 514-517- 


appealed to an ideab'stic temper. In the Philebus there are 
attempts at a scientific treatment of the problem, and in- 
sights of permanent value abound in the dialogue. But for 
various reasons, among them an inadequate psychology of 
feeling and the intrusion of other interests, a satisfactory 
statement of the place of happiness in the moral life was not 
reached. Yet there can be no doubt that on the whole 
Plato considers the life of completest virtue the happiest. 
We may believe that there was no ultimate conflict in his 
thought between true happiness and the highest ideal of 

III. Aristotle 

In the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle we have the first 
systematic treatise on morals. In spirit and method the 
work offers a striking contrast to the dialogues of Plato. 
In place of the poetic and imaginative elements which mark 
the most characteristic of Plato's utterances, the reader finds 
here a prosaic, and in the main a scientific, interpretation 
of Greek morals as they appeared to a close observer of the 
life of the period. Yet these differences, heightened as they 
are by Aristotle's open criticism of PJato, do not prevent 
substantial agreement between these two great philosophers 
at many fundamental points. 

Aristotle begins his treatise by an emphatic assertion of 
the necessity of a teleological view. All human interests 
and activities imply some end, or good. But all ends are 
not equally inclusive; one is desired as means to a still higher 
end, while another is desired for its own sake. What now 
is the supreme good which is desired for its own sake, and not 
for the sake of anything else? Aristotle answers that there 
is general agreement that this good is welfare, or happi- 
ness (evSatfiovia) . But there is great diversity of opinion 
concerning that in which welfare consists. Some find it in 
pleasure or wealth, others in honor, and still others in intel- 


lectual pursuits. Aristotle rejects the dualism of Plato, 
and insists that the good must be something which can be 
realized in the earthly life of man, not a transcendent good 
outside of his immediate experience. A more precise defini- 
tion of the nature of happiness must be sought. ''The best 
way of arriving at such a definition will probably be to as- 
certain the function of Man. For, as with a flute-player, a 
statuary, or any artisan, or in fact anybody who has a defi- 
nite function and action, his goodness, or excellence seems 
to lie in his function, so it would seem to be with Man, if 
indeed he has a definite function. Can it be said then that, 
while a carpenter and a cobbler have definite functions and 
actions, Man, unlike them, is naturally functionless? The 
reasonable view is that, as the eye, the hand, the foot, and 
similarly each several part of the body has a definite func- 
tion, so Man may be regarded as having a definite function 
apart from all these." ^ This function, it is shown, can be 
found only in that which distinguishes man from all other 
forms of life, in the exercise of reason. 

Man's true excellence, or virtue, thus consists in the proper 
functioning of the soul. The soul, however, displays itself 
in two spheres, a higher and a lower. The higher sphere is 
that of its reflective, speculative activity, its thinking and 
knowing in the interests of pure knowledge. The lower is 
that of the impulses and appetites in which practical activity 
is rooted. In the first sphere, reason constitutes by its ac- 
tivity the highest and most worthful human experience; 
in the second, reason regulates and controls the appetites, 
enforcing due measure and order. Thus man's rational 
nature has two divisions, "one possessing reason absolutely 
and in itself, the other listening to it as a child listens to its 
father." On this psychological division is founded Aris- 
totle's classification of the virtues as intellectual, or dia- 
noetic, such as prudence, wisdom, and insight; and practical, 

* Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. I, Chap, vi, Welldon's translation, p. 15. 


or moral, virtues such as temperance, courage, and liberality. 
In man's appetitive life virtue consists in the regulated, 
harmonious action of the various impulses which are ap- 
propriate to himian nature. In other words, these elements 
of life, to be moral, must be rationalized. An impulse is 
rationalized, according to Aristotle, when it operates in 
just measure, being neither defective nor excessive in its 
action. The moral virtues may therefore well be described 
as means between two extremes. Thus courage is the mean 
between cowardice and rashness, liberality between stingi- 
ness and prodigality. The mean that constitutes virtue, 
however, is no absolute or mathematical mean, the same for 
all individuals, but is strictly relative to persons and cir- 
cumstances. "That is the reason why it is so hard to be 
virtuous; . . . Anybody can get angry — that is an easy 
matter — and anybody can give or spend money, but to give 
it to the right persons, to give the right amount of it and to 
give it at the right time and for the right cause and in the 
right way, this is not what anybody can do, nor is it easy. 
That is the reason why it is rare and laudable and noble to 
do well." ^ This doctrine of the mean is an expression of 
the aesthetic element in Greek morality. It embodies the 
insight of the poets and wise men of earlier times who had 
seen in the observance of due measure and proportion the 
principle both of beauty and of virtue. As the perfection of 
Greek art consisted in its free, symmetrical form, in which 
no part showed excess or deficiency of matter, so the per- 
fection of conduct appears in a Kke faultless proportion 
maintained in every act. 

Aristotle's view of the organic relation between feeling and 
function shows clear insight and is of permanent value. 
By it he escapes the one-sidedness both of hedonism and of 
rationalism. All normal, healthful activity is attended with 
pleasure, and the more perfect the activity the greater the 

^ Nicomachean Ethics, Bk, II, Chap, ix, p. 55. 


pleasure. As man's intellectual nature is the highest part 
of his being, the satisfaction that attends its activity is the 
highest of which he is capable. " It is the life which accords 
with reason then that will be best and pleasantest for Man, 
as a man's reason is in the highest sense himself. This will 
therefore be also the happiest life." ^ 

In his theory of conduct Aristotle shows himself the 
"master of those who know" by taking account of the more 
homely needs of human nature. For the realization of hap- 
piness the gifts of fortune are also needed, such as health, 
wealth, beauty, friends, and length of days. In the place 
given by Aristotle to these relatively external goods, and also 
in his emphasis on the supreme value of knowledge, his 
view of life appears in striking contrast to that presented in 
primitive Christianity. An interesting picture of the Greek 
ideal of character, in the classical period, is given by Aris- 
totle in the fourth book of the Ethics, in his description of the 
great-souled, or high-minded man.^ It is one of the impor- 
tant passages in Greek literature for the comparative study 
of moral ideals. 

rv. Stoicism 

In the period of Greek thought following the death of 
Aristotle the chief constructive system was that of the Stoics. 
Indeed, of all systems developed in the pagan world. Stoi- 
cism has appealed most widely to the imagination of man- 
kind. In its lofty devotion to a supreme law, in its exalta- 
tion of man's spirit above the material conditions of life, 
as also in its social and humanitarian teaching, it has had, 
in spite of its rigor and its paradoxes, a message for earnest 
minds in every age. Like aU the post-Aristotelian philoso- 
phy. Stoicism was practical in its interests and aims. Theo- 
retical elements served merely the interests of its practical 

^ Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. X, Chap, viii, p. 338. 
* Ibid., Bk, IV, Chaps, vii and viii. 


teaching; logic and physics are subordinated to ethics. Phi- 
losophy, in its total content, the Stoics Hkened to a garden, 
the fence of which represents logic, the trees physics, and 
the fruits ethics. Nevertheless the moral teaching of the 
Stoics was so rooted in their general theory of the universe 
that the former cannot be understood without reference to 
the latter. 

In the thought of the Stoics the whole scheme of things 
was unified and harmonized by an all-pervading law, a reason 
immanent in the material world. ^ On the religious side 
their philosophy was pantheistic. However men might 
designate the divine principle — and the Stoics themselves 
freely applied to it a variety of names — it was the source of 
all order, beauty, and worth. In nature it appeared as physi- 
cal law. But man has no need to go to the outer world to 
discover its workings, for in his own breast he finds a spark 
of the same divine principle. His reason is identical in its 
essence with the world-reason. As the highest element in 
his nature it may rightfully claim authority over the lower 
elements. Hence the Stoic ethics appears as a pronounced 
rationalism, in which feeling and emotion have no adequate 
place. Indeed, man's moral business is the rooting out of 
the desires and passions that he may hear and obey the voice 
of his one true guide, and thereby attain to a serene, emotion- 
less calm, the Stoic apathy. This rule of reason constitutes 
virtue, which is man's sole good. The Socratic doctrine 
that virtue is knowledge is thus reaffirmed and given fresh 
emphasis. The virtuous man is the wise man, the bad man 
the fool. Since passion is the result of false judgment, the 
wise man is necessarily free from it. It follows also that men 
are divided into two distinct classes, and are either wholly 
good or wholly bad. To possess one virtue is to possess all; 
to fail at a single point is to fall short of the whole law. The 
ideal of the Stoics culminated in the picture of the wise man, 

^ Cf. the expression of this idea in the Hymn to Zeus by Cleanthes. 


who by his insight had risen superior to all human passions 
and had become complete master of himself, the happy 
possessor of all good. The paradoxes of the picture were 
often elaborated at length. Nowhere is this portrait of the 
sage more skillfully drawn than in the De Finibus of Cicero, 
who, though not a disciple of the Porch, was able sympa- 
thetically to interpret its teaching. " What dignity, nobility, 
and steadfastness," he exclaims, "does the character of the 
wise man display! And since reason has taught that what 
is honorable is also good, he is necessarily always happy, 
and to him truly belong all those epithets which the ignorant 
are wont to ridicule. For more justly will the wise man be 
called king than Tarquin, who could not rule himself or his 
own house; more justly master of the people — that is, dic- 
tator — than Sulla, who was the slave of three baneful vices, 
luxury, avarice, and cruelty; more justly rich than Crassus, 
v/ho, had he not been in need, would never have crossed the 
Euphrates when there was no cause for war. Justly will 
he be said to possess all things who alone knows how to use 
all; justly even will he be called beautiful, for the features 
of the soul are more beautiful than those of the body; justly 
will he alone be called free, not obeying the dictates of any 
man nor yielding to the demands of appetite; justly will he 
be called invincible, for even though his body be bound, 
yet upon his spirit no chains can be fastened." ^ 

Trust in the world-reason was the basis of the optimism 
of the Stoics, who declared all things beautiful and good. 
In their opinion evil is only relative to our limited, finite 
view, and would disappear for an intelligence embracing 
the entire universe. This optimism also gave to the existing 
social and political order, as a part of the whole, a value which 
it did not possess for the Cynics. Life according to nature 
meant for the Stoics the acceptance of all those institutions 
which appeared congruent with human nature. Their 

^ De Finibus, Bk. Ill, Chap. xxii. 


attitude towards family life and the state was therefore pro- 
fessedly positive, although in practice many found excuses 
for refusing these reponsibilities. The practice of suicide, 
which was approved by the Stoics under certain exigencies, 
was not regarded as a contradiction of their professed opti- 
mism. The very stress of circumstances which justified 
one in taking his own life was construed as a part of a well- 
ordered plan; it indicated to the wise man that the hour had 
come to depart from life. Let him go, then, not unwillingly, 
but with submission and serenity. 

In the common possession by men of a spark of the univer- 
sal reason lay the foundation of Stoic cosmopolitanism. 
This cosmopolitanism asserted a universal brotherhood, 
and uttered vigorous protest against those divisions which 
differences of race, religion, and class had erected. Through 
the decisions of the prcetores peregrini this conception of 
human kinship entered into Roman law, and worked effect- 
ively to lessen its inequalities and barbarities. Stoicism 
was thus one of the forces which made Roman law "written 
reason," "the pearl of Roman civilization." 

In Roman Stoicism may be seen the sunset glory of pagan 
philosophy. The mellow light which it cast across the dark 
shadows of the age presaged the approaching twilight of 
classical civilization. If the Romans contributed little to 
the theory of Stoicism, they gave to the world the finest 
statement of its practical ideals and the fairest examples of 
devotion to them. Two figures of world-wide significance 
appear upon the stage, Epictetus, the Phrygian slave and 
freedman, and the emperor, Marcus Aurelius, in whom 
Plato's desire that a philosopher might be king was at last 
fulfilled. These moralists have had a message for men of 
every age and of every faith. The imagination of succeed- 
ing centuries has seen here the human embodiment of the 
ideal of the "wise man." History and literature testify 
to the profound impression which they have produced. 


Long after the age of the Antonines had passed, busts of the 
emperor were cherished in private households throughout 
the Roman empire, not in flattery of a Hving ruler, but in 
genuine tribute to a dead hero. Many a monk in the middle 
ages kept the meditations of Marcus Aurelius with his copy 
of the gospels. A Roman cardinal translated them into 
Italian, that they might "quicken the faith of the faithful." 
Dedicating his translation to his own soul, he bade it "blush 
redder than the scarlet of his robe at the thought of the vir- 
tues of this pagan." ^ The literature of modern Europe bears 
testimony to the charm and power which the thoughts of 
the emperor have exercised over the minds and hearts of 
great men. 

These Stoic philosophers have perhaps a special message 
to our own age. When luxury and pleasure-seeking abound; 
when physical pain has come to be regarded by many as the 
greatest of ills; when prudence and safety are exalted as the 
chief practical virtues, and often mean, alas! Httle more than 
rules for material success; when it is demanded that religion 
must above all else be comforting; when even philosophy, 
as interpreted by many, must be made to yield us reasons 
for what we desire to believe — in such an age we may well 
be reminded of their more heroic view of life. The message 
of both Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius is the message of a 
brave idealism. It declares that we must submit ourselves 
without reserve to the divine order as it appears in nature 
and in human society. This law is not to be found in our 
moods and impulses, in the feehngs and emotions that come 
and go. It is a law of reason, to be discerned only by in- 
telligence, a spark of which human beings all share as their 
birthright. Again and again we are urged "not to defile 
the divinity" within us, but to "keep it pure" and "preserve 
it tranquil, following it obediently as a god." Thus must a 
man ever keep faith with himself. 

^ Cf. Matthew Arnold, Essays in Criticism, Marcus Aurelius. 


But these stem moralists also tell us that we need expect 
no reward of virtue, here or hereafter, except such inner 
joy as virtue itself can yield. To think that right conduct 
must have an external reward is wholly to misconceive its 
nature. To demand such reward is as absurd as to think 
that a precious stone is more beautiful because, forsooth, 
it has been praised. This profound inwardness determines 
at a stroke the place of all external things in the scheme of 
life. They can never be a part of man's true good. Woe to 
him who puts his trust in them and forgets to cultivate his 
own mind and soul! Our true fortune is within us, not with- 
out. The emperor on his throne and the slave in his hut are 
to be judged by the same standards. 

This doctrine of the inwardness of life's true center es- 
capes the anarchy of an extreme individualism. For Stoicism 
regards reason as a social principle, a common element, 
which binds men together in a universal brotherhood. " The 
prime principle of man's constitution," we are told, "is 
social." This social principle culminates in the ideal of a 
republic of reason, a veritable city of God, in which all men 
may claim citizenship. The Emperor had learned, he tells 
us, "the idea of a polity administered with regard to equal 
rights and equal freedom of speech," and of "a government 
which respects most of all the freedom of the governed," 
a platform that might have been framed for modem de- 

Nothing is more impressive in this teaching than its note 
of fearlessness; fearlessness in doing right when to do right 
means to suffer blame; fearlessness, too, in the presence of 
death. Despite all this rigor, we are bidden to cultivate 
serenity and cheerfulness under all circumstances. Think 
not that a man could be a true Stoic and go sour-faced and 
snarling through the world. No, we are even admonished to 
take delight in the fair and goodly frame of nature and 
in the excellencies of our fellows. "When thou wishest to 


delight thyself, think of the virtues of those who live with 
thee; for instance, the activity of one, the modesty of an- 
other, and the liberaUty of a third, and some other good 
quality of a fourth." 

It was a special merit of the Stoic teaching that it devel- 
oped its view of life while steadily facing the complex tasks 
and limitations of earthly culture and civilization. Stoicism 
sought the regeneration and happiness of the individual 
while still holding him resolutely to the values of the present 
order. It refused to defer the realization of the worth of life 
to an uncertain future, whether conceived as a super-terres- 
trial state or as an earthly millennium. 

The message of the Roman Stoics, marred by little that 
is local or temporary, is, in brief, to yield ourselves unre- 
servedly to the laws of nature and of society; to subdue our 
passing moods and clamant passions to the rule of reason; 
to expect no reward in life except the joy of right Hving; to 
scorn the meanness of selfish ends; to shun evil thoughts as 
well as evil deeds; to be slow to take offense and quick to 
forgive; to cultivate dignity and sweetness; to be cheerful 
even in pain and sorrow; and to fear nothing in God's uni- 
verse except cowardice and disloyalty to duty. 

V. Spinoza 

From the Greek period to the time of Kant no philosopher 
developed an ethical system of equal interest to that of Spin- 
oza.^ His teaching is distinctive and important enough 
to merit a place among the typical forms of the perfection 
theory. It also stands in close relation both to classical ideals 
and to contemporary thought, and so may fittingly lead up 
to the modern doctrine of self-realization. Spinoza's view 
of human conduct, like that of the Stoics, is best approached 
from his general philosophy. This philosophy is monistic. 
One substance, nature, or God, is the only ultimate reahty. 

1 Benedict Spinoza, 1632-1677. 


All particular things are its expressions, or modes. These 
many particulars of experience appear to us under two at- 
tributes, thought and extension. Under the attribute of 
thought they appear as elements of consciousness, under that 
of extension as material existences. These attributes belong 
to all reaHty, and are strictly parallel throughout the entire 
universe. Spinoza does not regard thought as an aspect 
of human and animal life alone, but as present also, in lower 
degree, throughout the realm of inorganic nature. To the 
world as a whole, predicates of good and evil do not apply; 
these are purely relative and human. Nature is neither just 
nor unjust, but strictly non-moral. It is folly, then, for man 
to pronounce some parts of nature good and other parts 
evil, as if nature existed for the sake of man, the whole for 
the sake of the part! Perfection may indeed be asserted of 
the whole, but the term has no moral significance. In the 
sense which Spinoza gives to the word, things are perfect 
in precisely the degree to which they possess reality, which 
in turn is measured by their power or activity, and so by the 
extent to which they share in the being of the one divine 
substance. From Spinoza's view of man's place in the uni- 
verse it follows that all events are causally determined. 
What any element of reality is and does, depends upon its 
own nature, and this in turn depends upon its place in the 
great system of things of which it forms a part. This de- 
terminism presents itself in Spinoza's psycho-physical paral- 
lelism as both physical and spiritual, or rational. The wise 
man is determined in action by his insight and reason, even 
as the stone is determined in its fall by its own peculiar 
properties. While this doctrine results in a complete re- 
jection of the freedom of choice, it does not, in Spinoza's 
judgment, destroy the true freedom of man. Rather does it 
open the only path to such freedom, the only means for the 
realization of a holy and happy life, through the necessity of 
the agent's own rational nature. 


Now all things tend, according to the measure of their 
reality, to maintain their own being; and we call things good 
or evil according as they aid or hinder man in this effort 
of self-preservation (conatus sese conservandi). All action 
which tends to this result is pleasant. Pleasure is a sign of 
the enlargement of the self, while pain accompanies the 
diminution and negation of the self. Although Spinoza 
promises no easy spiritual victory, but demands at the out- 
set a complete renunciation of all the cheaper means of grati- 
fication, he is nevertheless no ascetic. "Assuredly nothing 
forbids man to enjoy himself," he says, "save grim and 
gloomy superstition. For why is it more lawful to satiate 
one's hunger and thirst than to drive away one's melancholy? 
I reason, and have convinced myself as follows: No deity, 
nor anyone else, save the envious, takes pleasure in my in- 
firmity and discomfort, nor sets down to my virtue the tears, 
sobs, fear, and the like, which are signs of infirmity of spirit; 
on the contrary, the greater the pleasure wherewith we are 
affected, the greater the perfection whereto we pass; in other 
words, the more must we necessarily partake of the divine 
nature." ^ 

As conscious beings, our essence is thought, or ideation. 
The content of thought, according to Spinoza, is two-fold 
in its nature, being partly active and partly passive. Active 
ideation has its ground or causes within the soul itself and 
expresses the soul's true nature, whereas passive ideation is 
due to causes which lie without, and expresses rather the 
nature of external things than the nature of the soul itself. 
Active ideation gives us adequate ideas; passive ideation 
inadequate, or confused, ideas. The meaning of this dis- 
tinction will gain in clearness if we picture to ourselves in a 
concrete way the difference between two well-known aspects 
of our conscious experience. Consider for a moment the 
difference between a man's thought in such spheres as art, 

^ Ethics, Pt. IV, Prop, xlv, Note (Elwes translation). 


and science, and literature, where he produces creatively 
that which truly expresses his nature as a rational being, and 
his thought when he reacts against forces outside of himself, 
such as food and drink, heat and cold, storm and flood, 
disease-bearing microbe and death-dealing earthquake. To 
the passive side of our conscious life belong our sensations 
and passions, and these it is which bring us into bondage, 
since they depend upon external things and can satisfy but 
a part, not the whole, of our nature. In their exercise man 
does not determine himself, but is determined from without. 
When they dominate our life they inevitably lead to weak- 
ness, to the impotency of our being. Thus, in an interesting 
way, Spinoza is led to identify virtue with strength, and 
vice with weakness. 

The passion that brings men into bondage arises not only 
from undue occupation with the external, but also from the 
illusions of a partial and transient view of things. From this 
source we all suffer our days and hours of bondage. For we 
are all at times limited to partial views that distort the truth 
of things. Passing episodes are made leading motives of 
existence; transient hopes and fears, unworthy loves and 
hates, fill for a time the whole field of vision; some petty 
slight, some jealousy, or ambition, dominates our thought 
tiU it leaves no place for the real interests of life; in short, 
for the universal and permanent values, we substitute those 
which are at best trivial and fleeting. 

But how shall man escape the bondage of the passions? 
His deliverance, Spinoza tells us, can only come through 
the understanding, as it sees things in their true relations. 
Freedom from the bondage of illusion is won by a widened, 
clarified vision, which sees the whole instead of the part. 
Disturbing emotions may be overcome through the insight 
which, by revealing things in their true perspective, quickens 
the appropriate emotion. The problem of our life is really 
that of our loves and hates, the things we set our hearts 


upon. If we are brought into bondage by the love of un- 
worthy objects, we cannot free ourselves from their power by 
a fiat of the v/ill. Only when we see their illusory, false 
character, and at the same time discern worthy objects of 
love and devotion, is our freedom won. The same principle 
applies in combatting evil in others. "He who chooses to 
avenge wrongs with hatred is assuredly wretched. But he, 
who strives to conquer hatred with love, fights his battle in 
joy and confidence; he withstands many as easily as one, and 
has very little need of fortune's aid. Those whom he van- 
quishes yield joyfully, not through failure, but through 
increase in their powers." ^ 

Spinoza's ethics concludes with a profoundly reKgious view. 
The one object which never fails is God, the All-Real. "But 
love towards a thing eternal and infinite feeds the mind 
wholly with joy, and is itself unmingled with any sadness, 
wherefore it is greatly to be desired and sought for with all 
our strength." ^ But the love of man towards God, like that 
of God towards man, is not the natural love of the affections, 
such love as one human being bears to another. It is rather 
the emotion that accompanies clear insight and adequate 
knowledge, an intellectual love, amor Dei intellectualis, as 
Spinoza characteristically terms it. As in Greek ethics, so 
with Spinoza, it is the wise man who triumphs over evil 
and enjoys the blessedness of true freedom. We need not 
wonder that the victory is rarely won, for, in the closing 
words of his Ethics, "all things excellent are as difficult as 
they are rare." But that such a triumph was no idle 
dream for Spinoza, his own life, if we may trust his biog- 
raphers, affords instructive evidence. 

1 Ethics, Pt. IV, Prop, xlvi, Note. 

2 On the Improvement of the Understanding, p. 5. 


VI. Hegel 

Idealistic systems, since the time of Kant, have developed 
with such variety of detail that an account of them would 
involve many chapters in the history of modem thought. 
Such an account is excluded by the purpose and limits of the 
present work. But the influence on contemporary ethical 
thought of Hegel, ^ the greatest of modern ideaHsts, renders 
desirable a statement of some phases of his moral theory. 
Hegel's interest lay primarily in ethical institutions, in the 
concrete and objective expressions of morahty, rather than 
in the intricate problems of moral psychology. Profoundly 
influenced by Greek ideals, he saw in the slow unfolding of so- 
cial institutions, and particularly of the state, the ever larger 
realization of human freedom and perfection. The necessary 
condition of a worthy life, in his view, was that one should 
be the citizen of a state with good laws. He criticizes 
severely Kant's formalism as abstract and empty. While 
he recognizes Kant's merit in emphasizing the high claims of 
duty, he also finds that his principle of "duty for duty's 
sake" affords no clue to the particular duties. Apart from 
the concrete conditions of society, any kind of immoral act 
might be justified on Kant's maxim of universality. Im- 
moral acts contradict this maxim only because they disre- 
gard our interests in life, property, and social order. 

In his scheme of philosophy, Hegel passes from the Philoso- 
phy of Nature to the Philosophy of Spirit; in the latter he 
pictures the successive stages of the self-realization of the 
human spirit. Beginning with man in his natural condition, 
he traces his progress through the institutions of social 
moraUty, and rises finally to the perfection of his being in 
art, philosophy, and religion. The subject-matter of the 
entire movement thus described is the human will — and the 
will is the man — in its relations to the universal will of man 

* George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 1 770-1 831. 


in society, and of this universal will to the Absolute, Divine 

If the will be conceived as existing in itself, outside of a 
world of possible relations into which it has not yet entered, it 
may be said to constitute, in legal terms, a person. Such 
personaHty may be regarded as the basis of abstract right. 
But to escape from abstraction and become truly real, the 
will must actualize itself in the objective world. This it 
accomplishes at first through the institution of property. 
Things themselves are will-less, and the person may right- 
fully subject them to himself. In doing this he makes them 
a part of his own person; by seizure, use, and alienation he 
constitutes them an attribute of the self. The institution of 
property, however, is possible only when it is recognized 
and respected by one's neighbors; it involves not one, but 
many, consenting wills, in fact a common will. We see, then, 
that the relation between things becomes a relation between 
wills. Persons are related to each other through their prop- 
erty. "Be a person and respect others as persons" is the 
formula of abstract rights. 

The common will, objectified in the institution of property, 
is the basis of contract. Crime and punishment are concep- 
tions that naturally flow from it. Crime is the violation or 
negation of the common will, and punishment the negation 
of the crime, hence a negation of a negation. Punishment 
is the natural completion of the crime; rightly viewed, it 
honors the criminal, since it is a recognition of his personaUty. 
It may even be said to be the criminal's right as truly as his 

External and abstract right needs to be internalized and 
transformed into ideals of personal will, in order that har- 
mony may be established between the particular and the 
universal will, and inner freedom reahzed. This subjective 
phase of conduct is called by Hegel abstract Duty or Moral- 
ity {Moralitdt). It is the stage of the dominance of con- 


science, of self-determination through personal ideals of 
duty. In the life of the individual it comes when he escapes 
from the control of merely external commands, and finds the 
law within himself, written in his own consciousness. The 
dictates of the inner voice now seem supreme and final. 
"Do right though the heavens fall," "My conscience against 
the world," represent the temper of this stage of moral ex- 
perience. Subjective emotions, and even blind prejudices, 
may at this stage dictate the rule of conduct. The good as 
thus privately determined may not be the good at all. For 
subjective conviction, untaught by objective codes and in- 
stitutions, may issue in positive evil. The conscience of the 
fanatic speaks with an authority no less absolute than does 
that of the wise man. Antinomianism, in all its forms, has 
been the result of this subjective attitude. "The striving 
for a morality of one's own is futile, and by its very nature 
impossible of attainment; in respect of morality the saying 
of the wisest men of antiquity is the only true one : ' To be 
moral is to live in accordance with the moral tradition of 
one's country.' " An objective social order with its concrete, 
living expressions of human needs and human welfare is 
required for the right guidance of the individual will. 

Subjective morality is transformed into true ethical life 
(Sittlichkeit) when one enters the world of ethical relations, 
and accepts the obligations which these relations impose. 
The family, civil society, the state, and humanity as a whole, 
constitute an objective order which gives definite and en- 
lightened aims for the guidance of the individual judgment. 
Abstract duty thus wins a specific content in one's "station 
and its duties." Here the indi\ddual escapes from all the 
capriciousness of subjective conscience and rises to the dig- 
nity of true freedom, a genuine realization of personality. 
The objective moral order offers a concrete union and har- 
mony of the individual and universal will. Further, the 
conflict between egoism and altruism is now overcome; for 


the largest altruism is seen to be the largest possible self- 
realization. History, for Hegel, is the progressive unfolding 
^nd realization of man's true nature as rational and social. 
All customs and institutions which bind men together have 
been the work of an immanent Reason guiding the develop- 
ment of human freedom, which is possible only through 
human brotherhood. This is the high theme of his Philoso- 
phy of History, In some of Hegel's own statements it seems 
almost a glorification of the existing order, an acceptance of 
the status quo. The critics of Hegel have often represented 
his doctrine as the assertion that "Whatever is, is right," 
and it is true that he does not always do full justice to the 
protesting conscience in its constant task of criticism. Cer- 
tainly he had little sympathy with the hasty and shallow 
reformer who would ruthlessly tear down aU that the past 
has built with so much pain and labor. Indeed, in Hegel's 
view, he who fails heartily to accept the moral institutions 
of his age and race should be prepared to justify his action 
by proving himself a "heaven-bom prophet." ^ But Hegel 
recognized that the present order of things, necessary and 
worthful as it is, is not final. It, in its turn, must be 
negated and give place to a higher order. He also freely 
admits that when a community or a state has fallen on evil 
days, the protesting conscience of the individual is abun- 
dantly justified in uttering its voice. From Hegel's final point 
of view the most perfect ethical institutions render possible 
only a partial realization of the human spirit. The ideal is 
never fully attained. Morality as such can never complete 
itself or attain its goal. From morality and all secular rela- 
tions the spirit of man struggles upward towards the infinite 
ideal. Only in conscious relation with the Absolute Person- 
ality does it find its fullest realization. Ethics completes 
itself in religion; the secular task becomes a religious service. 

^ Cf. Bradley, Ethical Studies, p. i8i. 


VII. Self-Realization and Energism 
The form of the perfection theory most frequently met 
with in contemporary thought is that known as the Ethics 
of SeK-realization. Although expositions of the theory offer 
great variety in method, as also in emphasis upon different 
aspects of the ideal, they may all be described in general 
terms as Hegelian both in spirit and in historical relation- 
ship. Without attempting here a detailed exposition, we 
may indicate two or three leading features common to all 
statements of the theory. 

The seK to be realized is the total rational self, as opposed 
to the partial, fragmentary self of appetite and sensuous 
desire. In words of Mr. Mackenzie: "The true self is what 
is perhaps best described as the rational self. It is the uni- 
verse that we occupy in our moments of deepest wisdom and 
insight. ... To live completely in that universe would be 
to understand completely the world in which we live and our 
relations to it, and to act constantly in the light of that un- 
derstanding. This we cannot hope to do. All that we can 
do is to endeavor to promote this understanding more and 
more in ourselves and others, and to act more and more in a 
way that is consistent with the promotion of this understand- 
ing. So to live is to be truly ourselves ^ ^ This rational self 
is also the social self, the self that finds realization in a com- 
mimity of selves and in a common good. AU right acts are 
social acts, all moral values social values. "In the realiza- 
tion of individuaHty there is foimd also the needed realiza- 
tion of some conmiunity of persons of which the individual 
is a member; and, conversely, the agent who duly satisfies 
the community in which he shares, by that same conduct 
satisfies himself." ^ Wherever such a harmony of individual 
and social good is not matter of clear insight it still remains 
the postulate of ethics, the faith of our moral life. 

^Manual of Ethics, pp. 251-252. 
* Dewey, Outlines of Ethics, p. 131. 


Further, it is freely admitted that the precise content of the 
moral ideal cannot be given in detail. The historical course 
of the development to the present point of attainment may 
be traced, but its possible future wealth cannot be fully 
described. "It must be once more admitted," says Green, 
"that our view of what the life would be, in which ultimate 
good was actually attained, can never be an adequate view. 
It consists of the idea that such a life must be possible, 
filled up as regards particulars, in some inadequate measure, 
by reflection on the habits and activities, on the modes of 
life and character, which through influence of that idea 
have been brought into being. If the idea, as it actuates us, 
carried with it a full consciousness of what its final realiza- 
tion would be, the distinction between idea and reaUzation 
would be at an end." ^ 

A different formulation of the moral ideal is offered in the 
Energism of Professor Paulsen. ^ This view is essentially 
Aristotelian. It finds the good of man in the exercise of his 
specific functions, the perfecting of his capacities. "We 
may say in a most general way that the goal at which the will 
of every living creature aims, is the normal exercise of the vital 
Junctions which constitute its nature. Every animal desires 
to live the life for which it is predisposed. Its natural dis- 
position manifests itself in impulses, and determines its 
activity. The formula may also be applied to man. He 
desires to Hve a human life and all that is implied in it; that 
is, a mental, historical life, in which there is room for the exer- 
cise of all human, mental powers and virtues." ^ There is 
evidently no necessary conflict between this view and the 
doctrine of self-realization. The difference consists rather in 
method of exposition and in historical associations. 

Even from such brief outlines of historical development 

^Prolegomena to Ethics, pp. 3 10-31 1. 

2 A Systetn of Ethics, See Bk. II, Chap. II. 

,^ Ibid., p. 270. 


we can see that our intellectual inheritance in the field of 
ethics, as elsewhere, is highly complex and profoundly sig- 
nificant, and that to it every period and every school of 
thought has made its contribution. The scientific spirit 
is always eager to understand its material, be it rock or 
flower or spiritual ideal, and to know not only what it is, 
but how it came to be what it is. It is hoped that this brief 
sketch will lead the reader to seek fuller information from 
the sources. Our own task, however, is now to examine 
critically, in the interests of a constructive theory, the two 
leading interpretations of the moral end represented by 
happiness and perfection. 


Having passed briefly in review some of the more signifi- 
cant historical forms of the happiness and perfection theo- 
ries, we must now seek to determine what place each 
theory occupies in a true interpretation of the end of human 
conduct. Can the good, as ultimate value, be defined in 
terms of either one of these ideals, or must it include both? 
If the latter alternative proves to be true, what is the precise 
role played by each? Are they independent and disconnected 
elements, or are they so related that their organic connection 
can be clearly seen? 

One question naturally presents itself in view of the fact 
that these two opposing theories have permanently held a 
place in ethical thought. Is there not manifestly a strong 
presumption that each contains elements of truth? Other- 
wise would not criticism, working with a free hand, have 
overthrown the one or the other in the course of centuries? 
We have not to do here, as in some other controversies, with 
views authoritatively taught and supported by all the en- 
ginery of social institutions; scientific and philosophical 
criticism recognize no such external authority. The vitaUty 
of a doctrine is not, to be sure, always a safe criterion of its 
worth. But whenever two opposing views have both at- 
tracted to their support, through many centuries, equally 
able and disinterested thinkers, it is highly probable that 
neither one possesses a monopoly of the truth. In the age- 
long controversies between ideaHsm and materiaHsm, ration- 
alism and empiricism, necessity and freedom, individuahsm 
and socialism, not to mention other examples, it can rea- 



sonably be maintained that each side in the dispute has 
represented elements of permanent truth, though not always 
that precise measure of truth which its defenders have sup- 
posed. It is furthermore significant, in the case of the ethical 
theories in question, that they have moved, not in parallel, 
but in slowly converging lines, and that they tend to ap- 
proach still more closely. It is difficult to find a writer of the 
present day, who, however much he may inveigh against 
happiness as the ethical end, does not in the last resort admit 
its importance and give it some sort of recognition, however 
belated and unsystematic. On the other hand, it is easy 
to see that hedonism, in its historical development, has been 
forced more and more to recognize elements of truth in op- 
posing theories. In this respect early Greek hedonism is 
separated by a wide gulf from any modem form of the theory. 
In its development moral experience proved too rich and 
varied to fit the simple formulas of early days. We shall 
be prepared, then, to find some element of truth in the theory 
that happiness is the final principle of human conduct. 
The present chapter will attempt to show that the happiness 
theory contains a kernel of truth which is essential to any 
adequate account of human good, and it will seek to make 
clear the part that happiness plays in the conception of 
value. In the very task of exhibiting its truth, however, 
we shall be led to see its inadequacy, and the defect of a 
theory which fails to provide any other principle. Only by 
comprehending the real function of happiness in determining 
our standards of value can the student appreciate the nature 
and source of its limitations. To see clearly what a principle 
of explanation does do, is at the same time to see what it 
does not do. 

I. Psychological and Ethical Hedonism 

If the element of truth in the happiness theory is to be 
clearly grasped, the theory must be freed from numerous 


errors and misconceptions which have persistently gathered 
about it and obscured its true meaning. One of these sources 
of confusion is so important as to call for consideration at the 
very outset of our inquiry. This initial misunderstanding 
consists in the failure to distinguish between motive and 
value in conduct, between the forces, whether instinctive 
or ideational, which impel us to the performance of an act, 
and the total value which we assign to an act when per- 
formed. It can be shown, I think, that the principles of 
motivation and of valuation are not always, perhaps are not 
often, precisely the same. Here, evidently, are two distinct 
questions. The one asks why we act as we do in any given 
case ; the other, what is the ultimate value of our action. The 
one has to do with the act prior to its completion; the other 
is concerned with its complete and total results, and so with 
its rational justification. The difference may be illustrated 
by pointing out that the reason why we continue to Hve is not 
identical with the value which, in reflection upon experience, 
we discover in life. As we did not sit down "in a cool hour " 
at the dawn of our existence, and upon consideration of 
life's prospects conclude that "to be " was better than "not 
to be," so in most cases we do not continue to live because of 
a reflective estimate of the value of Hfe, but because the in- 
stinctive desire for life, the "will to live," pulses strong within 
us. And this instinctive clinging to life is so powerful that it 
sometimes proves stronger in individuals than the reflective 
conviction that for them, under existing conditions, life is 
not worth living. Obviously the point of view is quite differ- 
ent and the question is shifted to another field of inquiry, 
when, instead of asking why we live, we ask how far Hfe 
is satisfying, and what are the elements of value which it 
has been found actually to contain. A more concrete ex- 
ample of the distinction in question may be given. A normal, 
healthy-minded person does not engage in an athletic game 
from a calculating estimate of the pleasure to be enjoyed in 


the sport, but rather from an interest in its movements and 
situations. The game attracts because it affords expression 
to the play impulse. The impelling motive is within, and 
the sight or thought of the game is the stimulus which re- 
leases the spring of action. Quite different is a reflective 
judgment concerning the value of the game as actually ex- 
perienced. This estimate may be favorable or unfavorable, 
but it does not change the motive which prompted one to 
engage in the sport. One may decide that the bruises are 
too many, that the fatigue is too great, or that the exertion 
is prejudicial to health. If this be the case, the result may be 
to inhibit or modify the impulse when it next appears. It 
is in this way that reflection upon experience actually modi- 
fies our playing of the game of life. As a result there is 
usually a growing identity between the moving forces in our 
activities and our reflective estimates of their value. If we 
could conceive a being of perfect intelligence, not driven by 
impulsive and appetitive forces, but moved to action by 
reflective estimates of value, we should regard these two 
aspects as entirely coincident, and the distinction which we 
are compelled to make in human conduct between impelling 
motive and judgment of value would disappear. But in 
the conduct of men we are not justified in disregarding this 

It is interesting to observe in passing that in some cases 
we value conduct more highly when it is impulsive and 
spontaneous than when it is brought under the introspective 
estimates of value. We commonly esteem more highly a 
kindly deed that springs directly from unreflecting sympathy 
than one which results from reflection, or a decorous act 
that expresses innate good taste than one which is more con- 
sciously elaborated. Human beings best attain certain 
ends by the path of instinct and habit, though it is not 
to be supposed that instincts and habits can escape 


Now it has frequently been assumed that, in order to 
estabUsh the truth of hedonism, the motive of every act 
must be proved to be the desire to secure pleasure or to 
avoid pain. And a refutation of this view has often been 
considered a refutation of the entire theory. Hedonism, 
however, has not always attached itself to the principle of 
motivation, but has also appeared in another form in which 
it has depended upon the principle of valuation. The theory 
that pleasure is the motive of every act is kno^^vn as psy- 
chological hedonism J and must be distinguished f: : n fM.ji^; 
hedonism, which holds that the value of conduct is ukLiiately 
measured by the production of pleasure. There is no justi- 
fication for confusing a doctrine which makes pleasure the 
universal object of desire and regards it as the sole motive 
power in conduct, with a doctrine which finds the ultimate 
value of experience in feelings of pleasure, and so regards 
these as the final standard of moral judgment. We proceed 
first to the criticism of psychological hedonism. 

II. Criticism of Psychological Hedonism 

In studying the motives of conduct it is important, first 
of all, to recognize the influence of instincts and impulses 
which impel us to action by an inner constraint, and of whose 
meaning and power we are, at the beginning of their opera- 
tion, only very imperfectly aware. In the case of instinctive 
and impulsive acts nature seeks expression, primarily with- 
out regard to the pleasure or pain attendant upon the act. 
Nature wills to live and does not reckon too nicely the cost 
to her countless creatures. And in man the "wiU to live" 
is a will to act in specific ways according to his propensities 
and endowments. If it is a will primarily to satisfy bodily 
wants and to gain possession of material things, it is also, 
as consciousness develops, a will to form family ties, to com- 
prehend things intellectually, and to appreciate them aesthet- 
ically, in fine, to exercise all the various functions of body 


and mind. The general types of our activity are thus fixed 
for us by nature. 

In a conscious being, palpitating with native desires, the 
mere presence of the idea of an object to be attained often 
issues in activity immediately, and without reflection upon 
its pleasantness or unpleasantness. The child thinks of its 
playthings and at once seeks them; it sees a flower and 
hastens to pluck it. The acts thus performed are, in the 
stricter sense of the term, ideo-motor, that is, they follow 
directly from the presence in consciousness of the idea of 
the act. Here the idea of the object which represents the 
goal of the inner impulse is clearly not the idea of pleasure as 
such, but is the idea of an object which, from its adaptation 
to some native propensity, is an object of desire. It is the 
same with acts which belong to the sphere of habit; the 
signal which summons us to the lecture-room, or the ringing 
of the telephone at one's desk, commonly results in immedi- 
ate, unhesitating action. Evidently, in such cases, the act 
is not conditioned by the representation of it as pleasant or 

But all these acts, it may be objected, are not instances of 
deliberate choice, and do not disprove the contention that 
pleasure is what we desire and seek in those cases in which we 
consciously choose between alternative courses of action, 
the cases of first importance for moral conduct. Yet here 
again it seems that normal human desires are objective and 
disinterested. By calling desires disinterested we simply 
mean that they are not primarily directed to the pleasure of 
their own satisfaction, but have some end, or goal, which is 
the center of conscious interest. If, for example, one goes to 
the rehef of a suffering animal, it is not because one thinks 
of oneseK as pleased by giving relief, but because one desires 
the animal to be rescued from its pain. The truth is, we find 
things pleasant because we desire them; we do not in the 
first instance conceive them to be pleasant and afterwards 


feel the desire. The appetite or desire for an object pre- 
cedes and conditions the pleasure found in its attainment. 
Psychological hedonism inverts the true order; it puts the 
cart before the horse. Desire .is the steed that bears pleasure 
in its train; until desire stirs, pleasiure is motionless. New 
levels of pleasurable activity could never be attained on the 
principle of psychological hedonism. Men had first to hit 
upon the novel elements in experience before they could 
picture them as pleasant. Did they not produce works of 
art before they could desire the pleasures of artistic creation, 
first sing, and afterwards represent singing as agreeable? 

Even in the case of the lower and more egoistic desires 
there is usually no conscious pursuit of pleasure as such, 
abstracted from the objects and activities upon which it is 
dependent. "A miser accumulates money, not deliberately 
saying to himself, ' I shall by doing this get the dehght which 
possession gives.' He thinks only of the money and the 
means of getting it; and he experiences incidentally the 
pleasure that comes from possession. Owning property is 
that which he revels in imagining, and not the feeling which 
owning property will cause." ^ In the words of James: 
"I cannot help thinking that it is the confusion of pursued 
pleasure with mere pleasure of achievement which makes the 
pleasure- theory of action so plausible to the ordinary mind." ^ 
Only the voluptuary habitually abstracts from experience 
the feeHngs of pleasure, and centers attention upon these 
to the exclusion of other elements. And such pursuit of 
pleasure, we are constantly reminded, is certain to be dis- 
appointing. The objective, not the minutely introspective 
and calculating temper, yields the conditions favorable to 
enjoyment. How abnormal the attitude of the voluptuary 
becomes, is seen in the fact that, in the absence of natural 
desire, he seeks artificially to arouse the desire through the 

^ Spencer, Data of Ethics, p. 250. 

* The Principles of Psychology, Vol. II, pp. 556-557. 


gratification of which pleasure is secured.^ Thus the gour- 
mand by the use of stimulants whets his faihng appetite for 
food; hence the restless search of the pleasure-seeker for sat- 
isfactions which are denied him because healthy desires have 
been killed. This empty and restless longing constitutes 
his true nemesis, his "fire that is not quenched." Healthy 
human consciousness is too much absorbed in the business of 
life to weigh with nice abstraction the probable pleasure to 
be derived from every detailed choice. Such a consciousness 
views the object which it desires as a whole, and the idea of 
it is much more than the idea of pleasure. ^ 

To leave the question without further analysis, however, 
would do injustice to a hedonistic psychology of action, 
which, if not wholly true, is not wholly false. If we must in- 
sist that the object of desire is for our thought not the idea of 
pleasure, must we not admit that it is, normally at least, a 
pleasant idea? Even in the case of an arduous or heroic deed, 
is it not commonly true that, at the moment of choice, its per- 
formance seems more pleasant, or less unpleasant, than the 
alternative? To a brave soldier the thought of service in his 
country's cause, at the risk of suffering and death, may well 
seem pleasanter than the cowardice or desertion by which 
alone the chance of such a fate could be escaped. Many a 
noble spirit, we may believe, finds the way of renunciation 
less unpleasant than recreancy to cherished ideals. How far 
the choice made under such conditions seems pleasanter at 
the moment than the rejected alternative, is a difficult 
question. There is doubtless involved here the distinction 

^ Cf. the attitude of the laborer who "would not take fifty cents for his thirst." 
^ We are not concerned to deny that it is possible to desire pleasure as such. But 
the moment such a desire is in way of realization the object of choice becomes more 
than the idea of pleasure; it takes on specific content. If, after a period of monoto- 
nous work, we desire pleasure, we are compelled to cast about for some specific 
form of amusement. It may be golf or tennis, music or the theater; but in any case 
the object of our choice ceases to be merely the idea of pleasure. If the chosen 
content itself does not absorb our attention the pursuit of pleasure inevitably proves 
a failure. 


between that which is pleasant in a superficial and transient 
sense, and that which is more deeply and permanently satis- 
fying. But for psychology, as we shall later urge, this dis- 
tinction is one between different kinds of pleasantness. The 
feeling of satisfying the demands of duty, or of striving to 
foUow the requirements of an ideal self, may be in its own 
way truly pleasant. We are not, however, called upon to 
settle too nicely the account of pleasure in the act of choice, 
since we have shown that the choice does not present itseK 
to us simply as a choice of the pleasant and unpleasant, but 
far more as the choice of an objective and disinterested 
content. It is probable that, in the choice of ideal ends, 
the hedonic element in feeling varies largely with different 
individuals, and with the same individual under different 

But it is certainly true that the imagined pleasantness of 
an object does increase our desire for it, although we can- 
not by this means explain the origin of the desire itself. 
Moral education consists in no small degree, as Aristotle 
pointed out, in connecting pleasure with worthy objects. 
Its task is to enlarge experience and clarify insight, and thus 
to emancipate us from the domination of immediate desires. 
The quickened imagination is happily able to surround dis- 
tant goals with warmth of feeling, and so to transform them 
into attractive and compelling ends. This power to rise 
above the stream of immediate impressions and to find 
abiding satisfaction in pursuits of universal and permanent 
value is the noblest endowmeirt of human nature. Such 
capacity determines spiritual rank; at its highest, it is the 
gift of moral genius. 

III. Ethical Hedonism and a Theory of Value 

Thus far we have dealt with psychological hedonism, with ^ 
the doctrine that pleasure is the sole object of desire and thr^ 
determining motive of all conduct. This theory we have' 


rejected as inadequate to explain the facts of experience. 
The existence of objective and disinterested desires is its 
essential refutation. We have now to consider a different 
and far more important theory, that of ethical hedonism. 
Whereas psychological hedonism maintains that pleasure 
is the only thing that we desire, ethical hedonism holds that 
pleasure is the only thing that is truly desirable, the one ulti- 
mate value of life. The ethical hedonist, it may be noted, 
is implicitly committed to the doctrine that, in so far as 
conduct is fully rationalized, a regard for pleasure will be the 
determining motive of conduct. At the same time, it is open 
to an ethical hedonist to maintain the objective quality of 
human desires. And he may consistently hold that a whole- 
hearted devotion, a generous abandon to ideal interests, 
as they present themselves in the social order, is for us mor- 
tals a far safer guide in conduct than a calculating regard for 
pleasure in detailed choices. In so far, however, as it can be 
shown that the existing order does not make for general 
happiness, he will seek to modify current standards by a 
more thorough application of his ultimate principle. 

In order to appraise this claim of ethical hedonism, to 
determine how far it is true and how far false, we are com- 
pelled to pursue an inquiry concerning the general nature 
and conditions of the experience of value. This, for the 
present, is the central task of our study. Anticipating for a 
moment the result of what is to follow, we shall see that hap- 
piness is one essential element of all values, but is never the 
whole of any single value. 

We have spoken of ultimate values and avoided "abso- 
lute" as a term for our human values because of the ambigui- 
ties and misleading suggestions of the latter word. If by 
absolute value is meant what is good in itself, the meaning 
> more clearly expressed by the word intrinsic, which we 
lall employ to distinguish certain final values from those 
which are instrumental in the production of other values. 


In this sense knowledge is both an intrinsic and an instru- 
mental value, because, while it is a means in the production 
of other values, it is also good in itself, one of the true ends 
of life, yielding immediate and high satisfaction. If, again, 
absolute means "unconditional," a challenge may at once 
be issued to point out a single value the actual existence of 
which in human experience is not subject to many condi- 
tions. The only unconditional moral value is obedience to 
the laws of value, and this means no more than that there 
is an unconditional obligation to do the best one can under 
existing conditions. A further objection to the use of the 
term absolute, as applied to moral values, is found in the 
fact that it suggests the problem of absolute idealism, the 
question of the existence of an all-embracing consciousness 
within which our human values are somehow contained. If 
one accepts the hypothesis of such an idealism and regards 
human experiences of worth as elements in the life of the 
Absolute, then, of course, all human values must stand in 
some relation to such a system of absolute values. But it 
is also clear that straightway to identify human values with 
these absolute values is a proceeding as unwarranted as the 
religious anthropomorphism which imblushingly identifies 
God with a magnified and exalted man. And still further, 
in order to make a system of absolute values serve as norms 
of human conduct, we should require nothing less than a 
specific and detailed revelation of these values, such as might 
be assumed to exist if we possessed an inspired philosophical 
bible or an infallible metaphysical pope. In the absence of 
both, we are compelled to limit ourselves to those values 
which our human experience has been able slowly but surely 
to win and to vindicate. Indeed, it is from human ex- 
perience of value alone that any so-called system of absolute 
values is derived; deduction can never proceed in the op- 
posite direction. The claim of such transcendent deduction 
may be likened to the descent of an aeronaut from the sky 


with the assertion that he never ascended from the earth. 
By rejecting the term absolute it is not intended to deny the 
existence of a world-order which determines the laws and the 
conditions of all our human values. Certainly the laws of 
value are not dependent upon our capricious personal 
desires, but stand authoritatively over and above them. 

In limiting ourselves to the values discoverable in human 
experience we are not subjecting them to the whims of in- 
dividual taste. All values are over-individual in the sense 
that the general conditions of experience are fixed primarily 
by a power transcending our wills. They are also over- 
individual in that they are universal. Like Socrates, we may 
find in them that which is valid because it transcends the 
here and now of individual experience and answers to com- 
mon human needs. We may speak of these as ultimate, 
or fundamental, values, in precisely the sense that our analy- 
sis can never go beyond them. 

We pass now to consider some further problems involved in 
a theory of values. First of all, value attaches alone to 
conscious experience. Nothing in the world can be conceived 
of as possessing any degree of worth save as it enters into, 
or forms an element of, experience. Whatever answer one 
may give to the idealist's contention that nothing in the 
universe exists outside of conscious experience, it is evident 
that no object can possess value outside of such experience. 
If we try to think a world which, in its earliest stages, was 
without consciousness — the world of the nebular hypothe- 
sis for example — all values that can be ascribed to it are 
strictly anticipatory of the time when conscious life appears. 
Until this time, "all the choir of heaven and furniture of 
earth" must be conceived as without the slightest value. 

Assent to this view, it would appear, is not universal. 
It has been seriously asked whether, if we think of two 
worlds, the one the most beautiful and the other the most 
ugly that we can imagine, and both "quite apart from any 


possible contemplation by human beings," we should not 
think it better that the most beautiful rather than the most 
ugly should exist. ^ To make the case complete, however, 
it must be assumed that the beauty and ugliness in question 
do not enter into the experience of beings other than man in a 
way that would affect their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. 
With this proviso, we must, I think, unhesitatingly declare 
that it would make no difference which one of the two 
worlds should exist. Mr. Moore's opposite answer seems to 
owe all its plausibility to the fact that he illicitly assumes a 
certain relation of the two worlds to human consciousness 
after all, when' he asks, "Would it not be well, in any case, 
to produce it (the beautiful world) rather than the other?" 
This obviously annuls the very condition essential to the 
problem. For certainly we should think it well to "do what 
we could to produce it," because, as beings who appreciate 
beauty, we find satisfaction both in contemplating and in 
trying to produce what is beautiful rather than what is 
ugly. Even the process of imagining a beautiful world is 
worth more than that of imagining an ugly one. As for a 
world which no conscious beings could ever try to produce, 
or could even contemplate when produced — a world sweep- 
ing forever through unconscious space — such a world would 
be wholly without value. 

Just as certain as it is that there can be no value apart from 
experience, so certain is it that not all human experience 
possesses the same degree of value. Not only do we give 
widely varying positive values to different portions of our 
existence, but there is not a little human experience which, 
considered by itself, we agree in describing by purely nega- 
tive terms of value. Such experience is like a bankrupt 
debtor; not merely is there absence of good, but the 
presence of positive evil. We should consider it better not 
to exist at all than to be burdened permanently with ex- 

^ G. E. Moore^ Principia Ethica, pp. 83-85. 


perience of this type. Few persons have reached maturity 
who have not passed through periods of such physical suffer- 
ing or mental anguish that they would not instantly prefer 
complete annihilation to the permanent and unbroken con- 
tinuance of these states of consciousness. If life were wholly 
made up of such experiences, the most pronounced pessimist 
would be more than justified in his judgment of life.* 

rv. Feeling and the Value Experience 

Is there any element common to all experiences which we 
regard as having positive value, and which we therefore desig- 
nate as good? And similarly, in those experiences to which 
we deny value and which we call evil, is there some character- 
istic mark discoverable in all? There does appear to be a 
psychological factor common to all the experiences of each 
type, and changing its character whenever we pass from the 
one type to the other. For all experiences which we call 
good, however varied their content may be, ultimately affect 
us agreeably; all those which we call evil ultimately affect 
us disagreeably. More exactly stated, the principle would be 
as follows: all experiences which, considered by themselves, 
we call good, are accompanied by affective states that are 
agreeable, or pleasurable; those experiences which, considered 
by themselves, we call evil, are accompanied by affective 
states that are disagreeable, or displeasurable. This form of 
statement recognizes that there are numerous cases in which 
conscious states, not desirable in themselves, are considered 
desirable because they are believed to make possible future 
experiences of worth for the agent or for others. Here belong 
the familiar examples of painful operations, hard discipline, 

^Whether there are experiences of a strictly neutral type to which neither a 
positive nor a negative value can be assigned, is a disputed psychological question. 
Logically such a neutral, or zero, point is required in passing through a complete 
series of possible values, extending both up and down the scale. But even if the ex- 
istence of these neutral states be admitted, they are obviously rare, and are not sig- 
nificant for the present purpose. 


costly self-sacrifice, etc. Conversely, there are experiences, 
considered desirable in themselves, to which reflection gives 
a negative value because they prevent the realization of 
other experiences of greater worth. Of many forms of grati- 
fication it must be admitted that they would be good if they 
did not prevent the reahzation of other and greater values. 
The warmth and cheer produced by alcohol would be good 
for the cold and tired workman returning from his day's 
labor, were it not for the reaction to follow, the formation of 
a dangerous habit, the neglect of wholesome food, and other 
ill effects. 

Before attempting a further explanation of the relation of 
states of feeling to judgments of value, it is important to 
fix as exactly as possible the meaning of the terms employed. 
Although the psychology of feeling is admittedly in a less 
forward state than that of other phases of our mental life, 
some general positions may be outUned with tolerably com- 
plete agreement on the part of psychologists. 

Feeling is a word which indicates the peculiarly personal 
and subjective aspect of our mental life, that with which "a 
stranger intermeddleth not." More than any other term 
it expresses our individual attitudes and reactions towards 
the objects of experience. Modes of feeling, or, as many 
would prefer to say, affective states, of varying degrees of 
intensity and quality, are an element in all our mental proc- 
esses. These states are marked by a quality of agreeableness 
or disagreeableness. It has often been customary to refer 
to this series of affective states, in its hedonic aspects, as 
the "pleasure-pain" series. This, however, is not a correct 
designation, as pain is a special form of organic sensation, 
and is not the opposite of pleasure. It is better therefore 
to speak of the pleasure-displeasure series. Pain is in itseff 
of course disagreeable; but one may have feelings of even 
acute pain, and still the total affective state may be agree- 
able. Unexpected good news, for example, may not cause 


the pain of a severe head-ache or of a wound to cease, but in 
spite of it the sufferer may find himself for a long time in a 
state of highly pleasurable feeling.^ 

Whether feelings can be reduced to the pleasure-displeasure 
series, or contain other and non-hedonic elements, is a ques- 
tion upon which psychologists are not agreed. ^ It is to a 
considerable degree a matter of terminology. Popular usage 
has given to the term feeling the most widely varied mean- 
ings. The "I feel" of daily speech includes almost every 
conceivable type of experience; impulses, desires, and emo- 
tions are all thus designated as feelings. But psychology 
must analyze this complex "I feel" into its various psychical 
components. Upon analysis, all the emotions, love, hate, 
fear, anger, etc., as well as all desires and impulses, are found 
to contain ideational and volitional, as well as feeling ele- 
ments. It would be a great gain in clearness if, for psycho- 
logical purposes, feeling were limited to the agreeable and 
disagreeable elements in consciousness. But whatever exten- 
sion we give to the term feeling, it is in its pleasurable and 
displeasurable elements that we find the most immediate 
appreciation of the value of experience. It is important to 
give due emphasis to the word immediate, because it is the 
function of the reflective and imaginative powers so to rep- 
resent for us the prospective and distant consequences of 
conduct as to enable us to disregard present gratification. 

^ One interesting example, among many, of the presence of pain in a state of 
pleasure has been observed in some cases of migraine, which, at a certain stage of 
the attack, are attended by a marked heightening of mental activity. There often 
result a clarity and vigor of the mental processes which yield a positive satisfaction 
in spite of the pain. 

^Professor Wundt's tentative classification would make feeling vary in three 
directions, consisting of (i) the pleasure-displeasure series, (2) the "excitement- 
depression," or "excitement-tranquilization" series, and (3) the "tension-relief" 
series. Even if this analysis can be successfully established, it still remains to be 
shown that any sense of value can be discovered in feelings of excitement or depres- 
sion, of tension or relief, apart from their pleasantness or unpleasantness. The same 
applies to Professor Royce's suggestion of the two series of feelings, "pleasure-dis- 
pleasure," and "restlessness-quiescence." 


This fact must not, however, lead us to forget that when 
such future consequences are actually realized their value 
will then become present to immediate feeling. He who re- 
sists the attraction of the pleasure of the moment, or heroic- 
ally suffers in the interests of the remote good of his fellows, 
finds, if he thinks the matter out, that this remote good must 
always report itself somewhere, at some time, in the hap- 
piness of some conscious being. 

For the sake of clearness we should also notice the relation 
of the term value to that of satisfaction, in which latter term 
there lurks a certain ambiguity. In discussing the motiva- 
tion of conduct we have emphasized the fact that there are 
inherent in us various impulses and desires which push us 
on towards given ends and activities. Employing the term 
in a wide sense, we may call these impulsive elements will- 
attitudes. Their presence determines primarily the direction 
of all our activities, and conditions the experience of all our 
pleasures. The performance of the appropriate act consti- 
tutes the satisfaction of the given impxilse, in the sense that 
that particular desire is stilled and no longer spurs us on to 
action. But it by no means follows that this satisfaction of 
desire is on the whole worthful; indeed, it may be quite the 
opposite. For our human desires are not only complex, but 
often conflicting. Many desires stir within us which demand 
their "satisfaction" just as urgently as do others, but the 
satisfaction of which, instead of bringing peace, content, and 
well-being, results in disappointment and disaster. The child 
may desire to put its fingers into the flame, or one may de- 
sire to eat unwholesome food, and although in each case the 
performance of the act satisfies the existing desire, the re- 
sults are highly displeasurable. In other words, the "satis- 
faction" of a desire may ultimately prove to be either satis- 
fying or dissatisfying. And if we are to employ the term 
satisfaction for the feeling of value, we must distinguish 
carefully between the mere fulfillment, or quietus, of an 


existing desire, and the enjoyment of relatively permanent 
and widely diffused states of agreeable consciousness that 
result from such fulfillment. Used in this latter sense, satis- 
faction is one of the best terms for the feeling of value, es- 
pecially for popular use, since it is generally understood 
to mark those experiences of well-being that arise from the 
higher individual and social activities. 

The so-called voluntaristic theories of value, which define 
the concept essentially in terms of desire, fail to observe the 
distinction which we have just stated. They overlook the 
necessity of distinguishing clearly between motive and value, 
between the desired and the desirable. The representatives 
of this view tend to define value in economic rather than in 
ethical terms. ^ The exchange value of any commodity, 
present in a given quantity, is determined quite directly by 
the existing desires for its possession. But exchange value 
and ultimate value do not coincide. Fakirs have always 
thriven by the possibility of arousing desire for goods which 
possess but little capacity to give satisfaction. And in the 
case of some goods which are permanently objects of desire, 
but which tend to be harmful, there is clearly no fixed 
relation between exchange value and ultimate value. 

It is important to bear in mind the wide range of the 
pleasure-displeasure series. It extends from the humblest 
physical gratifications and discomforts up to the most re- 
fined and exalted intellectual, aesthetic, and religious ex- 
periences. The persistent disregard by many writers of the 

^ Cf. Ehrenfels, Werththeorie und Ethik, Viertaljahrschrift fur Wissenschaftliche 
Philosophie, 1893. See also System der Werththeorie, I, p. 2. "Nicht deswegen 
begehren wir die Dinge, weil wir jene mystische, unfassbare 'Wert' in ihnen erken- 
nen, sondern deswegen sprechen wir den Dingen 'Wert' zu, weil wir sie begehren." 
This statement expresses a most important truth, but it fails to take account of the 
fact that desires, although essential to the experience of value, do not accurately 
measure the final worth of their objects. The necessity of both elements is in- 
sisted upon by Professor Urban. "Worth experience," he says, " is always a feel- 
ing attitude which presupposes the actualization of some conative disposition." 
Valuation: Its Nature and Laws, p. 54. 


higher ranges of feeling has greatly prejudiced the place of 
pleasure in ethical theory. Pleasure has sometimes been 
interpreted as "material welfare," or "animal contentment," 
as "fulfillment of desire for the things of the outer world"; 
feeling has been identified with "sensuous" feeling, with 
"impulse," with "instinctive desire," and even with the 
"flesh" as opposed to the "spirit," or rational h'fe. Hegel 
suggests that feeling is the element common to the brute 
creation and man, and so naturally assigns it a relatively low 
place in human nature. It would be impossible to indicate 
in detail the number of misconceptions and perversions of 
the terms in question which have foimd currency in ethical 
and philosophical literature. Maxi feels, it would seem, ac- 
cording to these narrow views, when he eats and drinks, or 
when he smokes a cigar and basks in the sunshine, but not 
when he thinks, when he appreciates the beautiful, or when 
he worships goodness. The best contemporary psychology, 
however, recognizes that the affective states are only partly, 
often indeed only to a slight degree, determined by sensations 
referable to the special senses and to the organic processes. 
For hiunan beings, those feelings which depend upon the 
ideational processes and whose source is "cerebral," ^ or 
"central," ^ rather than "sensuous," or "peripheral," be- 
come of first importance. As the child grows into the man, 
and the man advances in age, the higher feelings play an in- 
creasingly significant role. The same fact also holds true in 
the development of the race; pleasures and displeasures are 
more and more dependent upon complex mental processes. 
"Our life of feeling is conditioned to a larger and larger 
extent as we develop by processes of internal representation 
(recollection, imagination)." ^ The race, too, like the in- 

^ James, The Principles of Psychology, Vol. 11, p. 468. 

2 Titchener, An Outline of Psychology, pp. 99, 100, 108. Cf. Kiilpe, Outlines of 
Psychology, pp. 226-227. 
* Sully, The Human Mind, Vol. II, p. 13. 


dividual, advances in the long process of civilization from 
a sensational to an ideational stage of mental life, attaining 
new imiverses of experience. 

That feeling is thus increasingly dependent upon a rational 
or ideal content, and receives its special character from the 
nature of the content within which it arises, is of the highest 
import for ethics, and will receive attention further on. 
What we are here concerned to emphasize is the arbitrary 
and unpsychological limitation of feeling to the lower and 
narrower spheres of experience. Although in popular lan- 
guage the distinction between pleasure, as marking the more 
sensuous and special forms of gratification, and happiness, 
as representing the satisfactions of serenity and peace of 
mind, of harmony and permanent well-being, has gained 
currency in modern English usage, ^ there is no reason, on 
psychological grounds, for regarding this distinction as taking 
one outside of the pleasure-displeasure series. Within that 
series there is room for wide differences; within it, may be 
recognized the varied sources and types of both agreeable and 
disagreeable feelings, the special and the diffused, the tran- 
sitory and the more permanent, the coarser and the more 
refined, according to the world of experience in which they 
arise. Interpreted in psychological, if not in popular lan- 
guage, the terms pleasure and displeasure may both claim 
the higher as well as the lower connotation. 

With this psychological interpretation, which reduces the 
distinction between pleasure and happiness — a distinction of 
undoubted practical importance — to differences in the con- 
tent of the pleasure-displeasure series, is linked the problem 
of differences of quahty in pleasure. The answer to this 
must be, I think, an unequivocal assertion that pleasures do 
differ almost endlessly in quality, according to differences 
in the functions, physical and mental, upon which they de- 

^ In older English this distinction was not recognized, but pleasure was freely 
used even for the highest religious experiences. 


pend. The types and shades of quaUty range from the most 
simple satisfactions of daily life to rare moments of supreme 
exaltation. How can one completely identify the kind of 
pleasantness experienced in eating and drinking, with that 
f oimd in the presence of a great painting or a beautiful sun- 
set, in noble friendship or the spectacle of moral heroism? 
But when we come to a comparison of the worth of different 
pleasures, it must be remembered that our judgment neces- 
sarily assumes a quantitative form. It has commonly been 
thought that any hedonistic calculus requires the elimination 
of all differences of quality in pleasures. But this, we hold, 
is by no means necessary. In every sphere we make quanti- 
tative estimates of the value of quahtative differences, al- 
though we recognize that these estimates are inexact. So, 
when a worshiper of old desired to express the superior 
worth of the service of Jehovah to all worldly pleasures, he 
exclaims, "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand." 
Although pictures are not valued according to their square 
surfaces, their qualitative differences are nevertheless given 
quantitative expression in price. In the sphere of moral 
endeavor, too, few would in practice fail to assent to the same 
principle. The raising of a single individual to a very high 
level of moral worth would not be regarded by most good men 
as of equal value with a small increase of spiritual quality 
in a large number of individuals. Somewhere in the quanti- 
tative scale, at ten, a hundred, a thousand, or, if not even at 
that point, then at hundreds of thousands, the balance would 
fall in favor of numbers. In cases of the quantitative esti- 
mates of qualitative differences, no matter to what sphere 
they belong, we must not assume an exactness that is un- 
attainable. But we must none the less recognize that our 
judgment is one of more or less, of greater or smaller, in terms 
of value. 

With this preliminary discussion of some problems in the 
psychology of feeling, we return to the exposition and defense 


of the thesis, that at least one element which is essential to 
the very idea of value, positive or negative, is found in the 
affective states as agreeable or disagreeable. 

If we picture to ourselves a world of beings without any 
capacity for experiencing feelings of pleasure or displeasure, 
but with the cognitive and volitional activities unimpaired, 
we should have a world of indifferent fact, without any good 
or evil, any better or worse. The various relations of fact 
would be observed with perfect clearness, but no judgment 
of value could arise; the whole gamut of change would offer 
nothing to which a predicate of value could attach. To such 
a being, " one thing would be as important or as unimportant 
as the next, or rather not important or unimportant at all, 
but simply an existing fact. All predicates expressing rela- 
tions of value would be wholly unintelligible to him." ^ And 
if we imagine such a being looking down upon the conduct 
of men, he would fail to understand all those exhibitions of 
admiration and disgust in which our judgments of value find 
their most characteristic expression; our vocabulary of ap- 
proval and disapproval would indeed be an unknown tongue. 

Although such a mental state is of course impossible of 
complete realization, since affective elements enter into all 
our mental life, it may be worth while to point out that there 
are certain experiences which approximate to it, and which 
enable us to understand its meaning. In carrying through 
a long and complicated process of computation, one seems to 
experience moments to which neither of the terms good or 
evil applies with any degree of force. Slight sensations of 
strain and pressure are all that can be recalled as determin- 

* Paulsen, Introduction to Philosophy, p, 230. Cf . the following from his System 
of Ethics: " If there were no satisfaction and its opposite, all striving would cease, 
everything would be indifferent to us. — But what else does this mean than that 
feelings of pleasure ultimately determine all distinctions of value? Indeed of that 
there can be no doubt; if there were no feelings of satisfaction and their opposites, 
there would be no distinctions of value. Good and bad would be meaningless words, 
or rather we should never use them." Pp. 256-257. 


ing the feeling element in the experience, and these are fre- 
quently so faint as to give it no decided tone. The affective 
state is at its minimum intensity. Could this be wholly 
eliminated, a mode of existence would be realized concerning 
which it would be meaningless to raise the question of value. 
But the duration of such a state is short. Immediately the 
affective element rises again into prominence. We perceive 
that our work is progressing well or ill, that the result is cor- 
rect or incorrect, and we feel pleasure or displeasure accord- 
ingly. We note perhaps with a kind of aesthetic satisfaction 
the working of some formula, or we detect with all the pleas- 
ure of a fresh discovery some hitherto unobserved aspect 
of a mathematical principle. Some feature of the day's 
business, agreeable or disagreeable, may intrude itself upon 
us. Affective states, dependent upon these or other ideas, 
present themselves in consciousness and give value, positive 
or negative, to the experience. Illustrations of the reduction 
of the affective element in consciousness, with the accom- 
panying reduction of the sense of value, can be given by any- 
one who has learned to watch his experiences with something 
of the temper of the psychologist. An example may fre- 
quently be found in the continuous performance of a mechan- 
ical task which requires a considerable degree of attention, 
but which is too monotonous or too stupid to be permanently 
interesting. The mark common to all such experiences, 
however induced, is the reduction of the sense of the value of 
existence; this value increases, whether for good or ill, only 
with an increase in the intensity of the affective states. 

It is also instructive to attempt to reverse the process of 
abstraction which we have just sketched, by supposing the 
affective states to be retained, and the other elements of 
consciousness eliminated. A being so constituted, it would 
seem, would still be susceptible to good and evil. Feeling 
would of course be totally blind, but would nevertheless mean 
weal or woe to the subject of it. Life might thus consist of 


throbs of delight or throes of angmsh, without any percep- 
tion of their source or meaning. Doubtless, too, there are 
approximations to such types of experience, particularly in 
extreme physical pain, which often seems to benumb the 
other powers of the soul. The literature of torture offers 
nimierous illustrations to the reader who cares to enter that 
forbidding field. As an example of the dependence of value 
upon feeling, one may call to mind Lotze's striking compari- 
son of the crushed worm, writhing in pain, and the angel en- 
dowed with consummate intelligence, but without feeling.^ 
Criteria of value would be applicable to the existence of the 
worm, but not to that of the angel. To the angel, devoid of 
feeling, the question as to the worth of life would have no 
meaning. It would be, in Nietzsche's striking phrase, " jen- 
seits von Gut und Bose." Attention has already been called 
to the very wide range of feeUngs which enter into human 
experience, and to the significance of those attending the 
higher and more complex mental activities. But it may not 
be amiss, at this point, to insist upon the fact that the life 
of the scholar as well as that of the man of action, the artist, 
or the religious devotee, may be one of profound feehng. 
It is often assumed that the act of thought is normally im- 
attended by strong and deep affective states, and is even 
antagonistic to them. The "passionless" life of some thinker 
like Spinoza is held up as an example of a life without feeling. 
What is quite overlooked is the fact that one may have a 
"passion" for other things than those which most men pur- 
sue, and that the currents of feeling may be fed by springs 
unknown to the multitude. Knowledge is part of the end 
of human life, as well as a means to other ends, just because it 
ministers directly to the delight of the knower and of those 
who share his interests. Many states of feeling are directly 
dependent upon the higher cognitive or ideational processes, 

^ Microcosmus (Eng. translation), Vol. I, p. 250; see also pp. 692-694. Cf. hia 
Practical Philosophy, pp. 16-19. 


and are made possible only by those processes. Everyone is 
familiar with the fact that our intelligence is often called 
upon to exercise control over the emotions. We need again 
and again to check one emotion and to arouse another by 
attention to the appropriate trains of thought. This func- 
tion of our reason has been called "regulative." But the 
intellect is not merely regulative of feeling, exercising a meas- 
ure of control over it; it is also constitutive of feeling, pro- 
ducing by its own activity new affective elements, both agree- 
able and disagreeable, which would not otherwise exist at all. 
Only on this view of the relation of thought and feeling does 
the life of the scholar, or Aristotle's ideal life of contemplation, 
appear tolerable. Otherwise it would be cold and colorless, 
mere ''graue Theorie.'^ 

It should not be forgotten that the value found in the af- 
fective states is not limited, in the case of any act, to the feel- 
ings which directly attend its performance, nor to those which 
immediately follow, nor to both of these together, but in- 
cludes the total affective results of the act in the experience 
of all conscious beings in any wise influenced by it. Some- 
where, and at some time, all acts must find their value in an 
inner world of satisfaction, which is expressible psychologic- 
ally in feelings of the pleasure-displeasure series. Must we 
not say, too, that, prior to the production of such states 
of feeling, all values are strictly anticipatory? 

V. Hedonistic Implications of Optimism and Pessimism 

For the purpose of setting in still clearer light the place of 
feelings of pleasure and displeasure in any system of values, 
let us examine the attitude of both the optimist and the 
pessimist towards the worth of life. The question at 
issue between optimism and pessimism is fundamental 
for morality, and might even serve as the point of departure 
for the development of an ethical theory. For the answer 
which is given to the question. Is life worth living? will de- 


termine the goal of moral striving. A negative answer neces- 
sarily involves the judgment that conduct should have, as its 
ultimate aim, the decrease and even the final extinction of 
life, while an affirmative answer involves, with equal neces- 
sity, the judgment that conduct should aim to conserve and 
increase life. But optimism and pessimism not only de- 
termine, each in its own way, the final goal of conduct; 
they also contain implicitly the principle, or principles, for 
the valuation of life. The grounds on which the optimist 
justifies his assertion that fife is desirable must express the 
elements of value which he finds in life. Similarly, the rea- 
sons which the pessimist assigns for his condemnation of life 
must also express, in a negative way, his own principle of 

Such a procedure assumes the significance and legitimacy 
of the question. Has life any value? Perhaps the pertinency 
of this inquiry will not generally be doubted, although it has 
been challenged. One writer says: "If you can show me 
where living competes with non-living, and on which side 
the question is decided, I will allow that h*fe itself can be 
tried by the standard of use or value. Till you do so I can 
attach no meaning to the question. The question to which 
I can attach a meaning is the question, What form of life 
has use or worth?" ^ 

Although it may be admitted that ordinarily the question, 
"What form of fife has worth," is the more pertinent, the 
other question cannot be excluded. To exclude it, would be 
to deny altogether the possibility of a radically pessimistic 
view. Against its exclusion it seems sufficient to say that 
"living competes with non-living," not only in the case of 
the suicide — ^where its competition is wholly imsuccessful — 
but also in the thought of no small portion of mankind, who 
at some time in the course of life ask with insistent earnest- 
ness whether life has any value at all. Mr. Alexander seems 

^ S. Alexander, The Idea of Value, Mind, N. S., Vol. I, p. 50. 


forced to his statement by his own theory of value. The 
standard of value in his view is the "social equiUbrium." 
He says: "Value is nothing but the efficiency of a conscious 
agent to promote the efficiency of society, to maintain the 
equilibrium of forces which that society represents." ^ One 
may, however, press the question beyond the individual 
agent, whose worth is here so completely merged in that of 
society, and may ask, What then is the value of society 
itself? Or, if this question, too, seems to have " no meaning," 
one may at least properly inquire for some principle by which 
the relative values of different periods or forms of society 
are determined; and if we answer this query according to the 
principle of the writer quoted, we shall be compelled to say 
that the value of any given period or form of society is meas- 
ured by the contribution which it makes towards the effi- 
ciency of some other succeeding period or form of society, 
and so on ad infinitum. No ultimate criterion of value, 
either for the individual or for society, is attained by this 
process. Such a theory of value puts one in mind of the 
countryman, who, when asked the value of his herd of cattle, 
always computed it in terms of the prospective herd which it 
was capable of producing. The radical defect in Mr. Alex- 
ander's theory of value is the lack of any principle for the 
direct valuation of the experience of individuals, apart from 
whose consciousness society has no worth and no existence. 
Pessimism has usually rested upon a frankly hedonistic 
basis. This is true whether one looks to the rehgious pessi- 
mism of the Orient or to the philosophical pessimism of the 
western world. It has not infrequently been urged, in recent 
discussions, that there may be other grounds for a pessimis- 
tic view of the world than those which are found in the con- 
viction that life 5delds a clear balance of unhappiness. Thus 
Mr. F. C. S. Schiller, after repudiating the hedonistic basis 

1 S. Alexander, The Idea of Value, Mind, N. S., Vol. I, p. 54. Cf. also his 
Moral Order and Progress, p. 232. 


of pessimism as in itself inadequate, suggests four grounds 
for a pessimistic theory of life.^ Life may be condemned, 
he says, because it lacks happiness, beauty, truth, or good- 
ness. Or, stating the same thought in negative terms, life 
may be a curse rather than a blessing, because of its un- 
happiness, ugliness, inscrutabihty, and badness. These are 
suggested, it is to be observed, as four coordinate grounds of 
pessimism. But this form of statement entirely disregards 
and obscures the fact that unhappiness, if it exists, depends 
upon the other factors mentioned, as well as upon others 
not here specified. For neither happiness nor unhappiness 
is an independent psychical fact that can spring from the 
ground or hang suspended in mid-air, without relation to the 
other aspects of human interest and activity. In unhappi- 
ness, the writer has given a general and inclusive statement 
of the pessimist's judgment on its subjective, affective side, 
and has then proceeded to state the same experience on its 
objective, ideational side. Clearness of thought would re- 
quire that the statement should take one of the following 
forms, either of which, if standing alone, would be intelligible 
and consistent, though, as we shall attempt to show, neither 
alone would be complete: life is without value because of 
its unhappiness; or, life is without value because of its 
ugliness, inscrutability, and badness. One must admit, I 
think, on the one hand, that life would not be unhappy were 
it not ugly, inscrutable, bad, etc., and on the other, that we 
should not condemn it for any or all of these reasons, did they 
not report themselves in those affective states to which the 
term "unhappiness" is applied. Surely, if the recognition 
of ugliness, inscrutability, and badness were habitually 
attended by feelings of pleasure, they would never be pre- 
sented as grounds of pessimism. Further, it is clear that, as 
mere intellectual insights or judgments of fact, these aspects 

^ "The Relation of Pessimism to Ultimate Philosophy," International Journal 
of Ethics, Vol. VIII, p. 48. 


of life would never lead to that view. It is only when they 
are felt in experience that they become charged with despair. 
Indeed, there are conditions when these very judgments 
might be attended with affective states which would make 
them contributory to an optimistic view. Thus the sceptic 
who holds a brief for the impossibihty of knowledge concern- 
ing ultimate problems, and who feels an absorbing interest 
in the defense of his position, would find a satisfaction in 
every fresh piece of evidence which tended to show that in 
their deepest nature things are beyond the reach of human 
knowledge. And such satisfaction might be so keen that no 
unprejudiced observer would hesitate to say that for the 
time, at least, our sceptic found Hfe worth living precisely 
because of its inscrutability. The history of scepticism 
affords illustrations of this experience. One can hardly avoid 
the conclusion that, to men like Pyrrho and Sextus Empiri- 
cus, life had value at times very largely in proportion to 
their supposed ability to vindicate the agnostic position. 
But when one's heart is heavy with 

"The burden of the mystery 
of all this unintelligible world," 

then the same view becomes a source of pessimism. There 
are also many conditions under which the existence of ugh- 
ness affords pleasure. Consider the jealous artist or literary 
critic who finds this element in the work of his rival, or the 
caricaturist who fastens with keen delight upon what is 
ugly in the features of his victim. In these and similar 
moods the judgment that things are ugly will not tend to 
make one pessimistic. The ugly is, for the time being, just 
what is wanted to induce in the individual the opposite 
tone. The belief that beauty is unrealized will drive one to 
pessimism only when the longing for the beautiful and the 
abhorrence of the ugly produce suffering. It is not other- 
wise with moral badness. Despair never springs from the 


mere intellectual recognition that such evil is widespread in 
the world, but from the regret and pain and sorrow which it 

It should be observed that this criticism is not directed 
against the validity of an objective or ideational statement 
of the grounds of pessimism. Indeed, such a form of state- 
ment seems indispensable to any adequate treatment of the 
subject; and herein the contention that pessimism may be 
stated otherwise than in terms of pure hedonism finds its 
justification. The whole point of our criticism, however, 
centers in a protest against setting down the peculiarly sub- 
jective and affective element, unhappiness, which must exist 
in every conceivable ground of pessimism, as an element 
coordinate with the objective, ideational elements, and thus 
by implication excluding it from these. This is a procedure 
which leads only to confusion, and obscures alike the truth 
and the error of the happiness theory. Every experience of 
good may properly be described in terms of the activities 
which yield the feeling. Either description, taken alone, 
tells only half the truth. This is evident from any state- 
ment of our most common experiences. If I say, "I had a 
delightful day yesterday," the expression clearly indicates 
that I ascribe to the experience of yesterday a positive 
value, but it does not tell in the slightest degree what was 
the objective content of the experience, or by what activities 
the good which I enjoyed was constituted — ^whether the day 
was given to an excursion into the country, or was devoted 
to study, or was spent in social service. If my friend desires 
to duplicate the dehght that I have experienced, he is quite 
in the dark as to the necessary procedure until my experience 
is rendered, not simply in terms of feeling, but also in terms 
of d,ctivity. Yet a description in terms of activity alone is 
equally inadequate. If I say that I took such an excursion, 
or read such a book, or performed such a service, without 
any suggestion of the feeling that accompanied the experi- 


ence, I have given no hint by this mode of description as to 
whether I regard the day as a failure or a success, whether 
I would advise my friend to take the excursion, to read the 
book, or to engage in such service. I might conceivably 
desire to warn him against any of these activities, but the 
mere description of the activities, as such, contains no sug- 
gestion either of approval or of disapproval. No good, then, 
is adequately described in terms of pleasure, though pleasure 
is an element in every good; and similarly, no good is ade- 
quately described in terms of objects or activities, though 
these constitute an essential element in every adequate 
description of the good. 

VI. Happiness an Element in Every Value 

The error of separating the two essential aspects of our 
judgments of value is seen in frequently occurring expres- 
sions. To speak of "pleasures and other goods," of "happi- 
ness and other values," is to abstract the element of feeling 
and set it up as an independent and complete thing. Such 
a procedure would be exactly paralleled by the absurdity of 
talking of leaves and other deciduous trees. For happiness 
never constitutes the whole of any good, but is an element 
of every possible good. 

Precisely the same objection may be raised against the 
statement of the problem in the famiUar formula: "Is hap- 
piness the summum honum? " The question in its common 
interpretation implies that there are various bona, of which 
one, happiness, is distinct from the others and possessed of 
unique value. Whereas happiness, we repeat, is an aspect 
of all conceivable hona; nothing would be a honum did it not 
somewhere, at some time, make contribution to the satis- 
faction of some conscious being. It is equally true, however, 
that this affective state can never be found alone, existing 
independently, but is necessarily linked to some function of 
the self, which function is capable of being viewed objec- 


lively, and without immediate reference to the satisfaction 
which it produces. Whenever, then, pleasure or happiness 
is set apart as separate from other goods, or values, there 
is a fundamental defect in analysis and description. As if 
happiness could ever be found apart from the various forms 
of economic, physical, aesthetic, intellectual, and religious 
activities! Or as if these interests would represent anything 
worthful, if, instead of resulting in states of positive satis- 
faction, they were attended ultimately either by perfectly 
neutral states of feeling or by those of positive dissatisfaction ! 
Such abstraction of happiness from our concrete activities 
has been the error of hedonism, and, as we now see, a similar 
abstraction of other elements is the error of the anti-hedonist. 
Certainly any thoroughgoing anti-hedonist who excludes 
happiness altogether from a theory of value is involved 
at once in difficulties and contradictions. For, if happiness 
is not an element in the goal of human endeavor, it may be 
disregarded as a negligible quantity. And being rejected 
from our ideal as non-essential, its increase or diminution 
cannot affect the integrity of that ideal. Let us assume that 
as this ideal — ^whether expressed by self-realization, per- 
fection, or any other desired term — is progressively realized, 
happiness constantly diminishes; let its reahzation be at- 
tended even by unhappiness in ever increasing ratio. We 
should then have an ideal the realization of which would 
ultimately involve unspeakable misery. To this no objec- 
tion can be offered by anyone who does not regard happiness 
as in some way essential to the good. But one has only to 
state such a conception to find it summarily rejected not 
merely by common sense, but by reflective thought as well. 
To reject this view, however, is to admit that happiness is an 
essential element in our ideal, and that it must have a recog- 
nized place. But what place? It is in the failure to answer 
this question that the defects of many ethical treatises are 
most strikingly exhibited. There is often, it is true, frank 


admission that happiness has always represented a measure 
of truth, and that it must have a place in ethical theory. 
What that place is, however, has often been left obscure. 
Happiness frequently fares at the hands of ethical writers 
like a guest whom the host has felt bound to invite, but for 
whom no place has been provided at table. Or it may be 
likened to an actor who is permitted to come upon the stage 
with the rest of the company, but who is assigned no role in 
the play. The relation of happiness to the moral life is far 
too important to be left thus vague. 

It is sometimes said that the aim of morality is not to 
render men happy, but to make them worthy of happiness. 
But this statement only pushes the relationship one step 
further back and does not deny its ultimate vaUdity. The 
worthiness aimed at is still worthiness of happiness. It is 
significant that the great rigorists, hke Kant and the Stoics, 
have admitted this ultimate connection between virtue 
and happiness. The same is true also of Christian ethics. 
For while Christian thought has tended to find the ultimate 
sanction of morahty in the bhss of a future, super-terrestrial 
order, this "change of venue does not alter the verdict." 
It is true that the first and chief concern of ethical traim'ng 
is to secure obedience to the laws of value. This often re- 
quires a disregard of immediate satisfaction; perhaps it 
even requires, as far as the individual is concerned, a per- 
manent surrender of happiness in the interest of what is 
precious to the race. But this admission does not in the 
least impeach the principle. The real question concerns the 
ground-work of moraUty, the ultimate justification of the 
standards to which it requires obedience. 

There are three possibilities of the general relation of 
morahty to happiness. Morality may be regarded as tend- 
ing to increase happiness; or it may be regarded as tending 
to decrease happiness; or its influence upon happiness may 
be regarded as quite indifferent and accidental, so that no 


general principle concerning the relationship of the two can 
be estabhshed. From these three possibihties the student 
of ethics may choose. Few, I think, would be wiUing to 
accept the view that no intelligible relationship whatever 
exists between morahty and happiness; and still fewer, 
probably, would care to defend the thesis that the tendency 
of morahty is to decrease happiness. This question of the 
relation of morahty to happiness will meet us again in the 
next chapter. Here it is enough perhaps to point out that 
the view which we are developing finds in states of agree- 
able feeling an essential element of all positive values, and 
that morahty forms no exception in this respect to other 
human values. 

VII. Some Criticisms Considered 

In order to show that happiness is an essential part of all 
ultimate good, it is not necessary to refute in detail the 
many traditional arguments urged against hedonism. The 
polemical literature of the subject has often confused ethical 
with psychological hedonism. This latter principle we have 
rejected, and with its rejection there at once fall away many of 
the arguments found in anti-hedonistic literature. Further, 
while it has been maintained that pleasure is an essential 
aspect or element of all values, it is not claimed that it forms 
the sole or adequate description of any value. It has been 
shown on the contrary that good and evil may both be stated 
in objective, ideational, or constitutive terms, as well as in 
those which we have described as subjective, affective, and 
evaluative. The two aspects are indeed both essential to an 
adequate description of any experience to which we assign 
a value, either positive or negative. Again, the method 
adopted, that of a critical study of the experience of value, 
cuts quite under the conventional approach to the problem. 
It rests its validity upon the analysis of experience in so far 
as it is recognized as possessing any worth, or value, at all. 


Moral values are taken up into a larger category. And while 
problems of their relation to the total content of value in 
human life still remain for our consideration, they cannot, 
we may be sure, escape the general principles of value. In 
spite of these considerations, it seems desirable to examine 
some of the criticisms which are most frequently urged 
against hedonism in order to indicate more fully the sig- 
nificance of the view for which we are contending. 

Some objections, more or less practical in motive, are often 
urged with considerable rhetorical warmth. The life of 
pleasure is held up to scorn as involving an unmanly avoid- 
ance of pain and suffering, a shrinking from all those heroic 
efforts and sacrifices which set the high-water mark of char- 
acter. Self-indulgence and luxurious ease are accordingly 
represented as the only path to which a hedom'stic view can 
lead. These criticisms will hardly seem to merit attention 
in any scientific theory, so obviously do they rest upon a 
false psychology and a superficial interpretation of experi- 
ence. Pleasure is, in this view, identified solely with the 
more transient and limited states of agreeable consciousness, 
and the presence of pain and suffering is regarded as exclud- 
ing the experience of pleasure. The criticism also wholly 
ignores the fact that many of the keenest and most enduring 
pleasures are habitually finked with struggle, with conquest 
of difficulties, and with victory over self. It is indeed almost 
a commonplace of worldly wisdom that the purest springs 
of satisfaction lie close to the more rugged heights of human 
endeavor. The representation of the happiness principle as 
a theory that makes morality identical with a regime of 
natural impulses or physical comfort, owes all its plausibiHty 
to the superficiafity of its interpretation. 

Equally misleading are those criticisms which rest upon 
the interpretation of happiness as an external product, 
" turned out " by the virtuous man, as a manufactured article 
is produced by a machine, or which in other forms represent 


happiness as a goal to be attained, where effort ceases and 
stagnation inevitably ensues. Both interpretations are un- 
warranted. The illustration of the machine altogether fails 
to illustrate. It could do so only provided the purpose of 
the machine were fully reahzed in its own activity, apart from 
any external product or result. The direct dependence of 
all feelings of value upon functions of the person who ex- 
periences and possesses the value, is a psychological truth 
which at once furnishes the corrective for all external views 
of happiness. And the same truth also stamps not merely 
as erroneous, but as wholly fantastic, the hnkage of happiness 
with inactivity. The statement that, "A world of completed 
happiness might well be a world of quiescence, of stagnation, 
of automatism, of blankness," ^ could hold only for creatures 
wholly different in constitution from ourselves, or from any 
beings of which we have knowledge. There is no purely 
"passive" pleasure, for all our experiences of happiness are 
linked with activities, and cease when activity ceases. 

Not a Uttle dialectical skill has been expended in the effort 
to show that the conception of a "sum of pleasures," a 
phrase which has often been applied to a totality of agree- 
able states of consciousness, is inherently contradictory and 
impossible. 2 The expression cannot be defended as scientif- 
ically accurate, for no exact measurement and no mathe- 
matical summation can be applied to the problems of conduct 
under any theory of morality. It is a form of speech to be 
avoided. But it may nevertheless be contended that an 
intelHgible meaning attaches to the words, "sum of pleas- 
ures," when an imdue exactness is not insisted upon. The 
idea of the enjoyment of pleasures at successive periods and 
from various sources is certainly clear enough. It is also clear 
that the loss of any particular pleasure subtracts something 

^ Fiske, Through Nature to God, p. 114. 

* See, for example, Green, Prolegomena to Ethics, pp. 235-246; Mackenzie, 
Manual of Ethics, pp. 229-230. 


from the experience of such enjo3nnent, while its presence 
adds something thereto. Otherwise one might substitute 
for each pleasure some displeasure or disappointment, and 
still claim that the total hedonic effect remained the same. 
But nobody would care to maintain that there is no differ- 
ence between a hfe of continuous and progressive satisfac- 
tion, and one of similarly continuous dissatisfaction.^ 

The critic of hedonism not infrequently makes claims at 
this point which are open to the very objections brought 
against the hedonistic position. The appeal to any "yard 
stick" of conduct, or to. any exact unit of measurement, must 
be as summarily rejected as the notion of a mathematical 
"sum of pleasures." It is sometimes said that such a imit 
of measurement is found in the activity upon which the 
pleasure depends. But activities are as manifold and as 
difficult to reduce to a common denominator as the feehngs 
of pleasure and displeasure which accompany them. The 
measure which is set up in opposition to the hedonistic stand- 
ard is itself no exact measure at all, and the search for such a 
unit of measure is futile. Even the assmnption here in- 
volved that feelings of satisfaction are measured by an 
objective standard, and that in and through the use of that 
standard some are rejected and others approved, is at most 
only a haK truth. For one of the most obvious and persistent 
aspects of experience is the rejection of one activity in favor 
of another, because, when measured by the standard of feel- 
ing, the one is foimd wanting in the satisfaction which the 
other yields. The constant testing and sifting of activities 
by the feelings of pleasure and displeasure which they yield, 
is illustrated almost endlessly in both physical and mental 
life. In nimiberless cases the "yard stick" for the measure 
of the worth of activities is the subjective one of feehng. 
It may even be said that, if the evil-doer finally rejects his 

^ Cf. Taylor, The Problem of Conduct, p. 330; and Rashdall, Theory of Good and 
Evil, Vol. II, Book U, Chap. I. 


course of conduct for one of right-doing, he does so because 
evil-doing is found to be deeply and permanently dissatis- 
fjdng. As has already been stated, thought is compelled 
to take account of the objective, fxmctional aspects of con- 
duct, but this is not because we there find an accurate 
system of measurement which is wanting to the Kfe of feehng. 

Nor does the "unity " for which the doctrine of self-reali- 
zation is claimed to provide, prove, on examination, to be 
any more exact in its meaning. At best it is an ideal of a 
very vague and elastic nature. As a matter of fact nobody 
is prepared to give an account of the moral life in terms which 
completely secure this unity. To give such an account 
would require one to show to what extent every function 
should be exercised in order to secure exactly the right de- 
gree of development of the individual and of society. Those 
who succeed most fully in realizing themselves would doubt- 
less be the first to lament their failure in this respect, and 
would recognize that, if they are giants in some fields of 
activity, in others they are mere dwarfs with well-nigh 
atrophied organs. Who does not seem compelled by the 
very duties of his station to concentrate effort in such a way 
as to leave important sides of his nature only half-developed, 
perhaps hardly called into play at all? The unity of our 
moral life must be confessed to be an ideal which none can 
exactly define in theory or completely attain in practice. 

Yet despite these obvious limitations, the conception of 
the full and harmonious realization of all our human capaci- 
ties has great value as an ideal. It always keeps in advance 
of actual attainment, forever sounding the cry, "Excelsior." 
The criticism here intended is not directed against the doc- 
trine when confined to its proper limits; it only concerns those 
claims which are made for it as yielding a degree of exact- 
ness that is sought in vain in a rival system, but which, from 
the very nature of the case, no system whatever can yield. 
The most precious things in life defy exact measurement. 


VIII. The Hedonistic Paradox 

The so-called paradox of hedonism is often urged as an 
objection to the happiness theory. The paradox consists 
in the fact that, while happiness is made the end of human 
action, it is generally admitted that it must not be directly 
aimed at, or in other words that "to get happiness one must 
forget it." The whole meaning of this mooted paradox when 
critically examined is that happiness, to be attained, must 
be sought in the right way, a statement that clearly applies 
to all objects of desire. More exactly, happiness must be 
sought through the appropriate objective interests and ac- 
tivities, and these must absorb one's attention. In truth, 
it may well be insisted that the paradox in question holds 
throughout the whole range of our practical aims, and that 
not only happiness, but also all other ends which men pur- 
sue, must in like manner be forgotten in order to be attained 
with success. The honor and respect of one's fellow men, 
wealth, and even the perfection of one's higher life, must in a 
very real sense be lost sight of if they are to be secured in 
any large measure. Honor and respect are won only when 
one forgets all about winning them, and becomes absorbed 
in those activities which develop and display the human 
qualities that secure approval and esteem. Wealth, too, 
is found equally coy to immediate approaches. Who has 
ever become possessed of wealth by thinking of gold? Who, 
rather, has not been compelled, in order to win it, to lose 
himself in those business and commercial activities which 
are the only means of financial success? The miserly 
instinct is fatal to large achievement in this field. 
And spiritual perfection is no exception to the paradox. 
"Who by taking thought can add a cubit to his stat- 
ure?" The cubit of growth is only added to character 
in the current of the world's activities, in self-forgetful 


"Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille, 
Sich ein Character in dem Strom der Welt." 

In fine, it seems that out of all these paradoxes of our prac- 
tical life, the paradox of hedonism has been chosen as scape- 
goat and sent forth into the wilderness of polemics burdened 
with the sins of all the others. Anyone who is still dis- 
turbed by it will do well to study the conduct of a well- 
trained child. For such a child has already learned that if it 
is to find happiness when the ordinary sources of gratifica- 
tion fail, as on a rainy day or when some expected pleasure 
has ended in disappointment, it can only be found in some 
absorbing pursuit or in devotion to the happiness of others. 
The child that has been wisely trained seeks happiness under 
these conditions and gets it, the hedonistic paradox notwith- 

This explanation was due to a much-abused paradox. The 
paradox, however, has lived because of the truth which it 
contains. And this truth is no other than that which has 
already been stated, the truth, namely, that every value must 
be viewed not merely as an agreeable feeling in some con- 
sciousness, but also as an activity by and through which the 
feeling is constituted. We are thus again led to recognize 
the dual aspect of every experience of value when subjected 
to analysis and description, as on the one hand subjective, 
affective, and evaluative, and on the other, objective, ide- 
ational, and constitutive. 

IX. The Inadequacy of Hedonism 

In the foregoing discussion we have been concerned to 
show as clearly as possible the place of happiness in an 
analysis of ultimate value. This discussion has shown, we 
trust, the reasons for the unbroken vitality of the happiness 
theory from the beginnings of reflection to the present day, as 
well as for the importance which in religion, in literature, and 
in daily life has always and everywhere been attached to the 


ideal. But after recognizing the significance of feelings of 
pleasure and displeasure in our immediate appreciation of 
value, one is ine\itably brought face to face with the inquiry, 
How are they constituted? On what activities do they 
depend? WTiat objective interests do they demand? What 
is the ideational content with which they are inseparably 
linked? And yet to attempt to transcend the happiness 
theory, without taking up into a constructive system the full 
measure of truth which it contains, is to rear an ethical \'iew 
on an insecure foundation. 

Now that we have reached the end of the discussion, it 
may be frankly admitted that the happiness principle, 
justly interpreted, is perhaps the most ob\-ious of ethical 
principles. Although its truth, within the limits defined, 
is unimpeachable, the truth would seem to lie, at least for 
imprejudiced reflection, almost upon the surface of thought. 
As the truth that all objects must be perceived in space 
does not help in finding a lost article, so the truth that every 
good and ill of human life is a good and ill appreciated in 
feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, will not teU us how 
we are to win the good and escape the ill. If we have gone too 
far by such a comparison, and have suggested a lack of 
utiHty that does injustice to the happiness principle, it is 
still true that its importance for practice is easily over- 
estimated. Happiness is too abstract, and also, if carelessly 
used, too Hable to abuse, to be set up as a ready formula 
for guidance in the details of conduct. Despite these limita- 
tions, important considerations have seemed to justif}^ a 
detailed criticism of the theory. The place it has held in 
ethical Hterature is such that it could not be disregarded in 
any discussion that aimed to be at all comprehensive. A 
further reason is found in the attractiveness of the doctrine 
to many students to whom, at the outset, it often appears as 
the solution of all difficulties. It is confidently believed that 
it is a great advantage to have mastered this theory, since 


the thorough coniprehensi^n of the principle is at the same 
time, of necessity, an understanding of its limitations. -And, 
finally, one may perhaps be pardoned for a slight sentiment 
of chivahy* impelling one to tn' to do something to set right 
an often misinterpreted and mahgned theory*. For it is 
hardly an exaggeration to say that no diicuision of moral 
questions has been considered altogether respectable that 
did not hasten to give a spe^edy coup de grdce to hedonism. 

It vrill be o"ur task in the following chapters to exhibit 
more f-ully the limitations of happiness as an ethical principle, 
and to show how a theor\' of moral values may win that ob- 
jec:i\-i:\- which reflecrive thought and practical needs imite 
in dez:2n' Such an objective principle is first presented 
in the t::e:r.- c; perfection, a theor}- which finds the goal of 
h-unian ezcrt in the enlargement of personaht}-, the realiza- 
tion of all our human powers. 


We have examined the merits and defects of one form of 
teleology, that which finds all ultimate value in agreeable 
states of feeling. But happiness is not the only interpre- 
tation of the moral end. Another interpretation appears 
under the various names of perfection, self-reaUzation, ener- 
gism, and personality. Still other designations have also 
been used, although they are less widely current. The 
reader need not, however, be disturbed or puzzled by this 
variety of terminology. With varying historical back- 
ground and points of emphasis, these terms all express the 
same essential meaning; they all agree in affirming that the 
end of moral effort is the enlargement of life, the full and 
harmonious development of human capacities. The ground 
for the preference of one act to another, according to this 
interpretation, is that the one serves better than the other 
to express and to further such a life purpose. We may de- 
scribe this type of theory as idealistic in that it finds the end 
of conduct implicit in the structure and meaning of the mind. 

The division of teleological theories into two classes, the 
one finding the end in happiness and the other in perfection, 
has found general acceptance among students of ethics. 
Their verdict is well expressed by Sidgwick in his careful 
analysis of ethical principles. " I shall therefore confidently 
lay down," he says, "that if there be any Good other than 
Happiness to be sought by man as an ultimate practical 
end, it can only be the Goodness, Perfection, or Excellence 
of Human Existence." ^ Now, as has been already stated, 
we hold that both of these interpretations of the end con- 

^ Methods of Ethics, fifth edition, p. 115. 


tain an important truth. And if our thought is to escape 
a permanent duaUsm and win real unity, happiness and 
perfection must be brought together in our conception of the 
end. It is in fact the purpose of the present chapter not only 
to show how a theory which finds the end in happiness must 
be supplemented by the ideal of perfection, but also to make 
clear the intimate and necessary correlation of these two 
principles. For happiness is meaningless apart from the 
Hfe process, or activity, that yields it, as this activity is 
meaningless apart from the satisfaction which it directly 
or indirectly yields. 

I. Meaning of Perfection 

What, let us next ask, is the essential meaning of per- 
fection? It will be generally agreed that, when applied to 
any living being, perfection means the development of the 
capacities inherent within it. Thus it is a process of self- 
reaHzation. But the capacities to be reahzed can be known 
only as they express themselves in activities, or functions. 
Perfection is perfection of function. There is no static or 
passive completeness of life that can satisfy our idea of per- 
fection, for all life is a process, a becoming. The definition 
of perfection as perfection of function is equally true whether 
we apply a physical or a psychical standard. The biologist 
regards one form of animal Hfe as higher than another when, 
through differentiation of organs, it is able to function in 
complex ways unknown to the lower form. In mental life 
the same is true; development is always estimated by the 
variety, range, and exactness of mental processes. Similarly, 
if it be asked what is that perfection of human nature as a 
whole which constitutes the moral ideal, the answer must be 
in terms of action, inner and outer. We mean that the good 
man is he who, in all the complex and endlessly shifting 
relations of life, responds with the activity of the appro- 
priate kind and degree. 


Such a preliminary statement of the ideal of perfection 
can convey no very definite or rich meaning. It is at present 
only a formula to which we must seek to give content in the 
course of the discussion. But even this brief formulation 
of the general meaning of perfection will perhaps serve to 
relieve the word of the forbidding character which, in popular 
usage at least, it often bears. The acceptance of this ideal 
of conduct does not of course imply that one expects to 
attain complete perfection, any more than one indulges the 
hope of attaining complete and unbroken happiness, health, 
or beauty. 

Let us return for a moment to gather up the argument 
of the last chapter. It was there shown that an element 
essential to any experience of value, positive or negative, 
is found in the feehngs as agreeable or disagreeable, and that 
wholly apart from such feelings, present or future, any and 
every content of experience would be completely indifferent 
in value. It was also seen that both good and evil, that is, 
both positive and negative value, are capable of a two-fold 
description, on the one side in terms of feeling, and on the 
other in terms of the objects or activities in connection with 
which the feeUngs arise. We must now consider more fully 
the importance of this latter factor of experience. To vindi- 
cate its place in a theory of ultimate values is to show the 
inadequacy of a purely hedonistic view of conduct. 

But at this point the hedonist may be heard urging that 
we have found in the affective states of pleasure and dis- 
pleasure, in their total range from the lowest to the highest 
phases of our conscious life, that element without which there 
could be no value at all; hence this is the one essential ele- 
ment which explains and unifies all judgments of worth; 
and hence, too, the various objects of desire and the activi- 
ties which they involve are to be regarded merely as means 
to the end of happiness. To this we reply: it is true that 
there could be no value apart from these states of feehng. 


but it is equally true that there could be none apart from the 
objects and activities through which the feelings arise; one 
element is as essential to the experience of value as the other. 
Either alone is a one-sided abstraction. The hedonist and 
the anti-hedonist are both guilty of this partial and one- 
sided description. As against either one it is to be insisted 
that adequate description, for the purposes both of moral 
science and of moral practice, must include the two factors, 
which nature has indissolubly joined together. If experi- 
ence is always appreciated in states of feeling as agreeable 
or disagreeable, it is likewise always constituted by objective 
interests and activities. Only if disembodied states of feeling 
could wander at large quite independent of all other mental 
content, and without relation to a psycho-physical organism, 
would the reverse be possible. In that case only, it may also 
be said, would the making of happiness a separate and in- 
dependent end among other ends cease to be an error. 

A distinction has been made between states of feeling and 
the objective interests and activities upon which these feel- 
ings are dependent. It may not be amiss here to offer a 
word of explanation with regard to the terms subjective and 
objective. Feeling is, as we found in the preceding chapter, 
a peculiarly individual and subjective element of experience; 
as such, it requires a more objective principle to which we 
must look both for its origin and control. Any use of the 
word objective applied to consciousness may at first seem 
confusing, since all consciousness is a process within the 
mind, and so, in contrast to the outer world, is termed sub- 
jective. But this conscious process within the mind presents 
two sides or aspects, one of which has to do with the objects 
of our attention and interest, the other with the way in which 
these objects affect us. To these two aspects of consciousness 
are applied the terms objective and subjective, ideational 
and affective. It is the importance of this objective principle 
for a theory of conduct that we wish now to consider. 


In the first place, this objective factor lies embedded in the 
very nature of desire, which is the moving, dynamic principle 
of action. Desires, as we have seen, are normally objective 
and directed to ends other than the pleasure of their own 
gratification. While this fact admittedly is in itself a ref- 
utation only of psychological, not of ethical hedonism, it is 
significant in suggesting the lesson of objectivity. The 
same may be said of the kernel of truth found in the paradox 
of hedonism, that the way to secure happiness is to surrender 
its too conscious and eager pursuit. This clearly indicates 
that a failure to regard objective interests would be fatal 
even from the point of view of strictly hedonistic standards. 

The necessity for an objective principle or norm is further 
seen in the fact that one is unable to produce directly any 
desired state of feeling. By an act of will one cannot in- 
augurate immediately an agreeable tone of consciousness. 
Such a feeling is invariably dependent upon the activities 
of the self. It is to the right kind of activities, therefore, 
that the attention of human beings must be directed if they 
are to obtain happiness. As a principle of practice, then, 
hedonism is seen to be inadequate. And it is not to be for- 
gotten that ethics must yield such a principle. However ab- 
stract its formulations may be, they must still be abstrac- 
tions from real life; upon this depends all their validity. 
Adequate description of the general aspects of human con- 
duct is precisely the task of the science of ethics. It is not, 
of course, the business of ethical science to lay down minute 
rules or to prescribe a list of detailed acts; these must al- 
ways be the concern of the art of conduct, in which success 
depends largely upon fine sense and ready tact. And yet 
ethics must so state the principles of conduct that all specific 
acts can be seen, on reflection, to fall under the accepted 
principles. Is not the happiness theory found wanting when 
one makes this legitimate demand upon it? And is not the 
theoretical value of the ideal of perfection, or seK-realiza- 


tion, vindicated, in part at least, by its service in this direc- 

The point here in question may perhaps be illustrated in 
the limited sphere of the bodily life. As between the two pre- 
cepts, (i) Seek the greatest bodily enjoyment, and (2) Seek 
the most perfect bodily development, one would scarcely 
hesitate which to recommend as a principle for practical 
guidance. At the same time no intelligent person will doubt 
that, other things being equal, physical satisfaction will 
depend upon, and keep even pace with, the perfection of the 
bodily organism. It is not, be it observed, that the hedon- 
istic statement, here or elsewhere, is untrue, but rather that 
it is inadequate. Nor do we here urge the fact that the cla- 
mant demands of certain appetites, which press for immediate 
satisfaction, destroy the true perspective of the life of feeling, 
and cause one to put in hazard the greater and more enduring 
joys of life, or possibly to barter them irrevocably for tran- 
sient pleasures. It is rather that a theory, in order to serve 
as a true principle for practice, must show how our feehngs 
are objectively grounded, and what are their equivalents 
in human thought and action. 

II. Value a Union of Objective and Subjective 

Further, a consideration of the meaning of value in other 
spheres than that of morahty shows that the term must be 
construed objectively as well as subjectively. Value always 
involves a relationship between two factors, on the one side 
the feeling of appreciation in some subject, on the other 
the objective elements which yield the satisfaction. Indeed, 
in the case of economic values, it is the subjective reference 
that often escapes attention, since in common thought and 
speech we wholly objectify value, ascribing it to those objects 
upon which a price is set. Yet it is evident that the sub- 
jective element is never wanting. When goods of any kind 


are not desired and give no satisfaction, they possess no 
value. Many forms of wealth at present most highly prized 
would He unnoted before the idle gaze of the savage. The 
same principle applies to aesthetic values. We freely assign 
the value of beauty to a landscape, a painting, a vase. Yet 
the existence of this value requires the presence of the spirit 
that can appreciate beauty, and until its coming the value 
is merely prospective. The Alps had no aesthetic value for 
the ancient world, which saw in them only hostile and ter- 
rifying barriers. The question here involved is similar to the 
old problem of the sense-qualities of bodies: do soimds, 
colors, odors, etc., exist apart from the perceiving subject? 
Any satisfactory answer must insist upon the necessity of 
both the objective conditions and the subjective process. 
Light and material objects, as well as the appropriate sense 
organs, are essential to the experience of color; and similarly 
both factors are necessary in the case of the other senses. 
Precisely the same is it, we hold, with every experience of 
value; there must be on the one side the feeling of appre- 
ciation, on the other the ideas and activities by which the 
value is constituted. We may illustrate this two-fold aspect 
by an example in the field of intellectual values. A scien- 
tific truth that integrates many facts hitherto wanting in a 
principle of unity will unquestionably give delight to the 
knower. But however keen the enjoyment, it is never apart 
from the process of understanding the facts and principles 
involved. Thus the value of knowledge includes the two 
factors within the mind which we have already described as 
relatively subjective and objective, affective and ideational, 
the one a form of enjoyment and appreciation, the other a 
content of ideas and ideals, of efforts and activities which, 
like economic goods and beautiful things, make the enjoy- 
ment and appreciation possible. To limit the application 
of value solely to one side of the relationship is arbitrary, 
and contrary to the requirements both of thought and of 


language. Herein is seen the essential defect of both hedon- 
istic and anti-hedonistic theories of value. The hedonist 
has separated the subjective, affective factor of the process 
and given it exclusive recognition; whereas the anti-hedon- 
ist, disregarding this element, has emphasized the objective, 
ideational factor. 

The psychology of value involved in the theory which aims 
to unify these two factors may seem to require supplementa- 
tion at one point. It will be observed that the ideational and 
affective elements are both recognized, while no place is 
explicitly assigned to the will. But, as the whole personality 
expresses itself in the experience of value, all the psychical 
elements must be present in the process, the will no less than 
thought and feeKng. What part does the will play in the 
value experience? To this question, we should answer that 
the will is presupposed in every desire and impulse which 
expresses itself in conduct. The will is nothing apart from 
the other elements of the conscious life, but is the think- 
ing, feeling self in activity, or effort. 

The objective factor in moral values, the necessity of 
which we have been seeking to justify, has been variously 
expressed as objective interests and activities, and this con- 
tent has also been described as ideational. It will be simpler 
perhaps in the future to speak of this factor as activity, or 
function. Perfection of function as a moral ideal has played 
an important part in the history of ethical thought. It is as 
old as Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle especially applies it to 
the problem of conduct with a skill which makes his state- 
ment at points almost final ; and it is also prominent in the 
important modern school, the cardinal principle of which 
is usually known as self-realization. The primary justifi- 
cation for its use is found in the necessary interdependence 
of feeling and function. Every feeling, agreeable or dis- 
agreeable, is strictly dependent upon some function or activ- 
ity. This is true throughout the whole range of life. Every 


sensuous feeling of pleasure or pain is directly dependent 
upon the function of the sense-organ to which it is referred. 
The general and diffused feelings of physical well-being 
and satisfaction, as well as states of pain and unrest, are 
strictly conditioned upon the healthy or unhealthy function- 
ing of the bodily organism. And if we bring under survey the 
most exalted feelings of joy or happiness that human beings 
know, we shall find them no exception to the rule. They 
always depend upon those higher processes of thought which 
constitute the ideal world of truth, beauty, and love. 

It is clear, too, that pain, sorrow, and unhappiness, all 
mean impeded or abnormal functioning. Disease, wrong- 
doing or wrong thinking, and poverty of mental content, 
are the fruitful sources out of which the warp and woof of 
human misery are forever fashioned. True, a part of this 
imperfection lies in the very nature of the psycho-physical 
organism, which wearies, wears out, and finally breaks down 
in death; a part, too, lies in the nature of the physical and 
social environment in which we find ourselves, so that the 
complete satisfaction for which men sigh must always re- 
main a dream of fancy or a Utopian ideal. But the prevent- 
able portion of evil, which it is the business of moral effort 
steadily to reduce, can only be eliminated by directing at- 
tention to the healthful, harmonious, and enlarged activity 
of our human powers. 

III. Organic Relation of Feeling and Function 

The relation between the state of feeling and the character 
of the function on which the state of feeling depends, is not 
only close, but strictly organic, so that one can affirm a 
general law of equivalence between capacity for feeling and 
capacity for function. This principle is so important for the 
theory of value that it deserves somewhat extended state- 
ment and illustration. It already suggests a question to 
which attention will be given later, the question, namely, 


whether or not we can affirm such a general equivalence be- 
tween realized happiness and perfection in the moral world. 
How serious, from a theoretical view-point, must the cases of 
real or apparent conflict between the two be regarded? 
For the moment, however, the exposition of the relation- 
ship itself requires attention. 

We have seen that all affective states appear in strict 
dependence upon the functions of an organism. Let us con- 
sider the principle of equivalence between these two factors, 
first of all as a biological law. Beginning with a low form 
of life, like the amoeba, we observe that the organism is 
simply a mass of living matter with scarcely any differentia- 
tion of organs. Such processes as digestion and locomotion 
are processes of the whole mass; nourishment is absorbed 
by one part as readily as by another. The possible activities 
of such an organism are most narrowly limited. It is prac- 
tically dependent upon its immediate environment; if this 
is hostile, it can not seek another more favorable. Judged 
by the biological standard of capacity for function, this or- 
ganism must rank extremely low in the scale of life. At the 
same time it is possessed of a correspondingly low capacity 
for feeling. Possible pleasure and pain, if these terms can 
be used at all in such reference, are infinitesimal as compared 
with the pleasure and pain experienced by highly developed 
organisms. Ascending the scale of animal life, one finds an 
ever increasing differentiation and specialization of organs, 
and, by this physiological division of labor, the organism is 
rendered capable of a wider range of activity, a more varied 
diet, and a freer choice of environment. Keeping on the 
whole an even pace with this enlargement of function is a 
growing capacity for intenser affective experiences both of 
pleasure and of pain. 

When we come to man, we observe that development 
takes the form of a high degree of specialization of the nerv- 
ous system. As biologists have shown, nature, having ap- 


parently exhausted the advantages of merely physical varia- 
tion, turns to nervous, or psychical, variation to effect 
further development. Morphologically, man is not, in all 
respects, the most highly evolved of animal organisms. But, 
through the unequalled development of his nervous system, 
he possesses an advantage, functionally, over all animal 
species. He is capable not only of adapting himseh to very 
different environments, but of constructing, to a large ex- 
tent, his environment for himself out of the raw materials 
which nature supplies. His food is varied to a degree with- 
out parallel among the lower animals, and he has become 
master of so many means of locomotion as almost to trans- 
cend the limits of space and time. And as development, 
measured in capacity for varied and complex function, 
increases, the susceptibility to pleasure and pain also in- 
creases. Judged by capacity for merely physical enjoy- 
ment and physical suffering, man is at the apex of the ani- 
mal kingdom. 

The psychical development which accompanies the varia- 
tion in nervous structure opens to man a new world of men- 
tal life, that of conceptions and ideals, in which he wins the 
content of a truly human existence. In this sphere he exer- 
cises the functions distinctive of the human species. Aris- 
totle's analysis has hardly been superseded at this point. 
Every type of being, he tells us, has its distinctive function. 
That of man cannot be found in the vegetative life of growth 
and increase, nor in that of sensuous appetite, both of which 
man shares with lower forms of life. His distinctive function, 
and consequently his distinctive excellence, lies in his rational 
nature. In this are found, according to Aristotle, all truly 
human perfection and happiness; to accept anything less 
would be to take the brute's portion, not the man's. ^ 

The principle of equivalence, according to which an in- 
creased range of activities is accompanied by an increased 

^ Cf. Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. I, Chap. vi. 


capacity for feeling, holds good of the psychical develop- 
ment of man in the process of civilization. At a thousand 
new points in this complex process man becomes susceptible 
to weal and woe, to agreeable and disagreeable experi- 
ences. The more complete his development, the more 
numerous and subtle do these become. Compare the satis- 
factions open to the mind which has many and varied re- 
sources with those of the mind which is limited to a narrow 
range of ideas. The realms of art, of science, and of litera- 
ture, in all their departments, make possible for the culti- 
vated mind a wealth of enjoyment, in comparison with which 
the possible pleasures of the narrow and untrained mind 
seem most meagre. The person whose interests are confined 
to a single field is capable of a mental life in only one environ- 
ment, while the person of wide interests is at home in many. 
For the latter, all nature teems with possibilities of satis- 
faction; the world is his home, and he can live in any intel- 
lectual climate. As it is the function of the higher animals, 
and of man most of all, to create the conditions of their 
physical environment, so it is the task of humanity to create 
by its higher activities a spiritual environment, and to 
dwell in a world of truth and beauty of its own construction. 
This is one of the deeper aims of education — to build a home 
for the spirit which shall prove a retreat from the stress of 
material cares and the changes of worldly fortune. In the 
language of psychology, "Feeling becomes enlarged, spread 
out, as well as deepened and consolidated, by the develop- 
ment of representation (imagination and thought). The 
growth of ideation is thus a necessary condition of all the 
richer, more varied emotive experiences." ^ We thus find 
in the mental life the same general correlation of feeling 
and function which holds good throughout the stages of 
physical development. 

^ Sully, The Human Mind, Vol. II, p. 8i. 


rv. Progress and Happiness 

At this point there presents itself an interesting problem 
for which we are chiefly indebted to the literature of pessi- 
mism. It may be objected that with the development of 
Hfe there is no increase in its net satisfaction, but that sus- 
ceptibility to both agreeable and disagreeable feelings 
simply increases, pari passu, with functional complexity. 
The net result of experience in the case of the more devel- 
oped types, it is said, may not be more favorable as regards 
happiness. When the intenser sufferings of all kinds have 
been subtracted from the intenser enjoyments, the bal- 
ance-sheet may be left practically unchanged. If the con- 
sciousness that looks out upon us so peacefully in the brute 
creation knows nothing of the intenser pleasures of a higher 
form of life, it is also free from the more poignant sufferings 
and deeper tragedies that are inseparable from human ex- 
istence. Nay, may not the animal fare quite as well as his 
human fellow? And is not the same true of the more primi- 
tive races of men when compared with the more advanced? 
Does not the more sensitive organism offer to an indifferent 
environment more numerous and easy points of attack, 
without possessing any compensating advantage in positive 

We can here offer no thorough treatment of the problem, 
which is incidental to the main purpose of the discussion. 
At best we can only indicate some lines of reflection that may 
lead to a more hopeful view of civihzation. Obviously a full 
presentation of the case on either side would take one over 
wide tracts of the special sciences and of the history of hu- 
man progress. 

A consideration of first importance, for a belief in the prog- 
ress of mankind towards a fuller realization of positive good, 
is the fact that one of the chief functions of increasing intel- 
ligence is to ward off evil, to protect both the individual 


organism and the social group from pain and suffering. 
Appearing in the animal kingdom as inherited instinct, this 
intelligence rises in man to the dignity of rational reflection 
with its understanding of causes and its subtle inventions. 
Considering the influence of this growing intelligence upon 
the fortunes of mankind, we observe certain acknowledged 
advantages of civiHzed over primitive races, in the escape 
from the more aggressive physical calamities. By the 
variety, regularity, and abundance of his food supply, civil- 
ized man has largely banished the terrors of famine; by 
adequate clothing and dwelhng place he has mitigated the 
rigors of climate; by knowledge of hygiene he has escaped 
the horrors of pestilence. If disease has not been conquered, 
it has yielded much ground to sane therapeutics and skill- 
ful surgery, rendered relatively painless by anaesthetics. 
In modern times science has made universal among civil- 
ized peoples the recognition of insanity as a disease. It has 
rendered the treatment of the unfortunates thus afflicted 
humane and considerate, and thereby put an end to a long 
chapter of needless cruelty and suffering. The belief in 
witchcraft and similar cruel superstitions has likewise 
received a death blow. Indeed, while we are wont to dwell 
upon the achievements of science in conquering the forces 
of external nature, we cannot too often call to mind what 
it has contributed to the inner life of humanity, freeing the 
race from bondage to errors that have everywhere left their 
record written in tears and blood. Scientific knowledge has 
only begun to attack the problems of heredity, of mental 
hygiene, and of social organization. In these fields it gives 
promise of rendering inestimable service by striking directly 
at the sources of disease and crime. There is reason to believe 
that man has only just entered upon the exercise of con- 
scious control over the forces which determine his earthly 
destiny. If it be urged that civilization produces, by the 
artificial conditions which it creates, some of the very evils 


which it seeks to remedy, it may be answered that most of 
these evils are not strictly necessary, but are remediable 
through further enlightenment. And if it be insisted that, 
wrought into the very structure of things, there are elements 
of regret and sadness, of profound melancholy and even of 
tragedy, from which human life will never be free, we may 
hope that in time even here a larger triumph may be won by 
a wise training of the spiritual energies. The belief that 
human life can be made saner and happier should not be 
identified with a shallow optimism which overlooks exist- 
ing evils, and declares that "all's well with the world." It 
may even be said that no one who has not candidly faced 
the grim facts of evil has the right to an optimistic view. 

But even more important than what has been suggested 
as to the function of intelHgence in avoiding pain and suffer- 
ing, is the complementary truth, that intelligence has the 
power to create new sources of satisfaction which are rela- 
tively pure as well as intense. The production of these satis- 
factions belongs preeminently to the higher range of human 
activities. The judgment of those whose experience is most 
adequate undoubtedly assigns to the expression of these 
higher powers, exercised creatively in art, literature, science, 
and religion, a unique value in the production of human 
happiness. In these spheres, the hostile competition which 
still attends the production of material goods, and which 
leads to so much suffering, both direct and incidental, largely 
disappears. The enrichment of one person in these ideal 
values is the enrichment of many; they tend to multiply 
in diffusion, and to perpetuate themselves through succes- 
sive generations. This fact is strikingly illustrated wherever 
a unique degree of perfection is attained. The masterpieces 
of genius remain permanent sources of deHght to the race. 
What the great artists have produced with inward joy en- 
riches the lives of millions; the truths which have been the 
quest of the great investigators are built into the abiding 


structure of science; and not less do the insights of social 
and religious reformers, by which institutions have been 
transformed and ennobled, remain a perpetual blessing. 

V. The Content of the Good Life 

The objective aspect of value which has thus far been de- 
scribed in terms of activity, as a development and perfection 
of function, must in the end be rendered more concrete if it 
is to serve for guidance in the specific problems of conduct. 
This will be attempted in the chapter which follows. For the 
present, we may point out that the content of this activity 
is found in civilization, in the existing social order. Here are 
all the values which human experience in its long struggle 
has slowly discovered and vindicated; here each individual 
must find his moral task. Indeed, "There is no way of dis- 
covering the nature of the self except in terms of objective 
ends which fulfill its capacities." ^ It is an error, therefore, 
to think of the moral sphere as in any way remote; it hes 
close at hand in the actual station which each occupies. In 
this station must be discovered the values which found and 
determine all the obHgations of the individual, who must or- 
ganize these values into a system in which none even of the 
humbler goods can be neglected. The appropriate place 
must here be given to economic interests; the physical values 
of health, bodily well-being, and recreation must be recog- 
nized; and the ideal values of an intellectual, aesthetic, and 
religious order must receive their rightful emphasis. The 
task to which our human powers are called is that of winning 
the richest possible content for Hfe; this is one with the task 
of the development and perfection of human nature. 

The acceptance of the values found in the social order as 
the content of our activity, in this process of seK-reaUzation, 
does not mean that we are to consider those values which 
appear at any given stage of civilization as ideal or final. 

^ Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, pp. 391, 392. 


The emphasis which a given generation places upon these 
values may be very faulty. Our own age, to offer a single 
example, is often charged with undue devotion to material 
aims, with a false estimate of the worth of the luxury which 
wealth can purchase. This criticism is doubltess justified. 
The evil, however, consists, not in the acquisition, but in the 
wrong use of wealth. A sound instinct has directed human 
energy to its production. The attempt to exclude wealth 
and even cultural interests from the field of moral obliga- 
tion has frequently been made in the interest of ascetic ideals. 
Such a view has dominated centuries of rehgious hfe, and 
has cast its spell over many noble minds. Tolstoi, in our 
own day, as Rousseau in his, feeling keenly the evils of an 
ill-regulated society in the throes of transformation, has 
sought a solution in the rejection of many elements of cul- 
ture. But the inevitable emptiness and tedium that result 
from the arbitrary limitation of activities hardly need em- 
phasis. And the case is not bettered by giving such an ideal 
a religious or celestial setting. Visitors at the Campo Santo 
in Pisa will recall a mural painting which represents, in 
characteristic mediaeval spirit, the fortunes of both saints 
and sinners. Hell is naturally pictured with all the torments 
which a vivid imagination could invent, but the prospect 
is not alluring when one turns to the other side of the picture, 
where the saints in paradise are seen sitting stiffly in idle- 
ness, while one of them, more fortunate than the rest, en- 
joys the solace of a lap-dog. A crippled humanity has never 
satisfied, and never can satisfy, our ideals. The impulses 
that have prompted to a realization of the fullest possible 
life have, in practice, been too strong to be permanently 
thwarted. Whenever, too, essential impulses are denied 
legitimate expression, they tend to break out in a perverted 
form, and to take costly revenge for their dem'al. To lose any 
of our human powers is to forfeit a part of our birthright. 
The only possible solution of life's perplexing problems is, 


"Im Ganzen, Guten, Wahren, 
Resolut zu leben." 

Looking back over the course of historical development 
through which our system of values has been slowly dis- 
covered and won, it is clear that the logic of experience has 
been stronger than any theory which has limited by pre- 
conceived ideas the range of earthly activities and interests. 
The result is that life has often been richer than its creed. 
The modern Christian world seeks fully to possess and en- 
joy the values of wealth, of bodily strength and beauty, of 
recreation, of humor and mirth, of art in all its manifold 
phases, of science in its countless fields of achievement, of 
literature and philosophy in their widest sweep, although 
these values lay beyond the horizon of the primitive Christian 
society and beyond the vision of its founder. The attention 
of primitive Christianity was centered upon a heavenly order. 
The eager longing and intense expectancy with which the 
early disciples looked to the speedy coming of this higher 
kingdom made the concerns of earthly civilization seem of 
trifling moment, the fashion of a world that passeth away. 
He who tarries at an inn only for a night does not concern 
himself too much with its accommodations. The kingdom 
which was the goal of their desire was, in their thought, not 
to be realized through the slow and painful struggle of 
centuries of earthly life; it was not to be embodied in social 
institutions nor to be maintained through human laws. 

The doctrine of an incarnation, of a deity taking human 
form, which appears in numerous religions, is an effort to 
find a concrete and perfect embodiment of an ideal system 
of values. But however precious the elements of value that 
are thus more vividly impressed upon the consciousness of 
a people, the embodiment of values in any historical char- 
acter is never complete. The ideal must always be subject 
to growth through the slow discovery of new values; and the 


importance of one does not render the others unnecessary. 
While the principle of love, of effective human sympathy, 
is of universal value, this principle, as we have already seen, 
cannot itself supply the detailed values which form the con- 
tent of a Hfe of love. We may profitably change the applica- 
tion of St. Augustine's question and ask, "What do I love 
when I love my neighbor? " Obviously something more than 
his capacity to love; rather do I love in him all the elements 
that belong to a sound human nature, the free play not only 
of sympathy, but of strength, inteUigence, and beauty, in 
endless variety of activity. If these are diminished, both 
his worthiness to be loved and the worth of his love are 
diminished; if they were wholly eliminated, love would be 

If we inquire for the historical sources of our modem sys- 
tem of values, while recognizing the contributions of other 
peoples, we may describe these sources, for our western 
civilization, as chiefly Graeco-Christian. To Christianity, 
the child of Hebraism, we owe the more important religious 
and humanitarian elements; but to Hellenic civilization, the 
chief elements of our intellectual and aesthetic ideals. The 
concept of culture, as it now exists for European and Ameri- 
can peoples, can be traced back to the Renaissance. There 
it had its rebirth, when the hmnanists, breaking with the 
mediaeval interpretation of life, sought to win again the full 
treasure of classical civilization. The aim of the greater 
humanists, it must be remembered, was not simply to revive 
the study of the classical languages, but to realize in their 
own lives the values for which Greece and Rome had stood 
in their best days. The goodly vision of truth and beauty, 
which the noblest of the Greeks had caught and immortal- 
ized in literature and art, again made its power felt. The 
modem world thus became heir to the classical ideals. Pos- 
sessing as its heritage the insights of both Christian and 
pagan experience, it has striven to unite the two with its 


own new winnings, not always seeing that the elements 
have been profoundly modified in the long process of their 
fusion and growth. 

Now the moral task of the individual is to appropriate the 
values which have been thus won in the historical life of the 
race, and to strive for their further enrichment and extension. 
If the effort to perfect the personal Hfe by such activity be 
expressed by the familiar term self-realization, this term must 
be freed from misunderstanding. It cannot mean that all 
the impulses and capacities of the self are to be realized in 
equal degree. Such a realization of the self would be with- 
out any principle of law or valuation, and would result in 
disorganization and chaos. Nor does self-realization mean 
the reahzation of an individual self as against other selves. 
The lower and narrower self of egoistic desires must yield 
to the larger self whose interests are one with those of its 
fellows. Self-sacrifice in this sense is a necessary part of the 
process of self-development. The "nay" of morality is as 
real as its "yea." The old dictum, "Omnis determinatio est 
negatio,^' cannot be escaped. To affirm is to deny; to accept 
is to reject; to pursue is also to flee. Renunciation, always 
difficult, is always necessary. And although we are con- 
stantly compelled to renounce that which is in itself good, 
such sacrifice is not absolute. Unlike asceticism, it does not 
choose surrender for its own sake, nor count the sacrifice 
an end in itself. The smaller interest is sacrificed to the 
larger, the less, to the greater value. 

VI. Some Conditions of Progress 

No one, it must be confessed, is in a position to define 
or to describe with exactness the perfect human life. The 
stations which individuals occupy are so various, and their 
special powers and tasks so ujiique, that only the general 
features of moral life can be determined by the use of a con- 
cept as abstract as that of perfection. The more detailed 


problems of the good life can be profitably considered only 
in the light of an understanding of the more specific values 
which such a life must seek to embody. We can, however, 
form an idea of a life more perfect than that which is at 
present realized in hiunan society, and we can discern some 
of those universal qualities which all good lives will pro- 
gressively realize, as well as some of the conditions that they 
must all fulfill in the process. Three general conditions of 
progress may serve as universal aims of the moral life. 

And first, to perfect our activities is to humanize them. 
This means that the pattern and standard of worth is to be 
found in man's own nature, not in beings higher or lower 
than himself. All spiritual aims are human. To pursue the 
ideal is not to attempt to walk the clouds or to cHmb the 
skies, but to seek the completest manhood or womanhood. 
The most ideal values must still serve as "human nature's 
daily food." But if our standard of human valuation can- 
not be found in any imagined beings higher than man, still 
less can it be found in lower types. To humam'ze our ac- 
tivities is therefore to lift them above the level of animal 
impulse and appetite. Man shares with the brute creation 
the bodily fife and functions; like it, too, he is dependent 
upon external nature. But man, unlike the animal, cannot 
reahze his perfection by following instinctive desires as they 
chance to arise. Subordination, control, and even repres- 
sion of immediate impulses, are a constant necessity of his 
existence. The ethical process opposes, too, the pitiless 
struggle in which animal organisms are engaged, repudiating 
what Huxley called "the gladiatorial theory of existence ",^ 
in the interest of the higher human instincts and purposes. 
If this brute struggle still appears at times on the vast 
stage of international relations, it only shows that the ethi- 
cal process is far from complete, and that great interests 
yet remain to be humanized. 

^ Cf . The Romanes Lecture, Evolution and Ethics. 


Again, to perfect human nature is also to rationalize it. 
Reason, as the developed form of inteUigence, is the guid- 
ing principle of human conduct. To it, we are compelled to 
look for harmony within the content of our activities, a 
harmony which the competing appetites and interests al- 
ways tend to destroy. It is the function of this higher in- 
telligence not only to assign to each interest its appropriate 
place, but also to subdue the impulsive life to the aims of a 
truly human purpose, and by its pervasive influence to trans- 
form the physical appetites so that they cease to be merely 
animal. Through the play of inteUigence, the taking of 
food and drink becomes in human life a means of social de- 
light, an opportunity even for the cultivation of aesthetic 
and intellectual interests, something wholly different from 
this process at the level of animal life. 

If we are thus to describe the perfecting of human life, 
we must not misinterpret the work of reason. The narrow 
interpretation of rationalism identifies it with a one-sided 
view of life, in which reason, singled out from all the other 
elements, is exalted and made an end in itself. Little wonder 
Ithat it has seemed poor and barren when compared with the 
life of action and of rich human experience! But a true 
rationalism does not caU for the development of the intellect 
alone. Reason rather accompanies and molds the entire 
process of consciousness; it is interested in its own processes 
only that it may secure their integrity and thoroughness. 
For the rest, it finds its material beyond itself in the endless 
variety of being which the world presents, and in the impulses, 
emotions, and aspirations that stir within us. No human 
interest is alien to it, and nothing significant is lightly es- 
teemed. Reason seeks to understand even the insignificant, 
in order that we may know it for what it really is, and may 
not be deceived by thinking it significant. 

There remains a third essential condition of success in the 
effort to bring life to its noblest fulfillment. To perfect 


human activities means further to socialize them. As we 
shall later more fully show, no one can fulfill the moral task 
while remaining centered upon individual interests. Moral 
development is always a growth in devotion to more compre- 
hensive causes, and our estimate of the worth of any individ- 
ual is determined largely by his devotion to such causes. It 
is further true that the lower activities of men are relatively 
competitive and individual, the higher, cooperative and social. 
Thought itself is a social process, although carried on by 
individuals. It finds its problems set by common interests, 
and the solutions which it wins are social products. Science, 
art, and religion are thus impersonal in the sense that they 
are limited to no single individual, but include all individ- 
uals. It is a safe generahzation that on the whole the most 
perfect character is found in those who lose themselves in 
the service of universal causes. 

VII. Relation of Happiness and Perfection 

We now glance back for a moment in order to gather up 
certain results of the discussion which are important for our 
theory of the moral end. In the examination of hedonism 
we saw that, to every experience of value, an element of 
feeling is essential. This feeling is dependent upon, and 
constituted by, the activities of the agent. There is, further, 
a general relation of equivalence between capacity for feeling 
and capacity for function in both the physical and the mental 
life. The more perfect the activity or realization of function,' 
the greater the satisfaction normally felt. And we may also 
assume that, other things being equal, there is a corre- 
spondence between happiness and perfection in himian Hfe. 
As these two factors are interdependent, and as both are es- 
sential to the realization of value, we hold that any adequate 
account of that which human beings desire and pronoimce 
to be ultimately worthful must present both of these as- 
pects. In the preceding chapter, we have presented the 


doctrine of happiness; in the present chapter, we have con- 
sidered perfection of function as a more objective state- 
ment of the ideaL Before concluding the exposition, it is 
desirable to consider certain objections that may be raised, 
especially with regard to the relation of the two elements 
recognized by our theory of moral values. 

The correspondence between the subjective element of 
feeling and the objective factor of perfection of function 
involves the view that the enlargement and growth of health- 
ful functioning is normally attended by increased satisfac- 
tion. Applied to historical development, it would mean that 
the advance of a people in civilization should be attended by 
increased happiness. This, it is sometimes said, is not the 
case; rather is the development of a people often attended 
by much discontent not felt before. In weighing the force 
of this objection, two facts are especially to be considered. 
One of these is that a whole people, or a class of society, 
may pass through a period of storm and stress, similar to 
that of the individual when in youth he awakens to the con- 
sciousness of new needs and untried powers, before entering 
upon the peaceful possession of the richer life which these 
make possible. Even this period of struggle and longing, 
accompanied by its inevitable measure of dissatisfaction, 
is not all suffering. The testing of strength, and even the 
hard struggle itself, are not without a joy of their own, which 
the pessimist is inclined to overlook. In the second place, 
any period of special advancement, and in fact all so-called 
progress, is subject to further criticism and revision. The 
choice of values is never perfect; now one set and now an- 
other is given undue emphasis, and not infrequently impor- 
tant ones are largely neglected. In an individual life, for 
example, intellectual development may be purchased at the 
price of physical health, and the result be necessarily dis- 
astrous to happiness. But in this case the progress is so 
one-sided that it could never receive deliberate approval or 


properly be called progress at all. Analogous conditions 
may be pointed out in general civilization. The rapid 
progress won in many directions within recent decades may 
be charged with failure in the production of that degree of 
happiness that might legitimately be expected to accompany 
it. But here again the undue preoccupation with material 
things, the neglect of a true culture that fits people to use and 
enjoy leisure, the haste and strain of competition in the com- 
mercial and social struggle — these and other defects in the 
spirit of the age have undoubtedly caused men often to miss 
the richer joy of life now made widely possible. To admit 
this is simply to admit that there has been a mistake in the 
choice of values; it is an arraignment of the proportion and 
harmony of the elements that form the general content of 
modern life, and is no impeachment of the principle of a 
general correlation of happiness and true progress in human 
activities. Finally, if one survey the general march of human 
development, it might be said that such gain as has been won 
is in the quality rather than in the quantity of happiness 
enjoyed. To this we would reply that an improvement in 
quality is itself an increase in value, and that it is precisely 
the qualitatively superior pleasures which are quantitatively 
the greatest, because they are permanent, productive, and 

There can be no doubt that the general verdict of mankind 
would always be against any so-called movement of progress, 
if it could be demonstrated that its ultimate and net result 
was a reduction in the amount of human happiness. Such 
a verdict is clear evidence of the value which is attached to 
happiness, even by the most idealistic thinkers. And, we 
may add, the presumption would be very strong that any 
movement of civiHzation which involved the destruction 
of happiness could not be one of real progress; somewhere the 
true path must have been lost. The dilemma of the sacri- 
fice of either one of the aspects of ultimate value, humanity 


will not willingly accept. As an ideal, man will tolerate 
neither an unholy happiness nor an unhappy holiness. If 
either element fail, this failure will be referred to special 
causes, and will not be regarded as organic and normal. 
Further, both happiness and perfection are constantly used 
as norms of judgment. Conduct is approved when it di- 
rectly or indirectly tends to the promotion of happiness, and 
condemned when it has the opposite tendency. Conduct 
is also approved when it expresses man's true nature as a 
spiritual being, when in its harmony, beauty, and strength 
it agrees with standards of perfection. Thought, both naive 
and reflective, plays between these two poles, emphasizing 
now one and now the other, and assuming on the whole a 
general harmony between them. 

The complete harmony of these two aspects of value, 
however, is not capable of strictly demonstrable proof, but 
is, in part, of the nature of a postulate of our moral struggle. 
By this is meant that it is a principle accepted on faith, or 
implicitly assumed, as the basis of action. It does not mean 
that there is no evidence in its favor. Were there absolutely 
no such evidence, still more were there clear evidence against 
it, it could not occupy the place even of a postulate. The 
necessity of regarding it in this light must not lead us to 
ignore the substantial evidence, physiological and psychologi- 
cal, in its favor. What is here admitted is the incomplete- 
ness of the evidence, if one asks for a complete demonstra- 
tion. The necessity of making the assumption involved in 
the postulate appears, however, if we consider the three 
possibilities of relationship between perfection and happi- 
ness from which thought must choose. Reflective thought 
has never been content with the first possibility, namely, 
the denial of any rational tie between the two elements. 
And unless one be willing to pronounce for the out-and-out 
pessimism involved in the second possibility, that perfec- 
tion makes for unhappiness, one is driven of necessity to 


accept the view that perfection tends in general to the pro- 
motion of happiness. As for such a pessimism, it would be 
logically pledged to an effort to annul the intolerable con- 
flict by an extinction, if possible, of the forms of conscious- 
ness in which this tragedy of conflict appeared. Certainly 
all optimism or meliorism is pledged to a belief in the har- 
mony of the two ideals. Those who believe that Hfe is worth 
living cannot believe that to follow the call of the human 
spirit to a more abundant life means increased and hopeless 
suffering. This belief would strike at the very heart of moral 

The correlation of happiness and perfection has been 
denied on the ground that happiness is largely dependent 
upon natural forces, and is, in fact, an affair of the circula- 
tion and digestion quite as much as of right conduct. This 
statement contains an element of truth that no one is con- 
cerned to deny. But it is equally true that perfection of 
character is also largely a matter of native endowment, and 
that its highest attainment is impossible for the person who is 
naturally coarse, mentally deficient, or criminally incHned. 
And, in general, one must admit how largely, for most per- 
sons, the sphere of possible development is limited by forces 
that have determined the inner and outer life long before 
these became a matter of individual choice. Of how many 
lives must one say, 

"Mortgaged too deep to Fate, alas, 
To leave much scope for will." 

A sound morality, quite undaunted, will accept these 
natural forces as setting for the moment the conditions and 
hmits of its effort, but, knowing that even these forces are 
not wholly beyond its control, it will for the future seek 
to subdue them to its own ends. 

Nothing is more misleading than comparisons instituted 
between the morality and happiness of individuals, for the 


reason that these comparisons assume that other things, 
temperament, natural advantages, environment, etc., are 
all equal. As matter of fact, the other things are never 
equal. Observation takes note of the unhappiness of many 
good, and the happiness of many bad men. But it is difficult 
to estabh'sh a causal connection between the two factors in 
each case, in such wise that A's unhappiness can be shown 
to be directly caused by his moral perfection, while B's 
happiness is similarly to be explained by his imperfection. 
The failure to secure happiness is often conspicuous, es- 
pecially when it is measured by external standards. But 
anyone who is satirically inclined might easily make merry 
over the failure of perfection or any other end which morahsts 
have fixed upon as the goal of conduct. If it seems at times 
that the wicked do really flourish while the righteous are 
afflicted, it is well to suspend judgment and await develop- 
ments. Whenever prosperity proves permanent, it is found 
to be based on pretty substantial grounds. A too fervid 
proclamation of the combination of sins and prosperity in 
one's neighbor may justly arouse suspicion. The moral 
advantage may turn out to be not all on the side of David 
and the chosen people. Most of us perhaps are inclined to 
believe in the morality of our own conduct, and if it does not 
3deld us happiness, we assert a disjunction between them. 
But there is always another possibility, the possibility, 
namely, that the morality in question needs revision, and 
that, if the revision were only thorough enough, the dis- 
junction would tend to disappear. We cannot accept as 
ultimate the formulation of a code as it is made by any 
generation or by any individual, and we may be sure that, 
whenever a so-called moral maxim makes permanently 
against happiness, it needs critical examination. In Steven- 
son's words: "If your morals make you dreary, depend upon 
it they are wrong." 

Yet it is impossible to deny or lightly to dismiss those 


cases in which there does seem to be costly sacrifice and loss 
of happiness through adherence to the demands of a high 
morality. To be sure, what often passes for sacrifice is 
merely the rejection of an immediate or transient gratifica- 
tion for a future satisfaction that is more solid and enduring. 
The genuine cases of sacrifice are those where no such com- 
pensation can be detected, but where the loss seems complete 
and wholly unrequited. To everyone there will occur his- 
torical examples of those who have surrendered life, or per- 
haps what was dearer than life, for the sake of some cherished 
conviction or at the call of human service. Progress in civil 
and religious liberty, in scientific knowledge, and in general 
enlightenment, has in the past often been purchased at a 
great price of personal sacrifice. These cases constitute a 
surd which reflection is baffled in attempting to eliminate. 
This irreducible surd may be likened to the surd in other de- 
partments of thought. The various fields of science, as well 
as all departments of philosophy and religion, offer illustra- 
tion of elements which thus far refuse to yield to accepted 
principles. The cases of genuine sacrifice in question con- 
stitute indeed one portion of the riddle of evil, and are 
no more and no less baffling than is the existence of evil 


Yet the difficulty of the problem just raised, as far at least 
as it concerns the principle of happiness, is greatly diminished 
when we pass from the individual to the social view, which 
will be considered in a later chapter. The very principle 
for the sake of which the sacrifice is made by the individual 
is deemed by him to be vital to the happiness of others. The 
reformer may suffer for his cause, the martyr perish for his 
conviction, but each deems his truth essential to the weU- 
being and happiness of mankind; without it, the people will 
perish in blindness and ignorance. 

A general correspondence between happiness and self- 
development would seem to many to imply a reduction of 


the moral life to the levels of prudential and egoistic calcula- 
tion. On the contrary, it is precisely in the case of wise 
idealistic and altruistic endeavor that the harmony of the 
two elements appears most complete. The renunciation 
which such endeavor demands is commonly the sacrifice 
of the immediate impulses and desires. The death of these 
means, not less life, but a richer, more abundant life. Ideal 
and social aims tend more completely than anything else 
to Hft the individual out of the circle of narrow interests 
which foster anxiety and ennui, and to free him from a 
swarm of petty emotions which are a veritable blight upon 
peace and happiness. There is a sound psychology under- 
lying Goethe's picture of the restless and unsatisfying 
search for happiness in which Faust is engaged, and which 
never permits him to bid the hurrying moment of selfish 
pleasure to abide. He only finds the experience which has 
such value that he desires to make it permanent, when he 
enters upon a career of self-forgetful service. Poetry here is 
as true as biography; in the experiences of actual life the 
truth of the picture has again and again been exemplified. 
The more subtle psychological sanctions for ideal living 
operate unseen and are apt to escape notice, but they con- 
stitute a balance which cannot be disregarded. We do not 
here refer to the stings or remorse of conscience which are 
popularly supposed to constitute these sanctions. These 
may be as light and transient with most natures as the satir- 
ist represents. But even the coarsest nature cannot escape 
the sway of enslaving habit, or put to sleep appetites that by 
abuse have come to yield unrest and pain instead of pleasure. 
Nor can such a nature create at will, after long disregard, 
the interests that would yield peace and satisfaction. The 
wise man stands in greater fear of the searching nemesis of 
his own nature than of more loudly heralded judgments. 
The positive side of the matter cannot be neglected. De- 
votion and self-abandonment to ideal interest yield a joy 


unequaled by any other. In such service one finds duty 

"Stem lawgiver! Yet thou dost wear 
The God-head's most benignant grace, 
Nor know we anything so fair 
As is the smile upon thy face." 

In the description which we have here given of the moral 
end, we have insisted upon the necessity of recognizing two 
essential aspects. If now the reader inquires for their under- 
l)dng unity, we must point for answer to the personal life. 
The self which is their hving unity no more falls asunder 
because we are compelled to think the moral ideal under 
two aspects than the self ceases to be one because we think 
of it as both mind and body, or as having a variety of func- 
tions. Historically, a unity has often been attempted through 
a one-sided abstraction, which has emphasized one factor 
to the neglect of the other. We have endeavored to maintain 
a just balance between them, and to give to each its due 
place. If it be said that the resulting view is too complex, 
failing in the simplicity of either of the rival theories when 
taken alone, it may be repKed that it is no more complex than 
the facts of experience with which it attempts to deal. 
Simplicity is a merit in a theory only when it is warranted 
by the data to be explained. 

But although we fall back upon the concept of personality 
to summarize in unitary form aU that thought here discovers, 
we must not suppose that this or any other term can sup- 
ply us with anything new, or can save us from the labor 
of analysis. It can at most refer us to the actual source of 
the material which it is the task of thought to unfold. As 
he who would describe a shield must represent its two sides, 
the one as concave and the other as convex, so in describing 
the moral ideal we have attempted to set forth its two es- 
sential and universal aspects, the subjective aspect of hap- 
piness, and the objective aspect of perfection. As the shield 


is the unity of its two sides, so the moral person offers the 
real unity of these two aspects. What we have here de- 
scribed in the abstractions of thought finds hving embodi- 
ment in personal experience. 

In conclusion, candor requires the frank acknowledgment 
that neither happiness nor perfection, nor both combined, 
can yield, for our practical conduct, a guidance which does 
not leave much to be desired. They are at best principles 
which only serve to point the way one is to go; they do not 
free one from perplexity where ways converge and cross. 
The traveler often requires more specific information even 
when he knows the general direction he is to take and can 
see beyond him the heights he would attain. Ethics, in striv- 
ing for unity of thought, cannot neglect the manifold which 
it would unify. For it is the manifold which we always 
encounter in practical situations. Many voices call, many 
interests attract, many duties claim us. The abstract must 
be interpreted in terms of the concrete, the good must be 
translated into goods, value into values. 



I. The Task of Morality Illustrated by Plato's 


In the closing pages of the Republic, Plato presents the 
problem of the moral life in the form of a vision. Er, the 
Pamphylian, so the myth relates, had been slain in battle, 
and ten days afterwards when the bodies of the dead were 
taken up, his body was found untouched by decay and was 
carried home for burial. On the twelfth day, while he was 
lying on the funeral pyre, he came to life again and described 
what he had seen in the other world. As the messenger who 
was to bring to mortals the report of mysteries hitherto un- 
revealed, he had been permitted to behold the meeting of 
those who were beginning and those who had completed 
their earthly pilgrimage. The souls meet in a meadow as 
for a festival, "some ascending out of the earth dusty and 
worn with travel, some descending out of heaven clean and 
bright." And when the spirits had tarried in the meadow 
for seven days, on the eighth, they were obUged to proceed on 
their journey and to go to a place where the spindle of Neces- 
sity determines the revolutions of all the heavenly bodies. 
Here, under the direction of the three Fates, the daughters 
of Necessity, the souls must choose their lots for a new cycle 
of Ufe and destiny. "Let him who draws the first lot have 
the first choice, and the life which he chooses shall be his 
destiny. Virtue is free and as a man honours or dishonours 
her he will have more or less of her; the responsibility is with 
the chooser. . . . Even for the last comer if he chooses 
wisely and will live dihgently, there is appointed a happy 



and not undesirable existence. Let not him who chooses 
first be careless and let not the last despair." "Most curi- 
ous," we are told, was the spectacle of the choice, "sad and 
laughable and strange." The unhappy choices, it appears, 
were due to ignorance of their real meaning. Thus he who 
had the first choice came forward and at once chose the 
greatest tyranny; "his mind having been darkened by folly 
and sensuality, he had not thought out the whole matter 
before he chose; ... his virtue was a matter of habit only 
and he had no philosophy." Only after reflection did he 
perceive his folly and lament his choice. But Odysseus, 
whose choice was last of all, taught by experience, and know- 
ing the kind of lot he desired, went about for some time in 
search of the lot of a private man. Having found this at 
last, he was dehghted and declared that he would have chosen 
the same had his lot been first instead of last. 

In such poetic imagery Plato describes the moral task. 
Not indeed in a remote sphere or a preexistent state, but 
here and now, he would remind us, is our lot slowly fashioned 
through continuous choices of good and evil. Interesting 
and profound are Plato's reflections upon the process. After 
pointing out the complexity of the problem, he adds: "And 
here, my dear Glaucon, is the supreme peril of our human 
state; and therefore the utmost care should be taken. Let 
each one of us leave every other kind of knowledge and seek 
and follow one thing only, if peradventure he may be able to 
learn and to discern between good and evil, and so to choose 
always and everywhere the better life as he has opportunity. 
He should consider the bearing of all these things which 
have been mentioned severally and collectively upon vir- 
tue; he should know what the effect of beauty is when com- 
bined with poverty and wealth in a particular soul, and what 
are the good and evil consequences of noble and humble 
birth, of private and public station, of strength and weak- 
ness, of cleverness and dulness and of all natural andjacquired 


gifts of the soul, and the operation of them when conjoined; 
he will then look at the nature of the soul and from the 
consideration of all these qualities he will be able to de- 
termine which is the better, and which is the worse; 
and so he will choose, giving the name of evil to the hfe 
which will make his soul more unjust, and good to the 
life which will make his soul more just; all else he will 
disregard." ^ 

The meaning which Plato gives to the myth is clear. He 
is telling us that to choose aright in this earthly life we must 
know the values which it offers, and we must know them not 
only singly, but in the relations which they sustain to each 
other and to the purpose of life as a whole. Justice, which is 
for him the crown of the virtues, is the true harmony of all 
our human powers. Plato is also saying in effect that even 
though the idea of the good, as universal and abstract, 
is the highest principle of knowledge, "the master light of 
all our seeing," it is inadequate unless it be translated into 
terms of specific and concrete goods. And in like manner 
the need of our moral life to-day is not the knowledge that 
happiness is good, or that the perfecting of our human pow- 
ers is good. This we surely know. But what we most lack, 
not only when we set out upon the journey of life, but often 
alas! when we are far on the way, is an understanding of 
those interests by devotion to which happiness and per- 
fection may be won. Without such knowledge, the quest for 
happiness easily descends to the search for petty and vulgar 
pleasures, and the longing for spiritual perfection remains an 
unsubstantial vision, a vague desire without embodiment. 
For us, too, as for Plato, who kept with rare steadiness the 
ideal of unity, the specific goods must be viewed in relation 
to the whole of existence. How many things good in them- 
selves have to be rejected because they do not further, but 
defeat, more inclusive ends! As the builder values the stones 

^ Jowett's translation. 


from the quarry, not merely as individual specimens, but 
far more in their relation to each other and to the unified 
structure he would rear, so in fashioning a life we cannot 
disregard its totality, measured both extensively by the span 
of the years and intensively by the wealth of its experience. 
The moral effort to evaluate human interests becomes of 
necessity a re-valuation in the light of life's whole meaning 
and purpose. 

Recalling the choice of the souls in Plato's myth, let us 
imagine ourselves as also choosing our lots. What do we 
want in hfe? Desiring, as we surely must, some measure of all 
good things, how shall we compound the lot? 

"But this," it is objected, "is a strange way to state the 
moral problem. Are our wants a true criterion of value? 
So often the ' moral ' is precisely what we do not seem to want, 
but rather feel that we ought to want." This is no doubt 
true. We all distinguish between the immediately desired 
and what we beheve to be on the whole desirable, between 
the petty and transient wants of our nature and those wants 
which we discern in our hours of truest insight, of largest 
understanding. We thus require some standard for the 
testing of each desire. This can be found only in the 
ideal of what is desirable for Hfe as a whole. Doubtless 
whatever we desire seems to us at the moment to be desir- 
able, at least from some point of view. Yet in a deeper way 
we all desire the truly desirable; we want the good, not the 
ill. Outliving all our fickle moods and gusty passions is the 
desire to reach as nearly as may be the true goal. An ethics 
of value, which has as its aim the most complete welfare 
attainable, cannot be separated from an ethics of desire, 
which finds its task in the training and organization of the 
appetitive elements, higher and lower, of our nature. In 
practice they meet. For desires, conscious or unconscious, 
are a necessary condition of the realization of all values. 
Whether it is a question of bread or of righteousness, it is 


only as we "hunger and thirst" that we are filled. To be 
sure, an ideal good may outrun present desire. But happily 
our present system of desires is not finally and unalterably 
fixed; it is subject to growth and change. Unsuspected 
desires may lie beneath the surface, only awaiting a spark 
to kindle them into flame. 

If we should make a detailed list of the numberless things 
which we desire and hold to be good, it would be found upon 
analysis that they would fall into classes, or groups, of 
values. Classification is a necessity of all scientific and 
philosophical method. And any classification, bringing 
together as it does many particulars, leads inevitably to a 
degree of abstraction. But the measure of abstraction in- 
volved in the classification of values is far less than that in- 
volved in a universal formula which seeks to express their 
final unity. The passage of thought from the countless 
details of conduct to a single unifying principle of ethical 
reflection is commonly far too hasty. In practical life we are 
confronted by the manifold, in theory by an abstract unity. 
The steps that lie between are often obscure. Ethics, no less 
than other departments of thought, has need to recall Kant's 
principle of specification: Entium varietates non temere esse 

II. A Table of Values 

Without further introduction we present a classification 
of human values in eight groups, as follows: 
I. Economic Values. 
II. Bodily Values. 

III. Values of Recreation. 

IV. Values of Association. 
V. Character Values. 

VI. Esthetic Values. 
VII. Intellectual Values. 
VIII. Religious Values. 


No finality or exclusive validity is claimed for this table, 
but it is believed that it offers a serviceable classification of 
the goods of human life. These are not, it is to be observed, 
separate and independent values; rather are they the aspects 
under which it is convenient, for purposes of evaluation, to 
survey the unity of life. How intimately these values are 
related, how deeply they interpenetrate in the organic struc- 
ture of experience, is a fact of the first importance, to which 
we shall have occasion frequently to return. At present let 
us suggest this interdependence by a few illustrations. We 
must recognize, for example, the way in which, under the 
conditions of modern life, all the higher values have become 
dependent to a greater or less degree upon economic values. 
Education, art, and religion, all bear, in the present order of 
civilization, essential relations to the process of exchange and 
so to the exchange, or market, value, which is the standard 
of economic valuation. Similarly, it may be noted that if 
the bodily life is not properly maintained, all the other in- 
terests are insecure or even impossible of attainment. We 
are all aware, too, what a transforming influence every group 
of the higher values exercises upon the lower. Our use of 
material things is at once changed when touched by the 
spiritual forces of sympathy, intelligence, beauty, and re- 
ligious aspiration. In their historical development the vari- 
ous interests have often been arbitrarily kept apart, and each 
has at times been pursued in disregard of the others. An 
example of such false separation of the elements of value is 
seen in many religions which have concentrated attention 
upon "the salvation of the soul." In this formula the soul 
stood for an abstract "something, we know not what,'* 
apart from actual bodily, intellectual, aesthetic, and even 
moral interests. But to-day all progressive religious insti- 
tutions recognize the interdependence of these interests, 
and seek to provide the other values as essential to the in- 
tegrity of the religious life. 


But what, it may here be asked, is the concern of morality 
with any values, other than the character values? Do not 
the latter alone represent what is commonly understood by 
the moral life? The very terms by which other values are 
designated seem to place them outside of the sphere of 
morality. How is the domain of morals to cover the whole 
of life? 

III. Narrower and Wider Interpretation of Morality 

In answer it may be pointed out, first of all, that there 
is a narrower and a wider conception of morality. The nar- 
rower identifies morality with what we have designated as 
the character values, with the recognized virtues such as 
temperance, truthfulness, justice, benevolence, etc. Com- 
mon sense defines the moral man as one who observes these 
principles. But the wider conception holds that morality 
is concerned with all the interests of life as these are found to 
further or to hinder the fulfillment of its purposes. Un- 
questionably the view which we have described as that of 
common sense is true as far as it goes. So important are the 
requirements contained in the common interpretation of the 
virtues that we may call them the daily bread of moraHty. 
They express some of the most essential conditions of hu- 
man welfare. However limited a man's horizon or incom- 
plete his life, we do not hesitate to call him moral if he ful- 
fills to the best of his powers these primary requirements. 
And yet implicit in his assent to morality, as he understands 
it, is an assent to an ever-growing demand to extend it to 
new areas of activity. The logic of a partial morality in- 
exorably carries him on to the whole of morality. Let us 
see how this is true. How far does the virtue of justice, for 
example, extend? Not merely, all would agree, to the rights 
of one's family and friends, or, in wider relations, to the 
formal requirements of law and convention. It also means by 
common consent the effort to make justice prevail in eco- 


nomic life, in political institutions, and even in international 
relations. Justice, if interpreted in its full significance, 
commits one, then, to a struggle against all the forces that 
oppose its realization. It envisages a programme so vast 
that our powers seem wholly inadequate to the task. And 
what, we may again ask, are the implications of the virtue 
of benevolence? Is it not a regard for the well-being of all 
mankind? Does it not mean the will that they shall have, 
as far as possible, all forms of human good? Benevolence, 
fully accepted, pledges one to the effort to develop and ex- 
tend every form of the good. If we admit that ignorance is 
bad, we are thereby pledged to the extension of knowledge. 
If we believe that the appreciation of beauty enhances the 
worth of life, we acknowledge in the same way the duty to 
further its cultivation. And such is the logic of all the vir- 
tues; pursued whole-heartedly, they inevitably carry us on 
until together they encompass all the interests of human 

This larger interpretation of the moral task is implicitly 
recognized by the average man. "Do you think it would 
be morally right," we ask him, "for you to neglect the 
economic support of your family?" His answer would 
assuredly be an emphatic "No." Perhaps he would reply 
in the words of St. Paul, who was not inclined to give undue 
weight to temporal interests, "But if any provide not for 
his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath 
denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." ^ "Would it 
be right," we further inquire, "to allow your children to 
grow up without education, recreation, and friendship, 
without any care for the cultivation of taste or for religious 
training?" The answer cannot be in doubt. At a single 
stroke any "plain " man will be found to commit himself to 
the entire table of values. If he would hesitate to pronounce 
the higher stages of scientific and intellectual activity a part 

» I Tim. s, 8. 


of the moral task, he would entertain no doubt about ele- 
mentary education. To neglect entirely the education of his 
children he would regard as a crime quite as serious as the 
infraction of one of the commonly recognized virtues. But 
where would he draw the line of the moral requirement in 
education? Admitting that his child should be taught com- 
mon fractions, will he consider the knowledge of decimal 
fractions a matter of mere taste? If the child should know 
something of the history of his own country, is the boundary 
line which separates it from other countries to mark also 
the division between the moral and the non-moral require- 
ments of historical information? Reflection cannot justify 
any such arbitrary line between the first steps of education 
and the most advanced stages of the intellectual Kfe. Any 
arbitrary limitation is indefensible even on grounds of utility, 
for it is precisely the advanced researches of science that 
render the most conspicuous service to humanity. And on 
ideal grounds it is clear that the higher stages of the mental 
life are demanded as the fulfillment and fruitage of the lower. 
The cultivation of one's intellectual or artistic gifts is in 
principle as truly a matter of obligation as is the cultivation 
of truth-speaking or temperance. The loss, whether to the 
individual or to society, may be quite as great from the 
neglect of the former as of the latter. We rightly censure 
men for undue devotion to the insignificant, no matter how 
correctly the insignificant may be organized. To be good 
is to be good for something. The good life is, and always 
must be, the life that is devoted to good things, to true 
values. Poverty of content, the lack of worthy interests, 
often proves the chief source of disaster to the common 
virtues. This is a fact on which one cannot reflect too deeply. 
If it be true that, "Where your treasure is, there will your 
heart be also," it is well to consider what becomes of the 
heart when there is no treasure, or when the supposed treas- 
ure proves to be petty, sordid, or unworthy. 


Each of the special groups of values, it may here be noted, 
constitutes an independent field for scientific investigation 
where the facts and principles are freely treated without 
interference. Ethics does not dictate the laws of physiology, 
of logic, of SEsthetics, or of any other science; it accepts 
them. But the special values thus treated, while final within 
their respective fields, are not final for conduct because they 
are only parts, not the whole, of life. If man were simply 
an animal organism, physiological laws would yield sufficient 
guidance for his life; if he were merely an economic being, 
he would require no principle of conduct outside of economic 
standards; if he were only a knower, logic would be his sole 
concern; if he appreciated beauty, but had no other powers, 
"art for art's sake" would be a sound maxim, and ethics 
would reduce to aesthetics. But man is not merely any one 
of these, he is all these and more. So conflicts arise between 
the various values in which his welfare consists. And hence 
the necessity of a valuation of values, an appraisement and 
organization of all competing interests. 

We thus see the justification of an examination for ethical 
purposes of all the various goods, or values, which form the 
content of life. Herein is found the vindication of the defin- 
ition of ethics suggested in the introduction: "The science of 
values for the conduct of life as a whole." Conduct, rightly 
interpreted, is not three-fourths or even nine-tenths of life, 
but the whole of it. Nothing human is alien to the moral 
task. Morality is no special interest and no rival of any other 
interest. It is a just regard for all interests as they enter 
into the organic unity of life. If it be objected that reflec- 
tion upon so vast and difficult a subject must always be 
inexact and often inconclusive, this may be freely admitted 
without the slightest prejudice either to the truth or the im- 
portance of the principle. The most precious things are the 
least susceptible of exact treatment, and yet are those which 
most urgently demand careful reflection. 


We now proceed to deal briefly with the eight classes of 
values in order to indicate more exactly the relation of each 
to the moral task. 

rv. Economic Values 

Ethics, as we have already indicated, is not directly con- 
cerned with the solution of the special problems of economic 
theory. These problems it leaves to the science of economics, 
as it leaves to medicine and hygiene the special problems of 
the bodily life, or to aesthetics the discovery and formula- 
tion of its own principles. But ethics is vitally concerned 
that economic activities shall be ordered in the true interests 
of humanity, just as it is concerned that the bodily powers 
shall be rightly used, or that there shall be a just appreci- 
ation of aesthetic values. Each of these interests affects 
profoimdly the quality and worth of human existence. The 
present economic order places a unique significance upon the 
power to secure, through the process of exchange, the satis- 
faction of needs which individuals are wholly unable to satisfy 
by isolated effort. V/e shall here treat economic value as 
exchange value, and wealth as power in exchange. So in- 
terpreted, wealth includes all purchasable things both ma- 
terial and immaterial. A universally acknowledged need of 
human beings is the possession of a portion of the world's 
exchangeable wealth. No individual produces more than 
an insignificant part of the nmnberless things necessary 
to his well-being. The gradual growth of exchange, from 
primitive conditions of society in which each group was 
dependent upon its own productive activities, to the highly 
speciaHzed industrial methods of the present day, gauges the 
increasing moral significance of wealth. So rapid, in modem 
times, has been the increase in the processes of exchange 
that the readjustment of ideas on the subject of wealth has 
failed to keep pace with economic development. Students 
both of economics and of ethics have been slow to seize 


with clearness and vigor the new and intimate relations that 
must be recognized as existing between their respective 

Traditions concerning the conflict between lower and 
higher goods, between earthly and heavenly treasure, have 
long obscured the true place of wealth in civilization. Among 
many peoples and in v/idely distant lands the idea has pre- 
vailed that extreme poverty is a condition favorable to 
spiritual perfection. In Europe the sects and orders com- 
mitted to this view have been numerous. In the Orient it 
has prevailed still more widely, and is there far more deeply 
rooted in moral and religious institutions. Primitive Chris- 
tianity breathes not a little of this spirit. Without entering 
upon debatable ground, it is clear that in primitive Christian- 
ity the evils which spring from extreme poverty were not felt, 
and could not then be felt, as we are compelled to feel them 
to-day. In the second place, there had not dawned upon 
the consciousness of Jesus or of any of his followers an idea 
of the tremendous part which wealth was destined to play 
in civiHzation as an instrument of all the higher and more 
spiritual values. But the eager pulse of life proved too strong 
for tradition and bore men on, in spite of all contradictory- 
theories, in the effort to win the treasures of this world. 

We must here pause to make a distinction of importance 
between two aspects of value. Value is both intrinsic and 
instrumental. As intrinsic, it is good in itself; as instru- 
mental, it is a means to the attainment of other goods. 
To illustrate this distinction between the intrinsic and the 
instrumental aspects of value, we may note that it is an in- 
trinsic good to be fed, clothed, and sheltered. Even for the 
lower am'mals we desire animal comforts without regard to 
any further ends. But for man the greatest value of these 
bodily goods is that they contribute to higher goods, making 
possible an order of experience that transcends the worth 
of mere bodily well-being. Knowledge, too, is good in 


itself, but it is also good as an instrument in the pursuit of 
every other good. It is an immediate good to appreciate 
beauty, but its intrinsic worth does not exhaust the function 
of sesthetic experience, for it ministers in many ways to all 
other parts of Hfe, even to the development of character 
and to the enrichment of religion. 

Now it is a significant fact that economic values are the 
only ones which are purely instrumental. All the other 
groups, we shall find, possess both aspects; they are all in 
some measure good in themselves, and in some measure they 
all minister to other interests of life. Economic value alone 
does not yield direct satisfaction; only the miser regards 
wealth as an intrinsic good, and the miser, however shrewd, 
is a fool. The apparent exception to the statement that 
wealth is never an intrinsic good is found in the feehng of 
satisfaction, the sense of security and enlarged personahty, 
which the possession of wealth yields. But this is, after all, 
only the satisfaction of possessing the means to other satis- 
factions; it is thus derivative, and wholly dependent, in the 
last resort, upon the instrumental power of wealth. Eco- 
nomic value, it must not be forgotten, expresses a relation 
between other values in the processes of exchange. The ob- 
jects of economic valuation are sought primarily for the 
satisfaction of other desires than the desire for the posses- 
sion of wealth. 

Further, economic wealth, as instrumental, cannot di- 
rectly, and of itself alone, secure to us the possession of any 
other values. The best food has no value to one without 
appetite or power of assimilation. Recreation affords no 
relaxation to a body so ill or a mind so harassed as to be 
unable to enjoy it. Knowledge cannot be bought outright; 
it must be won by the effort of the knower. Taste and social 
sympathy cannot be purchased in the market, but must be 
cultivated through years and even generations of life. 

But in spite of the fact that the other values of life cannot 


be directly and immediately procured by wealth alone, it is 
none the less true that in modern civilization all other values 
are indirectly dependent upon it. This is the "hard saying " 
of the doctrine of wealth. But dislike it as we must, resist 
it as we may, it still remains and constitutes the growing 
moral problem of the economic order. Its truth is almost 
as obvious as the truth that we cannot live and move with- 
out a body. No one will question this dependence in the 
case of most goods. It is only too evident that bodily needs, 
the needs of recreation, and of social relationship, cannot be 
satisfied without a free use of this instrument. Equally 
clear is it that education costs money, that art and all forms 
of aesthetic good require large expenditure, direct or indirect, 
for their development. But this is not all. No one who has 
observed the effect of extreme poverty would hesitate to 
say that it is disastrous in its effects upon the development 
of spiritual qualities. Even religion requires vast economic 
outlay. ' ' How shall they hear without a preacher? And how 
shall they preach except they be sent? " And how, we may 
ask, shall they be sent without means? The sting of the 
problem lies in the fact that we can no longer say of extreme 
poverty, as men have often said of it in the past, "It is in- 
convenient and burdensome, but it has great spiritual com- 
pensations. ' ' In the present economic order, on the contrary, 
we know that extreme and long-continued poverty means 
spiritual degradation. 

The chief spiritual quaKty to which poverty has seemed 
favorable is the renunciation of luxury and ease in devotion 
to higher interests. But the full value of this can be realized 
only when poverty is voluntary. And, as we all see by count- 
less examples, poverty is not an essential condition of such 
devotion. In general the struggle with extreane poverty is 
the crudest kind of materiaUsm, unrelieved even by the ele- 
ments of value that commonly accompany the materialism 
of riches. The man who is struggling for a bare subsistence 


is compelled to think more about the things of the flesh than 
one who is surrounded by all the material equipment that 
abundant resources can provide. Such equipment may be 
precisely the condition of entrance into the realm of higher 
values. But if used without moral insight, this equipment 
may, as we well know, only serve to enslave its possessor and 
to fasten more securely the shackles of materiahsm. 

MoraHty demands an unceasing effort to secure the pro- 
duction of wealth in ways not destructive of the higher in- 
terests of those engaged in the work of production, and its 
distribution, not according to the unmoralized power of men 
to acquire wealth, but according to their varying human 
needs. !ff it be urged that when men are mentally and 
physically sound, and industrially well trained, they are sure 
to gain the economic wealth needed for a worthy life, the 
ready answer is that a large economic outlay is required to 
rear and train in this way. So easy to traditional modes of 
thought is an inversion of the real order! And if, finally, it 
be pointed out that economic resources alone will fail to ac- 
compHsh the desired result, one may perhaps be pardoned 
for saying that no intelligent person has ever held such an 
absurd opinion. The absurdity of this opinion is only 
equaled by the opposite absurdity, expressed in the familiar 
saying, "He who steals my purse steals trash." He who 
steals a man's purse takes away the very means of life for 
himself, and, it may be, for those dearer than hfe. 

Such a frank avowal of the r6le played by economic values, 
in providing the necessary means for the realization of the 
higher and intrinsic values, is simply a clear recognition of the 
hard fact of the industrial order. It is not a glorification of 
riches — the aggregation of great wealth in the hands of in- 
dividuals — ^nor of luxury, nor of the passion for possession. 
Riches may prove a snare to the individual, luxury may work 
as an enervating influence, and possession may check the 
impulse to creation, the most precious of human powers. 


You may develop the economic resources of a country to the 
utmost, you may attain an undreamt of equality of distri- 
bution, but the mass of mankind will not be happier than 
they are to-day, if you do not teach them what things are to 
be loved and what things are to be hated, if you do not show 
them that Hfe will forever be barren unless it is dedicated to 
the things of the spirit. Once it is recognized that economic 
resources are purely instriunental, it follows that they can 
never be a part of the true end of human existence. Yet to 
admit that they are a necessary means to this end is to admit 
that they ought to be possessed in due measure by every 
human being. The ethical ideal with regard to the distri- 
bution of wealth is that it should be possessed by individuals 
according to their real needs, which obviously vary with 
capacity for the realization of life's intrinsic goods. 

The ethical task, then, is to moralize wealth. And this 
means nothing less than its larger production, its wiser dis- 
tribution, and its nobler use. All the processes of production, 
distribution, and consumption must be recognized as human 
tasks to be dominated throughout by an intelligent moral 
purpose, not left to the impulses of selfish acquisition or to 
the unchastened exercise of natural powers. 

V. Bodily Values 

When we speak of bodily values we do not mean that 
these are less an affair of consciousness than other values. 
They are simply those values which the mind refers to the 
body. They include everything which ministers to the health, 
efficiency, and beauty of the physical life. 

The place of the bodily life in systems of morality has 
been a matter of very diverse judgments. Of these, two 
stand in sharp antithesis. The one has insisted upon the 
subjugation of the "flesh," and this has often been thought 
to require not merely its subordination, but its suppression. 
The result has been asceticism, chiefly the product of the 


world-denying philosophy and religion of the East. In 
opposition to this ideal, the classical Greeks appear in his- 
tory as the leading champions of the dignity and worth of 
the body. Its harmonious development seemed to them a 
positive requirement of human perfection. They saw in the 
body the outward symbol of the health and beauty of the 
soul. The modem world has now returned in large measure 
to the Greek valuation, again affirming the intrinsic worth 
of the bodily Hfe. Yet no ideal of the past reappears un- 
changed. Here, as elsewhere, the long tutelage of the cen- 
turies has left its impress. The influence of Christianity 
especially has helped to produce a feeling of dehcacy and 
restraint unknown to the naturalism of the Greeks. A 
deepened sense of what is required for the life of the spirit 
has been reflected in our attitude towards the body. 

The bodily values must be chiefly prized as instrumental 
to higher interests, although we still regard them in their 
own place as intrinsic goods. The familiar saying, "We 
eat to live " and do not "live to eat," expresses, we feel, the 
right relationship. Yet this saying does not state the whole 
truth. Since eating is an essential part of life its enjoy- 
ment, within proper limits, is an intrinsic good. We do, in a 
slight degree, live to eat, as we Hve to play, and still more to 
learn, to enjoy social relations, to appreciate beauty, and to 
develop character. We caimot completely reverse this order 
and say, we play to live, we study to Hve, we form social 
relations to live, and develop character to live. For the life 
towards which these activities are directed would be empty, 
a mere abstraction, apart from the content of such specific 

The significance of the bodily life has received fresh em- 
phasis in recent years from the results of various sciences, 
especially of biology, physiology, psychology, and medicine. 
Whatever final theory we may hold concerning the ultimate 
relations of mind and body, their intimate interdependence 


is one of the most certain facts of science, and has practical 
applications of the highest importance. Studies of mental 
and moral defectives show that the evils which in former 
times were often ascribed either to possession by evil spirits 
or to the perverse wills of the unfortmiate victims, are the 
result of physical defects. In numberless cases, where the 
defect is in greater or less degree remediable, treatment has 
resulted in direct improvement. The child, thought by 
parents and teachers to be vicious, has often been found to 
be suffering from some positive defect or disease. The re- 
sults of study and experience point clearly to the necessity 
of a careful examination of heredity and physical condition 
in all such cases. In more simple and popular ways the 
importance of the bodily condition is widely recognized. 
Men no longer consider a starved or mutilated body a fit 
temple of the higher life. Religion has learned to minister 
to pressing physical needs before attempting to preach the 
gospel. We look with rightful suspicion upon the mental 
states induced by protracted fasts, vigils, or other abnormal 
methods. As against these, we trust the judgments of men 
when in the soundest and most normal physical condition. 
No less important, on the other side, are the well-established 
effects upon the bodily states of mental habits. Ideas, 
emotions, and will-attitudes exercise here a power for good 
and evil so marked that control in the mental sphere is a 
recognized principle of therapeutics, and is destined to be- 
come a part of the fundamental education of the people. 

But in recognizing the value of physical health and vigor, 
we must guard against an opposite error, which has proved 
fatal to the happiness and achievement of many individuals. 
Although the improvement of the bodily vigor of the race 
is of high importance, and is probably a condition of any 
great degree of intellectual progress, we cannot forget that 
not a Kttle of the world's best work is always done by those 
who are handicapped by physical weakness and pain. To 


regard these as impassable barriers to a career of usefulness 
is a form of slavery from which one may well pray to be 
delivered. The intelligence and will must be summoned to 
vigorous combat against this dangerous error. The develop- 
ment of athletic exercise, with all its benefits, is sometimes 
in danger of giving a disproportionate place to bodily strength 
for its own sake. The purpose to keep "fit" finds full justi- 
fication when the fitness in question is fitness for a worthy 
task. But to keep fit for a round of physical pleasures from 
which one returns again to become fit, inverts the place of 
bodily well-being, making it primarily intrinsic instead of 
instrumental to higher activities. 

Here, then, as in the case of economic values, we have the 
task of more perfectly moralizing the life of the body, of so 
developing and controlling it that it shall be a thing of or- 
dered excellence and beauty in itseK, and a fit instnmient 
in the service of higher values. 

VI. Values of Recreation 

Whatever might have been the reservation, secret or 
professed, of our ancestors a century ago, no one would to- 
day regard as complete a table of values which should omit 
play. In its numberless forms, whether of games and sports, 
of estabhshed amusements, or of the humor which may run 
through the most prosaic business, recreation is a good re- 
cognized even by the most earnest and serious-minded 
people. Physicians and moralists alike have learned the 
lesson so long ago taught by Spinoza — strange prophet of 
play, this poor, anathematized, and homeless Jew! — ^when 
he declared that we have need both for body and mind of 
every kind of relaxation that can be enjoyed "without in- 
jury to one's neighbor." Most people are wiUing also to 
acknowledge that play is an intrinsic good, an immediate 
enrichment of life. We do not feel compelled to resort to the 
"orthodox," "hyphenated" form, "re-creation," to use Dr. 


Cabot's suggestion/ in order to give it respectability. We 
play not simply to work better, but for the sheer joy of 
playing. It is true, however, that the hyphenated form which 
suggests the instrumental value of recreation in restoring 
our powers for further labors, in giving exercise to unused 
energies, and in getting rid of troublesome inhibitions, does 
express the larger share of its meaning for most of those who 
carry the burden of the world's work. This instrumental 
value of recreation has attained in modern civilization a 
degree of importance unknown in more primitive societies. 
The reason for this change is chiefly to be found in the monot- 
ony incident to the division of labor, in the specialization 
of business and professional life, as also in the strain insep- 
arable from the conditions of residence in large centers of 
population. Primitive peoples, to be sure, have their forms 
of play. But in the simpler Hfe of pastoral and agricultural 
communities the need for organized recreation is far less. 
Work is carried on largely in the open air and is far more 

Play may be defined as pleasurable activity for its own 
sake, whereas work is activity directed to an end other than 
the activity itself. But work, in all its more ideal forms, 
such as the creative activities of invention and commerce, 
of scholarship and art, is to a large extent pleasurable and 
so pays its own charges as it goes. It resembles play in that 
it is what we Hke to do; each moment is its own justification. 
Rising above the opposition of means and end, we reach here 
as nowhere else the goal of living. Such moments effect 
for us the happy union of immediate and ulterior aims, of 
intrinsic and instrumental good. 

All work shares at times, and to a limited degree, the 
quality of play. The swinging of an axe or the pushing of a 
stevedore's truck may be a delight. But such tasks can 
be play only while the body is full of pent-up energy. To 

^ What Men Live By, p. loo. 


those who must perform them for a livelihood these tasks 
become, almost of necessity, monotonous and wearisome. 
It is thus that all work, however ideal or delightful, tends 
sooner or later to reach the point of drudgery. We may de- 
fine drudgery as activity in which the end alone is desirable, 
the activity itself having lost altogether the quality of play. 
A measure of drudgery seems inevitable under present con- 
ditions; the business of life cannot be completed while the 
workers are fresh and eager for the task. We pass by almost 
insensible stages from play to work, and from work to drudg- 
ery. Industrial progress must be measured in large part by 
the reduction of drudgery through shortened hours and 
better conditions of labor. It is to be observed that, just as 
work passes into drudgery, so play is in danger of degener- 
ating into frivolity or dissipation whenever the other values 
of life are not so developed as to furnish forces of control. 
The best check here is less the conscious inhibition of the 
play impulse than the unstudied limitation that comes 
from the steadying power of larger interests. 

It is always a great gain for human achievement when the 
spirit of play can enter into and transform our work. Among 
men of letters Stevenson has most fully presented this ideal 
of work, as in the familiar lines: 

"This is the study; here a smiling God 
Beholds each day the path of duty trod; 
Approves and praises, and I hear him say, 
*The time is brief; be diligent in play.'" 

To a large extent this feat of transforming work into play 
depends upon the attitude of mind which we cultivate 
towards our work. We can spoil our job in advance by 
calling it hard names, or we can learn to extract from it all 
the possibilities of joy which it contains. Certainly we 
can never bring to our work too much inward mirth and 


As in the case of all the other values, so we have here the 
task of moralizing the life of recreation. This consists in 
cultivating it to precisely that degree which secures the 
free, joyous expansion of human nature, and the nice balance 
of our powers in the service of a life purpose. The same 
principle also dictates the choice of recreation in whole- 
some fields from which one returns with the least reaction 
and with the greatest zest for labor. 

VII. Values of Association 

These values represent the satisfactions that spring from 
the association of individuals in groups of whatever kind 
or extent. If we begin with the most intensive form of as- 
sociation, which is found in family hfe, we find these values 
extending through friendship and acquaintance into the life 
of the community, taking form in political organization of 
various kinds, municipal, state, and national, and finally 
culminating at their widest extension in international and 
world-wide relations. These values are both intrinsic and 
instrumental. They offer immediate satisfactions of a 
high order, and they also make possible through cooperation 
many forms of good not otherwise capable of realization. 
Millions of human beings who are total strangers mutually 
contribute to and share in the values thus created. 

It may not be superfluous again to insist upon the fact 
that we are here not concerned with anything separate 
from, or independent of, other values. Rather do we find 
here one of the significant aspects under which our complex 
life may be viewed for purposes of valuation. Every in- 
terest of human beings interpenetrates and in some measure 
transforms all the others. As, without the other values, 
association would have no significance, because it would be 
an empty relation lacking all content, so the other values 
would not arise apart from association, because they could 
not be produced by isolated individuals. But the social 


elements of our experience may, for purposes of more exact 
study, be segregated and subjected to examination, as is 
done in the social and political sciences. 

The special problems that arise in this field of values can- 
not here be discussed, but simply indicated. On the one 
hand, there are certain questions which have been regarded as 
specifically ethical. Here belongs the much debated problem 
of egoism and altruism, and also that of the degree of har- 
mony which can be affirmed to exist between the interests of 
the individual and of the society of which he is a part. These 
questions will find treatment in the next chapter. On the 
other hand, the subject reaches out into the foundations of 
institutions, law, and government. The discussion of all 
these would far transcend the limits of the present work. 
Some of their more distinctively ethical aspects will, however, 
be considered in later chapters.^ 

In the values of association we touch again the element of 
human sympathy, of love of one's kind, admittedly precious, 
which has often been exalted to a place of unique and su- 
preme worth. This ideal has been held in one form or an- 
other by those who represent widely differing schools of 
thought. It has been the message of some of the greatest 
reUgious and ethical teachers, whereas others with a very 
different thesis have presented romantic love as a supreme 
good, justified in over-riding all the other interests of life. 
"Nothing matters but love," it has been said. To which it 
may be answered that, where nothing else matters, love itself 
does not matter, because all the content of personal life 
that makes love worthful or desirable is disregarded. Much 
more significant is the statement of an ethical writer, Mr. 
G. Lowes Dickinson, who suggests that "in the activity of 
love" or "in the life of the affections" we come "nearest 
to apprehending what perhaps we shall never wholly ap- 
prehend, but the quest of which alone, as I believe, gives 

^ See especially Chapters VIII and XI. 


any significance to life."^ Now in the "activity of love" 
or "the life of the affections" we have an element without 
which our human existence would, we also insist, be poor 
indeed. And yet precisely the same can be said of any other 
essential element such as knowledge or beauty, were it wholly 
disregarded. If we imagine for a moment those whom we 
love to be deprived, in ever increasing degree, of intelli- 
gence and aesthetic appreciation, they would soon cease 
to be lovable in any sense in which we now find them so. 
Love would sink to the level of animal affection, or be 
attended, as is the love for those who are defective, by 
a tragic sense of thwarted life. The play of intelligence, 
the understanding of hfe and the world, the passion for 
truth, the regard for all that is fair and beautiful — these 
are the things which, together with the other essential ca- 
pacities of human nature, make the love of our kind possible 
and precious. The perfect good of which Mr. Dickinson's 
dialogue is in quest, or, to state the real problem, the greatest 
good possible of attainment — always something less than 
perfect — cannot be found in any single aspect of our 
nature, however exalted, but only in the integrity of 
all its parts, and the harmonious realization of them as a 

The practical corollary of this truth is important. No 
single reform or improvement offers a panacea for the evils 
from which society suffers. To proclaim any single principle 
as adequate to this task — unless it be the principle of a many- 
sided and thorough education of all the members of society 
— is to announce oneself a visionary or a charlatan. To make 
all social and political relations serve the interests of human- 
ity is an undertaking so complex and vast that no one of 
sober intelligence will expect to see either its rapid or com- 
plete success. But no such person will, on this account, 
fail to recognize herein a genuinely moral task, or refuse to 

^ Meaning of Good, p. 231. 


contribute what is possible because the contribution seems so 

VIII. Character Values 

The term character values is used to designate the recog- 
nized virtues, temperance, truthfulness, justice, benevolence, 
and the like. Popular thought is inclined to see in these 
virtues the only distinctive moral values, and to limit some- 
what narrowly their meaning and scope. Although "moral " 
values might seem here the most appropriate term for such 
virtues, I have purposely refrained from its use because I 
wish to insist upon the moral significance — a neglected sig- 
nificance — of all human values. It has been all too easy to 
satisfy the supposed claims of morahty by an observance of 
the traditional, or even of the legal, interpretation of these 
virtues. Thus the legal claims of justice or the conventional 
practice of benevolence has left men morally satisfied with- 
out any adequate sense of responsibility for the use of wealth, 
or time, or talents. One recalls as characteristic of this 
traditional conception of morahty certain remarks of Major 
Pendennis concerning Sir Hugh Trumpington's devotion 
to picquet. "'Did you see that dark blue brougham, with 
that tremendous stepping horse, waiting at the door of the 
club? You'll know it again. It is Sir Hugh Trumpington's; 
he was never known to walk in his life; never appears in the 
streets on foot — never. ... He is now upstairs at Bay's, 
playing picquet with Count Punter; he is the second best 
player in England — as well he may be; for he plays every 
day of his fife, except Sundays (for Sir Hugh is an uncom- 
monly religious man), from half past three to half past 
seven when he dresses for dinner.' " " ' A very pious manner 
of spending his time,' Pen said laughing." . . . "'Gad, Sir, 
that is not the question. A man of his estate may employ 
his time as he chooses.' " ^ 

1 Quoted by W. R. Sorley, The Moral Life, pp. 72-73. 


As long as this false — I might even say vicious — Hmitation 
of morality prevails, the larger part of the business of Kfe 
is left untouched by it. Without slight to the value of what 
the traditional observance of the virtues has rendered to 
morahty, the verdict must be, "This ought ye to have 
done, and not to have left the other undone." Rehgious 
teachers were formerly accustomed to define morality in the 
narrower way, and often referred to "mere morality" in 
slighting terms as something falling far short of the demands 
of righteousness. To the truly moral man, however, every 
part of life will have spiritual meaning and purpose. He 
will never be inclined to say of the requirements of morality, 
"All these have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet? " 
Pharisaical satisfaction in the fulfillment of the moral 
law can only be felt when that law is narrowly conceived 
or is misinterpreted. 

The now famihar distinction between the intrinsic and 
instrumental aspects of value fijids here also its appHcation. 
The virtues are of intrinsic worth; they yield direct satis- 
faction not only to the possessor but to others as well. And 
like every other form of good they radiate through all human 
activities, giving form and order to what would otherwise 
be lawless and capricious. If their more primary influence 
is seen in the control of bodily appetites and social relations, 
they also extend to the highest achievements of science, 
art, and reHgion. Success in these spheres is conditioned in 
no small degree upon the fundamental virtues. The failure 
of gifted minds to achieve their full promise is often a fail- 
ure at this point. 

As Chapter X is devoted to a discussion of the doctrine 
of virtue, we pass at once to the next group of values. 

DC. ^Esthetic Values 

These are the values of beauty, in its countless forms, as 
it appears in nature and in art. It wiU be agreed that in 


the beautiful we have one of the purest forms of intrinsic 
value. Delight in the beauties of nature or in the creations 
of art lifts us above the struggle of life; our cares and pre- 
occupations are forgotten, and we rest for the moment in 
serene and self-forgetful contemplation. This character- 
istic moment of aesthetic experience has found classical 
expression in Schopenhauer, when he contrasts its im- 
troubled calm with the restless striving of the will: "At 
once the peace which we have been ever seeking, but which 
has ever fled from us on the path of the desires, comes of its 
own accord, and it is well with us. It is the painless state 
which Epicurus held to be the highest good, the blessed 
lot of the gods. For the moment we are set free from the 
miserable striving of the will; we enjoy the sabbath of rest 
from the servitude of wiUing; the wheel of Ixion stands still. "^ 
The same idea finds expression in the words of Dio Chry- 
sostom concerning the Zeus of Phidias at Olympia: "Who- 
ever among mankind is wholly weary in soul, whoever has 
experienced many misfortunes and sorrows in life, he, me- 
thinks, if he stood before this statue would forget all the 
calamities and griefs that come in the life of man." ^ Even 
though we cannot long dwell in this realm, our frequent 
excursions thither are among the best experiences we know. 
Art thus also serves the same ends as play, offering one of 
the best means of frequent, if temporary, detachment from 
the more monotonous and sordid aspects of life. From this 
insight came Goethe's advice to the effect that one should 
every day hear a little music, read a good poem, and look at 
a fine painting. ^ 

The sense for beauty does not, however, work in isolation, 
but is assured a pervasive influence by the unity of our con- 

1 Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, Bk. Ill, 38. 

* Quoted by C. H. Moore, The Religious Thought of the Greeks, p. 27. 

* The passage runs as follows: "Man sollte alle Tage wenigstens ein kleines Lied 
horen, ein gutes Gedicht lesen, ein treffliches Gemalde sehen, und, wenn es moglich 
zu machen ware, einige verniinftige Worte sprechen." 


scious life. Like every other fundamental instinct it colors 
and transforms all our activities. Herein lies its instrumental 
value. It fashions the materials of industry, molds the 
bodily Ufe, elevates social relations, attends the labor of the 
intellect, adorns religion, and profoundly modifies char- 
acter itself. Ruskin's dictum, that "to teach taste is inevit- 
ably to form character", is fully justified by experience. 
Many have found in the sense for beauty a barrier against 
the allurements of evil. Happy the man whose feehng for 
beauty supports the other forces that make for righteous- 

Although the aesthetic impulse may thus be an instrument 
of high value, its moraUzation offers none the less its own 
problem. Especially is this true of its creative activity in 
the field of art, where its relation to the harmony of spiritual 
forces is complex. The maxim, "Art for art's sake", cannot 
be final. This maxim encounters the same difiiculty that 
we find in similar maxims drawn from other spheres of value: 
business for business' sake, bodily health for the body's 
sake, or even knowledge for its own sake. No one would 
question of course that business should be conducted on 
business principles, that bodily well-being must be guided by 
physiological laws, or that knowledge should be pursued with 
logical rigor and an eye single to the truth. But it is equally 
clear that none of these activities is independent, self-con- 
tained, and exclusive. Nor is art an exception to the prin- 
ciple. When working in his own field, the artist can have an 
eye for nothing but the perfection of his art. Considera- 
tions of profit or popularity will inevitably work against 
his creative power. So far, we may say " Art for art's sake" ; 
but the place which art is to occupy among competing in- 
terests must be determined by the moral organization of 

Now art, of necessity, consents to deal with fragments of 
experience. Some significant element is seized, and, unified 


within itself by aesthetic principles, is presented as a whole 
to our perception. So presented, it stands in isolation from 
the rest of experience. The perfection of art, however, is 
largely conditioned by just this hmitation; it is inadequate 
to a subject of too great range or complexity. A panorama 
is interesting and useful, but it is not suited to artistic rep- 
resentation; it is better adapted to the purposes of a map 
than of a painting. Similarly, should a sculptor attempt to 
represent a great throng of people, his work would surely 
fail of achieving artistic success. And a drama which should 
attempt to reflect every phase of our many-sided existence 
would lack, as we well know, the unity essential to its re- 
quirements. The works of art which in the judgment of the 
centuries have attained the highest perfection — the works 
which live in immortal youth — are notably those which 
fully accepted this principle of limitation. By it, art attains 
a finality of expression not attained in other spheres of effort. 
Art itself provides no principle which determines its place 
in a system of values. It evaluates the artistic significance 
of its own products, but not their significance in wider re- 
lationships. Art, therefore, stunulates but does not regulate, 
quickens but does not control our powers. One might go the 
whole round of art in the manner of the aesthete, experiencing 
in succession vivid and fascinating impressions. Each would 
for the moment be engrossing and self-sufficient. These 
impressions would, however, yield no principle of organiza- 
tion and harmony among themselves; still less would they 
define their proper relation to other interests. This can 
only come from the moral reason whose task it is to criti- 
cize and arrange the many impressions of experience ac- 
cording to standards of truth and value. As long as one is 
under the full sway of a drama or novel which has romantic 
love as its theme, love is the sole object of interest and seems 
indeed the whole of life. Similarly, a painting of Rubens 
which presents the bodily Hfe at high tide of joy and exulta- 


tion represents a moment — and, we must admit, a real 
moment — of human experience. But such deUght in the 
flesh needs strict subordination if it is not to override other 
and more enduring interests. It was Plato's charge against 
poetry that it allowed the passions to rule "instead of ruling 
them as they ought to be ruled with a view to the virtue 
and happiness of mankind." One cannot escape the con- 
viction that the disorders often supposed to be inseparable 
from the artistic temperament are due less to a necessity 
of its nature than to a lack of broad and discriminating cul- 
ture. A too narrow and exclusive devotion to any artistic 
interest may defeat its own ends. Such narrowness not 
only imperils the balance of the artist's powers, but it also 
impoverishes the content of his art. Even though the 
technical form of art might be maintained at a high level 
under these conditions, it could not have the richest meaning. 
Art is compelled to take its content from the other values, 
and defective understanding and appreciation of these must 
make its creations shallow and ephemeral. It was of the 
meaning, not of the mere form, of art that Plato was thinking 
when he prayed that our artists might be "gifted to discern 
the true nature of beauty and grace." The organization 
of life is moral and we cannot escape its laws. If our Hving 
fails at any point to recognize this fact, it is bad, and, in the 
end, unprofitable living. Equally true is it that if our rea- 
soned moraHty fails to give rightful place to every legitimate 
interest, it will be an impoverished moraUty from which 
men will inevitably revolt. The sense for beauty cannot 
therefore remain apart from the sense for conduct; it must 
be taken up into the orgam'zed structure of life. Otherwise 
beauty is in danger of being lawless and Ufe of being unlovely. 
Art in its nobler forms is one of the great quickeners of 
moral endeavor. This power it owes in no small degree to 
the fact that it contains a transcendent element. The artis- 
tic impulse is not content until it has created something 


more perfect than yet finds embodiment in our experience; 
it strives to suggest what "eye hath not seen nor ear heard." 
Herein it is at one with the moral impulse, which is not satis- 
fied to leave things as it finds them, but seeks to remold 
them into a more perfect order. Both the moral and ar- 
tistic impulse are ahke haunted by a vision of ideal per- 
fection. Art, no less than reflection, may recall us to our 
better selves by suggesting in forms of beauty those ideals 
for which it is alike our duty and our joy to strive. 

X. Intellectual Values 

By intellectual values we mean the values of knowledge 
in its widest application. Knowledge is both an instru- 
mental and an intrinsic good. It is an intrinsic good just 
in so far as the winning and possession of it directly yield 
legitimate and worthy satisfaction, a satisfaction provided 
for in the very structure and purpose of our nature. The 
intrinsic worth of knowledge hardly needs defense. Who, 
at happy moments of surrender to its uncompromising de- 
mands, has not felt the pure delight of intellectual effort? 
And who does not think better of his kind because there 
are men and women capable of finding the keenest dehght 
in the disinterested pursuit of knowledge? But knowledge 
does more than enhance the moment of its immediate ex- 
perience. All genuine understanding of the world and of 
human life has far-reaching consequences beyond itseff; it 
is the master key to other values. By its light alone are 
we able to discover and appraise all the elements of experi- 

There are never wanting detractors of the intellect who 
represent it as a poor thing, cold and barren in comparison 
with feeling and immediate experience. Such an interpre- 
tation of the intellect makes it a pauper in advance by isolat- 
ing it and giving it no share in the production of the richer 
emotional experiences. But the opposition between reason 


and the emotional elements of the mental Hfe is artificial 
and false. Feeling is always feeling about something; in 
other words, it always has an ideational content in terms of 
which its meaning and worth must be appraised. Whether 
an intense and stirring emotional experience is significant 
or petty, noble or ignoble, depends upon its meaning which 
can only be determined by intellectual judgment. And it 
must not be forgotten that all intellectual processes involve 
feeling. " Be sure there is no process of reasoning which 
fails of its throb of emotion in the exact degree of its depth 
and clearness; no altitudes of the intellect where the fires 
of feeling do not glow; and if it should ever seem to you that 
that white hght of truth which men say shines on the loftier 
heights is a cold radiance, bethink you whether you might 
not there find heaKng from the scorchings of the fires of 
passion and of suffering which you chance upon below." ^ 

Quite different from the disparagement of knowledge is 
the error which declares all knowledge to be so good that 
one bit is equal in value to any other, which finds no prin- 
ciples of subordination or superiority, and so none of ulti- 
mate valuation. Doubtless every bit of knowledge may be 
good for something, at some time, to some person. But 
thousands of known and knowable facts are relatively 
worthless. One might conceivably spend a lifetime in ac- 
quiring and cataloguing such facts without being appreci- 
ably wiser at the end of three score years and ten, and with- 
out having contributed anything to hirnian welfare. I 
might devote myself to counting the leaves on acacia trees, 
or to determining the number of paradoxes in the writings 
of Chesterton. I might commit to memory the dates of the 
founding of all the post offices west of the Mississippi, or 
try to discover through historical sources the daily changes 
of temperature in the reign of Charles the First. All these 
enterprises offer the possibility of acquiring certain exact 

* J. M. Robertson, Essays in Ethics, p. i88. 


knowledge and might yield satisfaction to curious minds, 
but they do not commend themselves to our judgment as 
valuable. The reason for our disapproval of time thus ex- 
pended contains implicitly the principle for the evaluation of 

What determines the rank of any piece of knowledge? 
Unless we are prepared to maintain that aU knowledge is of 
equal worth, that facts and principles do not in any degree 
differ in value, we inevitably face this question. We crave 
some objective criterion of the kind of knowledge that is 
most worth while, since the immediate satisfaction which 
knowledge may yield for any individual knower is too sub- 
jective to serve as a standard of judgment. All we can now 
hope to do in dealing with so complex a problem is to indi- 
cate the direction in which the answer must be sought. 

In general, then, the rank of any portion of knowledge 
will be determined by its significance in the scheme of 
human interests as a whole. Knowledge is of all grades and 
of all degrees of value. Some portions of it are relatively 
insignificant, others of profoundest importance. In each 
case the rank is determined by its inclusiveness, its place in 
the whole of human meaning and purpose. The highest 
kind of knowledge, as Plato insisted, deals with the criticism 
of Hfe itself, with the whole enterprise of civihzation in which 
humanity is engaged. Such knowledge is primarily knowl- 
edge of inner needs, not outer equipment, of ends, not 
means; it is teleological, not mechanical; it ministers to our 
sense for conduct, to our deeper wants and aspirations; 
it tells us what to do with life when we have won the means 
of living. The parts of knowledge are all good, but they 
are good just in the degree in which they embody more or 
less of that total meaning which himaanity is striving to 
discover and to express. 

The knowledge required in constructing a heating plant 
or a traction system is valuable for purposes of heating or 


transportation. But if the life to which these minister were 
pitched at the level of merely sensuous gratification, we 
could not greatly applaud the achievement. Life has higher 
purposes than warmth and motion. When those who plan 
and create such mechanical systems are done with their 
task, they too must live their lives and fill them as best they 
can with a larger human meaning. "Apollo does not always 
bend the bow." Even a statesman who may devise financial 
or tariff legislation with rare skill is more than a legislator. 
He, Hke others, is building a personal life, noble or base, 
rich or poor in content; he too must be judged as a man 
by standards inclusive of far more than his special contri- 
bution to the mechanism of political life. 

But insistence upon the valuation of knowledge according 
to the degree in which it ministers to the true needs of life, 
does not mean the disparagement of scientific knowledge. 
In fact scientific knowledge, even the most theoretical, 
does contribute to the guidance of conduct. Pure science 
wins from many faithful disciples a devotion which ennobles 
their own Hves and at the same time exercises a tonic in- 
fluence upon the standards of mankind. But science further 
serves, directly and indirectly, the criticism of life, yielding 
as it does knowledge of ourselves, our relations to our fel- 
lows, and to nature. If the physical sciences deal primarily 
with external mechanisms, the humanistic group deal with 
both the mechanism and meaning of inner experience. It 
must again be urged that the material conquests which are 
commonly regarded as the great achievement of science, 
are not its sole, perhaps not even its best, gift to the race. 
Science, by substituting ordered knowledge for disordered 
intuitions and conjectures, has delivered man from a maze 
of dangerous errors and cruel superstitions, and has thereby 
made a precious contribution to his spiritual life. A study 
of the history of medicine, of insanity, and of witchcraft, 
to mention no other fields of its influence, cannot fail to 


leave one profoundly grateful for the work of science. Trans- 
forming as it does the inner as well as the outer life, science 
must be recognized as a genuinely spiritual task.^ 

The sigm'ficance of knowledge, in its widest range, for the 
moral life is not exhausted by its more dramatic achieve- 
ments. What part, we now ask, does it play in the constant 
and repeated choices between good and evil made by every 

Is knowledge here necessary for right conduct, or is it a 
mere accessory, useful indeed, but not indispensable? What 
of the old dictum that virtue is knowledge? This ancient 
formulation of the problem is not the happiest. In fact, it is 
far less happy in our time than it was in the days of Socrates. 
For, at the present day, knowledge commonly suggests, not 
wisdom or personal insight, as it did for the Greeks, but 
rather the accumulation of vast stores of information in 
manuals, encyclopaedias, and libraries. All this it certainly 
did not mean in any such degree for Socrates or Plato. If 
we change a little the form of the question we may get nearer 
to the heart of the problem. Does failure in conduct always 
imply something amiss in our intellectual processes, or do 
we err with eyes wide open, in clear and undimmed intel- 
lectual vision? That many of the worst acts of men are due 
to ignorance or to mental limitations no one will be inclined 
to deny. But that aU wrong conduct means some hmita- 
tion or disturbance in our thinking, we also hold to be true. 
If we are asked whether the man who yields to intemperance 
or to anger does not do so because of appetite or impulse that 
he knows to be evil, we unhesitatingly answer, "Yes." 

^ The temporary application of sdentific knowledge to the construction of en- 
gines of death for use in war constitutes in no way a condemnation of science. As 
well condemn agriculture because incidentally it feeds vast armies! Long after 
the thunder of the great guns has ceased and the places of bloodshed have become 
again the scenes of peaceful industry, the same sciences will serve the interests of 
humanity by creating the instruments of conquest over nature. Principles do 
not cease to be valuable because they may be misapplied. 


But at the same time we maintain that intemperance and 
anger mean that knowledge is, at the moment of the intem- 
perate or angry deed, always defective. Let us take the case, 
for example, of the man tempted to anger. He knows in 
general that anger is bad and that it always recoils disas- 
trously upon himself. To the proposition, "Anger is bad," 
he unhesitatingly assents. But when he is becoming angry 
he looks upon the present case as an exception. The insult 
or injury which is its occasion seems to him at the moment 
so outrageous that no man of spirit could fail to feel anger, 
and he does not hesitate to suspend the rule of self-control. 
Such is the subtle logic of self-sophistication! But if we 
could look into the mind of the angry man when he reviews 
the act in cool reflection, how different his intellectual proc- 
esses ! He then sees that his anger, in this case as in others, 
was f ooHsh and wrong. He could now meet even that precise 
insult or injury and keep his temper. Why? Because his 
thinking is clear and undisturbed. Whenever we go wrong 
we go wrong in our thinking. If it be objected that the 
evil-doer is often clever and quick-witted, we freely grant the 
contention. We go further, and insist that he may be learned 
in some branch or branches of knowledge. He may be aU 
this, and still lack that understanding of life in its wholeness, 
which, we have insisted, is the highest kind of knowledge. 
There is no necessary contradiction in affirming that a man 
may be a learned fool. 

This is not, however, the whole case for knowledge in its 
relation to personal conduct. Its greatest service still re- 
mains in giving a new content to thought, new interests 
and points of attraction, so that, by a natural and inevitable 
process, unworthy ideas are driven from the foreground of 
consciousness, and so lose their power to determine conduct. 
To the empty mind, as to the swept and garnished house, 
the evil spirit returns to take up its dwelling. But if new 
and fascinating interests possess the mind, the disturbing 


forces may be overcome, as an armed enemy may be dis- 
lodged from a strong position when outflanked on all sides. 

So important to the integrity of life is the increase and 
dissemination of knowledge, that it must be regarded as one 
of our chief and abiding moral obhgations. Our stock of 
effective knowledge is forever unequal to the task of living. 
Through ignorance we are always in peril. Who in wit- 
nessing moral tragedies has not exclaimed with Meredith, 
"More brains, Lord, more brains!" Although the great 
discoveries of science and the works of genius in Hterature, 
art, and religion cannot be produced at will by any moral 
imperative, but must come as the happy gifts of the gods, the 
vast majority of us, who are neither discoverers nor gem'uses, 
may well be admonished to keep our souls alive by ever 
renewed devotion to the things of the mind. "Happy is 
the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth un- 

XL Religious Values 

The values of religion, like all the other values, are 
grounded in human nature. They are nothing superadded 
or adventitious. Man is a religious being just as truly as he 
is an economic, or social, or intellectual being. Placed in 
a world whose mysteries transcend our knowledge, depend- 
ent upon forces which we can only very partially control, 
drawing our very Hfe from cosmic processes and rendering 
it up again to them after a few short years, it is not strange 
that we all feel a profound interest in the nature of the uni- 
verse in which we play our little part. Such interest is of 
the very essence of religion. 

Religion is throughout a problem of values. Neither its 
origin nor growth can be understood apart from the value- 
experience. Among primitive peoples, religion is, it is gen- 
erally agreed, due chiefly to their concern for the primary 
needs of bodily life, which are dependent upon the processes 


of nature. And when, passing through the long course of its 
development, we reach the highest forms which religion has 
yet attained, we still find its theme to be the fortunes of 
good and evil in their cosmic relations. 

The intrinsic values of religion are found in the immedi- 
ate worth of the psychical states which it evokes. These 
values include a feeling of submission to the world order, a 
sense of harmony and cooperation with its purposes, faith 
and hope in the triumph of good, and deUght in the divine 

These must be recognized as at least the chief forms of 
value exhibited in the great historical religions, and especially 
in Christianity. We cannot, however, too narrowly limit the 
manifestations of the religious life, which is capable of ex- 
pressing itself in a greater wealth of variety than is commonly 
assumed. Wherever we find the clear conviction that the 
physical universe, in which man holds such precarious ten- 
ancy, is indifferent or hostile to the highest values of man's 
inner life, religion is compelled with arms in its hands, as it 
were, to struggle for its very existence. In this case religious 
values are found in the exaltation of man above the world of 
nature, and in the winning by creative effort, even against 
heavy odds, of a home for the spirit. The spiritual life so 
achieved, although genuinely real, is not at one with reality 
as a whole. This belief frankly recognizes that the realiza- 
tion of values, which is the goal of religion, is always im- 
perfect. The triumph of evil over good as well as of good 
over evil, the pangs of renunciation as well as the joys of 
divine creation, are permanent elements of the process. 
It sees that evil is wrought into the very structure of things, 
and no longer pronounces the universe wholly good. The 
world of worths is thus only an element of reality, and can- 
not be identified with reality as a whole. 

Often, indeed, the intrinsic values of religion have been 
regarded as chiefly instrumental to the realization of still 


higher values of the same order in a future, transmundane 
sphere. But all deeper interpretations of religion reject 
such dualism, refusing to postpone in this way the realiza- 
tion of its purpose, and regarding the earthly life as an in- 
tegral and indivisible part of the spiritual process with which 
religion is concerned. Religion has also an instrumental 
function which has been recognized by all ethical religions. 
These have held that religion does not stand apart from prac- 
tical life. It has the task of transforming by its spirit all the 
activities in which men engage, and of furnishing the sup- 
port and fulfillment of the moral ideal so imperfectly em- 
bodied in actual life. This function of religion, in giving 
support to the moral struggle, has been historically a great 
force in the lives of believers. The protesting and suffering 
champions of human right have, in evil times, turned to 
religion for solace and hope. They have been upheld by 
the faith that, if not here, then in the eternal order, good is 

But the sustaining power of such faith must not lead us 
to an uncritical acceptance of all its subjective hopes. The 
projection into some future order of what is ardently desired, 
but unrealized in the present, is a tendency easy to follow 
but hard to justify. We need to remind ourselves that re- 
ligion cannot stand apart from the work of the intellect; 
it must not be merely an escape from the known order, an 
unregulated flight of the imagination into regions above the 
reach of reason. Religion, no less than other values, must be 
moralized in the interests of the harmony and completeness 
of the spiritual life. ^ In the last resort the question of relig- 
ious values, as of all others, is a question of fact and truth. 
Should the truest view of the world which we can win in- 
volve the necessity of a reconstruction of our hopes, we need 
not feel surprise or discouragement. Out of the seeming 
loss which such reconstruction brings may come that which 
will, in the long run, prove necessary to our spiritual progress 


Certainly deep in us is the faith that it is best to know the 
truth and to adjust ourselves to its requirements. 

As the relations of morality and religion will be discussed 
at length in the final chapter, we defer for the present further 
treatment of the problem of religion. 

Concluding herewith our survey of the different groups 
of values, we may briefly consider a question as to the order 
in which the groups of values have been presented, and as to 
the possibility of establishing a strict hierarchy among them. 
To this question we reply: " For the order chosen no finality 
is claimed. It is possible that a somewhat different arrange- 
ment might serve equally well. The chosen order, however, 
is neither accidental nor arbitrary, but seems to represent 
a general estimate of the significance of the various groups." 
But we also hold that it would be impossible to demonstrate 
conclusively that any given order would constitute a strict 
hierarchy and be irreversible. To attempt this would be to 
ignore a fact of great weight to which we have frequently 
called attention. This is the fact that the values mutually 
interpenetrate and profoundly transform each other. In- 
deed, much could be said for the view that all the higher 
values stand, in the last analysis, upon essentially the 
same level, and that it is their harmonious and well- 
organized union which alone can claim an unchallenged 

What we have proposed is no detailed treatment of these 
values. We have tried only to point out the place of each in 
the world of human worths, and thereby to indicate its mean- 
ing for the task of morahty. The outstanding result of such a 
survey is clear. Morality is as wide as are the interests of fife 
and must extend to the control of every part of its manifold 
content. It is no separate interest, but the principle of the 
order and harmony of all interests, the law of the whole. 
Ethics, thus interpreted, becomes in its widest meaning 
nothing less than a criticism of civilization. 


XII. Definition of Civilization 

Civilization may be defined as the effort progressively 
to embody in institutions, laws, customs, and ideals, all 
human values in just proportion. Such is the meaning given 
to the concept of civilization not only by the modem world, 
but by those of every age who have consciously grasped the 
problem. This certainly was the conception of the Greeks, 
who recognized the state as the embodiment of all essential 
human interests, the sphere within which alone the individual 
could come to fullness of life. This, too, was the ideal of the 
Roman imperium in the minds of those who conceived and 
built its world-embracing order. With mediaevaHsm there 
came a change. Its characteristic feature was the renuncia- 
tion of the tasks of earthly civilization for the sake of a 
transcendent order, which was at many points in open con- 
flict with the true interests of this life. But when in the 
Renaissance men turned away in weariness from an inter- 
pretation of earthly existence which gave it no adequate 
meaning, they caught again the purpose of the Greek and 
Roman state, and sought to create a new civilization by a 
synthesis of the values both of paganism and of Christianity. 
We of the present day regard it as our task to mold all that 
has since been won by science, philosophy, and religion, by 
political, economic, and social reconstruction, into a stiQ 
richer and more harmonious order. At no stage of the pro- 
cess are the various values complete in their development or 
perfect in their proportion. Now one group of values is 
enriched by new discoveries, now another. Here one value 
is slighted, there overestimated; witness, for example, the 
neglect of economic and bodily welfare inspired by the mys- 
ticism of India, or the other extreme of emphasis upon wealth 
and luxury among certain classes in the western world. 

The ethical task, viewed from such a universal stand- 
point, is so vast that any critic will hasten to disavow the 


position of the specialist and claim that only of the amateur. 
Yet if there are no perfect seers, there are many, we may be- 
Heve, in whom there stirs at times a prophetic sense of better 
things. Every insight is important; no criticism is imperti- 
nent. And as every individual shares in the responsibility 
for the progress of civilization, so even the hiunblest may 
rightly feel some measure of the dignity that belongs to the 

Yet with all the imperfections of civilization, it offers at 
any moment a greater wealth of value than any individual 
can fully appropriate. Limitation of interests appears, then, 
as one of the first principles in dealing with the rich content 
of life. Indeed, to one whose eyes are open and whose spirit 
is alive, the problem of choice seems to be less the avoidance 
of positive evil than the selection of the good. On all sides 
the goods of Hfe claim our allegiance and press upon us for 
acceptance. In contrast with this wealth of good, how 
sharply limited appear the capacities and opportunities of 
the individual ! Within what narrow bounds our lives are set ! 
To grasp at all is to lose all! "In der Beschrankung zeigt 
sich erst der Meister." Wise limitation is indeed the work 
of a master, and only comes with maturity of insight. But 
happily there is a measure of natural limitation provided 
by one's tastes and endowments as well as by the conditions 
into which one is bom. 

XIII. The Organization of Values 

Such natural limitation, however, is not necessarily or- 
ganization. Merely to exclude is not to unify. If life is to- 
be a well-ordered polity, a hierarchy of values, in which the 
less are subordinated to the greater, there must be within it 
a controlling purpose. This cannot be found in the desires 
alone just as they may chance to arise. Although the moral 
life is forever linked to desire, it must find its law in some- 
thing above the separate and competing desires which are 


so often in conflict with each other. Desires, too, arise at 
different levels of worth. None are to be regarded as in 
themselves bad, none to be despised as common or unclean. 
But to obey merely "the law in the members" would be to 
live on the animal, not the human plane. From the dicta- 
tion of uncriticized desire we must appeal to a more inclusive 
purpose, to an ideal of spiritual wholeness which compre- 
hends and dominates all the interests of life. To such a uni- 
fying principle we must cling, in spite of the fact that its 
very comprehensiveness baffles a too exact formulation. AU 
critics of human conduct have recognized that the demand 
for detailed principles of organization cannot be pressed 
beyond a certain point. The demand for exact prescription 
here is like the demand for infallible authority in law or 
rehgion. Life is too individual, too fluid, and too much in 
the making to allow such exact formulation. It is at best 
suited only to the lower stages of development, to the child 
or to the individual that remains in a childlike stage of tute- 
lage. The organized scheme of family and social Uf e provides 
this guidance for a time, but only for a time. Then each 
is set at the task for himself, and bidden to struggle forward 
even at the price of mistake or failure. Every individual is 
called upon to effect a unique but harmonious organization 
of values in a personal hfe — a creation which partakes of the 
nature of a work of art. Yet as the work of art, although a 
free creation, is not lawless but is governed in every part 
by principles of unity and order, so in life the choice of values 
must be dictated by the meaning of the whole. ^ 

What can be said of the process of organization by which 
the end of the moral life is to be attained? Can ethics hope 
to give guidance in such a complex undertaking? Should 
we attempt the formulation of a single controUing principle, 
we must appeal to the recognized law that the less inclusive 

1 For a discussion of the problem of organization see Perry, The Moral Economy, 
Chaps. I, II. 


must always be subordinated to the more inclusive interest. 
In the practical working of this principle it is doubtless 
easier to determine what is to be excluded than what is to be 
included. This need occasion no surprise. The plan of an 
inner life is always in the making, it is not a finished product. 
No one at the outset can see his life as a whole and dictate 
every part from the point of view of its final meaning. 
Rarely even does the outward scheme correspond with that 
which was pictured in youth. Often, too, the significance 
of a life is quite other than that which the individual assigns 
to it. Professor Palmer, in The Nature of Goodness,^ has 
admirably unfolded the natural process of the development 
and integration of the moral Hfe. In the course of the dis- 
cussion he says: "We rarely have in mind the total plan of 
our unrealized being, and rarely ought we to have. Our work 
begins at a different point. We do not, like the architect, 
usually begin with a thought of completion. Rather we are 
first stirred by a sense of weakness. ... I do not think a 
full plan of our ultimate goal is usually desirable. In small 
matters it is often possible and convenient. I plan my 
stay in Europe before going there. I figure my business 
prospects before forming a partnership. But in profounder 
affairs, I more wisely set out from the thought of the present, 
and the patent need of improving it, than from the future 
with its ideal perfection." ^ Such, I think, is essentially our 
procedm-e in daily life. We allow ourselves to follow the 
impulse to new activities, provided they do not conflict 
with already established purposes. The completed whole 
is achieved by excluding contradictory and discordant ele- 
ments as we move forward in the direction of the largest 
meaning which, from day to day, we are able to discern. 

Are there specific maxims which flow from the principle 
of the choice of the more inclusive end? Can we discover, 

1 See Chap. V. 

2 Pp. 134, 137. 


in the lives of those who have best achieved an organiza- 
tion of values, the rules which have consciously or uncon- 
sciously guided in the process? Undoubtedly some of these 
rules can be formulated. And first, in all well-ordered lives 
we find the values which are chiefly instrumental subordi- 
nated to those which are chiefly intrinsic. Wealth, we have 
found to be a mere instrument, never to be exalted to the 
rank of an end. The same is true of all the material instru- 
ments of life. It is indeed the glory of man that his cunning 
brain and skillful hand have fashioned these for his service, 
but it is his shame that they should possess and master him 
instead of being his creatures. Although the bodily values 
have a degree of intrinsic worth, their chief function is to 
serve the higher levels of experience. The spectacle of bodily 
well-being, however perfect, if it does not promise something 
beyond itself, gives us a sense of inverted order and distorted 

The rule which bids us place chief emphasis upon the more 
intrinsic values is one with the famihar maxim which coun- 
sels us to seek the goods of the inner rather than of the outer 
life. It has been an insight common to the masters of wis- 
dom in all ages that the real center of life is within, not with- 
out, that true satisfaction is found in wealth of inner experi- 
ence, not in abundance of outward possessions. Common 
prudence, as well as spiritual aspiration, dictates the setting 
of the affections upon those things of which fortune is not 
complete master and of which it cannot wholly deprive us. 

Regard for the more inclusive interest dictates also the 
choice of the permanent, rather than the transient values. 
If we inquire where the more permanent values are to be 
found, there can be no doubt that we must seek them in the 
activities of the higher human powers. We are not without 
a measure of soHd empirical evidence in this matter; we can 
appeal to laws which are firmly grounded in our physical 
and mental Hfe. The senses soon weary and cease to re- 


spond with pleasure to repeated stimuli, whereas the ide- 
ational activities are capable of comparatively long and un- 
wearied exercise. Unless life is filled with an ideal content, 
a sense of weariness and ennui follows in the long intervals 
between the more intense sensuous gratifications. This 
fact becomes of increasing importance to each individual 
with the passing of the years. One by one the cords that 
bind us to the world of sense are loosened; more and more 
we are compelled to find refuge and solace in the spiritual 
home which we have created. 

The choice of the productive rather than the unproductive 
values constitutes still another maxim of organization. The 
unproductive values are "used up" in the process of yielding 
their immediate satisfaction. Not only do they fail to bring 
increase for the future, but often tend to be followed by 
experiences of negative value. In contrast to these, the pro- 
ductive values yield future increments of good both to the 
individual and to the community. It is in social relations 
that this principle of productivity finds its most striking 
illustration. Especially do the higher intrinsic goods es- 
cape the law of material things; they multiply in distribu- 
tion and suffer no loss in division. To share these things 
with others is to increase one's own store. Everyone is the 
richer for such wealth possessed by his neighbor. As we 
shall see in the next chapter, it is through the increased 
devotion to such higher values that we may find hope of an 
increasing harmony among the interests of individuals. 

The maxims given above are not to be thought of as 
separate, or exclusive of each other. They rather present 
different aspects of the larger and more inclusive good. For 
practical guidance appeal is made now to one, now to an- 
other. They all rest upon the axiom that, in a choice be- 
tween two values, the one of greater worth is always to be 
chosen. More specific guidance than such general marks 
of the greater value cannot well be given. To do more, it 


would be necessary to consider individual cases with all 
their varying conditions, to enter, in brief, the field of casuis- 
try in the wider sense of the term. General principles, how- 
ever, are not to be rejected because one must use judgment 
in applying them. 

Finally, the choices by which the less is subordinated to 
the more inclusive value are the work of reason. Although 
impulse and desire are the dynamic of conduct, driving it 
forward unceasingly, they cannot provide the principle of 
organization. This must be given by reason. If it be urged 
that the work of reason is imperfect, the answer to such 
criticism is that it offers the best guidance we know. Al- 
though the path it indicates may not always be clear, to reject 
its guidance is to wander in an untracked wilderness. Hap- 
pily reason is constantly gaining fresh insight, and when at a 
loss has the power of turning back again and again upon its 
course to discover the point at which it went astray. 

In the polity of the soul, then, we may picture reason as 
judge. It sits above the pressing throng of impulses and de- 
sires which, reckless of other interests, plead only their own 
special causes. As impartial arbiter it refuses to allow the 
lesser interests to prevail over the greater, or the greater 
wholly to over-ride the lesser. Rebuking the elements of 
discord in the soul, it seeks to secure an increasing harmony 
of interests and to establish ever more widely a true kingdom 
of values. 



Thus far our discussion of ethical problems has proceeded 
without special consideration of the relations in which the 
individual stands to society. These relations have of neces- 
sity been assumed throughout, for they are so essential 
that, apart from them, human experience would not be what 
it now is, would in fact be nothing human or moral at all. 
The refusal to enter upon the problem hitherto can hardly 
have escaped attention, but the omission has been deliberate 
and intentional. It has seemed best that the task of de- 
scription should thus far concern itself with certain universal 
and essential aspects of moral values. We have assumed 
that values are realized solely by individuals, and we have 
also assumed that no values can be realized by individuals 
in isolation. These assumptions, and the implications in- 
volved, must now be subjected to examination. 

I. The Truth of iNDivmuALisM 

If, then, it be asked where good and evil are to be found, 
it may be answered that they are found in the lives of in- 
dividuals. Our theory is an individualism, in the sense that 
the realization and appreciation of all value is ultimately 
always an affair of the individual consciousness. However 
one may exalt the social aspects of morality, it must inevit- 
ably be in this sense individualistic. Apart from individuals 
there is no morality, and no consciousness in which it could 
develop. The individual is thus, in the last resort, the home 
and center of all value. We often speak, to be sure, of the 
social organism, and even of the social consciousness, but 



these expressions are obviously figurative. While they are 
suggestive forms of speech, they are not to be taken literally 
or pressed beyond their legitimate symbolism. In the or- 
ganism, biologically interpreted, the parts, or members, 
are not distinct centers of consciousness, and have in them- 
selves no experience of value, whereas, in the social organism, 
it is only in the individual elements that this experience can 
be found. Society is, therefore, as Fouillee insists, "hyper- 
organic." ^ What is meant by the social consciousness is, 
in reality, the social elements in the consciousness of many 
individuals sharing in a common life and a common mental 
content. The term "over-individual" has been used for 
certain universal values. But this again is totally misleading 
if it is interpreted as something realized outside of the con- 
sciousness of individuals. The "over-individual" values are 
the universal values capable of realization by the individual. 
So far, any ethical theory is necessarily an individualism. 

Such a doctrine of individualism does not mean a return 
to the atomic conception of society, which regarded individ- 
uals as independent and competing units. Nor is it to be 
identified with any of those forms of political individualism 
which have been the support of the economic doctrine of 
laissez-faire. Still less is it to be confused with that ruthless 
egoism which exalts selfish interests in the name of self- 
development, which pleads a divine right to live one's own 
life, and counts regard for the rights of others as a cramping 
of the personality. By the term individualism we mean only 
to express the truth that conscious selves are the many 
centers of experience and value in which life unfolds itself. 
To each one of these selves belongs an element of unique- 
ness — each in its own peculiar way mirrors the complex 
of physical and social relations. 

If we attempt to evaluate this unique factor in individu- 
ality, we see that, whereas such uniqueness may be precious 

^Morale Des IdSes-Forces, p. 212. 


because of its contribution to social values, it may be only 
the conceit of a visionary and ill-balanced egotism. It is 
easy to overestimate the worth for the individual of a refusal 
to bear the yoke of common burdens, and to underestimate 
the enrichment that comes from subjecting personal desires 
to a law dictated by the needs of others. Individualism has 
often misconceived the uniqueness of personality; it has 
viewed the unique elements as alien to the interests of others, 
and as remaining permanently apart from society. It is 
true that new values come largely by a revolt of individuals 
against the traditional order, but whether the uniqueness 
which inspires revolt is subjective caprice and lawlessness 
or a fresh addition to existing values, has to be determined in 
the end by its over-individual worth. In the words of George 
Eliot: "How far an individual may be justified in following 
the dictates of his judgment in opposition to the customs of 
his time and country, is a question no less delicate than 
difficult to solve. And here is precisely the point where the 
highest and lowest natures apparently meet. For opposition 
to the customs may spring from the loftiest motives. It 
may spring from the spiritual exaltation of the reformer, 
braving social ostracism for the sake of an idea, or it may 
spring, on the other hand, from the rebellious promptings 
of an anti-social egoism which recognizes no law higher than 
that of personal gratification." What we want is indeed 
highly individualized persons who combine in original and 
creative ways the over-individual elements in civilization, 
and whose differences thus become sources of a common en- 
richment. True individualism is not mere queerness, nor the 
exaggerated subjectivism that parades as genius in litera- 
ture, art, or personal conduct. 

II. The Individual a Social Being 

We have insisted that the individual is the home and cen- 
ter of all value, But this avowal of an individualism, which 


is inevitable to any theory of ethics, does not make against 
the recognition of the full significance of the social character 
of the individual. And no sooner does one turn to examine 
the life of the individual than it is discovered how primary 
and fundamental is this social character. Not only are all 
values of the individual built up in cooperation with his 
fellows, but his very consciousness, his innermost life, is 
through and through social in its structure. Certainly 
the individual self apart from social relations, if a human 
being could exist in such complete isolation, would be so poor 
and meagre a thing as to lack true meaning and worth. 
Indeed, although the matter is for many reasons difficult 
of experimental proof, and although observation can offer 
only partial verification, it seems certain that, if a highly 
endowed individual could be reared from earHest infancy in a 
strictly non-human environment, the resulting conscious- 
ness would be nothing recognizable as distinctively hmnan. 
It is not necessary, however, to appeal to hypothetical cases 
of isolation from society to estabhsh the fact that the con- 
tent of our consciousness is a social product. What would 
be the mental content of our own age apart from the social- 
historical life into which we have entered? Or what would 
be the fate of any generation, were it to be completely sim- 
dered at infancy from the life of all previous generations, 
so that it must begin its civilization anew? It would mean 
nothing less than an immediate relapse into the lowest 
savagery. All the values discussed in the last chapter are 
social in their structure. From the simplest economic values 
up to those of highest ideal meaning, all have been fashioned 
by the contributions of imnumbered workers. If in each 
field the names of only the most conspicuous contributors 
are recorded by history, the labors of the many have been 
no less necessary. At first thought it might seem that at 
least the objects of the physical world by which we are sur- 
rounded remain an individual construction. But not even 


this domain is left to the individual to interpret at will. 
The slowly-built systems of physical science and of philo- 
sophical interpretation, upon which past generations have 
toiled, determine our thought of our entire physical en- 
vironment. Whether from childhood to old age one shall 
regard nature animistically, as everywhere peopled with 
spirits akin to our own, or as a mechanism of forces, depends 
upon the intellectual environment into which one is bom. 
Whether also one shall regard particular objects in nature, 
as well as in art, as beautiful or ugly, is largely determined 
in the same way. From whatever side one approaches the 
subject, it is clear that, if the individual is the imit with 
which we always have to deal in moral theory, this same 
individual is in his deepest nature a social being. 

We encounter at this point a seeming paradox of our 
practical life. The individual is, we say, the center and home 
of all values, and, apart from individuals, no values whatever 
exist. Yet with no less vigor we insist that the individual 
is nothing when sundered from his fellows, that if he is to 
realize his individuahty he must transcend it, if he is to find 
his Hfe he must lose it in the larger life of social relations. 
The paradox finds illustration in the work of charity. It is 
some neglected child, a sick laborer, or a social outcast, 
who arouses sympathy. Organized charity, ministering to 
such needs, then becomes one of the over-individual causes 
for the individual to serve. If, however, social service is 
made an end in itself, it negates itself by losing sight of the 
only reason for which it exists. In education the case is not 
different. We seek to educate individuals. A, B, C, and all 
the others whose names appear in the catalogue. But 
straightway the process of education must of necessity be 
carried on by inspiring in the student a devotion to universal 
interests, interests transcending each individual while minis- 
tering to all. 

In whatever form this problem presents itself, it can find 


solution only when we recognize that the relations of the 
individual and society are strictly reciprocal; neither one can 
be understood or can even exist apart from the other. The 
individual has no meaning apart from the community, and 
the community none apart from the individual. "The 
circles of the ego and the non-ego," we must acknowledge, 
"everywhere intersect." This is true of all human concerns, 
great and small, high and low. "If the glory of God is not 
also my glory and the salvation of society is not also my 
salvation, then God and society are necessarily strangers to 
me, and their good can be for me neither a moral obligation 
nor a psychologically conceivable motive." ^ 

But this problem of the individual and society is after 
all only one aspect of a larger problem of general philos- 
ophy, the problem of the individual and the world in which 
the individual exists. If we begin at the level of material 
objects, we find that not one of them is an independent 
unit. No atom exists in isolation. The forces operative in 
inorganic nature bind together all elements in processes of 
action and interaction. A change at one point involves a 
change throughout the whole system. Still more clear ap- 
pears this interaction of elements in the sphere of organic 
life. The individual plant is nothing apart from the earth, 
the sunshine and the rain, and, indeed, the entire cosmic 
order. The plant's existence is linked with the whole of 
things, and would be impossible apart from such over- 
individual relations. Ascending the scale to animal life, 
where consciousness appears, we find increasingly significant 
examples of the principle of interdependence. Thus the I 
doctrine that the individual is not an independent being is 
a truth in no wise peculiar to the moral sphere. 

In a world of interacting elements, adjustment is a uni- 
versal and unceasing process. The adjustment of interests 
between persons may be viewed as the highest and most 

- Fite, Individualism, p. 27. 


complex case of adjustment. It is the task of moral reflec- 
tion to comprehend the relations of individuals, just as the 
various sciences have the task of dealing with other problems 
of interaction in their respective spheres. Ethics here only- 
parallels in its own domain the procedure of the other sci- 

If we seek in human nature for the psychological basis 
upon which social relations have been reared, we find in man 
an instinctive feeling for his kind. This instinctive element 
is perhaps best represented by the term sympathy. Although 
this social instinct has been recognized by thinkers in every 
age, it has received its most impressive statement at the 
hands of evolutionary writers, who have studied its mani- 
festations in the lower animals as well as in man. The social, 
other-regarding impulses play an important part in the life 
of all gregarious animals, producing among them striking 
displays of instinctive sacrifice, as when the mother offers 
up her own life to protect the life of her offspring. It has 
been claimed that sympathy, appearing first as an instinctive 
form of conjugal and parental affection, has increased in 
proportion to the development of the animal organism; 
that it is accordingly least in the lower animal types, like 
fishes and reptiles, and greatest in the higher forms, the birds 
and mammals.^ Precisely the same law, it is shown, applies 
to the various stages of human evolution. Among the lower 
savages, sympathy is limited in every case to the tribe; all 
outside it are enemies to be attacked and slain. In general, 
too, the tribe varies in size according to the degree of its 
development. With every increase of numbers in the tribe 
the circle in which sympathy operates becomes larger, while 
at the same time the manifestations of the sentiment tend 
to increase both in intensity and complexity. Numerical 
estimates, based upon the data available, are necessarily 
inexact, but at least serve to illustrate the principle. Among 

^ See, for example, Sutherland, The Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct, Vol. I. 


the lowest savages, like the Bushmen and the inhabitants 
of the Andaman Islands, the tribe has been estimated to 
consist on the average of about forty souls. The so-called 
middle savages, like the Tasmanians, Fuegians, and Hot- 
tentots, number about a hundred and fifty to the tribe, 
while the higher savages dwell in encampments of several 
hundred souls. In each case, the number may be regarded 
as marking approximately the extension of sympathy. With 
the advance from savage to so-called barbarous peoples the 
numbers increase to thousands, and the extensive operation 
of social S3niipathy is correspondingly enlarged. In the 
civilized nations of modem times we have the spectacle 
of millions of human beings linked together by bonds of 
cultural interests as well as of a common political life and 
destiny. But a still more striking fact is the way in which 
sympathy transcends all barriers of race and nation, and 
encircles the globe. As no individual can be defined apart 
from the community, so no nation can be defined apart from 
the community of nations. The extension of sympathy 
even to the animal kingdom, in systematic effort to secure 
kindly treatment of all forms of sensitive life, is an interest- 
ing phase of modem civilization. Only within a few decades 
has there been any widely organized movement for this pur- 
pose, and only within a still shorter period has it been a 
recognized factor in the education and training of the young. 
With the progress of civilization social cooperation every- 
where displays both extensive and intensive growth. 

III. Egoism and Altruism 

Granting all that has been said of the social nature of man, 
and of the growing power of sympathy, are not all the 
motives that stir him to action strictly individualistic? 
Popular thought often interprets all social, and even so- 
called altruistic, conduct in terms of pure egoism. For, it 
asks, are not all acts which have social ends in view prompted 


by personal desire? Is not all altruism a concealed or un- 
conscious egoism? Does not one perform the act of social 
helpfulness, like any other, because it pleases one to perform 
it? And so, it is urged, we are all completely selfish in our 
conduct. The philanthropist is as selfish as the most vulgar 
pleasure-seeker, only he has learned to find his happiness 
in different ways, in ways, fortunately, that contribute to 
the well-being of others. 

This view owes whatever of apparent force it possesses to 
the exaggeration and misstatement of a residuum of truth 
just sufficient to give countenance to the error. It is an 
example of the ways in which we are tricked by forms of 
speech. For the analysis of any altruistic, other-regarding 
act reveals a certain primary reference to the self as incon- 
testable. Whenever one performs such an act, one performs 
it because it pleases the self to do it. As Bishop Butler 
expressed it, "No one can act but from a desire or a choice 
or a preference of his own." ^ Any concrete case of altruistic 
action will serve to illustrate the principle. The mother 
who makes costly sacrifice for the welfare of her child does 
so because she finds satisfaction in maternal devotion. 
The man who leaps into the cold water to rescue a drowning 
person prefers, if he reflects upon the matter at all, the chill 
of the water, the struggle, and even the danger involved, 
to standing in cowardly inaction on the shore while the 
victim drowns. Similarly, in cases of more deliberate 
reflection, the act of altruism represents the personal pref- 
erence of the agent at the time the choice is made. This 
basal reference to an ego is essential and irreducible. It 
lies in the very mechanism of moral action that the act 
should express the desire and preference of some individual 
agent; for only in this way can acts be performed at all. 
But because all acts must be the choice and preference of 
a self, all are not therefore selfish; because they proceed 

^Sermons, Preface. 


from an ego, they are not necessarily egoistic. We must 
not allow ourselves to be fooled by a verbal puzzle. Whether 
an act is selfish or not depends upon the end in view. The 
selfish act, whatever its outward seeming, has as its object 
the satisfaction of the agent without due regard to the satis- 
faction of others; the unselfish act, although equally inspired 
by the personal interest of the agent, has as its aim the wel- 
fare of others. It is because the self is capable of including 
within its own interests the interests of others that altruism 
is possible. Some degree of it, indeed, may be said to be 
inevitable. Once it is seen that the self is a social self, the 
sharp opposition between egoism and altruism inevitably 
breaks down. The antithesis, if pressed too far, loses all 
meaning, since no individual can realize his personal inter- 
ests without including more or less fully the interests of 
others. Further, the fact that the individual pleases him- 
self and finds happiness in altruistic conduct, does not in the 
slightest degree lessen the beauty or worth of such conduct. 
In contrast with this harmony of individual and social in- 
terests, one may picture a moral order in which every al- 
truistic act should be attended with displeasure, and should 
always mean ultimate loss to the doer. If such a world were 
possible, it would hardly commend itself as desirable. 

Morality, then, is in no wise interested in lessening the 
satisfaction which the individual naturally obtains in un- 
selfish, other-regarding action. Its interest Hes rather in 
increasing the harmony between individuals, so that each 
may find his own good in the good of the many. No more 
is it the aim of social morality to make the self less of a self, 
to diminish the strength of desire or the ardor of pursuit of 
self-determined ends. For, if society is to be well served, 
there must be strong and capable individuals to undertake 
the service. Everywhere there is need of individuals who 
possess a wealth of personality, of self-hood, to offer. Self- 
assertion is not necessarily selfish or anti-social. It is true 


indeed that "with only a little more rational self-love the 
largest portion of human misery would disappear." The 
proper assertion of personal honor and self-respect is better 
in social influence than weak yielding to domination. The 
entire process of education may be viewed as an assertion 
of personality. But the long years given to such develop- 
ment and assertion of individual power are amply justified 
socially by the larger and stronger self prepared for service. 
The value of self-assertion, we must remember, depends 
upon the kind of self that is asserted. Education aims to 
develop the higher and larger self. The pleasure-seeker, 
the miser, and the tyrant assert themselves in social rela- 
tions; but in the case of these it is the lower, the partial, 
and petty self that finds expression. The clash between in- 
dividual desires and social interests always tends to disap- 
pear whenever the larger, more ideal interests of the self 
become the object of desire. 

IV. Conflict of Individual and Social Interests 

It is impossible at this point to escape the question of 
the degree of harmony which can be asserted to exist be- 
tween the true interests of the individual and those of society. 
Is this harmony complete, or are we left with an "ever not 
quite" when dealing with the problem? It is a question 
which no fully conscious individual can permanently escape. 
There is within us a deep protest against a final dualism 
between these interests. When I secure my own highest 
good, must it be at the price of the good of my fellows? 
And when, in turn, I serve my fellows, must I thereby 
sacrifice my own highest good? Must the spirit be at war 
with itself in these two deep impulses? Or, are we justified 
in the belief of an ultimate harmony between the promptings 
of social sympathy and the demand for the most complete 
and satisfying life possible of attainment by the individual? 

The question of the degree of harmony between individual 


and social interests is analogous to that, already discussed, 
of the agreement between happiness and perfection. And a 
dogmatic assertion of complete coincidence seems as impos- 
sible in the one case as in the other. Again we doubtless 
have to do in the last resort with a postulate of harmony- 
essential to the whole-heartedness and vigor of moral action. 
However convincing the evidence in favor of such harmony 
may be, and however hopeful the outlook for an ever- 
growing identity of interests, one cannot ignore the historical 
conflicts, or the cases of discord that present themselves in 
existing society. No thoughtful person would indulge in 
a dogmatic assertion of complete harmony. 

The easy-going assumption which sometimes appears in 
the ethics of self-realization to the effect that, whereas from 
the point of view of hedonism there may be a conflict be- 
tween individual and social interests, this conflict entirely 
disappears as soon as the standard of the development of 
personality is applied to conduct, is wholly unwarranted. 
It must not be forgotten that the development of personal 
power requires an adequate sphere of activity, a career 
suited to individual capacities. That everyone does find 
a career which gives the fullest stimulus and scope for de- 
velopment, is manifestly not capable of demonstration, but 
appears in many cases to be clearly contrary to the facts of 

But whatever conflict may exist between the spheres of 
individual and social welfare, there is historical evidence in 
support of the view that, with the advance of civilization, 
the conflict has on the whole diminished. Without entering 
again upon the question of progress, which we have discussed 
elsewhere,^ a great gain in harmony is seen in the fact that 
it is now possible to make new contributions to society with- 
out the costly sacrifice which the past exacted of any pioneer 
who opposed existing traditions. Nowhere does this appear 

1 Cf. Chap. VI. 


more clearly than in the careers of those who have discovered 
new truths in any field of thought. The most severe punish- 
ments which society inflicted were formerly visited upon 
those who criticized existing ideas and institutions, and sug- 
gested new ones in their place. The history of politics, 
science, and religion is replete with such examples. The 
only approximation in ancient society to the freedom of 
modern thought was in Greece, and in circles dominated by 
Hellenic culture. But at the present time almost all intelli- 
gent persons recognize the vital importance of the free ex- 
pression of convictions, however these may be opposed to the 
existing order. Progress is seen to be dependent upon the 
infusion of new ideas. Even a frank and consistent expres- 
sion of error may be better than unthinking acquiescence. 
Lord Bacon's dictum that "the truth emerges from error 
more quickly than from confusion of thought," is abundantly 
justified. In radical views, unflinchingly developed, society 
first becomes aware of the meaning of tendencies that have 
long been at work in its midst. However sinister certain of 
Nietzsche's views may appear, it is recognized that he has 
rendered a real service in developing, to their logical conclu- 
sions, ideas which had found practical, though largely un- 
avowed and unconscious expression in the military and in- 
dustrial life of the age. At the same time, elements of truth 
in his teaching add by so much to the stock of clear and 
consciously elaborated ideas. The modem pioneer in thought 
enjoys a freedom from all the harsher penalties which earlier 
ages inflicted. A certain degree of ostracism or of social 
reprobation is the only penalty that still remains in most 
civilized countries for the representative of radical or im- 
acceptable views. This permitted freedom in holding diverse 
ideas, it may be added, is at once a mark and a condition of 
all progress. There is ample evidence to show that such 
diversity was unknown in primitive society. Among many 
tribes it has been observed that the only reason for the right 


or wKxng of an act was the £act of its agreement or dLsagree- 

me-: —1:1 e:mnng c^ifirns,- Primitive men think and act 
iz her is; the individual has vet attained Uttle uniqu«iess- 
Ai in the coarse oi drilizaticHi men devote themsdves 
inrrriring-ly to the things d the mind, the greater beoMnes 
lie > ;_. ii_e :: :Jie lerhities of the individuaL This is 
strikinghr e5hib::ei iz lie discoveries of scioic^ even in 
tJi:>r zelis — i::i '/-t-i :rs_i:s oi no Immediate utilit}-. Xo 
cze -iz i:r_Lri:ei : re:2;: :ir viil'ie cf highly theoretical 
ir. es.irizizs - Tiese :iz. :e ^:-ziizizy J ustified against 

tie sriri: -~il:'z- i"~ '-.~ is ' eiiite results, and estimates 

ail ii:eir;r_:.. activity by 1:5 erntribution to material le- 
s .irref Tie i — "itarian spii: oftoi short-sig^tedly 
; : izs —lui liiiliziriiz. izterests i: liie ciy, cui bono? But it 
v-:ili be disastr:"_s :: :ie:i iriitrarih" any strong intd- 
Iririil ii:eres:. S_:i i ize i ~ zi s ur^ dq) the wings of 
r::rres5 i-zi e ei. mr: :::— :ie ezriizment of the con- 
:ez: :: :: liziz :z. the loss of any Lnita must in the end 
r : : e 1 : ir : : i : : rress. One fact, deaily grasped, makes 
p 5 si : le lie zz iers : iz ding of another. The most recondite 
rrseireirs. iz zeiis r-Lch as history and i^iiklogy, help us 
:: rriizsizi:: ize tie: .And to understand the past is at 
cz:e :: iissess is :r_:i izd t? be emancqiated fnHn its 
emr B; szii zziersizziizg zi:ze do we esc^)e the il- 
Izsi:z — iiii iiezzkzi^^zL li 1 5 Too often a siqjer- 
ziiii zz- ieire :: ize pis: ziiies i: iipear as the gcdden 

'Znt IaCI zlaI Lze zirzer ' z-zes. whether of knowledge, 
or beauty, or goodness . zre iz = zzi ize degree sodal values, 
ai 1 e 1 rs in no way moie deaziy dian from a comparison of the 
c:ziiii:zs -siiidi govern the distrizzriiz :: ziaterial and of 
siiriizii gxxk. If we legczd the econfflnic wealth of the 

:: ~>c-. — .»Tt The Orid* «irf Zr.^::.-'^n cf Ae Mtral Idea, VoL II, pp. 


world at any given moment as a fixed quantity, it is clear 
that in case A possesses an undue share, B and C must have 
less than a just portion. If the loaf is of a given size, an in- 
crease in the number of shares decreases the size of each. 
If I have a given amount of wealth, and distribute it, I am, 
economically at least, the poorer for the distribution. The 
more one individual has, the less there is for the others to 
share. In our relation to things material it is often true, 
in Dante's phrase, that "companionship is one with loss." 
On the other hand, the increase of ideal values, in the pos- 
session of any individual, means an increase in the posses- 
sion of these values by others. No man can be intelligent, 
courageous, or benevolent, without inevitably imparting 
something of these qualities to his fellows. Their very na- 
ture is to multiply in social relations. The giving of these 
things does not impoverish, nor the withholding them enrich. 

We should not, then, think of the conflict between in- 
dividual and social interests as xmchangeably fixed, or as 
wholly beyond our control. The relations of individuals in 
society are not determined by a law outside of man's nature, 
but are largely subject to his own intelligence and will. It 
is possible, therefore, for mankind steadily to modify these 
relations, and so to adjust them as to secure an increasingly 
perfect reciprocity of interests. The so-called "external 
sanctions" of morality — apolitical, social, and religious — ^have 
always worked in some measure to secure a harmony be- 
tween self-interest and the interests of others. But these 
sanctions are susceptible of development in many ways to 
aid in securing a more perfect social order. 

We must, however, be on our guard against placing too 
largely in external sanctions what is, in the last resort, a pro- 
foundly inner experience. And, from the point of view of 
inner experience, there may be a deeper harmony than the 
material fortimes of men indicate. For the very temper, 
the attitude towards life, of the individual in whom altruistic 


interests are strong, is directly favorable to happiness. The 
spirit of love is in itself an experience of joy, directly en- 
hancing the worth of life for him who cherishes it. On the 
contrary, hate, envy, jealousy, all of the anti-social senti- 
ments, are in themselves a source of deep unhappiness. Even 
if we acknowledge that the unselfish temper may lead its 
possessor to acts that involve real sacrifice, is it not true 
that a liberal balance of satisfaction remains to his account 
as compared with the selfish spirit, a spirit which experi- 
ence unanimously declares to be the foe of true happiness? 
Looked upon from without, the spirit of self-sacrifice may 
seem uninviting, but to those who, under whatever name or 
confession, have experienced it, it has been a source of joy 
and strength. It is further to be remembered that the ac- 
tivities open to the sympathetic and humanitarian temper 
constitute one of the great fields of objective interest. If 
biography and personal observation can be relied upon as 
trustworthy evidence, those who have most exercised them- 
selves in these interests have found true satisfaction in them. 
Certain it is that the individuals who bemoan life as empty 
and unsatisfying are not found in the ranks of those who 
give themselves whole-heartedly to ideal causes. 

The conflict between individual and social interests tends, 
then, to disappear in so far as the content of life consists 
of the more ideal values, and tends to increase whenever 
men set their hearts upon those material objects which can- 
not be shared without loss, at least in kind. The possibihty 
of the production of economic wealth in such abundance 
that everyone should possess at least sufficient to furnish 
the basis of a life rich in ideal content, and to free the mass of 
mankind from the role of mere producers of material wealth, 
hewers of wood and drawers of water, so that time and 
strength would remain for the cultivation of intellectual, social, 
and aesthetic interests, lies doubtless far in the future. But 
the possibility cannot be rejected as wholly chimerical, when 


one considers the progress already made, as seen in the prac- 
tically universal emancipation of slaves, the reduction in 
hours of labor, and the freedom from the severer forms of 
toil through the use of mechanical forces. The splendid 
development of Greek culture rested upon a broad basis of 
slavery. It is only the apex of the pyramid of Greek civili- 
zation which attracts attention. Its necessary economic 
foundation was laid in the toil of the masses, who never 
rose to a position of recognized human dignity. This order 
of things was perhaps inevitable, in the absence of scientific 
invention, if any portion of the race was to be free to follow 
the things of the mind. There was deep insight in Aristotle's 
jest that slavery would be abolished as soon as the shuttle- 
cocks in the looms should begin to move themselves. How 
far the process of emancipation can go in the future is simply 
a question of intelligence. Nature does not appear so nig- 
gardly in her gift of raw materials and of physical energy 
as to exclude the possibility of the reduction of labor, in- 
volved in the production and distribution of the necessities 
of life, to a point which should no longer interfere with the 
highest possible development of the masses. However 
Utopian this ideal may seem at present, it suggests princi- 
ples of the highest importance for guidance in the slow prog- 
ress towards such a goal. The necessity for an increasingly 
equitable distribution of wealth is obvious, whether the dis- 
tribution be direct, or the wealth be held in such forms of 
public trust that it will jdeld to all the opportunity for the 
best training of the higher powers. The struggle of the pro- 
letariat for industrial emancipation has always been justified 
in principle, whatever the sharp limits of its possible realiza- 
tion at any given time. 

V. Science and Social Organization 

One of the most distinctive marks of twentieth century 
thought is its vision of the widening scope of social moraHty. 


The goal towards which it looks is clear — the increasingly 
rich and harmonious life of individuals in organic union with 
the life of the community. But the principles which are to 
guide in the slow process of its attainment are often obscured 
by the complexity of the practical situation. In conclusion, 
we touch briefly upon a few of the fundamental problems 

In the economic life of the present day, perhaps more com- 
pletely than anjrwhere else, the new tasks and the new re- 
nunciations to which men are called spring from new social 
contacts. The general fact of this changing situation is too 
familiar to require emphasis, but the primary cause of the 
new conditions is not always so clearly recognized. It is 
not always seen that the growth of what is called the social 
consciousness, with all its complex problems, is due chiefly 
to scientific discoveries. But of this fact there can be no 
doubt. Science is the magician that has transformed the con- 
ditions of life. It has brought the ends of the world close 
together. It has revolutionized industry and commerce, 
making every life in the great centers of population depend- 
ent for its very sustenance upon thousands of distant and 
unknown toilers. It has forced upon us new and bajffling 
problems, and has made even the highest values of Hfe de- 
pendent on industrial and economic forces. Science has be- 
come the chief agency in transforming both the material 
and the spiritual conditions of human existence. 

How slow in comparison with the rapid strides made by 
physical science has been the progress in social and poHtical 
organization! But the difference does not appear strange 
when one reflects upon the disinterested ardor with which 
scientific knowledge has been pursued, in contrast with the 
"interested" and partisan spirit of most who have played 
the role of statesman. Science glories in the forward-looking, 
creative mind, whereas politics and government have been 
dominated largely by the backward-looking and precedent- 


seeking mind. Loyalty to the traditions of the past is in- 
terpreted by science as an obligation to transcend all that 
it has achieved; loyalty in political life, on the contrary, 
has commonly been thought to require close adherence to 
forms satisfying the needs of an earlier generation. 

VI. The Fallacy of Numbers 

Progress towards a better social order must be extremely 
slow and precarious until truer standards of value are recog- 
nized, and constructive measures substituted for those which 
are merely paUiative. One of the false standards of value, 
which has blinded men to some of the most important 
problems of social reconstruction, has been an undue es- 
timate of the importance of numbers. 

It is difficult to understand how intelligent men have so 
largely accepted this standard. The idea that numbers is 
the sole, or even the chief, criterion of social value will 
not bear examination. It is an estimate which takes no 
account of quality, and which is no more satisfactory when 
applied to society than when applied to an individual. 
In the case of the individual we all agree in rejecting it. 
We never admit that the value of a human life is measured 
by its length alone, apart from its quality. There are lives 
which would not greatly enrich the world if they were con- 
tinued ten thousand years; and there are others, brief in 
time but great in achievement, for which the world forever 
counts itself the richer. No, numbers can never be a sound 
criterion of social value. The worst form of race suicide is 
that which, by undue multiplication at the lowest levels of 
intelligence and morahty, strikes a fatal blow at the very 
quality of the race. 

The chief sources of the undue worship of numbers among 
us are two, Hebraic tradition and the spirit of nationalism. 
Hebraic tradition discharged itself with almost unbroken 
force into the Christian centuries, where it appears chiefly 


as a sentiment regarding the sacredness of life. But traced 
back to its origin, this tradition was itself the manifestation 
of the spirit of nationalism. The command to "be fruitful 
and multiply" was in reality a maxim of prudence on 
the part of a people surrounded by implacable enemies. In 
modem times, the spirit of nationalism has exalted numbers 
chiefly from a military, and more recently also from an 
economic, point of view. To have abundant "food for can- 
non," to be able to present a strong fighting force against the 
enemy across the border, to show rapidly rising tables of 
industrial production, and a vast increase of national wealth 
— these are the popular standards by which national great- 
ness is too often measured. But must we not confess that 
they are wholly inadequate? Numbers, to be sure, are not 
to be despised; only we have need to consider more seriously 
the question of what manner of people we are than the 
question of how many we are. 

It may be worth while to point out a special form of the 
fallacy of valuation by numbers, which sometimes operates 
in political and economic thought. It is often assumed that 
a programme of imperialism or expansion, which has as its 
aim an increase in the size or aggregate wealth of a nation, 
is justified from the point of view of human values. But this 
is not necessarily the case. If, for example, an empire of 
fifty million people is increased to one of a hundred million 
by the incorporation of fifty million people who have hitherto 
been divided among relatively small states, we are never war- 
ranted in assuming, from the fact of such national increase in 
numbers, that an increase in values has been thereby se- 
cured. Such a change may indeed represent a gain, but it 
may also conceivably represent a serious loss. Both the 
original nation and the incorporated states may suffer in 
many ways by the consolidation. The only way of estab- 
lishing the fact of gain or loss would be to take into account 
the effects of the change upon all the individuals concerned. 


The result of the qualitative estimates so made would, as 
we have earlier insisted, take the form of a quantitative 
judgment of value. But this judgment would not coincide 
with a numerical computation of population, nor even with 
that of a majority of the population, although numbers and 
majorities would be important factors in the problem. It 
might be that a very great gain to a minority would out- 
weigh a small loss to a majority. In the inexact estimates 
which are alone possible in such cases, however, the interest 
of the majority must always count heavily against that of 
the minority, and especially of any class or group represent- 
ing but a small minority. Certainly the sense of added 
power and of enlarged personality which the ruler of an 
increased empire would naturally feel, a feeling which would 
also be shared by the ruling class, does not necessarily cor- 
respond with any actual reahzation of values. Similarly, 
although it is highly probable that an increase in the aggre- 
gate wealth of a nation, of any given population, means an 
increase in realized human values, this could never be as- 
serted without careful consideration of the incidence of the 
increase, of the methods by which the wealth was produced, 
and of the way in which it was consumed. 

VII. Problems of Social Betterment 

The imdue emphasis upon mmibers as the criterion of 
value has led inevitably to the popular disregard of the re- 
sponsibiHties of parenthood. This is an evil which poisons 
life at its very source; it is an evil, too, which multiphes, 
affecting countless generations. It thwarts the production 
of a nobler race, stronger in body, clearer in intellect, and 
more generous in soul. All species of living beings are well- 
bred but man, and man for the most part very ill. The evil 
of irresponsible parenthood, not only in its economic but 
also in its other aspects, is one before which the evil of 
divorce shrinks into insignificance. Until those who are 


responsible for the education of the people deal with it 
seriously and vigorously, charity will be, as at present, 
helpless to touch a tithe of the actual needs of the poor, while 
the ever rising tide of population from the unfit, of what- 
ever class, will continue to keep at a low point the average 
physical vigor and intellectual perfection of the race. Surely 
every child brought into the world has a moral right to decent 
food, clothing, and shelter, to proper recreation and physical 
development, and to an education that will fit it for some 
useful career, however humble. Where there is no reason- 
able prospect of such provision parenthood is irresponsible, 
and so far immoral; the child may have a right not to be 

It was Kant's maxim that every human being should be 
treated as an end, never as a means. This expresses the 
essential idea of true democracy. But it is perfectly clear 
that in the social order this ideal has been very imperfectly 
realized. The lives of many men are used chiefly as means 
to the satisfaction of other lives; their personal develop- 
ment, their health and strength, are exploited for ends that 
are not their own. And it is a serious question whether this 
condition can ever be changed as long as there is such marked 
inferiority of birth and training. The nearer men approach 
the animal plane of existence, the more will their tasks re- 
semble those of animals. When men cease to be of this type 
they will cease to be so used; their lives will be ends in them- 
selves, and their tasks means of self-expression. 

There is no greater anomaly in standards of social morality 
than the contrast between the sacredness which has been 
attached to the ending of life, and the thoughtless disregard 
of those forces which determine its primal character. Failure 
to deal with the problem, or rather blindness to the existence 
of the problem, has been one of the gravest defects of ec- 
clesiastical morality. It is no longer possible to escape our 
human responsibility by referring the course of events to 


the mysteries of nature or to the inscrutable decrees of a 
Divine Providence. The social conscience of the future will 
more and more emphasize the high responsibility of parent- 
hood, and will condemn all irresponsibility, of whatever 
kind, in this sacred relation. It will have scant respect for 
the superstition that would hallow imworthy parentage, or 
for the cowardice that would hesitate to brand it for what 
it is. 

But it is not enough for the future generations that they 
be well-bom and well-nourished; nor is it enough for the 
present generation that it be freed from the unduly long 
hours of labor, and the rigors of toil that exhaust the stores 
of nervous energy which might else be turned into higher 
channels. It is clear that without thorough education and 
the cultivation of spiritual interests, nothing will avail for 
the true self-reaKzation of the race. The world's toilers 
may be excused for judging the times to be out of joint 
when they see so much wealth spent in needless luxury, 
while "the poor have the gospel preached to them." And 
yet, after all, the poor have far more need of a true gospel 
than they have of the luxuries of the envied rich. It must 
not be forgotten that the end of all moral elBfort is the pro- 
duction of a worthy type of personality, an inner life rich 
and noble in content. It will never do to obscure this fact 
by an imdue emphasis upon the external conditions of civi- 
lization, important as these are. Without inner resources 
those long accustomed to exhausting toil would find economic 
emancipation a doubtful blessing. Nothing is more pathetic 
than the use of imwonted leisure by the multitudes who 
lack all taste for higher interests, imless it be the devices 
of those among the rich who are wanting both in the tradi- 
tions and in the personal possession of culture. W^ith the 
slow emancipation from the pressure of industrial need must 
go hand in hand the process of education, both extensive 
and intensive. 


Much might be said of the necessity for social progress 
of a training which shall cultivate good taste and simplicity 
in the use of material resources. Without such taste and 
simplicity, there appears no limit to those desires for luxury 
and personal extravagance which are always anti-social. 
Indeed, with the present degree of inequahty in the distri- 
bution of wealth maintained, it would be possible for pro- 
duction to be doubled, or even indefinitely multiplied, with- 
out yielding any substantial relief to the multitude, since 
the increased production might all be used to minister to 
the ever growing demands of the few for a multiplication of 
luxuries. The will to possess, unchastened and untrained, is 
insatiable. Of high social value is a restrained and tasteful 
use of wealth, which makes all material possessions sub- 
ordinate to the life of the spirit. Such use presents a con- 
crete example of what, ideally, should be the material equip- 
ment of all, an equipment ministering to the most perfect 
and beautiful living by lifting above sordid care and bondage 
to material things. Examples of such li\dng are a continual 
blessing to mankind. It is a well-known fact that the stand- 
ard of living which seems desirable to the masses is set by 
the few who are possessed of wealth. However long the dis- 
tance which may separate the poor wage-earner from such 
a mode of life, it still forms the dream of what he would like 
to do, if wishes only passed as the current coin of exchange. 

In concluding this brief study of the relations of individuals 
in society, it may be said that the institutions and legal 
arrangements, through which a more perfect adjustment of 
interests is to be realized, belong to the science of politics. 
This science is destined to undergo important changes, to 
become less an account of the mechanisms of administrative 
procedure, and far more an inquiry into the fundamental 
needs of human society. Government cannot be static. Its 
true logic must keep pace with the forces of life which move 
forward unceasingly, irresistibly. The present generation 


has proved the inadequacy of those methods of control that 
sufficed when the mutual interdependence of individuals 
was far less, and when means of communication, of travel, 
and of supply were far different. The inevitable result of this 
growth of relationship must be a corresponding growth, 
which no scruples can permanently check, of the extension 
of corporate control. The necessity for it lies in the changes 
already effected in the processes of daily life. If we sub- 
stitute for paternalism the far more appropriate term, fra- 
ternalism, the prospect of tyranny does not seem menacing. 
Nor must we be misled by the view that a highly developed 
social order is artificial, whereas the ideal is found in some 
primitive mode of "life according to nature." The complex 
adjustments of the most advanced society of the future will 
be just as "natural" as the crude tribal adjustments of the 
savage, for they spring equally from the powers inherent 
in human nature, and answer equally to genuine needs. 

Society is mankind, and mankind is living, creative 
energy, the most marvelous and fascinating force of which we 
have knowledge. The great minds of the past pictured the 
corporate life of humanity as finding embodiment at last 
in some ultimate ideal, some Utopia, or City of God. But 
we have learned that such a structure can never take final 
and unchanging form. It is always in the building, for its 
materials are not fixed and inert, like those of the architect, 
but are none other than pulsing, eager lives, which forever 
create, and forever re-fashion their own creations. 



We have found the end of conduct to be the reaKzation 
of the richest possible system of values. This theory of 
conduct makes the idea of value the basal principle of ethics, 
the principle to which all others must ultimately be referred. 
The priority of the principle of value is, however, logical, 
not necessarily temporal. Other ideas may first win and 
hold the attention of the individual. The child associates 
morality with duty or law long before it clearly connects 
good and bad conduct with the idea of intrinsic worth, of 
that which has value in itself. But reflection is always forced 
back, sooner or later, to this most fundamental idea, which 
is, in fact, implicit in all moral experience from the very 

I. Duty Dependent on Value 

Duty, then, derives all its strength and sacredness from 
the good. Value of some kind is inseparable from the very 
idea of duty. The specific duties, which are often presented 
in a table of duties, must necessarily be derived from specific 
goods. A system of duties could at best only reproduce, 
under a less fundamental concept, a system of values. The 
superior claim of one duty, as compared with another which 
may seem to compete with it, is found, by the same prin- 
ciple, in the superior value which it tends to realize. If 
the duty of cultivating rightness of heart, an inner devotion 
to what we deem highest and best, lays a stronger claim 
upon us than the duty of securing material goods, it is be- 
cause this quality of character is of superior worth. While 



morality consists, in part, of the spirit with which acts are 
performed, it also includes the task of applying this spirit 
to valuable interests and activities. The devotion which 
duty demands cannot be blind, a fanatical or capricious 
surrender to any end that may chance to present itself; 
it must be a devotion to the true values of life. Any thor- 
oughgoing study of morality, as we have seen, opens to 
inquiry the whole world of himian worths. Popular thought 
does not always recognize the moral significance of all hu- 
man interests, but this significance is acknowledged as soon as 
the issue appears in a concrete and vital form . Daily choices, 
struggles, and sacrifices are the expression of judgments of 
value, and these judgments of value may also be conscious 
judgments of obligation. To feel the value of any act is to 
admit it within the field of possible duties. Whenever, con- 
fronted by a real choice, I say of an act, "This is good," 
I say in effect that I ought to perform the act, unless some 
other, still more worthful, must thereby be left unperformed. 
The same principle applies even to material objects which 
serve the uses of life. To judge an object valuable for hu- 
man use is implicitly to say that it ought to be secured, un- 
less something still better must be sacrificed in obtaining it. 
Only on such an interpretation is it possible to give true 
moral significance to our daily and hourly business, and to 
prevent a fatal divorce between morality and life. 

There is, to be sure, a wide-spread and comforting moral 
code which says: "Do not break the ten commandments, 
but for the rest use your time, strength, and means as you 
please. Whether one shall depend upon public conveyances 
or keep an automobile, eat a simple or a sumptuous dinner, 
dress in a more or less expensive way, strive to cultivate 
intellectual and aesthetic interests or rest content in a round 
of petty activities, — these and similar matters are in no sense 
moral questions. One's own pleasure, taste, or fancy may 
determine the choice. To place these acts in the category 


of morals would be to impose an intolerable burden upon 
conscience." So, at least, runs the theory of much popular 
thought and practice. We freely admit that it would be 
unwise to burden conscience with those details of conduct 
which, once decided, should be left to well-regulated habit, 
but there is no escape from the conclusion that all such ques- 
tions are truly moral. Progress in morality consists, not in 
burdening conscience with the details of conduct, but in 
quickening a sense of responsibihty for the use of time, 
money, and powers of body and mind. So quickened, con- 
science finds its task extended to the whole content of life. 

Duty, then, we hold to be coextensive with the field of 
human values. It is true, however, that no coercive sense 
of obligation is commonly felt to realize those values which 
are the objects of natural desire. Regard for the beautiful, 
for example, is not ordinarily felt as a duty; the beautiful 
attracts and claims us by its own charm. Yet even here the 
spur of duty may sometimes be needed to secure to the aes- 
thetic element its due place in the system of values. Cer- 
tainly we should regard the absence of artistic creation and of 
its varied products as an immense loss to humanity. So es- 
sential is this element to man's higher Hfe that it is a positive 
duty to labor for its cultivation wherever it is disregarded or 
lightly esteemed. In like manner the higher intellectual 
values are largely left to spontaneous interest. Knowledge 
grows from the desire for insight on the part of natures to 
whom the understanding of things is, in some way, an im- 
perative need. And yet intellectual effort often requires 
to be quickened by the impelling force of duty, a force that 
can spring only from a conviction of the value of knowledge 
for the business of life. But if duty must sometimes rein- 
force natural desire for the realization of value, it is often 
called upon to limit and restrain desire. The physical ap- 
petites furnish a clear example of desires which commonly 
require, not the spur, but the rein, since these appetites have 


a powerful instinctive basis in our nature. This regulative 
function of duty, we must remember, extends on occasion to 
the whole conceivable system of values.^ 

II. Can a Man do More than His Duty? 

But how far does obligation extend? Is it one's duty to 
realize all the values within one's power? Or may a man, 
by special effort, do more than his duty? May he, in the 
language of the church, perform works of supererogation, 
and thereby win special merit? If we afi&rm the first of these 
alternatives, as we are compelled to do, we must be prepared 
frankly to recognize that the same duties are not universally 
binding in all cases that may externally appear to be similar. 
For, although we can hold that it is always and everywhere 
the duty of men to be just and benevolent, it is clear that 
we should not say that it is the duty of every rich man to 
live with extreme frugahty and to deny himself every luxury, 
that he may give his money to works of charity. We must 
recognize that the vocation of the individual and his special 
contribution to society are important factors in determining 
his specific duty. But when all the factors of the particular 
case are considered, if a man believes that such a course of 
self-denial is, for himself, in his circumstances, and with 
his nature and endowment, the best course, then the duty 
of this conduct for him would seem to be as clear as any moral 
obligation, no matter how unusual his action may be, or how 
little it could be required as a universal practice. Similarly, 
in a period of persecution, it may not be the duty of all who 
hold the views that are the object of attack to expose them- 
selves to suffering in the cause of truth. But it may well be 
the duty of some persons to do so, and even to accept the 
r6le of martyr. When all the circumstances of particular 

* Cf . Sidgwick, who defines duties as "those Right actions or abstinences for 
the adequate accomplishment of which a moral impulse is conceived to be at least 
occasionally necessary." Method of Ethics, p. 217. 


cases are considered, therefore, we conclude that one cannot 
do more than one's duty. 

This distinction between the spheres of duty and of meri- 
torious action beyond the requirements of duty, represents 
the dual morahty developed by the Roman church, which 
faced the difficult problem of adjusting the ethics of primitive 
Christianity to the tasks of existing civilization, and came 
quite naturally to recognize both a morality for the world 
of action, and the "counsels of perfection" for the cloister. 
Such a moral dualism, when taken seriously, always inclines 
on the one hand to an easy-going compromise with worldly 
standards, and on the other to an effort for an other-worldly 
perfection, which, trying to rise above existing morality, 
is in danger of falling far below it. 

But the objections to the idea of doing more than duty 
requires go much deeper than is commonly recognized. It 
is questionable whether, from the point of view of enlightened 
morality, this conception of doing more than one's duty 
is not self-contradictory. In a world where so much needs 
to be done, and where the resources of time, strength, and 
means are so inadequate, it seems certain that an undue 
devotion in one direction must inevitably result in neglect 
in another, and that he who in some relation has done "more 
than his duty," will, in truth, be found not even to have done 
his whole duty. 

There is an opposing conception of duty which is equally 
untenable, the idea that one's duty never is, and never can 
be, done; that at the end of life it stands like an unsatisfied 
creditor still demanding more. This view, which is essen- 
tially Kantian, has sometimes been made the basis of an ar- 
gument for immortality. Duty, it is said, is "inherently 
endless," therefore the moral self is so.* But this statement 
is a complete inversion of the actual relationship. Duty 
is a function of life, life not a function of duty. Even though 

^ Cf. Calkins, The Persisient Problem of Philosophy, p. 455. 


we freely admit that the best of men are, in the light of an 
ideal morality, but unprofitable servants, we are not justi- 
fied in regarding duty as real beyond the specific and con- 
crete life-needs that give it birth. Duty, appearing after 
life has begun its course, always exists for the sake of life. 
If the life of conscious experience is endless, duty is doubt- 
less also endless. But we cannot reverse the order, and, as- 
serting the endless existence of duty, deduce therefrom the 
endless existence of personal beings. 

Our interpretation of the nature of duty, which relates 
it throughout to the field of values, enables one to bring all 
the business of life within the sphere of morality, and also 
to account for the widely varying content of duty in the 
course of historical development. This variety is the result 
of different needs and satisfactions, which produce in their 
turn different standards of value. In the development of 
social life new needs, physical and spiritual, have been felt, 
and new forms of activity have been required to satisfy 
them. Concurrently with the appreciation of new values, 
new duties have been recognized. If we could fix the point 
in any civilization at which the systematic pursuit of science 
and art was recognized as worthf ul for human life, we should 
discover the precise point at which the good citizen and 
parent began to feel the duty of providing an education 
rich enough to include these elements. The decadence of 
any form of duty depends upon the same principle. The 
value which was its necessary support ceases to be recog- 
nized as a value; what was a good is no longer so esteemed. 
The period at which, among any people, polygamy or slavery- 
came to lose its character as a natural and beneficent insti- 
tution, and to be looked upon as productive of evil, marks 
inevitably the decadence of one set of duties and the emerg- 
ence of another. By the inherent logic of action our world 
of worths becomes our world of duties. 


III. Theories of Conscience: Intuitionalism and 

Thus far we have considered only the teleology of duty, its 
meaning in relation to an end of value. The account may 
seem to have assumed a degree of harmony, not found in 
actual experience, between what is morally good and what 
we spontaneously desire. Although the morally good act 
must be thought of as that which, to a reasonable being, is 
the most satisfying — ^more satisfying than any alternative 
act possible under the existing conditions — it is still true 
that we have numberless desires which, temporarily at least, 
call for their own gratification, but which are in conflict 
with the completest and most enduring satisfaction. Cer- 
tainly immediate inclination does not always prompt us to do 
what we recognize to be our duty. Hence the significance 
of duty as a coercive feeling, an imperative within us de- 
manding that we shall do, or refrain from doing, certain acts. 
The question of the nature of this feeling of duty and its 
accompanying sentiments, of what, in other words, we com- 
monly call conscience, has been in the past a much debated 
point in ethical theory. We shall attempt an outline of the 
main controversy concerning the nature of conscience. The 
account, however, will be brief because its interest is now 
so largely historical. The growth of knowledge in several 
departments of science, especially in biology, anthropology, 
and psychology, has led to an increasing unanimity of opin- 
ion on all the main issues involved. 

Is man endowed with a native and inexplicable power of 
discerning right and wrong to serve as his guide in matters of 
conduct, or are his moral judgments and emotions explicable 
by reference to his total environment and education? Two 
leading theories, corresponding in general to these alterna- 
tives, have disputed the field. The one is the intuitional, the 
other the empirical, or. historical, theory of conscience. The 


question at issue is, how do we form our standards of duty, 
how do we reach our judgments of right and wrong? 

Intuitionahsm, as commonly held, has maintained that 
men possess an innate and immediate insight with regard 
to the rightness and wrongness of acts. To discover the 
moral quality of a deed one needs, according to this view, 
only to look at the deed itself in its own nature, and without 
regard to its consequences. Certain acts are directly recog- 
nized to be universally and unconditionally right; others are 
seen to be universally and unconditionally wrong. False- 
hood, for example, is known to be wrong, not from its in- 
compatibility with social well-being, but from its own in- 
herent nature. Honesty is seen to be right in itself, and not 
because of its beneficent economic and social results. It has 
further been held by thorough-going intuitionalists that 
moral insights have not been developed by education or 
long social experience, but have always been more or less 
clearly present as necessary constituents of human con- 
sciousness. The doctrine has been held in such a variety 
of forms that a general statement can scarcely do justice to 
them all. Some intuitionalists have implied that the moral 
quality of each particular act is immediately known, while 
others have held that we possess intuitive knowledge of the 
nature of general classes of acts only, and that reflection is 
needed to bring the particular act under the general rule.^ 
In the latter view, although justice is immediately and uni- 
versally known to be right, it might not at once be clear, in a 
case of conflicting property claims, what particular act would 
fulfill the conditions of justice. To discover this, a detailed 
examination of the facts in question and of the probable 
consequences might be necessary. 

Still another difference among the intuitionalists concerns 
the psychological nature of an act of conscience. Some rep- 
resent it as a self-evident truth of reason, others as an im- 

^ See, for example, Calderwood, Handbook of Moral Philosophy, p. 47. 


mediate emotion or expression of taste, and still others as a 
direct perception of moral values, not unlike any act of sense 
perception.^ The first of these views, that of rationalistic 
intuitionalism, has been held by a large number of thinkers 
who have given to the doctrine of intuitionalism what may be 
called its classical form.^ They all agree in making moral 
judgments necessary and self-evident truths of reason. 
According to the second interpretation, conscience utters 
itself in certain emotions of approval and disapproval. Just 
as we have an aesthetic taste, and approve or disapprove of a 
work of art, so we have a sense of the good and evil in con- 
duct. To this view belong the "moral sense" of Shaftes- 
bury and Hutcheson, and the "moral taste" of Hume, who 
distinguishes sharply between the function of reason and of 
"taste"; the former, he says, "conveys the knowledge of 
truth and falsehood," the latter, "the sentiment of beauty 
and deformity, vice and virtue." ^ Martineau is the chief 
modern representative of the theory that moral judgments 
are a matter of, direct perception. His theory is distinc- 
tive enough to merit a brief statement. All human beings, 
according to Martineau, have an immediate perception of 
the relative rank, or worth, of opposing impulses. When 
"incompatible impulses" appear and struggle for mastery 
over us, we are aware of the contrast between them. One 
we see to be "higher or worthier than the other," and hence 
to have "a clear right to us." This judgment, which as- 
signs the superiority to one impulse over another, is not 
"mediate," discovered by a chain of reasoning, but is an 
"immediate revelation inseparable from their appearance 
side by side." The moral valuation of the opposing impulses 
is even instantaneous, decided "by a glance at the face of the 

^ Cf . Thilly, Introduction to Ethics, pp. 28-47. 

2 Cf . among other English moralists, Cudworth, Clarke, Price, Reid, and Calder- 

^Inquiry, section i. 


alternatives," when they make their appearance. Con- 
science, Martineau defines as "this knowledge with myself 
of the better and the worse." ^ 

It will avoid confusion to remember that the term intui- 
tion is sometimes applied to certain immediate, axiomatic 
judgments upon which ethical thought ultimately rests. 
This meaning is not to be confounded with the intuitional- 
ism which claims that mankind is equipped with intuitions 
for the decision of the detailed problems of conduct. We 
have already pointed out that value, although describable 
in various ways as an immediate experience, is an ultimate 
term of ethical thought. And we hold that there is at least 
one intuitive, or immediate and axiomatic, judgment con- 
cerning it, which may be expressed as follows: "The good is 
worthy to be chosen." ^ No proof of this proposition can be 
given; it can only be stated in other words, as when we say 
that we are so constituted as to prefer good to ill. It is not 
the business of ethics to ask why man's original nature is 
as it is. The what and the how, not the why, are here sig- 

It can be maintained, I think, that the axioms of Sidg- 
wick to the efifect that the greater good is always to be pre- 
ferred to the lesser, and that the good of one man ought 
always to be treated as of equal importance with the like 
good of another, are deductions from the primary axiom 
given above. For if the good, as such, is worthy of choice, 
then to choose the lesser good, in any real alternative, is to 
choose something else than the good. And the same is true 
of the preference of the lesser good of one man to the greater 
good of another. 

^ Types of Ethical Theory, Vol. II, pp. 40-45. In criticism see Sidgwick, Methods 
of Ethics, pp. 367-372; and Sharp, American Journal of Psychology, 1898, p. 198. 
The article of Professor Sharp is an interesting attempt to refute intuitionalism by 
appeal to empirical evidence. 

^ This is, as I remember, a formula which I heard from my revered friend and 
teacher, Dr. E. Benjamin Andrews. 


In the empirical, or historical, theory of conscience the 
sense of duty, with all its attendant elements, is held to be 
the product of experience on the part of the individual and 
the race, and to be explicable by the social-historical en- 
vironment. Only in this way, it is believed, can the vast 
differences in the utterances of conscience be satisfactorily 
explained. Like intuitionalism, empiricism has been of vari- 
ous types. In its cruder form it has attempted to explain 
conscience as the result of individual interest under the con- 
trol of the "two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure." ^ 
In its later and more adequate forms the theory has taken 
account of various instinctive tendencies, especially the so- 
cial and sympathetic impulses, and the theory of evolution 
has been applied to show how these operate in the long course 
of racial development.^ 

Spencer's account of the origin and development of con- 
science is of recognized importance, and offers an interesting 
suggestion of a reconciliation of intuitional and empirical 
views. The essential feature in our moral consciousness he 
considers to be "the control of some feeling or feelings by 
some other feeling or feelings." It is, in brief, the control of 
those feelings which relate to more special and immediate 
gratifications by those which relate to more distant and 
general forms of good. "The simpler and less ideal feelings 
are consciously over-ruled by the more complex and ideal 
feelings." ^ 

Three kinds of "control," the political, the religious, and 

^ This is the view of Hobbes, Paley, and Bentham, as well as of the French 
materialists. Hartley and James Mill introduce the principle of association of 
ideas to explain cases of apparent disregard of pleasure. 

^ See Darwin, Descent of Man, Chap. IV; also the development of Darwin's 
view by Sutherland, The Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct, Vol. I. 

' Compare with this statement the results reached by Henry Rutgers 
Marshall, who formulates the rule of morality as follows: "Act to restrain the 
impulses which demand immediate reaction, in order that the impulse order deter- 
mined by the existence of impulses of less strength, but of wider significance, may 
have full weight in the guidance of your life." Instinct and Reason, p. 569. 


the social, operate to check the gratification of immediate 
desires, and to secure the triumph of greater but more dis- 
tant interests. These restraints work through the motive of 
fear — "fear of the visible ruler, of the invisible ruler, and of 
society at large." But these controls are not properly moral, 
for they are all external, restraining by extrinsic effects, not 
by those which flow from the nature of the deed itself. Moral 
control, on the contrary, operates by arousing thought of 
those natural consequences of acts which no external power 
can impose or can avert. In Spencer's own words: "The 
truly moral deterrent from murder, is not constituted by a 
representation of hanging as a consequence, or by a represen- 
tation of tortures in hell as a consequence, or by a representa- 
tion of the horror and hatred excited in fellow men; but by a 
representation of the necessary natural results — the infliction 
of death agony on the victim, the destruction of all his pos- 
sibilities of happiness, the entailed sufferings to his belong- 
ings. Neither the thought of imprisonment, nor of divine 
anger, nor of social disgrace, is that which constitutes the 
moral check on theft; but the thought of injury to the person 
robbed, joined with a vague consciousness of the general 
evils caused by disregard of proprietary rights." ^ The 
feeling of obligation, Spencer explains as "an abstract senti- 
ment generated in a manner analogous to that in which ab- 
stract ideas are generated." Through "accumulated ex- 
periences," the feeling is developed in consciousness that it is 
safer to be guided by feelings which represent remote con- 
sequences than by those which demand immediate gratifi- 
cation. The element of coerciveness in the feeling of obli- 
gation has been transferred by association from the dread 
inspired by the external sanctions, and finally becomes 
linked with the instrinsic effects as "a vague sense of moral 
compulsion." But with the clear emergence of the moral 
motive from those motives which have wrought in its origin 

' The Data of Ethics, p. 120. 


and development, the sense of duty as a "coercive feeling 
of ought" will cease to exist, and right conduct become spon- 
taneous, a point of view also developed by other evolution- 

Spencer invokes his theory of heredity in explanation of 
the development of conscience. Experiences accumulated 
during the long life of the race become, according to his in- 
terpretation, the innate possession of the individual, who is 
thereby master of a moral capital which he could never win 
in his own brief life. The genesis of fundamental moral 
intuitions is thus described in his well-known letter to Mill : 
"Just in the same way that I believe the intuition of space, 
possessed by any living individual, to have arisen from or- 
ganized and consolidated experiences of aU antecedent in- 
dividuals who bequeathed to him their slowly-developed 
nervous organizations — ^just as I believe that this intuition, 
requiring only to be made definite and complete by personal 
experiences, has practically become a form of thought, ap- 
parently quite independent of experience; so do I beheve 
that the experiences of utility organized and consolidated 
through all past generations of the human race, have been 
producing corresponding nervous modifications, which, by 
continued transmission and accumulation, have become in 
us certain faculties of moral intuition — certain emotions 
responding to right and wrong conduct, which have no ap- 
parent basis in the individual experiences of utiHty." '^ 

IV. Criticism of Intuitionalism 

When we examine the two theories, the intuitionalistic 
and the historical, in order to discover their true place in a 
theory of conscience, it is at once clear that the various forms 

^ Cf. Guyau, Morale Sans Obligation ni Sanction; see also the discussion of 
Fouill6e, La Morale des Idees-Forces, pp. 192 ff. 

2 The Data of Ethics, p. 123, note. For the full account of the genesis of the 
feeling of coercion see The Data of Ethics, Chap. VII. 


of intuitionalism are open to serious objections. Perhaps 
the most obvious of these is found in the history of morality. 
Instead of the universal agreement in matters of conduct 
which is implied by the theory, the greatest diversity is 
seen to exist among different peoples. Ethnological investi- 
gations have shown that there are not even a few practices 
which have been everywhere accepted, that indeed no single 
maxim can be discovered to which there are not exceptions 
fatal to the claims of intuitionalism. Murder, unchastity, 
falsehood, revenge, and cruelty are found, not only uncon- 
demned, but even approved. We cannot say that these 
deeds are known to be wrong, and are done with a bad con- 
science. If, to save the theory, we say that the principles 
are universally recognized, but that the diversity of stand- 
ards is due to mistakes in applying them, the futility of ap- 
pealing to intuitions as guides in conduct becomes evident. 
For if two persons, possessed of a common moral intuition, 
reach diametrically opposite judgments upon the same act, 
the intuition itself is clearly no criterion of right and wrong. 
Even if the facts were other than they are, and it could be 
shown that there are universally accepted principles of con- 
duct, intuitionalism would not thereby be established, since 
the universality would be susceptible of a different explana- 
tion. It might be shown that the universal rules were the 
necessary conditions of social welfare, and that the individual 
recognized them, not immediately or intuitively, but as the 
result of his experience in society. That such broad features 
of agreement as may be admitted to exist in moral standards 
are to be explained in this way, finds striking proof in a well- 
known fact of morality among primitive peoples. The tribal 
conscience, which disapproves of murder, theft, lying, etc., 
within the tribe, approves of the same acts when committed 
against aliens. Such a conscience is clearly not an intuitive 
judgment of universal or unconditional morality. The 
virtues which it enjoins within the tribe are precisely those 


which condition its welfare and even its existence. Murder 
and theft committed against members of other tribes are 
virtues to this conscience, because these deeds help to ensure 
the tribal existence in a state of things in which helium om- 
nium contra omnes expresses exactly the inter- tribal relations; 
in this state, not to devour another is to be devoured oneself. 
All the crude but effective mechanism of tribal education 
is brought to bear in impressing upon the individual a rever- 
ence for these practices. 

A similar explanation may be offered of certain facts 
which often lend support to popular intuitionalism. The 
facts are undeniable, but they may be very differently ex- 
plained. There is no doubt, for instance, that in every com- 
munity there are some moral judgments so widely recognized 
and so steadily enforced that they have the appearance of 
immediacy and complete universality. To a well-trained 
child of ten or twelve years, truth-speaking and honesty 
appear to be immediate and self-evident rules of conduct. 
But the conclusion of intuitionalism does not necessarily 
follow from these facts. ^ The judgments in question may be 
the result of constant education, the "precept upon precept," 
and " line upon line" of early training. And there is little 
doubt that the child who unhesitatingly obeys these rules 
might have been so perversely trained from infancy as to 
look with genuine approval upon the opposite modes of 
conduct. This plastic character of conscience is shown 
by the ease with which a person may be led to accept 
an irrational content as readily as one that Serves the 
true ends of life. The most emphatic utterances of con- 
science in the child may, by the force of training, be con- 
nected with purely arbitrary and artificial principles. It 

^ Sidgwick thus enumerates some of the sources from which the illusion of moral 
Intuitions may arise:" . . . blind impulses to certain kinds of action or vague sen- 
timents of preference for them, or conclusions from rapid and half unconscious 
processes of reasoning, or current opinions to which familiarity has given an 
illusory air of self-evidence." Methods of Ethics, p. 212. 


would be possible to train a child to feel that it was quite 
as wrong to eat cherries, or to step on the threshold of the 
door when entering a room, as to lie or steal. The condition 
of success in such training would be a steady and united 
effort, on the part of all those who had to do with the child, 
to inspire it with a sense of the awful character of these acts. 
Let us suppose that tempting cherries were grown, but were 
never eaten by older people, and that cherry-eating were 
always spoken of as a most immoral act; and let us also sup- 
pose that when the budding intelligence demanded a reason 
for the fact, it were given a mythical but specious answer, 
as, for example, that the birds carried the cherries to the man 
in the moon, who was very angry if any of his cherries were 
eaten by others, and would consequently not give any light 
at night. Further, let all known cases of cherry-eating be 
severely punished, and the absence of light on dark nights 
studiously ascribed to these wicked deeds. The child of 
six or eight years who had eaten but a single cherry would 
feel a sense of moral guilt greater than if he had told a cow- 
ardly lie or had shown the most selfish and spiteful ill-will 
towards a playmate. At what age the child would escape 
from the bondage of such an idea, and whether it would ever 
wholly escape from it, would depend upon its intelligence, 
and the fortunes of its education and social environment in 
later years. Certainly, if the taboo were gravely maintained 
in good society, the eating of cherries would long remain an 
act with a fringe of unpleasant consciousness even for the 
person who had independently reached the firm conviction 
that the practice was harmless. Doubtless, too, in a society 
subject to the cherry-eating taboo there would be found 
moral philosophers who would gravely explain the belief as 
an intuition of universal and unconditional morality.^ 

^This hypothetical case of the perversion of conscience is no exaggeration; it is 
paralleled by numberless instances known to every student of ethnology. A single 
example may be cited from practices current among the natives of Western Australia. 


The moral experience of the mature individual also seems 
to be in conflict with the intuitional theory. There are prob- 
ably few persons who do not at times find themselves in 
serious perplexity as to what is morally right. Not only do 
different persons differ in their solution of the same moral 
problem, but the same person often reaches a different solu- 
tion at different times, and in each case with full conviction 
of the rectitude of his choice. This perplexity does not con- 
sist, as some intuitionalists maintain, in the difficulty of 
discovering the relation of a particular act to a general rule; 
it often concerns a conflict of two principles, both of which 
are undeniably clear and obligatory in common practice. 
The difficulty is not to determine what particular act breaks 
the rule, "Thou shalt not lie," "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou 
shalt not steal," or "Thou shalt not injure thy neighbor." 
Sometimes under the pressure of exceptional conditions, for 
which one is in no degree responsible, one is called upon to 
decide between these alternatives. Should one utter a 
deliberate falsehood, or expose human life to grave danger? ^ 
Should one steal, or allow one's family to suffer, perhaps even 
to perish? The existence of such an issue, even in a single 
case, is fatal to the ultimacy of the so-called intuitions. 
The perplexity implies a principle, more ultimate than the 

" Les Australiens attribuent la mort des leurs a un malefice jete par quelque tribu 
voisine; aussi considerent-ils comme une obligation sacree de venger la mort de 
tout parent en allant tuer un membre des tribus voisines. Le docteur Laudor, 
magistrat dans I'Australie occidentale, raconte qu'un indigene employe dans sa 
ferme perdit une de ses femmes a la suite d'une maladie; il annonga au docteur son 
intention de partir en voyage afin d'aller tuer une femme dans une tribu eloignee. 
' Je lui repondis que, s'il commettait cet acte, je le mettrais en prison pour toute sa 
vie.' II ne partit done pas, et resta dans la ferme. Mais de mois en mois il de- 
perissait: le remords le rongeait; il ne pouvait manger ni dormir; I'esprit de sa 
femme le hantait, lui reprochait sa negligence. Un jour il disparut; au bout d'une 
annee il revint en parfaite sante: il avait rempli son devoir." 

Guyau, Esquisse d'une Morale sans Obligation ni Sanction, p. 55. 

^ Cf. the case of the Ziirich theater manager who, in case of fire, gave a false 
reason for the suspension of the play, and cleared the theater without injury to 
anyone, when the real reason would almost certainly have produced a panic and 
fearful loss of life. 


commonly accepted rule, by reference to which the problem 
must be solved.^ 

V. The Historical View 
If the explanation of conscience offered by intuitionalism 
must be rejected, are we to suppose that the social environ- 
ment is the sole factor, and that the individual mind brings 
nothing with it, but comes in "utter nakedness" into the 
world of moral relations? By no means. A crude empiri- 
cism is as untenable as intuitionalism. It is a trite saying that 
the mind furnishes at least the indispensable condition of 
morality, the capacity for developing moral ideas and sen- 
timents. But this capacity must be regarded as something 
quite different from a colorless receptivity, or registering of 
stimuli and impressions received from the environment. The 
mind is, on the contrary, charged congenitally with numerous 
instincts which are sure, on occasion of the appropriate 
stimulus, to manifest themselves in definite types of action. 
Some of these, like the sexual and artistic instincts, are, in 
the language of biology, deferred instincts, in that their 
manifestation must longer await the development of the 
bodily and mental powers. We must recognize that an in- 
stinctive appetite, or impulse, underlies all the various ac- 
tivities which yield our experiences of value. ^ Familiar 
examples of instincts profoundly significant for the moral 
life are found in love, sympathy, fear, and anger, as also 
in the instinct for play, or for intellectual and aesthetic ac- 
tivity. Even religion is in this sense instinctive, for stimuli 
from the surrounding forces of nature tend to produce in 
the mind of primitive man certain specific manifestations of 
dependence, fear, and worship. Of especial importance for 

1 See Chap. II, pp. 51-53. 

Tt is a popular error to assume a fixed form for certain instinctive reactions which 
are capable of great variety of expression. Militarism often assumes an instinct 
for war, as such, and asserts its perpetuity as a necessity of human nature. As well 
talk of an unchanging instinct for settling disputes by personal combat, an instinct 
for slave-holding, or for religious persecution! 


the moral life are the social and sympathetic instincts, which 
are the basis of all altruistic conduct, and which are seen to be 
strong even in animal life. The full significance of the devel- 
opment of morality, in and through a social order objective 
to the individual, may be insisted upon, while at the same 
time we recognize the part played by the instinctive and im- 
pulsive elements of human nature. Without these factors 
inherent in the mind, the evolution of morality would be 
wholly inexplicable. 

And further, however much we may view the conditions of 
social life and well-being as primarily external to the in- 
dividual, these very conditions themselves, with all the modes 
of action to which they give rise, are the direct product of 
human nature. In this sense, all moral ideas have their 
origin in the human spirit, not in a source foreign to it. We 
are not to think of the individual as alien to society, but 
as possessing the very instincts, emotions, and ideas, whose 
play constitutes the entire drama of moral hfe in the history 
of the race. 

The modification of the instinctive activities which under- 
lie and condition moral conduct is the work of social forces. 
Moral progress is due far less to any change in the primary 
instincts than to the social control of their various expres- 
sions. It is probable that an exceedingly slow modification 
of nervous structure, with an accompanying change of moral 
susceptibilities, may attend the process of civilization. But 
it is clear that we must appeal to quite a different principle 
for the explanation of moral progress. It is mainly through 
the forces of organized society, through poKtical, reKgious, 
and educational institutions, through literature, art, and 
science, that we become possessors of the wisdom slowly 
won by the race in its long moral experience. It is to this 
kind of inheritance, made effective through all the channels 
of education, rather than to an essential modification of 
human nature, that one must look for an explanation of 


changes in the moral order. The child of the most highly 
civilized parents, if reared from early infancy among sav- 
ages, would, we may be sure, be able to play the role of the 
savage with very considerable success. 

If we regard consciousness as continuous in development — 
and this hypothesis has a decided balance of evidence in its 
favor — there was a point at which the germinal morality 
of animal Ufe passed into the conscious morality of the hu- 
man species. If it is not possible to fix the exact point of this 
transition, it is at least clear that the beginnings of historical 
morality are connected with tribal customs. These customs 
are the ways by which the tribe, more or less consciously, 
seeks to preserve its common life, just as, at a lower stage, 
the instinctive habits of gregarious animals are the ways by 
which the species secures its preservation. Human morality 
must have made its appearance in the transition from purely 
instinctive habit to conscious custom. Primitive custom is 
of course still largely instinctive and unconscious. But it 
implies states of consciousness in which a better and a worse 
are recognized, and it also implies the capacity so to repro- 
duce these contrasted states in memory and imagination 
as to make them the objects of future effort. 

Before early custom could harden into any kind of code, 
there must have been present the pressure of leadership 
sufficiently strong to make its will authoritatively felt. 
Physical prowess and mental sagacity would be the prime 
conditions of such leadership. With increase in the size 
and importance of the tribe would come of necessity the 
crude beginnings of organized government, since only by 
some kind of mechanism could tribal unity be effectively 
maintained. Keeping pace with this development, there is 
a growth in the force of social opinion as an expectation on 
the part of one's fellows that one shall do, or shall refrain 
from doing, certain acts.^ He who disappoints this expec- 

^ Cf. Taylor, The Problem of Conduct, p. 140. 


tation must reckon with disapproval, whereas he who fully 
satisfies it, or goes beyond its demands, will enjoy praise and 
popular favor. The tribesman who by cowardice has ex- 
posed others to danger, or who by selfish indulgence has de- 
prived his fellows of what they regard as their portion of the 
common store, will become the object of general suspicion 
and dislike; he who, on the contrary, is courageous and self- 
denying will as surely win confidence and affection. 

Added to these two factors of control — government and 
social expectation — is the force of religious belief. This 
is a powerful support of tribal customs, since it brings 
to bear the entire power of supernatural hopes and fears, 
which exercise such a strong influence upon primitive peoples. 
The tribal deities are also, it must be remembered, completely 
identified with the interests of the tribe; they demand of 
their worshippers what the tribal consciousness demands of 
its members. He who disregards established rights, or breaks 
faith with his fellows, is consigned to punishment in the 
nether world. 

The factors just mentioned constitute the well-known 
"external sanctions" of morality. They have been criticized 
as operating only by force, and leaving the proper sense of 
obligation quite untouched. They would beget at most, it is 
said, a sense of "must," not of "ought." This criticism would 
be valid if we were to suppose, as it is quite impossible to do, 
that no sympathetic instincts were enlisted in behalf of the 
requirements, and that there was no belief on the part of 
those who feel their pressure that the rules to which obedi- 
ence is required tend more or less directly to secure certain 
valuable ends. It is, however, such sympathy and convic- 
tion which save conduct from being merely an expression of 
"I must," and make it in part an expression of the judgment, 
"I ought." On the other hand, the beginnings of morahty, 
both in the individual and in the race, are without question 
largely prudential. The "must" is, for long, quite as pow- 


erful as the " ought". Prudential morality is the necessary 
school of a higher form of conduct, and is by no means to 
be despised or lightly esteemed. 

We hold, then, that the development of conscience is not 
to be explained from one side alone. It is not wholly found in 
the external environment, nor is it present in the mind as a 
predetermined form, waiting only to be summoned into con- 
sciousness by the stimuli from without. It is not necessarily 
connected with a particular mode of conduct, but is fluid, 
capable of assuming a great variety of forms and expressing 
a widely diversified content, according to the nature of the 
training offered by the social environment. The conscience 
that, rightly trained, enforces the sound rules of truth- 
speaking and ^miversal sympathy, may be so perverted as 
to approve deceit and national, religious, or class hatred. 
It may also be so darkened as to give its sanction to foolish 
scruples and hurtful practices. Although authority alone, 
apart from the growing consciousness of needs and values, 
could never produce the sense of obligation, the various 
forms of control, working upon a growing consciousness, 
have been a powerful factor in its genesis. The develop- 
ment of conscience does not, as is sometimes assumed, offer 
a unique difficulty, different in kind from that found in the 
development of other conscious powers of man. The prob- 
lems of intellectual, aesthetic, and religious development are, 
each in its way, of similar range and seriousness. All these 
are but functions of the one growing intelligence operating 
in different spheres of interest. There is, I believe, no suffi- 
cient ground for the statement, so often made, that the 
moral cannot possibly have arisen out of the non-moral, 
that is, from natural instincts and impulses modified by 
intelligence. Logically this would commit one to the denial 
of anything new in the historical life of man. There is a 
sense, of course, in which all that ever appears is preexistent 
in the realm of being. But why deny that the combination of 


existing elements may yield that which has never before 
appeared in actuality? The denial in question has doubtless 
been made in the supposed interests of the dignity of our 
moral nature, but it robs that nature of the higher dignity 
of the capacity for growth and for ceaseless readjustment 
to the needs of life. 

The authority of morality is no whit impaired by accepting 
the historical interpretation of conscience. A knowledge of 
its origin and growth no more detracts from its value than 
the knowledge of the physiological origin of any bodily 
organ lessens the value of its function in the organism. The 
human eye is none the less precious for use when it is re- 
garded as having developed from something which was 
originally not an eye at all, than under the old view that it 
was manufactured at a given moment of time. Language 
is of no less value when regarded as a product of slow natural 
growth than when viewed as a ready-made, heaven-sent 
means of communication. Morality, historically viewed, 
possesses all the authority which the interests of human 
life can give it, and greater authority than this no conceiv- 
able system of morality can possess. The moral imperative 
still holds, only it is not an unconditional imperative, sun- 
dered from the consequences of obedience and disobedience. 
Its sanctions are simply one with the total consequences of 
conduct. The principles of moraHty, considered as an his- 
torical development, come to us charged with the hard-won 
results of human experience. In them there speaks to us the 
accumulated wisdom, not only of our forefathers, but of 
ages and nations, long since past, with which our own life 
stands in relation through the unbroken chain of historical 
development. Moral ideals represent that for the lack of 
which the many have suffered, and for the winning of which 
the noblest have sacrificed. Such a view leaves the con- 
science free for needed changes. No considerations external 
to human life itself can fetter morality; the real interests 


of life must determine the modification of existing codes and 

Far more clear than the beginnings of conscience in the 
race is the process by which, in each successive generation, 
the conscience of the individual receives its particular form 
and content, its concrete view of right and wrong; for this 
process is repeated at length in the education of every child, 
and is continually open to observation. From the beginning 
of life, tones, looks, and gestures of approval and disapproval, 
affect the plastic organism, and tend to reproduce themselves 
by imitation in the conduct of the child. All the language of 
the nursery, its rhymes and stories as well as its childish 
games, are charged with direct moral suggestion. Pleasure 
and pain following acts, either as the natural consequences 
of the acts themselves, or as imposed by parents or nurse, 
strengthen the inclination for some modes of conduct and the 
disinclination for others. The pain of burnt fingers that 
results from disregard of a warning or command, the suffering 
endured in punishment for disobedience, and the pleasure 
of reward for ready and cheerful obedience, are familiar 
examples of those external sanctions which attend the pru- 
dential stage of morality in the life of every child. Sym- 
pathy and love for others soon lend the weight of their in- 
fluence in favor of those modes of action which find social 
approval. With growiQg intelligence the child perceives the 
value of acts in relation to ends. It then begins the hfe- 
long task of self-discipline, subordinating the impulses that 
call for immediate gratification to those wider and more 
permanent interests, the satisfactions from which may be 
long deferred. The process of education, begun in the home, 
is continued in school and in society. Religious teaching adds 
its sentiment in favor of the existing code. It is no wonder, 
then, that certain principles like truth-speaking, honesty, 
and chastity, often seem immediate judgments of right 
and wrong, inherent in the mind. Through the long process 


of education they have become a part of the self. All rules 
of conduct thus impressed gain such a hold on the individual 
that when he comes to examine for himself the questions of 
conduct, it is extremely difificult to escape from the spell of 
early training, even though an enlightened conscience de- 
mands certain modifications of the accepted regime. Almost 
everyone is familiar with the experience of uneasiness that 
attends the doing of acts contrary to early training, even 
though one is fully convinced that they are right, nay, even 
though one believes them to be obligatory. In some natures 
the struggle between early teaching and mature conviction 
is almost tragic in its intensity. 

VI. The Authority of Conscience 

It is often asked: "What is the authority of conscience, 
and how far may its utterances be trusted?" Before this 
question can be clearly answered, it is necessary to consider 
more exactly the psychological nature of conscience. The 
term conscience is commonly applied to a complex of mental 
states closely linked together in moral experience. So un- 
derstood, conscience includes (i) a cognitive, or intellectual, 
element, (2) an emotional, and (3) a conative, or volitional, 
element. These three elements are not to be thought of as 
successive, following each other in consciousness as they 
follow in order of enumeration; the unitary moral experience 
rather contains them all as constituents. Any so-called act of 
conscience clearly involves the intellectual element, the per- 
ception of a moral issue and a judgment concerning it. We 
are compelled, let us say, to choose between a selfish deed 
and one which involves denial of private desires, but secures 
the welfare of several other persons. We think of these two 
acts, with their probable consequences, and pronounce one 
to be right and the other wrong. We say, "I ought to do 
this," "I ought not to do that." But this judgment is not a 
cold intellectual process. If it were, the distinctive sense of 


personal obligation would hardly be present in the form in 
which we experience it, since we may pronounce a similar 
judgment of right and wrong in the case of others, or as a 
matter of purely speculative interest, and feel no obligation 
of personal action. From the first, however, each of the al- 
ternative acts is colored by various sentiments and emotions. 
On the one side is the desire for personal gratification, for 
the delights of ease or enjoyment which promise to follow the 
self-regarding act. On the other are sympathetic feelings 
and the sense of approbation which we experience when we 
triumph over an egoistic, anti-social impulse. Both deeds 
have further, as we contemplate them, a deep background 
of emotional coloring, derived from all our past experiences 
and associations, extending far back into childhood, and, it 
may be, linked with hereditary forces that antedate the con- 
scious life of the individual. But these mental states, just 
described, also imply an impulsive, conative element, a will 
to do or to refrain from doing. Indeed, to think and to feel 
about an act always and inevitably involves an inclination 
to do, or refrain from doing, the act, according to the nature 
of the thoughts and emotions in play. Such thinking and 
feeling would always issue in action were they not inhibited 
by opposing ideas and feelings. While usage tends to limit 
conscience to cognitive and emotional elements, it is impor- 
tant, not only for theoretical but also for practical reasons, 
to realize that volition is nothing independent of the other 
elements, but is determined by them. Those things which 
habitually command our thoughts and emotions become 
necessarily the objects of our choice. 

Conscience, then, is not to be regarded as a separate 
faculty for the decision of moral questions. The "moral 
faculty" has gone the way of the other so-called faculties 
of the older psychology. They are no longer recognized, 
save as powers and processes of the one psychical life to which 
all conscious activities belong. The distinction between 


moral and other judgments lies in the objects or relations to 
which they are applied, not in the mental power exercised. 
When an act is judged to be right or wrong, the same mental 
power is called into play which, on other occasions, yields 
an economic, aesthetic, or religious judgment. 

The kind and degree of guidance given by conscience now 
become clear. Obviously there can be no thought of con- 
science as an infallible guide. Its decisions possess the same 
degree of validity as belongs to other human judgments. 
My conscience is no more, and no less, falHble than my 
judgment of the values of life. Through the long course of 
history mistaken and perverted moral judgments have been 
honestly pronounced and faithfully obeyed, just as all kinds 
of grotesque aesthetic ideals and false scientific views have 
been seriously maintained. If a judgment concerning any 
matter of conduct is said to be final, this can only mean that 
no ground for a change of opinion will ever be discovered. 
Doubtless there are many moral decisions of which this 
statement is true. On the other hand, one cannot exclude 
the possibility of new light on the more complex problems 
of conduct; to do so is to put oneself beyond the reach of 
instruction. But the possibility that one may in the future 
gain further insight, and so change one's judgment of cer- 
tain acts, cannot lessen the imperativeness of the claim of a 
present duty. One must act with the light one has. 

The conscience of the day and hour is the best, indeed 
the only, guide we have. To abandon one's best judgment 
in favor of any external authority or internal impulse is 
to abandon the moral task. To trust blindly to external 
authority would be to revert to a stage of irresponsible 
tutelage; to surrender the control of conduct to mere im- 
pulse or caprice would result in moral anarchy. It is better 
to follow even a wrong judgment than to fail in loyalty to 
one's conviction. For the individual, therefore, at any given 
moment, conscience, though not infallible, is always au- 


thoritative. In this sense there is an absolute obligation in a 
relative and changing moral order. 

VII. The Social Conscience 

We have seen that society furnishes the materials from 
which the individual mind constructs the moral ideal. At 
first the ideals of the social order are accepted uncritically, 
but gradually the individual conscience is more or less differ- 
entiated from the social conscience. The unique in the in- 
dividual now voices itself. Tradition is questioned, criti- 
cized, and at certain points rejected as inadequate or wrong. 
The individual may now demand of himself acts which are 
more or less divergent from the social conscience; his con- 
science is at some points more exacting, at others less so. 
The rules of conduct are self-imposed in obedience to per- 
sonal conviction. A richer and more varied life results from 
such assertion of the individual conscience. It is true, 
however, that although the individual conscience is essential 
to progress, there is no guarantee that it may not sometimes 
be powerful for evil as well as for good. The fanatic may 
champion views which, though honestly held, are opposed 
to social welfare. 

This possibility of a conscientious choice of evil raises a 
problem which will be more fully considered in the next 
chapter. Here it may be remarked that such a possibility, 
once clearly discerned, enforces the duty of consulting all 
possible sources of light, and of keeping the mind open for 
new guidance. It also suggests the value to the individual 
of the social conscience, the conscience of one's day and race, 
as a corrective of the mistakes and vagaries of the individual 
conscience. This social conscience, which represents, in 
Burke's words, "the bank and capital of nations and of 
ages," gains especial significance when it is considered, not 
as a factor foreign to human nature, and imposed upon it 
from without, but as strictly organic to the needs of life, 


a necessary mode of its development. The social conscience 
offers a valuable counterweight both to the extravagant 
demands and to the dangerous omissions of the individual 
conscience, yielding a guidance in problems of conduct which 
no thoughtful person will neglect. 

True, one may press too far the validity of existing stand- 
ards, and fail to do justice to the conscience of the individual 
in its demands for a new and better order. One of the in- 
dispensable conditions of progress is that the reforming 
conscience shall make itself heard, and shall slowly modify 
the existing social conscience. In a much quoted passage, 
Mr. Bradley has gone so far as to make the desire to be better 
than one's fellows the beginning of immorality, unless it be 
in the case of a "heaven-born prophet." ^ Few care to 
profess the role of "heaven-born prophet;" but if there is 
not to be virtual stagnation, there must be many who are 
agreed in the desire to do better, at least in some partic- 
ulars, than the majority of their fellows. There are, fur- 
ther, weighty reasons why acquiescence in the traditional 
order is not to be crowned as the highest virtue. Such 
acquiescence is, as a rule, only too easy. Almost every 
material and social advantage is on its side. There are few 
who do not find their immediate path made much easier by 
accepting without criticism the status quo. The young man 
who desires to enter upon a political career will usually find 
the difficulties of the initial steps wonderfully lightened if 
he is an uncritical advocate of party men and party measures. 
The aspirant for high position in the church will often ad- 
vance most rapidly if he is known to be " sound " in his views, 
a man without doubts, who feels no need of theological 
reconstruction or ecclesiastical reform. The same is true 
of the servants of many corporations; unquestioning ac- 
ceptance of "business methods" is a quality that, in many 
cases, has a high cash value. To material advantage is 

^Ethical Studies, pp. 180-181. 


also linked the tremendous force of intellectual and moral 
inertia. Not infrequently, therefore, the lower, not the 
nobler, impulses are leagued with the spirit of acquiescence. 
Traditional and prescriptive rights, even when they have 
ceased to be moral rights, always have the advantage of 
being so strongly intrenched as to make assault upon them 
difficult, if not dangerous. 

The superior advantage on the side of the existing order 
tends to prevent rash changes and to preserve the equilib- 
rium essential to progress. The reforming conscience and the 
traditional conscience may both be justified when viewed in 
the long process of their historical interaction. Their opera- 
tion is perhaps most clearly seen in political history, where 
the struggle between vested rights and new needs is a persist- 
ent and significant phenomenon. Of this struggle, whether 
belonging to the past or the present, one may truly say that, 
if it is the duty of those in authority to control the elements 
of discontent, it is equally the duty of the discontented to 
see that the task does not become too easy. The lesson of 
history is less the need of conformity to the social conscience 
than the need of sane efforts to modify it through the slow 
but safe channels of education. Certainly the prophets 
and heralds of a new order ought to be wise with the best 
wisdom that can be gleaned from all past experience. If 
they are thus wise, they will not fiind the existing order 
wholly bad, nor seek to destroy where they cannot build. 
Realizing how slowly and painfully progress has been won, 
they will not hope to make an end in a day, or effect a re- 
form without paying the price. Understanding the continu- 
ity of institutions and ideals, they will seek to link all efforts 
for the future with the present order, even as the present 
order is indissolubly linked with the past. 

Progress is won through the influence of those who, pos- 
sessing insight with regard to the essential and the non- 
essential in the requirements of the social conscience, have 


the courage to assert their disagreement. Some one appears, 
to use again our illustration, who says, "I will eat cherries, 
because they are good, and all the reasons against it are mere 
products of childish fancy; I will step on thresholds, if I 
please, because it can do no possible harm; but I must not 
lie, because lying is destructive of social relations and of my 
own integrity." 

VIII. Coercive and Spontaneous Elements in the 

Moral Life 

Attention has been called to the fact that not all acts 
which are in full accord with the requirements of duty are 
performed from a sense of obligation. The circle within 
which the sense of duty may on occasion operate is much 
wider than that within which it is habitually felt. Many 
important forms of activity are, as we have seen, commonly 
determined by instinctive desires, spontaneous interests, 
and natural appetites. But even in these it is impossible 
to exclude the influence of the idea of duty, the pressure of 
which may sometimes be required. Appetite and interest 
sometimes fail even at points where we may usually trust 
them for the accomplishment of important ends. Physical 
appetites, like that of hunger, which are often in need of 
restraint, may, under exceptional conditions, need the spur 
of duty. Work which has been undertaken with keen desire 
may cease to yield its wonted pleasure, and require to be 
carried to completion solely from a sense of duty. 

Morality, we have seen, is at first largely prudential. At 
this stage the right act is performed because it is the pleas- 
ure-giving act, and the bad act is avoided because it entails 
unpleasant consequences of some kind. In the infancy 
both of the race and of the individual the prudential factor 
is of the highest importance. At the higher stages of moral- 
ity, however, both the prudential regard for consequences 
and the coercive sense of obligation are largely transcended. 


Right choices are made because they are the only choices 
truly desired. Morality has now become an inner order, 
freely chosen, and obeyed because it is the expression of one's 
deepest nature, not an external force that binds and tram- 
mels the unwilling spirit. The primary and most universal 
factor in effecting this transformation is sympathy. But 
another important element that lends its support to the 
process of emancipation, in all finer natures, is the aesthetic 
sense, the feeling for what is fitting, harmonious, beautiful. 
If it does not extend over the entire field of conduct, its in- 
fluence is very wide. The bad is now the ugly, the good is 
the fair and beautiful. As ugly, the evil act is in itself re- 
pugnant, irrespective of consequences. The view of pru- 
dential morality is thus completely reversed. For while, 
at the stage of prudential morality, one would like to do the 
evil deed, if it were not for the disagreeable results extrinsic 
to the act, one is now repelled by the deed itself, without 
regard to further consequences. 

Nowhere has the aesthetic element played such an impor- 
tant part in the history of morality as among the Greeks. 
The beautiful was perhaps the highest category of their life. 
In the absence of the stem sense of duty, which was so 
strong among the Semitic races, the aesthetic sense served 
the Greek in a marvelous way for spiritual guidance. The 
earliest maxims for the conduct of life found in their litera- 
ture are an expression of the aesthetic sense, demanding 
moderation, and warning against the fatal results of excess. 
Plato, in the Symposium, gave to the principle its consum- 
mate literary expression, as Aristotle its most adequate 
scientific statement in his doctrine of the mean. In the 
rigorous teaching of Stoicism its power was not wholly lost. 
The life of the wise man, even in the most tragic hour, 
is viewed as an element in a great harmony in which the 
whole creation unites. If this ideal failed at certain points 
to yield the highest morality, at others it wrought results of 


unequaled excellence. It tended to a many-sided and sym- 
metrical development which saved its possessors from out- 
bursts of fanatical extravagance, against which the sense 
of duty alone has been no protection, and to which it has 
even lent added violence when not balanced by a deep and 
rich mental life. 

The sympathetic and aesthetic impulses are thus the chief 
means by which morality is taken out of the sphere of con- 
scious obligation, and transformed into spontaneous, im- 
compelled choice of the good. Strong sympathy makes a 
pleasure of services to one's fellows which duty indeed re- 
quires, but which are now taken up by other and more 
willing hands. A true appreciation of the beautiful similarly 
attracts and draws one to the nobler side. Love and beauty 
furnish the inspiration by which, under the guidance of 
intelligence, the highest freedom is realized. 



The necessity of a thoroughgoing teleology has been 
maintained in the preceding chapters. At the same time it 
has been admitted that what, according to Kant, is known 
as the "form" of morality is important, is in fact an essential 
part of the very end we seek. We must now attempt to 
make still clearer the nature of this element, and to show 
its relations to other parts of ethical doctrine. Virtue, more 
than any other term, expresses the good- will, which is the very- 
center and heart of inward, subjective rectitude. It is this 
aspect of morality which formalism has always exalted. Such 
virtue may be described, in a preliminary way, as conscien- 
tiousness, as a whole-hearted devotion to one's interpreta- 
tion of the claims of duty. But a more exact analysis of the 
relation between the inner spirit and the results of acts, 
between formalism and teleology, is required before the full 
meaning of the problem will be clear. 

We have already seen that a person not infrequently feels 
under obligation to perform acts which later, from the vant- 
age ground of wider experience and clearer insight, are seen 
to have been done under a mistaken view of what was mor- 
ally required. As a result one would feel it obligatory to act 
in a different way if the same situation were again to be 
faced. A classical example, chosen from the career of St. 
Paul, may serve as an illustration. It was only after a 
complete revolution had taken place in his thought that he 
regarded his earlier acts of persecution with regret. From 
his own statement, his conduct had, at the time, the approval 
of his conscience; it was then his interpretation of his duty. 
Still more frequently, perhaps, men conscientiously pursue 



courses of conduct which others, with a more enlightened 
moral judgment, condemn as injurious to the agent or op- 
posed to the interests of society. The reverse is also true. 
Deeds which, in all external features, we approve, cannot 
always be imputed to right motives; they often leave one in 
doubt as to the spirit which prompted them. If there is no 
"art to find the mind's construction in the face," it is also 
impossible always to discover the moral temper in an out- 
ward act. 

I. The Two-fold Judgment of Conduct 

We are compelled, therefore, to recognize that a two-fold 
judgment is passed upon conduct. On the one side, a judg- 
ment is pronounced upon the motive, disposition, or wiU 
of the actor; on the other, upon the act itself in its out- 
ward relations and consequences. This distinction between 
the subjective and objective rightness of conduct has 
long been familiar in ethical thought as that between the 
"formal" and "material" goodness of acts. Hutcheson^ 
introduced the terms to English usage and defined them as 
follows: "An action is formally good, when it flowed from 
good affections in a just proportion." "An action is called 
materially good when in fact it tends to the interest of the 
system, as far as we can judge of its tendency; or to the good 
of some part consistent with that of the system, whatever 
were the affections of the agent." ^ it was Kant, however, 
whose influence gave wide ciu'rency to the distinction and 
made it familiar to every student of ethics. Resting the 
weight of his system upon the "formal" principle, he is 
justly regarded as the chief representative of the theory. 

Based upon this distinction there are evidently four pos- 
sible types of action, aU of which are more or less frequently 
realized in daily conduct. In this analysis we substitute for 

. 1 1 694-1 747. 

2 Moral Philosophy, Bk. II, Chap. III. 


formal and material the more coimnon terms subjective and 
objective. An act may be (i) both subjectively and object- 
ively good, (2) subjectively good and objectively bad, (3) 
subjectively bad and objectively good, and (4) both sub- 
jectively and objectively bad. The first class of acts is the 
one to which we give unconditional approval — acts spring- 
ing from a right temper and motive, and having beneficent 
consequences. The second class, of which an example has 
already been given in the career of St. Paul, may be further 
illustrated by the familiar case of misdirected charity, which, 
although it may spring from the purest desire to do good, 
often results in direct injury both to the recipient and to 
society. The same case, reversed, affords illustration of the 
third class; for a beneficent act of charity may be prompted 
by the desire to gain influence which the giver purposes to 
turn to account in purchasing immunity from wrong-doing, or 
in securing other selfish ends.^ The last class is the typically 
immoral act. Acts which fully satisfy the conditions of 
the second and third classes are comparatively rare, so 
surely does the spirit in which an act is done tend to express 
itself in the results of the act. We may believe, therefore, that 
the subjective and the objective Tightness of conduct tend 
largely to coincide. The best deeds are almost invariably 
those which are done with the purest motives. It is not often 
that the stream which rises from an evil source is so purified 
in its course through the world as to yield sweet water. 
It seems impossible, however, to accept the view of Green, 
who fimially quite obliterates the distinction between the 
good in the motive and the good in the result of an act. 
"There is no real reason to doubt," he says, "that the good 
or evil in the motive of an action is exactly measured by the 

^ Hutcheson states the third and second cases, respectively, as follows: "Actions 
materially good may flow from motives void of all virtue. And actions truly vir- 
tuous or formally good may by accident, in the event, turn to the publick detri- 


good or evil in its consequences, as rightly estimated — esti- 
mated, that is, in their bearing on the production of a good 
will or the perfecting of mankind." ^ This complete fusion 
of motive and consequence disregards too much the limita- 
tions for good imposed upon conduct by the lack of insight, 
skill, and power. A "good will" so dowered as to be a per- 
fect measure of beneficent consequences would be more than 
a "good will"; it would be not only a pure heart, but also 
a clear head, a skillful hand, and an unconquerable will. 

II. Virtue as Subjective or Formal Goodness 

Leaving for the present the objective, or material, good- 
ness of acts, and considering more closely their subjective, 
or formal, rectitude, we must recognize here a factor of great 
value for the moral life, and consequently for moral theory. 
To such subjective rectitude, regarded as an element of 
character, the term virtue, in its generic sense, may be 
fittingly applied. It may be described as a complete loyalty 
to one's conviction of duty, disinterested devotion to the 
good, and a steadfast purpose in its pursuit. The good at 
which such a virtuous will aims is variously interpreted 
according to the light of the individual intelligence. Its 
content is the world of values, the entire sphere of social 
activity, and all of worth that has been won in the course 
of civilization. Even the gifts of fortune are not excluded 
from this rich content, although all external goods are 
only instrumental for the enrichment and perfection of the 
inner life, and can never be the final objects of pursuit. 
But however manifold the content upon which such a will 
works, varying with age and race and individual lot, virtue 
is always essentially the same quality of character, an un- 
swerving loyalty to one's conviction of duty. The value 
of the good-will is thus precisely the value of the submission 
of the whole personality to the laws of value. It involves 

* Prolegomena to Ethics, pp. 320-321. 


a steady response to the claims of these laws, and an un- 
failing readjustment of the conduct of life to meet every new 
imperative which the intelligence discovers in the world of 

The use of the term virtue to mark this quality has at 
least the sanction of good use, and its employment in this 
sense serves the interests of a more exact terminology. ^ 
Viewed historically, it is a limitation of the original meaning 
of the term, as it is also a limitation of its loose, popular 
use. For among the Greeks the corresponding term, apeTri^ 
was employed to mark any excellence whatever. Naturally 
among a people who so prized the things of the mind, purely 
intellectual and aesthetic excellences were given a prominent 
place. The intellectual element appears in the Platonic vir- 
tue of wisdom {(^povqai'i or a-o(f>ia), and in a more developed 
form in the intellectual virtues of Aristotle (havorjTLKal 
aperai). The Roman virtus also received its content 
from the national character, but included all the essential 
excellences of Roman manhood, with a primary emphasis 
upon those of the citizen and soldier. Under the influence 
of Christianity certain virtues, which in the classical world 
had been highly prized, were disregarded or given a subordi- 
nate place. Christianity could recognize the military virtues 
only when they were completely transformed, and were 
turned from the sphere of physical warfare to the struggles 
of the spiritual life. To become the gospel of the multitude, 
Christianity of necessity remitted, as it were, the require- 
ment of the intellectual and aesthetic excellences of the 

^ Kant defines virtue in essential agreement with this use as " the strength of 
the man's maxim in his obedience to duty." Abbott's translation, p. 305. See the 
excellent statement of Sidgwick, Method of Ethics, p. 394, where "the root and es- 
sence of virtue in general" is defined as "the determination of the will to do what- 
ever is judged to be right and to aim at realizing whatever is judged to be best." 
Wundt says that "the virtue-concepts treat the facts of morality from the point 
of view of motives." Ethics, Part III, p. 143. Cf. also Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics, 
p. 88; Paulsen, System of Ethics, p. 478; and Muirhead, Elements of Ethics, p. 177, 


Greeks. Its message was not adjusted to the immediate 
tasks of earthly civihzation, but was primarily other-worldly; 
and its test of excellence was an inner, spirit which the most 
unlettered might possess. Kant was influenced in his doc- 
trine of the good-will both by the Christian ideal, as it came 
to him through the pietism of his early home, and also by 
that movement of thought, best represented by Rousseau, 
which found its ideal man in a state of nature, uncorrupted 
by the refinements and luxuries of civilization. While it is 
impossible to accept any ideal of human excellence which 
does not include the fullest possible development of all the 
powers of our nature, a virtuous will, as the comer-stone of 
character, is so precious that it may fittingly be marked by a 
special term. 

The reason for the high estimate placed upon virtue, 
as we have defined it, is not difficult to understand. It is 
indeed easy to understand the sentiment which has led many 
to regard it as the sole good with which morality is concerned. 
The motive pervading all formal systems of morahty is a 
deep sense of the value of simple rectitude of will, of what is 
familiarly known as conscientiousness. This motive ap- 
pears even in Stoic rationalism, which, at least in its earher 
form, tended to emphasize the goodness of the choice rather 
than that of the object chosen, "as an archer aims at the 
bull's eye, his end being not the mark itself, but the mani- 
festation of his skill in hitting it." * And it is clearly the 
mainspring of all the formal systems of modem times, as 
far as they remain true to their avowed principle. Must 
it not be admitted that such virtue is fundamental, that in a 
sense it underlies all other excellences, and makes possible 
their fruitfulness for life? It alone supplies the guarantee 
that knowledge, skill, and power, as they are slowly acquired, 
shall be used according to one's best insight, not prostituted 
to an end that is even second best. Nothing but such a wiU 

^ Sidgwick, History of Ethics, p. 80. 


can insure to the individual or to the race the full possession 
of the beneficent results of man's growing mastery over 
nature. Nothing else can make truly fruitful the ever- 
widening experience in educational and social endeavor. 
With such virtue the new" insight, of whatever kind, does not 
remain a merely intellectual possession, but becomes at 
once a principle of action. That these beneficent results 
may follow, the virtuous will must be, in the words of Kant, 
"not, to be sure, a mere wish, but the summoning of all 
means in our power." Virtue thus involves the training of 
the will, its habituation to prompt obedience, that it may 
overcome the moral inertia which would allow even the 
clearest perception of duty to remain barren of good results. 
Correct habit is the core of virtue. 

It is the task of moral education to develop in the child 
such reverence for the laws of value that the call of duty 
shall have in practice the force of a categorical imperative. 
This imperative is valid as an ideal in moral training, even 
though the Kantian doctrine be rejected. For the cate- 
gorical imperative, thus applied, does not mean that an act 
can be judged to be right independently of its consequences, 
but only that there shall be unquestioning obedience to 
one's truest valuation of all the consequences involved in 
an act. 

For ethical theory it is not enough to recognize the value 
of virtue as an element in conduct. It is necessary also to 
show its relation to that larger good which has been pre- 
sented as the goal of human effort; we must discover its 
rightful place in a system of values. Without a clear under- 
standing of this relation, the mere recognition of the value 
of any element, however important, would be little better 
than the eclectic procedure of selecting for enumeration 
various ideas which are held to be true, and setting them 
down as a system of ethics. System there could not be in 
such a statement. The unity which, without losing the sig- 


nificance of the part, sees the part in close relation to the 
whole, would be wanting. Now virtue as here defined is a 
part of that personal good which manifests itself in perfec- 
tion of function and satisfaction of feeling. More specific- 
ally, virtue is perfection of the will, of the active seK respon- 
sive to its ideals. As such, it is the essence of all the character 
values. It does not necessarily imply correctness of ideals, 
and so does not insure one from mistaken conceptions of 
value. But it does mean faithfulness to the ideals which 
one has, the holding fast of the good which has been made 
clear to the understanding. When this quality is wanting 
there is always a fundamental defect in character which no 
gift of fortune can supply, and no other endowment make 
good. Reverence for the laws of value is thus itself one of 
the chief values. 

III. Place of Virtue in Ethical Theory 

The place of virtue in any ethical system demands then 
careful definition in the interest of final unity. Self-realiza- 
tion makes it a part of the end, placing it among the powers 
of the self whose harmonious, well-regulated development 
constitutes, for self-realization, the moral goal. Hedonism 
of the stricter sort, which insists that value is interpretable 
solely in terms of pleasure or happiness, must logically make 
virtue an instrumental value. Those who accept neither 
self-realization nor happiness, nor an organic union of the 
two, will fail, I believe, to do full justice to the meaning of 
virtue in its relation to ultimate value. Mr. Rashdall, for 
example, interprets the good as consisting chiefly of virtue 
and happiness, although he does not exclude other elements.^ 
This statement of the ultimate good contains too little or too 
much; too little by far to give the content of the good life, 
of which there are many essential elements besides the good- 
will, and too much to make clear the fact that happiness is 

^ Theory of Good and Evil, Vol. I, pp. 71 ff. 


a constituent of every conceivable good, virtue no less than 
the others. We can here only remind the reader that, from 
our point of view, it is always misleading to speak of hap- 
piness and other goods, since every good is more than 
happiness, but is ultimately meaningless apart from hap- 

Virtue is, we hold, both an instrumental and an intrinsic 
good. It is instrumental as means in the production of 
further good, and a part of the end in that it is an essential 
element of that self whose development conditions all ex- 
periences of value. In both forms it is organically related to 
the production of happiness, as truly as knowledge, beauty, 
or love, is so related. In its intrinsic aspect it is an immediate 
source of satisfaction. Courage, to illustrate by a single 
virtue, is a direct and constant blessing to its possessor and 
to others. We feel it good to be in the presence of a cour- 
ageous soul even when we are in perfect security. 

In its instrumental aspect virtue, as devotion to the laws 
of value, is the representative and guardian of a thousand 
precious interests not of the present. Habitual rectitude of 
the will means that each one of these interests will be duly 
guarded as it arises, not left to circumstance or capricious 
mood. Virtue is, in this respect, precisely like a deputy, 
who in a legislative assembly represents a large constit- 
uency. His speech and vote have the weight, not of his in- 
dividual interests alone, but of the interests of thousands who 
are absent and cannot voice their own needs. So the vir- 
tue displayed in a single act of courage, truth-speaking, or 
justice, is sponsor for the moral interests of a life-time. But 
these interests are, it must be remembered, primarily other 
forms of good than the virtue which guards them; they in- 
clude all the values, from highest to lowest. What Mr. 
RashdaU calls "the supreme value of the good- will" ^ can 
only be rightly understood when so interpreted as to take 

J Theory e^ Good and Evil, Vol. I, p. 76. 


account of all the values which it wills to guard. If the pop- 
ular moral consciousness does not recognize this larger 
meaning, it is, nevertheless, always implicit in that con- 
sciousness. Here, as elsewhere, it is the business of ethics 
to reinterpret popular thought, rather than to accept its 
unreflective utterances as final. 

In an earlier chapter it has been shown that a relation 
of at least general validity exists between perfection of func- 
tion and satisfaction of feeling. There should be, if this view 
is correct, a distinctive form of satisfaction attending the 
exercise of the virtuous will. And experience justifies this 
expectation. Virtue has its own joys. The sense of having 
fulfilled the claims of duty, of having done at least that 
which was sincerely believed to be duty, is one of the su- 
preme satisfactions of life. The consciousness of having 
"kept the faith," one's own faith — that of others we can- 
not keep — is a source of peace and serenity which, judged 
merely as pleasurable feeling, far outweighs many more 
intense pleasures wliich are succeeded by the reaction of un- 
rest and discontent. On the contrary, the infirm or disloyal 
will which is unable to realize in conduct the good which the 
intelligence demands, must always leave the spirit painfully 
divided against itself, the slave of circumstance and chance 
desire. There is, further, a direct aesthetic delight felt in the 
presence of the finer manifestations of virtue. The strength 
displayed by one who stands firm at the post of duty against 
the pressure of bitter opposition or the allurements of tempt- 
ing reward, kindles an admiration akin to that which we feel 
in the presence of the great forces of nature. When this con- 
flict reaches a tragic height, as in the most heroic figures 
of history, it arouses a sense of the sublime. The confidence 
uith which we look for the performance of duty by those in 
whom virtue is highly developed is like our trust in the 
rising of the sun or the procession of the heavenly bodies. 
Such, one may believe, were the feelings which stirred in 


Kant when he linked the moral order with that of the starry- 

Our conclusion, then, is that the element upon which 
f ormalistic theories have rested their account of morality is 
a part, and a vital part, of a larger whole. The error of 
formalism is in accepting the part for the whole, and especi- 
ally in ignoring the vast influence upon human well-being 
of other factors. The question at issue between the two 
views may be stated, like many another controversy, as one 
of adequacy of definition. If we consent to define moral 
conduct in terms merely of inner disposition, of the rectitude 
of the will of the actor, and rigorously exclude its more ob- 
jective aspects, there is a clearly defined, though exceedingly 
narrow field, within which ethical thought can work. But 
such a limitation of definition is arbitrary and inevitably 
breaks down, even in professedly formal systems, before 
the demands of reflection, which cannot fail finally to admit 
all the varied content of value, all that our aspirations after 
richer and more abundant hfe demand. Although the 
grounds for rejecting the f ormalistic interpretation, in favor 
of a teleological theory, have already been given, there are 
certain aspects of the problem which may be seen to better 
advantage, now that the value of the formal element has 
been fully recognized. 

The impossibility of excluding the objective results of 
conduct is evident from the fact that the very condition of 
the subjective rightness, or virtue, of an act, is the full con- 
viction on the part of the doer that the deed is good in its 
consequences. Only on this condition can there be a truly 
conscientious act. To this principle there are no real ex- 
ceptions. Even in the case of one who considers that the 
highest duty is obedience to an externally imposed command, 

^ "Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, 
the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the 
moral law within." Abbott's translation, p. 260. 


the justification for obedience is found in the belief on the 
part of such a person that somehow, in his own life, or in the 
larger system of which he is a member, the requirement has 
a beneficent purpose. Only so can the agents of absolutism, 
whether political or ecclesiastical, give even the semblance 
of morality to their conduct. It is in this way only that 
Kant's imperative can be justified; its real authority is 
derived from his "kingdom of ends." The question, in fine, 
is whether one shall examine the separate items of a moral 
account, or, accepting as correct the final reckoning offered 
by some existing order, shall dismiss the details without 
scrutiny. But surely no reflective mind can steadily honor 
the drafts which morality makes upon it without seeking to 
discover the "material" ^ value which they represent. 
However high the place which we accord to the virtuous 
will, we cannot escape the ever-recurring question of the ob- 
jective value of the various types of action in which this 
inner disposition expresses itself. It is further true that to 
the good-will alone, as loyalty to conscience, we can never 
give, as Kant asserts, an unqualified admiration or reverence. 
The good-will which can command this feeling has far trans- 
cended all subjective limits; it is no longer merely "good in 
itself," but is also good for something from its relation to the 
"kingdom of ends." If Kant is justified in denying uncon- 
ditional worth to intelligence and " other talents of the 
mind" because they may be employed for evil ends, one is 
equally justified in denying imconditional worth to the good- 
will, independent of that which it wills, for, with erring in- 
telligence, such a will may be prostituted to the service of 
evil. However loyally the fanatic may obey his convictions 
of duty, "though he give his body to be burned," we can- 
not regard his loyalty to duty as worthy of our full rever- 
ence. The mind does not "bow" before any conscientious- 

^ Material, of course, only in the technical sense, that is, having to do with 


ness which works cruelty and death, or before any loyalty 
that dwarfs and mauns human life. And if we describe 
fanaticism as consisting of an erring intelligence linked with 
a strong will to do the right, it must be remembered that 
such fanaticism is of all degrees and shades, from that ex- 
hibited by the great inquisitors of history, whose deeds fill 
us with abhorrence, to that which works among us daily, 
in narrow circles and in petty ways, to mar and sadden in- 
dividual lives. "If therefore the light that is in thee be 
darkness, how great is that darkness! " 

IV. Knowledge and Virtue 

We have here again reached a point at which the relation 
of knowledge to the moral life becomes especially clear and 
significant. The value of the good-will increases directly 
with the growth of a true understanding of its ideal content, 
in other words, with a true comprehension of individual and 
social values. A just estimate of these values will, of course, 
always include a just estimate of the values of the will itself, 
and hence of the importance of its cultivation by all men. 
But only when the good-will receives the stamp of intelli- 
gence does its precious ore become the current coin of good 
deeds. If knowledge alone is a poor thing, as is sometimes 
urged, the same may be said of the good-will, or of any 
part of our nature taken by itself. An adequate criticism 
of life always drives one from an undue estimate of any single 
excellence to an insistence upon the rounded whole of our 
nature. Especially does such a criticism, working either in 
the field of history or of current life, make evident the num- 
berless ills which spring from ignorance and error. If we ex- 
clude those misfortunes which are due to natural forces 
beyond human control, the evils from which men suffer 
are referable to two sources, a weak or perverse will, and ig- 
norance. Otherwise expressed, they are the result of dis- 
loyalty to conscience, and of unenlightened conscience. 


Popular thought lays especial emphasis upon the former of 
these sources of evil. "If to do were as easy as to know 
what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor 
men's cottages princes' palaces." ^ This ready assumption 
that all know the right and fail simply in the doing of it, 
expresses the common view of proverbial philosophy. Re- 
flection, however, is forced to recognize the power for evil 
of ignorance and error. With a clearer understanding of 
the psychological factors involved, it sees the relation of the 
impulsive to the intellectual processes, and recognizes 
that every evil tendency is also inevitably a wrong way of 
thinking. The only escape from wrong-doing is seen to be 
in an appeal to a better train of thought, a truer system of 
ideas. All evil passion is a literal blindness. It sees with 
partial and distorted vision. It is the intellect alone that 
can deal with the horde of evils that are directly due to 
stupidity and ignorance. When, therefore, the value of 
clear insight for the guidance of conduct is once made plain, 
we see that one important task of the good- will is to will to 

Granting the limitations of our knowledge and the recog- 
nized duty of seeking enlightenment, is there any principle 
or maxim which may guard the will from the danger of losing 
such insight as we possess in our moments of truest under- 
standing? That such a danger exists is evident if we con- 
sider the swarm of influences which spring from subjective 
moods, preferences, and prepossessions, from private inter- 
ests and selfish aims. What an undue importance that which 
we have personally experienced tends to assume in compari- 
son with other facts, equally significant, lying beyond our 
own experience! How indifferent to human needs distance 
in space, or time, or kinship often renders us! What a role 
is played in our choices by the impulses and emotions of the 
passing hour! Who does not find it difficult to make a can- 

1 The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene 11. 


did examination of views which are opposed to beliefs and 
ideals deeply rooted in his past? And who at times is not 
prone to make exceptions in his own favor, to excuse himself 
from tasks or renunciations which he woidd impose upon 
others? Kant laid down the principle of universality for 
guidance. "Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at 
the same time will that it should become a universal law." 
The difficulty with Kant's statement is that the only maxim 
which we can will in accordance with it lacks all specific 
character. One can always, of course, rightly act on the 
maxim, "Will the good." But the moment the maxim is 
apphed to concrete moral situations, it loses its universality. 
I cannot, for example, will as universal law the maxims to 
rise at six o'clock, to abstain from wine, or to live the life of 
a celibate. For while these may seem perfectly clear duties 
for me, I am equally certain that there are many who ought 
not to observe them. There is, nevertheless, great signifi- 
cance in the objectivity and disinterestedness which Kant's 
formula demands. Reasonableness is preeminently shown in 
the ability to transcend subjective tendencies in moral judg- 
ment. If objectivity, the power to see things as they are, 
irrespective of their immediate practical value for the be- 
holder, is justly regarded as a mark of intellectual genius, 
it is no less a mark of the moral genius to view moral relations 
with a like disinterestedness. It has been one of the chief 
traits of those who have impressed the world by their moral 
greatness. The Buddha views the suffering of the world as a 
personal burden. Socrates, in prison and facing death, 
decides the question of his escape as coolly as if he were 
pronouncing judgment upon the fate of the veriest stranger. 
WMe the Pharisees heaped upon men burdens which they 
were not willing even to touch "with one of their fingers," 
Jesus held himself unswervingly to the fulfillment of all right- 
eousness. The objective moral temper does not relax the 
rule in favor of the self. It never shies at facts or shirks 


its tasks. It seeks to recognize all the facts and scan their 
meaning with the same temper with which the scientist 
examines his problem. The judgment of a moral question 
should be as unbiased as any other intellectual judgment. 
If it is impossible to make objectivity consist in the universal- 
ity of Kant's principle, it may be possible to accept a modi- 
fied form of his maxim. We may say : Act only on the maxim 
which you can at the same time will should become a law 
for all persons in like circumstances. Such a rendering gives 
in effect the golden rule. It demands that I shall exact from 
others only what I, in Hke position, am wilHng to yield, and 
that I shall be wilHng to )deld all that I exact. 

Although such disinterestedness requires at times an ex- 
amination of one's motives and temper, it does not dictate 
the habit of minute introspection. Virtue does not grow 
by habitually "taking thought" of its stature. The organs 
of our spiritual life, like those of the body, are usually most 
healthy when least obtrusive. V/hen worthy ends — and such 
ends are directly or indirectly social ends — are the object 
of earnest pursuit, the moral nature almost unconsciously 
reaches up to the nobility of its task. On the negative side, 
too, evil impulse is not subdued by mere scrutiny. To sit 
still watching for its appearance is the surest way to invite 
its coming. It is best escaped by giving oneself whole- 
heartedly to opposing interests and activities, so that when 
it comes it may "find no place in us." A passionate and 
joyiul devotion to the things of true value is the best anti- 
dote for all the baser passions. Of deep spiritual import is 
the saying of Spinoza: "Blessedness is not the reward of 
virtue, but virtue itself; neither do we rejoice therein, be- 
cause we control our lusts, but, contrariwise, because we 
rejoice therein, we are able to control our lusts." ^ A simple 
list of the "deadly sins" recognized in mediaeval times, and 
taking their form from the experiences of monastic life, 

1 Ethics, Part V, Prop. XLIL 


constitutes a profound commentary upon the perils of a 
"cloistered virtue." In a world of real moral conflict the 
noblest type of virtue must be won upon the highways of 
life, where "that immortal garland is to be run for, not 
without dust and heat." 

V. The Unity of the Virtues 

From the generic idea of virtue as the loyal and disinter- 
ested will obedient to one's moral insight, we pass to inquire 
as to the nature of the several virtues. It is no part of the 
present purposes to treat them in detail, as has so often been 
done; it is intended only to indicate their relation to the cen- 
tral quality of character which we have been studying. All 
the virtues may be regarded, on their inner side, as manifes- 
tations or forms of the good-will, for all derive their inner 
value from loyalty to the demands of conscience in the vari- 
ous spheres of conduct. Temperance, for example, as con- 
trol of bodily appetite, has its excellence in steadfastness of 
will against the solicitations of present pleasure. Courage 
is the like quality in the presence of danger or pain. Justice 
is a determination of will to regard the rights of all persons 
according to an objective and impartial view of the facts, as 
against personal prejudice, preference, or interest. The ques- 
tion whether virtue is one or many, raised long ago by 
Plato in the Socratic dialogues, may accordingly receive the 
answer that it is one in essential nature, as a form of the 
good-will, though manifold in outward expression. The par- 
ticular virtues have to do with the varying tasks and chang- 
ing conditions of life, and so necessarily manifest themselves 
in a great variety of ways. On the other hand we think of the 
inner disposition as relatively permanent throughout all the 
variety of external manifestation. 

This inner unity of the virtues has sometimes led men to 
suspect that he who fails at one point of conduct would fail at 
all others, if subjected to temptation. It was such an em- 


phasis upon the unity of virtue that led to the paradoxes of 
New Testament and Stoic thought. But this unity must not 
be pressed too far. For we see that many factors such as 
temperament, education, age, sex, race, social class, and even 
profession, modify individual estimates of the relative value 
of different traits of character. The varying estimates of 
value made by persons living in the same community at the 
same time, according as they are educated or imeducated, 
young or old, rich or poor, men of affairs or scholars, mem- 
bers of an aristocratic or a democratic circle, are very strik- 
ing.^ We cannot say that because a man possesses any one 
of the several recognized virtues, he possesses all, or, because 
he is wanting in one, he is necessarily wanting in aU the 
others. It has often been remarked that men of high in- 
tegrity in personal relations have accepted bribes and em- 
ployed scandalous political or business methods, while others 
of unquestioned honesty in all public transactions have had 
low standards of personal morality. A symmetrical develop- 
ment of character is conditioned by many factors; we often 
prize one virtue relatively too high, another too low. Not 
infrequently it is the virtue men are conscious of lacking 
that they most highly prize; by a natural process of psycho- 
logical emphasis it comes to occupy a disproportionate place 
in their thought. But the doctrine of the unity of the virtues 
may well remind us that weakness in one moral relation 
does in fact tend to engender weakness in other relations. 
Once it is made clear to the understanding that there is dis- 
proportion or neglect in our estimates of the different vir- 
tues, it is of the very essence of the good-will to strive to 
remedy the defect. 

The particular virtues correspond with the particular 
duties, as generic virtue with the generic sense of obligation. 
There is no sufficient reason for any differentiation between 

^ For some differences in the moral estimates of rich and poor, see Jane Addams, 
Democracy and Social Ethics, Chap. 11. 


the spheres covered by the two concepts. They represent 
different aspects of the same thing rather than different 
things in moral experience. Virtue stands for an inner 
quahty or disposition of mind, whereas duty refers more 
directly to the sphere in which the character of a person 
finds expression. Popular thought, however, inclines to the 
view that virtue occupies a higher sphere than duty. " There 
is no virtue in doing that, it is simply my duty," is a senti- 
ment often heard. Sidgwick, stating this point of view, 
says: "We should scarcely say that it was virtuous — under 
ordinary circumstances — to pay one's debts, to give one's 
children a decent education, or keep one's aged parents from 
starving; these being duties which most men perform, and 
only bad men neglect." ^ But can we deny virtue to the 
right performance of these acts? The only doubt, perhaps, 
arises from the form of Sidgwick's statement, which, in the 
case of the two last-named acts, suggests a grudging or im- 
perfect performance of duty. But a grudging performance 
would by no means satisfy the claims of duty. Certainly, to 
discharge promptly one's debts, to give to one's children the 
best possible education, to care with faithfulness and devo- 
tion for aged parents, and to perform these duties steadily 
for years, requires in effect a constant exercise of the most 
fundamental virtues. And, further, for the discharge of 
just such homely duties, we commonly recognize a corres- 
ponding class of business and domestic virtues. On the other 
side, to affirm that there is a sphere of virtuous conduct 
beyond the requirements of duty is, as we saw in the last 
chapter, to limit duty by conventional and imperfect stand- 
ards. Such a limitation would exclude from the sphere of 
duty all the finer and more aspiring utterances of the in- 
dividual conscience to which the world so largely owes its 
moral progress. No effort which the reflective conscience 
of an individual may demand, however far it may be in 

^Methods of Ethics, p. 219. 


advance of popular standards, is for that individual more 
than duty. In the moral life there are no works of superero- 
gation. There is no statute law or social requirement that 
one shall do an heroic deed, or give one's life to philanthropic 
work, or one's wealth to estabUsh hospitals and universities. 
But if one is able to do these things, and beHeves them to 
represent the greatest good which he can accomplish in life, 
the good-will requires them at his hands, and he is morally 
recreant if he is disloyal to his cause. 

VI. Militant and Spontaneous Virtue 

The fact that struggle and discipline are so often neces- 
sary for the cultivation of the virtues should not obscure the 
fact that they are not in any sense artificial. All rest upon 
native aptitudes and impulses. These constitute the living 
root of virtue, and alone make possible its growth. It is 
not strange, therefore, that virtue, grounded as it is in human 
nature, should sometimes be spontaneous, running with our 
desires. But we must recognize that it is also often militant, 
involving a struggle with conflicting impulses; we have a 
"fight with ourselves," as we say, before the virtuous will 
is triumphant. What is the relation of virtue to these nat- 
ural desires? Does the exercise of a virtue with a feeUng 
of pleasure detract from or add to its excellence? What is 
to be said of the character in which the will is not moved by 
a sense of duty so much as by admiration and love of the 
good? Different answers have been given to these questions 
by ethical thinkers, and even popular moral judgment does 
not seem to be unanimous in the matter. The rigorism of 
Kant separates, as we have seen, the moral element from the 
rest of man's nature, and insists that the virtuous act is the 
act done, not merely in accordance with duty, but from a 
sense of duty. All inclination of feeling for an act he con- 
siders morally "pathological." The only distinctively moral 
feehng is that of respect for the imperative of the law. It 


would be an injustice to Kant, however, to suppose that he 
denied all value to other feelings. He declares that "it is a 
very beautiful thing to do good to men from love to them 
and from sympathetic good will, or to be just from love of 
order." ^ He only denies that such feelings have any place 
in morality. They are not the "true moral maxim of our 
conduct." This limitation of virtue to its militant type has 
been accepted to a greater or less degree by various thinkers. 

Royce has well emphasized the fact that in the typical 
cases of moral choice, those of deliberate, conscious decision, 
an element of opposition is necessarily implied. He says: 
"A being possessed of but one motive could have no con- 
science. But if this be so, then the consciousness of every 
moment of moral choice involves, also, a consciousness — 
a confession, if you will — of the presence in the chooser of 
that which he himseK regards as evil. He not only coldly 
knows, he includes, he possesses, he is beset with some 
evil motive. And nevertheless, he conquers it. This is 
involved in the very formal definition of a moral act. You 
might as well try to define the king without his subjects or 
the master without his servant, or the captor without his 
captive or his prize, as to define a moral deed without the 
presence in the agent of some evil motive." ^ 

The view which, on the contrary, regards the highest 
virtue as of what we may call the spontaneous rather than 
the mihtant type, has been still more widely held. In an 
oft-quoted passage, Aristotle says that "a person is not good, 
if he does not take delight in noble actions, as nobody would 
call a person just if he did not take delight in just actions, 
or liberal if he did not take delight in liberal actions, and 
so on." ^ With this interpretation most writers are in accord. 
Wundt has somewhere said : "Whereas a moral law which de- 

* The Analytic of Pure Practical Reason, Abbott's translation, p. 175. 

* Studies of Good and Evil, p. 99. 

* Nicomachean Ethics, Welldon's translation, p. 20. 


mands that the good be done without inclination, i. e. without 
motive, asks more than can be accomplished, it is, on the con- 
trary, the genuine mark of the mature character to perform 
the moral act without deHberation, from pure incHnation." 
This spontaneity of the higher virtue is clearly expressed by 
another writer in the following passage: "It may further be 
said that, while the sense of duty implies a comparatively 
high development of the spirit, yet its presence also impHes 
a certain difficulty in right doing. It shows a lack of free- 
dom and spontaneity in the direction of the right. A man 
who performs a righteous act from a sense of duty stands 
much higher than one who does not perform it at all; but 
one who performs it because it seems the most natural thing 
in the world, simply because he wants to, stands still 
higher." ^ 

This is also, with perhaps some limitations, the popular 
judgment. Certainly acts of benevolence, justice, and 
courtesy, are regarded as better when performed with pleas- 
ure than when done grudgingly. An act of charity loses its 
finest quahty unless done with a degree of spontaneity. 
Such spontaneity, to indicate true moral worth, must not 
of course be the result of a transient emotion or a passing 
mood, but of a permanent S3niipathy which steadily prompts 
to deeds of helpfulness. 

It would seem, however, that in some cases popular 
thought ascribes a greater worth to virtues which cost a 
distinct struggle. Self-control and temperance, in at least 
some of their forms, appear to be more highly esteemed 
when the opposing tendencies are so strong that they cost 
a battle with oneself. This disparity in the ordinary esti- 
mate of the value of spontaneity and struggle in the exercise 
of the virtues is not an opaque fact, but is, I think, capable 
of explanation. The explanation is to be sought in the values 
we assign to the various propensities and powers of human 

^ C. C. Everett, Poetry, Comedy and Duty, p. 223. 


nature. We demand that an act of kindness, for example, 
shall be performed spontaneously, without inward reluctance, 
because if it is not so performed we necessarily infer that 
sympathy is weak and that the egoistic impulses are strong. 
Similarly, even-handed justice is relatively easy to a person 
of open mind and objective judgment. Hesitation or strug- 
gle in either of these cases argues, therefore, a defect in the 
endowments of personahty. A virtue like self-control, on the 
contrary, when it costs a struggle, often indicates the pos- 
session of high spirit. And this quahty is recognized as 
containing potentiaHties for good not found in a tamer nat- 
ure. There mingles also, I suspect, in this popular estimate 
of militant virtue, something of that admiration which we 
instinctively render to a well-fought contest. But even in 
the cases in which the mihtant type of virtue is more highly 
esteemed, it is always recognized that the result of habitual 
effort at control should at length appear in well-poised self- 
mastery. The struggle for such mastery, which popular 
judgment approves as befitting the storm and stress of youth, 
excites suspicion of fundamental defect if carried into old 

If we examine more closely the theory which limits virtue 
to its mihtant form, serious difficulties at once appear. As 
far as effort in the direction of right conduct is successful, 
it tends to become less and less difficult; but by the terms of 
the definition of mihtant virtue, such conduct would also 
become less and less virtuous. In seeking to enlarge its 
life, therefore, virtue inevitably commits suicide. Logically, 
too, high virtue would be conditioned by the presence of 
strong tendencies to evil, whereas moral progress in the race 
depends largely upon the production of types in whom vir- 
tuous tendencies are relatively strong and spontaneous. 
Virtue, thus limited, can never be the ideal goal of morality, 
which demands that all the forces of individual and social 
life shall be set free, as far as possible, in the service of worthy 


ends. As a country at war must suffer in its industries when 

its citizens are engaged in military service, so the strength 
of one who is compelled to wage an unceasing struggle with 
evil within himself is seriously dissipated. Such expenditure 
of force seems deplorable when we consider the inexhaustible 
spheres of worthy endeavor upon which it might be em- 
ployed. If there were no want and suffering to be reheved, no 
truth to be discovered, no beauty to be created, no material 
and spiritual good to be carried to ever wider circles, the 
permanent presence of inner conflict might be viewed with 
approval as an antidote for stagnation. But as long as we 
suffer from an embarrassment of possible riches in the field 
of moral endeavor, such danger does not confront us. It is 
a tragic fact in the spiritual history of the race that men 
have often set up an artificial evil and then exhausted all 
their powers in the effort to overcome it. Thus the false 
standards of asceticism have not infrequently regarded as 
evil certain forces of human nature which, rightly directed, 
are a positive enrichment of the higher life. Noble spirits 
have, alas! not infrequently contended in such an arena only 
to win an empty victory, while causes of great moment 
were wholly neglected. St. Anthony's temptation typifies 
not only heroic struggle with human weakness, but also a 
pathetic spiritual illusion. 

The struggle with evil is certainly a phase of the moral 
experience of everyone, and as long as goodness is esteemed 
among men this struggle will not cease to be approved and 
praised. It is impossible, of course, to define the limits of 
its operation in precise terms. In one nature for a longer 
time and at more numerous points, in another for a shorter 
period and over a more circumscribed area of the moral Hfe, 
the conflict must be waged. But the normal course of moral 
development is to give over more and more of conduct to the 
sphere of regulated habit. Accompanying this process, there 
is a diminution of struggle and a growth of satisfaction in 


the practice of the virtues. This satisfaction is not so much 
a satisfaction with self and its fulfillment of the moral law, 
as a satisfaction in those worthy causes, devotion to which 
is the surest path to victory over evil. The term virtue might 
of course be arbitrarily limited to its mihtant type. But in 
this case its meaning would be greatly narrowed, and there 
would be need of another term to describe the highest form 
of virtue. Kant uses "holiness" for that obedience to the 
moral law which "apprehends no inward reluctance of the 
will." It seems more fitting, however, to use the term vir- 
tue for both militant and spontaneous goodness, for the ful- 
fillment of the requirements of morahty both from a sense 
of duty and from dehght in what is good. We must recognize 
not only the character in which the victory over evil is won 
after long and hard conflict with opposing tendencies, but 
also those rare natures so finely attuned to the moral order 
that they seem instinctively to turn towards goodness. 
Schiller's words, 

"Alles Hochste, es kommt frei von den Gottem herab," 
are as true of virtue as of other gifts. The flower of goodness 
is found in those whom Wordsworth describes in his Ode to 

" Glad hearts without reproach t)r blot, 
Who do thy will and know it not." 

But whether the spontaneity of right conduct be the result 
of long discipline or the gift of nature, love of what is good 
and true and beautiful is the highest spring of action; it is 
indeed "the fulfilling of the law." 



The ethical concepts with which we have dealt in the 
preceding chapters have all implied the existence of rules, 
or laws, of conduct. The concept of law in ethics we now 
desire to subject to examination. 

I. Meanings of the Word Law 

The word law does not primarily suggest moral relations; 
it rather puts one in mind of a statute enacted by some au- 
thority. This jural use of the word law was in fact its or- 
iginal use in all languages. When subjected to analysis it 
is seen to contain three elements: it expresses (i) a rule of 
action, (2) prescribed by some power in authority, (3) for the 
regulation of the conduct of subjects.^ A study of the his- 
tory of the word in the jural sense here indicated would lead 
one back to the unwritten tribal customs out of which posi- 
tive codes slowly developed. 

For the present purpose it is important also to consider 
another application of the word law which resulted from the 
development of science and philosophy. Succeeding its use 
in the jural sense, came its use in the sphere of nature. With 
the growth of observation and understanding of natural 
processes, it was seen that the physical world exhibits an 
order in some degree analogous to that which prevails in a 
well-ordered, law-abiding community. There slowly de- 
veloped among the great thinkers of Greece the conception 
of a law of nature, embracing in its universal sweep both 
the physical world and man's own life. The idea of such a 

^ Cf. F. C. French, The Concept oj Law in Ethics, p. 4. 


unitary, world-wide law became a central element in ancient 
philosophy, especially in that of the Stoics.^ In modem 
times, with the development of the special sciences, the term 
law has come into wide and familiar use as a statement of the 
uniformities of sequence observable in natural events. In 
this use of the word we are not concerned with the existence 
of a will in authority imposing its rules upon nature. Only 
the first of the three elements mentioned above is here 
present. For although rehgion and metaphysics have often 
ascribed the order observable in nature to a central will and 
intelligence, of which this order is the outward manifestation, 
the scientific view rightly limits itself to a study of empiric- 
ally observed uniformities, and does not raise the question 
of their primal source or ultimate meaning. Scientific 
thought, as such, is neither rehgious nor irreligious, neither 
theistic nor atheistic. 

The concept of law in ethics bears such important rela- 
tions to law both in its jural and scientific uses that a brief 
examination of these relations may aid in understanding the 
nature of moral law. We first consider some differences 
between law in morals and in legislation. 

II. Moral Law and Jural Law 

A first point of difference is found in the fact that morality 
covers a larger field than the law. The written laws of a 
people clearly do not express with any degree of complete- 
ness their view of all that morality requires. Yet we must 
remember that all legal codes necessarily presuppose moral 
sentiment as their origin and support. They express con- 
victions concerning what ought, or ought not, to be done. 
The principle underlying legal enactments in democratic 
governments seems to be that such enactments shall meet 
the requirements of a general sentiment as to what people 

1 Cf . the well-known Hymn of Cleanthes, and numerous statements in other 
Stoic writers. 


shall be compelled, by use of force if necessary, to do or to 
abstain from doing. In an autocratic regime, the limit of 
requirement, within the will of the monarch, would seem 
to be what the people will tolerate. Morahty obviously 
covers a vastly wider field. We cannot set sharp limits to 
its demands, whereas the law is always definite in the re- 
quirements which it imposes. To secure the performance 
of extra-legal acts required by morality, the community 
brings to bear a variety of forces, political, social, and re- 
ligious, which supplement the law, and which opeiate ijore 
speedily and effectively upon the great majority of citizens 
than do the more tangible penalties imposed by courts of 
law. Although morality outruns the requirements of the 
law, the law always moves towards it as its limit. But this 
limit is not fixed; it, too, is always advancing. A growing 
moral sentiment, then, is a constant factor in the transforma- 
tion and development of legal codes. Morahty demands that 
statute law shall express as fully as possible its new insights. 
Thus, at the present time, one is compelled by law to do 
many things which in earlier centuries were either not re- 
quired at all or were demanded only by a vague sentiment 
of propriety. In every community there are many rules of 
conduct now enforced which formerly were unknown. One 
has only to think of new sanitaiy regulations and of laws 
governing the conduct of business, to find illustrations of 
such extension of positive requirement. It is impossible to 
foresee how far, in the future, legislation may be extended 
to embody a growing moral sentiment. Many matters, 
which to-day are regarded as the sole concern of the individ- 
ual, will to-morrow be seen to have such vital social conse- 
quences that they can no longer be left to the individual 

This growing demand of legislation in the interest of the 
well-being of society makes it clear that the distinction some- 
times made between morality and the law, as one of positive 


and negative requirement, cannot be maintained. This dis- 
tinction has only relative validity. The law makes many 
positive demands upon us, and morality imposes many pro- 
hibitions. Both are constructive in their aims, and in the 
case of both the negative element is only an instrument to 
further positive good. 

Again, the statement that the law aims only at control 
of external acts, whereas morality makes its demands upon 
one's innermost purposes and feelings, contains only a rela- 
tive truth. Jurisprudence is concerned with the motives 
as well as the consequences of acts, moraHty with conse- 
quences as well as motives. It is also true that the law is 
powerless to reach many forms of external conduct that are 
quite as injurious as those of which it takes cognizance. Thus 
the law offers protection against direct libel, but none at all 
against more subtle and malicious ways of "filching" from 
one one's good name. The law protects property rights and 
punishes theft, but it is often entirely powerless to prevent 
unfair business methods which may bring ruin to one's 
fortune more speedily and completely than the attempts of 
thief or burglar. Wife-beating is punishable by law, but the 
wife has no legal protection against the petty meannesses 
which may inflict greater pain and injury than an occasional 
beating. We observe also that technicalities frequently 
release one from the grasp of the law, but in no degree do 
they diminish the moral guilt of a wrong deed. Illustra- 
tions of the limitations of the law, even in the sphere of 
overt acts, can be multiplied by the reader at will. Such 
limitations are, to a large extent, inherent in any legal sys- 
tem. At its best, the law is a relatively crude instrument as 
compared with the niceties of moral requirement. Such 
must be the character of the law if it is to accomplish its 
work. It is a mechanism which must operate by fixed 
penalties, taking little account of the nature of the individual. 
Morality stands at this point in sharp contrast to the law; 


its penalties are not arbitrarily fixed, but on the contrary 
are far-reaching and intangible. 

Since legal enactments derive their authority from moral 
conviction, it will be generally agreed that, in case of conflict, 
morality has a higher authority than the law. It is not 
infrequently the case that intelligent and conscientious 
citizens regard certain laws under which they live as unjust 
or pernicious, and that they obey them only under protest, 
or from a conviction that obedience to law is in itself so im- 
portant to the general welfare that it constitutes the more 
primary obligation. It is often the case, too, that instead 
of a protest against a law which does not accord with public 
sentiment, the law is allowed by common consent to become 
a dead letter. A familiar illustration of this is found in the 
*'blue laws" dealing with Sunday observance and similar 
matters of conduct. But, given a system of laws suffi- 
ciently obnoxious to the moral sense, open revolt in obe- 
dience to conscientious convictions must result. The 
right of revolt and revolution rests upon an irreconcilable 
conflict between the legal requirement and the moral re- 

III. Moral Law and Natural Law 

Although moral law seems to bear the more obvious re- 
semblance to law in its jural sense, it is none the less true 
that the concept of law in ethics has been greatly emiched 
through the contribution of the natural sciences. Moral 
laws must also be recognized as natural laws. This will 
appear more clearly if we ask for the source of our knowl- 
edge of moral law. In answering this question suggestive 
use may be made of the method by which natural laws are 
discovered in the various departments of science. All such 
laws, it is well known, are derived directly from a study of 
the phenomena of nature itself, and can never be discovered 
elsewhere. The so-called laws of nature — ^formulae of its 


uniform action — express the characteristic activities of the 
department of nature in question. The laws of chemistry 
are an expression of the nature of the various elements as 
they display themselves in action and interaction. The laws 
of plant life which botany discovers are a transcript of the 
nature of this life, a translation of it into scientific language. 
Let us now suppose that the chemist makes use of his chemi- 
cal laws to secure certain desired results in medicine or in- 
dustry, or that the botanist employs his knowledge to give 
rules to the horticulturist for the cultivation of fruits and 
flowers. The descriptive form of the law now becomes 
normative. The "is" becomes an "ought" in the service 
of a desired and chosen end. The rules which are observed 
in the care of any plant, the requirements of Hght, heat, 
moisture, richness of soil, etc., are a statement both of the 
nature of the plant and of the conditions of its fullest per- 
fection. In a similar way all valid moral laws are derived 
from human nature, and are a statement of the conditions 
of its highest development. 

The analogy between natural and moral law suggests 
again the question whether ethics deals with what is or with 
what ought to be. As we have already seen in the introduc- 
tory chapter, it deals with both problems, but primarily 
with what is. How can any "ought" be considered apart 
from the qualities of human nature and the conditions of 
practical life? Certainly every question of duty is always, in 
the first instance, a concrete question of what "is," of cer- 
tain special facts of individual and social Hfe. If, for example, 
we ask what is the duty of a given citizen in time of war 
when the government calls for volunteers, it is clear that he 
cannot decide the question by reference to any ideal ought 
of arbitration or of perfect justice on the part of human 
governments. He is confronted with a great number of 
facts which are concrete to the core. Is the war, on the 
whole, just, and is it wise? If he cannot give an un- 


qualifiedly afi&rmative answer to these questions, does the 
duty of patriotism still require him to serve as a soldier, in 
spite of his doubts and scruples? Is his family in immediate 
and pressing need of his aid? Is he fitted to bear arms, or 
can he render other services stiU more valuable than those 
of the soldier? These and similar specific questions of fact 
must furnish the data for the right answer to the question 
of duty. The same necessary reference to specific facts will 
be found true of any other moral situation. And if we pass 
from the question of what ought to be in a particular situa- 
tion, to consider the more general and abstract ideal of 
personal Hfe and character which we ought to reahze, the 
answer must still be found in what human nature is, and what 
activities are capable of 3delding permanent satisfaction to 
beings like ourselves. The law of morality, therefore, is a 
statement of what ought to be, in view of what actually is. 
The source of all known and knowable rules of conduct we are 
compelled to find in human nature as it reveals itself in the 
social-historical order. The test of any moral principle is its 
adaptation to the real needs of life. The attempt to discover 
moral laws elsewhere than in human experience must always 
prove futile. Even if we could conceive of moral laws as 
Kterally brought down from heaven, if they were written in 
fire on the sky above us, or were "revealed" in some other 
miraculous way, they could permanently win our allegiance 
only by answering to our human needs, and thus justifying 
themselves in the spiritual experience of the race. Laws of 
conduct which might be imagined to hold sway in a shado\\y, 
angelic realm, would have no pertinency to the real problems 
of everyday human experience. This final test of fitness no 
moral code can escape; it must "find" men, if it is to com- 
mand their reverence. 

The good is, then, as Plato declared, the lawgiver. The 
world of values is the source of every principle and rule of 
conduct. The existence of a formulated law, or rule, is 


never an ultimate fact for reflection, but always points to an 
ideal of good rooted in the needs of our nature. The arti- 
ficiality of any other kind of requirement must sooner or 
later appear and render it ineffective. But the needs which 
dictate the law of conduct must be the real and permanent 
needs, otherwise each passing impulse, every clamant phy- 
sical desire, might impose its order upon the whole of our 
nature. As the whole, however, is more than the part, the 
larger and more enduring interest must control the lesser 
and more transient. The good of satisfied physical appetite, 
of whatever kind, might well give the law of conduct to man, 
if his nature were no more than such changing appetites. 
The law of his being would then dictate precisely such a 
rule of action as would bring these capacities into full play. 
By such action do animal organisms everywhere serve the 
ends of nature and fulfill their destiny. It is because these 
impulses are only elements in man's total life that "the 
law in the members" must yield to a higher law. The 
failure of moral requirement to correspond with one's im- 
mediate cravings is no reason for rejecting it. The fact that 
I may not feel incKned to exercise self-control, to improve 
my mind, to cultivate courage and self-sacrifice, or to render 
a social service, is not a sufficient ground for refusing to 
follow these courses of conduct. Asceticism has always 
embodied a relative truth. No life can realize a high degree 
of development without the strict subordination of many 
cravings which conflict with its central aim. One may go 
further and say that such development is not possible with- 
out the rigid exclusion of many things which, in themselves, 
are wholly legitimate. The Hmitations of time and strength 
do not permit the realization of all ends that are worthy. 
But the function of renunciation is negative. If it were 
made a principle of conduct and extended to the suppression 
of all particular desires and impulses, the result would be 
the entire lack of content, the loss of all interest in exist- 


ence. The moral life would be suspended in vacuo. We are 
dependent upon our various particular impulses and desires 
for the realization of all good. This holds true for all planes 
of our life, from the humblest bodily appetite up to hunger 
and thirst of the spirit. Even this hunger and thirst must 
be translated into desire for concrete forms of righteous- 
ness. Otherwise it falls into the mystic mood which 
has for its object that which is at once "the all and the 

One important characteristic of moral law is wanting in 
the laws of physical science. Moral law is consciously recog- 
nized and imposed by the seK. There is, it is true, a stage 
antedating that of genuine moraHty, when the individual 
obeys rules dictated by external authority, without full con- 
sciousness of their meaning or value. For the majority of 
men, moral laws doubtless retain to the end something of this 
external character. But such an attitude must be regarded 
as provisional and educational. The goal is always the life 
of conscious self-direction. True moraHty is autonomy; 
it is self-control, not police control. The self is here, as 
Kant insisted, both "sovereign and subject," itself imposing 
the law and rendering obedience to it. This does not mean 
that one ceases to receive guidance from external sources, 
but that the external guidance, to be genuinely moral, must 
be consciously accepted, and reafi&rmed by the seK as its 
own freely chosen principle of conduct. The frequent im- 
pression of childhood that what is morally required is simply 
the decree of a stronger will, that the law is purely external 
and arbitrary, rapidly finds correction in the experience of 
life. The apparent arbitrariness is due to the fact that the 
claims of morality anticipate our development, and for a 
time outrun our power of interpretation. Later, however, 
there comes to every reflective mind a period of ferment and 
transition, when the yoke of external authority is thrown oflf, 
and the right of every rule to claim obedience is sharply 


challenged. Nothing can escape this critical temper when 
it is once fully aroused. No principle is so sacred, none so 
deeply intrenched in long established tradition, as to be 
beyond question. Those which seem to the fully awakened 
conscience to be arbitrary or artificial will now be rejected. 
Morality thus undergoes a process of immanent criticism, 
more or less thorough, with each successive generation. But 
when the process by which the law becomes internal has been 
completed, it is reaffirmed as the expression of the individ- 
ual's own conscious will. One no longer obeys like the bond- 
man from the pressure of external authority, but with a deep 
conviction of the "excellence" of the law. A new sense of 
harmony and freedom is won. In all finer and deeper na- 
tures the law becomes a dehght — ^it is truly "written upon the 

This principle does not apply to the growing life of the 
individual alone, but may be illustrated upon the larger 
stage of historical life, where the process by which the moral 
law becomes an inward power may be traced in national 
development. Whether we turn to the Jews or to the Greeks, 
the two peoples most influential in determining our own 
moral ideals, the same increasing inwardness of morality is 
clearly discernible. In the case of the Jews, the movement is 
from obedience to laws externally imposed and "graven upon 
tables of stone," to an obedience which is rendered from an 
inner demand for rectitude, justice, and mercy. This cul- 
minates in the Christian law of love as an active principle 
dominating the whole personality. The course of develop- 
ment among the Greeks led to a similar result. The method 
of stating the moral problem was quite other than that which 
prevailed among the Jews; it was always the ideal of an ul- 
timate good to which the Greek appealed, rather than to 
that of an authoritative law. But they, too, reached, in 
the words of Green, "the conception of intrinsic value, as 
Ijdng not in anything that might happen to a man, in his 


pleasure or his good fortune, but in what he might do and 
might become." ^ 

IV. The Natural Sanctions of Morality 

If it is true that moral laws are natural laws, in the sense 
of expressing the genuine needs of human nature and the 
conditions of its highest development, it follows that one 
cannot escape the consequences inseparable from their vio- 
lation. An arbitrary law may be circumvented and its sanc- 
tions escaped, provided one is fortunate or shrewd enough 
to avoid detection by the authority imposing the law. This 
is not the case with a natural law, physical or psychical; 
the consequences are here bound up with the act, and are 
set in operation by it. This is a fact so familiar as hardly 
to require illustration. No one believes it possible to violate 
the normative rules of hygiene and escape physical ill. 
Intemperance always results in some degree of impairment 
of physical balance and vigor. In the same sense the viola- 
tion of moral law brings with it inescapable consequences 
to the moral nature. The significant facts with which one 
has to reckon here are not those which popular moral and 
religious teaching has most frequently emphasized — the 
external sanctions of one kind or another which constitute 
an obvious prudential bar against evil-doing. They are 
found rather in an inescapable deterioration of personaHty. 

Who that has closely observed moral phenomena, whether 
in himself or in others, can doubt that here is a region of 
determinately related events, and that one who yields to 
evil must pay the price in lowered moral tone and impaired 
moral development? Few thoughtful persons would ques- 
tion the existence of natural sanctions for acts of selfishness, 
of deceit, of sensual indulgence, sufficient to constitute a 
powerful motive against such conduct. The results of mod- 
ern psychological study have rendered more impressive than 

^ Prolegomena to Ethics, p. 268. 


ever the lesson of natural sanctions by exhibiting the effect 
of habit upon the psycho-physical organism. Acts of good 
and evil are seen to be "graven" upon the self with a literal- 
ness which had not been realized. A better understanding of 
the unfaihng certainty of natural sanctions in both individual 
and social life would fortify against weak indulgence. The 
traditional postponement of the truly intimate sanctions of 
conduct to a future state has often been prejudicial to 
morality. If heaven and hell seem very real to some, to 
others they seem very distant. And when there is added to 
their remoteness the possibility of some kind of adjustment 
of offences through ecclesiastical favor or other external 
process, the view becomes morally dangerous. It may be 
urged that the less obvious natural consequences of conduct, 
of which we have been speaking, will appeal with power only 
to those who already possess a deep insight into moral values. 
This may be granted without the slightest prejudice to the 
truth or importance of the principle. Emphasis upon the 
more intimate sanctions of morality does not involve neglect 
of those external sanctions which constitute the only appeal 
to the thoughtless or hardened. For such there will always 
remain those more tangible penalties which affect men in 
their physical comfort, their reputation, and their fortune. 
But the moral rank of a man must always be determined by 
his sensitiveness to the more intimate inner sanctions of 

PoHtical and social forces can be trusted to inculcate by 
their own vigorous methods a regard for the more obvious 
and essential rules of social morality. In the operation of 
present tendencies to a closer organization of society, there 
is Httle danger that the anarchy of ultra-individuaHsm will 
triumph. But I conceive it to be of the utmost importance 
for moral education that a juster emphasis be given to the 
more intimate natural sanctions of all our finer idealistic 
and altruistic strivings. What is needed is a more adequate 


psychology of moral experience which shall exhibit the 
scientific basis for the insights which at present exist in pro- 
verbial philosophy, and in that finer world-wisdom which 
speaks to us out of history, literature, and biography, as 
well as out of the living experience of the richest personaH- 
ties. Such a psychology must estabhsh for the modem world 
the value of spiritual aims — the transformation of conscious- 
ness wrought by devotion to a noble cause, the liberation 
of our petty, fearful selves from the tragedy of merely per- 
sonal interests, the serenity and health of soul begotten by 
the ardor of passion in the pursuit of its ideal. The psy- 
chology of the last decades, operating in a limited field, 
has done much to exhibit the effects of certain mental states. 
It has shown the disastrous effects upon personal achieve- 
ment and happiness of such vices as envy, jealousy, and self- 
seeking, and the beneficent results of the opposite virtues. 
It has been seen that states of ennui, despair, and pessimism 
are often the direct result of moral deficiencies; that purity 
of thought and life yields returns in serenity and cheer- 
fulness of temper; and that lust and greed are the sure seeds 
of uneasiness and dissatisfaction. 

V. Moral Scepticism; Historical Survey 

We now approach one of the oldest and most persistent 
questions concerning the nature of moral laws. Are they 
universal? Are they the same for all times and places? 
Or, in the changing conditions of human history, are they 
also subject to change? And if this latter alternative be 
accepted, how does the admission affect their vaHdity? 
Scepticism has almost invariably made its attack upon 
morality at this point. Finding evidence that moral stand- 
ards are not universal and permanent, but relative and 
changing, it has proceeded to deny their vaKdity. It has 
seen in the moral codes of different peoples and periods only 
more or less artificial conventions which had no foundation 


or fixed support in nature. The slowly but surely changing 
ideals of every race, and the varied and even contra- 
dictory standards of judgment accepted at the same time 
by different peoples, have furnished apparently powerful 
arguments to the moral sceptic. 

The thesis of moral scepticism is, then, that all so-called 
moral laws are only a rough and artificial compromise which 
renders some sort of social life possible. Such was the posi- 
tion of the Sophists, the first European thinkers to reach a 
conscious moral scepticism. Moral laws, they said, are only 
conventions (w'/^ot); they have no real existence in nature 
(eV (f)va-€i). For they had seen how nature scorns external 
limitation and control. In the words of Euripides, "Na- 
ture knows no statute;" it follows the path of its own 
victorious might. It, was easy for the Sophists, therefore, 
to transfer this view of natural forces from the external, 
physical world, to human nature, with the obvious result that 
the individual seemed to find warrant for the freest exercise 
of his native strength in any direction which his impulses 
or desires suggested. Thus might became right. To this 
thought of what was natural, and so presumably justifi- 
able, there was further added, in the case of the Sophists, 
a powerful solvent of uncritical moral faith in the widened 
outlook which they had gained over the ideas and customs of 
different races. The opposition of reHgious and moral ideas, 
the clash of social customs, and withal the unquestioning 
confidence with which each race maintained its own system 
of behefs and practices, dealt a staggering blow to the notion 
of absolute truth and absolute right. The later Greek scep- 
ticism developed this relativity with increasing fullness of 
detail, and drew the ready conclusion that it was impossible 
to reach any positive view on the subject. "Therefore the 
sceptic," says Sextus Empiricus, "seeing so great a difference 
of opinion concerning these matters, suspends judgment on 
the question whether there is anything good or bad by na- 


ture, and whether there is anything that ought to be done 
or not done." ^ 

With the dawn of modem philosophy the same note is 
again heard. Montaigne declares: "Nothing in the world 
varies so greatly as law and custom. A thing is called abom- 
inable in one place and in another is praised, as in Lacede- 
monia clever thieving was admired. Marriages between 
near relatives are strictly forbidden among us; elsewhere 
they are regarded as honorable. Murder, parricide, adultery, 
traffic in stolen goods, hcentiousness of every sort, there is 
no extreme which has not been accepted by some nation as 
common custom." ^ In a similar vein Pascal, who is a 
thorough sceptic in his distrust of reason, affirms that "there 
is hardly an idea of justice or injustice which does not change 
with the climate. Three degrees of latitude reverse all 
jurisprudence. The meridian decides the truth. Right has 
its epochs. The entrance of Saturn into the sign of the lion 
marks the origin of a certain crime. Wonderful justice 
which is bounded by a river ! Truth on this side of the Pyre- 
nees, error on that!" ^ Expressions of a similar satirical 
attitude concerning the variabiHty of moral standards 
abound in the history of thought.^ And they are not merely 
of the past. Thinkers Hke Nietzsche and Stimer have pre- 
sented an extreme individuaHsm equally destructive of the 
accepted principles of social morahty. Especially has 
Nietzsche developed in the boldest and most vigorous form 
a doctrine of individual might as constituting ethical right, 
which reproduces many of the features of the Greek enHght- 
enment of the fourth and fifth centuries B. C. "Nichts ist 
wahr, alles ist erlaubt.'^ 

^ Pyrrkonic Hypotyposes, iii, 232. 

2 Essays, An Apology for Raimond de Sebonde. 

s Thoughts, Chap. IV. 

* Cf. Leslie Stephen's account of Mandeville, who, as he says, "accepts the con- 
clusion that the taste for chastity is as arbitrary as the taste for big buttons." 
History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, Vol. II, p. 92. 


From quite another source one meets with doubts of the 
intrinsic validity of moral laws. The theologian and the 
devout religious believer often hold views which are equally 
sceptical as far as the rationaHty of moral laws in the field of 
our present hmnan experience is concerned. They would 
make the moral order, viewed by itself, chaotic or irrational. 
Were it not for supernatural sanctions, evil would often 
be good, and good evil. The devil and his followers might, 
in such a view, have the best of this world. A young man of 
intense religious conviction, but of limited moral outlook,' 
once remarked to me that, if he did not believe in a future 
life, he would "do the first thing that came into his head." ^ 
Such an attitude is clearly a radical scepticism as far as 
moraUty is concerned. It also involves a violent conflict 
between some of the most fundamental conceptions of moral- 
ity and religion. For if, on grounds extrinsic to experience, 
one accepts as final and complete a code of morals supposedly 
"revealed" with absolute authority at a given period of 
history, the long-delayed appearance, and the limited ex- 
tension of all such codes, must lead inevitably to the sorest 
pessimism concerning the actual moral career of the race. 
Were we to suppose, for example, that a true code of morality 
has been revealed to the Mohammedan world alone, or to any 
other single reHgion, how bhnd must seem the wanderings 
of the rest of humanity through the long ages of its moral 
struggle! Such partiality for a small portion of humanity 
would forbid the belief that the code in question repre- 
sents the unchanging will of an all-powerful and beneficent 
Moral Governor. On practical grounds, too, the appeal 
away from immediate and verifiable experience to theologi- 

^ Cf. the case cited by Sutherland: "I have heard a religious man say: 'If I were 
to believe that there was no hereafter, I should start and have a good time. I 
should enjoy myself, I can tell you.' Thus he expressed a cynic selfishness, betray- 
ing that in all this imiverse there were no interests worth considering but his own 
pleasures, and, moreover, revealing but a gross idea of pleasure." The Origin and 
Growth of the Moral Instinct, Vol. II, p. 40. 


cal or metaphysical hypotheses will always prove a source of 
weakness. For every doubt concerning the form or substance 
of such hypotheses, nay, every failure to estabHsh them by 
positive proof, will by so much seem to involve in uncer- 
tainty the most fundamental requirements of practical 
morality. In quite other ways must we think of the moral 
order, whether we approach it from the point of view of 
ethics or of religion. 

The difficulties involved in the question of the validity 
of moral laws are by no means those of a few isolated think- 
ers; they constantly recur in the growing intellectual life 
of the individual. A sense of the relative and changing 
character of moral codes is often one of the most powerful 
impressions of the student who, from the narrow region of 
human conduct to which his observation has hitherto been 
limited, comes to gain a larger understanding of the history 
of moral development in the race. How can we escape from 
the sea of doubt which seems at first to bear away all land- 
marks from the moral horizon? On what terms may one 
retain a living faith in moral standards? 

VI. The Answer to Scepticism 

It is clear that the answer cannot be found in a denial 
of the diversity which the historical facts present. Nor can 
we belittle the significance of such diversity. The results of 
all recent investigations only tend to make more evident the 
conflict of ethical standards, and the slow evolution of those 
ideals which are cherished to-day among the most advanced 
races. The evidence exhibited by ethnology and history is, 
as we have seen, destructive of any theory like the older 
intuitionalism, which sought to establish the existence, 
within the mind of the individual, of universal and uncondi- 
tional rules of morality. The only rules of this kind which 
can be traced in the history of human conduct prove to be 
vague and general formulae. As soon as they are filled with 


the content of actual moral behavior, this content is found 
to be extremely varied, and at times contradictory. Equally 
unsatisfactory would be the attempt to set up any detailed 
code of the present as final and perfect. We may cer- 
tainly hope for continued change and growth. It requires 
no prophetic power to see that the moral order of the future 
will contain commands and prohibitions that are not dreamed 
of by most good people of our own day. Of humanity as a 
whole it may be said, "It doth not yet appear what we shall 
be." The standard of morality must be recognized as 

We must be ready, then, to recognize, from the diversity 
and change in ideals, that moral principles cannot be uni- 
versal in the sense in which mathematical truth is universal. 
The analogy of mathematics is indeed sometimes used to 
illustrate the universality of moral principles. As the science 
of mathematics is always of objective and universal applica- 
tion, so, it is urged, morality offers principles of equally 
necessary and universal validity.^ Within certain limits 
such an analogy holds good, but these limits are soon reached. 
There are, it would seem, certain ideals which, if stated in 
sufficiently general terms, are capable of serving as prin- 
ciples of moral endeavor at all times and among all peoples. 
We may attempt to express the supreme command in such 
abstract terms as the following: cultivate a good will; reaHze 
the self; choose the highest good. Or we may affirm a wide 
recognition, as ideals of conduct, of certain of the virtues, 
such as truth-speaking, courage, temperance, and justice. 
Yet it still remains true that the moment we give to these 
formal principles any actual historical content, or seek to 
picture in detail that which they require at different stages 
of development, the universahty at once disappears. What 

^ Cf. the statement of Martineau: "The supposition of subjective morals is no 
less absurd than the supposition of subjective mathematics." We, too, hold that 
morals are not subjective, but that mathematics offers no satisfactory analogy. 


opposing conceptions of life, what diverse plans of action 
have been brought under these formulae! How differently 
have they been interpreted, and still are interpreted! Com- 
pare, for example, the specific rules of conduct accepted in 
good faith by the mediaeval monk and the modem man of 
science or leader of industry, by the aggressive occidental and 
the passive Hindu, by the savage Bushman and the repre- 
sentative of modern culture, by th^ imperial autocrat in- 
voking the divine right of kings, and the socialistic reformer 
to whom the inequaHties of the existing order seem the es- 
sence of immoraHty. The difficulty is not disposed of by 
saying that all "ought" to think and act in the same way. 
A good Chinese citizen "ought," in this view, to act like an 
American or European, only he is not aw^are of the factl 
Surely even the Chinaman ought to act, as he must if he is 
to act at all, upon the knowledge and the ideals which he 
actually possesses. 

The analogy of mathematical principles cannot, then, 
be pressed without doing violence to the facts of moraHty. 
Neither the developing life of the individual nor that of 
society can be treated in this way. A juster analogy, aheady 
suggested, is found in the rules of hygiene as developed 
from the principles of physiology. Although certain funda- 
mental physiological processes remain the same at all stages 
of life, there is a sufficient change to necessitate a radically 
different regimen at different periods. What is hygienically 
good for an infant is not required for an adult, nor are the 
same rules of exercise and diet suited to youth and old age. 
Following the suggestion afforded by the growing organism, 
we may regard the changes in moral codes as the necessary 
expressions of a developing human society which becomes 
progressively aware of the true needs and values of life. 
The crude, undeveloped life of a primitive people must 
inevitably express itself in a very imperfect system of moral- 
ity. Such a system may even be said to be the normal form 


of its life. To deny it this crude expression, would be to 
refuse it any form of life whatever. Imperfect moral stand- 
ards, as they appear in the course of history, are therefore 
justified, since higher ones would neither be comprehended 
nor in any way answer existing needs. The extreme em- 
phasis upon the war-like virtues in primitive society, for 
example, is justified in view of the fact that the absence of 
these qualities would have meant extermination or abject 
slavery. So, at present, the chief moral justification, in the 
case of any given nation, for military equipment and serv- 
ice — an enormous drain upon civilization — is the impossibil- 
ity of securing, thus far, a general consent to the principle 
of arbitration in any thorough-going form. 

As a moral code is always a formulation of an ideal of hii- 
man welfare, the code changes as the conception of human 
welfare changes. A people which conceives its good to consist 
in the simple gratification of physical needs, or in military 
glory, or in the refinements of material comfort, will, in 
each case, frame its moral rules in harmony with its ideals 
of satisfaction. And just as far as it is felt that these goods 
are unsatisfying, there will be a demand for a higher code, a 
code which more adequately expresses the ideal of that 
upon which man should set his heart. It is necessary, there- 
fore, to distinguish between the universality and the validity 
of moral codes. As long as validity is made to rest upon uni- 
versality, morality is always in danger. Quite different is 
the validity which springs from the conception of a progres- 
sive standard. This standard recognizes that morality is 
strictly organic to the needs of developing life, but it does 
not mean that a standard is wanting at any stage of the pro- 

The belief that the standard of morality is progressive 
is far more precious than the belief that it is universal in the 
form of its requirements. Strict universality, even were it 
compatible with the facts, could be purchased only at the 


price of a static moral life. This would destroy hope of a 
better order, and would take away the high challenge, the 
risk of endeavor, without which the moral struggle for causes 
of worth would lose its savor. Growth is more to be 
desired than fixity, the ardor of pursuit than passive pos- 
session. Why should we not cherish for the race the same 
ideal of growth which we necessarily apply to the life of the 
individual? One points the child to a noble character and 
says: "Behold this man, so wise, so devoted to worthy ends, 
so helpful to his fellows; this is what you ought to become." 
At the same time the immediate realization of this higher 
type of life is recognized as an utter impossibility. The 
child must still think and feel and act as a child. But the 
ideal is none the less one towards which, with gromng knowl- 
edge and strength, it may progressively advance. 

To infer from the historical progress of morahty that all 
codes are equally good, or that one may safely reject the con- 
science of one's own day and race, is a conclusion wholly 
without warrant. The rejection of a higher type of morahty 
for a lower is a significant confession of one's place in the 
moral scale. A man could not accept the code of a barbaric 
people without thereby pronouncing himself essentially a 
barbarian. And one cannot choose those standards which 
the most enlightened experience has rejected, without a de- 
scent along the path up which the race has slowly strug- 
gled. Every well-established moral convention embodies 
the experience of the past, and has a right to our alle- 
giance until a better way is discovered. The estabHshed rules 
of conduct, being organic to the needs of life, are ways in 
which men are able to live in social relations. That we can 
live equally well by disregarding them requires, in each 
case, thorough demonstration. The individual is, therefore, 
happily not compelled to test by personal experience all ideals 
of life and all modes of conduct. As we enter into the 
inheritance of a vast body of scientific knowledge which has 


been slowly won, and as we are content to accept its estab- 
lished results without personal test, so we also enter upon a 
heritage of moral wisdom, slowly and painfully won, which 
it were folly to disregard. No one, unless seeking death, 
takes active poisons or invites the presence of well-known 
germs of disease. Here the lessons of the past suffice. Com- 
mon prudence dictates to the individual a similar caution 
in the moral sphere. The accumulated experiences of the 
past ought to count heavily against any impulsive desire to 
experiment in morahty, or to test personally all forms of 

There is a modem gospel the great commandment of 
which is, "Get experience." The apostles of this teaching 
make it clear that one need not be too particular about the 
kind of experience, provided it is varied and intense. Now 
it is doubtless true that the desirable kind of Hfe involves 
wealth of experience. But what we insist upon is that the 
winning of experience must be governed by principle. To 
get experience without regard to the laws of value is no 
less unprofitable than to buy and sell commodities on the 
market without any knowledge of their price. The devotee 
of "experience" may also be reminded that there are in- 
herent difficulties in the process. One cannot have all 
kinds of experience, simply because certain experiences are 
contradictory, the one of the other; in practice, as well as 
in logic, they exclude each other. I cannot have the experi- 
ence of being a law-abiding citizen and a thief, a servant 
of ideal causes and a pander to vice, a lover of enlighten- 
ment and an obscurantist. And should I attempt to ex- 
perience all these modes of life in succession, there are grave, 
not to say insuperable, obstacles in effecting a transition 
from one to the other. It is also to be remembered that the 
deliberate choice not to have a given experience, is itself 
an experience — an experience which, for the total meaning 
of life, may be one of the best and richest. 


It cannot be denied, of course, that moral experiments 
must sometimes be tried. In this sense the laws which at- 
tempt to deal with intemperance and other forms of vice are 
experimental, and it is clear, from the very imperfect success 
of such legislation hitherto, that much more must be done 
in this direction. These experiments, however, should rest, 
like those of physical science, upon a basis of already ac- 
quired knowledge, and should be surrounded with all pos- 
sible safe-guards. They are, in fact, commonly free from the 
danger, which exists in the case of the individual, of being 
the result of irrational impulse or prurient curiosity. But 
unhappily, in the sphere of individual life, any wide observa- 
tion of men must lead the candid student to recognize that 
there are those with whom the experience of the past counts 
for little, those in whom evil desire is only checked by the 
bitter fruit of evil deeds. These are of the prodigal type, 
for whom "the tigers of wrath" are stronger than "the 
horses of instruction." But one must be prepared to pay 
a heavy price for the persistent, thorough-going folly that 
may lead at last to wisdom.^ 

VII. Objectivity of the Moral Law 

The thesis of the sceptic assumes different forms. At one 
time he attacks the universality of moral law, and, from the 
fact that universality is wanting, he infers that validity 
is also wanting. But, as we have seen, such an inference is 
wholly unwarranted. As well affirm that, because the rules 
of health for the child are not the same as those for the adult, 
there are, therefore, no positive laws of health for the child 
whatever! A progressive standard has, at every stage, its 
positive requirements. But the sceptic, although driven 
from his first position, is not yet satisfied; he is inclined to 
return to the charge and to make his attack at another 
point. Morality, he tells us, is subjective; it exists in the 

1 Cf. Taylor, The Problem of Conduct, p. 247, and notes. 


minds of individuals, and has no objective existence what- 
ever. Let us consider the question in this form. 

The attack of the sceptic at this point must be fairly- 
met. We admit the necessity of showing that morality is, 
in a true sense, objective. Such genuine objectivity is es- 
sential to our reverence for it. We must think of moral law 
as standing outside the immediate stream of consciousness 
with its changing moods and passions. No one has felt 
the meaning of morality who does not regard its laws as 
august and supreme, having the right to command his whole 
being. Such supremacy it could never have for one who 
imagined that he could make or unmake it at will, that 
"there's nothing good or ill but thinking makes it so." 

In answering the sceptic, a possible confusion of thought 
concerning the meaning of subjective and objective, as 
applied to morahty, must, first of all, be made clear. It is 
obvious that our ideas about moral truth, as about all other 
truth, are our own ideas; they exist in our minds, and are, 
in this sense, subjective. Although they are social in their 
origin and structure, they are always found in the minds of 
individuals, just as are all ideas about the laws of the physical 
world. But this does not affect their true objectivity any 
more than it affects the objectivity of physical laws, whether 
of our bodily life or of the external world. No one imagines 
that these physical laws are merely subjective. They are 
recognized as not depending upon our caprice, desire, or 
taste. Rather do we think of them as having a real existence 
outside of our minds. They "are what they are, and the 
consequences of them will be what they will be." 

Where, then, are we to look for the real existence of the 
moral law? In what way is its objectivity to be established? 
The answer which uncritical thought makes to this question 
is familiar. Appealing to the analogy of jural law, it finds all 
moral requirements in some code, more or less completely 
formulated, which proceeds from a supreme Moral Governor. 


If it rejects the cruder conception of a "table of laws" au- 
thoritatively revealed to man, it still refers the objective 
existence of morality to the mind of such a Law-giver. But 
even though we admit the existence of all moral principles 
in such a mind, we are obviously helpless to draw directly 
from this source a single precept or a single rule of conduct. 
On the contrary, w^e infer the existence in this mind of cer- 
tain principles because we find them vindicated in human 
experience. Discovering here what is good, men ascribe 
it to a divine source, and complete the circle by bringing it 
back into human Hfe. 

We are not, however, thrown back upon subjectivity or 
scepticism because we are unable to discover moral law in 
an immediate knowledge of the Divine Mind. Moral law 
is just as real as human nature, within which it has its ex- 
istence. Strange, indeed, if man alone of all living beings 
could realize his highest welfare in disregard of the princi- 
ples of his own nature! And this nature, we must remember, 
is what it is — is always concrete and definite. Indeed the 
sceptic nowhere else assumes the absence of principles 
through obedience to which the highest form of life can be 
attained. He does not assume that a lily, which requires 
abundant moisture and rich soil, could grow on an arid 
rock, nor that a polar bear could flourish in a tropical jungle. 
No less certain than would be the failure of such attempts, 
must be the failure of man to realize, in disregard of the laws 
of his being, the values of which he is capable. The struct- 
ure of man's nature, as conscious and spiritual, grounds laws 
just as real as those of his physical Hfe, and just as truly ob- 
jective. To use again the analogy we have suggested, 
whether or not I feel like obeying a law of hygiene makes no 
difference to its existence or validity. When thirsty, I may 
be tempted to drink water containing the germs of typhoid, 
and I may find immediate satisfaction in the cooHng draught. 
But my desire and my satisfaction make no difference to the 


result. There remains the hard, inescapable fact of the 
danger of disease. As httle can I escape the results of moral 
evil, which, with equal certainty, has inevitable consequences 
in my own nature. 

If the sceptic finally asserts that his own nature is so unique 
as to require a moral regimen fundamentally different from 
that of his fellows, the fact of such a degree of uniqueness 
may be challenged. This is commonly the claim, not of 
maturity, but of youth, when, coming to consciousness of new 
desires and capacities, it imagines that no other being has had 
like experiences. But age has learned better; it knows that 
it would be impossible to attain the goal of life in disregard 
of social factors-^and psychological laws that are universal. 
In practice, however, the most extreme individualist does 
not assume that he could break completely with the mores of 
his people, and hve in isolation. His revolt always reduces 
to the charge that, at some points, the existing order could 
be improved. If he has gained a deeper and clearer under- 
standing of this order than his fellows, he may render the 
service of the reformer. If he be a prophet or seer, he may 
make the contribution of one of those great personaHties 
who, at rare intervals, appear upon the stage of history. 

What the youthful sceptic often demands is an infallible 
moral code. He asks for a degree of completeness and 
definiteness in knowledge that are not attainable. With 
something both of noble idealism and of rebellious unreason 
in his spirit, he revolts against the imperfect. Because he 
cannot have absolute certainty, he scorns all degrees of 
certainty; because he cannot have all he desires, he takes 
nothing; because an institution or code does not yield perfect 
results, it must be utterly destroyed. But one who is in 
such a mood may well be reminded that the fact that an 
institution or code does not work perfectly is no proof that 
it should be abolished, or that a different institution or code 
would 3deld better results. On what ground could we expect 


a perfect moral order among imperfect beings? Yet the re- 
volt of youthful ideahsm may be turned to good account. 
"Man sollte die Traume seiner Jugend hehalten." Let youth 
only remember that each step forward must be bought at 
the price of a deeper understanding of life. 

If, finally, it be asked what is to decide ultimately be- 
tween conflicting ideals and codes of morality, our answer 
must be that the historical progress of civilization is doubtless 
the court of last appeal. ^^Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltger- 
icht." The long course of racial experience, forever putting 
to test opposing ideals of hfe, must be left to sift the wheat 
from the chaff. Doubtless this slow grinding of the "mills of 
the gods " hardly suits our eager desire to discover a perfect 
moral order, and to see it immediately triumphant. But we 
must believe that by inherent strength the best will survive. 
This behef is not to be confused with the doctrine that 
"might makes right;" it is rather that, in the long run, 
morality is a life-preserving force. Those ideals which, in 
the light of the most adequate experience, fail to meet hu- 
man needs will, we may hope, be slowly rejected. Those 
that beget in society weakness and decay will perish with 
their representatives. Those, too, which keep peoples in 
permanent stagnation will be forced to reconstruction, unless 
they are to be dominated by more progressive types. Con- 
stant readjustment is the condition of all life, which main- 
tains itself and increases by the assimilation of new elements. 
This process, too, is the "fountain of youth" for man's 
spiritual life. In it each succeeding generation must bathe 
for renewal. 



The preceding discussions have implied the possibiHty of 
conformity, more or less complete, to an ideal of conduct and 
character. They have assumed that the claims of duty and 
the requirements of the moral law can, in some measure, be 
met in the daily life of men. The question of freedom, which 
logically might seem to claim precedence as being funda- 
mental to any treatment of the problems of morality, must 
now receive attention. The postponement of its treatment 
may be justified in view of its complexity and the advantage 
of approaching it with some knowledge of the general field 
of ethical thought. No problem of ethics has been the centre 
of more fierce debate. And if modem discussions of the ques- 
tion show a growing tendency towards harmony of opinion, 
the harmony is far from complete; dissenting voices are still 

I. Statement of the Problem 

The controversy concerning the problem of freedom, in 
modem times, hes chiefly between two opposing theories, 
commonly known as determinism and indeterminism. The 
deterministic view maintains that all events in man's mental 
life, equally with events in the physical world, must be con- 
ceived as antecedently conditioned, as having their origin 
in preceding events of which they are the necessary sequence. 
AppHed to conduct, this means that any act, whether good or 
bad, is the necessary result of the inner nature and outward 
circumstances, in other words, of the total character and 
environment of the actor. One's character and environ- 



ment are regarded, by the determinist, as the product of con- 
ditioning forces which reach back in an unending chain of 
succession. This position also means that if we had a full 
knowledge of the antecedents of any act, as in practice of 
course we cannot have, we should understand the act, and 
should see why the act is just what it is. Nothing in conduct 
would then appear blind or a matter of chance. 

The indeterminist opposes this view with the contention 
that there are events in the mental and moral hfe which are 
not explicable by reference to such a net-work of necessary 
relations. These events spring immediately and sponta- 
neously from the will, and appear in human experience as a 
strictly new creation. On this theory, the will can form a 
decision without reference to the strength of the competing 
motives. It is possible that, given precisely the same ante- 
cedent psychical conditions and the same outward circum- 
stances in two cases, the resulting choices will not be the 
same.^ Such acts of free will, in the words of Lotze, "could 
just as well have been left unperformed." ^ As undetermined 
and causeless, there was no sufficient reason why they were 
performed. In the last analysis, therefore, there is an ele- 
ment in human conduct which, from its very nature, and not 
merely from the limitations of our knowledge, must forever 
baffle explanation and be declared not only inexplicable and 
mysterious, but also strictly a matter of chance.^ 

The following discussion is an attempt to interpret freedom 
and responsibility in harmony with the view that mental, 
as well as physical events, are determinately related. Only 
in this way, it is believed, can the interests of scientific 

^ Mr. Rashdall illustrates the situation by the hypothetical case of twin brothers, 
"endowed originally with absolutely identical natures, and exposed from the mo- 
ment of birth to exactly the same social and other influences." According to the 
indeterminist, "one of them might have become a saint, and the other a scoundrel." 
Theory of Good and Evil, Vol. II, p. 303. 

2 Lotze, Outlines of Practical Philosophy, p. 35. 

* Cf. the statement of James, "The Dilemma of Determinism," The Will to Be^ 
lieve and other Essays, p. 145. 


reflection and of practical morality both be secured. There 
can be no doubt that with the development of science and its 
successful extension to ever widening spheres, it more and 
more resists limitation to physical phenomena, and seeks to 
enter the domain of human conduct. Those sciences which 
deal with human activity, such as psychology, ethics, econom- 
ics, and history, are all compelled to assume, as the condition 
of their existence and progress, that the actions of men, 
highly complex and varied as these are, lie within the series 
of necessary relations. As long as our thought deals with 
any series of events, it must conceive them as thus related. 
To cease to view them in this way is to cease to think them 
at all in any intelligible sense of the term. For the very idea 
of necessary relation in events, familiarly called the causal 
law, is a universal law of thought. Though the individual 
comes to the full consciousness of this law slowly through 
long experience, this law, when won, is of universal and 
necessary validity in the explanation of events. We cannot 
here discuss the problem of causality in metaphysics, but 
must limit ourselves to the statement that causaUty, in the 
sense in which we hold it to be a necessity of thought, means 
that we invariably seek the reason, or ground, for the oc- 
currence of any new event in what has gone before. "An 
absolutely new beginning, unconnected with the past, is 
unthinkable." ^ 

Granting the universality of this principle for most events, 
the indeterminist objects that there are events in human 
conduct, which, from their very nature, cannot be thought 
at all in relation to antecedent events. And, further, if 
the attempt to connect moral choices with their antecedents 
works havoc in morality, must not the attempt be aban- 
doned? Life, it is urged, is more than science, and moral 
interests superior to the categories of thought. In answer 
to this objection it may be repHed that, if we foimd any 

1 Rashdall, The Theory of Good and Evil, Vol. II, p. 337- 


theoretical interest permanently at war with a moral in- 
terest, we should doubtless be compelled to sacrifice the one 
or the other. Either the scientific impulse or the moral im- 
pulse would be surrendered, according to the preponderance 
in the individual of the one interest or the other. But such 
a solution implies a permanent and intolerable duahsm in our 
thinking, not to be accepted save as a last resort. Let us 
rather see if the two interests are not compatible — nay, if in 
the unity of our nature it may not be true that this theoret- 
ical impulse to think our conduct in a series of necessary 
relations also best serves our moral interests. The case may 
be stated as follows: theoretical interests seem to us clearly 
to demand the hypothesis of determinism; if moral interests 
are compatible with this hypothesis, we are reasonably 
bound to accept it; and if, further, moral interests should 
prove to be incompatible with indeterminism, the case for 
determinism becomes conclusive. 

II. Kantian Dualism 

The attempt has frequently been made to hold both theo- 
ries at the same time by a metaphysical doctrine which ad- 
mits determination within the empirical sphere, and rele- 
gates freedom to a different sphere, to which the categories 
of science do not apply. The classic form of the doctrine is 
that of Kant, who distinguished between the "sensible" 
and "intelligible" worlds. In the phenomenal world of 
sense experience, the law of causaHty is of universal vaHdity. 
Here freedom is impossible, for the "empirical character" 
follows with necessity the natural order. But man is, at the 
same time, a citizen of an "intelligible world," the world 
of "things-in- themselves." Through this higher citizen- 
ship he can escape the reign of natural law and necessity. 
Not here, then, in the empirical world, are we free; for 
here, all impulses, feelings, and ideas are strictly deter- 
mined; but yonder, in the eternal world of reason, our 


freedom is exercised in a timeless, undetermined choice of 

Apart from the philosophical difficulties of such a dualism, 
which cannot be considered here, it is ethically unsatisfying. 
It identifies freedom in the last resort with indeterminism, 
and excludes any other interpretation of it. It also disre- 
gards the fact that our moral task lies primarily in the em- 
pirical world, the world of temporal choices and earthly 
experiences. That man is rational, and is not limited to mere 
sense impressions, is a fact of profound import for his free- 
dom. But to found a doctrine of freedom upon this fact 
is quite different from creating an impassable gulf between 
different elements of human nature, or from denying that 
the higher, rational life has a mechanism through which 
alone the freedom which is possible for us can be attained. 
The attempt to rescue freedom by impeaching causal de- 
termination is an attempt to "climb up some other way," 
and to escape the ordered processes of the moral life. 

III. The Natural History of Indeterminism 

It is doubtless true that popular, uncritical thought is 
largely indeterministic, and that only slowly, with the 
growth of scientific reflection, has determinism won its 
present measure of recognition. What is the explanation 
of this fact? If an extended answer cannot be here at- 

^ It is from this latter point of view only that Kant can be called an indeterminist. 
There is another side to his thought, in which freedom appears as rational determi- 
nation by the idea of duty. See, for example, the interesting note in the Preface 
to the Metaphysical Elements of Ethics, Abbott's trans., p. 292. Here it is clearly 
recognized that there are degrees of freedom, and that the highest degree is that 
at which one is completely determined, or "forced," by the idea of duty. 

A similar dualism appears as an element in certain forms of modern idealism, ac- 
cording to which all mental processes are necessarily viewed by psychology as de- 
termined; but the interpretations of psychology are special constructions for scien- 
tific purposes, and have no validity for the moral hfe. See Miinsterberg, Psychology 
and Life, pp. 7-9, and 221-222. For a dififerent statement of this double-aspect 
theory see Royce, The Spirit of Modern Philosophy, pp. 428-434; also, The World 
and the Individual, 2nd Series, pp. 323-331. 


tempted, there are still certain historical aspects of human 
thinking which enable one to understand why the inner life 
of man should long be regarded as an exception, perhaps the 
sole exception, to the principle of necessary determination. 
The attitude of primitive man towards nature is especially 
instructive, as is also the history of the development of 
scientific ideas. 

It is well known that primitive thought is animistic. It 
peoples the world, animate and inanimate, with spirits akin 
to man's own. It regards all activities as due to a con- 
sciousness residing in the individual objects in connection 
with which these activities appear. The gushing forth of 
fountains and the flowing of streams, the restless movement 
of the ocean, the blowing of the wind, the life and growth 
of plants, are all conceived as due to the presence of Hving 
spirits analogous to that which man finds within himself. 
All events, therefore, occur with a kind of incalculable spon- 
taneity and caprice. "The wind bloweth where it Hsteth." 
No idea of uniformities in nature has yet arisen. Just as 
the savage finds himself driven, now to this deed, now to 
that, by inner instincts and impulses of whose origin and 
meaning he is ignorant, so he conceives it to be in nature. 
Its processes are equally inexpKcable, and equally wanting 
in any principle of unity which binds them all into a related 
and harmonious whole. Primitive rehgion is a monument 
in evidence of such a mode of thought. To appease the forces 
of nature and render them favorable is a central aim of 
early religious rites and worship. In the attainment of this 
end the worshipper uses the same means which he recognizes 
as effective in human relations, the same indeed by which 
another might win his own favor — ^gifts, entreaty, expressions 
of love and honor. 

But with the growth of observation and reflection there 
slowly arises the idea of general processes and uniformities 
in nature. The countless objects of sense experience are 


grouped together. Classifications, which naturally precede 
logical explanation, are made. Winds and waters are no 
longer isolated and independent beings, but the expression 
of more universal beings or forces. The immobility and 
relative changelessness of inorganic nature made it easier 
to apply causal explanation first in this sphere. The stone 
moves only when force is applied; water does not run up 
hill, but forever seeks a lower level. The realms of plant 
and animal Hfe, however, offer a greater mystery. In the 
plant, man confronts the mystery of life in its simplest form. 
And the plant that springs from the tiny seed and grows 
into forms of use and beauty, does not so obviously obey 
the rule of necessity, nor so clearly fall under the operation 
of general laws. Its growth takes place mysteriously, in ways 
he does not understand, not by mere aggregation, hke the 
heap of sand or stones, but by an inner, hidden process of 
assimilation. It was not without a sense of this mystery 
that the ancient Roman invoked the many deities that he 
conceived as presiding over the life of the growing plant. 

Still more mysterious and akin to his own nature was the 
animal kingdom. The beast with its sure instinct and great 
activity was man's nearest rival, often outwitting him by its 
cunniiig, or overpowering him by its strength. Here was a 
force that surely knew no law, but was a law unto itseff, turn- 
ing and changing subtly through invisible inner processes, 
not through external compulsions. This internalizing and 
compHcating of the mechanism of action seemed completely 
to baffie explanation. The wide-spread phenomena of animal 
worship offer striking evidence that, for long centuries, man 
regarded animal conduct as a mystery to be revered rather 
than as a problem to be explained. Only with relatively ripe 
reflection did he come to regard all the wonders of animal life 
as lying completely within the realm of determined phenomena 
and offering no exception to the operation of the causal law. 

Finally, man comes to himself. Though the race, like the 



child, is long occupied with external things, it at last turns 
to reflect upon itself. As man recognizes the wonders of his 
own being, his growing mastery of nature, his relations with 
his fellows, his appreciation of truth, beauty, and goodness, 
he finds in himself the crowning marvel and mystery of the 
universe. It is the one realm that defies explanation, the 
fortress where blind, uncaused. events have made their sure 
retreat. But even here science has slowly penetrated. 
Little by little it has extended its empire over this so com- 
plex and varied field, and has subjected its phenomena to 
examination and explanation. The principle of necessary 
connection has been the guiding thread by which man has 
slowly escaped from many a fearsome labyrinth of error and 
superstition. Consider, as a single example, the beneficent 
results which have followed the application of causal explana- 
tion to the facts of mental pathology. Insanity in all its 
forms has been taken from the realm of an inexplicable 
demonology, with the saving of untold cruelty ancf sufitering. 
Witchcraft and other baneful delusions have been rendered 
impossible among intelligent people by the march of scien- 
tific explanation, and even the higher spiritual life of man is 
seen to unfold itself in no arbitrary and capricious way, but 
to depend upon antecedent and conditioning events. The 
last few decades have witnessed a most significant effort to 
discover the laws which prevail in those profound reHgious 
experiences which have seemed the pecuHar realm of the 
inexplicable. We must recognize, to be sure, that even if 
the task of causal explanation were fully achieved, mystery 
in a sense would still remain. Such mystery is seen in the 
growth of the tiniest seed and even in the movement of every 
atom, as well as in all the ranges of conscious fife. But we 
regard it as a mystery inviting inquiry, not a blank unknow- 
able defying investigation. The clear comprehension of the 
relations of all events in their ordered sequences would in 
no wise destroy their marvel or their worth. 


Thus briefly, and in broad outline, may be traced the 
growth of the realm of scientific knowledge, which is the 
realm of necessarily conditioned events. The history of this 
development exhibits at the same time the natural history 
of indeterminism. Indeterminism is the last stand made 
against the advance of scientific conceptions. In the words 
of Sidgwick: "The belief that events are determinately 
related to the state of things immediately preceding them, 
is now held by all competent thinkers in respect of all kinds 
of occurrences except human volitions. It has steadily 
grown both intensively and extensively, both in clearness 
and certainty of conviction and in universality of application, 
as the human mind has developed and human experience 
has been systematized and enlarged. Step by step in suc- 
cessive departments of fact conflicting modes of thought 
have receded and faded, until at length they have vanishec 
everywhere, except from this mysterious citadel of Will. 
Everywhere else the belief is so firmly established that some 
declare its opposite to be inconceivable: others even main- 
tain that it always was so. Every scientific procedure as- 
sumes it: each success of science confirms it." ^ And is not 
the fear that the method of science, if admitted here, will 
work destructively, as groundless as the view that science 
destroys the wonder or beauty of nature? 

IV. Points of Agreement between Determinists and 

As has been already suggested, both determinism and in- 
determinism are attempts to interpret the facts of the moral 
Kfe. We may even say that both recognize freedom, in 
some sense, as a factor in this life. The real difference is a 
difference in the explanation of a fact admitted by both. 
Both views of course agree at the outset in rejecting that, 
crude and uncritical view which would make freedom con- 

^ Methods of Ethics, pp. 62-63. 


sist in the power to do whatever one may desire, to work 
one's pleasure without let or hindrance both in nature and 
in society. Quite obviously such freedom exists nowhere 
outside of fairy-land. With all his mastery over nature 
how quickly man finds barriers which he cannot pass! 
Even though he is victorious for a little time, he is soon 
compelled to surrender life itself as a tribute to the might 
of her forces. No less certainly does society set sharp Hmits 
to the play of personal will. Most men are so thoroughly 
the creatures of their social environment that they never 
seem to transcend it sufficiently to rise into a genuinely 
individual existence. And when we look within, we clearly 
discern the limits of possible activity set by our own nature, 
a nature not of our choosing, but having its roots far back in 
the life of the family and of the race. Even the desire to 
become this or that type of personality is seen to have its 
source in inherited tendencies. 

"In vain our pent wills fret. 

And would the world subdue. 
Limits we did not set 
Condition all we do; 
Bom into life we are, and life must be our mould. 

"Bom into life! man grows 

Forth from his parents' stem, 
And blends their bloods, as those 

Of theirs are blent in them; 
So each new man strikes root into a far fore-time. 

"Bom into life! we bring 

A bias with us here. 
And, when here, each new thing 

Affects us we come near; 
To tunes we did not call, our being must keep chime." ^ 

These facts are so universally admitted that there may be 
said to be no controversy about them among intelligent 

^ Matthew Arnold, Empedocles on Aetna. 


people. The indeterminist frankly admits that the field of 
iindetermined choice is narrowly limited, and that determin- 
ism applies without reserve to the larger part of human 
:onduct. His contention reduces, in the last analysis, to the 
laim that there are cases in which, of two alternative 
:ourses, he can choose either the one or the other, independ- 
ently of that self which all the past has fashioned; conse- 
quently even a perfect knowledge of this self, prior to the 
fnoment of choice, would not give to an observer the key 
to the actual decision. The determinist insists, on the con- 
:rary, that just this choice here and now depends upon the 
character of the self, including all its potentiaKties, and that 
I full understanding of this self would also involve an under- 
standing of every choice. To illustrate the narrowing of 
:he problem, we may imagine the agent as standing at the 
center of a circle; radii extending to the circumference rep- 
resent paths of action; through the influence of forces within 
ind without, the general direction of the agent's movement 
determined. The question is whether his choice of one 
ipecial path rather than another is also determined. It is 
lever a question of absolute freedom. 

The fact of dehberation and choice is further admitted 
3y both parties to the controversy. But this psychological 
process, with which everyone is famihar, is so significant 
"or the problem in hand as to require some attention. As 
;ar as any so-caUed choice is not a matter of conscious de- 
iberation, but springs from instincts or unpulses that work 
mthin us blindly, there can of course be no difference of 
bpinion. Acts having their source in the play of such in- 
stinctive forces are admitted to be determined by the nature 
3f the inherited instincts in interaction with external stimuH. 

V. The Mechanism of Choice 

Moral choice with which we are here concerned takes place 
[only when there is conscious deliberation in the presence of 


two or more conflicting motives, that is, ideas of ends with 
their accompanying emotions. The motive of conscious 
choice properly includes both the idea of an end and the 
accompanying emotions, which are sometimes said to be the 
real motive, or "moving" element, in conduct. The separa- 
tion of the two factors, however, is the result of a false ab- 
straction. The ideational and affective elements vary in 
prominence; now one and now the other occupies the fore- 
most place, but both are always present in a moral acto 
Even "blind" passion is never completely blind; its expres- 
sion follows the path to some perceived end. And, on the 
other hand, the "coldest" idea that we entertain kindles 
feeling enough to secure for it some measure of interest and 
attention. 1 The larger portion of conduct is obviously given 
over to habit. One chooses a line of effort or an end to be 
attained, and, through a wise economy of nature, the details 
follow as a matter of course. But in any proper act of 
choice there is always a pause, longer or shorter, during which 
the possible choices are held in mind and compete for the 
mastery over us, each with the measure of attraction which it 
possesses for us. Strength of motive in this contest is not 
to be measured by any merely external standard, but always 
with reference to the self at the moment of choice. It is 
this self which gives to each motive its measure of strength. 
Or, more exactly, the given motive, which is one of the many 
activities constituting the total self, depends for its strength 
upon the nature of that total self. 

Not a little of the prejudice against determinism is due to 
the impression that it makes the moral agent a "victim" 
of external and independent forces or ideas. A true determin- 
ism is, on the contrary, an auto-determinism, viewing all 
thoughts, sentiments, and preferences as activities of the 
self. The stronger motive which, as the determinist main- 

^ For an attempted separation of these elements see Taylor, The Problem of Con' 
duct, p. 95. 


tains, finally claims our allegiance is therefore the one which 
finds the most within us, or is thought by us with the most 
intensity, rather than the one which, to a disinterested, ob- 
jective spectator, appears most attractive. What is an 
overwhelmingly powerful motive to one person may, as we 
well know, present no attraction whatever to another; it 
may even chill and repel him. The only meaning which 
can be given to the statement that in any particular case 
I have acted from the weaker motive, is that I have chosen 
that course which, in the view of others, has the least in its 
favor, or which, from my own subsequent experience, I 
condemn as ill-advised or foolish. No real exception to the 
triumph of the stronger motive is offered by those cases 
in which an action, attractive to one's sensuous desires or to 
any natural impulse, is rejected for a call of duty which, 
by contrast with the proposed satisfaction, seems at the first 
glance unattractive, and perhaps even forbidding. The 
superior strength of the moral demand in such a case lies 
sometimes in its congruity with an unanalyzed feeling of 
duty, deeply rooted in instinct and habit, and sometimes in 
its agreement with the manifest requirements of our nature 
as a whole, and our total life interests. But the idea that a 
weaker motive has triumphed over a stronger is corrected, 
upon reflection, by the consideration that, at the time of 
action, my judgment, taste, disposition, and character were 
such that the chosen act did in fact appeal to me more 
powerfully than any alternative act. And what can be said 
of this judgment, taste, disposition, and character which 
thus determined my choice? Are these factors the expression 
of a power of the self to affirm or deny in ways which intro- 
duce a strictly uncaused element into conduct? Rather, as 
we shall see, must we believe that these factors are nothing 
strictly self-created, evoked out of nothing at the summons 
of the will, but that they are the result of the total past life 
of the self. 


The choice, in case of conscious deliberation, however it 
may fall, cannot be explained, or even thought, except as the 
result of the antecedent and determining motive. The 
"why" of an act necessarily implies this determinate rela- 
tion. If there be no "why" of a human action, the action is 
confessedly given over to the realm of the inconceivable. 
"The determinist maintains that the question: 'Why did this 
man act in this particular manner? ' is never a foolish ques- 
tion, although we may in any particular instance be ignorant 
of the answer. He assumes that there is always some cause or 
causes that can account for the result. The 'free-willist,' on 
the other hand, maintains that no complete answer to such 
a question can be given, not because we are ignorant, but be- 
cause human actions are not necessarily the results of causes. 
If we ask him: 'Why did this man elect to put his hand in his 
pocket and take out a copper for the beggar on the street?' 
he is capable of answering: 'Just because he did.' ... It 
amounts to asserting that, in so far as human actions are 
'free,' they have no cause whatever, and the search for an ex- 
planation of their occurrence is wholly futile." ^ 

Certainly a choice which has no ground, no determining 
motive, cannot be a reasonable choice. And are we not as 
surely compelled to regard a reasonable choice as deter- 
mined by its motive as we are to consider the moving billiard- 
ball as the cause of the motion of the ball which it strikes?! 
Unless we are willing to abandon the "why" of human con- 
duct and give it over to chance and inconceivability, we must 
apply to it some principle of determination. That in all t 
our practical judgments of the conduct of men we do ac- 
tually regard their actions as thus caused, seems to me in- 

The indeterminist, however, at once replies: "Out of your 
own mouth is your determinism refuted. You speak of the 


iFullerton, "Free Will and the Credit for Good Actions," Popular Science 
Monthly, Oct. 1901, p. 529. 




;elf as giving strength to its motives and as choosing in ac- 
cordance with them. By indeterminism I do not mean 
:hat an act is uncaused, but that it is caused by the self, 
)y its own 'causal energy.' " ^ Thus the question inevitably 
;omes back to the self, its nature and its source. 

VI. The Nature of the Self 

What, then, are we to think of the self whose "causal" 
mergy is here in play? Does it come from no-whither? 
3as it no history that conditions its present activity? Does 
t possess an incalculable power to choose or to refuse courses 
)f conduct in ways that break the continuity of its develop- 
nent? The indeterminist is compelled to affirm the discon- 
:inuity of the self. In his view, the self is a genuine causa sui. 
[t, in the strictest sense, "originates" activity. Can such 
m interpretation of the self be accepted? Let us see. The 
;elf surely does not create itself, and it does not, as all would 
idmit, "originate," in the early part of its existence, any 
ictivity whatever. Nor have we any evidence that the self 
dts down, as it were, at the beginning of its conscious life, 
3r in the shadowy regions of a pre-existent state, to consider 
Arhat sort of a self it shall be. When it first comes to con- 
sciousness it is a bundle of activities already moving swiftly 
dong a definite track. It has, as far as we can judge, its 
beginning at a fixed point of time; it is endowed with a 
iefinite physical and psychical nature; it enters into a par- 
icular environment; it receives the stamp of a special 
xaining and education; and even the sources of those ideas 
md ideals, by which it afterwards modifies or transcends 
farly conditions, are found in the social-historical life into 
ivhich it enters. Let anyone seriously ask himself: "What 
iort of a self should I be if born in another age and country, 
'he offspring of other parents, if of opposite sex, if endowed 
py nature with different physical and mental traits, and if 

* Cf. Calderwood, Handbook of Moral Philosopky, p. i86. 


subject to different training, intellectual, moral, and re- 
ligious?" And if one further ask: "Why am I not this other 
self?" the only answer can be: "Because the self that I now 
am is the result of other conditions." 

Doubtless the feeHng against admitting this idea of de- 
termination in mental life is largely due to the transference 
to consciousness of the same kind of determination which 
holds in mechanical interaction. The self seems thereby 
reduced to a merely passive point for the transmission of 
external processes. But this view loses entirely the signif- 
icance of all the complex inner processes and the construc- 
tive activities of the life of personality. The development 
of reflection and seK-criticism, of self-direction and moral 
effort on the part of the self, are essential conditions of hu- 
man freedom, a freedom in and through determination by 
rational insight. The self is active; it constitutes its ex- 
perience, its ideas, its knowledge. We only contend that it 
does this in no arbitrary, lawless way. Indeed, it is just 
because the process of knowledge must be regarded as a con- 
ditioned, orderly, and necessary process, that our human 
freedom must be conceived in terms of determinism. Be- 
cause we regard the tree as necessarily determined in its 
growth we never think of it as passive, as doing nothing, 
playing no part, or as the product of merely external forces. 
The tree is the organic unity of all the processes of its life 
and growth, and when it ceases to act constructively it 
ceases to Hve. Nor do we conceive the fate of the animal 
as determined apart from its own activity, but in and 
through its own marvelous instinctive processes. The self, 
too, is the organic unity of all its activities, vastly richer 
and more varied than those of animal life. And just as the 
mechanical formulae of inorganic nature are inadequate to 
plant life, and the formulae of plant Hfe to the more complex 
life of the animal kingdom, so other and still more complex 
formulae, we hold, must be conceived as expressing the 


activities of the conscious, reasoning self, rising as it does 
above all these lower grades of being. If there is a "must" 
in the sequence of events within the self, it is not the "must" 
which expresses the uniformity of sequence with which one 
material body moves at the impact of another. It is not the 
resultant of merely mechanical forces. In its higher mani- 
festations it is determined by ideals and ideas, a determina- 
tion in which the final cause of action is also its efficient cause. 
Such determination by the attraction of ideas of value which 
challenge interest and claim obedience, is the. one point in 
the universe where we are able to see clearly the identity 
of final and efficient causation. 

VII. Unity of Efficient and Final Causation 

We are, then, capable of determination by the ideas of 
ends which are, at the same time, the driving motives for 
their own realization. Ideas are efficient forces. In this 
fact is to be found the true source of our freedom. Intelli- 
gence thus contains a genuine element of transcendence, by 
which we are deHvered from subjection to the moment. This 
is indeed our human way of escape from bondage. The 
indeterminist, however, is prone to assume that whatever 
is within the sphere of such final causation is necessarily 
outside that of efficient causation. This assumption is 
doubtless one source of the duahsm of thought concerning 
freedom and necessity which is so widely current. But the 
separation cannot be justified. It is never the future event, 
as such, and as separated from present and past events, 
that is causally effective, but the present representation of 
the future event. The end can never have the slightest 
influence save as a present idea which has been constructed 
out of antecedent elements. When, for example, does a 
man save for a possible "rainy day" ? Obviously only 
when the idea of such a contingency stirs within him. And, 
with equal certainty, his present idea has grown out of the 


past. If I desire to arouse ambition in a young man by an 
ideal of future achievement, this ideal must be effectively 
related to his present state of mind. Antecedent process 
is as necessary in moral as in mechanical determination. 
As well try to drive an engine from Boston to New York 
by power generated in New York, and not present by trans 
mission in Boston, as to expect a future event to influence 
conduct without first entering the mind as an idea antecedent 
to this event. At a lower level of consciousness this process 
is illustrated by the play of organic instincts. The rearing 
of young is said to be the cause of nest-building, but it 
operates causally only when represented in the organic 
processes which determine, step by step, the nest-building 

If, further, it be said that to insist upon the strict con- 
tinuity of the life of the self from its earliest beginnings is 
in effect, to reduce man to a part of nature, it may be an- 
swered that in this case one's thought of nature must b( 
made rich enough to make room for spiritual processes 
The self is not thereby beggared, but nature enriched." 
Certainly the dignity and worth of man's self-directed life 
of his control of impulse and appetite, of his aspirations 
after truth and goodness, are not one whit lessened by thf 
view that all these processes are within the realm of law 
It is a far greater menace to human dignity to regard oui 
life as in any degree the sport of caprice or chance. 

The problem of freedom, it should be noted, is often com 

^ The problem of the relation of mental and physical processes deserves a wore 
although it cannot be discussed at length. I can simply state as briefly as possibll 
my own view, to the effect that the self, mind and body, is a imity in a sense tc 
which no dualistic theory can do justice. All conscious states are, at the same time 
physical processes. Were our knowledge adequate, all mental experiences might 
conceivably be stated in physical formulae, and vice versa. But the knowledge thai 
would make possible such a statement would clearly differentiate the physical form- 
ulae of our mental life from all those formulae which express the activities oi 
other kinds of beings or things, and would at once interpret their significance and 
worth as lying wholly in the conscious experiences of which the physical processes 
are one expression. 


plicated, at least in popular thinking, by a false view of the 
nature of the will. It is frequently assumed that the will 
is a power apart from the rest of the self, called into action 
in moments of choice, and for the rest inactive. It is re- 
garded as a kind of special dynamo, held in reserve, to be 
used only on occasion. Such an idea of the nature and 
function of the wiU is altogether inadmissible. The will is 
not a distinct part of the self in the sense which the older 
psychology suggested. It is, as we have maintained, the 
thinking, feeling self in effort and action. My will of this 
moment is my total conscious self with all its predispositions, 
habits, feelings, desires, aims, and ideals, expressing itself 
here and now in concrete effort. 

VIII. Indeterminism at Variance with Practice 

Perhaps the severest arraignment of indeterminism is in 
its helplessness in the presence of the actual problems of 
conduct. If theoretical interests speak strongly for the 
explanation of the self in terms of continuity and necessary 
determination, practical interests seem equally to demand 
it. If the moral life be not a continuous development, if 
there be any break in the relation of its past and present, 
then indeed the good tree may bring forth evil fruit; in the 
moral world we may gather grapes from thorns and figs 
from thistles. Our sowing of the good seed to-day may 
count for naught to-morrow. Evil may be done with the 
hope that it will not matter. Expectation of the conduct 
of men is disturbed and confidence destroyed. Punishment 
and reward, the training of the young, education, govern- 
ment, social effort, responsibility — all rest upon an implicit 
determinism. As far as punishment has moral justification, 
it is inflicted upon the evil-doer either for his own better- 
ment or for the deterrent influence which it will exert upon 
others. Its purpose is always to determine future conduct. 
But if, at the moment of the evil-doer's next choice between 


right and wrong, he may assert a sovereign freedom which 
breaks completely with his past, the experience of punish- 
ment may be wholly inoperative, and it then becomes a 
needless and wicked infliction of pain. The same ineffective- 
ness may extend to all those whom the punishment was 
intended to influence. It is quite true that punishment 
may be, and often is, ineffective. But this fact, the de- 
terminist insists, also has its cause. And it behooves us to 
bestir ourselves to discover it rather than to fold our arms 
and refer the failure to an arbitrary freak of human nature. 
Certainly all progress in dealing with evil-doers in the famfly, 
in the school, and in the state, has been due to the actual 
use of the deterministic principle, which assumes no frag- 
ment of conduct to be without its cause. The case stands 
precisely the same with the use of reward as with the use of 
punishment in influencing conduct. The effectiveness of 
reward is wholly conditioned upon the principle of deter- 

Why, we may ask, does the parent select the best possible 
environment for the child? Why is he so careful of example? 
Why does he attach such importance to education? Ob- 
viously because he beheves that every influence is potent 
in fashioning the plastic Hfe. But if freedom mean inde- 
terminism, all this may count for nothing in the hour of 
most momentous decision. The theory underlying the 
entire mechanism of government is that men are determined 
by motives, and that adequate motives of hope and fear, 
of reward and punishment, must be supplied. Nothing 
would more certainly cut the nerve of aU social endeavor 
than the general belief, accepted and acted upon, that men 
are capable of uncaused acts, acts which break the con- 
tinuity of developing mental and moral life, and which 
stand out of all relation to the great web of social-historical 
events. ResponsibiHty, for the sake of which indeterminism 
has so often been held, fares equally ill on that hypothesis. 


As Hartmann has urged, if there were a human being bur- 
dened with a liberum arhitrium indifferentiae, the free will 
of indeterminism, he would require the same treatment 
from society as the madman, for his acts would be as little 
reached by any kind of punishment or moral suasion.^ 
This statement is no exaggeration. Before the possibilities 
of such a free will one might well stand in terror. Being, as 
the indeterminist himself so strongly insists, the source of 
unmotived and indeterminable acts which break in upon 
the continuity of the mental life and appear as a strictly 
new creation in it, there is absolutely no accounting for 
them or controlling them. Who can say what strange re- 
versals of conduct and character an undetermined will 
may work? Your best friend, in whose integrity, honor, and 
devotion you place unquestioning confidence, if seized with 
a fit of such free will, may prove the veriest knave. Our 
sole ground of confidence in our fellows is the assurance 
that conduct is in no way arbitrary or the result of chance, 
but flows with necessity from character. In fine, the in- 
determinist can save moral institutions and a moral order 
only by limiting his view strictly to certain general proposi- 
tions within the theoretical sphere. As soon as the theory 
is called upon to explain the concrete facts of conduct it 
becomes speechless and impotent. In practice, however, 
the "free-willist" is often "the most determined of deter- 

If we ask for the sources of moral help and progress, we 
can represent them to ourselves as found only in the intensi- 
fication of existing motives, or in the construction of new 
and more effective ones to take the place of those already 
existing. But neither the one process nor the other is re- 
garded as unrelated to antecedents; we can only think a 
change by either method as the result of adequately effec- 
tive influences. In general we are able to refer our moral 
^ See his Phanommologie des sitUichen Bemtsstseins, pp. 467-468. 


help and inspiration to certain specific causes. "Here and 
here did England help me." It may be one's early training, 
or the hard lessons of experience, or the influence of some 
noble personality, which became the fruitful seed of a har- 
vest that one still reaps with grateful heart. Doubtless 
there are instances of the access of moral power which are 
not thus susceptible of clear reference to their sources. But 
this by no means proves them to be uncaused. Often a 
conviction which has been nourished by scarcely noted 
experiences and fed by almost unconscious insights at last 
breaks forth one day into clear resolve, and turns the whole 
current of Hfe. A close examination shows us that such 
increments of moral power, though harder to analyze, are 
not sundered from our past experience; rather are their 
relations with that experience discernible at so many points 
that we are impelled to regard them as completely con- 
tinuous with it. 

But if we reject the belief that the will in its choices is 
free from determining conditions, does significance still 
attach to the idea of freedom, or must we abandon this 
ideal which has so often been the rallying call of the higher 
interests of humanity? 

IX. Freedom Consistent with Determinism 

There remain certainly two important meanings of the 
word freedom which require definition and explanation. 
The first of these meanings represents what may be called 
the negative aspect of freedom, the absence of alien restraint 
over the will; the other is moral freedom, or true freedom of 
life. In the first sense, an act is said to be free when it is 
what we intend it to be, when through it we consciously 
express our purpose, unhindered by physical interference or 
by another's will. Thus I am free to cross the swiftly rushing 
stream if the 'bridge has not been swept away by the flood; 
I am free to follow the trail to the summit of the mountain 


if my strength does not fail; and I am free to purchase a 
desired piece of property if I can induce the owner to sell. 
In this sense of the term the evil man is as free in his acts 
as the good man, provided he is no more restrained by 
society or by natural forces. When free in this sense, both 
the good man and the evil man can do as they please. The 
determinist only insists that there is always a sufficient reason 
why each pleases to do as he does. 

If we designate the freedom just described as freedom from 
restraint, there remains to be considered the more important 
conception of moral freedom, or freedom of life. If the evil- 
doer is as free from restraint as the virtuous man, he is not 
morally free, for his nature is in conflict with itself and with 
the moral order. Moral freedom as Kttle means license, the 
doing simply what one may for the moment desire, as does 
civil freedom. And just as men are truly free in the state 
only when all are obedient to wise laws, so men are morally 
free only when they are completely determined in their con- 
duct by the requirements of a true moral standard. To the 
extent even to which one hesitates between right and wrong, 
or coquets with evil, one is not morally free, for in this case 
the evil solicits, attracts, influences one. And to the degree 
that one feels the attractive power of evil one is subject to 
its sway. Moral freedom is properly to be contrasted with 
moral bondage. The experience of the good Hfe is freedom, 
just as the experience of the evil life is slavery. On its nega- 
tive side, moral freedom is freedom from the power of the 
lower impulses and desires, which destroy the harmony 
and hinder the development of personality. Moral freedom 
results in an inner harmony, a just expression of all the pow- 
ers of the self, in contrast with the discord and strife which 
the competing appetites, if not organized and controlled, 
introduce into our nature. Such freedom is secured through 
the rule of reason, which seeks to subordinate to the central 
aim of life our partial, conflicting aims and desires. The 


morally free life is the life that has won its unity, and thereby 
gained harmony and peace. But this moral freedom might 
better be called freedom of life than freedom of will, for it 
involves a will steadily controlled by laws of value in the 
interest of a life purpose. This fact has long been impHcitly 
recognized in popular reUgious thought. For God, accord- 
ing to the popular conception of His nature, is both com- 
pletely determined and completely free. He is completely 
determined in His choices by the good; He cannot will the 
evil, nor of two alternatives choose the worse. To do this, 
would be for Him to deny His own nature, and to cease to be 
God. At the same time this determination by the ideally 
good is conceived as resulting in the perfect freedom, har- 
mony, and peace of the Divine Life. And the ideal of human 
freedom is likewise not a free, that is, undetermined will, 
but rather a freedom of life won through a will determined 
by true insight. Our moral freedom is not emancipation 
from the empire of law. Though free, we still remain citi- 
zens, subject to all the exacting requirements of a well- 
ordered pohty. But the allegiance of the moral freeman has 
been transferred from the rule of unorganized impulse and 
desire to the law of reason and truth. We are then no 
longer "children of the bond-woman, but of the free." 

Such moral freedom is clearly not possessed in the same 
degree by all. Rather is it found in endlessly varied degrees 
according to the perfection of individual lives. One could 
scarcely construct a more erroneous view than that every 
human being is endowed at birth with the same "lump 
sum" of freedom, which remains an inaHenable possession 
throughout Ufe. Our freedom is not complete, it is in the 
making. He who, like the animal, obeys the changing im- 
pulses and appetites as they may chance to arise, without 
regard to their relation to his total Hfe and its meaning, has 
small share in moral freedom. He is, as we have seen, in 
bondage. But in all growing personalities, in whom age or 


habit has not finally fixed the course of conduct, freedom is a 
developing process, a growing power. Little by Httle the 
lessons of experience are coined into wisdom, little by little 
mastery over the conflicting desires is gained, and all parts 
of hfe are brought into harmony with its central aim. 

We are now in a position to see the important relation of 
knowledge to moral freedom. The process by which free- 
dom is won is the process of enlightenment. It is the truth 
that sets men free, the clear perception of moral relations 
and moral laws, the understanding of human nature and its 
true needs. Moral enfranchisement may also be described 
as the escape from illusion and error. The reason that hu- 
man freedom requires to be sharply diflierentiated from the 
spontaneity of animal life, lies in the fact that man is capa- 
ble in a higher degree of learning and of making his knowl- 
edge serve as an inner principle of guidance and self-direction. 
"I am, for instance, more truly a self-determining agent 
than a hemisphereless fish, because while the fish is so con- 
stituted that he cannot but snap at the bait that is dangled 
before his nose, even though he has but this moment been 
released from the hook that lies concealed behind it, I can 
put down the glass that I am raising to my lips and con- 
sider the probable effect of the indulgence upon my health, 
my work, and my reputation." ^ Through no chance event, 
but through the ordered processes that hold in the mental 
life, we can build conceptions of a larger and better self. 
This higher personality, represented in our thought, is 
capable of exercising an attractive, compelling power, of be- 
coming indeed a determining force in the moral hfe. Thus 
the end becomes, as we have already said, the efficient 
cause. It is also to be remembered that our moral choices 
are strictly limited by the circle of our ideas. One cannot 
choose a good of which one is totally ignorant. That were 
an act as impossible in the mental sphere as were Munchau- 

^ Taylor, The Problem of Conduct, p. 40. 


sen's celebrated feats in the physical The first need of the 
enslaved and morally unfree spirit is to discern clearly a 
better life which shall rebuke the life that now is. A change 
of mind is the essential condition of a change of conduct. 
It is significant that all religions and all systems of philos- 
ophy which have dealt seriously with the problem of the 
moral life, have conditioned emancipation from evil upon a 
process of enhghtenment. "If the truth shall make you 
free, ye shall be free indeed." It is, then, as learner that 
man is free. Through knowledge alone can he progressively 
transcend his past. Knowledge, not in any narrow or tech- 
nical sense, but in the widest meaning of the term, is the 
transcendent principle in human nature. Such transcend- 
ence, however, does not consist in escape from the determin- 
ately related processes of the mental life, but in develop- 
ment in and through those processes. 

X. Objections to Determinism Answered 

But certain difficulties and objections from the side of 
indeterminism still remain to be considered. And first of all, 
it may be urged: " Granted that such a determinism provides 
for moral progress, does it not contradict that consciousness 
of freedom of which we are all said to be immediately aware 
in every act of choice?" 

In answer it may be said that even if the feeling described 
were a universal fact of consciousness, great significance could 
not be attached to such an uncritical utterance. "Now, 
if it were really true that we have a consciousness of being 
free in the sense in which this term has been used, this feeling 
would have as little weight as a scientific proof as the feel- 
ing that the sun moves round the earth has for astronomy." ^ 
In the second place, the universality of such a consciousness 
may be seriously questioned. ^ If it is common among peoples 

^ Thilly, Introduction to Ethics, p. 334. 

2 1 have heard a child altogether innocent of any theory of conduct, give naive 


educated under the influence of certain theories which tend 
to commit the mind to it in advance, the feeling is not gen- 
erally found among peoples like the Mohammedans, who are 
trained under the opposite teaching. And finally, this ut- 
terance of consciousness, wherever or to whatever degree it 
does exist, is susceptible of a psychological explanation en- 
tirely consistent with determinism. In the absence of a 
knowledge of the future we must naturally think of our 
choice, up to the moment of decision, as still undetermined; 
it may, as far as our present knowledge goes, coincide with 
any one of the possibihties. Such ambiguity is inevitable 
for beings not omniscient. By whatever delicate balance 
our decision may have fallen to the one side or the other, 
the self of the moment of choice must have been, in some 
respect, a different self to have chosen differently. We are 
not to think of a mere series of deeds as successively de- 
termining each other, but of a self as successively deter- 
mining its deeds. 

It is further objected that, on the deterministic theory, 
one's past deeds, good and bad alike, could not have been 
different from what they were. The evil deed of yesterday, 
which I bitterly regret to-day, was necessary and inevitable. 
Against such a necessity in past acts, the indeterminist 
revolts, and appeals again to the consciousness of freedom, 
which, he maintains, not only precedes but also follows the 
performance of an act. We are conscious, he declares, that 
we might have acted differently. 

But when we carefully consider our past conduct, are we 
ever conscious that an act might have been different, all 
the conditions, inner and outer, being precisely what they 
were? I think not. What we are conscious of when we 
reflect upon the matter is that, if we were to act again under 

expression to the most strongly deterministic sentiment. It seemed to be the result 
of an immediate perception of the directness with which one's deeds flow from one's 
nature. Certainly I believe that in all the deeper moral issues of life we feel as did 
Luther when he declared: "Ich kann nicht anders." 


similar external conditions, our act might be different. And 
why? Because there has been an inner change. If one were 
to act again under the conditions, let us say, under which 
the regretted act of yesterday was done, the result would 
doubtless be different. For to-day, in the light of larger 
experience, of new thoughts and feelings which stir within 
us, the act is regretted. Nay, if the same situation could 
have been faced again five minutes after the choice was 
made, it might well have been different, and for the same 
reason. I believe that if we seriously ask ourselves whether 
we could have acted differently from what we did at any 
time in the past, if called again to face precisely the same 
situation, with precisely the same feeling and knowledge and 
point of view, with no gleam of the light that subsequent 
experience has shed upon our conduct, we must unhesitat- 
ingly answer that we could not, but that our choice must 
have been the same. 

As regards the fact that people commonly say of past 
acts that "they might have been different," the case stands 
as follows. Prior to the decision with regard to any action, 
we think of either one of two competing courses as strictly 
possible. The thought of such two-fold possibility is the 
absolutely necessary condition of all doubt, debate, and 
suspense in the matter. Regard either alternative as ante- 
cedently impossible, and at once all debate ceases; certainty 
takes the place of uncertainty, decision of indecision; one 
course remains, and we consider ourselves necessitated to 
act in that direction. Now our indecision as to which of 
two alternatives we shall choose, stands in consciousness, 
antecedently to the act, as a genuine possibihty of two 
courses of action. And when we view the case in retrospect, 
we reproduce the antecedent mental attitude in the familiar 
saying, "It might have been different." It is a significant 
fact that we use precisely the same form of expression con- 
cerning events which all inteUigent persons agree in regard- 


ing as strictly necessitated. Thus, to give one example 
among many, after some dangerous feat of child or athlete 
we say: "You might have broken a limb." Clearly we do 
not mean that, all the conditions being precisely what they 
were in that particular case, this result was actually possi- 
ble. If it had been possible in the order of nature, it would 
certainly have been reahzed. We mean that conditions 
were present, before the event, which made us, in our igno- 
rance of the issue, uncertain and fearful. And we also mean 
that, if similar acts are continued, they will probably end 
in disaster, for one's control over the circumstances of ac- 
tion as well as over one's muscles is not always the same. 
But this form of speech, "It might have been different," 
means as much or as Httle in the one case as in the other. 
One must not be deceived by the idolajori.^ 

XL Fatalism and Determinism 

It is sometimes charged by those who have not grasped 
the full significance of determinism that it is only a milder 
term for fatahsm, and that the two doctrines are equally 
destructive of moral effort. But there are two important 
points at which determinism may be differentiated from 
fatahsm. In the first place, fatalism commonly suggests a 
hopeless view of morahty by ignoring the fact that one's 
future deeds are not necessarily like one's past deeds, and 
that there is possibility of change. Although it is true that 
any given past act could not have been different, all con- 
ditions being what they were, the case is quite otherwise 
if we turn to the future. If we are obhged to discount heavily 
the saying, "It might have been different," and to regard 
it as an expression of our ignorance of events prior to their 
occurrence, quite another significance attaches to the reso- 
lution, "It shall be different." This means that there is 
already a new mental attitude on the part of the agent, 

* Bacon's tenn for the errors which result from current forms of speech. 


so that if exactly the same external conditions were to occur 
again, the internal would be different, and would make 
room for a new result. The good may be chosen, in the 
future, instead of the evil. We are not bound to a change- 
less order of conduct. The vast whole of events, linked 
together as we may believe in indissoluble bonds, is not a 
static world, but the scene of movement, change, and life. 
To hold that the mental sphere is through and through a 
determinately related sphere, no more excludes from it 
genuinely new experiences than a similar conception, which 
thinking men are agreed in applying to nature, excludes new 
events there. 

Fatalism further ignores the part played by the self, and 
is incUned to represent human life as the helpless sport of 
external forces. The cosmic process is presented as the 
determining element in personal destiny, to the disregard 
of the inner world of consciousness. Fatahsm regards 
human destiny as fixed independently of himian action; 
determinism regards it as fixed only in and through indi- 
vidual choice. One's destiny is not determined apart from 
what one is and does. If, as is often said, the whole deter- 
mines the part, it can also be said that this determination 
is not without the participation of the part. And the merely 
quantitative comparison of the world and the self, which 
represents the one as so great and the other as so small, is 
misleading. On any view, the individual is small in com- 
parison with all persons and things set over against him. 
But as far as the destiny of any particular seK is concerned, 
what that self is and does is the grand factor. Dependent 
upon a cosmic Power we all indeed are, but the fact that 
this Power accompHshes certain ends only in and through 
our thinking and willing, is disregarded by fatalism. It is 
often forgotten, too, that indeterminism itseh runs into a 
fatalism of another kind. If there were really a power of 
unmotived choice, of bHnd, inexplicable willing, one might 


well complain that to precisely this extent life was given 
over to the worst kind of fate, that of caprice and chance. 

If the belief in fatalism, with its thought of destiny as 
fixed by forces external to the self, would cut the nerve of 
moral endeavor and result in stagnation or in a hopeless 
surrender to circumstances, the same cannot be said of a 
determinism which recognizes the self as an active and 
potent factor in shaping human life. The spur to effort 
would be lost only if our knowledge of the future were com- 
plete and perfect. In that case, life would indeed lose its 
interest, for we should be able to wrest our experiences from 
the future and to possess them in advance. But for finite 
beings like ourselves, life will, in the deterministic view, 
always retain the curiosity of something yet unknown, the 
zest of something still to be striven for and experienced. 
When we set out to follow a trail our interest is not dimin- 
ished by the fact that the path we are to take is already 
definite and fixed, or by the fact that it has been traversed 
by others. As we tread it for the first time it has all the 
charm of novelty. So, in life, what the future holds will 
prove at each stage a fresh experience. We do not even 
know our own capacities and powers with any degree of 
completeness. These, too, are among the things that re- 
main to be discovered. How much we can achieve or how 
much of value we can win, we never know until we try. 
Desire and striving are, we may also remind ourselves, 
elemental and essential parts of our nature, never wholly 
quenched or exhausted until life itself is extinguished. 

XII. Further Objections Answered 

The feelings of penitence and self-condemnation are often 
regarded as inexplicable upon the deterministic theory. 
Some have even found in such feelings the chief argument 
against determinism.^ But as far as such feelings are essen- 

1 Cf. Lotze, Outlines of Practical Philosophy, p. 35. 


tial to morality, do they not still remain unimpaired? The 
explanation of the method by which a certain form of life, 
mental or physical, has developed does not affect its intrin- 
sic worth. The human form has lost no line of beauty or 
dignity by the theory of its slow evolution, and on the de- 
terministic view the bad man is no less base, the good man 
no less noble. Our judgments of value remain unchanged. 
The evil doer cannot contemplate his conduct with any 
more complacency. He must pronounce the same sentence 
of condemnation upon his character. If morally enlight- 
ened, he will feel disapproval and dissatisfaction with his 
evil past. And this feeling of dissatisfaction with the past 
and present seK is the condition of a change. As long 
as it exists there is a principle of regeneration constantly 
at work, making possible a genuine repentance, a forsaking 
of the evil and a choosing of the good. But this feeHng can 
be operative only in and through the strict continuity of 
our life, the dependence of the present upon the past, and 
of the future upon the past and present. "If there were no 
such dependence, if I could be something to-day irrespec- 
tively of what I was yesterday, or something to-morrow 
irrespectively of what I am to-day, the motive to the self- 
reforming effort furnished by regrets for a past of which I 
reap the fruit, that growing success of the effort that comes 
with habituation, and the assurance of a better future which 
animates it, would alike be impossible." ^ 

The problem of evil, it is also urged, assumes on the de- 
terministic theory a form repugnant to our moral sense. 
For we are compelled on this view to regard the most re- 
volting of crimes as a necessary element in the world-order. ^ 
A theodicy, therefore, it is said, must carry the burden of 
all moral as well as physical evil. But is not this inevitable 

IT. H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics, p. 115. 
2 Cf. James, "The Dilemma of Determinism," The Will to Believe and Other ES' 
says, pp. 160-161. 



on any view of the nature of human volition? While, as 
will appear, no man can escape the direct and immediate 
responsibility for his own acts, the Creator of a world can 
as little escape the ultimate responsibility for a world which 
he has made. Accepting, for the sake of the argument, 
that conception of an omnipotent Being which has found 
most favor in the theologies of the past, and is still widely 
accepted in popular thought, we cannot escape the conclu- 
sion that, if such a Being were to choose to create men with 
the freedom of indifference, He could not escape respon- 
sibility for all the consequences of that act, save by divesting 
Himself of the very attributes which religious thought has 
made the essence of His nature. There is a flat contradic- 
tion between the notion of unlimited power and knowledge, 
and that of limited responsibihty. No theory has been able 
satisfactorily to meet this dilemma. And what must one 
say of a Being possessed of such attributes who should 
create a world containing a real element of chance, which 
might fall out well, but with equal likelihood might fall out 
ill? It is, further, impossible in the complex web of human 
experience to disentangle the threads of natural and moral 
evil. To free the world from the weight of moral evil would 
by no means solve the problem of evil, or make it easy. 
Even the most revolting crimes which the indeterminist 
ascribes to free will become insignificant when one considers 
the extent and duration of the suffering and degradation 
due to other sources. One cannot, for example, imagine a 
human being so depraved as consciously and persistently 
to impose upon humanity the evil wrought by painful and 
revolting forms of disease. The evil that appears in human 
choice is but a part of a far larger problem. 

But it should not be forgotten that the indeterminist is 
bound to apply his theory both ways. If on theological 
grounds he takes refuge in indeterminism to free the Deity 
from the burden of the evil choices of men, he can as little 


ascribe to Him their good choices. And if one must choose 
between the alternatives of ascribing to the Deity every- 
thing or nothing in human conduct, as long as one beHeves 
in the preponderance of good over evil, one will, on religious 
grounds, choose the former alternative. That the source 
of all good in us is ultimately a Power not ourselves, is a 
fact which great and good men have in some way recog- 
nized in every age. If we consider the lot of those unfortu- 
nate beings who by hereditary tendency seem predestined 
to evil, and who by an unfortunate environment have this 
"calling and election made sure," what can we say of the 
source of that light and help which has saved us from a like 
fate? "Not unto us, not unto us," is the cry of our deepest 
consciousness. This is the profound truth in the church's 
doctrine of grace. As regards the religious question here 
involved, we must learn to think of the nature of God and. 
of His relations to the world quite otherwise than in the 
crude fashion which represents Him as making choices in 
the presence of competing motives, or as standing before a 
projected world like an artificer before his handiwork. 

Determinism is not a doctrine of despair. As already seen, 
it offers hope of deliverance from evil to every one who is 
capable of learning, of gleaning wisdom from the experiences 
of life. Discouragement and loss of moral power only follow 
when the self is viewed in a fatahstic way. On the contrary, 
determinism may furnish a stimulus to action by its empha- 
sis upon certain important practical aspects of the moral 
life. One result of applying the principle of necessary rela- 
tion to conduct is to show that each successive act is linked 
with those that have gone before, in such a way as to em- 
phasize the importance of habit. Each successive choice 
is made with all one's past upon one's head. A deeper sig- 
nificance, therefore, attaches to the present moral act. 
What I this day think and do is fraught with grave conse- 
quences for to-morrow's thinking and doing. If it be true 


that no effect is without its cause, it is also true that no 
cause is without its effect. By no magic, then, but in a 
strictly natural and necessary way, this thought may add 
its weight to the scale in which present choices are decided. 
The conviction that one is thus determined may itself help 
to determine one to resist present solicitations of evil, and 
to chng to the right. The social consequences of this teach- 
ing are no less significant. Each social act gains a new 
import. There is no escape from the responsibility of social 
relations. Our acts cannot return to us void. In the great 
complex of human history they all work with a power whose 
exact extent we cannot measure, but must recognize as in- 

XIII. Responsibility and Punishment 

Our discussion of freedom has resulted in a reinterpretation 
of the meaning commonly given to the term. This was de- 
manded not only by theoretical, but also by practical in- 
terests. For although popular thought is implicitly determin- 
istic in all matters of education, punishment, government, 
social endeavor, etc., it is usually indeterministic in form, 
partly as the result of an uncritical estimate of the utter- 
ances of consciousness, and partly from the influence of 
certain theories long regnant in law and theology. It ap- 
pears, therefore, that popular thought is not in harmony 
with itself. Ethical theory must either accept an intoler- 
able discord or attempt reconstruction and reconciliation. 
Such reconstruction is its true function. It is not the busi- 
ness of ethical thought to leave the solid ground of experi- 
ence and soar in mid-air. Nor is it its aim to refute the 
judgments of common sense in matters of practice. Its 
task is not primarily the creation of new forms of conduct, 
but the humbler work of explaining the already existing 
forms. Ethical theory does not destroy but interprets. In 
the question at issue it does not refute the central meaning 


of the indeterminism of common sense. That meaning is 
doubtless the preservation of a genuine moral significance for 
freedom and responsibility. And we have already seen that 
moral freedom is not, on the deterministic theory, a mean- 
ingless ideal, but an actual fact to which a clear meaning 
can be attached. Freedom does not consist in an unde- 
termined will, but in a will determined by understanding 
and insight. It remains to consider briefly the problem of 

For the sake of clearness the discussion may begin with 
the idea of natural accountability, in distinction from 
moral accountability, or responsibility. Accountability, or 
imputability, in this sense is of universal application. It 
is thus that we speak of the impure water supply of a city 
as accountable for epidemics of disease, and of the cKmate of 
a country as accountable for certain characteristics of its in- 
habitants. In like manner, to the noxious plant is imputed 
the injury to the crop, and to the fox the depredations 
upon the poultry yard. The insane man is accountable for 
his deed of violence, and the idiot for his unseemly behavior. 
Thus applied, the term means simply that the person or 
thing in question is recognized as the immediate soiurce of 
certain conditions or events. Obviously enough, moral 
beings are also in this sense accountable for their acts, that 
is, they are recognized as the sources of them. It is further 
to be observed that, in a world of necessarily related events, 
nothing can escape the consequences of its own nature, of 
being what it is. The impure water is not treated as if it 
were pure, or the unhealthful climate as if it were healthful; 
the weed is cut down, and the destructive fox ruthlessly 
slain; the insane man is confined, and the fool treated ac- 
cording to his folly. Those who fear that any reinterpreta- 
tion of responsibility will undermine the moral order may 
be reassured, even from the point of view of natural ac- 
countability. Society will not cease to treat men according 


to their deeds. Those who work social evil will be recog- 
nized as the cause of evil, and will be held strictly account- 

But moral responsibility, all will agree, involves something 
more than the mere imputability, or natural accountability, 
thus far considered. Otherwise, man would be responsible 
in no other way than the plant or animal. What is the fur- 
ther element required to constitute moral responsibility? 
We may here accept the answer of common sense, bearing 
in mind only that common sense must be pressed beyond a 
merely verbal statement to its underlying meaning. The 
answer of common sense doubtless would be that man is 
morally responsible because he is free. And this is certainly 
true, provided the appropriate meanings be attached to the 
terms. But we must ask again for some distinctive mark 
of a free being, some characteristic which differentiates man 
from other things and persons not thus free, from plant and 
animal, from madman, idiot, and infant. Here common 
sense will certainly not hesitate; it will point to man's in- 
telligence, to his deliberative, rational nature, which makes 
him receptive to ideas and responsive to instruction, and 
which constitutes him a self-directive agent. But this 
means that man can act from ideas of ends, that is, from 
motives, and can determine his conduct by them. The 
infant, the insane, and the idiotic, we are told, are not re- 
sponsible because they are not susceptible of instruction, 
not capable of receiving certain ideas and of being deter- 
mined by motives. Further, this susceptibility to instruction 
and guidance by motive, it will be agreed, fixes the degree 
of responsibility. It clearly marks the stages of growing 
responsibility in childhood; it measures the degree of re- 
sponsibility which we impute to various abnormal or de- 
fective tj^es; and it is the criterion of responsibilit}^ in its 
legal aspects. To this principle there appears to be no ex- 
ception. An interesting analogue of human responsibility 


is found in our treatment of domestic animals. A kind of 
quasi responsibility is ascribed to them precisely according 
to their degree of intelligence and susceptibility to training. 
But the crucial point, it will be said, still remains. Do 
we hold persons responsible when we are compelled to view 
their acts as necessitated? The answer cannot be in doubt 
even in the view of common sense, whose judgments we are 
here following. We do most certainly hold one fully re- 
sponsible for a necessitated act, provided the necessity is 
that of one's own nature, not of some alien power, and pro- 
vided also that the nature is one susceptible of modification 
through the determining influence of motives. And both 
of these conditions we find present in the ordinary acts of 
normal human beings. The father who sees his own too 
hasty temper appearing in his son may recognize himself 
as reincarnated, as it were, in his child's moments of anger. 
He is compelled to regard this display of hot temper, when 
it first appears, as the perfectly natural and inevitable ex- 
pression of an inherited tendency, against which he himself 
has had to wage a life-long battle. At the same time he holds 
the child strictly responsible. By the hard discipKne of ex- 
perience the father has learned the evil and folly of yield- 
ing to a hasty temper, and he perhaps holds his child more 
.strictly responsible for this than for any other act, fully 
assured that unremitting instruction and discipline will not 
be without their effect. Responsibility for an act does not, 
then, evaporate, as some suppose, when we regard it as in 
the strictest sense necessarily determined, or as an act that, 
under the given conditions, could not have been different. 
Indeed, it is for those acts which we recognize as flowing 
with the most direct necessity from our own nature, those 
that we can trace to a determining ground in our character, 
that we consider ourselves most fully responsible. In the 
words of Green: "If a man's action did not represent his 
chariacter but an arbitrary freak of some unaccountable 


power of unmotived willing, why should he be ashamed of it 
or reproach himself for it?" ^ The cases in which the meas- 
ure of moral responsibility is held to be lessened, whether 
in popular judgment or in courts of justice, are those in 
which the agent's own character does not seem to be the 
determining factor, or in which that character, through some 
defect, cannot be normally influenced by motives. One of 
the strongest proofs in support of that view of freedom which 
reconciles it with self-determinism is found in the fact that 
it enables one to interpret the facts of moral responsibility 
in terms of the healthy moral judgments of daily life; for 
these judgments are right in practice, if sometimes wrong 
in the theory to which they are referred. 

The moral aspects of punishment are sufficiently signifi- 
cant in their relation to our problem to require a brief state- 
ment. As far as punishment has moral value for the indi- 
vidual, and is not a means of social protection, its limits are 
clearly defined by the possibility of its entering as a deter- 
mining factor into the complex of mental conditions from 
which the future acts of the agent are to issue. The justifi- 
cation of punishment and reward is found in the fact that 
they may bring new motives into operation. But on the 
indeterministic view, as we have already seen, they must 
both be ineffective to precisely that extent to which inde- 
terminism is true. In fine, the only will of which use can 
be made in moral relations is a determined will. 

One form of punishment, however, is obviously excluded; 
this is retributive punishment, which is inflicted as a sup- 
posed satisfaction for wrong-doing without regard to the 
consequences which will follow. As far as punishment 
cannot be effective for the improvement of the evil-doer 
or for the protection of society, it loses all raison d'etre and 
becomes a needless and wicked infliction of pain. The 
growing exclusion of all vindictive elements from punish- 

^ Prolegomena to Ethics, p. 113. 


ment has marked a great step in moral progress. Punish- 
ment containing the element of revenge is a dehimianizing 
process for all concerned, and may well be allowed to pass 
with other barbaric usages. One of the most beneficent 
effects of subjecting human conduct to deterministic ex- 
planation has been to beget a more sympathetic and kindly 
feehng toward one's fellow-men. The understanding of the 
deeper springs and sources of conduct is the necessary con- 
dition ahke of all true compassion and of all just restraint. 
If this compassion embraces even the foUies and vices of 
men, it is not a dangerous or indulgent compassion, since it 
understands all too clearly that in the social order there 
must be effective motives working to restrain evil. While 
it reaches out one hand in pity towards a frail and erring 
humanity, it extends the other in vigorous control. 

XIV. The Determinist's Attitude Towards Lite 

In conclusion, we may still further inquire concerning the 
practical results of such an interpretation of freedom and 
responsibility as we have presented. It is doubtless true 
that no careful thinker will accept the immediate practical 
influence of any theory as a criterion of its ultimate validity. 
One need not feel concerned even to deny that, historically, 
intellectual error has sometimes seemed to work well. This 
does not mean, however, that error is as good as truth, but 
simply that, at a certain stage of human development, an 
error in behef concerning some matter has better harmon- 
ized with other current errors and with the total state of 
knowledge than the truth would have done. Often, too, error 
has appealed powerfully to men as a practical motive be- 
cause of their very imperfections and limitations. W^ith a 
higher type of personaHty such motives would become 
wholly ineffective. Certainly against any doctrine of the 
ultimate beneficence of error, our deepest conviction utters 
its protest. There is in us aU a faith, supported by not a 


little evidence, that it is best to know and to act upon the 
truth. But the indeterminist has often attacked determin- 
ism because of its supposed practical consequences, and he 
may therefore properly be met on this ground. In ethics, 
moreover, we are dealing with a theory of conduct, and it 
would be a fatal defect in such a theory if it were found 
to be one by which men could not Hve, or if it tended to 
discourage the highest moral endeavor. What, then, are 
the proper fruits of such an interpretation of human con- 
duct? How, in view of it, would the wise man seek to bear 
himself in daily life? Certainly he will feel no undue com- 
placency or pride. If he finds anything of worth or good- 
ness in himself, he will realize that its primal sources are 
not of his creating, but lie deep in the world-order. In any 
native power of insight, in any happy balance of character, 
in any aspiring impulses, he will recognize something which 
he has received, a veritable gift of grace. And the thousand 
forces of the environment in which he has wrought out his 
destiny, he will also recognize as a gift. So that if he com- 
pare his own lot with that of a feUow-being blinded by error 
and enslaved by evil, he will realize that, but for what he 
has received, he would be equally wretched. If he must 
regard in the same way the evil which he discovers in him- 
self, this conviction cannot lessen his estimate of its gravity, 
or cause him to seek less earnestly after greater perfection. 
The painful discipline which comes from his own folly and 
wrong-doing he will consider the necessary condition of 
his betterment, and wiU coimt the price none too high for 
such gain. Towards his fellows he will feel the profoundest 
sympathy, knowing that they, too, are bearers of like na- 
tures, not of their own choosing. And if, because of this 
sympathy, he laughs and weeps at the alternating comedy 
and tragedy of life, his laughter will be without scorn and 
his weeping without bitterness. But a ready sympathy will 
not lead him to remit just demands or to cease to hold 


his fellows strictly responsible, for he knows that only 
through proper motives of hope and fear can they be held 
to their best endeavors. If he be called to administer jus- 
tice or to inflict punishment, he will do it with compassion, 
but also without weakness. Least of aU will he idly fold 
his hands and passively await for himself and others the 
decrees of an external fate, for he knows that not in vain 
stirs within him the will to action, and that, according to 
the measure of his strength and knowledge, he has an ap- 
pointed part to play in the world-drama. And finally, such 
an one will not be without hope for the future of humanity, 
a hope founded upon the progress of the past. If from the 
humble beginnings of savage Hfe, separated only a little 
from that of the brute, there has been slowly won so much 
of worth — of knowledge overcoming ignorance and super- 
stition, of sympathy triumphant over selfishness and hate, 
of heroism unfaltering in the performance of duty, of aspira- 
tion untiring in the pursuit of higher ends — ^he may well 
cherish the faith that the Power which has thus wrought in 
and through humanity will yet bring its work to still nobler 



The departments of thought which deal with the values 
of human life may, as we saw in the first chapter, each rightly 
claim the totality of experience as the field of its activity. 
But each of these disciphnes has a unique purpose, and this 
purpose dictates alike the method and the goal of its work. 
Ethics, in the pursuit of its own aim, will deal with the values 
of religion as constituting a part of the world of values which 
it seeks to organize. And a study of religion must no less, 
for its own purposes, embrace ethics as a part of its content. 
Each therefore includes, and at the same time reinterprets, 
the facts of the other. But the reciprocal relations of moral- 
ity and religion are so important as to demand special con- 
sideration in a study of human values. We must now at- 
tempt to bring their relations under careful scrutiny. To 
be seen aright, this border-land must be viewed from both 
sides. We shall be compelled, therefore, to go beyond the 
boundary itself and to enter the field of religion in order to 
examine its nature. 

I. The Scientific Temper in the Study of Religion 

The necessity of conducting this further inquiry in a 
scientific temper will at once be recognized by every stu- 
dent. Indeed, the study of the problem of the relations of 
morality and religion can mean nothing less than the effort 
to bring them under an analysis as candid and searching as 
that which is brought to bear upon any other problem of 
science. To popular thought, the extension of scientific in- 
quiry into the field of religious experience has sometimes 



seemed strange and even menacing. But the objection that 
religion is too sacred for investigation falsely assumes that 
the understanding of the facts of the religious life will de- 
stroy that life itself. Such a fear would be justified only in 
case religion were an illusion, to be dispelled by the clear 
understanding of its nature and sources. One who believes 
that religion is an integral factor in human life can have no 
fear of such a result. It is true that one cannot actually 
have a significant religious experience and at the same mo- 
ment reflect upon it. But one may have a most vital ex- 
perience of any kind, and may at another moment reflect 
upon the nature of this experience. Scientific procedure 
does not exclude the possibihty of appreciation. The sur- 
geon who performs his work with a coolness and absorption 
which forbid any emotion of sympathy for his patient, may 
yet, at another time, feel most keenly the human pathos of 
all that passes under his eye. So, too, the astronomer who 
makes his observations with a scientific attention as rigorous 
and prosaic as that of the engineer who surveys a barren 
sand hill or desolate marsh, may, at other times, thrill with 
the wonder and beauty of the starry heavens. It is also 
clear that to urge the sacredness of religion as a ground of 
refusal to examine it critically, is to present a reason which 
would have been equally applicable in the case of the most 
crude of primitive religions. To its devotees every religion 
is sacred. Such an attitude would doubtless have fixed a 
low form of animism as the permanent religion of the race. 
Any departure from this faith must have been regarded 
with a deep and fearsome distrust by all timid souls. 

Nor can it rightly be claimed that religious phenomena 
offer an insuperable obstacle to investigation because they 
lie in unclear depths of the spiritual life, or because the ex- 
perience of each individual is unique. When one enters 
the precinct of religion one does not leave the realm of law 
and order. The notion of miraculous happenings, long ago 


abandoned as a principle of explanation in the physical 
world, is equally untenable in the psychical. Even the most 
wonderful of our human experiences, we now believe, oc- 
cur in accordance with definite laws of the mental life. As 
regards the claim of the uniqueness of religious experience, it 
may be said that every fact in the universe is in some re- 
spect unique. No two objects or events in the physical world 
are alike in every particular; and no two conscious states 
are completely identical. If identity were a prerequisite 
of scientific treatment, there could be no science at all; nor, 
for that matter, could there be any philosophy. Both science 
and philosophy deal with the significant elements common 
to many differing individuals. Religious experiences, like 
all others, differ widely in different persons, but they also 
present common features. Hence one may speak not only 
of religions, but also of religion in its universal, generic sense. 
It is not our purpose to investigate in detail the relations 
which have existed historically between codes of positive 
morality and the religious systems with which they have 
been linked. It is rather to discover the general principles 
by which the relations of ethics to religion may be explained 
by one who desires to understand these elements of our 
spiritual life. In the history of the race, morality and re- 
ligion have grown up together in close union, and they still 
constitute, for most people, a single whole within which 
the two factors are not regarded as distinct or separable. 
For the practical life, such merging of the forces of morality 
and religion is natural and wholesome. But for the purposes 
of thought, it is necessary to separate and distinguish between 
them. However closely the threads of the one are inter- 
woven with those of the other, clear thinking demands that 
they should be disentangled. Otherwise we could never be 
sure to which field any given fact of the complex whole is 
to be referred for explanation. And instead of attaining to a 
clear understanding of the part played by each, there would 


remain simply the original mass of undifferentiated experi- 

IL Distinction between Morality and Religion 

First of all, then, we have to define the generic character 
of these two types of experience, the moral and the religious. 
The nature of morality, it may be assumed, will be sufficiently 
clear from the previous discussion. As we have insisted, 
morality is concerned with the discovery and development 
of the richest possible content of value that can be realized 
in human life. Its task is to evaluate all forms of spiritual 
activity that appear in the course of civilization, and also 
to determine the importance of the material factors that 
make possible their realization. We shall, perhaps, best 
discover the nature and function of religion by considering 
some differences between its point of view and that of moral- 
ity. In this way we may hope to arrive at a tenable defini- 
tion of the essential nature of religion. 

One striking difference between morahty and religion lies 
in the fact that religion involves a wider outlook. It scans a 
more distant horizon. It is concerned with the cosmic for- 
tunes of good and evil. While morality springs chiefly from 
man's relation to his fellows, religion has its source primarily 
in the relation which man sustains to nature, to the totality 
of those forces by which he is surrounded. If men attained 
by their own efforts a perfectly satisfactory fife and felt no 
dependence upon outside forces, the need for religion would 
never be felt. The origin of religion thus impHes the exist- 
ence of other and more immediate values than those of re- 
ligion itself. Were it not for the primary values of comfort 
of body and peace of mind, religion would never have de- 
veloped in the life of primitive man. Religious values are, 
in this sense, as Hoffding points out, secondary in origin.^ 
They presuppose the existence of still more primary forms 

^ Cf. The Philosophy of Religion, p. 107. 


of good. Faith or hope, for example, can never be a value 
unless there is something of worth which is its object, some- 
thing for which we hope and for the sake of which faith is 
precious. It is because these primary values were constantly 
threatened by powers beyond human control, that the sense 
of dependence, which is of the essence of religion, arose. The 
picture that we are able to form of primitive Hfe presents 
to us the spectacle of a constant struggle on the part of man 
to secure the satisfaction of even his most simple bodily 
needs. His supply of food is often uncertain; the fruits of 
the earth are threatened by drought and frost and blight; 
he has no store laid up for the lean years that are sure to 
come upon him; the springs from which he drinks may dry- 
up under the burning sun; tornado or flood may bring de- 
struction to his rude hut; the terrors of the darkness oppress 
his mind; in every movement and sound of the forest there 
seems to lurk a shadowy foe; sickness comes upon him and 
takes away the bodily strength which is his best defence; 
and, finally, death with its supreme tragedy threatens the 
destruction of aU his hopes. Thus the humblest values are 
dependent upon a power beyond man's control. Students of 
religion are agreed that primitive religions are largely re- 
ligions of fear. But at higher levels of intelligence other 
elements arise. The mysterious unknown, stretching limit- 
less on every hand, challenges the understanding for an ex- 
planation, and spurs the imagination to supply what the 
understanding is unable to give. Awe is awakened by the 
sublimity of natural forces; admiration is kindled by their 
order and beauty. At every step, too, appears the impulse to 
objectify and to project upon the universe with poetic free- 
dom the ideals of the human heart — the strength, the intel- 
ligence, the beauty, and the love for which men long. This 
impulse also leads to the picturing of some super-human 
personality in whom these values may find their embodi- 
ment. Gratitude and love are the natural sentiments of 


those who have received blessing and happiness from the 
higher powers, while a desire to propitiate them and win 
again their favor is strong in those who are suffering loss 
and disaster. Such, in general, are the psychological ex- 
periences which make man a religious being. And they may 
be distinguished with considerable exactness from those 
which lie at the root of moraHty. For morality springs 
chiefly from those human relationships in which the individ- 
ual finds himself compelled to live and act. Morality has 
its deepest roots in the physical and spiritual needs which 
other human beings can satisfy, and in the sympathies which 
answer to these needs. "By the impressions made on him 
by nature, his reason was incited, we conceive, towards 
religion, — by social life towards morality." ^ 

in. The Nature of Religion 

Any definition of religion must necessarily be general and 
abstract. It can be little more than a skeleton-form which 
the mind of the reader must clothe out of its own experience 
and reflection with the flesh and blood of living reality. A 
definition may nevertheless be of service in stimulating and 
guiding the reader's thought. The definition here given 
expresses the conception of religion which will determine 
the discussion of the following pages. ReHgion is the ex- 
perience constituted by those thoughts, feelings, and actions 
which spring from man's sense of dependence upon the power 
or powers controlling the universe, and which have as their 
centre of interest the cosmic fortune of values. 

It is often said that religion is a matter of feeling, and it 
is doubtless true that this is a prominent element of religion. 
It is also true that the intellectual grasp of the object of 
religious experience, the vast and relatively unknown cosmic 
power, is necessarily imperfect and vague. This inevitable 
vagueness gives rise to more or less indefinite ideas which, 

1 Pfleiderer, The Philosophy of Religion, Vol. IV, p. 227. 


in colloquial use, are expressed by the term feeling. But 
such use of feeling is altogether inexact. Feeling, in any 
proper use of the term, cannot adequately express the na- 
ture of religion. Indeed, a little scrutiny of those experiences 
which are loosely described as feehng makes it clear that 
the other psychical activities are always present in them. 
A feeling is always a feeling of something; it has an object 
or content. This object of feeUng is more or less clearly 
represented in terms of ideas. Further, the existence of 
certain ideas and of the emotions which gather about them 
involves voHtional activity, the play of the will; we respond 
inevitably with answering effort to the ideas that interest 
us. Thus all the elements of the psychical life are involved 
in religious as well as in all other experience. In short, men 
have ideas about the universe in which they exist; they feel 
emotions when these ideas are present; and they act, prac- 
tically, in response to them. A vindication of this view is 
found in the historical religions, all of which have attempted 
to offer an intellectual interpretation of the world, a cos- 
mology of some kind. They have sought to claim the at- 
tention and respect of men by saying: "We offer you here 
the truth about the imiverse; take this truth to your minds 
and hearts and Hves; beheve it, feel it, and act upon it." 

The fundamental error involved in the definition of re- 
ligion which would limit it to feeling only, is a far-reaching 
one. There is here a very fog-bank of obscure thinking, 
from which error and misunderstanding constantly issue. 
We hear and read much in religious discussions of the "rea- 
sons of the heart," and we are often warned that the other 
sides of our nature require satisfaction as well as the intel- 
lect. The confusion involved in such utterances is little less 
than an intellectual scandal. As if every genuine reason 
were not an affair both of the heart and of the head! As if, 
too, there were an intellectual satisfaction which is not, by 
the very necessity of our natures, also a matter of feeling! 


Or as if the will had some special form of satisfaction of its 
own ! It can hardly be too often repeated that any satisfac- 
tion is of necessity, in one aspect, always a state of feeling. 
It is the function of feeling to yield that direct personal 
appreciation of things which we call satisfaction or happi- 
ness. In this sense there are no "satisfactions" of the in- 
tellect or of the will, for without feeling all value would 
vanish from the world. But this fact must not lead one to 
forget that there is no satisfaction of feehng which is not, 
of necessity, at the same time an affair of the intellect and 
of the will. All satisfactions have their ideational side; 
they are represented in thought. They also have their active 
side ; they involve effort, they are voHtional processes. Every 
end, or value, is thus at one and the same time an idea, a 
mode of feeling, and a process of effort. Those who speak 
of "reasons of the heart" doubtless mean that there are 
deep longings of human nature, the satisfaction of which 
seems necessary to happiness, but which is not assured by 
direct knowledge. Yet no yearning or longing is in itself a 
"reason" in the sense intended. All cravings of human 
nature for a good not present must be critically examined 
with the purpose of determining their significance in the 
scheme of things, and also the hope of their fulfillment. 
Otherwise we might at once find in all our longings not only 
reasons for the belief that they will be gratified, but also 
reasons for gratifying them whenever gratification is in our 
power. But there are numerous desires which, in our best 
moments, we recognize should not be gratified, and there 
are also many worthy desires which, alas! are not gratified 
at all in the lives of millions of human beings. Another 
error, closely allied to that which finds expression in "reasons 
of the heart," appears in the frequent assumption that what 
is in the sphere of value is thereby removed from the sphere 
of reason and of intellectual scrutiny. This entirely over- 
looks the fact that value, as much as any other thing in the 


world, may be the object of thought, of scientific observa- 
tion and analysis, and of a genuinely reflective appraisal. 
Religious teachers have often assumed that, in the presence 
of certain experiences of worth, the critical faculty must 
sleep, or at least keep silent. But it is precisely in such 
experiences that the human reason finds its highest exercise, 
its noblest expression. It is the glory of man to know good 
and evil. For the guidance of his Hfe he must grasp these 
in reflective thought, not merely in immediate experience as 
they are known to the brute creation. Such reflective knowl- 
edge means sorrow as weU as joy, but we cannot escape it 
save by ceasing to be human. 

The definition of religion given above expresses, as we 
have already seen, the psychological root of religion, the 
experience that makes man a reHgious being. This is the 
inevitable sense of dependence for his weal and woe upon 
the vast and largely unknown power which both stirs within 
him and encompasses him from without. This sense of de- 
pendence owes all its vitality to the fact that there are values 
for the securing and preservation of which man is profoundly 
concerned, and at the same time largely helpless. The cos- 
mic favor and disfavor, the good and ill that transcend alike 
the individual will and the social order, constitute forever 
the high theme of religion; all historical faiths are variations 
upon this one theme; and to the end of time the develop- 
ing forms of rehgious thought and life will centre about it. 
Men will never cease to ask the meaning of their relations 
to the World-power that encompasses them and determines 
the fortunes of their destiny. 

The ideal form of religion, which men are always seeking, 
must involve that interpretation of the world which is truest, 
and that adjustment of conduct which, in view of this in- 
terpretation, will jdeld to humanity the richest values. This 
conception of rehgion doubtless means an enlargement of 
the conventional ideas of its nature. But such enlargement 


is both inevitable and desirable. Nor can we arbitrarily 
determine in advance the limits of such growth and trans- 
formation. The inability to picture new forms of religious 
life is due largely to a failure to interpret sympathetically 
the deeper spiritual experiences of the race in the course it 
has already traversed. As long as it be admitted that reli- 
gion derives its essential character from man's interpretation 
of the whole of being, we cannot refuse the name of religion 
to any life-moving experience that springs from this source. 
It may even be maintained, to put the case in an extreme 
form, that if a distant posterity should be forced to the de- 
liberate and firm conviction that the world is, on the whole, 
bad instead of good, as the radical pessimists have taught, 
a candid acceptance of the bitter truth, and an unswerving 
devotion to the task of diminishing the misery of existence in 
all possible ways, would then constitute a religious attitude. 

Other questions concerning the definition of religion natur- 
ally arise. Is religion instinctive? Are all men necessarily 
religious? And how broad should be our interpretation of 
what constitutes to-day a religious attitude? To the first 
question, it may be replied that religion is certainly instinc- 
tive in the sense that man is endowed with tendencies which 
inevitably lead him to respond in his relations to the world- 
order with those special ideas, emotions, and activities that 
constitute historically the religious life of man. The imi- 
versality of religion also follows from this fact. All men are 
religious. But this answer requires explanation. Not in- 
frequently we speak of certain people as irreligious, and it is 
obvious that all men do not respond in the same way to 
religious stimuli. But these stimuli are everywhere opera- 
tive. Every man at times has experiences which can be 
referred only to religion for their explanation. It will aid in 
clearing up this point if we distinguish between the active 
and the passive elements in religion. The passive side re- 
presents those inevitable impressions which the object of 


religious belief produces upon the mind. There is no one 
who, in the grip of the great forces of nature, does not feel 
his weakness and dependence, and who does not long for 
help. A man may despair of securing such help; or he may- 
even interpret these forces as mahgn, and so meriting his 
hatred; or he may regard them as indifferent to his personal 
appeal, requiring nothing at his hands and giving nothing 
in return. But even in such cases there is a conscious re- 
action to the influence of forces which are the very root of 
rehgion. The active side of religion, on the other hand, finds 
expression in man's efforts to bring his whole Hfe into con- 
scious harmony with the true meaning of the world-order. 
This effort, it is, which 3delds the reKgious values of self- 
surrender and resignation, of harmony and cooperation, of 
faith and hope in the outcome of things. Or if we find that 
it is impossible to harmonize the meaning of human Hfe with 
the world-order as a whole, we should then regard positive 
religion as the loyal effort to fulfill the spiritual destiny that 
has been assigned to man. Not aU men win the true values 
of religion, but all men have experiences, which, under any 
adequate definition of its meaning, must be referred to this 
source. The religious interest is universal and ineradicable, 
waiting only to be called into conscious hfe. 

The answer which would be made by different persons to 
the question as to the breadth of meaning that should be 
given to religion, will depend largely upon the extent to 
which they have studied the rehgions of different races and 
times, as also upon the extent to which they have been able 
sympathetically to enter into the deeper experiences of their 
fellows. To many people rehgion always means their own 
religion, which is of course for them the one and only true 
faith. But a few test cases may aid the reader to define his 
own thought on the subject. Shall we, for example, regard 
as reKgious, the experience of the poet who may not recog- 
nize the God of the theologians, but who finds in the uni- 


verse a power and beauty which thrill him with wonder and 
awe? In like manner, one may ask, is a scientist like Huxley 
religious, when, leaving his own special field of investigation, 
he contemplates the whole of nature with its system of discov- 
erable laws, and recognizes his own dependence upon it, not 
only for his existence, but also for certain principles which 
should guide his conduct? Is he religious who, despairing of 
conventional faith, worships the ideal of goodness which has 
been wrought out in the spiritual struggles of humanity? 

Whatever the answer which different persons would give 
to these questions, it is important to remember that a defini- 
tion of religion can, of necessity, describe only the universal 
form of the rehgious consciousness. Its content varies al- 
most endlessly. As soon as a particular content of ideas, 
emotions, and activities fills out this formula with concrete 
life, variety at once begins. We then have to do with re- 
Hgions rather than with religion. It is also true that any 
one of the historical religions will, according to sect and 
creed, display differences for every individual believer. As 
reKgion attempts an ultimate interpretation of the meaning 
of experience, including both the realm of nature and of 
human Hfe, the actual processes of the rehgious life wiU 
depend upon the precise stage of culture reached, and wiU 
be influenced by every scientific, philosophical, aesthetic, and 
ethical view which the individual has accepted. In the last 
resort each human spirit will mirror the universe in a way 
that is unique. No two are capable of reflecting the religious 
life with the same shades of thought, feeling, and action. 
This is true even of those who sit side by side in church, re- 
peating unquestioningly the same creed, and joining with- 
out reserve in the same worship. We must accustom our- 
selves, therefore, to the necessity of recognizing different 
types of religion, and through a genuine moral discipline 
learn to give to aU religious experience a sympathetic under- 
standing, and to guarantee to it its spiritual freedom. 


If, now, in view of these essential features of religion, it is 
asked how we may distinguish between the ethical and the 
religious elements of experience, our answer would be that 
the distinction is always to be found in the point of view from 
which we consider the tasks and values of life. Both religion 
and morality are all-inclusive, each from its own stand-point. 
Morality, as we have insisted, aims to discover and develop 
all the values of human Hfe, and to organize them into the 
richest possible content of earthly civilization. The spiritual 
activities represented by science, art, and religion form im- 
portant parts of this content, and so are all criticized and 
evaluated by ethics. But it is equally true that this whole 
content m.ay be taken up into the religious life, where it is 
viewed as a divinely appointed task, a business dictated 
by a super-human order. Morality always views the values 
of life as directly dependent upon our human choices and 
actions; religion places them in their cosmic setting, and re- 
gards them as dependent upon some power beyond man's 
control. Even the very willing of our moral choices is 
brought by religion within this setting; morality now becomes 
a function of the divine order. Thus the constant struggle 
of men to transmute personal power into forms of value may 
be viewed as both moral and religious. As moral, this strug- 
gle places man for the moment at the centre; destiny is now 
in human hands; the choice of better or worse is man's own 
choice. But as religious, the point of view shifts to a wider 
arena; the struggle is part of a super-human process; destiny 
is not ultimately of man's own choosing; the individual 
represents the cause of his God. If one desires to distinguish 
between the ethical and the rehgious motive, in their prac- 
tical operation, it may be said that, when one labors for a 
better personal Hfe or social order with conscious appeal 
to immediate human needs and relations, the motive is 
ethical; but the motive is rehgious when one labors for the 
same end with a conscious appeal to some principle or ideai 


which is regarded as transcending human purposes, and as 
deriving its vahdity from an all-inclusive meaning. It is 
obvious that the attitudes and motives which we have de- 
scribed respectively as ethical and religious will constantly 
unite and overlap. Now we are moved by one, now by an- 
other. Both play in and out through the experiences of 
life as the shuttle flies in and out through the warp. 

IV. The Interaction of Morality and Religion 

We now pass to consider some of the more important 
ways in which morality and religion react upon each other. 
Religion, in its social and institutional development, neces- 
sarily incorporates ethical elements. The very conception 
of the deity which any religion offers, represents the ethical 
standards of its adherents. The history of religion makes 
it clear that all the moral attributes of deity are drawn from 
the moral ideals prevailing among the chief worshippers, 
and that they have first been constructed in human rela- 
tions before being ascribed to the gods. MoraHty has thus 
grown up from the earth towards heaven; historically it 
has not proceeded the other way. Man has projected upon 
the Infinite the highest excellence he has known, bringing 
his best as tribute to religion. What is true of moral attri- 
butes is also true of all others, physical, aesthetic, and intel- 
lectual. There is, therefore, a half-truth in the paradox of 
Feuerbach, that "instead of God creating man, man has 
created God." Man has certainly created his idea of God, 
including its moral elements. As Goethe has expressed it: 

"Im Innem ist ein Universum auch, 
Daher der Volker lobUcher Gebrauch, 
Dass jeglicher das Beste, was er kennt, 
Er Gott, ja seinen Gott benennt, 
Ihm Himmel und Erden iibergibt, 
Ihn fiirchtet, und womoglich liebt." ^ 

^ Proemium to Goli mid Welt. 


As man advances to higher stages of morahty his earlier 
conceptions of the moral character of the deity no longer 
satisfy him, and are accordingly criticized and reconstructed 
to meet the demands of his new ideals. "So wie die Volker 
sich bessem, bessem sich auch ihre Gotter." ^ Among the 
many illustrations of this principle may be mentioned the 
history of the religious thought of the Greeks and of the He- 
brews. Greek literature, from Homer to Plato, displays 
in the clearest manner the gradual transformation of the 
ethical elements in Greek religion. From the crude thought 
of the gods as possessing human appetites and passions, 
which give rise to constant intrigues, jealousies, and strife, 
there slowly emerges a more worthy view, until in Plato 
and Aristotle the conception of the deity is made to express 
the highest spiritual perfection which thought had attained, 
and is, at the same time, the ideal of what humanity should 
be in its ethical life. The evolution of the religious thought 
of the Hebrews followed a similar course. Yahweh is at 
first a tribal deity, and is viewed as the partial defender of 
his own worshippers, caring nothing for the fortunes or the 
fate of other peoples. But, gradually, with the attainment 
of a higher ideal on the part of their leaders, and especially 
with the appearance of the prophets, who make a ringing 
appeal for moral reform, a change is effected. Morahty 
is seen to require a regard for those outside of Israel; justice 
and mercy as universal principles of conduct are empha- 
sized; and in keeping with this change Yahweh becomes the 
God of all mankind, dealing with all in justice, and requiring 
Tightness of heart and Kfe as the condition of his favor. 
The prophets declare that he will even cast off his chosen 
people if they fail to meet these ethical requirements. Illus- 
trations lying close to our own time are found in the modifi- 
cation of rehgious conceptions in the past century through 
the influence of ethical ideals. Among many examples of 

^ Lichtenberg; quoted by Hoffding, "The Philosophy of Religion, " p. 32a. 


such transformation may be mentioned the change from 
the view of God which emphasized his imperial sovereignty, 
to that which emphasized his fatherhood. So, too, even 
in popular thought, the Christian atonement is no longer 
regarded as a quid pro quo, or the balancing of a ledger 
account. The period of missionary enterprise has also 
witnessed a radical change, due chiefly to ethical criticism, 
in the attitude of the Christian world towards non-Christian 

The significant outcome of this ethical criticism of reli- 
gion is that men have come to see that no one could be 
called morally good, who in human relations should display 
the spirit which religious thought had freely ascribed to the 
deity. Accordingly a demand, springing from man's moral 
nature, is made for the reconstruction of the rehgious view.^. 
It was this ethical motive that prompted the remark of one; 
of the Wesleys when he said to a Calvinist, "Your God is 
my devil." The entire history of religion bears clear and 
emphatic testimony to the fact that all the ethical elements 
which it contains have been transferred from the human 
sphere to the divine; they are of earthly warp and woof; 
they contain man's imperfect but ever growing ideal of 
what he ought himself to do and to be. In other words, the 
ethical elements in religion are due to an immanent, not a 
transcendent, process of development. Nor could it have 
been otherwise in the case of beings like ourselves. "If a 
man love not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he 
love God whom he hath not seen?" Were not man so con- 
stituted as to discern and love truth, beauty, and benevo- 
lence of character, it would be idle to bid him strive for 
their attainment. Only as his own inner nature impels him 
towards them, does it become possible for him to respond 
to the call of duty to realize them in his own life. A motive 
which finds no response within us is no motive at all; it is 
simply powerless to move us. In the words of Martineau: 


"If a Creator, in projecting a moral world, should omit to 
render this appreciation [of goodness] immanent in the 
nature of its people, no repairing message could overtake 
the defect." ^ 

Two remarks may here be added by way of further ex- 
planation. In the first place, it is possible to see why ethical 
thought has slowly transformed religious conceptions, why 
it has criticized with freer hand than has religion itself. 
For religion not only strikes root deeply into the past, and, 
being bound up with the life of one's forefathers, is hallowed 
in the memory of the individual, but it is also linked to 
sacred usages on the part of the family and the community, 
and is closely connected with those doctrines of a future life 
which have always aroused the strongest hopes and fears 
of the race. About all its rites and beliefs an atmosphere 
of awe, of mystery, and sacredness, inevitably gathers; 
whereas problems of conduct, which have to do primarily 
with temporal and human relations, are not so hedged about 
with sacred and awe-inspiring sentiments — here criticism 
moves more freely and advances more boldly to new posi- 
tions. It was but natural, then, that religious and theologi- 
cal beliefs should be purified and reconstructed largely 
through the influence of ethical insights. 

Again, the fact that the ethical elements in religion ap- 
pear to most minds to be transcendent, to have been let 
down from heaven to earth as a special revelation, is readily 
expUcable. When once an ethical ideal has been reached 
by the leaders of thought, and, in accordance with the prin- 
ciple already examined, has been taken up into religion 
as a part of its content, it is then taught as a religious truth. 
In this new association it carries with it the sacredness and 
mystery of religion itself. Impressed upon children with all 
the weight of rehgious authority, and always retaining this 
connection in the minds of the people, it necessarily appears 

^ The Relation between Ethics and Religion, an Address, p. 7. 


to them to be a transcendently given truth, a revelation. 
But its real origin and history are traceable to man's grow- 
ing comprehension of his own nature, its meaning and worth, 
its dignity and ideal perfection. 

All religions have developed, as has been seen, some more 
or less detailed code of morals which they have imposed 
upon their adherents as an element in religious obHgation. 
MoraUty has often been regarded almost exclusively from a 
reKgious point of view, and it is important, accordingly, to 
distinguish between a theological and a scientific treatment 
of the problem of ethics. A theological system of ethics in- 
volves certain presuppositions concerning a superhuman 
order and man's relation to it. In such a system, the ac- 
cepted ethical principles appear as commands, or laws, of 
the deity or deities. Thus the rites of hospitality which the 
ancient Greeks observed, were viewed as the requirements 
of Zeus, the protector of the stranger and guest. The ethical 
laws embodied in the ten commandments appear as the 
direct expression of the will of Yahweh. And in the Brah- 
manic religion the entire Hfe of the higher castes, from birth 
to death, was subjected to the control of rehgious rules. 
The sanctions of conduct in such a theological system are 
viewed as residing in the will of the deity, who, it is believed, 
either directly or indirectly rewards right conduct and pun- 
ishes evil doing. But a scientific, in distinction from a theo- 
logical, treatment of ethics seeks to discover and explain 
the facts of human conduct as facts of the existing order. 
It seeks to find the sanctions of morahty in the natural and 
inevitable results of the conduct itself, and to estabhsh 
morality on a rational basis by exhibiting the inescapable 
consequences of right and wrong action, of good and evil 
character, as in themselves sufficient grounds for the choice 
of the one and the avoidance of the other. 

In the historical evolution of religion there may be dis- 
tinguished three general stages, which, if not phases of every 


religion, have at least been moments in the development of 
religious thought as a whole, and may well serve as criteria 
of its progress. The first may be described as a stage of 
magic and of sacrificial rites. The deity is thought to be 
propitiated by certain formal and external acts, when duly 
performed. The second stage is that at which emphasis is 
placed upon creed and dogma, upon a right intellectual 
attitude towards the deity. Less external and formal than 
the preceding stage, it still represents the divine favor as 
depending upon something else than the heart and will. 
The third stage is that in which the emphasis is shifted to 
morality, to conduct and character. The earher stages may 
of course still be represented in the final stage; the real char- 
acter of a religion, however, is determined by the emphasis 
which is given to the different elements. In a deeply ethical 
religion like Christianity, the whole of conduct is viewed as a 
matter of reHgious service, and there results a unification 
and harmony of the moral and religious life. In such a view 
morality is warmed and brightened by faith in a Supreme 
Spirit, who is reverenced as the author and guarantor of the 
moral order. Possessed of such a faith, the individual feels 
that he does not enter upon the moral conflict at his own 
charges, but that behind the known order, where often we 
see the good overborne and the evil triumphant, there is an 
Infinite Champion and Defender of right. 

Religion may, therefore, render to moralit)'- an important 
service in enforcing its requirements by an appeal to super- 
natural sanctions. Although we insist that, with clearer 
vision and more adequate knowledge, the natural sanctions 
would prove a sufficient support of morality, we still freely 
admit that, in the case of many individuals, and even of 
whole peoples, the supernatural sanctions — the fear of future 
punishment and the hope of future reward — have been strong 
supports of the social order. It is easy to overestimate the 
moral worth of conduct induced by such hopes and fears. 


But one must not forget that there are higher phases of 
religious experience than those in which these motives oper- 
ate. The human spirit, touched with pure love and rever- 
ence for that beauty and goodness which its faith sees en- 
throned at the heart of the universe, may be drawn upward, 
even as Plato taught, by the force of this divine affection. 

The powerful and varied influences which religious beliefs 
have exercised upon conduct in the various periods of human 
history cannot receive discussion here. It is clear, however, 
that these influences have been of a dual nature, partly 
beneficial and partly baneful. For though heroic and saintly 
souls have again and again quickened their moral life at the 
altar of religion, the fanatic and the inhimian persecutor 
have no less surely drawn inspiration from the same source. 
Some of the saddest pages of history are those which recount 
the dominance of religious motives. The zeal which is be- 
gotten by the belief that the heavenly powers are lending 
their sanction and support to man, has not always been a 
zeal according to morality. An "age of faith" is not neces- 
sarily an age of morality, nor an "age of doubt" necessarily 
one of immorahty. It all depends upon the kind of faith and 
doubt in question. One should surely be cautious about 
measuring moral conviction by dogmatic faith, or moral 
enthusiasm by religious emotion. Examples are never 
wanting of those who "believe and tremble," and yet boldly 
play the devil's part in the business of life. 

V. Non-ethical, Ethical, and Anti-ethical Elements 

OF Religion 

The most vital relations between morality and reUgion 
may be summarized by describing various elements of re- 
ligion as respectively non-ethical, ethical, and anti-ethical, 
according to their actual influence upon the realization of 
values. The non-ethical elements in any religion may be 
defined as those which do not affect, for better or for worse, 


man's conduct in human relations. Such elements will 
naturally most often be found in a religion that is predomi- 
nantly ritualistic or legalistic. He who believes that the gods 
simply require a libation or sacrifice, and that he has dis- 
charged his whole religious duty when this claim has been 
satisfied, will not be perceptibly better or worse in his con- 
duct because of his recognition of such a religious obligation. 
Little ethical significance attaches to the lowest forms of 
religion. The gods are conceived as powers upon which 
man is dependent, but they are not thought of as ideal ex- 
amples or as controlling forces in the moral order. The 
natural development of religion is doubtless from this non- 
ethical form to that in which the deities are regarded as 
moral powers. It is safer, however, to speak of the non- 
ethical elements in a religion than to describe any religion 
as non-ethical without qualification. Even the religion of 
the ancient Romans, which was so formal and legalistic 
as to be a good example of a religion predominantly non- 
ethical, cannot be adequately described by this term. For 
it is perhaps never the case that a religion has not exercised 
some influence upon men's ideas of personal character or 
social justice. Even where the gods are regarded simply as 
powers whose favor the worshipper desires to win, because, 
wanting their favor or incurring their hostility, he will suffer 
in his worldly fortunes, it would be hard to exclude all in- 
fluence, positive or negative, upon the values reaUzed in the 
life of daily conduct. It may well be urged, therefore, that 
the elements of religion which we have described as non- 
ethical are so only relatively. With a nicer discrimination 
their influence might be traced in the field of values, just as 
the acts which men call morally neutral may be believed, 
in the last resort, to fall by fine shades of difference into 
acts that are either good or bad. 

To be ethical, religion does not, of necessity, cast off its 
credal, or even its ritualistic character. What is essential 


for an ethical religion is that these elements should minister 
to inspiration and strength for moral tasks. If by the per- 
formance of a rite or sacrifice, or if by the submissive ac- 
ceptance of a creed, it is thought that merit is gained by 
which past moral delinquencies are offset, or a balance of 
credit laid up from which drafts may be drawn for future 
license, the influence is anti-ethical. 

The anti-ethical elements in any religion are clearly de- 
finable, for in the case of these the gods are thought to require, 
or to permit, acts destructive of the true values of life. Hu- 
man sacrifice and the rites of phaUic worship are among the 
more striking examples of such aspects of religion. But the 
forms of anti-ethical influence in religion are exceedingly 
numerous and subtle. Even though the reHgion in which 
they appear may be on the whole an ethical religion, that is, 
one exercising in general a favorable influence upon the worth 
of life, it is difficult to purge completely any rehgion of all 
elements which work, in some way and to some degree, 
against the development of the highest values. So important 
is this matter that it is necessary to examine somewhat 
more in detail the actual requirements of a truly ethical 
religion. Ethics is far more exigent in its demands upon re- 
ligion than is commonly thought. Indeed, the claims of 
ethics in this respect possess, for reasons that we shall see, 
a priority which we cannot ignore. 

Perhaps the most frequent lapse of the great religions of 
the world into an attitude hostile to ethical interests has been 
the result of duaHstic theories of value. This duaHsm has 
naturally been most prominent in connection with the belief 
in another World, varying forms of which beHef have been 
widely held by historical religions. A future and super- 
terrestrial existence has often been assimied to possess values 
fundamentally different from those which morahty recog- 
nizes in the present life. ReHgious wars and persecutions 
have resulted largely from this error. For in these wars 


it has usually been assumed by one or both parties that cer- 
tain values of a supernatural order warranted, or even de- 
manded, the overriding of all temporal and earthly values. 
To win possession of an empty sepulchre by bloody wars 
seemed to the crusading Christians more important than the 
cultivation of the Christian virtues of peace and good wUl. 
Often, too, religion has made the surrender of the values of 
this life a condition of the possession of those of the future. 
Again and again, in the history of religion, a system of con- 
duct has been imposed upon men, not in the interests of life 
as we know it, but in the supposed interest of an imagined 
life of a different kind. A duaUsm between the values of the 
present and the future order is always and everywhere the 
theoretical support of asceticism and other-worldliness. 
Such dualism is deeply ingrained in much of the religion of 
the Orient, and appears prominently in primitive and medi- 
aeval Christianity. Many a saint of the early church and 
many a mediaeval monk felt that he actually possessed a 
more exact and complete knowledge of another life than of 
the present. This higher world cast a deep shadow upon the 
world below. The engrossing interest in heavenly things 
left but scant time and attention for the things of earth. 
But obviously tremendous and unwarranted assumptions 
underlie this dualism. Not only is it assumed as certain 
that there is another life, and that its interests are, in many 
ways, different from those which exist within the field of 
earthly experience, but it is also assumed that the interests 
and values of this other world are so clearly and fully known 
that, for the sake of them, one is justified in a course of con- 
duct opposed to that which is dictated by a just regard for 
the present life alone. Such a procedure involves reasoning 
from the unknown to the known in its most flagrant form. 

This duaHsm in ideas of value is not merely of the past; 
traces of it still appear in popular religion. It is often as- 
sumed that the real interests of this life, considered by it- 


self, would dictate one mode of conduct, the interests of the 
future life, considered by itself, quite another. But in the 
absence of all direct knowledge of any other existence, the 
presumption is wholly in favor of a continuity of values 
with those of the present order. Nowhere do we find evi- 
dence of discontinuity in developing life. As all possible 
knowledge of values is derived from the experiences of the 
present life, no other world can prescribe standards of value 
to this world. In our highest endeavors after a truly spirit- 
ual life it still holds good that we must "live by reaHties." 
DuaHsm in values ignores the fact that every attempt to 
represent to ourselves the values of another sphere of Hfe 
is based upon actual experience here and now. What the 
imagination pictures is always an extension and idealiza- 
tion of just those values which are discovered and appre- 
ciated in our actual experience. It is a psychological im- 
possibiHty to construct such representations out of other 
material than that offered in our present existence. One 
can even say that the assured knowledge that there is no 
existence beyond the present life could not change a good 
man's estimate of what is right and wrong, good and evil. 
Our standards would remain the same, for we have not a 
particle of evidence to show that what is truly best for this 
life is inimical to the interests of the future, any more than 
we have evidence that anything inimical to our present 
interests, taken as a whole, can in the sHghtest degree serve 
the interests of the future. From the point of view of a 
sound moraHty and an enlightened religion our moral tasks, 
as far as standards of good and evil are concerned, are im- 
affected by behef on this question. To seek an extrinsic 
test for moral values is to take refuge in a flight from reahty. 
Rehgion is, in fact, concerned with the relations which 
human values sustain to reahty, rather than with the de- 
termination of these values themselves. 
Many elements of historical rehgion have been in their 


popular influence anti-ethical. Such we must without 
doubt pronounce the stimulation of the fear of death. The 
natural shrinking from the physical experience of death, 
which appears as a deep-seated instinct even in the animal 
kingdom, has often been intensified by the possibility of 
hideous torture in a future world. This fear has sometimes 
been defended as helpful in moral ways by restraining men 
from wrong-doing. Even when so used, it is a crude and 
unworthy instrument which all higher spiritual culture will 
surely reject. Such use of the thought of death is no better 
than the effort of the ignorant nurse to frighten a naughty 
cliild into submission by appealing to the terrors of the dark. 
The thought of death is a moral evil just in so far as it tends 
to detract from the worth of life; and it must be confessed, 
alas! that in the past it has had this effect upon the lives 
of countless numbers. How often the thought of death 
has sapped the vigor of Hfe, or even paralyzed for a time 
its activity! How often it has cast over Hfe not only the 
gloom of deep melancholy, but also the blackness of despair! 
One almost blushes with shame when one thinks of the 
foolish and wicked terrors with which the crude theologies 
of the world have surrounded the inevitable event. It is 
sad that the teaching of the Christian world has succeeded 
no better in hberating men from such terrors. 

Quite different, however, must be our estimate of the 
thought of death when it brings to mind beautiful and 
heroic examples that quicken us to worthier living, or when 
the thought of our own death admonishes us to make good 
use of the present opportunity and the present joy. In the 
interests of life we need to cultivate a more fearless attitude 
towards death. Admiration must be kindled in the young 
for those lofty souls who have not counted their hves dear 
when the call of duty or the course of nature has led them 
into the great darkness. Such an attitude it is the task cf 
both ethics and rehgion to inspire. We cannot, however, 


obscure the fact that death is morally destructive. It is 
primarily a tragic negation of values; it blots out much that 
we hold precious; it brings to an end experiences that we 
seek to conserve; and it takes from the moral struggle many 
who can ill be spared, while it leaves others who are com- 
paratively useless or who have ranged themselves on the 
wrong side in the conflict between good and evil. It is our 
moral task, therefore, to fight against disease and death as 
we fight against other natural forces that work destruc- 
tively to human interests. But when all that is possible to 
human powers has been done, death still remains inescapable 
and inexorable, not to be cajoled or cheated of its dues. 
And yet there is clearly a better and a worse way of meeting 
the fact of death; therefore, a moral and an immoral way. 
Our duty, then, is to moralize even this tragic event as far 
as possible, that is to make it serve, as far as it is in our 
power, the uses of life. Living and dying, our moral task 
is always a meditatio vitce. Even in the hour of death we 
cannot cease to be concerned for those persons and causes 
that we have loved in life. The will so to act, both in life 
and in the very article of death, that the highest possible 
weU-being shaU come to those he leaves behind him, is no 
small part of a good man's concern. He will seek to make 
his moral effort significant to his fellows when he no longer 
consciously carries it on, or watches the fortunes of its prog- 
ress. The meaning of a noble life is revealed in death with 
a clarity of perspective often obscured in the crowded days 
of the actual struggle. Then it is that the thought of the 
departed may no longer serve merely to chill the warm cur- 
rents of life, but may speak to us of a brave resignation to 
the inevitable lot, of heroic endurance of suffering, and of 
unselfish devotion to ideals of truth, beauty, and love. We 
ought to think of those who in life have willed to serve the 
highest values as still united with us in a common earthly 
task. In very truth they are with us in the fight, not indeed 


by our side as the gods in the old myths are represented, 
but in an even more intimate way. They are within us, 
forming a part of our deepest consciousness, fashioning our 
loves and hates, determining our choices and our refusals, 
rebuking our weakness and quickening our courage for the 
encounter. This is no fable or figure of speech, but indubi- 
table fact. To precisely that degree to which the departed 
are effectively present in memory, they are still active in 
the moral community. In the ethical life we do well to 
strengthen our wills and comfort our hearts by these sure 
reahties, which neither doubt can obscure nor unknown des- 
tiny put in hazard. He who finds no comfort in the con- 
tinuity and permanence of moral influence may well ask 
himself whether he has deserved other comfort, and whether 
it were not wise, before taking refuge in imaginative pic- 
tures of the unknown, to exercise his spirit in the fuller mas- 
tery of the possibilities of actual experience. 

There are other moods frequently begotten by religious 
sentiment which are also at strife with the interests of life. 
Such we must pronounce to be an undue absorption in the 
thought of the future or a concentration of the imag- 
ination upon the unkno^^n. Among the things "not in 
our power" is the destiny of the future, and we do well 
to leave its unknown fortunes for the cultivation of those 
spiritual values which are now within our reach. Unethical, 
too, are those moods, however subtle and ingratiating, 
which produce in idealistic temperaments a sense of home- 
sickness and despair in the presence of the imperfection of 
earthly existence. All forms of religious pessimism which 
beget a sense of human helplessness and of the illusory and 
worthless character of earthly experience are also, on ethical 
grounds, to be vigorously combated. All these moods and 
tendencies lead in greater or less degree to the negation of 
the worth of life, and this is always in principle a destruction 
of life, a partial suicide. Suicide itself is, like homicide, a 


supreme moral wrong because it is the negation of all the 
possibilities of value, not because man does not possess the 
right to control the ending of life, as well as its beginning, 
when a real ground for such control is present. A deep and 
universal conviction approves the offering up of life for a 
worthy cause. But suicide, save in exceptional cases, is 
the disregard of the values of life, and a cowardly flight 
from the struggle which these values impose. 

In the past, men have too readily assumed that the moods 
of disparagement or scorn of earthly values are of nobler 
spiritual rank than those which impel to ends of immediate 
worth. But instead of taking higher rank in the hierarchy 
of spiritual impulses, they are almost always of a lower 
order. Traced to their sources, they are usually found to 
spring from disease, weakness, weariness, or a desire for 
personal ease. It has also been assumed that the sources 
of such tendencies are rooted so deeply in human nature 
that it is hopeless, or almost impious, to seek to control 
them. Against such a view, one may well place the words 
of Hoffding: "We must set to work so to modify physical, 
physiological, psychological and racial conditions that the 
melancholy, the relaxation of mind, the want of courage to 
live, which so often underlie a depreciatory judgment of the 
value of life, will disappear, or at any rate will no longer be 
able to overspread and overwhelm a man's entire inner 
life." 1 

But while one must reject the dualism of values into which 
the historical religions have so often fallen, and must insist 
upon the principle of continuity, it is still possible to recog- 
nize that this duaHsm has not been meaningless, but has 
rendered, however imperfectly, its own measure of service. 
This service has consisted in deepening the channels of the 
spiritual life. It has forbidden man to content himself 
with the things of sense, with surface experiences, and shal- 

' The Philosophy of Religion, p. 349. 


low views of the world. By it he has often been driven from 
the outer to the inner life, from the material to the spiritual, 
from the transient to the enduring. It has rebuked vulgar 
pleasure-seeking in the practical life and superficial clever- 
ness in the theoretical. Its radical defects have been that 
it has allowed to an unbridled imagination too large a meas- 
ure of influence in its doctrines, and has made the triumph 
of the spiritual life too remote. 

VI. The Problem of Evil 

But there is another and far more bafiling conflict between 
morality and prevaihng theological beliefs. The existence 
of evil, the presence in the world of many forces clearly de- 
structive of human values, compels one to go deeper in the 
discussion of our problem, or to abandon oneself to a merely 
blind acquiescence in the doctrine that whatever is, is good. 
Religion, as we have seen, always attempts to interpret the 
universe as a whole, to construe for us the meaning of the 
entire process, including both nature and our own conscious 
life. These two elements not only stand in unceasing and 
complex interaction, but they also often break out into open 
hostihty in the field of values. The order of nature again 
and again flagrantly disregards and ruthlessly destroys 
precious values — the very values which it is the task of 
morality to produce and conserve. And no less surely is 
there a dualism within the kingdom of man's inner experi- 
ence, where good and evil contend for the mastery. Here, 
too, there is much failure and defeat. If we apply the meas- 
uring rod of our standard of worth to ourselves, to our fellow- 
men, and to the social order, there can be but one result. 
From such a survey we must return with the verdict that 
human life is not what it should be, that all is not well with 
the world. 

The difficulties of the situation appear in familiar histori- 
cal form in all anthropocentric theories of the universe, and in 


all anthropomorphic conceptions of God. If the universe 
has as its central purpose the reaHzation of worth in human 
lives, its success appears to have been far from brilliant; 
a host of damaging facts confront us. And, similarly, if 
God is possessed of our human ideals of value, the question 
why they are so imperfectly realized in the world, admits 
of no answer as long as His power is regarded as unlimited. 
On this view, everything surely ought to be beautiful and 
good, yes, perfect; nothing in the scheme of things could be 
changed for the better. But this interpretation clashes too 
violently with our surest and sanest judgments of value. 
Morality, it must be remembered, is essentially militant; it 
takes men into the heat and dust of life. It involves a deep 
and abiding conviction that it is our duty to labor for the 
betterment of an imperfect order. And it is accompanied 
by the insight that, after all our labor, unnumbered evils 
will remain, that in truth scarcely one of a thousand existing 
plague spots can be touched. There can be, therefore, no 
cessation of the conflict while there is strength remaining, 
no "moral holiday" while life lasts. How different is the 
view necessarily involved in the assumptions of traditional 
theology! When taken in earnest, these assumptions mean 
nothing less than that, from the foundation of the world, 
all is essentially perfect, that nothing could be changed for 
the better. From this standpoint our efforts must seem but 
petty tinkering or puerile interference; even the plague spots 
are really good, and all the tragedy and desolation a chosen 
part of the scheme. 


The sharp contradiction that thus arises between our 
judgments of value and the actual order of the world, forces 
rehgious thought to a choice of alternative views. It must 
either accept the idea of a limited Deity, struggling against 
heavy odds for the realization of a moral order launched 


under difficulties and carried forward against opposition, or 
it must frankly acknowledge that the universe is realizing 
other ends as well as those of our human ideals; must admit, 
in other words, that our human system of values is not one 
with the divine system. The first of these alternatives in- 
volves some kind of religious dualism or pluralism. The 
second, naturally aUies itself with a monistic, or absolutistic, 
theory of the universe. 

James, as is well known, was an ardent advocate of the 
theory of a limited and finite God. "When John Mill said 
that the notion of God's omnipotence must be given up, if 
God is to be kept as a religious object, he was surely accur- 
ately right; yet so prevalent is the lazy monism that idly 
haunts the region of God's name, that so simple and truthful 
a saying was generally treated as a paradox : God, it was said, 
could not be finite. I believe that the only God worthy the 
name must be finite." ^ To think God in this way makes it 
possible to attribute to him our ideals, to regard our values 
as his values. James himself described the resulting feeling 
as a sense of "intimacy" between ourselves and the universe, 
whereas monism meant to him "foreignness." Elsewhere he 
describes the difference as that between a "thick" and a 
"thin" interpretation of things. 

James by no means stands alone in this view. Mr. Rash- 
dall, in his Theory of Good and Evil, holds to the conception 
of a limited Deity. Against those who profess an opti- 
mism which declares the universe to be perfect, his utter- 
ance is most emphatic. "I confess I feel strongly tempted," 
he exclaims, "to adopt the words of Schopenhauer: 'I can 
not here avoid the statement that to me optimism, when it 
is not merely the thoughtless talk of such as harbour 
nothing but words under their low foreheads, appears not 
merely as an absurd, but also as a really wicked way of think- 
ing, as a bitter mockery of the unspeakable suffering of 

^ A Pluralistic Universe, p. 124. 


humanity/" * Of the necessity of recognizing limitation in 
the divine power he says: "The end which we must suppose 
to be the end of the Universe must be the greatest good on 
the whole, the greatest good that is possible; that is to say, 
the good that necessarily flows from a Will of perfect good- 
ness but limited power." ^ 

Another among many representatives of the same view 
was Professor Laurie, long a stout champion of theism. It is 
significant that near the end of his career we find him saying, 
" I find that I must modify my inherited conception of God."^ 
He insists upon the fact of "superfluous pain," i. e. pain 
which does not further human good. "Much of the misery 
and sorrow of life," he says, "might have been withheld 
without detriment, nay with positive advantage, to the pur- 
pose of man's existence as a rational and ethical being 
charged with his own destiny." "All creation travaileth. 
There is something amiss." And he adds, " God is a Spirit 
but a Spirit in Difficulty. . . . His life is, in truth, a strenu- 
ous life." 4 

Such are the views of some of those who would settle the 
account between our judgments of value and the real order 
by the first of the alternatives presented above, that of a 
finite Deity. It is clear that such a view answers to certain 
cravings of the heart. We do unquestionably desire the 
assurance of kinship, of "intimacy" with the universe in 
which we live. But it by no means follows that all our 
spontaneous and unchastened longings are to be satisfied. 
And, more serious still, this view enormously increases the 
difficulty of any kind of proof or intellectual vhidication of 
the existence of God — of a God, at least, who is more than 
a subjective ideal. What is gained in immediate satisfaction 
concerning the nature of God is purchased at the price of 

^ Theory of Good and Evil, vol. II, p. 243, note. 

^ Ibid., p. 290. 

^ Synthetica, vol. 2, p. 336. 

*7W<i, pp. 328,336. 


making his very existence problematical. It is impossible 
to enter upon the question here, but most of the arguments 
employed would also lead, if accepted, straight to the con- 
ception of a spirit of evil, a devil, coexistent with the Deity. 

In justification of his idea of a finite God, James appealed 
chiefly to the evidence furnished by certain abnormal or 
super-normal facts of consciousness. Few can be satisfied 
with evidence of this kind, depending, as it does, upon such 
slender threads of experience. One cannot forget, too, that 
there are difiiculties in stopping, as well as in beginning, the 
play of the spiritual forces which he invokes. If we are to 
beheve in the existence of one finite Deity, why may we not 
equally weU believe in the existence of several? The evil 
in the world would find one of the most plausible explana- 
tions in the lack of harmony and cooperation among numer- 
ous spiritual agents presiding over it. But if we once accept 
the belief in a realm of finite, encompassing spirits, such as 
James suggested, what bar exists to the revival of primitive 
and mediaeval views which peopled space with innumerable 
spirits, good and bad, angelic and impish? That conception 
of things was surely "thick", not "thin"; it provided amply 
for "intimacy," but an intimacy, alas! from which most of 
us would pray to be dehvered. We should prefer the "for- 
eignness" of the Absolute to such intimacy. 

The difficulties of dualism or plurahsm in religion will 
to many seem not only grave, but altogether insurmount- 
able. The practical solution of the religious problem which 
this alternative offers is purchased at a high price. But 
the practical solution is certainly clear. If one believes 
that a limited Deity is struggling under difficulties to realize 
ideals of worth, even weak human effort may in some meas- 
ure turn the fortunes of the fight. The conflict must appeal 
to all that is chivalrous in human nature. Who can hesitate 
on which side to draw the sword? The choice of one's 
cause will not depend upon a calculating estimate of the 


strength of the contending forces, nor upon the prospect 
of victory, but solely upon the intrinsic worth of the cause. 
Every true-hearted soldier of the good must go forward, 

"Though marching under orders ever sealed. 
And battling ever on a doubtful field." ^ 

VI IL Monistic Solutions 

But many find themselves driven by an inescapable neces- 
sity of thought to a genuinely monistic view of religion. 
To them God is the all-encompassing Life, outside of whom 
nothing exists. To his Being all the finite parts are truly 
organic. In Him, therefore, is the evil as well as the good, 
the darkness as well as the light, the sorrow as weU as the 
joy of existence. At once, then, the clash between our 
human ideas of value and the ends realized in the universe 
appears again in all its sharpness. One must admit either 
that our judgments of good and evil are in some way illusory 
and untrue, or must frankly acknowledge that our values, 
even at their best, are simply human and relative, not one 
with those of the divine order. 

Attempts at compromise are indeed frequent among the 
monists. Some strive to maintain the perfection of the 
Universe, and at the same time the reality of evil. Thus 
Royce asserts that while evil is a reahty, and no illusion, of 
our finite experience, yet in the whole of things, in the Abso- 
lute, there is no abiding evil, no unredeemed failure, no 
ultimate imperfection. He expresses this view in almost 
impassioned words. "I sorrow", he says, "but the sorrow 
is not only mine. This same sorrow, just as it is for me, is 
God's sorrow. And yet, since my will is here also, and con- 
sciously, one with the Divine will, God who here, in me, 
aims at what I now temporally miss, not only possesses, 
in the eternal world, the goal after which I strive, but 

^ From an unpublished poem by Harry Lyman Koopman. 


comes to possess it even through and because of my sorrow. 
Through this my tribulation the Absolute triumph, then, 
is won. Moreover, this triumph is also eternally mine. 
In the Absolute I am fulfilled. Yet my very fulfilment, and 
God's, implies, includes, demands, and therefore can trans- 
cend, this very sorrow." ^ "When once this comfort comes 
home to us," he adds, "we can run and not be weary and 
walk and not faint. For our temporal fife is the very ex- 
pression of the eternal truimph." ^ 

However strong our sympathy for this exalted mood of 
faith, we cannot accept it blindly. The assertion that the 
whole is perfect, and that there is nothing but triumph in 
the Absolute, will seem to most thinkers a piece of pure 
dogmatism. How a whole of spiritual experience can be 
good when the parts are evil, is indeed a puzzle. The word 
puzzle is here suggestive. For it is sometimes said that the 
relation of the parts of reality to the whole is Kke the rela- 
tion of the pieces of a picture puzzle to the completed pic- 
ture, meaningless when taken by themselves. But all such 
analogies fail at the vital point. AU conscious individuals 
are themselves centers of value, and their failure as individ- 
uals cannot be made good by any assumed success of their 
united experience. The error of explaining away the evil 
of finite beings through the triumph of the Absolute is 
similar to that which often finds currency under the figure 
of the social organism, where the meaning and worth of the 
individual is merged in the whole. But, as we have main- 
tained throughout, individuals are themselves genuine 
centers of value. The triumph of the Absolute is, in this 
view, purchased at the price of defeat and suffering on the 
part of finite beings. Any bit of unrequited suffering is 
surely evil, even though it occur in the brute creation. Suf- 
fering on the part of a lower order of life may be justified 

1 The World and the Individual, Vol. II, p. 409. 
^Ibid, p. 411. 


as the necessary condition of the good of a higher order, but 
the system that requires it is, at best, a very imperfect sys- 
tem. The attempt at the same time to justify and to refute 
our human standards of valuation breaks down from in- 
herent contradictions; a fatal flaw vitiates the whole process 
of reasoning. This flaw is the attempt to refute what we 
do know by what we do not know. We do know the exis- 
tence of evil as an assured fact of human experience. The 
complete transformation of this into good, we do not know. 
Such assumed knowledge is only the dubious affirmation of 
imaginative metaphysics or of unquestioning faith. It 
would be easy to sit at one's desk and draw checks for an 
unlimited amount, if the question of their being honored 
at the bank were never to be raised. And it is similarly 
easy to refute our experiences of good and evfl by reference 
to an Absolute experience as long as the supreme test of 
the truth of the view can never be applied. 

In Mr. Bradley's statement of the problem we meet the 
same dogma of the perfection of the Universe. In keeping 
with his general method, he reduces our judgments of good 
and evil, along with the rest of our ordinary judgments 
about the world, to the plane of appearance. These judg- 
ments are not wholly false or illusory, but possess a lesser 
degree of reality. "Goodness is," he says, "appearance, 
and but a one-sided aspect of the Real." ^ Mr. Bradley's 
logic leads directly to the idea of a "super-moral" realm, 
in which the distinctions of good and evil, as they exist in 
us, are entirely transcended. In the Absolute, the partial, 
the one-sided, and the imperfect are done away in complete- 
ness, unity, perfectness. And it is the characteristic of 
religious faith, we are told, to grasp here and now this in- 
sight, and to realize that, despite aU failure, the individual 
is already perfect in the one perfect Life. For is it not clear 
that in the last resort the vessels of dishonor are as neces- 

^ See Appearance and Reality, Chap. XXV, 


sary as the vessels of honor, and the children of wrath as 
truly justified as the children of light? All must be serving 
the ends of the Universe, whether they aim to do so or not. 
The difference between saints and sinners is in the role they 
are called on to play, and the consciousness with which they 
play it. 

To such a view, which would reduce moral distinctions, 
together with all our other ideals of value, to a kind of quasi 
reahty, or phenomenal existence, it may be retorted that we 
are much surer of the truth of these same judgments of good 
and evil than we can be of those judgments which would 
estabHsh the existence of that kind of an Absolute described 
-by Mr. Bradley. To abandon the one for the other is Hke 
leaving the soHd earth and attempting to find foot-hold in 
the air. Certain idealists and mystics have never consented 
to take seriously the world we know. To be consistent, 
they should not take all too seriously the world which they 
construct out of such materials. 

The mystics, in their treatment of this problem, belong 
with the absolute idealists. All the great mystics, Christian, 
Neo-Platonic, and Hindu, have been pronounced monists. 
On this point they have been in full agreement, however 
sharp the differences that may have separated them else- 
where. One Life pulses through all things; beyond it nothing 
is or can be. 

"They reckon ill who leave me out; 
When me they fly, I am the wings; 
I am the doubter and the doubt, 
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings." 

Those familiar with the history of thought will remember how 
emphatic the mystics are as regards the relative and partial 
character of all our human ideas of value. None of them, 
not even love or goodness, can apply to God. He is above 
all such predicates. If, in their desire to describe God, they 


use any of these terms, they are compelled at once to deny 
them. "God is in Himself," says Erigena, "loving, seeing, 
moving, yet he is not in himself loving, seeing, moving, be- 
cause He is more than loving, seeing, moving." "If I say 
God is good," exclaims Meister Eckhart, "it is not true. 
Rather I am good, God is not good. . . . Therefore be. 
still and prate not of God, for with whatsoever speech you 
prate concerning Him you do lie and commit sin." Hence 
the negative element in the theology of the Christian mys- 
tics, who could describe God only as the "All and the Noth- 
ing." To the mystic, all our earthly life is in the land of 
shadows. Hence too the tendency implicit in the doctrine — 
it does not always become explicit — to a disregard of dis- 
tinctions of good and evil; for it cannot greatly matter how 
things go in a shadow world. One value alone is for them 
outside of this relative and temporal order. This transcen- 
dent value is the mystic sense of union with the All; but it 
entirely defies description; it can only be experienced — the 
rest is silence. 

Not essentially different in its interpretation of human 
values is the mysticism of India, save that it is avowedly 
pessimistic. To Hindu mysticism the idea of any positive 
good to be realized by individuals is part of the illusion from 
which mortals suffer. Good and ill — and both are ill in 
different degrees — are a part of the troubled dream of hu- 
man consciousness, one phase of the illusion produced by 
the blinding veil of Maya, through which our perception 
and understanding are condemned to see all things. From 
this illusion only the saint and sage are delivered. Their 
deliverance is found in turning resolutely away from human 
joys and sorrows, and walking the lonely and rugged way 
that leads at last to Nirvana, the negation of all desires, 
the end of all earthly striving. 

In such ways have forms of monism, influential in religious 
thought, dealt with our ideals of human value when viewed 


in their relation to the Universe. They have all denied the 
identity of our estimates of good and evil with those of God. 
In this respect, the monists have divided sharply from the 
pluralists and dualists. Sometimes indeed the two modes of 
thought have contended for the mastery in the same thinker. 
So they contended long ago in St. Augustine. The reason 
that he was inconsistent, and was drawn now towards dual- 
ism and now towards monism, was because of this very 
problem of good and evil, the problem of human values. 
When the burden of evil weighed upon his mind he inclined 
to dualism. The Manichaean heresy always had a degree 
of attraction for him. In his interpretation of history he was 
an out-and-out dualist, as witness his dramatic presentation 
of the theme in his City of God. But when this problem is 
not in his mind and he works freely as a speculative thinker, 
he is undoubtedly monistic. Only when one approaches the 
study of St. Augustine with this key, will one find that the 
conflicting tendencies and contradictions of his thought can 
be explained. 

The results of this part of the discussion may now be sum- 
marized as follows. If the evil of the world is willed by God, 
His will is not wholly good according to our human ideals; if 
evil is not willed by God, His will is of limited power. Such 
is the dilemma. If we accept finiteness in God, the resulting 
view is dualism or pluralism. On the other hand if we pro- 
nounce for monism, and at the same time affirm the perfec- 
tion of the Whole, we must regard our human judgments 
of good and evil as tainted with error or illusion of some kind. 
We cannot take seriously our estimates of value. And 
further, if we believe in a finite, struggling Deity, we may 
regard our task as that of soldiers who enHst under his banner 
to fight the same enemy against whom He is contending. 
But if we believe in the ever triumphant Absolute of the 
religious monists, then our human Hfe, Just as it is, with all 
its evil and imperfection, must be illumined by the trans- 


cendent insight of the seer, or the unquestioning faith of the 
saint. So illumined, every human life will appear as some- 
how perfect in the perfect Whole. 

IX. Evil No Illusion 

But there is an ever increasing number who find neither 
of these views satisfying, and who are compelled to take a 
different attitude towards the problem. Forced to reject 
dualism, they are also forced to give to our known ideals 
of worth a vaHdity denied them by most forms of monism 
current in religious thought. In any thorough reconstruc- 
tion, the dogma of the perfection of the Universe must be 
abandoned. It is in no way essential to monism, even to an 
idealistic monism. Idealism, we must remember, does not 
change the actual values of the world. It only describes 
in general terms the form of reaHty. A world reducible to 
terms of conscious process might conceivably be a very 
bad world or a very good one. Just how good or how bad 
the universe actually is, remains an empirical question, 
a question of fact which we can at present determine only 
to a limited degree. At all events, mire and mud and dirt 
do not cease, on the idealistic hypothesis, to be sources of 
pollution. They soil the hands of the ideaHst as readily as 
they do those of the realist. The same is true of moral 
pollution; it is still evil. And, similarly, intellectual and 
aesthetic quagmires of error and ugliness do not, at this word, 
become gardens of truth and beauty. 

The entire problem of the existence of evil, in the form 
in which the problem is commonly stated, is, I am convinced, 
gratuitous and artificial, a problem which we ourselves 
create. To ask why evil should exist in the world, is just 
as meaningless as to ask why there should be a world at all, 
why reahty should exist. And to speak of this as " the best 
possible world," means just as little and just as much as to 
call it the worst possible world. In fact it is both, for it is 


the only possible world. Reality is — a given fact; good and 
evil are both parts of it, one as natural and as necessary 
as the other. Observe the inconsequent and puerile char- 
acter of our ordinary procedure. In the very act of discover- 
ing that there is a world at all, we discover evil as an essen- 
tial part of it. In childish dissatisfaction and caprice we then 
demand a different kind of world; as if the universe could 
be made and unmade at our bidding! But why, in Heaven's 
name, should there not be evil in the world? Apart from 
certain naive assumptions about the universe, it would never 
occur to anyone to raise this question. These assumptions, 
bom of primitive thought, have become so deeply rooted in 
traditional teaching that tHey die hard. But it is, in truth, 
no more strange that there should be death than birth, 
sickness than health, decay than growth. We should no 
more wonder that nerves throb with pain than that they 
thrill with joy. It should occasion no more surprise that 
men experience sorrow and anguish of spirit than that they 
experience satisfaction and delight. Such a view is not 
necessarily pessimistic. It simply recognizes that evil is an 
element, and, for all we can see, a permanent element in the 
actual order of things. It does not forbid the hope that it 
may be diminished. That again is a question of historical 
fact and of future trial. The real problem of evil, then, is 
the practical one, the problem of how best to meet existing 
evil so as to overcome it where we may, and to endure it 
nobly where we cannot overcome. Right endurance of 
evil is indeed often, in its own measure, an overcoming. But 
we must not therefore hastily assume that evil is eliminated, 
that the surd disappears. For we are unfortunately con- 
fronted with countless cases of endurance that are passive, 
imrequited, and without the spiritual victory which alone 
could justify them. 

The assumptions about the nature of things which have 
led men to ask why evil should exist have come to us from a 


distant past. Foremost among these assumptions was the 
dogma that the world had been planned and constructed 
by a Being apart from it, perfect alike in the possession of all 
values and in the power to reahze them through a creative 
act.^ Such a Being, it was naturally assumed, must have 
been able to produce a perfect work. How did evil enter 
into it? Here was indeed a problem which might well weary 
the heads and break the hearts of sensitive mortals when in 
the grip of the world's sorrow and tragedy. Linked with this 
assumption, were naive conceptions of the physical universe 
which had been constructed and launched upon the strong 
current of European tradition long centuries before the dawn 
of the new astronomy with its transforming insight. The 
old astronomy had placed man at the center of the physical 
universe, and the old theology had found the meaning of the 
entire cosmos on this tiny planet. All the myriad suns and 
stars were but candles for the stage setting of the drama of 
human existence. This idea, firmly imbedded in the mediae- 
val philosophy of history, still unconsciously colors reHgious 
thought. Men still demand that the universe shall turn 
about them, and that their interests shall constitute the 
center of its meaning. But the universe is now acknowledged 
to be infinitely larger than the ancient astronomy had 
thought, and the life of God vaster than the old theology had 

Religion, however, requires that our human interests 
shall not be thrust outside the scheme of things nor lost in 
the wide content of the universe. Expressing man's place 
in the cosmos in the language of religion, we may say: In 
God's empire are many kingdoms. The life of humanity 
constitutes one of these kingdoms. Bounding this and in 

^If we should reverse the commonly accepted presupposition and assimie a 
Creator all-powerful, but malign in his purposes towards mankind, we should then 
have "the problem" of good. Every experience of good would be a mystery. 
Apologists for the existing order would then seek to show that good is a mere il- 
lusion, or at least evil "in the making." 


constant interaction with it, are the kingdoms of animal and 
plant life, and of inorganic nature. And, beyond the known, 
stretches in unmeasured sweep of imagination the unknown. 
How many and great may be the kingdoms of ends that other 
worlds support, or how rich may be the values realized 
there, we do not know. It still remains true, however, that 
our human kingdom is a kingdom of the empire, not an in- 
dependent state. The great imperial law of interaction 
holds for all the kingdoms, and involves significant relations 
between them. In fact we can see how man levies tribute 
at the boundaries of his state upon animal, plant, and mineral, 
and how these in turn often levy costly tribute upon man. 
Science has revealed the tremendous influence upon the 
human body for weal or woe, for life or death, of micro- 
organisms. And man's dependence at every instant of his 
existence upon a vast and complex system of physical forces, 
which, if they further, also often defeat his ends, is too 
familiar to need recounting. 

Our conclusion, then, concerning the cosmic meaning of 
human values is that they constitute a part of the real ends 
of the universe. Doubtless they are not all the ends, nor 
can we affirm that they are the most important of them, 
though unquestionably they are the most important we 
know. The central insight, however, which is vital for all 
religion and morality, is that the laws of spiritual life which 
hold within the kingdom of human values are no less valid 
because they are not laws of the whole empire. With pre- 
sumptuous egotism men have often declared that love and 
righteousness have no meaning or worth unless it can be 
shown that they are principles which govern the entire 
scheme of existence. But this they can never be shown to 
do. Rather is it clear that they have their raison d'etre and 
their full justification as elements of value within our human 
experience. The same is true of all our other ideals. Their 
sufficient vindication lies in the fact that they enrich and 


ennoble man's life. Their validity is established in and 
through our experience of them. Happily it does not fall 
because we are unable to show that they determine every 
part of the universe. That would indeed be a precarious 
position for the ideal. But if we give to all elements of 
ideal worth their rightful place in the life of man, we need 
not fear that they will ever be refuted by any discovery 
concerning the physical imiverse. Even though our little 
planet, with all its Kfe, were to become uninhabitable, or 
to be swept entirely out of existence, it would still be true 
that these ideals had been no fiction or illusion of the fleeting 
moment, but genuine reaHties organic to the whole of Being. 

It must be freely admitted that the assurance of the uni- 
versal extension and complete trimnph of the values we 
hold dear would be a source of the deepest joy. But we must 
remember that, because a subjective feeling of comfort does 
actually enhance the immediate values of the individual, 
the cherishing of the feeling is not on that account justified. 
It would be vastly comforting to believe that a thousand 
hard facts are not what they are. And it is also important 
to ask what ultimate effects comforting illusions will bring 
in their train. Often far-reaching social consequences are 
involved. It is incontestable that, despite the pain of re- 
adjustment, the result of philosophic and scientific criticism 
has been a great enrichment of human living. Such en- 
richment could not have been won without costly struggles. 
The deepest and most precious faith, the faith none can 
afford to lose, is the faith that to discover the truth about 
reality and to follow this truth loyally, will in the end lead 
to the highest good. To live by error or illusion is costly. 
It is like living on credit — in the end the reckoning must 
be paid. 

The conclusion to which we are driven is that there is a 
measure of conflict between the processes by which human 
values are realized and certain other processes that are going 


on in the universe. We are not justified in saying that the 
one process is real and the other a mere appearance. All 
are real parts of the real universe, though differing in ex- 
tent and in value. This view does not forbid us to believe 
that the world process as a whole is worth while, that it 
contains more good than evil. It is also entirely consistent 
with the behef that there has been progress, however slow, 
in the historical life of the race. And how much the evil 
of the world may be further reduced, how far the spiritual 
process may succeed in eliminating it, just this remains the 
ever fresh problem and alluring adventure of human life. 
But from every speculative journey in which one seeks 
to get a glimpse of the vast empire of existence, and of the 
relation of our kingdom to this vaster whole, one must re- 
turn to the humble duties of citizenship m the kingdom. 
Here is our task, here we must find the meaning of life. 
To discover and obey the laws of this kingdom, to further 
the good and to thwart the evil within it, is at once our 
highest duty and our deepest joy. The individual who 
asks for his special place in the kingdom of ends may be 
reminded that he can at least cultivate his own garden. If 
he recognizes, as he must, that all that blossoms and grows 
there is watered by streams from the eternal hills and 
nourished by the all-pervading Life, he may undertake his 
work in a genuinely religious spirit. To such a spirit it is 
not essential to be assured of perfection either within the 
tiny garden or in the unmeasured universe. 

X. The Future of Religion 

A further question still awaits our inquiry. Will religion 
be a permanent element in man's life, or, having done its 
work, will it at last be cast aside like a worn-out garment? 
It has frequently been said that in the development of re- 
ligion its value has consisted more and more in the ethical 
content which it has taken up, and that it will finally be so 


merged in morality that the specifically religious will cease 
to exist. But this, we are sure, can never be the case. In 
asserting the permanency of rehgion, one may point with 
no little confidence to the fact that religion has a source 
in man's nature and in his experience of the world quite 
distinct from that of morality. Its root strikes deep into 
the soil of fife and will not perish. We cannot rid ourselves 
of the necessity of interpreting in some way the universe 
that encompasses us and determines our fortunes. For the 
realization of all values we are directly dependent upon the 
cosmic Power. However far human knowledge may extend 
its control, we shall not gain full mastery. We must "still 
acknowledge our complete dependence upon the power that 
brought us hither and will conduct us hence." 

Nature seems indeed at times a genial foster-mother, 
satisfying us like children with the bounties she provides. 
But she is not always gentle. And when, with irresistible 
might, she crushes all our earthly hopes in the final tragedy 
of death, we are rudely shaken out of an easy-going con- 
tentment with sense experience, and compelled to seek with 
all our might for a more inward and enduring good. Life 
itself is the great teacher; by differing and often strange 
paths are men led at last to the Father's house. Not forever 
is the spirit of man content to wander abroad; it turns home- 
ward at last to seek its own and to claim its heritage. 

What we must look for, then, is not the passing of reli- 
gion into other forms of value, but its continued inner 
growth and transformation. This process of change is not 
merely of the present, but has been going on ever since 
the dawn of the most primitive animism. Change is, in- 
deed, the indispensable condition of permanence. The very 
idea of religion attaining finality at any given stage of 
civilization involves also the idea of its speedy dissolution. 
It would cease to be a thing of life. It would no longer 
adjust itself to the other growing elements of spiritual ex- 


perience, but would inevitably be strangled by them. The 
old order does not wholly perish but stamps itself upon the 
new, so that there is no absolute break. "Impossible as it 
seems, the mumbling medicine man is the far-off precursor 
of St. Francis and Savonarola, of Wesley and Luther. And 
the same change goes on in other parts. Sacrifice, which at 
first is intended to satisfy the animal needs of the wor- 
shipped, and later gratifies them rather by the mere pleas- 
ures of taste and smell, becomes finally a symbolic utter- 
ance to God of submission and faithful reverence." ^ The 
course of development, however, will not be backward. 
The classical age of religion, when it was the single interest 
of life, has passed and can never return. Other spiritual 
interests have been developed. We must not suppose that 
our age could find satisfaction for its religious longing by 
returning to mediaevalism or primitive Christianity. This 
would be possible only by surrendering all that has been 
won in the intervening centuries, and returning with the 
utmost Hteralness to the stage of culture then existing. 
Only by giving up the very essence of modem life could we 
enter again into the shadowy realm of mediaeval faith. 
Equally impossible is it for the modem man to realize his 
spiritual life in the form which it assumed for a simple 
Palestinian folk. Centuries of growing experience separate 
us from this age. Deep racial differences are also here in- 

The result is an inner conflict between the actual life 
of the western world and much of its professed faith. Were 
not this opposition so largely unconscious, the result would 
often be a moral duaHsm, and even hypocrisy. In the busi- 
ness of life we find men devoted to the acquisiton of wealth 
and power, developing the strength and beauty of the body, 
creating arts and institutions, pursuing the tmth of science 
wherever it may lead them — and all this, while professing to 

1 Stratton, The Psychology of the Religious Life, p. 339. 


accept as final a faith which found little place for any of these 
values. In truth, those values which have given to modem 
life its characteristic form and its special problems are the 
very ones which lay beyond the horizon of early Christian 
thought; in origin and nature they are extra-Christian values. 

It is not because the values won by modem civiliza- 
tion embellish life in its outward aspects that they are 
chiefly to be prized. It is rather because they transform 
life from within, giving to humanity worthier interests, 
deeper aspirations, and purer joys. Thus all the manifold 
scientific, historical, literary, philosophical, and artistic in- 
terests, to which thousands now give the service of their 
lives, are elements of spiritual worth. They belong to 
the spirit, not to the flesh. Every act and every moment 
of life is different because of their presence. Religion is 
not the same when hghted by all the insights of intelligence 
and warmed by aesthetic appreciation, as when deprived of 
these influences. Every added element of culture makes a 
difference in man's spiritual outlook. As the result of a 
mathematical problem changes with every change in the 
value of the factors, so the problem of human Hfe changes 
with every change in its content. 

The meaning for religion of this change in the content 
of values has, in the past, been largely ignored. Thought 
must be awakened to a full consciousness of the divergencies 
between the spiritual outlook of the modem and of the 
primitive Christian world. The very idea of civilization 
as an effort to embody, in just proportion, all human values 
in the growing customs, laws, institutions, and ideals of the 
race, was foreign to the thought of the early disciples. The 
kingdom, the vision of which filled with expectant longing 
the hearts of the early Christians, was not primarily the 
spiritual ordering of earthly hfe. It was rather a trans- 
cendent kingdom, destined to come from without, suddenly 
,to be realized in a new heaven and a new earth wherein 


should dwell perfect righteousness. This new order was not 
to rest upon the wretched structure of existing society. 
Human institutions, whether of government, of education, 
of Hterature, or of art, had for them no part in the regenera- 
tion of humanity. Least of all did they dream that science, 
with its exact methods of observation and its attitude of 
doubt towards popular and traditional explanations, was 
to be a mighty instrument in the process of spiritual de- 
velopment. Little, too, did they think that the gentile 
Greeks had already sown the seeds of progress, and that 
in the course of the centuries unknown peoples and distant 
lands were to be the chief centers of their unfolding. 

XL The World-denying and the World-affirming 


We may here briefly characterize two important and oppos- 
ing interpretations of the spiritual life of man. One has re- 
garded the material world, the bodily life, and all the stuff 
of earthly experience as foreign to man's true end. For it, 
the embodiment of ideal values in the historical life of the 
race is not significant, or even possible, to any important 
degree. It feels little interest in the slow and painful effort 
to secure the triumph of knowledge and beauty, of freedom, 
justice, and well-being in the present world. It has turned 
its gaze wistfully towards another existence, transported by 
the vision of a perfect life to be realized under very different 
conditions. This view, essentially oriental in spirit, domi- 
nated for centuries the religious life of Europe. Not till the 
Renaissance, did the opposing interpretation gain a secure 
foot-hold. The latter view, Greek in origin and modem in 
spirit, represents one contrast of Occident and Orient. The 
world-afl&rming spirit clings bravely to the values it can 
discover in our actual experience. While insisting upon the 
true inwardness of life, it still regards all the elements of the 
present order as material out of which is to be fashioned a 


genuinely spiritual kingdom. Consenting to take one world 
at a time, this interpretation of life regards it as the task 
of humanity to realize the richest possible content of values 
through a slow process of development. 

We have thus the active, practical, world-affirming spirit, 
in opposition to the passive, dreamy, world-denying spirit. 
It is the demand of a pulsing, expanding life, bent upon 
realizing its meaning in the forms of earthly civilization, in 
conflict with a spirit that had little interest in the develop- 
ment of mundane culture. It is the will to found stable 
government, to organize social life, to establish institutions, 
to accumulate wealth, to improve the physical and mental 
quality of the race, to develop science, to create hterature, 
to enjoy the beauty of nature and of art — in a word, it is the 
will to possess a full human existence, in conflict with an 
other-worldly temper to which all these things are of trifling 
worth because "the fashion of this world passeth away." 

In this opposition it is clear to which side primitive Chris- 
tianity inclined. But it is also clear that Christianity con- 
tributed truths of profound import for the deeper life of the 
race. In its almost unconscious submission to the Zeitgeist, 
with its imperious demand for action in new fields of interest, 
even the so-called Christian world seems in danger of losing 
these truths and of keeping only the husk of an intellectual 
formula. Against this, every lover of morality and religion 
cannot fail to raise a protest. All the elements of universal 
worth which it contained must be taken up into the new order 
and conserved as integral factors of life. These elements 
had, it is true, found various expression elsewhere. Other 
voices there were which had bidden men to love their neigh- 
bor, to share their bread with the hungry, to lift the burden 
of the weak and sorrowing, to seek for purity of heart and 
redemption from the evil of the world. But no voice has 
had for us such compelling power as that which gave to 
Christianity its impulse and its ideals. Launched upon the 


tide of European thought and preserved in a continuous 
religious tradition, this teaching has never ceased to utter 
its protest against a shallow and external view of the mean- 
ing of Hfe. Frequently obscured, and often flagrantly dis- 
regarded even by its professed followers, it still lives, and 
will continue to be a power as long as men contend with good 
and evil. Only superficial or prosaic minds will deny to 
many dogmas of historical Christianity a profound sym- 
bolic truth, even when these dogmas are not statements of 
scientific or historical fact. 

The longing for a more perfect realization of values than 
is possible under the conditions of earthly Hfe has again and 
again driven men to picture an ideal world, a world apart 
from this and moulded to the heart's desire. In such an 
ideal order the spirit has found refuge from the sordid and 
painful experiences of actual life. Historically, at least, 
Goethe's words are true: 

"So lost sich jene grosse Frage 
Nach unserem zweiten Vaterland." 

The doctrine of two worlds has appeared in so many lands 
and among so many peoples that it may be said to offer, 
in typical form, the final solution of the problem of good and 
evil. In Pythagoreanism, Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Chris- 
tianity, Mohammedanism, and in many other cults, the 
doctrine has found expression. Much of the history of re- 
ligion might be written in terms of this dualism. But, as 
we have insisted, the dualism so created must not be allowed 
to break the continuity of developing values. If it does this, 
confusion and contradiction result. Without prejudice to 
any legitimate hopes of a future life, it can be said that, 
out of the spiritual travail of the centuries, has come with 
increasing clearness the insight that the two worlds of value 
are here and now — that they are with us in each hour, nay in 
each moment of choice, as we consciously will to dwell in 


the world of knowledge or ignorance, of love or hate, of 
beauty or ugliness, of generous aims or ignoble passions. By- 
such choices we determine the place of oiu: citizenship. The 
elevation of man's soul to a world of love and truth and 
beauty is the goal of both morality and religion. Morality 
views this realization of a kingdom of values as our human 
task; religion sees in it also the Divine Order, the meaning 
and fulfillment of at least one part of the Universe. The feel- 
ing that what is won in this process is unspeakably precious 
is the true basis of religious reverence, and confidence in the 
extension and growth of these values the true ground of 
religious faith and hope. 

XIL True and False Optimism 

How far, it may be asked, can the interpretation of the 
problem of evil which we have suggested jdeld an optimistic 
view? Does not such frank admission of the place of evil 
in the world commit one rather to an heroic pessimism? On 
what terms can we still maintain the worth of life? 

The kind of optimism, and the only kind, consistent with 
the facts of experience must be both critical and creative. 
A critical optimism faces fearlessly the facts of nature and 
of human life, and does not ask to have bitter truths con- 
cealed, nor does it desire to be led by illusions or encouraged 
by promises that may not be fulfilled. Such an optimism 
rejects the idea that evil is an error of our finite thought. 
If the evil of the world is illusory, the good, we must insist, 
is equally so. As against such a view the old theology, in 
its doctrine of the devil, had, as at many other points, a 
sure hold upon the facts of human experience. The devil 
represented in a bold and virile way the reality of evil. If 
a belief in the existence of a personal devil has gone the 
way of many other outgrown beUefs, the facts for which the 
devil stood have not ceased to exist; they have still to be 
reckoned with. A true optimism, then, can never be easy- 


going or over-confident. It must rather be sober, teachable, 
'and heroic. If it finds truth in the sa)dng that "evil is good 
in the making," it recognizes that the process is a costly one, 
that it involves waste and suffering, and that waste and 
suffering are in themselves evil. From the standpoint of an 
ideal system of values the surd remains unrationalized. 
We cannot deny that the birth-pangs in which life begins, 
or the death-agonies in which it ends, or a thousand things 
that lie between, are evil. What a true optimism contends 
for is that life may be made good enough to pay these heavy 
charges, that it may indeed celebrate a spiritual triumph, 

" Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth 
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days. 
Of all the unhealthy and o'ershadowed ways 
Made for our searching." 

A creative optimism which may hope to achieve this end 
must be groimded in the spiritual forces of man's nature, and 
in the will to create values. The belief in values, and in 
the power which works in and through us to produce them, 
is indeed the chief condition of their realization. It is here 
that we need clearly to discern a parting of the ways in re- 
ligious beliefs. Conceptions that are true to man's spiritual 
life may be untrue to external nature; they may correctly 
interpret the world of human values, but falsify other parts of 
reality. If we insist that the cosmic order must correspond 
to the inner order — if, in other words, we make a cosmol- 
ogy out of our psychology — ^we are always in danger of 
illusion and disappointment, for the world is neither my 
idea nor my ideal. It is essential, too, that we have cor- 
rect beliefs concerning man's spiritual capacities, because 
these beliefs assure to us firm ground on which to contend 
for the reaHzation of a better order. But it is not essential, 
as it is obviously impossible, to have equally exact and com- 
plete ideas about the universe as a whole. 


These two spheres may be further described, in familiar 
phrase, as "the things in our power" and "the things not in 
our power." In the one, destiny depends in part upon the 
human intelligence and will; here our effort to create the 
good largely decides what good there shall be. But with no 
less certainty we must acknowledge another realm in which 
docile recognition of an order beyond the control of our wills 
is the beginning of wisdom, and resignation the first law of 
life. In this realm, it makes no difference whether we will 
to have things as they are or otherwise. To this fixed and 
resistless order we vainly oppose our wills. It were a mock- 
ery of sorrow to attempt to believe that we are not left in 
desolation when a loved one has died. But it is no mockery 
to will the belief that this tragic event may prove something 
better for our inner life than a bitter and rebellious fact. 
To try to cling to a disproved theory of science or a discred- 
ited article of religious belief is to yield to the spirit of ob- 
scurantism. But to strive to adjust ourselves to the new 
truth with positive gain to thought and action is genuine 
faith and optimism. 

When religion truly learns to place the Kingdom of Heaven 
within us, and to admit that the placing of it elsewhere is at 
best an hypothesis or an act of faith, it will have won a 
sure fortress from which it can never be dislodged. Such 
security it cannot possess so long as it rests upon assump- 
tions that are open to challenge by every fresh advance of 
scientific knowledge. To build the spiritual life without 
falsifying reality — this is "the victor^' that overcometh the 

For the future, if religion is to assert its rightful power over 
serious and thoughtful minds, it must be ready to take up all 
that the long experience of humanity has won. It must 
recognize how largely its own nature has been transformed, 
and it must be prepared to face further changes without 
fear or shrinking. Only by such a temper can religion main- 


tain the sincerity that begets confidence. Further, if re- 
ligion is deeply to pervade our lives, even the most humble 
acts by which we seek to create the world of values must be 
viewed as an expression of the Divine Order. Thus what 
morality requires, religion reinterprets and inspires with its 
own quickening spirit. So every moment of delight in na- 
ture and of joy in fellowship with our kind, every triumph 
of the higher over the lower impulse, every insight of the 
intelligence, and every forward struggle of the race, is a part 
of the meaning of religion. These are expressions of the all- 
pervading Power. He who does not find God here is in 
danger of finding Him nowhere. 


Accountability, natural and moral, 370- 

Addams, J., 3oon 

^Esthetic Interest, Chrysostom on, 204; 
moral significance of, 281-282; Scho- 
penhauer on, 204; scope of, 22-23; 
see Art 

Aims, value of spiritual, 320 

Alexander, S., quoted, 129, 130 

Ames, E. S., 2in 

Andrews, E. B., 259n 

Animals, actions of, not moral, 2 

Animism, of primitive thought, 340-341 

Aristippus, 60-61 

Aristotle, 102, 112, 153, 303; ethics of, 
83-86; doctrine of the mean, 85; on 
the summum bonum, 38-39 

Arnold, M., gon; quoted, 344 

Art, contains no principle of moral or- 
ganization, 206-207; limitation of, 
206; relation of, to morality, 205-208; 
value for life of, 207-208. 

Asceticism, relative truth of, 315-316 

Association, values of, 199-202 

Augustine, 48, 164; dualism of, 415 


Bacon, Francis, 237, 363 

Bentham, 53, 66, 68, 26on 

Beauty, and goodness, 307; intrinsic 

value of, 203-204. See Art, Esthetic 

Body, relation of, to mind, 194-195, 

3S2n; values of the, 193-196 
Bradley, F. H., 4n; quoted, 28, 278; on 

the problem of evil, 412-413 
Burke, quoted, 277 
Butler, J., 66; quoted, 64n, 233 

Cabot, R., 196, 197 
Calderwood, 257n, 258n, 349n 

Calkins, M. W., 254 

Carlyle, quoted, 4, 75-76 

Causation, efficient and final, 351-353; 
meaning of, 337 

Character, and responsibility, 372-393; 
relation of, to conduct, 5-6; "values" 
of, 202-203 

Choice, mechanism of, 345-349 

Christianity, as source of values, 164, 
287-288; contribution of, 426-427; 
ideal of love in, 43, 45, 48; values of 
primitive, 163 

Chrysostom, quoted, 204 

Cicero, 5; quoted, 88 

Civilization, as court of last appeal, 334; 
definition of, 218-219; place of wealth 
in, 189. See Progress 

Clarke, 258n 

Cleanthes, 87n, 309n 

Conduct, distinction between motive 
and value in, 106-107; relation of, to 
character, 5; two-fold judgment of, 

Conscience, authority of, 274-277; coer- 
cive and spontaneous elements of, 
280-283; development of, 269-272; 
empirical or historical theory of, 260- 
262, 267-274; hypothetical case of 
perversion of, 264-265; instinctive 
elements of, 267-268; intuitionalistic 
theory of, 257-259, 262-267; psycho- 
logical elements of, 274; teleological, 
Si~S3; theories of, 256-262; the so- 
cial, 277-280 

Content, of the good hfe, 161-165; ^ 
relation to form, 47n 

Cudworth, 258n 

Cynics, 77-79 

Cyrenaicism, 60-61 


Dante, quoted, 239 

Darwin, 26on 

Death, moralization of, 400-403 




Democritus, 62 

Descartes, 30 

Desires, distinction between the desired 
and the desirable, 1 20-1 21; nature of 
disinterested, 109-110; organization 
of, 219-220; relation of, to the moral 
life, 181-182 

Determinism, and practice, 353-356; 
and the problem of evil, 366-369; con- 
sistent with freedom, 356-360; dis- 
tinguished from fatalism, 363-365 ; in 
relation to punishment and responsi- 
bility, 369-374; points of agreement 
with indeterminism, 343-345; some 
objections answered, 360-363, 365- 
369; statement of the problem of, 

Determinist, attitude towards life of 
the, 374-376 

Dewey, J., quoted, loi; and Tufts, 
quoted, 161 

Dickinson, G. L., quoted, 200-201 

Diderot, 30 

Diogenes, 78 

Dualism, in problem of evil, 406-410, 
427-428; in theories of value, 398- 
400; of Kant, 338-339; of Plato, 82 

Duns Scotus, 4on 

Duty, and Virtue, 301-302; concrete 
nature of, 313-314; dependent on 
value, 250-253; limits of, 251-255 


Eckhart, quoted, 414 

Economics, relation of, to other sciences, 

Economic Values, dependence of other 

values upon, 190-192; instrumental, 

190; relation of, to moral problems, 

Egoism, and altruism, 232-235. See 

Desires, Individualism 
Ehrenfels, quoted, 12 in 
Eliot, George, 28; quoted, 227 
Emerson, quoted, 413 
Empiricism, and intuitionalism, 256-262 
End, in relation to means, 57-58. See 


Energism, 102 

Epictetus, 89, 90 

Epicureanism, 61-64 

Epicurus, 61-63 

Erigena, quoted, 414 

Ethics, a science of values, 6-9; both 
normative and descriptive, 14-20; 
constructive in aim, 30-35; definition 
of, 7; etymology of, 5; field of, i-6; 
practical value of the study of, 25-30; 
reason for study of, 26-27, 34-355 re- 
lation of, to Philosophy, 9-14; the 
attempt to evaluate all values, 24, 

Euripides, quoted, 321 

Everett, C. C., quoted, 304 

Evil, dualistic and pluralistic solutions 
of the problem of, 406-410; monistic 
solutions of, 410-416; on the deter- 
ministic hj^othesis, 366-368; prob- 
lem of, 405-421; reality of, 416-421 

Experience, modem desire for, 329; 
value, a fxmction of, 11 5-1 17; variety 
of religious, 386-388 

Fatalism, distinguished from deter- 
minism, 363-365; view of self of, 364- 


Feeling, and intellect, 208-209; ^.s an 
element of religion, 382-385; psychol- 
ogy of, 1 18-120; related to function, 
154-161; relation of, to value, 11 7-1 28 

Feuerbach, quoted, 390 

Fichte, quoted, 42 

Fiske, J., quoted, 139 

Fite, W., quoted, 230 

Form, relation of, to content, 42-45, 

Formalism, and Teleology, 38-40; in- 
adequacy of, 45-49; Kantian, 40-45; 
truth of, 290-295 

Fouillee, 262n; quoted, 30-31, 226 

Freedom, consistent with determinism, 
356-360; degrees of, 358-359; mean- 
ings of the word, 356-357; statement 
of the problem of, 335-338; through 
knowledge, 359-360 



French, F. C, 30811 
Fullerton, quoted, 348 

Goethe, 175; quoted, 143, 20411, 390, 

Good. See Value 

Goodness, militant and spontaneous, 
302-308; objective and subjective 
elements of, 284-286. See Morality 

Greece, as source of modern system of 
values, 164 

Greeks, attitude towards physical life, 
194; central ethical problem of the, 
38-39; Hedonism among the, 60-64; 
rise of Perfection Theory among the, 
77-79; transformation of religious 
thought of the, 391; unification of 
aesthetic and moral interests among 
the, 81, 281-282 

Green, T. H., i2n, i39n; quoted, 102, 
285-286, 317-318; on determinism, 
366, 372-373 

Guyau, 262n; quoted, 266n 


Happiness, an element of every value, 
134-137; and progress, 158-161; not 
an independent end, 148-149; rela- 
tion of, to morality, 136-137; relation 
of, to perfection, 168-177. See He- 

Hartley, 26on 

Hartmann, 355 

Hebrews, evolution of religious thought 
among the, 391; worship of numbers 
among the, 243-244 

Hedonism, among the Greeks, 60-64, 
105; criticisms of, considered, 137- 
141; criticism of psychological, 108- 
112; inadequacy of, 143-145; in evo- 
lutionary ethics, 72-76; paradox of, 
142-143; psychological, 105-107; 
Sidgwick's contribution to, 69-72; 
theory of value and ethical, 112-117; 
truth of, 117-118, 134-137 

Hegel, summary of ethical system of, 
97-101 ; theory of property of, 98 

Hobbes, 65, 66, 26on 

Hoffding, 380; quoted, 404 

Horace, 63 

Hugo, Victor, 56 

Hume, 66; "moral taste" of, 258 

Hutcheson, 258, 285n; on formal and 

material goodness, 284 
Huxley, 388; quoted, 166 
Hygiene, laws of, analogous to moral 

laws, 326, 332-333 

Imperative, categorical of Kant, 41; 

not unconditional, 50-51 
Impulse. See Instinct 
Indeterminism, at variance with prac- 
tice, 353-356; natural history of, 339- 

Individual, the, a social being, 227-232; 

imiqueness of the, 226-227 
Individualism, truth of, 225-227 
Instinct, and conscience, 267-268; as 

spring of action, 108-109; ^ religion, 

Intellect, fimction of in creating values, 

160-161; values of the, 208-214 
Interests, conflict of individual and 

social, 235-241; organization of, 219- 

224. See Values 
Intuitionalism, and Empiricism, 256- 

262; criticism of, 262-267; meaning 

of, 257-259 

James, W., 336n, 366n; on conception 
of finite God, 407, 409; on psycho- 
logical hedonism, no 

Janet, quoted, 53 

Judgment, of conduct two-fold, 284- 
286; the "ought," 17-19 

Jurisprudence, relation of, to morality, 

Kant, 23n, 246, 289, 293, 294, 297, 302, 
3°3) 307) 316; definition of virtue of, 
287n; dualism of, 338-339> 339n; 
formalism of, 40-45, 284 



Keats, quoted, 429 

Knowledge, and virtue, 212-214, 295- 
299; degrees of value in, 210-212; in- 
trinsic and instrumental value of, 
208; relation of, to moral freedom, 
359-360; scientific, 211-212 

Koopman, H. L., quoted, 410 

Kiilpe, i22n 

Laurie, S. S,, on conception of finite 
God, 408 

Law, meanings of the term, 308-309; 
moral and jural, 309-312; moral and 
natural, 312-318; moral, self-imposed, 
316-317; objectivity of the moral, 
330-334; universality of moral, 324- 

Lichtenberg, quoted, 391 

Locke, 64; quoted, 17 

Logic, aim of, 24-25 

Lotze, 36sn; quoted, 336; on feeling and 
value, 127 

Love, as formal principle, 43; not sole 
principle of good, 200-201 

Loyalty, as form of the moral life, 43; 
criticism of Royce's doctrine of, 45-49 

Lucretius, 63 

Luther, 36 in 


Mackenzie, quoted, 10 1 
Marcus Aurelius, 89, 90 
Marshall, H. R., quoted, 26on 
Martineau, quoted, 325n, 392-393; on 

conscience, 258-259 
Means, in relation to end, 57-58 
Meredith, quoted, 214 
Metaphysics, and ethics, 1 1-14 
Militarism, 267n 
Mill, James, 26on 

Mill, J. S., 30; utilitarianism of, 67-69 
Mind, relation of, to body, 194-195, 

Monism, in problem of evil, 410-416 
Montaigne, scepticism of, 322 
Moore, G. E., quoted, 116 
Morality, aesthetic element in, 281-282; 

and jurisprudence, 309-312; author- 

ity of, not impaired by historical in- 
terpretation of conscience, 272; coer- 
cive and spontaneous elements of, 
280-283; coextensive with the inter- 
ests of life, 217; distinguished from re- 
ligion, 380-382; false limitation of, 
202-203; interaction of, with religion, 
390-396; laws of, objective, 330-334; 
narrower and wider interpretation of, 
184-187; natural sanctions of, 318- 
320; necessity of objective factor in, 
150-154; relation of, to happiness, 
136-137; sanctions of, 239-240; 
standard of, progressive, 327-328; 
theological interpretation of, 394; 
theory and practice of, 25-30; valid- 
ity of, 324-330; value of objectivity 
in, 296-298. 

Morris, William, 30 

Motive, ethical and religious, 389-390; 
distinguished from value, 106-108 

Motives, in relation to freedom of wiU, 

Miinsterberg, 2on, 339n 

Mysticism, and problem of evil, 413- 
415; of India, 414 


Nietzsche, 237, 322; quoted, 75n, 127 
Numbers, a false criterion of social 
value, 243-245 


Objectivity, maxim of, 296-298; of 

desires, 110-112, 150-151; of the 

moral law, 330-334 
Optimism, hedonistic implications of, 

128-134; true and false, 428-431 
Organization, principles of moral, 219- 

224; science and social, 241-243 
Orient, contrasted with Occident, 425- 


Paley, 66, 26on 
Palmer, G. H., quoted, 221 
Pascal, 30; scepticism of, 322 
Paulsen, energism of, 102; on hedonism, 




Perfection, biological law of, 155-156; 

correlation of, with happiness, 168- 

177; general conditions of, 165-168; 

meaning of, 147-15 1; rise of theory 

among the Greeks, 77-79 
Perry, R. B., 22on 
Pessimism, hedonistic implications of, 

128-134; religious, 403-404 
Pfleiderer, quoted, 382 
Philosophy, distinguished from science, 

9-1 1, 13-14; relation of, to ethics, 9- 


Plato, I, 314; quoted 27-28; dualism of, 
82; ethical theory of, 79-83; on myth 
of Er, the Pamphylian, 178-180; on 
poetry, 207; psychology of, 81 

Play, nature and value of, 196-198 

Pleasure, and happiness, 1 21-124; as 
object of desire, 109-112; misinter- 
pretations of, 122-123; qualitative 
distinction of, 123-124 

Pleasures, sum of, 139-140 

Politics, science of, 248-249 

Poverty, immorality of, 191-192; tra- 
ditional view of, 189 

Price, 258n 

Progress, and conscience, 278-280; and 
happiness, 158-161; some conditions 
of, 165-168, 278; the problems of 
social, 245-249 

Punishment, and responsibility, 369- 
374; moral justification of, 353-354; 
retributive, 373-374 

Psychology, distinctive task of, 21; dis- 
tinguished from ethics, 16-17; of 
choice, 110-112; of sanctions, needed, 

Pyrrho, 132 

Quality, of pleasures distinguished by 
Mill, 68-69; of pleasure estimated 
quantitatively, 123-124 


Rashdall, i4on, 290; on conception of 
finite God, 407-408; on determinism, 
336n» 337 

Rationalism, false interpretation of, 167 

Reason, and feeling, 208-209; as or- 
ganizing principle, 224; misinterpre- 
tation of, 167, 383-385 

Recreation, moralization of, 199; value 
of, 196-199 

Reid, 258n 

Religion, a problem of values, 214-217; 
definition of, 382-390; distinguished 
from morality, 380-382; future of, 
421-425; historical evolution of, 394- 
395; inclusive of all experience, 23-24; 
instinctive, 386-387; interaction of, 
with morality, 390-396; moralization 
of, 216; non-ethical, ethical, anti- 
ethical elements of, 396-405; origin 
of, 380-382; scientific temper in the 
study of, 377-380; transformation of, 
among Greeks, 391; transformation 
of, among Hebrews, 391 

Renan, quoted, 23n 

Responsibility, and character, 372-373; 
and pimishment, 369-374; conditions 
of moral, 371-373; distinguished from 
imputability , 3 70-3 7 1 ; indetermin- 
istic view of, 354-355 

Robertson, J. M., quoted, 209 

Rousseau, 162, 288 

Royce, J., i4n, 43, iign; quoted, 36-37; 
criticism of his doctrine of loyalty, 
45-49; on problem of evil, 410-411; 
on the psychology of choice, 303 

Ruskin, 23; quoted, 205 

St. Paul, 283; quoted, 185 

Sanctions, external, 269-270; natural, 
of morality, 318-320; need of psy- 
chology of, 319-320 

Satisfaction, and desire, 1 20-1 21; cor- 
relation with function, 168-177 

Scepticism, answer to, 324-334; Greek, 
321-322; historical survey of, 320-324 

Schiller, F. C. S., on relation of pessi- 
mism to value, 130-134 

Schiller, quoted, 42, 307 

Schopenhauer, quoted, 204, 407-408 

Science, and social organization, 241- 



243; contribution of, to spiritual life, 
211-212; descriptive and normative, 
14-20, 313-314; distinguished from 
philosophy, 9-1 1; extension of the 
reahn of, 339-343 

Sciences, error of the departmental view 
of, 20-21; nature of humanistic, 20-25 

Self, deterministic view of the, 349-351 

Self-realization, not exact in meaning, 
141, 165; statement of, loi 

Seneca, quoted, 63 

Sextus Empiricus, 132; on scepticism, 

Shaftesbury, 66; "moral sense" of, 258 

Shakespeare, quoted, 296 

Sharp, F. C, 259n 

Sidgwick, 56, 259; quoted, 146, 253n, 
26411, 287n, 288, 301; contribution of, 
to Hedonism, 69-71; on determinism, 


Society, and the individual conscience, 
277-280; over-individual aspect of, 
226; some conditions of progress in, 
245-249. See Civilization 

Socrates, 60, 78, 115, 297; quoted, 29 

Sorley, N. R., 202n 

Spencer, hedonism of, 72-73; on con- 
science, 260-262; on egoism and al- 
truism, 73-74; on moral and non- 
moral conduct, 3-4; on psychological 
hedonism, no 

Spinoza, quoted, 27, 298; ethics of, 92- 
97; religious view of, 96 

Spirit, world-denying and world-affirm- 
ing, 425-428 

Stephen, L., 74-75, 322n 

Stevenson, R. L., quoted, 198 

Stirner, 322 

Stoicism, 86-92; formalism of, 288 

Stoics, Roman, 89-92 

Stratton, G. M., quoted, 423 

Sully, quoted, 122, 157 

Sutherland, 231, 26on; quoted, 323n 

Sympathy, the basis of social relations, 


Taylor, A. E., 1400, 269n, 33on, 346n; 
on freedom, 359 

Teleology, and formalism, 38-40; neces- 
sity of, 49-54; prejudice against, 54 
Theory, and practice in ethics, 25-35 
Thilly, F., 258n; quoted, 360 
Thomists, 4on 
Thackeray, quoted, 202 
Titchener, i22n 
Tolstoi, 162 


Urban, W. M., quoted, i2in 
Utilitarianism, 67-69. See Hedonism 

Valuation, distinguished from motiva- 
tion, 106-107 

Value, a imion of objective and subjec- 
tive factors, 1 51-154; and feeling, 
1 1 7-1 21; and ethical hedonism, 112- 
117; as function of consciousness, 
115-116; duty dependent on, 250- 
253; ethics a science of, 6-9; linked 
with pleasure or happiness, 134-137; 
meanings of term, 36; negative, 36, 
36n, 116-118; volimtaristic theories 
of, 121 

Values, a table of, 182; absolute, 113- 
115; aesthetic, 203-208; bodily, 193- 
196; conflict of, 420-421; distinction 
between intrinsic and instrumental, 
189-190; economic, 188-193; extra- 
Christian, 423-425; hierarchy of, 217; 
intellectual, 208-214; interdepend- 
ence of, 183; intrinsic, 114; of asso- 
ciation, 199-202; of character, 202- 
203; of recreation, 196-199; organ- 
ization of, 218-224; over-individual, 
115; religious, 214-217; secondary 
character of religious, 380-381 

Vices, teleological character of, 54-57 

Virtue, and duty, 301-302; and knowl- 
edge, 212-214, 295-299; as subjective 
or formal goodness, 286-290; Greek 
conception of, 287; instrumental as- 
pect of, 291-292; intrinsic value of, 
292; Kant's definition of, 28 7n; mili- 
tant and spontaneous, 302-307; place 
in ethical theory of, 290-295; Roman 




conception of, 287; Sidgwick's def- 
inition of, 287n; the essence of char- 
acter values, 290; use of the term, 
Virtues, of intrinsic and instrumental 
worth, 203; teleological character of 
the, 54-57; unity of the, 299-302; 
varying estimates of the, 300 

Wealth, as exchange value, 188; moral- 
ization of, 192-193, 248. See Eco- 
nomic Values. 

Westermarck, E., in, 3n, 2380 

Wordsworth, quoted, 307 

Work, definition of, 197-198; moraliza- 
tion of, 198 

Wundt, quoted, iign, 287n, 303-304 


Wallace, W., 63n 

Xenophon, 60 

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