Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.

The author desires it to be understood that the reprint of Social Statics, herewith issued to the American public, must not be taken as a literal expression of his present views. During the fourteen years that have elapsed since the original pablication of the work, the general theory which it enunciates has undergone, in his mind, considerable further development and some accompanying modifications. So that, though he adheres to the leading principles set forth in the following pages, he is not prepared to abide by all the detailed applications of them.

The bases of Morality laid down in Part I., and in the preliminary chapters of Part II., must be regarded as but adumbrations of what he holds to be the true bases. Though in the main correct as far as they go, they are incompletely worked out, and form but a moiety of the groundwork on which a scientific system of Ethics must rest.

The deductions included in Part II. may be taken as representing, in great measure, those which the author would still draw; but had he now to express them, he would express some of them differently. Especially in the chapters on “ The Rights of Women,” and on “ The Rights of Children," he would make qualifications which, while they left the arguments much as they are, would alter somewhat their logical aspects.

Similarly of the deductions which make up Part III. The doctrines there enunciated respecting Political Rights, State Functions, and the Limitations of State Functions, are such as, in their general characters, the author continues to hold. But in re-stating them he would bring into greater prominence the transitional nature of all political institutions, and the consequent relative goodness of some arrangements which have no claims to absolute goodness.

If it be asked why the author does not so re-model the work as to make it accurately represent his present opinions, the reply is that he could not do this satisfactorily without an amount of labor that would require him to suspend the issue of the System of Philosophy on which he is now engaged. When, however, he comes to the closing volumes of this System, should he ever get so far, he proposes to set forth in them the developed conclusions of which Social Statics must be regarded as a rough sketch.

LONDON, Nov. 16, 1864.

PREFAOE.

a

BEING somewhat at variance with precedent, the tone and mode of treatment occasionally adopted in the following pages will, perhaps, provoke criticism. Whether, in thus innovating upon established usage, the writer has acted judiciously or otherwise, the event must determine. He has not, however, transgressed without adequate motive; having done so under the belief that, as it is the purpose of a book to influence conduct, the best way of writing a book must be the way best fitted to effect this purpose.

Should exception be taken to the manifestations of feeling now and then met with, as out of place in a treatise having so scientific a title; it is replied that, in their present phase of progress, men are but little swayed by purely intellectual considerations—that to be operative, these must be enforced by direct or implied appeals to the sentiments—and that, provided such appeals are not in place of, but merely supplementary to, the deductions of logic, no well-grounded objection can be made to them. The reader will find that the several conclusions submitted to him are primarily based on entirely imper sonal reasoning, by which alone they may be judged; and if, for the sake of commending these conclusions to the

many, the sympathies have been indirectly addressed, the general argument cannot have been thereby weakened, if it has not been strengthened.

Possibly the relaxations of style in some cases used, will be censured, as beneath the gravity of the subject. In defence of them it may be urged, that the measured movement which custom prescribes for philosophical works, is productive of a monotony extremely repulsive to the generality of readers. That no counterbalancing advantages are obtained, the writer does not assert. But, for his own part, he has preferred to sacrifice somewhat of conventional dignity, in the hope of rendering his theme interesting to a larger number.

LONDON, December, 1800

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »