Lapas attēli



every man must answer to these definitions; and all approach to greatest happiness, presupposes an approach toward conformity with them. Schemes of government and culture which ignore them, cannot but be essentially absurd. Every thing must be good or bad, right or wrong, in virtue of its accordance or discordance with them. We have no need to perplex ourselves with investigations into the expediency of every measure, by trying to trace out its ultimate results in all their infinite ramifications—a task which it is folly to attempt. Our course is to inquire concerning such measure, whether or not it fully recognizes these fundamental necessities, and to be sure that it must be proper or improper accordingly. Our whole code of duty is comprehended in the endeavour to live up to these necessities. If we find pleasure in doing this, it is well; if not, our aim must be to acquire that pleasure. Greatest happiness is obtained only when conformity to them is spontaneous; seeing that the restraint of desires inciting to trespass implies pain, or deduction from greatest happiness. Hence it is for us to habituate ourselves to fulfil these requirements as fast as ve can. The social state is a necessity. The conditions of greatest happiness under that state are fixed. Our characters are the only things not fixed. They, then, must be moulded into fitness for the conditions. And all moral teaching and discipline must have for its object, to hasten this process.

§ 3. Objection may be taken to the foregoing classification of the conditions needful to greatest happiness, as being in some degree artificial. It will perhaps be said that the distinction between justice and beneficence cannot be maintained, for that the two graduate into each other imperceptibly. Some may argue that it is not allowable to assume any essential difference between right conduct toward others and right conduct toward self, seeing that what are generally considered purely private actions, do eventually affect others to such a de gree, as to render them public actions; as witness the collateral effects of drunkenness or suicide. Others again may contend that all morality should be classed as private; because with the rightly-constituted or moral man, correct conduct to others is merely incidental upon the fulfilment of his own nature.

In each of these allegations there is much truth; and it is not to be denied that under a final analysis, all such distinctions as those above made must disappear. But it should be borne in mind that similar criticisms


be passed upon all classifications whatever. It might after the same fashion be argued that we ought not to separate the laws of heat from those of mechanics, because fire when applied to water generates mechanical force. On like grounds Optics ought to be identified with Chemistry; seeing that in the photographic process, light becomes a chemical agent. Considering that muscles contract when stimulated by a galvanic current, we ought to treat of Physiology and Electricity as forming one science. Nor should we even distinguish between vegetable and animal life; for these are found to have a common root, and it is hardly possible to say of the lowest organisms which division they belong to. So that unless such objectors are prepared to say that Botany and Zoology should be regarded as one, and that all lines of demarcation between the physical sciences should be abolished, they must in consistency tolerate an analogous classification in moral science; and must admit that whilst this is in a certain sense artificial, it may be an essential preliminary to any thing like systematic investigation. The same finite power of comprehension which compels us to deal with natural phenomena by separating them into groups



and studying each group by itself, may also compel us to separate those actions which place a man in direct relation. ship with his fellows, from others which do not so place him; although it may be true that such a separation cannot be strictly maintained. And even in dealing with one of these sections in developing the principles of right conduct to others, it may be further necessary to distinguish, as above, the primary and most imperative principle, from the secondary and less imperative one; notwithstanding that these have a common root.

§ 4. The realization of the Divine Idea being reduced to the fulfilment of certain conditions, it becomes the office of a scientific morality, to make a detailed statement of the mode in which life must be regulated so as to conform to them. On each of these axiomatic truths it must be possible to build a series of theorems immediately bearing upon our daily conduct; or, inverting the thought -every act stands in a certain relationship to these truths, and it must be possible in some way or other to solve the problem, whether that relationship is one of accordance or discordance. When such a series of theorems has been elaborated, and solutions have been given to such a series of problems, the task of the moralist is accomplished.

Each of these axioms, however, may have its own-set of consequences separately deduced, or indeed, as already hinted, must have them so deduced. Their respective developments constitute independent departments of moral science, requiring to be dealt with in the order of their natural sequence.

For the present, therefore, our attention will be confined to the first and most essential of them. Individual or private morality, as distinguished from social or public morality, is not to be entered upon in the following pages. Neither will there be found in them any statement of that class of moral obligations above comprehended under the terms positive and negative beneficence.* It is with the several inferences to be drawn from that primary condition to greatest happiness, the observance of which is vaguely signified by the word justice, that we have now to deal. Our work will be to unfold that condition into a system of equity; to mark out those limits put to each man's proper sphere of activity, by the like spheres of other men; to delineate the relationships that are necessitated by a recognition of those limits; or-in other words—to develop the principles of Social Statics.

* These other divisions of the subject may be taken up on a future occasion, should circumstances favour.



« iepriekšējāTurpināt »