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regards the ideal of humanity as the foundation of all modern movements, and it is expressed in various forms which are here outlined and criticised : socialism and the economic theories of Marx and Engels; individualism, with particular reference to Hirner and Nietzsche and the Anarchists: utilitarianism, pessimism, evolutionism, positivism. In the last lecture the author presents the principles of his own “ Modern Ethics of Humanity": religion, in a liberal sense, is the basis of morals; love, as feeling, is the central force in morality, but not love apart from reason ; the fact of solidarity gives the rational ground for duty, and duty consists chiefly in habitual devotion to common welfare, not in exceptional acts of martyrdom. What “welfare" includes is not distinctly stated.
C. R. HENDERSON.
NOTES AND ABSTRACTS.
The Domain of Utilitarian Ethics.— Utilitarian ethics, when understood in the terms by which its principal advocates have undertaken to expound it, has always been open to successful attack from its opponents. The intuitionists have triumphantly urged against it that pleasure is neither the immediate nor the ultimate end of ethical conduct; that the contemplation of pleasure as an object of desire can never arouse the feeling expressed by the word “ought," and that the idea of pleasure is not an essential element in the consciousness of a moral agent when incited to perform a moral act.
Mr. John Morley has called attention to a statement by Aristotle, which should be regarded as the cardinal maxim of personal morals: “The wise man seeks after freedom from pain, not pleasure.” This practical rule, although not intended as anything more than a guide to prudent conduct for the benefit of the individual, may nevertheless be so paraphrased as to express the fundamental principle of ethics that "the moral man is he whose actions are directed to the avoidance, prevention, removal, or alleviation of pain whenever and wherever imminent or present, and whether affecting himself or his fellow-men, but wholly irrespective of any pleasure which may thereby be attained or promoted except in the negative sense of relief from painful experience.”
The great masters of utilitarianism have not attended to this distinction. Does the production of pleasure come to the same thing in morals as the prevention of pain? The feeling of moral obligation undoubtedly appertains to that form of utility which tends to prevent the happening of pain or evil either to the community in general or to a particular individual; but this surely does not hold true of that other form of utility which tends to produce benefit or happiness of a positive kind.
If the utilitarian theory of morals should be so stated as to make the terms "right" and "wrong" exactly the reverse of each other in meaning and co-extensive in their range of application, its position would be unassailable.
Wrongful acts are universally recognized as comprised in one or the other of two categories. They are either those of direct performance, by which suffering is inflicted or augmented, or those of wilful non-performance, by which the prevention or mitigation of suffering is refused or neglected. In like manner acts which are right, when viewed strictly according to moral standards, are also embraced within two categories corresponding to those of wrongful acts, but diametrically opposite thereto in character. They are, first, acts of abstention from the infiction or augmentation of suffering; and, second, acts of direct endeavor to prevent or mitigate suffering.
Hence it results that negative beneficence is the reverse of positive malevolence, and that positive beneficence is the reverse of negative malevolence. Pain is the invariable and essential subject matter of both morality and immorality. The one is concerned solely with its elimination or prevention; the other, always with its generation and continuance.
In the domain of morality, the conduct of the moral agent is concerned with two classes of pains; namely, those which may be experienced by himself, and those which may be experienced by others. Each of these classes of pains may be divided into those which are believed to arise from natural causes and those believed to be inflicted by supernatural agencies. Hence, a further division of morality into secular morals and religious morals.
These distinctions will be found helpful in considering the question of moral progress. Among the lowest varieties of the human race, man has the least foresight, the least regard for the welfare of others, and the least fear of natural consequences. His morals, therefore, are concerned with evils which are immediate, which relate chiefly to himself, and which are largely superstitious. On the contrary, civilized
man orders his conduct with reference to the future, to the welfare of his fellow-men, and to the ascertained laws of nature.
Hence, while morality is fundamentally the same for all men — the determination of conduct to avoid, prevent, or alleviate pain— there is concretely very little in common between the morals of savage and civilized man. Ethical progress has been in proportion to the subordination of present interests to future interests, of personal interests to social interests, and of religious interests to secular interests. Moral progress has resulted, not from any change in the fundamental character of the moral sense, but rather from the enlargement of its field of operation. It has always been aroused by consciousness of pain experienced by, or threatened to, self; but the particular conduct resulting from it has ever been determined by the existing constitution of that self.
The conspicuous fact in the history of morals is that what modern philosophy terms altruism has undergone great development with the progress of civilization. There can be no doubt that its essence consists in the emotional impulses of the individual animated by it to ward off evil from his fellows. It is the extension of the feeling which actuates the individual in keeping himself from harm to the broader emotion which prompts him to save others likewise from painful experience.
All systems of ethics recognize that moral conduct involves self-restraint or selfsacrifice, and hence utilitarian ethics which regards the prevention or alleviation of pain as the purpose of morality becomes open to the charge of occupying the paradoxical position that its ultimate object can be attained by creating in the consciousness of the moral agent one painful state in order to destroy or abate another. Such a change is hardly an adequate statement of the facts. Morality in many cases, as in refraining from doing bodily harm to another, or committing theft, has become organic with most civilized people and is not attended by any present sense of sacrifice. In every moral action which has not become organic there must be a conscious choice between evils. Pain is to be avoided always, if possible, but when the harm to be prevented by the moral act is clearly seen by the moral agent to involve greater pain than that which he would suffer in performing such act, then his conscience prompts him to perform it.— GEORGE L. Roberts, in International Journal of Ethics.
Occupation as the Basis of Social Organization.-I. The organization of the people on the basis of trade. The most important aspect of the scheme of the capitalistic economy is probably the fact that the skilled laborer, who possesses the knowledge of the labor first hand, is not interested in the economic outcome of his activity. The manager of the product, who alone has an interest in the economic outcome of it, is no longer a skilled workman, and has no longer the least qualitative relation to the material content of his activity. He develops the abilities of a retailer. The product is readily exchanged in the market. How shall he, then, develop a knowledge of the trade as distinct from the business end? He comes in direct contact with it at most once a year-in the calculation of the accident insurance or in the consultation of the tariff sheets. But no satisfactory organization of the trades engaged in the establishment can be made upon that basis. To the most stupid of our stupid thoughts in this time of prosperity belongs, therefore, this one : the desire to organize a modern state upon the foundation of professional or trade distinctions.
II. Profit-sharing, past and present, compared. The changes can be noted from two distinct points of view: one can compare the condition of affairs one hundred years ago with that which obtains today, and note the differences; or one can consider the changes which the old status has undergone during the hundred years. These distinct modes of viewing the matter bring quite diverse results, and to this is due the fact that in the discussion of the problem the most diverse and frequently opposite opinions have been given, and doubtless, in many cases, rightly.
Time has demonstrated a few things; (1) It is not true that the poor have grown poorer; on the contrary, the poorest are richer today than they were a hundred years ago, whether you consider the poorest one hundred thousand or ten million. (2) It is certainly not true that the moderate incomes -say, between 900 and 3,000 marks — have become fewer, but, on the other hand, more powerful. (3) It is not true that the
number of the rich is continually growing less; on the other hand, it can everywhere be observed that this class is increasing in number,
For “the continually decreasing number of capital magnates " people, this means nothing : statistics are turned and twisted at will. The nearer we come to the breaking up of the capitalistic system of economy, the more the “expropriators about. The business of expropriation will always grow less.
If now the income statistics has already done enough mischief in preventing general theories of economic development, it is doomed in the eyes of all social moralists. The development of profit-sharing has been pointed to quite as frequently in the praise as in the disparagement of capitalism, and for the last ten years a book has appeared biannually in opposition to the capitalistic system of economy, on the ground of the inequality of the division of property; while this has produced the contradictory statement that the present economic system is the best of all systems, for the support of which proposition the elevation of the lower classes is pointed out.
If it is now, in my opinion, inadmissible and unworthy of science to participate in such pot-house politics as the question whether the world is growing better or worse, then it is quite as dangerous to employ income statistics as weapons in the struggle of opinions.
First : When we want to answer the question whether the influence of profitsharing upon the economic system has been favorable or unfavorable, we must reply that during the period whose beginning and end we have in mind a change has taken place in the condition of the masses. What, then, do we demand of an economic system – that it support an increased population just as comfortably as it formerly did a smaller one, or that it support with a similar livelihood the population of the beginning of the period ? For the nineteenth century this question is, as is apparent, of special significance - a century in which the population of Germany has doubled. I mean that when an economic system brings it about that twice the population of a country is supported, and that more comfortably, with the means of happiness, when it supports thirty million more people without apparently lowering the level of existence, then it is doing a service which is without precedent in history. For me, this fact borders on the marvelous, and when I reflect on the development of the empire at leisure, I understand the bulwark and co-worker, when the capitalistic order of affairs is looked upon as established by God. That a hundred thousand people do not die of hunger in Germany nowadays is worthy of contemplation.
I can imagine that without much trouble one could make a register of the sins of capital, large enough to develop hate and opposition in the hearts of many against this system of economy. It has brought to us“ the masses;” it has robbed our lives of the inner rest; it has estranged us to nature; it has deprived us of the joy of our fathers in that it solved the world mathematically, and awoke in us an overvaluation of the things of this life ; it has brought the great mass of the people into a slavish relation of dependence upon a small number of enterpreneurs. But in return it has rendered a service of a wonderful nature : it has made it possible to support a continually increasing population on the best in the market; it has solved the problem of provisions in quite a masterly way, and better than any economic conception preceding it. If we take the standpoint of pure quantity and pass judgment from it, then capitalism is surrounded with a halo of glory as it writes in glowing words: thirty million more people.
Second : Another thought arises with every attempt to determine the value of an economic system from the figures of income statistics. The numbers, because they determine pure quantity, do not indicate the important elements. For we dare not forget that back of the commensurable numbers stand the incommensurable qualities of subjective satisfaction of needs. We must guard against the error that we can measure the significance of a definite income in different periods by the price of any particular articles of consumption. The periods stand in absolute unrelatedness, for the distinguishing elements are the imponderable and immeasurable circumstances in the application and use of the incomes. The bare numbers are meaningless. We must get behind them. We must get at the nature and worth of an economic culture.WERNER SOMBART, “Beruf und Besitz,” in Archiv für soziale Gesetzgebung und Statistik, Vol. XVIII, 1903.
A. D. S.
The Sense of Danger and the Fear of Death.—A sense of danger is, and always has been, a necessity of conscious life. We can trace its beginnings in the most lowly creatures; we can follow its evolution through all the phases of animal consciousness; we can imagine how important a function it fulfilled in the gregarious life of savage men; and now, under a veneer of latter-day culture, we still discover it as one of the most constant and characteristic elements in human consciousness. In all studies of the natural history of consciousness we read of the instinct for life, the strenuous avoidance of injury and death, as fundamental. If we analyze this instinct for life, it is clear that some method of warning, a sensitiveness to danger, is as essential as a method of escape. The fear of death is one of the emotional forms in which we express this instinct. No matter how it may be modified by convictions relative to the life beyond, there is a startled shrinking from the cold, solitary, disintegrating grave; a sudden terror when for the first time the pain of some fatal disease intimates that the end has begun.
If you touch a worm which has wriggled half way out of its bed-after lime has been poured upon turf, for instance-it will immediately retreat; a snail, drowsing lazily in the warm shade, draws in his horns with quick alarm at the slightest touch; untamed reptiles recoil like a mainspring from human contact; birds, scariest perhaps of all the land species, are horrified at the slightest approach to caressing. We may not call the worm anxious-minded; it is simply prepared on the slightest occasion to wriggle. That simple and direct response-protective in its nature-occurs in man also. Most people, if suddenly, though however slightly, touched, when not prepared, recoil—an immediate reflex activity. From so primitive a reaction we might trace the evolution of the elaborate processes which underlie fear.
Let us turn to the natural history of this mode of consciousness as a prelude to some remarks on its teleology-the uses of fear in the spiritual economy. A great many creatures of all species appear to be very timid, and especially those that have not strong weapons of offense. It is obvious that the common house fly is a timid and fugitive creature compared with the audacious and predatory midge. Among reptiles contrast the armed and predatory crocodiles and alligators, the python, the cobra, with the comparatively defenseless and fugitive turtle and tortoise; among birds, the aggressive eagle and hawk, with the defenseless doves and sparrows; among mammals, the carnivora with the herbivora.
Through all nature, then, the fitness by which the species survive is, in some cases, a power of offense associated with a character that includes courage, audacity, ferocity, and in others, the vast majority, a physical defenselessness associated with caution, timidity, constant watchfulness. To the human consciousness, these diversities have descended. There are men and women, not unfitly described as sharks, who are bent upon turning everything and everybody to advantage, who regard every neighbor as fair game. And there are others, who are mostly afraid, who suggest in their suspicion and anxiety the apparent state of mind of the coy and prudish cow.
The qualities which man inherits, and by which he has survived do not rapidly atrophy and disappear. The cerebral structures which were evolved in primitive man, the vital structures, the structures necessary to protect and prolong life, are deeply organized in the seed of the human race, and are to all intents and purposes, everlasting. Some of them, including fear, are dwindling, but they dwindle very slowly.
Yet fear, like other infirmities, has its uses both to the single life and to life in general. A special development of any sort begets a corresponding adaptation in all the world with which it comes into close contact. An improved sense of danger, an increased wariness, reacts at once upon the intelligence and skill to which it is opposed. The more daring the “enterprising burglar” becomes, the more active and intelligent become the police; make new laws-factory acts or joint-stock company acts, and you promptly stimulate the sense of danger of manufacturers and company promoters, their skill in evading the law improves, and you must draw still closer the meshes of your legal net.
But, generally speaking, the capacity for fear in the human mind is absurdly in excess of its utility. As men evolved past that stage when danger to life was constant, fear attached itself to ideas and sentiments; and then its mischievousness began, for there is no end to the possibilities of fear when linked to a vivid imagination. It is at that stage when life became comparatively safe that the by-products of fear