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1. A Philosophy of personal experience, to be adequate, must account for the origin and nature of each fact in experience.
2. As the knowledge here to be explained is my knowledge, it involves the relation between me and mine, and its explanation must in part at least be in myself. Personality contains the primary explanation of personal experience.
3. As the knowledge here to be explained is the knowledge of moral quality in the actions of myself and others, it involves a further relation between me and others, and its explanation may be in part beyond myself, in so far as it may be concerned with what is neither me nor mine. The explanation of some personal experience may in part be found in what is beyond my personality. In so far as my experience implies the recognition of moral distinctions by others, it may find part of its explanation in other personalities.
4. As the fact now to be explained is KNOWLEDGE, not Feeling, it can be accounted for only by the existence of a cognitive power belonging to our personality. Whether this power be an original power of mind, or the result of development from simpler elements, is a question belonging to a later stage of enquiry. However attained, this knowing power belongs to our personality, and its exercise from time to time depends upon our personality.
5. The only philosophic warrant for acknowledging distinct powers in mind, is the discovery in consciousness of facts essentially different in nature. Facts which differ must have different explanations. If different facts have a source, it is because diverse powers exist in the same source of activity. By distinct powers of mind, therefore, is meant nothing more than the mind's power to produce facts essentially different.
6. Knowledge of the moral qualities of actions is knowledge of matters of fact. Of such knowledge there are three distinct forms. These are Sensation, knowledge of impressions made on our physical nature ; Perception, knowledge of objects by self-directed observation; Judgment, a more advanced knowledge of objects, either by simple comparison, or by inference.
These generally admitted distinctions are here simply accepted as the product of Psychology in the purely intellectual department of mental science.
As Affections and Sentiments presuppose knowledge, and as the Laws of Association merely provide for the combination of the facts of knowledge, these cannot afford any theory of the origin of our knowledge of moral distinctions. Sentimental and Associational theories are thus excluded on exactly the same ground.
JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758) made Benevolence the standard of rectitude. “Virtue is the beauty of those qualities and acts of the mind, that are of a moral nature, i.e. such as are attended with desert or worthiness of praise or blame.' Virtue is the beauty of the qualities and exercises of the heart, or those actions which proceed from them.' virtue most essentially consists in benevolence to being in general.' 'The first object of a virtuous benevolence is being, simply considered : and if being, simply considered, be its object, then being in general is its object; and what it has an ultimate propensity to, is the highest good of being in
general.'-A Dissertation concerning the Nature of true Virtue. Chap. i.
DAVID HUME (1711-1776) referred to the original fabric and formation of the human mind' for the explanation of moral distinctions. He held “that Reason and Sentiment concur in almost all moral determinations and conclusions, but the final sentence, it is probable, depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species.'—Essays, II. 222—Principles of Morals, sect. I. The nature of this sense or feeling is thus indicated : ‘Every quality, which is useful or agreeable to ourselves or others, is, in common life, allowed to be a part of personal merit :'-the censure of the disagreeable and the approval of the agreeable are thus 'the universal sentiments of censure or approbation which arise from humanity.'
The theory of ADAM SMITH (1723-1790) is founded on Sympathy. Moral Sentiments, Part iii. (1759): “We either approve or disapprove of our own conduct, according as we feel that, when we place ourselves in the situation of another man, and view it, as it were, with his eyes, and from his station, we either can or cannot entirely enter into and sympathize with the sentiments and motives which influence it.? - Part iii. C. I. For his argument that general rules of morality' are formed by finding from experience that all actions of a certain kind are approved or disapproved of,' v. Part iii. c. 4.
DR. THOMAS BROWN (1778-1820) agrees with Adam Smith in so far as he grants that emotions are the basis of moral distinctions, Philos. of the Human Mind, Lect. 59. He says : "The action excites in us a certain feeling of vivid approval. It is this irresistible approvableness . . . which constitutes to us who consider the action, the virtue of the action itself,'—Lect. 73. On the undue place often given to
• the Emotions,” Chalmers's Sketches of Ment. and Mor. Philos.
chap. vi. Of Associational Theories see detailed examination in Div. II.
7. Knowledge of moral quality in an action is not of the nature of Sensation. Sensation is neither an act, nor the knowledge of an act, but an involuntary experience consequent on personal relation to a sensitive organism, and to objects capable of making impressions on that organism. Take, for example, the sensations of heat, cold, weariness, and pain.
Those who originally described the moral faculty as a 'Moral Sense,' meant by that either a power of perception, or of judgment, with attendant emotions, not a mere capacity of feeling or of sensation. Thus Shaftesbury (1671-1713), 'In a creature capable of forming general notions of things, not only the outward beings which offer themselves to the sense, are the objects of the affection, but the very actions themselves, and the affections of pity, kindness, gratitude, and their contraries, being brought into the mind by reflection, become objects. So that by means of this reflected sense, there arises another kind of affection towards those
affections themselves which have been already felt, and are now become the subject of a new liking or dislike.' Behaviour and actions are said to be presented to our understanding,' and the faculty is said to be 'a sentiment of judgment.'- Inquiry concerning Virtue, I. 2, sect. 3; Characteristics, vol. ii. 29. Hutcheson, Syst. of Mor. Phil.; and Passions and Moral Sense.
8. Knowledge of moral quality in an action is not of the nature of Perception. Perception being a simple recognition of fact, can include only such facts as are capable of being known by simple observation, that is, without comparison and inference. For example, Perception gives knowledge of an extended surface, but not of its measure ; knowledge of a signal, but not of its meaning; knowledge of an action, but not of its moral character. Knowledge of an extended surface-of the presence of a signal,--and nf the performance of
an action, is possible by simple Perception. But knowledge of the measure of the surface, of the meaning of the signal, and of the character of the action, are three examples of knowledge requiring the application of a standard, that is, the cognition of one thing by means of another, and this is knowledge of a higher and more complex order than simple Perception.
A theory of the knowledge of moral distinctions by means of a moral sense, as an organ or power of perception, is thus shown to be impossible.
9. Knowledge of moral quality is of the nature of Judgment. The knowledge of an action as fact is one thing, the knowledge of that action as right or wrong is another thing. The former involves simple perception, the latter is attained only by comparison. For example, the infliction of pain by one upon another, as a simple act, may be seen in a variety of circumstances. In one case we may regard it as morally right, in another as morally wrong. In any case we must firsi know the relation of the persons concerned, the motive of the agent, and the contemplated end. If the relations of persons be that of parent and child ; if the motive of the parent be desire of the child's improvement; and the warrant, a parent's right to restrain disobedience in a child, we pronounce one verdict. On the other hand, if the persons concerned are related as neighbours, and if the suffering is inflicted in malice, we give an opposite verdict. In either case we form a judgment. Again, restricting attention to our own consciousness, take for example the experience of an envious disposition. The knowledge of the presence of envy in the mind, is simple perception; the knowledge of its character as morally wrong is knowledge of a higher order, implying a prior knowledge, however obtained, as to rightness and wrongness, and the application of that prior knowledge to the particular fact perceived. It thus appears that the knowledge of moral quality is not obtained without comparison