On the Basis of Morality
by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by Arthur Brodrick Bullock
Part III. THE FOUNDING OE ETHICS.
Translated in 1903
143722On the Basis of Morality — Part III. THE FOUNDING OE ETHICS.Arthur Brodrick BullockArthur Schopenhauer


part ill. THE FOUNDING OE ETHICS.


CHAPTER I.

CONDITIONS OF THE PROBLEM.

THUS the foundation which Kant gave to Ethics, which for the last sixty years has been regarded as a sure basis, proves to be an inadmissible assumption, and merely theological Morals in disguise ; it sinks therefore before our eyes into the deep gulf of philosophic error, which perhaps will never be filled up. That the previous attempts to lay a foundation are still less satisfactory, I take for granted, as I have already said. They consist, for the most part, of unproved assertions, drawn from the impalpable world of dreams, and at the same time like Kant's system itself full of an artificial subtlety dealing with the finest distinctions, and resting on the most abstract conceptions. We find difficult combi- nations ; rules invented for the purpose ; formulae balanced on a needle's point ; and stilted maxims, from which it is no longer possible to look down and see life as it really is with all its turmoil. Such niceties are doubtless admirably adapted for the lecture-room, if only with a view to sharpen- ing the wits ; but they can never be the cause of the impulse to act justly and to do good, which is found in every man ; as also they are powerless

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to counterbalance the deep-seated tendency to in- justice and hardness of heart. Neither is it possible to fasten the reproaches of conscience upon them ; to attribute the former to the breaking of such hair- splitting precepts only serves to make the same ridiculous. In a word, artificial associations of ideas like these cannot possibly if we take the matter seriously contain the true incentive to justice and loving-kindness. Rather must this be something that requires but little reflection, and still less abstraction and complicated synthesis ; something that, independent of the training of the understanding, speaks to every one, even to the rudest, a something resting simply on intuitive perception, and forcing its way home as a direct emanation from the reality of things. So long as Ethics cannot point to a foundation of this sort, she may go on with her discussions, and make a great display in the lecture-rooms ; but real life will only pour contempt upon her. I must there- fore give our moralists the paradoxical advice, first to look about them a little among their fellow-men.


CHAPTER II.

SCEPTICAL VIEW.

BUT when we cast a retrospect over the attempts made, and made in vain, for more than two thousand years, to find a sure basis for Ethics, ought we not perhaps to think that after all there is no natural morality, independent of human institution ? Shall we not conclude that all moral systems are nothing but artificial products, means invented for the better restraint of the selfish and wicked race of men ; and further, that, as they have no internal credentials and no natural basis, they would fail in their purpose, if without the support of positive religion ? The legal code and the police are not sufficient in all cases ; there are offences, the discovery of which is too difficult ; some, indeed, where punishment is a precarious matter ; where, in short, we are left without public protection. Moreover, the civil law can at most enforce justice, not loving-kindness and beneficence ; because, of course, these are qualities as regards which every one would like to play the passive, and no one the active, part. All this has given rise to the hypothesis that morality rests solely on religion, and that both have the same aim that of being complementary to the necessary

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inadequacy of state machinery and legislation. Consequently, there cannot be (it is said) a natural morality, i.e., one based simply on the nature of things, or of man, and the fruitless search of philosophers for its foundation is explained. This view is not without plausibility ; and we find it as far back as the Pyrrhonians :

ovTf ayadov TL e'crn (pvcrti, cure KUK.OV,

aXXa TTpos a.v6pa>TTU>v ravra v6a> Kcxptrat, Kara TOV Tip.a>va. 1

Sext. Emp. adv. Math., XL, 140.

Also in modern times distinguished thinkers have given their adherence to it. A careful examination therefore it deserves ; although the easier course would be to shelve it by giving an inquisitorial glance at the consciences of those in whom such a theory could arise. We should fall into a great, a very childish blunder, if we believed all the just and legal actions of mankind to have a moral origin. This is far from being the case. As a rule, between the justice, which men practise, and genuine singleness of heart, there exists a relation analogous to that between polite expressions, and the true love of one's neighbour, which, unlike the former, does not ostensibly over- come Egoism, but really does so. That honesty of sentiment, everywhere so carefully exhibited, which

1 I.e., there is nothing either good or bad by nature, but these things are decided by human judgment, as Timon says. V. Sexti Empiric! Opera Quae Exstant : Adversus Mathe- maticos ; p. 462 A ad fin. Aurelianae : Petrus et Jacobus Chouet, 1621. V. also : Sexti Empiric! Opera, edit. Jo. Albertus Fabricius : Lipsiae, 1718, Lib. XL, 140, p. 716.


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requires to be regarded as above all suspicion ; that deep indignation, which is stirred by the smallest sign of a doubt in this direction, and is ready to break out into furious anger ; to what are we to attri- bute these symptoms ? None but the inexperienced and simple will take them for pure coin, for the work- ing of a fine moral feeling, or conscience. In point of fact, the general correctness of conduct which is adopted in human intercourse, and insisted on as a rule no less immovable than the hills, depends principally on two external necessities ; first, on legal ordinance, by virtue of which the rights of every man are protected by public authority ; and secondly, on the recognised need of possessing civil honour, .in other words, a good name, in order to advance in the world. This is why the steps taken by the individual are closely watched by public opinion, which is so inexorably severe that it never forgives even a single false move or slip, but remembers it against the guilty person as an indelible blot, all his life long. As far as this goes, public opinion is wise enough ; for, starting from the fundamental principle : Operari sequitur esse (what one does is determined by what one is), it shows its conviction that the character is unchangeable, and that there- fore what a man has once done, he will assuredly do again, if only the circumstances be precisely similar. Such are the two custodians that keep guard on the correct conduct of people, without which, to speak frankly, we should be in a sad case, especially with reference to property, this central point in human life, around which the chief part of its energy and


138 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

activity revolves. For the purely ethical motives to integrity, assuming that they exist, cannot as a rule be applied, except very indirectly, to the question of ownership as guaranteed by the state. These motives, in fact, have a direct and essential bearing only on natural right ; with positive right their connection is merely indirect, in so far as the latter is based on the former. Natural right, however, attaches to no other property than that which has been gained by one's own exertion ; because, when this is seized, the owner is at the same time robbed of all the efforts he expended in acquiring it. The theory of preoccupancy I reject absolutely, but cannot here set forth its refutation.[1] Now of course all estate based on positive right ought ultimately and in the last instance (it matters not how many intermediate links are involved) to rest on the natural right of possession. But what a distance there is, in most cases, between the title- deeds, that belong to our civil life, and this natural right their original source ! Indeed their connection with the latter is generally either very difficult, or else impossible, to prove. What we hold is ours by inheritance, by marriage, by success in the lottery ; or if in no way of this kind, still it is not gained by our own work, with the sweat of the brow, but rather by shrewdness and bright ideas (e.g., in the field of speculation), yes, and sometimes even by our very stupidity, which, through a conjunction of circum- stances, is crowned and glorified by the Deus eventus. It is only in a very small minority of cases that property is the fruit of real labour and toil ; and even then the work is usually mental, like that of lawyers, doctors, civilians, teachers, etc. ; and this in the eyes of the rude appears to cost but little effort.

Now, when wealth is acquired in any such fashion, there is need of considerable education before the ethical right can be recognised and respected out of a purely moral impulse. Hence it comes about that not a few secretly regard the possessions of others as held merely by virtue of positive right. So, if they find means to wrest from another man his goods, by using, or perhaps by evading, the laws, they feel no scruples ; for in their opinion he would lose what he holds, in the same way in which he had previously obtained it, and they consequently regard their own claims as equal to his. From their point of view, the right of the stronger in civil society is superseded by the right of the cleverer.

Incidentally we may notice that the rich man often shows an inflexible correctness of conduct. Why ? Because with his whole heart he is attached to, and rigidly maintains, a rule, on the observance of which his entire wealth, and all its attendant advantages, depend. For this reason his profession of the principle : Suum cuique (to each his own), is thoroughly in earnest, and shows an unswerving consistency. No doubt there is an objective loyalty to sincerity and good faith, which avails to keep them sacred ; but such loyalty is based simply on the fact that sincerity and good faith are the foundation of all free intercourse among men ; of good order ; and of secure ownership. Consequently they very


140 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

often benefit ourselves, and with this end in view they must be preserved even at some cost : just as a good piece of land is worth a certain outlay. But integrity thus derived is, as a rule, only to be met with among wealthy people, or at least those who are engaged in a lucrative business. It is an especial characteristic of tradesmen ; because they have the strongest con- viction that for all the operations of commerce the one thing indispensable is mutual trust and credit ; and this is why mercantile honour stands quite by itself. On the other hand, the poor man, who cannot make both ends meet, and who, by reason of the unequal division of property, sees himself condemned to want and hard work, while others before his eyes are lapped in luxury and idleness, will not easily perceive that the raison d'etre of this inequality is a corresponding inequality of service and honest industry. And if he does not recognise this, how is he to be governed by the purely ethical motive to uprightness, which should keep him from stretching out his hand to grasp the superfluity of another ? Generally, it is the order of government as established by law that restrains him. But should ever the rare occasion present itself when he discovers that he is beyond the reach of the police, an'd that he could by a single act throw off the galling burden of penury, which is aggravated by the sight of others' opulence ; if he feels this, and realises that he could thus enter into the possession and enjoyment of all that he has so often coveted : what is there then to stay his hand ? Religious dogmas ? It is seldom that faith is so firm. A purely moral incentive to be just and


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upright ? Perhaps in a few isolated cases. But in by far the greater number there is in reality nothing but the anxiety a man feels to keep his good name, his civil honour a thing that touches closely even those in humble circumstances. He knows the imminent danger incurred of having to pay for dishonest conduct by being expelled from the great Masonic Lodge of honourable people who live correct lives. He knows that property all over the world is in their hands, and duly apportioned among themselves, and that they wield the power of making him an outcast for life from good society, in case he commit a single disgraceful action. He knows that whoever takes one false step in this direction is marked as a person that no one trusts, whose company every one shuns, and from whom all advancement is cut off; to whom, as being " a fellow that has stolen," the proverb is applied : " He who steals once is a thief all his life."

These, then, are the guards that watch over correct behaviour between man and man, and he who has lived, and kept his eyes open, will admit that the vast majority of honourable actions in human inter- course must be attributed to them ; nay, he will go further, and say that there are not wanting people who hope to elude even their vigilance, and who regard justice and honesty merely as an external badge, as a flag, under the protection of which they can carry out their own freebooting propensities with better success. We need not therefore break out into holy wrath, and buckle on our armour, if a moralist is found to suggest that perhaps all integrity and


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uprightness may be at bottom only conventional. This is what Holbach, Helvetins, d'Alembert, and others of their time did ; and, following out the theory, they endeavoured with great acumen to trace back all moral conduct to egoistic motives, however remote and indirect. That their position is literally true of most just actions, as having an ultimate foundation centred in the Self, I have shown above. That it is also true to a large extent of what is done in kindness and humanity, there can be no doubt ; acts of this sort often arise from love of ostentation, still oftener from belief in a retribution to come, which may be dealt out in the second or even the third power ; l or they can be explained by other egoistic motives. Nevertheless, it is equally certain that there occur actions of disinterested good-will and entirely voluntary justice. To prove the latter statement, I appeal only to the facts of experience, not to those of consciousness. There are isolated, yet indisputable cases on record, where not only the danger of legal prosecution, but also all chance of discovery, and even of suspicion has been ex- cluded, and where, notwithstanding, the poor man has rendered to the rich his own. For example, things lost, and found, have been given back without any thought or hope of reward ; a deposit made by a third person has been restored after his death to the rightful owner ; a poor man, secretly intrusted with

1 In other words : If a be a given offence, or virtuous act, and x the punishment, or reward, proportional to it ; then the punishment, or reward, actually inflicted, instead of being x, may be a? or x 3 . (Translator.)


SCEPTICAL VIEW. 143

a treasure by a fugitive, has faithfully kept, and then returned, it. Instances of this sort can be found, beyond all doubt ; only the surprise, the emotion, and the high respect awakened, when we hear of them, testify to the fact that they are unexpected and very ex- ceptional. There are in truth really honest people : like four-leaved clover, their existence is not a fiction. But Hamlet uses no hyperbole when he says : " To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man pick'd out of ten thousand." If it be objected that, after all, religious dogmas, involving rewards and penalties in another world, are at the root of conduct as above described ; cases could probably be adduced where the actors possessed no religious faith what- ever. And this is a thing by no means so infrequent as is generally maintained.

Those who combat the sceptical view appeal specially to the testimony of conscience. But conscience itself is impugned, and doubts are raised about its natural origin. Now, as a matter of fact, there is a conscientia spuria (false conscience), which is often confounded with the true. The regret and anxiety which many a man feels for what he has done is frequently, at bottom, nothing but fear of the possible conse- quences. Not a few people, if they break external, voluntary, and even absurd rules, suffer from painful searchings of heart, exactly similar to those inflicted by the real conscience. Thus, for instance, a bigoted Jew, if on Saturday he should smoke a pipe at home, becomes really oppressed with the sense of having disobeyed the command in Exodus xxxv. 3 : " Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations


144 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

upon the Sabbath day." How often it happens that a nobleman or officer is the victim of self-reproach, because on some occasion or other he has not properly complied with that fools' codex, which is called knightly honour ! Nay more : there are many of this class, who, if they see the impossibility of merely doing enough in some quarrel to satisfy the above- named code to say nothing of keeping their pledged word of honour are ready to shoot themselves. (In- stances of both have come under my knowledge.) And this, while the selfsame man would with an easy mind break his promise every day, if only the shibboleth " Honour " be not involved. In short, every inconsequent, and thoughtless action, all conduct contrary to our prejudices, principles, or convictions, whatever these may be ; indeed, every indiscretion, every mistake, every piece of stupidity rankles in us secretly, and leaves its sting behind. The average individual, who thinks his conscience such an imposing structure, would be surprised, could he see of what it actually consists : probably of about one-fifth, fear of men ; one-fifth, superstition ; one- fifth, prejudice ; one-fifth, vanity ; and one-fifth, habit. So that in reality he is no better than the English- man, who said quite frankly : " I cannot aiford to keep a conscience." Religious people of every creed, as a rule, understand by conscience nothing else than the dogmas and injunctions of their religion, and the self-examination based thereon ; and it is in this sense that the expressions coercion of conscience and liberty of conscience are used. The same inter- pretation was always given by the theologians,


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schoolmen, and casuists of the middle ages and of later times. Whatever a man knew of the formulae and prescriptions of the Church, coupled with a re- solution to believe and obey it, constituted his conscience. Thus we find the terms " a doubting conscience," " an opinionated conscience," " an erring conscience," and the like ; and councils were held, and confessors employed, for the special purpose of setting such irregularities straight. How little the conception of conscience, just as other conceptions, is determined by its own object ; how differently it is viewed by different people ; how wavering and un- certain it appears in books ; all this is briefly but clearly set forth in Staudlin's Geschichte der Lehrevom Gewissen. These facts taken in conjunction are not calculated to establish the reality of the thing ; they have rather given rise to the question whether there is in truth a genuine, inborn conscience. I have already had occasion in Part II., Chapter YIIL, where the theory of Freedom is discussed, to touch on my view of conscience, and I shall return to it below.

All these sceptical objections added together do not in the least avail to prove that no true morality exists, however much they may moderate our ex- pectations as to the moral tendency in man, and the natural basis of Ethics. Undoubtedly a great deal that is ascribed to the ethical sense can be proved to spring from other incentives ; and when we contemplate the moral depravity of the world, it is sufficiently clear that the stimulus for good cannot be very powerful, especially as it often does not work even in cases where the opposing motives are

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weak, although then the individual difference of character makes itself fully felt.

It should be observed that this moral depravity is all the more difficult to discern, because its manifestations are checked and cloaked by public order, as enforced by law ; by the necessity of having a good name ; and even by ordinary polite manners. And this is not all. People commonly suppose that in the education of the young their moral interests are furthered by representing uprightness and virtue as principles generally followed by the world. Later on, it is often to their great harm that experience teaches them something else ; for the discovery, that the instructors of their early years were the first to deceive them, is likely to have a more mischievous effect on their morality than if these persons had given them the first example of ingenuous truthfulness, by saying frankly : " The world is sunk in evil, and men are not what they ought to be ; but be not misled thereby, and see that you do better." All this, as I have said, increases the difficulty of re- cognising the real immorality of mankind. The state this masterpiece, which sums up the self-conscious, intelligent egoism of all consigns the rights of each person to a power, which, being enormously superior to that of the individual, compels him to respect the rights of all others. This is the leash that restrains the limitless egoism of nearly every one, the malice of many, the cruelty of not a few. The illusion thus arising is so great that, when in special cases, where the executive power is ineffective, or is eluded, the insatiable covetousness, the base greed, the deep


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hypocrisy, or the spiteful tricks of men are apparent in all their ugliness, we recoil with horror, supposing that we have stumbled on some unheard-of monster : whereas, without the compulsion of law, and the necessity of keeping an honourable name, these sights would be of every day occurrence. In order to dis- cover what, from a moral point of view, human beings are made of, we must study anarchist records, and the proceedings connected with criminals. The thousands that throng before our eyes, in peaceful intercourse each with the other, can only be regarded as so many tigers and wolves, whose teeth are secured by a strong muzzle. Let us now suppose this muzzle cast off, or, in other words, the power of the state abolished ; the contemplation of the spectacle then to be awaited would make all thinking people shudder ; and they would thus betray the small amount of trust they really have in the efficiency either of religion, or of conscience, or of the natural basis of Morals, whatever it be. But if these im- moral, antinomian forces should be unshackled and let loose, it is precisely then that the true moral incentive, hidden before, would reveal its activity, and consequently be most easily recognised. And nothing would bring out so clearly as this the prodigious moral difference of character between man and man ; it would be found to be as great as the intellectual, which is saying much.

The objection will perhaps be raised that Ethics is not concerned with what men actually do, but that it is the science which treats of what their conduct ought to be. Now this is exactly the position


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which I deny. In the critical part of the present treatise I have sufficiently demonstrated that the con- ception of ought, in other words, the imperative form of Ethics, is valid only in theological morals, outside of which it loses all sense and meaning. The end which I place before Ethical Science is to point out all the varied moral lines of human conduct ; to explain them ; and to trace them to their ultimate source. Consequently there remains no way of discovering the basis of Ethics except the empirical. We must search and see whether we can find any actions to which we are obliged to ascribe genuine moral worth : actions, that is, of voluntary justice, of pure loving- kindness, and of true nobleness. Such conduct, when found, is to be regarded as a given phaenome- non, which has to be properly accounted for ; in other words, its real origin must be explored, and this will involve the investigation and explanation of the peculiar motives which lead men to actions so radically distinct from all others, that they form a class by themselves. These motives, together with a respon- sive susceptibility for them, will constitute the ultimate basis of morality, and the knowledge of them will be the foundation of Ethics. This is the humble path to which I direct the Science of Morals. It contains no construction a priori, no absolute legislation for all rational beings in abstractor it lacks all official, academic sanction. Therefore, who- ever thinks it not sufficiently fashionable, may return to the Categorical Imperative; to the Shibboleth of " Human Dignity " ; to the empty phrases, the cobwebs, and the soap-bubbles of the Schools ; to


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principles on which experience ponrs contempt at every step, and of which no one, outside the lecture- rooms knows anything, or has ever had the least notion. On the other hand, the foundation which is reached by following my path is upheld by ex- perience ; and it is experience which daily and hourly delivers its silent testimony in favour of my theory.


CHAPTER III.

ANTIMORAL 1 INCENTIVES.

THE chief and fundamental incentive in man, as in animals, is Egoism, that is, the urgent impulse to exist, and exist under the best circumstances. The German word Selbstsucht (self-seeking) involves a false secondary idea of disease (Sucht). 2 The term Eigennutz (self-interest) denotes Egoism, so far as the latter is guided by reason, which enables it, by means of reflection, to prosecute its purposes system-

1 I venture to use this word although irregularly formed, because " antiethical " would not here give an adequate meaning. Sittlich (in accordance with good manners) and unsittlich (contrary to good manners), which have lately come into vogue, are bad substitutes for moralisch (moral) and unmoralisch (immoral) : first, because moralisch is a scientific conception, which, as such, requires to be denoted by a Greek or Latin term, for reasons which may be found in Die Welt ah Wille und Vorstellung, vol. ii., chap. 12, p. 134 sqq. ; and secondly, because sittlich is a weaker and tamer expression, difficult to distinguish from sittsam (modest) which in popular acceptation means zimperlich (simpering). No concessions must be made to this extravagant love of germanising !

2 In Sucht (s^ecA = sick) and Selbst-sucht (sunken seek) there is an apparent confusion between the two bases SUK (seuka) to be ill, and sOKYAN, to seek. V. Skeat's Etymological Dictionary. (Translator.)

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atically ; so that animals may be called egoistic, but not self-interested (eigennutzig). I shall there- fore retain the word Egoism for the general idea. Now this Egoism is, both in animals and men, connected in the closest way with their very essence and being ; indeed, it is one and the same thing. For this reason all human actions, as a rule, have their origin in Egoism, and to it, accordingly, we must always first turn, when we try to find the explanation of any given line of conduct ; just as, when the endeavour is made to guide a man in any direction, the means to this end are universally calculated with reference to the same all-powerful motive. Egoism is, from its nature, limitless. The individual is filled with the unqualified desire of preserving his life, and of keeping it free from all pain, under which is included all want and privation. He wishes to have the greatest possible amount of pleasurable existence, and every gratification that he is capable of appreciat- ing ; indeed, he attempts, if possible, to evolve fresh capacities for enjoyment. Everything that opposes the strivings of his Egoism awakens his dislike, his anger, his hate : this is the mortal enemy, which he tries to annihilate. If it were possible, he would like to possess everything for his own pleasure ; as this is impossible, he wishes at least to control every- thing. " All things for me, and nothing for others " is his maxim. Egoism is a huge giant overtopping the world. If each person were allowed to choose between his own destruction and that of the rest of mankind, I need not say what the decision would be in most cases. Thus it is that every human unit


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makes himself the centre of the world, which he views exclusively from that standpoint. Whatever occurs, even, for instance, the most sweeping changes in the destinies of nations, he brings into relation first and foremost with his own interests, which, however slightly and indirectly they may be affected, ho is sure to think of before anything else. No sharper contrast can be imagined than that between the profound and exclusive attention which each person devotes to his own self, and the indifference with which, as a rule, all other people regard that self, - an indifference precisely like that with which lie in turn looks upon them. To a certain extent it is actually comic to see how each individual out of innumerable multitudes considers himself, at least from the practical point of view, as the only real thing, and all others in some sort as mere phantoms. The ultimate reason of this lies in the fact that every one is directly conscious of himself, but of others only indirectly, through his mind's eye ; and the direct impression asserts its right. In other words, it is in consequence of the subjectivity which is essential to our consciousness that each person is himself the whole world ; for all that is objec- tive exists only indirectly, as simply the mental picture of the subject ; whence it comes about that everything is invariably expressed in terms of self- consciousness. The only world which the individual really grasps, and of which he has certain knowledge, he carries in himself, as a mirrored image fashioned by his brain ; and he is, therefore, its centre. Conse- quently he is all in all to himself ; and since he


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feels that he contains within his ego all that is real, nothing can be of greater importance to him than his own self. 1 Moreover this supremely important self, this microcosm, to which the macrocosm stands in relation as its mere modification or accident, this, which is the individual's whole world, he knows perfectly well must be destroyed by death ; which is therefore for him equivalent to the destruction of all things.

Such, then, are the elements out of which, on the basis of the Will to live, Egoism grows up, and like a broad trench it forms a perennial separation between man and man. If on any occasion some one actually jumps across, to help another, such an act is regarded as a sort of miracle, which calls forth amazement and wins approval. In Part II., Chapter VI., where Kant's principle of Morals is discussed, I had the opportunity of describing how Egoism behaves in everyday life, where it is always peering out of some corner or other, despite ordinary politeness, which, like the traditional fig-leaf, is used as a covering. In point of fact, politeness is the conventional and systematic dis- avowal of Egoism in the trifles of daily intercourse, and is, of course, a piece of recognised hypocrisy. Gentle manners are expected and commended, because that which they conceal Egoism is so odious, that no one wishes to see it, however much it is known to be there ; just as people like to have repulsive objects hidden at least by a curtain. Now, unless

1 It should be noticed that while from the subjective side a man's self assumes these gigantic proportions, objectively it shrinks to almost nothing namely, to about the one- thousand-millionth part of the human race.


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external force (under which must be included every source of fear whether of human or superhuman powers), or else the real moral incentive is in effective operation, it is certain that Egoism always pursues its purposes with unqualified directness ; hence without these checks, considering the countless number of egoistic individuals, the bellum omnium contra omnes l would be the order of the day, and prove the ruin of all. Thus is explained the early construction by reflecting reason of state government, which, arising, as it does, from a mutual fear of reciprocal violence, obviates the disastrous con- sequences of the general Egoism, as far as it is possible to do by negative procedure. Where, how- ever, the two forces that oppose Egoism fail to be operative, the latter is not slow to reveal all its horrible dimensions, nor is the spectacle exactly attractive. In order to express the strength of this antimoral power in a few words, to portray it, so to say, at one stroke, some very emphatic hyperbole is wanted. It may be put thus : many a man would be quite capable of killing another, simply to rub his boots over with the victim's fat. I am only doubtful whether this, after all, is any exaggeration. Egoism, then, is the first and principal, though not the only, power that the moral Motive has to contend against ; and it is surely sufficiently clear that the latter, in order to enter the lists against such an opponent, must be something more real than a hair-splitting sophism or an a priori soap-bubble. In war the first

1 The war of all against all. Hobbes uses this expression. (Translator.)


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thing to be done is to know the enemy well ; and in the shock of battle, now impending, Egoism, as the chief combatant on its own side, is best set against the virtue of Justice, which, in my opinion, is the first and original cardinal virtue.

The virtue of loving-kindness, on the other hand, is rather to be matched with ill-will, or spitefulness, the origin and successive stages of which we will now consider. Ill-will, in its lower degrees, is very frequent, indeed, almost a common thing ; and it easily rises in the scale. Goethe is assuredly right when he says that in this world indifference and aversion are quite at home. ( Wahlverwandtschaften, Part I., chap. 3.) It is very fortunate for us that the cloak, which prudence and politeness throw over this vice, prevents us from seeing how general it is, and how the bellum omnium contra omnes is constantly waged, at least in thought. Yet ever and anon there is some appearance of it : for instance, in the relentless backbiting so frequently observed ; while its clearest manifestation is found in all out- breaks of anger, which, for the most part, are quite disproportioual to their cause, and which could hardly be so violent, had they not been compressed like gunpowder into the explosive compound formed of long cherished brooding hatred. Ill-will usually arises from the unavoidable collisions of Egoism which occur at every step. It is, moreover, objectively excited by the view of the weakness, the folly, the vices, failings, shortcomings, and imperfections of all kinds, which every one more or less, at least occasionally, affords to others. Indeed, the spectacle


156 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

is such, that many a man, especially in moments of melancholy and depression, may be tempted to regard the world, from the aesthetic standpoint, as a cabinet of caricatures ; from the intellectual, as a madhouse ; and from the moral, as a nest of sharpers. If such a mental attitude be indulged, misanthropy is the result. Lastly, one of the chief sources of ill-will is envy ; or rather, the latter is itself ill-will, kindled by the happiness, possessions, or advantages of others. No one is absolutely free from envy ; and Herodotus (III. 80) said long ago : <f)66vos ap^rjdev e^verat avOptairw (envy is a natural growth in man from the beginning). But its degrees vary considerably. It is most poisonous and implacable when directed against personal qualities, because then the envious have nothing to hope for. And precisely in such cases its vilest form also appears, because men are made to hate what they ought to love and honour. Yet so " the world wags," even as Petrarca complained :

Di lor par piu, die d'altri, invidia s'abbia,

Che per se stessi son levati a volo,

Uscendo fuor della commune gabbia.

(For envy fastens most of all on those,

Who, rising on their own strong wings, escape

The bars wherein the vulgar crowd is cag'd.)

The reader is referred to the Parerga, vol. ii., 114, for a more complete examination of envy.

In a certain sense the opposite of envy is the habit of gloating over the misfortunes of others. At any rate, while the former is human, the latter is diabolical. There is no sign more infallible of an


ANTIMORAL INCENTIVES. 157

entirely bad heart, and of profound moral worthless- ness than open and candid enjoyment in seeing other people suffer. The man in whom this trait is observed ought to be for ever avoided : Hie niger est, hunc tu, Romane, caveto. 1 These two vices are in them- selves merely theoretical ; in practice they become malice and cruelty. It is true that Egoism may lead to wickedness and crime of every sort ; but the resulting injury and pain to others are simply the means, not the end, and are therefore involved only as an accident. Whereas malice and cruelty make others' misery the end in itself, the realisation of which affords distinct pleasure. They therefore constitute a higher degree of moral turpitude. The maxim of Egoism, at its worst is : Neminem juva, immo omnes, si forte conducit (thus there is always a condition), laede (help no body, but rather injure all people, if it brings you any advantage). The guiding rule of malice is : Omnes, quantum potes, laede (injure all people as far as you can). As malicious joy is in fact theoretical cruelty, so, con- versely, cruelty is nothing but malicious joy put into practice ; and the latter is sure to show itself in the form of cruelty, directly an opportunity offers.

An examination of the special vices that spring from these two primary antimoral forces forms no part of the present treatise : its proper place would be found in a detailed system of Ethics. From Egoism we should probably derive greed, gluttony, lust, selfishness, avarice, covetousness, injustice, hardness

1 This man is black ; of him shalt thou, O Roman, beware. V. Horace, Sat., Lib. I. 4. 85. (Translator.)


158 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

of heart, pride, arrogance, etc. ; while to spitefulness -might be ascribed disaffection, envy, ill-will, malice, pleasure in seeing others suffer, prying curiosity, slander, insolence, petulance, hatred, anger, treachery, fraud, thirst for revenge, cruelty, etc. The first root is more bestial, the second more devilish ; and accord- ing as either is the stronger ; or according as the moral incentive, to be described below, predominates, so the salient points for the ethical classification of character are determined. No man is entirely free from some traces of all three.

Here I bring to an end my review of these terrible powers of evil ; it is an array reminding one of the Princes of Darkness in Milton's Pandemonium. But my plan, which in this respect of course differs from that of all other moralists, required me to consider at the outset this gloomy side of human nature, and, like Dante, to descend first to Tartarus.

It will now be fully apparent how difficult our problem is. We have to find a motive capable of making a man take up a line of conduct directly opposed to all those propensities which lie deeply ingrained in his nature ; or, given such conduct as a fact of experience, we must search for a motive capable of supplying an adequate and non-artificial explanation of it. The difficulty, in fact, is so great that, in order to solve it, for the vast majority of mankind, it has been everywhere necessary to have recourse to machinery from another world. Gods have been pointed to, whose will and command the required mode of behaviour was said to be, and who were represented as emphasising this command


ANTIMORAL INCENTIVES. 159

by penalties and rewards either in this, or in another world, to which death would be the gate. Now let ns assume that belief in a doctrine of this sort took general root (a thing which is certainly possible through strenuous inculcation at a very early age) ; and let us also assume that it brought about the intended effect, though this is a much harder matter to admit, and not nearly so well confirmed by ex- perience ; we should then no doubt succeed in obtain- ing strict legality of action, even beyond the limits that justice and the police can reach ; but every one feels that this would not in the least imply what we mean by morality of the heart. For obviously, every act arising from motives like those just mentioned is after all derived simply from pure Egoism. How can I talk of unselfishness when I am enticed by a promised guerdon, or deterred by a threatened punishment ? A recompense in another world, thoroughly believed in, must be regarded as a bill of exchange, which is perfectly safe, though only payable at a very distant date. It is thus quite possible that the profuse assurances, which beggars so constantly make, that those, who relieve them, will receive a thousandfold more for their gifts in the next world, may lead many a miser to generous alms- giving ; for such a one complacently views the matter as a good investment of money, being perfectly con- vinced that he will rise again as a Croesus. For the mass of mankind, it will perhaps be always necessary to continue the appeal to incentives of this nature, and we know that such is the teaching promulgated by the different religions, which are in fact the


160 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

metaphysics of the people. Be it, however, observed in this connection that a man is sometimes just as much in error as to the true motives that govern his own acts, as he is with regard to those of others. Hence it is certain that many persons, while they can only account to themselves for their noblest actions by attributing them to motives of the kind above described, are, nevertheless, really guided in their conduct by far higher and purer incentives, though the latter may be much more difficult to discover. They are doing, no doubt, out of direct love of their neighbour, that which they can but explain as the command of their God. On the other hand, Philosophy, in dealing with this, as with all other problems, endeavours to extract the true and ultimate cause of the given phaenomena from the disclosures which the nature itself of man yields, and which, freed as they must be from all mythical interpretation, from all religious dogmas, and trans- cendent hypostases, she requires to see confirmed by external or internal experience. Now, as our present task is a philosophical one, we must entirely disregard all solutions conditioned by any religion ; and I have here touched on them merely in order to throw a stronger light on the magnitude of the difficulty.


CHAPTER IV.

CRITERION OF ACTIONS OF MORAL WORTH.

THERE is first the empirical question to be settled, whether actions of voluntary justice and unselfish loving-kindness, which are capable of rising to noble- ness and magnanimity, actually occur in experience. Unfortunately, this inquiry cannot be decided alto- gether empirically, because it is invariably only the act that experience gives, the incentives not being apparent. Hence the possibility always remains that an egoistic motive may have had weight in determining a just or good deed. In a theoretical investigation like the present, I shall not avail myself of the inexcusable trick of shifting the matter on to the reader's conscience. But I believe there are few people who have any doubt about the matter, and who are not convinced from their own experience that just acts are often performed simply and solely to prevent a man suffering from injustice. Most of us, I do not hesitate to say, are persuaded that there are persons in whom the principle of giving others their due seems to be innate, who neither intentionally injure any one, nor unconditionally seek their own advantage, but in considering themselves show regard also for the rights of their neighbours ; persons who,

161 11


162 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

when they undertake matters involving reciprocal obligations, not only see that the other party does his duty, but also that he gets his own, because it is really against their will that any one, with whom they have to do, should be shabbily treated. These are the men of true probity, the few aequi (just) among the countless number of the iniqui (unjust). Such people exist. Similarly, it will be admitted, I think, that many help and give, perform services, and deny them- selves, without having any further intention in their hearts than that of assisting another, whose distress they see. When Arnold von Winkelried exclaimed : " Triiwen, lieben Eidgenossen, wullCs minem Wip und Kinde gedenken" 1 and then clasped in his arms as many hostile spears as he could grasp ; can any one believe that he had some selfish purpose ? I cannot. To cases of voluntary justice, which cannot be denied without deliberate and wilful trifling with facts, I have already drawn attention in Chapter II. of this Part. Should any one, however, persist in refusing to believe that such actions ever happen, then, according to his view, Ethics would be a science without any real object, like Astrology and Alchemy, and it would be waste of time to discuss its basis any further. With him, therefore, I have nothing to do, and address myself to those who allow that we are deal- ing with something more than an imaginary creation. It is, then, only to conduct of the above kind that genuine moral worth can be ascribed. Its special mark is that it rejects and excludes the whole class

1 Comrades, true and loyal to our oath, care for my wife and child in remembrance of this.


CRITERION OF ACTIONS OF MORAL WORTH 163

of motives by which otherwise all human action is prompted : I mean the self-interested motives, using the word in its widest sense. Consequently the moral value of an act is lowered by the disclosure of an accessory selfish incentive ; while it is entirely de- stroyed, if that incentive stood alone. The absence of all egoistic motives is thus the Criterion of an action of moral value. It may, no doubt, be objected that also acts of pure malice and cruelty are not selfish. 1 Bat it is manifest that the latter cannot be meant, since they are, in kind, the exact opposite of those now being considered. If, however, the de- finition be insisted on in its strict sense, then we may expressly except such actions, because of their essential token the compassing of others' suffering.

There is also another characteristic of conduct having real moral worth, which is entirely internal and there- fore less obvious. I allude to the fact that it leaves behind a certain self-satisfaction which is called the approval of conscience : just as, on the other hand, injustice and urikindness, and still more malice and cruelty, involve a secret self-condemnation. Lastly, there is an external, secondary, and accidental sign that draws a clear line between the two classes. Acts of the former kind win the approval and respect of disinterested witnesses : those of the latter incur their disapproval and contempt.

Those actions that bear the stamp of moral value, so determined, and admitted to be realities, constitute

1 Acts of malice and cruelty are so many gratifications of the ego, and are therefore, in a certain sense, selfish. V. Intro- duction, pp. xvi. and xvii. (Translator.)


164 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

the phaenomenon that lies before us, and which we have to explain. We must accordingly search out what it is that moves men to such conduct. If we succeed in oor investigation, we shall necessarily bring to light the true moral incentive ; and, as it is upon this that all ethical science must depend, our problem will then be solved.


CHAPTER V.

STATEMENT AND PROOF OF THE ONLY TRUE MORAL INCENTIVE.

THE preceding considerations, which were unavoidably necessary in order to clear the ground, now enable me to indicate the true incentive which underlies all acts of real moral worth. The seriousness, and indisputable genuineness, with which we shall find it is distinguished, removes it far indeed from the hair-splittings, subtleties, sophisms, assertions formu- lated out of airy nothings, and a priori soap-bubbles, which all systems up to the present have tried to make at once the source of moral conduct and the basis of Ethics. This incentive I shall not put forward as an hypothesis to be accepted or rejected, as one pleases ; I shall actually prove that it is the only possible one. But as this demonstration requires several fundamental truths to be borne in mind, the reader's attention is first called to certain propositions which we must presuppose, and which may properly be considered as axioms ; except the last two, which result from the analysis contained in the preceding chapter, and in Part II., Chapter III.

(1) No action can take place without a sufficient

166


166 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

motive ; as little as a stone can move without a sufficient push or pull.

(2) Similarly, no action can be left undone, when, given the character of the doer, a sufficient motive is present ; unless a stronger counter-motive neces- sarily prevents it.

(3) Whatever moves the Will, this, and this alone, implies the sense of weal and woe, in the widest sense of the term ; and conversely, weal and woe signify " that which is in conformity with, or which is contrary to, a Will." Hence every motive must have a connection with weal and woe.

(4) Consequently every action stands in relation to, and has as its ultimate object, a being susceptible of weal and woe.

(5) This being is either the doer himself ; or another, whose position as regards the action is there- fore passive ; since it is done either to his harm, or to his benefit and advantage.

(6) Every action, which has to do, as its ultimate object, with the weal and woe of the agent himself, is egoistic.

(7) The foregoing propositions with regard to what is done apply equally to what is left undone, in all cases where motive and counter-motive play their parts.

(8) From the analysis in the foregoing chapter, it results that Egoism and the moral worth of an action absolutely exclude each other. If an act have an egoistic object as its motive, then no moral value can be attached to it ; if an act is to have moral value, then no egoistic object, direct or indirect, near or remote, may be its motive.


THE ONLY TRUE MORAL INCENTIVE. 167

(9) In consequence of my elimination in Part II., Chapter III., of alleged duties towards ourselves, the moral significance of our conduct can only lie in the effect produced upon others ; its relation to the latter is alone that which lends it moral worth, or worthlessness, and constitutes it an act of justice, loving-kindness, etc., or the reverse.

From these propositions the following conclusion is obvious : The weal and woe, which (according to our third axiom) must, as its ultimate object, lie at the root of everything done, or left undone, is either that of the doer himself, or that of some other person, whose role with reference to the action is passive. Conduct in the first case is necessarily egoistic, as it is impelled by an interested motive. And this is not only true when men as they nearly always do plainly shape their acts for their own profit and advantage ; it is equally true when from anything done we expect some benefit to ourselves, no matter how remote, whether in this or in another world. Nor is it less the fact when our honour, our good name, or the wish to win the respect of some one, the sympathy of the lookers on, etc., is the object we have in view ; or when our intention is to uphold a rule of conduct, which, if generally followed, would occasionally be useful to ourselves, for instance, the principle of justice, of mutual succour and aid, and so forth. Similarly, the proceeding is at bottom egoistic, when a man considers it a prudent step to obey some absolute command issued by an unknown, but evidently supreme power ; for in such a case nothing can be the motive but fear of


168 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

the disastrous consequences of disobedience, however generally and indistinctly these may be conceived. Nor is it a whit the less Egoism that prompts us when we endeavour to emphasise, by something done or left undone, the high opinion (whether distinctly realised or not) which we have of ourselves, and of our value or dignity ; for the diminution of self-satisfaction, which might otherwise occur, would involve the wounding of our pride. Lastly, it is still Egoism that is operative, when a man, following Wolff's principles, seeks by his conduct to work out his own perfection. In short, one may make the ultimate incentive to an action what one pleases ; it will always turn out, no matter by how circuitous a path, that in the last resort what affects the actual weal and woe of the agent himself is the real motive ; consequently what he does is egoistic, and there- fore without moral worth. There is only a single case in which this fails to happen : namely, when the ultimate incentive for doing something, or leaving it undone, is precisely and exclusively centred in the weal and woe of some one else, who plays a passive part ; that is to say, when the person on the active side, by what he does, or omits to do, simply and solely regards the weal and woe of another, and has absolutely no other object than to benefit him, by keeping harm from his door, or, it may be, even by affording help, assistance, and relief. It is this aim alone that gives to what is done, or left undone, the stamp of moral worth ; which is thus seen to depend exclusively on the circumstance that the act is carried out, or omitted, purely for the benefit and advantage


THE ONLY TRUE MORAL INCENTIVE. 169

of another. If and when this is not so, then the question of weal and woe which incites to, or deters from, every action contemplated, can only relate to the agent himself ; whence its performance, or non- performance is entirely egoistic, and without moral value.

Bat if what I do is to take place solely on account of some one else ; then it follows that Ms weal and woe must directly constitute my motive ; just as, ordinarily, my own weal and woe form it. This narrows the limits of our problem, which may now be stated as follows : How is it possible that another's weal and woe should influence my will directly, that is, exactly in the same way as otherwise my own move it ? How can that which affects another for good or bad become my immediate motive, and actually sometimes assume such importance that it more or less supplants my own interests, which are, as a rule, the single source of the incentives that appeal to me ? Obviously, only because that other person becomes the ultimate object of my will, pre- cisely as usually I myself am that object ; in other words, because I directly desire weal, and not woe, for him, just as habitually I do for myself. This, however, necessarily implies that I suffer with him, and feel his woe, exactly as in most cases I feel only mine, and therefore desire his weal as immediately as at other times I desire only my own. But, for this to be possible, I must in some way or other be identified with him ; that is, the difference between myself and him, which is the precise raison d'etre of my Egoism, must be removed, at least to a certain


170 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

extent. Now, since I do not live in his skin, there remains only the knowledge, that is, the mental picture, I have of him, as the possible means where- by I can so far identify myself with him, that my action declares the difference to be practically effaced. The process here analysed is not a dream, a fancy floating in the air ; it is perfectly real, and by no means infrequent. It is, what we see every day, the phaenomenon of Compassion ; in other words, the direct participation, independent of all ulterior considerations, in the sufferings of another, leading to sympathetic assistance in the effort to prevent or remove them ; whereon in the last resort all satisfaction and all well-being and happiness depend. It is this Compassion alone which is the real basis of all voluntary justice and all genuine loving-kindness. Only so far as an action springs therefrom, has it moral value ; and all conduct that proceeds from any other motive whatever has none. When once compassion is stirred within me, by another's pain, then his weal and woe go straight to my heart, exactly in the same way, if not always to the same degree, as otherwise I feel only my own. Consequently the difference between myself and him is no longer an absolute one.

No doubt this operation is astonishing, indeed hardly comprehensible. It is, in fact, the great mystery of Ethics, its original phaenomenon, and the boundary stone, past which only transcendental speculation may dare to take a step. Herein we see the wall of partition, which, according to the light of nature (as reason is called by old theologians), entirely separates being from being, broken down, and the non-ego to


THE ONLY TRUE MORAL INCENTIVE. 171

a certain extent identified with the ego. I wish for the moment to leave the metaphysical explanation of this enigma untouched, and first to inquire whether all acts of voluntary justice and true loving- kindness really arise from it. If so, our problem will be solved, for we shall have found the ultimate basis of morality, and shown that it lies in human nature itself. This foundation, however, in its turn cannot form a problem of Ethics, but rather, like every other ultimate fact as such, of Metaphysics. Only the solution, that the latter offers of the primary ethical phaenomenon, lies outside the limits of the question put by the Danish Royal Society, which is concerned solely with the basis ; so that the transcendental explanation can be given merely as a voluntary and unessential appendix.

But before I turn to the derivation of the cardinal virtues from the original incentive, as here disclosed, I have still to bring to the notice of the reader two observations which the subject renders necessary.

(1) For the purpose of easier comprehension I have simplified the above presentation of compassion as the sole source of truly moral actions, by intentionally leaving out of consideration the incentive of Malice, which while it is equally useless to the self as com- passion, makes the pain of others its ultimate purpose. We are now, however, in a position, by including it, to state the above proof more completely, and rigorously, as follows :

There are only three fundamental springs of human conduct, and all possible motives arise from one or other of these. They are :


172 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

(a) Egoism ; which desires the weal of the self, and is limitless.

() Malice ; which desires the woe of others, and may develop to the utmost cruelty.

(c) Compassion ; which desires the weal of others, and may rise to nobleness and magnanimity.

Every human act is referable to one of these springs ; although two of them may work together. Now, as we have assumed that actions of moral worth are in point of fact realities ; it follows that they also must proceed from one of these primal sources. But, by the eighth axiom, they cannot arise from the first, and still less from the second ; since all conduct springing from the latter is morally worthless, while the offshoots of the former are in part neither good nor bad in themselves. Hence they must have their origin in the third incentive ; and this will be established a posteriori in the sequel.

(2) Direct sympathy with another is limited to his sufferings, and is not immediately awakened by his well-being : the latter per se leaves us indifferent. J. J. Rousseau in his Emile (Bk. IV.) expresses the same view : " Premiere maxime : il n'est pas dans le coeur humain, de se mettre a la place des gens, qui sont plus heureux que nous, mais settlement de ceux, qui sont plus a plaindre" 1 etc.

The reason of this is that pain or suffering, which includes all want, privation, need, indeed every wish, is positive, and works directly on the consciousness.

1 First maxim : it is not in our hearts to identify ourselves with those who are happier than we are, but only with those who are less happy.


THE ONLY TRUE MORAL INCENTIVE. 173

Whereas the nature of satisfaction, of enjoyment, of happiness, and the like, consists solely in the fact that a hardship is done away with, a pain lulled : whence their effect is negative. We thus see why need or desire is the condition of every pleasure. Plato understood this well enough, and only excepted sweet odours, and intellectual enjoyment. (De Rep., IX., p. 264 sq., edit. Bipont.) l And Voltaire says : " II n'est pas de vrais plaisirs, qu'avec de vrais besoms." 2 Pain, then, is positive, and makes itself known by itself : satisfaction or pleasure is negative simply the removal of the former. This principle explains the fact that only the suffering, the want, the danger, the helplessness of another awakens our sympathy directly and as such. The lucky or con- tented man, as such, leaves us indifferent in reality because his state is negative ; he is without pain, indigence, or distress. We may of course take pleasure in the success, the well-being, the enjoyment of 'others : but if we do, it is a secondary pleasure, and caused by our having previously sorrowed over their sufferings and privations. Or else we share the joy and happiness of a man, not as such, but because, and in so far as, he is our child, father, friend, relation, servant, subject, etc. In a word, the good fortune, or pleasure of another, purely as such, does not arouse in us the same direct sympathy as is certainly elicited by his misfortune, privation, or misery, purely as such. If even on our own behalf it is only suffering (under which must be reckoned all wants, needs,

1 Stallbaum : p. 584, sq. (Translator.)

3 There are no real pleasures, without real needs.


174 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

wishes, and even ennui) that stirs onr activity ; and if contentment and prosperity fill us with indolence and lazy repose ; why should it not be the same when others are concerned ? For (as we have seen) our sympathy rests on an identification of ourselves with them. Indeed, the sight of success and enjoy- ment, purely as such, is very apt to raise the envy, to which every man is prone, and which has its place among the antimoral forces enumerated above.

In connection with the exposition of Compassion here given, as the coming into play of motives directly occasioned by another's calamity, I take the opportunity of condemning the mistake of Cassina, 1 which has been so often repeated. His view is that compassion arises from a sudden hallucination, which makes us put ourselves in the place of the sufferer, and then imagine that we are undergoing Ms pain in own own person. This is not in the least the case. The conviction never leaves us for a moment that he is the sufferer, not we ; and it is precisely in his person, not in ours, that we feel the distress which afflicts us. We suffer with him, and there- fore in him ; we feel his trouble as his, and are not under the delusion that it is ours ; indeed, the happier we are, the greater the contrast between our own state and his, the more we are open to the promptings of Compassion. The explanation of the possibility of this extraordinary phaenomenon is, however, not so easy ; nor is it to be reached by the path of pure psychology, as Cassina supposed. The

1 V. his Saggio Analitico sulla Compassione, 1788 ; German translation by Pockels, 1790.


THE ONLY TRUE MORAL INCENTIVE. 175

key can be furnished by Metaphysics alone ; and this I shall attempt to give in the last Part of the present treatise.

I now turn to consider the derivation of actions of real moral worth from the source which has been indicated. The general rule by which to test such conduct, and which, consequently, is the leading principle of Ethics, I have already enlarged upon in the foregoing Part, and enunciated as follows : Neminem laede ; immo omnes, quantum potes, juva. (Do harm to no one ; but rather help all people, as far as lies in your power.) As this formula contains two clauses, so the actions corresponding to it fall naturally into two classes.


CHAPTER VI.

THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE.

IF we look more closely at this process called Com- passion, which we have shown to be the primary ethical phaenomenon, we remark at once that there are two distinct degrees in which another's suffering may become directly my motive, that is, may urge me to do something, or to leave it nndone. The first degree of Compassion is seen when, by counter- acting egoistic and malicious motives, it keeps me from bringing pain on another, and from becoming myself the cause of trouble, which so far does not exist. The other higher degree is manifested, when it works positively, and incites me to active help. The distinction between the so-called duties of law and duties of virtue, better described as justice and loving-kindness, which was effected by Kant in such a forced and artificial manner, here results entirely of itself ; whence the correctness of the principle is attested. It is the natural, unmistakable, and sharp separation between negative and positive, be- tween doing no harm, and helping. The terms in common use namely, " the duties of law," and " the duties of virtue," (the latter being also called " duties of love," or " imperfect duties,") are in the

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THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE. 177

first place faulty because they co-ordinate the genus with the species ; for justice is one of the virtues. And next, they owe their origin to the mistake of giving a much too wide extension to the idea " Duty " ; which I shall reduce to its proper limits below. In place, therefore, of these duties I put two virtues ; the one, justice, and the other, loving-kindness ; and I name them cardinal virtues, since from them all others not only in fact proceed, but also may be theoretically derived. Both have their root in natural Compassion. And this Compassion is an undeniable fact of human consciousness, is an essential part of it, and does not depend on assumptions, conceptions, religions, dogmas, myths, training, and education. On the contrary, it is original and immediate, and lies in human nature itself. It consequently remains unchanged under all circumstances, and reveals itself in every land, and at all times. This is why appeal is everywhere confidently made to it, as to something necessarily present in every man ; and it is never an attribute of the " strange gods." l As he, who appears to be without compassion, is called inhuman ; so " humanity " is often used as its synonyme.

The first degree, then, in which this natural and genuine moral incentive shows itself is only negative, Originally we are all disposed to injustice and violence, because our need, our desire, our anger and hate

1 Thus, when the first gleam of Mitleid stole into her heart, Briinnhilde could no longer remain a Walkiire ; and Wotan's end comes, when by the same solvent he is at length set free from the delusion of the pritidpium individuationis.

12


178 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

pass into the consciousness directly, and hence have the Jus primi occupantis. (The right of the first occupant.) Whereas the sufferings of others, caused by our injustice and violence, enter the consciousness indirectly, that is, by the secondary channel of a mental picture, and not till they are understood by experience. Thus Seneca (Ep. 50) says : Ad neminem ante bona mens venit, quam mala. (Good feelings never come before bad ones.) In its first degree, therefore, Compassion opposes and baffles the design to which I am urged by the antimoral forces dwelling within me, and which will bring trouble on a fellow-being. It calls out to me : " Stop ! " and encircles the other as with a fence, so as to protect him from the injury which otherwise my egoism or malice would lead me to inflict on him. So arises out of this first degree of compassion the rule : Neminem laede. (Do harm to no one.) This is the fundamental principle of the virtue of justice, and here alone is to be found its origin, pure and simple, an origin which is truly moral, and free from all extraneous admixture. Otherwise derived, justice would have to rest on Egoism, a reductio ad absurdum. If my nature is susceptible of Compassion up to this point, then it will avail to keep me back, whenever I should like to use others' pain as a means to obtain my ends ; equally, whether this pain be immediate, or an after-consequence, whether it be effected directly, or indirectly, through intermediate links. I shall therefore lay hands on the property as little as on the person of another, and avoid causing him distress, no less mental than bodily. I shall thus


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not only abstain from doing him physical injury, but also, with equal care I shall guard against inflicting on him the suffering of mind, which - mortification and calumny, anxiety and vexation so surely work. The same sense of Compassion will check me from gratify- ing my desires at the cost of women's happiness for life, or from seducing another man's wife, or from ruining youths morally and physically by tempting them to paederastia. Not that it is at all necessary in each single case that Compassion should be definitely excited ; indeed it would often come too late ; but rather the rule : Neminem laede, is formed by noble minds out of the knowledge, gained once for all, of the injury which every unjust act necessarily entails upon others, and which is aggravated by the feeling of having to endure wrong through a force majeure. Such natures are led by reflecting reason to carry out this principle with unswerving resolution. They respect the rights of every man, and abstain from all encroachment on them ; they keep themselves free from self-reproach, by refus- ing to be the cause of others' trouble ; they do not shift on to shoulders not their own, by force or by trickery, the burdens and sorrows of life, which circumstances bring to every one ; they prefer to bear themselves the portions allotted to them, so as not to double those of their neighbours. For although generalising formulae, and abstract knowledge of whatever kind, are not in the least the cause, or the real basis of morality ; these are nevertheless indispensable for a moral course of life. They are the cistern or reservoir, in which the habit


180 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

of mind, that springs from the fount of all morality (a fount not at all moments flowing), may be stored up, thence to be drawn off, as occasion requires. There is thus an analogy between things moral and things physiological ; among many instances of which we need only mention that of the gall-bladder, which is used for keeping the secretion of the liver. Without firmly held principles we should inevitably be at the mercy of the antimoral incentives, directly they are roused to activity by external influences ; and self-control lies precisely in steadfast adherence and obedience to such principles, despite the motives which oppose them.

In general, the feminine half of humanity is inferior to the masculine in the virtue of justice, and its derivatives, uprightness, conscientiousness, etc. ; the explanation is found in the fact that, owing to the weakness of its reasoning powers the former is much less capable than the latter of understanding and holding to general laws, and of taking them as a guiding thread. Hence injustice and falseness are women's besetting sins, and lies their proper element. On the other hand, they surpass men in the virtue of loving-kindness ; because usually the stimulus to this is intuitive, and con- sequently appeals directly to the sense of Compassion, of which females are much more susceptible than males. For the former nothing but what is intuitive, present, and immediately real has a true existence ; that which is knowable only by means of concepts, as for instance, the absent, the distant, the past, the future, they do not readily grasp. We thus find


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compensation here, as in so much else ; justice is more the masculine, loving-kindness more the feminine virtue. The mere idea of seeing women sitting on the judges' bench raises a smile ; but the sisters of mercy far excel the brothers of charity. Now animals, as they have no power of gaining knowledge by reason, that is, of forming abstract ideas, are entirely incapable of fixed resolutions, to say nothing of principles ; they consequently totally lack self-control, and are helplessly given over to external impressions and internal impulses. This is why they have no conscious morality ; although the different species show great contrasts of good and evil in their characters, and as regards the highest races these are traceable even in individuals.

From the foregoing 'considerations we see that in the single acts of the just man Compassion works only indirectly through his formulated principles, and not so much actu as potentid ; much in the same way as in statics the greater length of one of the scale- beams, owing to its greater power of motion, balances the smaller weight attached to it with the larger on the other side, and works, while at rest, only potentid, not actu ; yet with the same efficiency.

Nevertheless, Compassion is always ready to pass into active operation. Therefore, whenever, in special cases, the established rule shows signs of breaking down, the one incentive (for we exclude of course those based on Egoism), which is capable of infusing fresh life into it, is that drawn from the fonntain-head itself Compassion. This is true not only where it is a question of personal violence, but also where


182 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

property is concerned, for instance, when any one feels the desire to keep some valuable object which he has found. In such cases, if we set aside all motives prompted by worldly wisdom, and by religion nothing brings a man back so easily to the path of justice, as the realisation of the trouble, the grief, the lamentation of the loser. It is because this is felt to be trae, that, when publicity is given to the loss of money, the assurance is so often added that the loser is a poor man, a servant, etc.

It is hoped that these considerations have made it clear that, however contrary appearances may be at first sight, yet undoubtedly justice, as a genuine and voluntary virtue has its origin in Compassion. But if any one should suppose such a soil too barren and meagre to bear this great cardinal virtue, let him reflect on what is said above, and remember how small is the amount of true, spontaneous, unselfish, unfeigned justice among men ; how the real thing only occurs as a surprising exception, and how, to its counterfeit, the justice that rests on mere worldly wisdom and is everywhere published abroad it is related, both in quality and quantity, as gold is to copper. I should like to call the one SiKaioa-vvrj Travbrjiw? (common, ordinary justice), the other ovpavia (heavenly justice). 1 For the latter is she, who, accord- ing to Hesiod, 2 leaves the earth in the iron age, to dwell with the celestial gods. To produce such a


1 There is here an allusion to the Travfynos "Epas and Ovpavia in Plato's Symposium. V. Chap. 8, sq. Edit.- Schmelzer : Weidmann, Berlin, 1882. (Translator.)

3 V. Hesiod, Opera et Dies, 174-201. (Translate.)


THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE. 183

rare exotic as this the root we have indicated is surely vigorous enough.

It will now be seen that injustice or wrong always consists in working harm on another. Therefore the conception of wrong is positive, and antecedent to the conception of right, which is negative, and simply denotes the actions performable without injury to others ; in other words, without wrong being done. That to this class belongs also whatever is effected with no other object than that of warding off from oneself meditated mischief is an easy inference. For no participation in another's interests, and no sym- pathy for him, can require me to let myself be harmed by him, that is, to undergo wrong. The theory that right is negative, in contradistinction to wrong as positive, we find supported by Hugo Grotius, the father of philosophical jurisprudence. The definition of justice which he gives at the be- ginning of his work, De Jure Belli et Pads (Bk. I., chap. 1., 3), runs as follows : Jus hie nihil aliud, quam quod justum est, signijicat, idque negante magis sensu, quam aiente, lit jus sit, quod injustum non est. 1 The negative character of justice is also established, little as it may appear, even by the familiar formula : " Give to each one his own." Now, there is no need to give a man his own, if he has it. The real meaning is therefore : " Take from none his own." Since the requirements of justice are only negative, they may be effected by coercion ; for the Neminem

1 Justice here denotes nothing else than that which is just, and this, rather in a negative than in a positive sense ; so that what is not unjust is to be regarded as justice.


184 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

laede can be practised by all alike. The coercive apparatus is the state, whose sole raison d'etre is to protect its subjects, individually from each other, and collectively from external foes. It is true that a few German would-be philosophers of this venal age wish to distort the state into an institution for the spread of morality, education, and edifying instruction. But such a view contains, lurking in the background, the Jesuitical aim of doing away with personal freedom and individual development, and of making men mere wheels in a huge Chinese governmental and religious machine. And this is the road that once led to Inquisitions, to Autos-da-fe", and religious wars. Frederick the Great showed that he at least never wished to tread it, when he said : " In my land every one shall care for his own salvation, as he himself thinks best." Nevertheless, we still see everywhere (with the more apparent than real exception of North America) that the state undertakes to provide for the metaphysical needs of its members. The govern- ments appear to have adopted as their guiding principle the tenet of Qnintus Curtius : Nulla res efficacius multitudinem regit, quam super stitio : alio- quin impotens, saeva, mutabilis ; ubi vana religione capta est, melius vatibus, quam ducibus suis paret. We have seen that " wrong " and " right " are convertible synonymes of " to do harm " and " to

1 There is no more efficient instrument in ruling the masses than superstition. Without this they have no self-control ; they are brutish ; they are changeable ; but once they are caught by some vain form of religion, they lend a more willing ear to its soothsayers than to their own leaders.


THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE. 185

refrain from doing it," and that under " right " is included the warding off of injury from oneself. It will be obvious that these conceptions are inde- pendent of, and antecedent to, all positive legislation. There is, therefore, a pure ethical right, or natural right, and a pure doctrine of right, detached from all positive statutes. The first principles of this doctrine have no doubt an empirical origin, so far as they arise from the idea of harm done, but per se they rest on the pure understanding, which a priori furnishes ready to hand the axiom : causa causae est causa effect-its. (The cause of a cause is the cause of the effect.) Taken in this connection the words mean : if any one desires to injure me, it is not I, but he, that is the cause of whatever I am obliged to do in self-defence ; and I can consequently oppose all encroachments on his part, without wronging him. Here we have, so to say, a law of moral repercussion. Thus it comes about that the union of the empirical idea of injury done with the axiom supplied by the pure understanding, gives rise to the fundamental con- ceptions of wrong and right, which every one grasps a prioi'i, and learns by actual trial to immediately adopt. The empiric, who denies this, and refuses to accept anything but the verdict of experience, may be referred to the testimony of the savage races, who all distinguish between wrong and right quite correctly, often indeed with nice precision ; as is strikingly manifested when they are engaged in bartering and other transactions with Europeans, or visit their ships. They are bold and self-assured, when they are in the right ; but uneasy, when they


186 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

know they are wrong. In disputes a just settlement satisfies them, whereas unjust procedure drives them to war. The Doctrine of Right is a branch of Ethics, whose function is to determine those actions which may not be performed, unless one wishes to injure others, that is, to be guilty of wrong-doing ; and here the active part played is kept in view. But legislation applies this chapter of moral science conversely, that is, with reference to the passive side of the question, and declares that the same actions need not be endured, since no one ought to have wrong inflicted on him. To frustrate such con- duct the state constructs the complete edifice of the law, as positive Bight. Its intention is that no one shall suffer wrong ; the intention of the Doctrine of Moral Right is that no one shall do wrong. 1

If by unjust action I molest some one, whether in his person, his freedom, his property, or his honour, the wrong as regards quality remains the same. But with respect to quantity it may vary very much. This difference in the amount of wrong effected appears not to have been as yet investigated by moralists, although it is everywhere recognised in real life, because the censure passed is always proportional to the harm inflicted. So also with just actions, the right done is constant in quality, but not in quantity To explain this better : he, who when dying of starvation steals a loaf, commits a wrong ; but how small is this wrong in comparison with the act of an opulent proprietor,

1 The Doctrine of Right in detail may be found in Die Welt ah Wille und Vorstellung, vol. i., 62.


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who, in whatever way, despoils a poor man of his last penny ! Again : the rich person who pays his hired labourer, acts justly ; but how insignificant is this piece of justice when contrasted with that of a penniless toiler, who voluntarily returns to its wealthy owner a purse of gold which he has found ! The measure, however, of this striking difference in the quantity of justice, and injustice (the quality being always constant), is not direct and absolute, as on a graduated scale ; it is indirect and relative, like the ratio of sines and tangents. I give therefore the following definition : the amount of injustice in my conduct varies as the amount of evil, which I thereby bring on another, divided by the amount of advantage, which I myself gain ; and the amount of justice in my conduct varies as the amount of advantage, which injury done to another brings me, divided by the amount of harm which he thereby suffers .

We have further to notice a double form of injustice which is specifically different from the simple kind, be it never so great. This variety may be detected by the fact that the amount of indignation shown by disinterested witnesses, which is always proportional to the amount of wrong inflicted, never reaches the maximum except when it is present. We then see how the deed is loathed, as something revolting and heinous, as an $705 (i.e., abomination), before which, as it were, the gods veil their faces. Double injustice occurs when some one, after definitely undertaking the obligation of protecting his friend, master, client, etc., in a special way, not only is guilty of non-fulfilment of that duty (which of itself would be injurious to the


188 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

other, and therefore a wrong) ; but when, in addition, he turns round, and attacks the man, and strikes at the very spot which he promised to guard. Instances are : the appointed watch, or guide, who becomes an assassin ; the trusted caretaker, who becomes a thief ; the guardian, who robs his ward of her property ; the lawyer, who prevaricates ; the judge, who is corruptible ; the adviser, who deliberately gives some fatal counsel. All such conduct is known by the name of treachery, and is viewed with abhorrence by the whole world. Hence Dante puts traitors in the lowest circle of Hell, where Satan himself is found (Inferno : xi, 61-66).

As we have here had occasion to mention the word "obligation," this is the place to determine the conception of Duty, which is so often spoken of both in Ethics and in real life, but with too wide an extension of meaning. We have seen that wrong always signifies injury done to another, whether it be in his person, his freedom, his property, or his honour. The consequence appears to be that every wrong must imply a positive aggression, and so a definite act. Only there are actions, the simple omission of which constitutes a wrong ; and these are Duties. This is the true philosophic definition of the conception " Duty," a term which loses its characteristic note, and hence becomes valueless, if it is used (as hitherto it has been in Moral Science) to designate all praiseworthy conduct. It is forgotten that " Duty " l necessarily means a

1 Duty = TO dtov = le devoir =Pflicht [cf. plight, O. H. G. plegan], (Translator.)


THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE. 189

debt which is owing, being thus an action, by the simple omission of which another suffers harm, that is, a wrong comes about. Clearly in this case the injury only takes place through the person, who neglects the duty, having distinctly pledged or bound himself to it. Consequently all duties depend on an obligation which has been entered into. This, as a rule, takes the form of a definite, if some- times tacit, agreement between two parties : as for instance, between prince and people, government and its servants, master and man, lawyer and client, physician and patient ; in a word, between any and every one who undertakes to perform some task, and his employer in the widest sense of the word. Hence every duty involves a right ; since no one undertakes an obligation without a motive, which means, in this case, without seeing some advantage for himself. There is only one obligation that I know of which is not subject to an agreement, but arises directly and solely through an act ; this is because one of the persons with whom it has to do was not in existence when it was contracted. I refer to the duty of parents towards their children. Whoever brings a child into the world, has incumbent on him the duty of supporting his offspring, until the latter is able to maintain himself ; and should this time never come, owing to incapacity from blindness, deformity, cretinism, and the like, neither does the duty ever come to an end. It is clear that merely by failing to provide for the needs of his son, that is, by a simple omission, the father would injure him, indeed jeopardise his life. Children's duty towards their parents is


190 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

not so direct and imperative. It rests on the fact that, as every duty involves a right, parents also must have some just claim on their issue. This is the foundation of the duty of filial obedience, which, however, in course of time ceases simultaneously with the right out of which it sprang. It is replaced by gratitude for that which was done by father and mother over and above their strict duty. Neverthe- less, although ingratitude is a hateful, often indeed a revolting vice, gratitude cannot be called a duty; because its omission inflicts no injury on the other side, and is therefore no wrong. Otherwise we should have to suppose that in his heart of hearts the benefactor aims at making a good bargain. It should he noticed that reparation made for harm done may also be regarded as a duty arising directly through an action. This, however, is something purely negative, as it is nothing but an attempt to remove and blot out the consequences of an unjust deed, as a thing that ought never to have taken place. Be it also observed that equity l is the foe of justice, and often comes into harsh collision with it ; so that the former ought only to be admitted within certain limits. The German is a friend of equity, while the Englishman holds to justice.

The law of motivation is just as strict as that of physical causality, and hence involves the same

1 The word here translated " equity " (Billigkeit : Lat. aequitas) means the sense of fairness, or of natural justice which determines what is fitting and due in all human relations, as opposed to justice (Gerechtigkeit) taken as positive written law. (Translator.)


THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE. 191

irresistible necessity. Consequently wrong may be compassed not only by violence, but also by cunning. If by violence I ana able to kill or rob another, or compel him to obey me, I can equally use cunning to accomplish the same ends ; that is, I can place false motives before his intellect, by reason of which he must do what otherwise he would not. These false motives are effected by lies. In reality lies are unjustifiable solely in so far as they are instruments of cunning, in other words, of compulsion, by means of motivation. 1 And this is precisely their function, as a rule. For, in the first place, I cannot tell a false- hood without a motive, and this motive will certainly be, with the rarest exceptions, an unjust one ; namely, the intention of holding others, over whom I have no power, under my will, that is, of coercing them through the agency of motivation. Also in mere ex- aggerations and untruthful bombast there is the same purpose at work ; for, by employing such language, a man tries to place himself higher in the sight of others than is his due. The binding force of a promise or a compact is contained in the fact that, if it be not observed, it is a deliberate lie, pronounced in the most solemn manner, a lie, whose intention (that of putting others under moral compulsion) is, in this case, all the clearer, because its motive, the desired performance of something on the other side, is expressly declared. The contemptible part of the

1 Motivation is defined in Part II., Chapter VIII., as " the law of Causality acting through the medium of the intellect." It is thus the law of the determination of conduct by motives. (Translator.)


192 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

fraud is that hypocrisy is used to disarm the victim before he is attacked. The highest point of villainy is reached in treachery, which, as we have seen, is a double injustice, and is always regarded with loathing. It is, then, obvious that, just as I am not wrong, that is, right in resisting violence by violence, so where violence is not feasible, or it appears more convenient, I am at liberty to resort to cunning ; accordingly, whenever I am entitled to use force, I may, if I please, employ falsehood ; for instance, against robbers and miscreants of every sort, whom in this way I entice into a trap. Hence a promise which is extorted by violence is not binding. But, as a matter of fact, the right to avail myself of lies extends further. It occurs whenever an unjustifiable question is asked, which has to do with my private, or business affairs, and is hence prompted by curiosity ; for to answer it, or even to put it off by the suspicion- awakening words, " I can't tell you," would expose me to danger. Here an untruth is the indispensable weapon against unwarranted inquisitiveness, whose motive is hardly ever a well-meaning one. For, just as I have the right to oppose the apparent bad will of another, and to anticipate with physical resistance, to the danger of my would-be aggressor, the physical violence presumably thence resulting ; so that, for instance, as a precaution, I can protect my garden wall with sharp spikes, let loose savage dogs in my court at night, and even, if circumstances require it, set man-traps and spring-guns, for the evil conse- quences of which the burglar has only himself to thank : if I have the right to do this, then I am


THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE. 193

equally authorised in keeping secret, at any price, that which, if known, would lay me bare to the attack of others. And 1 have good reason for acting thus, because, in moral, no less than in physical, relations, I am driven to assume that the bad will of others is very possible, and must therefore take all necessary preventive measures beforehand. Whence Ariosto says :

Quantunque il simitlar sia le piiib volte Sipreso, e dia di mala mente indici, Si trova pure in molte cose e molte Avere fatti evidenti benefici, E danni e biasnii e morti avere tolte : Che non conversiam' sempre con gli amid, In qiiesta assai piu oscura che serena Vita mortal, tutta d'invidia piena}

Orl. Fur., IV., 1.

I may, then, without any injustice match cunning with cunning, and anticipate all crafty encroachments on me, even if they be only probable ; and I need neither render an account to him who unwarrantably pries into my personal circumstances, nor by replying : " I cannot answer this," show him the spot where I

1 However much we're won't to blame a lie, As index of a mind estranged from right, Yet times unnumber'd it hath shap'd results Of good most evident ; disgrace and loss, It chang'd ; e'en death it cheated. For with friends, Alas ! not always in this mortal life, Where envy fills all hearts, and gloom prevails Much more than light, are we in converse join'd.

(Translator.) 13


194 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

have a secret, which perilous to me, and perhaps advantageous to him, in any case puts me in his power, if divulged : Scire wlunt secreta domus, atque inde timeri. (They wish to know family secrets, and thus become feared.) On the contrary, I am justified in putting him off with a lie, involving danger to himself, in case he is thereby led into a mistake that works him harm. Indeed, a falsehood is the only means of opposing inquisitive and suspicious curiosity ; to meet which it is the one weapon of necessary self- defence. " Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies " is here the right maxim. For among the English, who regard the reproach of being a liar as the deepest insult, and who on that account are really more truthful than other nations, all unjustifiable questions, having to do with another's affairs, are looked upon as a piece of ill-breeding, which is denoted by the expression, "to ask questions." Certainly every sensible person, even when he is of the strictest rectitude, follows the principle above set forth. Suppose, for instance, such a one is returning from a remote spot, where he has raised a sum of money ; and suppose an unknown traveller joins him, and after the customary " whither " and " whence " gradually proceeds to inquire what may have taken him to that place ; the former will undoubtedly give a false answer in order to avoid the danger of robbery. Again : if a man be found in the house of another, whose daughter he is wooing ; and he is asked the cause of his unexpected presence ; unless he has entirely lost his head, he will not give the true reason, but unhesitatingly invent a pretext. And the cases are


THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE. 195

numberless in which every reasonable being tells an untruth, without the least scruple of conscience. It is this view of the matter alone that removes the crying contradiction between the morality which is taught, and that which is daily practised, even by the best and most upright of men. At the same time, the restriction of a falsehood to the single purpose of self- defence must be rigidly observed ; for otherwise this doctrine would admit of terrible abuse, a lie being in itself a very dangerous instrument. But just as, even in time of public peace, the law allows every one to carry weapons and to use them, when required for self-defence, so Ethics permits lies to be employed for the same purpose, and be it observed for this one purpose only. Every mendacious word is a wrong, excepting only when the occasion arises of defending oneself against violence or cunning. Hence justice requires truthfulness towards all men. But the entirely unconditional and unreserved condemnation of lies, as properly involved in their nature, is sufficiently refuted by well known facts. Thus, there are cases where a falsehood is a duty, especially for doctors ; and there are magnanimous lies, as, for instance, that of the Marquis Posa in Don Carlos, 1 or that in the Gerusa- lemme Liberata, II., 22 ; 2 they occur, indeed, whenever a man wills to take on himself the guilt of another ; and lastly, Jesus Christ himself is reported (John

1 Vide, Schiller's Don Carlos : Act V., Sc. 3. (Translator.)

  • " Magnanima menzogna, or quando e il vero

Si bello che si possa a te preporre ? "

Cf. also the Horatian splendid mendax. Carm. III., 11, 35. (Translator.)


196 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

vii. 8 ; cf. ver. 10) on one occasion to have inten- tionally told an untruth. The reader will remember that Campanella, in his Poesie Filosofahe (Delia Bellezza: Madr. 9), does not hesitate to say : " Bello il mentir, se a fare gran ben' si trova." l On the other hand, the current teaching as regards necessary falsehoods is a wretched patch on the dress of a poverty-stricken morality. Kant is responsible for the theory found in many text-books, which derives the unjustifiableness of lies from man's faculty of speech ; but the arguments are so tame, childish and absurd that one might well be tempted, if only to pour contempt on them, to join sides with the devil, and say with Talleyrand : Vhomme a requ la parole pour pouwir cacher sa pensee. 2 The unqualified and boundless horror shown by Kant for falsehoods, whenever he has the opportunity, is due either to affectation, or to prejudice. In the chapter of his " Tugendlehre" dealing with lies, he loads them with every kind of defamatory epithet, bat does not adduce a single adequate reason for their con- demnation ; which would have been more to the point. Declamation is easier than demonstration, and to moralise less difficult than to be sincere. Kant would have done better to open the vials of his wrath on that vice which takes pleasure in seeing others suffer ; it is the latter, and not a falsehood, which is truly fiendish. For malignant joy is the exact

1 'Tis well to lie, an there result much good therefrom. Vide, Opere di Tommaso Campanella, da Alessandro d'Ancona, Torino, 1854. (Translator.)

  • Man has received the gift of language, so as to be able to

conceal his thoughts.


THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE. 197

opposite of Compassion, and nothing else but powerless cruelty, which, unable itself to bring about the misery it so gladly beholds others enduring, is thankful to Tvxn for having done so instead. According to the code of knightly honour, the reproach of being a liar is of extreme gravity, and only to be washed out with the accuser's blood. Now this obtains, not because the lie is wrong in itself, since, were such the reason, to accuse a man of an injury done by violence would certainly be regarded as equally outrageous, which is not the case, as every one knows ; but it is due to that principle of chivalry, which in reality bases right on might ; so that whoever, when trying to work mischief, has recourse to falsehood, proves that he lacks either power, or the requisite courage. Every untruth bears witness of his fear ; and this is why a fatal verdict is passed on him.


CHAPTER VII.

THE VIRTUE OF LOVING-KINDNESS.

THUS justice is the primary and essentially cardinal virtue. Ancient philosophers recognised it as such, but made it co-ordinate with three others unsuitably chosen. 1 Loving-kindness (caritas, cuydfrrf) was not as yet ranked as a virtue. Plato himself, who rises highest in moral science, reaches only so far as voluntary, disinterested justice. It is true that loving-kindness has existed at all times in practice and in fact ; but it was reserved for Christianity, whose greatest service is seen in this to theoretically formulate, and expressly advance it not only as a virtue, but as the queen of all ; and to extend it even to enemies. We are thinking of course only of Europe. For in Asia, a thousand years before, the bound- less love of one's neighbour had been prescribed and taught, as well as practised: the Vedas 2 are

1 Plato taught that Justice (&iKaio(rvvri) includes in itself the three other virtues of Wisdom (o-o^i'a), Fortitude (di/Spet'a), and Temperance (o-w^poo-uw?). With Aristotle, too, Justice is the chief of virtues ; while the Stoic doctrine is that Virtue is manifested in four leading co-ordinate forms : Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. (Translator.)

1 There are four Vedas : the Rig- Veda, Yajur- Veda, Sdma- Veda, and Atharva- Veda. (Translator.)

198


THE VIRTUE OF LOVING-KINDNESS. 199

full of it ; while in the Dharma-Sastra, 1 Itihasa, 2 and Purana 3 it constantly recurs, to say nothing of the preaching of Sakya-muni, the Buddha. And to be quite accurate we must admit that there are traces to be found among the Greeks and Romans of a recommendation to follow loving-kindness ; for instance, in Cicero, De Finibus, V., 23 ; 4 and also in Pythagoras, according to lamblichus, De vita Pythagorae, chap. 33. 5 My task is now to give a philosophical derivation of this virtue from the principle I have laid down.

It has been demonstrated in Chapter V. of this Part, that the sense of Compassion, however much its origin is shrouded in mystery, is the one and sole cause whereby the suffering I see in another, of itself, and as such, becomes directly my motive ; and we have seen that the first stage of this process is negative.

1 Dharnia-Sdstra (" a law book ") : the body or code of Hindu law. (Translator.}

  • Itihasa (iti-ha-asa, " so indeed it is ") : talk, legend, tradi-

tional accounts of former events, heroic history ; e.g., the Maha-bharata. (Translator.)

3 Purana (ancient, legendary) : the name given to certain well-known sacred works, eighteen in number, comprising the whole body of modern Hindu mythology. V. Monier Williams' Sanskrit Dictionary. (Translator.)

4 Ipsa CARITAS generis humani, quae nata a primo satu, quod a procreatoribus nati diliguntur, et tota domus conjugio et stirpe conjungitur, serpit sensim foras, cognationibus primum, turn affinitatibus, deinde amicitiis, post vicinitatibus tuni civibus et MS, qui publice socii atque amid sunt, deinde

TOTIUS COMPLEXU GENTIS HUMANAE.

5 This chapter describes the Pythagorean <f>t\ia jravrav -n-pbs &rravras, which comes very near to loving-kindness. It contains also certain *aXa rfjs (pi\ias TfK^pia. (Translator.)


200 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

The second degree is sharply distinguished from the first, through the positive character of the actions resulting therefrom ; for at this point Compassion does more than keep me back from injuring my neighbour ; it impels me to help him. And according as, on the one hand, my sense of direct participation is keen and deep, and, on the other hand, the distress is great and urgent, so shall I be constrained by this motive, which (be it noted) is purely and wholly moral, to make a greater or less sacrifice in order to meet the need or the calamity which I observe ; and this sacrifice may involve the expenditure of my bodily or mental powers, the loss of my property, freedom, or even life. So that in this direct suffering with another, which rests on no arguments and requires none, is found the one simple origin of loving-kindness, caritas, ayaTrr}- in other words, that virtue whose rule is : Omnes, quantum potes, juva (help all people, as far as lies in your power) ; and from which all those actions proceed which are prescribed by Ethics under the name of duties of virtue, otherwise called duties of love, or imperfect duties. It is solely by direct and, as it were, instinctive participation in the sufferings which we see, in other words, by Compassion, that conduct so defined is occasioned ; at least when it can be said to have moral worth, that is, be declared free from all egoistic motives, and when on that account it awakens in us that inward contentment which is called a good, satisfied, approving conscience, and elicits from the spectator (not without making him cast a humiliating glance at himself), that remark-


THE VIRTUE OF LOVING-KINDNESS. 201

able commendation, respect, and admiration which are too well-known to be denied.

But if a beneficent action have any other motive whatever, then it must be egoistic, if not actually malicious. For as the fundamental springs of all human conduct (v. Chapter Y. of this Part), are three, namely, Egoism, Malice, Compassion ; so the various motives which are capable of affecting men may be grouped under three general heads : (1) one's own weal ; (2) others' woe ; (3) others' weal. Now if the motive of a kind act does not belong to the third class, it must of course be found in the first or second. To the second it is occasionally to be ascribed ; for instance, if I do good to some one, in order to vex another, to whom I am hostile ; or to make the latter's sufferings more acute ; or, it may be, to put to shame a third person, who refrained from helping ; or lastly, to inflict a mortification on the man whom I benefit. But it much more usually springs from the first class. And this is the case whenever, in doing some good, I have in view my own weal, no matter how remote or indirect it may be ; that is, whenever I am influenced by the thought of reward whether in this, or in another, world, or by the hope of winning high esteem, and of gaining a reputation for nobleness of character ; or again, when I reflect that the person, whom I now aid, may one day be able to assist me in return, or otherwise be of some service and benefit ; or when, lastly, I am guided by the consideration that I must keep the rules of magnanimity and beneficence, because I too may on some occasion profit thereby. In a word, my motive


202 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

is egoistic as sooii as it is anything other than the purely objective desire of simply knowing, without any ulterior purpose, that my neighbour is helped, delivered from his distress and need, or freed from his suffering. If such an aim shorn, as it is, of all subjectivity be really mine, then, and then only, have I given proof of that loving-kindness, caritas, dyaTrr}, which it is the great and distinguishing merit of Christianity to have preached. It should be ob- served, in this connection, that the injunctions which the Gospel adds to its commandment of love, e.g., fjbr) ryvcbrw r) dpLcrrepd crov, rl irotel 77 Seid trov (let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth), and the like, are, in point of fact, based on a consciousness of the conclusion I have here reached, namely, that another's distress, of itself alone, without any further consideration, must be my motive, if what I do is to be of moral value. And in the same place (Matth. vi. 2) we find it stated with perfect truth that ostentations almsgivers (nrk-^ovaiv rbv picrdov avr&v. (Get in full exhaust their reward.) Although, in this respect too, the Vedas shed on us the light of a higher teaching. They repeatedly declare that he, who desires any sort of recompense for his work, is still wandering in the path of dark- ness, and not yet ripe for deliverance. If any one should ask me what he gets from a charitable act, my answer in all sincerity would be : " This, that the lot of the poor man you relieve is just so much the lighter ; otherwise absolutely nothing. If you are not satisfied, and feel that such is not a suffi- cient end, then your wish was not to give alms,


THE VIRTUE OF LOVING-KINDNESS. 203

but to make a purchase ; and you have effected a bad bargain. But if the one thing you are concerned with is that he should feel the pressure of poverty less ; then you have gained your object ; you have diminished his suffering, and you see exactly how far your gift is requited."

Now, how is it possible that trouble which is not mine, and by which I am untouched, should become as direct a motive to me as if it were my own, and incite me to action ? As already explained, only through the fact that, although it comes before me merely as something outside myself, by means of the external medium of sight or hearing ; I am, nevertheless, sensible of it with the sufferer ; I feel it as my own, not indeed in myself, but in him And so what Calderon said comes to pass :

que entre el ver Padecer y el padecer Ninguna distancia habia. (No Siempre lo Peor es Cierto. Jorn. II., Esc. 9.) 1

This, however, presupposes that to a certain extent I have become identified with the other, and con- sequently that the barrier between the ego and the non-ego is, for the moment, broken down. It is then, and then only, that I make his interests, his need, his distress, his suffering directly my own ; it is then that the empirical picture I have of him vanishes,

1 For between the view Of pain, and pain itself, I never knew A distance He.

It is not Always the Worst that is Certain : Act II., Sc. 9. (Translator. )


204 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

and I no longer see the stranger, who is entirely unlike myself, and to whom I am indifferent ; but I share his pain in him, despite the certainty that his skin does not enclose my nerves. Only in this way is it possible for his woe, his distress to become a motive for me ; otherwise I should be influenced solely by my own. This process . is, I repeat, mysterious. For it is one which Reason can give no direct account of, and its causes lie outside the field of experience. And yet it is of daily occurrence. Every one has often felt its working within himself; even to the most hard-hearted and selfish it is not unknown. Each day that passes brings it before our eyes, in single acts, on a small scale ; whenever a man, by direct impulse, without much reflection, helps a fellow-creature and comes to his aid, sometimes even exposing himself to the most imminent peril for the sake of one he has never seen before, and this, with- out once thinking of anything but the fact that he witnesses another's great distress and danger. It was manifested on a large scale, when after long consideration, and many a stormy debate, the noble- hearted British nation gave twenty millions of pounds to ransom the negroes in its colonies, with the approbation and joy of a whole world. If any one refuses to recognise in Compassion the cause of this deed, magnificent as it is in its grand proportions, and prefers to ascribe it to Christianity ; let him remember that in the whole of the New Testament not one word is said against slavery, though at that time it was practically universal ; and further, that as late as A.D. I860, in North America, when the


THE VIRTUE OF LOVING-KINDNESS. 205

question was being discussed, a man was found who thought to strengthen his case by appealing to the fact that Abraham and Jacob kept slaves !

What will be in each separate case the practical effect of this mysterious inner process may be left to Ethics to analyse, in chapters and paragraphs entitled "Duties of Virtue," "Duties of Love," " Imperfect Duties," or whatever other name be used. The root, the -basis of all these is the one here indicated ; for out of it arises the primary precept : Omnes, quantum potes, jmia ; from which in turn everything else required can very easily be deduced ; just as out of the Neminem laede the first half of my principle all duties of justice are derivable. Ethics is in truth the easiest of all sciences. And this is only to be expected, since it is incumbent on each person to construct it for himself, and himself form the rule for every case, as it occurs, out of the fundamental law which lies deep in his heart ; for few have leisure and patience enough to learn a ready-made system of Morals. From justice and loving-kindness spring all the other virtues ; for which reason these two may properly be called cardinal, and the disclosure of their origin lays the corner-stone of Moral Science. The entire ethical content of the Old Testament is justice ; loving-kindness being that of the New. The latter is the tccuvr) eVroX^ (the new commandment [John xiii. 34] ), which accord- ing to Paul (Romans xiii. 8-10) includes all Christian virtues.


CHAPTER VIII.

THE PROOF NOW GIVEN CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE.

THE truth I have here laid down, that Compassion is the sole non-egoistic stimulus, and therefore the only really moral one, is a strange, indeed almost incomprehensible paradox. I shall hope, therefore, to render it less extraordinary to the reader, if I show that it is confirmed by experience, and by the universal testimony of human sentiment.

(1) For this purpose I shall, in the first place, state an imaginary case, which in the present investi- gation may serve as an experimentum crucis 1 (a crucial test). But not to make the matter too easy, I shall take no instance of loving-kindness, but rather a breach of lawful right, and that of the worse kind.

1 This term appears to have been first used by Newton and Boyle. The sense is undoubtedly derived from Bacon's phrase "instantia crucis" which is one of his "Prerogative Instances." Vide, Novum Organum : Lib. II., xxxvi., where it is explained as follows : Inter Praerogativas Instantiarum ponemus loco decimo quarto INSTANTIAS CRUCIS ; translate vocabulo a Crucibus, quae erectae in Hiviis, indicant et signant viarum separationes. Has etiam Instantias Decisorias et Judiciales, et in Casibus nonnullis Instantias Oracvli et Mandati, appellare consuevimus, etc. (Translator.)

206


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 207

Let us suppose two young people, Cains and Titus, to be passionately in love, each with a different girl, and that both are completely thwarted by two other men who are preferred because of certain external circumstances. They have both resolved to put their rivals out of the way, and are perfectly secure from every chance of detection, even from all suspicion. But when they come to actually prepare for the murder, each of them, after an inward struggle, draws back. They are now to give us a truthful and clear account of the reasons why they abandoned their project. As for Caius, I leave it entirely to the reader to choose what motive he likes. It may be that religious grounds checked him ; for in- stance, the thought of the Divine Will, of future retribution, of the judgment to come, etc. Or perhaps he may say : " I reflected that the principle I was going to apply in this case would not be adapted to provide a rule universally valid for all possible rational beings ; because I should have treated my rival only as a means, and not at the same time as an end." Or, following Fichte, he may deliver himself as follows : " Every human life is a means towards realising the moral law ; consequently, I cannot, without being indifferent to this realisation, destroy a being ordained to do his part in effecting it." (Sittenlehre, p. 373.) (This scruple, be it ob- served in passing, he might well overcome by the hope of soon producing a new instrument of the moral law, when once in possession of his beloved.) Or, again, he may speak after the fashion of Wollaston : " I considered that such an action would be the


208 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

expression of a false tenet." Or like Hutcheson : " The Moral Sense, whose perceptions, equally with those of every other sense, admit of no final explanation, forbade me to commit such a deed." Or like Adam Smith : " I foresaw that my act would awaken no sympathy with me in the minds of the spectators." Or his language may be borrowed from Christian Wolff : " I recognised that I should thereby advance neither the work of making myself perfect, nor the same process in any one else." Or from Spinoza : " Homini nihil utilius homine : ergo hominem interimere nolui." (To man nothing is more useful than man : therefore I was unwilling to destroy a man.) In short, he may say what one pleases. But Titus, whose explanation is supplied by myself, will speak as follows : " When I came to make arrangements for the work, and so, for the moment, had to occupy myself not with my own passion, but with my rival ; then for the first time I saw clearly what was going to happen to him. But simultaneously I was seized with compassion and pity; sorrow for him laid hold upon me, and overmastered me : I could not strike the blow." Now I ask every honest and unprejudiced reader : Which of these two is the better man ? To which would he prefer to entrust his own destiny? Which is restrained by the purer motive? Conse- quently, where does the basis of morality lie ?

(2) There is nothing that revolts our moral sense so much as cruelty. Every other offence we can pardon, but not cruelty. The reason is found in the fact that cruelty is the exact opposite of Compassion. When we hear of intensely cruel conduct, as, for


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 209

instance, the act, which has just been recorded in the papers, of a mother, who murdered her little son of five years, by pouring boiling oil into his throat, and her younger child, by burying it alive ; or what was recently reported from Algiers : how a casual dispute between a Spaniard and an Algerine ended in a fight ; and how the latter, having van- quished the other, tore out the whole of his lower jaw bone, and carried it off as a trophy, leaving his adversary still alive ; when we hear of cruelty like this, we are seized with horror, and exclaim : " How is it possible to do such a thing ? " Now, let me ask what this question signifies. Does it mean : " How is it possible to fear so little the punishments of the future life ? " It is difficult to admit this interpretation. Then perhaps it intends to say : " How is it possible to act according to a principle which is so absolutely unfitted to become a general law for all rational beings ? " Certainly not. Or, once more : " How is it possible to neglect so utterly one's own perfection as well as that of another ? " This is equally unimaginable. The sense of the question is assuredly nothing but this : " How is it possible to be so utterly bereft of compassion ? " The conclusion is that when an action is characterised by an extraordinary absence of compassion, it bears the certain stamp of the deepest depravity and loath- someness. Hence Compassion is the true moral incentive.

(3) The ethical basis, or the original moral stimulus, which I have disclosed, is the only one that can be justly said to have a real and extended sphere of

14


210 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

effective influence. No one will surely venture to maintain as much of all the other moral principles that philosophers have set up ; for these are composed of abstract, sometimes even of hair-splitting propo- sitions, with no foundation other than an artificial combination of ideas ; such that their application to actual conduct would often incline to the comic. A good action, inspired solely by Kant's Moral Prin- ciple, would be at bottom the work of philosophic pedantry ; or else would lead the doer into self- deception, through his reason interpreting conduct, which had other, perhaps nobler, incentives, as the product of the Categorical Imperative, and of the conception of Duty, which, as we have seen, rests on nothing. But not only is it true that the philo- sophic moral principles, purely theoretical as they are, have seldom any operative power ; of those established by religion, and expressly framed for practical purposes, it is equally difficult to predicate any marked efficiency. The chief evidence of this lies in the fact that in spite of the great religious differ- ences in the world, the amount of morality, or rather of immorality, shows no corresponding variation, but in essentials is pretty much the same everywhere. Only it is important not to confound rudeness and refinement with morality and immorality. The re- ligion of Hellas had an exceedingly small moral tendency, it hardly went further than respect for oaths. No dogma was taught, and no system of Ethics publicly preached ; nevertheless, all things considered, it does not appear that the Greeks were morally inferior to the men of the Christian era. The


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 211

morality of Christianity is of a ranch higher kind than that of any other religion which previously appeared in Europe. But if any one should believe for this reason that European morals have improved pro- portionally, and that now at any rate they surpass what obtains elsewhere, it would not be difficult to demonstrate that among the Mohammedans, Guebres, Hindus, and Buddhists, there is at least as much honesty, fidelity, toleration, gentleness, beneficence, nobleness, and self-denial as among Christian peoples. Indeed, the scale will be found rather to turn unfavour- ably for Christendom, when we put into the balance the long list of inhuman cruelties which have con- stantly been perpetrated within its limits and often in its name. We need only recall for a moment the numerous religious wars ; the crusades that nothing can justify ; the extirpation of a large part of the American aborigines, and the peopling of that con- tinent by negroes, brought over from Africa, without the shadow of a right, torn from their families, their country, their hemisphere, and, as slaves, condemned for life to forced labour ; the tireless persecution of heretics ; the unspeakable atrocities of the Inquisition, that cried aloud to heaven ; the Massacre of St. Bartholomew ; the execution of 18,000 persons in the Netherlands by the Duke of Alva ; and these are but a few facts among many. Speaking generally,

1 According to Buxton (The African Slave-trade, 1839), their number is even now yearly increased by about 150,000 freshly imported ; and to these more than 200,000 must be added, who perish miserably at the time of their capture, or on the voyage.


212 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

however, if we compare with the performances of its followers the excellent morality which Christianity, and, more or less, every creed preaches, and then try to imagine how far theory would become practice, if crime were not impeded by the secular arm of the state ; nay more, what would probably happen, if, for only one day all laws should be suspended ; we shall be obliged to confess that the effect of the various religions on Morals is in fact very small. This is of course due to weakness of faith. Theoretically, and so long as it is only a question of piety in the abstract, every one supposes his belief to be firm enough. Only the searching touch-stone of all our convictions is what we do. When the moment for acting arrives, and our faith has to be tested by great self-denial and heavy sacrifices, then its feeble- ness becomes evident. If a man is seriously planning some evil, he has already broken the bounds of true and pure morality. Thenceforward the chief restraint that checks him is invariably the dread of justice and the police. Should he be so hopeful of escap- ing detection as to cast such fears aside, the next barrier that meets him is regard for his honour. If this second rampart be crossed, there is very little likelihood, after both these powerful hindrances are withdrawn, that any religious dogma will appeal to him strongly enough to keep him back from the deed. For if he be not frightened by near and immediate dangers, he will hardly be curbed by terrors which are distant, and rest merely on belief. Moreover, there is a positive objection that may be brought against all good conduct proceeding solely from


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 213

religious conviction ; it is not purged of self-interest, but done out of regard for reward and punishment, and hence can have no purely moral value. This view we find very clearly expressed in a letter of the celebrated Grand-Duke of Weimar, Karl August. He writes : " Baron Weyhers was himself of opinion that he, who is good through religion, and not by natural inclina- tion, must be a bad fellow at heart. In vino veritas" 1 (Letters to J. H. Merck ; No. 229.) But now let us turn to the moral incentive which I have disclosed. Who ventures for a moment to deny that it displays a marked and truly wonderful influence at all times, among all peoples, in all circumstances of life ; even when constitutional law is suspended, and the horrors of revolutions and wars fill the air ; in small things and in great, every day and every hour ? Who will refuse to admit that it is constantly preventing much wrong, and calling into existence many a good action, often quite unexpectedly, and where there is no hope of reward ? Is there any one who will gainsay the fact that, where it and it alone has been operative, we all with deep respect and emotion unreservedly recognise the presence of genuine moral worth ?

(4) Boundless compassion for all living beings is the surest and most certain guarantee of pure moral conduct, and needs no casuistry. Whoever is filled with it will assuredly injure no one, do harm to no one, encroach on no man's rights ; he will rather have

1 I.e., under the influence of wine one speaks the truth. Cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist., xiv., chap. 22, 28, 141, edit. Teubner ; vulgoque VEEITA.S jam attributa VINO est. Gk. olvos KOI . V. Paroemiographi, edit. Gaisford. (Translator.)


214 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

regard for every one, forgive every one, help every one as far as he can, and all his actions will bear the stamp of justice and loving-kindness. On the other hand, if we try to say : " This man is virtuous, but he is a stranger to Compassion " ; or : " he is an unjust and malicious man, yet. very compassionate;" the contradiction at once leaps to light. In former times the English plays used to finish with a petition for the King. The old Indian dramas close with these words : " May all living beings be delivered from pain." Tastes differ ; but in my opinion there is no more beautiful prayer than this.

(5) Also from separate matters of detail it may be inferred that the original stimulus of true morality is Compassion. For instance, to make a man lose a hundred thalers, by legal tricks involving no danger, is equally unjust, whether he be rich or poor ; but in the latter case the rapping of conscience is much louder, the censure of disinterested witnesses more emphatic. Aristotle was well aware of this, and said : Beivorepov Se eart rbv drvxpvvTa, rj rov evTvxpvvra, aSiiceiv. (It is worse to injure a man in adversity than one who is prosperous.) (Probl. xxix. 2.) If the man have wealth, self-reproach is proportionally faint, and grows still fainter, if it be the treasury that has been overreached ; for state coffers can form no object of Compassion. It thus appears that the grounds for self-accusation as well as for the spectators' blame are not furnished directly by the infringement of the law, but chiefly by the suffering thereby brought upon others. The violation of right, by itself and as such, which is involved in


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 215

cheating the exchequer, (to take the above instance,) will be disapproved by the conscience alike of actor and witness ; but only because, and in so far as, the rule of respecting every right, which forms the sine qua non of all honourable conduct, is in consequence broken. The stricture passed will, in fact, be in- direct and limited. If, however, it be a confidential employe in the service that commits the fraud, the case assumes quite another aspect ; it then has all the specific attributes of, and belongs to, that class of actions described above, whose characteristic is a double injustice. The analysis here given explains why the worst charge which can ever be brought against rapacious extortioners and legal sharpers is, that they appropriate for themselves the goods of widows and orphans. The reason appears in the fact that the latter, more than others, owing to their helplessness, might be expected to excite Compassion in the most callous heart. Hence we conclude that the entire absence of this sense is sufficient to lower a man to the last degree of villainy.

(6) Compassion is the root no less of justice than of loving-kindness ; but it is more clearly evidenced in the latter than in the former. We never receive proofs of genuine loving-kindness on the part of others, so long as we are in all respects prosperous. The happy man may, no doubt, often hear the words of good- will on his relations' and friends' lips ; but the expression of that pure, disinterested, objective participation in the condition and lot of others, which loving-kindness begets, is reserved for him who is stricken with some sorrow or suffering, whatever


216 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

it be. For the fortunate as such we do not feel sympathy ; unless they have some other claim on us, they remain alien to our hearts : habeant sibi sua. (They may keep their own affairs, pleasures, etc., to themselves.) Nay, if a man has many advantages over others, he will easily become an object of envy, which is ready, should he once fall from his height of prosperity, to turn into malignant joy. Neverthe- less this menace is, for the most part, not fulfilled ; the Sophoclean 7eX<n 8' e'%0/30/ (his enemies laugh) does not generally become an actual fact. As soon as the day of ruin comes to one of fortune's spoiled children, there usually takes place a great transforma- tion in the minds of his acquaintances, which for us in this connection is very instructive. In the first place this change clearly reveals the real nature of the interest that the friends of his happiness took in him : di/ugiunt cadis cum faece siccatis amid. (When the casks are drained to the dregs, one's friends run away.) 1 On the other hand, the exultation of those who envied his prosperity, the mocking laugh of malicious satisfaction, which he feared more than adversity itself, and the contemplation of which he could not face, are things usually spared him. Jealousy is appeased, and disappears with its cause ; while Compassion which takes its place is the parent of loving-kindness. Those who were envious of, and hostile to, a man in the full tide of success, after his downfall, have not seldom become his friends, ready to protect, comfort, and help. Who has not, at least in a small way, himself experienced something of the 1 Hor., Carm., I., 35, 26. (Translator.)


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 217

sort ? Where is the man, who, when overtaken by some calamity, of whatever nature, has not noticed with surprise how the persons that previously had displayed the greatest coldness, nay, ill-will towards him, then came forward with unfeigned sympathy ? For misfortune is the condition of Compassion, and Compassion the source of loving-kindness. When our wrath is kindled against a person, nothing quenches it so quickly, even when it is righteous, as the words : " He is an unfortunate man." And the reason is obvious : Compassion is to anger as water to fire. Therefore, whoever would fain have nothing to repent of, let him listen to my advice. When he is inflamed with rage, and meditates doing some one a grievous injury, he should bring the thing vividly before his mind, as a fait accompli ; he should clearly picture to himself this other fellow-being tormented with mental or bodily pain, or struggling with need and misery ; so that he is forced to exclaim : " This is my work ! " Such thoughts as these, if anything, will avail to moderate his wrath. For Compassion is the true antidote of anger ; and by practising on oneself this artifice of the imagination, one awakes beforehand, while there is yet time,

la pitie, dont la voix, Alors qu'on est vengj, fait entendre ses lais. 1

(Voltaire, Semiramis, V. 6.)

And in general, the hatred we may cherish for others is overcome by nothing so easily as by our taking a point of view whence they can appeal to our

1 Compassion, who with no uncertain tone, The work of vengeance done, her laws makes known.


218 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

Compassion. The reason indeed why parents, as a rale, specially love the sickly one of their children is because the sight of it perpetually stirs their Compassion.

(7) There is another proof that the moral incentive disclosed by me is the true one. I mean the fact that animals also are included under its protecting aegis. In the other European systems of Ethics no place is found for them, strange and inexcusable as this may appear. It is asserted that beasts have no rights ; the illusion is harboured that our conduct, so far as they are concerned, has no moral significance, or, as it is put in the language of these codes, that " there are no duties to be fulfilled towards animals." Such a view is one of revolting coarseness, a barbarism of the West, whose source is Judaism. In philosophy, however, it rests on the assumption, despite all evidence to the contrary, of the radical difference between man and beast, a doctrine which, as is well known, was proclaimed with more trenchant emphasis by Descartes than by any one else : it was indeed the necessary consequence of his mistakes. When Leibnitz and Wolff, following out the Cartesian view, built up out of abstract ideas their Rational Psychology, and constructed a deathless anima, rationalis (rational soul) ; then the natural claims of the animal kingdom visibly rose up against this exclusive privilege, this human patent of immortality, and Nature, as always in such circumstances, entered her silent protest. Our philosophers, owing to the qualms of their intellectual conscience, were soon forced to seek aid for their Rational Psychology from the empirical


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 219

method ; they accordingly tried to reveal the exist- ence of a vast chasm, an immeasurable gulf between animals and men, in order to represent them, in the teeth of opposing testimony, as existences essentially different. These efforts did not escape the ridicule of Boileau ; for we find him saying :

Les animaux ont-ils des univer&ith ? Voit-on fleurir chez eux des quatre faeultis ? '

Such a supposition would end in animals being pronounced incapable of distinguishing themselves from the external world, and of having any self- consciousness, any ego ! As answer to such absurd tenets, it would only be necessary to point to the boundless Egoism innate in every animal, even the smallest and humblest ; this amply proves how perfectly they are conscious of their self, as opposed to the world, which lies outside it. If any one of the Cartesian persuasion, with views like these in his head, should find himself in the claws of a tiger, he would be taught in the most forcible manner what a sharp distinction such a beast draws between his ego and the non-ego. Corresponding to these philosophical fallacies we notice a peculiar sophism in the speech of many peoples, especially the Germans. For the commonest matters connected with the processes of life, for food, drink, conception, the bringing forth of young ; for death, and the dead body ; such languages have special words applicable only to animals, not to men. In this way the

1 Have beasts, forsooth, their universities, Endowed, like ours, with all four faculties?


220 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

necessity of using the same terms for both is avoided, and the perfect identity of the thing concealed under verbal differences. Now, since the ancient tongues show no trace of such a dual mode of expression, but frankly denote the same things by the same words ; it follows that this miserable artifice is beyond all doubt the work of European priestcraft, which, in its profanity, knows no limit to its dis- avowal of, and blasphemy against, the Eternal Reality that lives in every animal. Thus was laid the founda- tion of that harshness and cruelty towards beasts which is customary in Europe, and on which a native of the Asiatic uplands could not look without righteous horror. In English this infamous invention is not to be found ; assuredly because the Saxons, when they conquered England, were not yet Christians. Neverthe- less the English language shows something analogous in the strange fact that it makes all animals of the neuter gender, the pronoun " it " being employed for them, just as if they were lifeless things. This idiom has a very objectionable sound, especially in the case of dogs, monkeys, and other Primates, and is unmistakably a priestly trick, designed to reduce beasts to the level of inanimate objects. The ancient Egyptians, who dedicated all their days to religion, were accustomed to place in the same vault with a human mummy that of an ibis, a crocodile, etc.; in Europe it is a crime, an abomination to bury a faithful dog beside the resting-place of his master, though it is there perhaps that he, with a fidelity and attachment unknown to the sons of men, awaited his own end. To a recognition of the identity, in all


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 221

essentials, of the phaenomena which we call " man " and " beast," nothing leads more surely than the study of zoology and anatomy. What shall we say then, when in these days (1839) a canting dissector has been found, who presumes to insist on an absolute and radical difference between human beings and animals, and who goes so far as to attack and calumniate honest zoologists that keep aloof from all priestly guile, eye-service, and hypocrisy, and dare to follow the leading of nature and of truth ?

Those persons must indeed be totally blind, or else completely chloroformed by the foetor Judaicus (Jewish stench), who do not discern that the truly essential and fundamental part in man and beast is identically the same thing. That which distinguishes the one from the other does not lie in the primary and original principle, in the inner nature, in the kernel of the two phaenomena (this kernel being in both alike the Will of the individual) ; it is found in what is secondary, in the intellect, in the degree of perceptive capacity. It is true that the latter is incom- parably higher in man, by reason of his added faculty of abstract knowledge, called Reason ; nevertheless this superiority is traceable solely to a greater cerebral development, in other words, to the corporeal difference, which is quantitative, not qualitative, of a single part, the brain. In all other respects the similarity between men and animals, both psychical and bodily, is sufficiently striking. So that we must remind our judaised friends in the West, who despise animals, and idolise Reason, that if they were suckled by their mothers, so also was the dog by his. Even Kant fell


222 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

into this common mistake of his age, and of his country, and I have already administered the censure l which it is impossible to withhold. The fact that Christian morality takes no thought for beasts is a defect in the system which is better admitted than perpetuated. One's astonishment is, however, all the greater, because, with this exception, it shows the closest agreement with the Ethics of Brahmanism and Buddhism, being only less strongly expressed, and not carried to the last consequences imposed by logic. On the whole, there seems little room for doubting that, in common with the idea of a god become man, or Avatar, 2 it has an Asiatic origin, and probably came to Judaea by way of Egypt ; so that Christianity would be a secondary reflection of the primordial light that shone in India, which, falling first on Egypt, was unhappily refracted from its ruins upon Jewish soil. An apt symbol of the insen- sibility of Christian Ethics to animals, while in other points its similarity to the Indian is so great, may be found in the circumstance that John the Baptist comes before us in all respects like a Hindu Sannyasin, 8 except that he is clothed in skins : a thing which would be, as is well known, an abomina- tion in the eyes of every follower of Brahmanism or Buddhism. The Royal Society of Calcutta only

1 V. Part II., Chapter VI.

J Avatara (ava-trl to descend), descent of a deity from heaven ; e.g., the ten incarnations of Vishnu. V. Monier Williams' Sanskrit Dictionary. (Translator.)

  • Sannyasin (one who lays down, or resigns), an ascetic ;

a religious mendicant, or Brahman of the fourth order. V. Monier Williams' Sanskrit Dictionary. (Translator.)


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 223

received their copy of the Yedas on their distinctly promising that they would not have it bound in leather, after European fashion. In silken binding, therefore, it is now to be seen on the shelves of their library. Again : the Gospel story of Peter's draught of fishes, which the Saviour blesses so signally that the boats are overladen, and begin to sink (Luke v. 1-10), forms a characteristic contrast to what is related of Pythagoras. It is said that the latter, initiated as he was in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, bought the draught from the fishermen, while the net was still under water, in order to at once set at liberty the captive denizens of the sea. (Apuleius : De Magia, p. 36 : edit. Bipont.) l Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he, who is cruel to living creatures, cannot be a good man. Moreover, this compassion manifestly flows from the same source whence arise the virtues of justice and loving- kindness towards men. Thus, for instance, people of delicate sensitiveness, on realising that in a fit of ill-humour, or anger, or under the influence of wine, they punished their dog, their horse, their ape undeservedly, or unnecessarily, or excessively, are seized with the same remorse, feel the same dissatis- faction with themselves, as when they are conscious

1 V. Apuleius : Apologia sive De Magia Liber (Lipsiae, Teubner, 1900 : page 41, chap, xxxi) : Pythagoram . . . memoriae prodiderunt, cum animaduertisset proxime Metapontum in litore Italiae suae, quam subsiciuam Graeciam fecerat, a quibusdam piscatoribus euerriculum trahi, fortunam iactus eiw emisse et pretio dato iussisse, ilico piscis eos qui capti tenebantur solui retibus et reddi pro/undo. (Translator.)


224 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

of having done some wrong to one of their fellows. The only difference a purely nominal one is that in the latter case this remorse, this dissatisfaction is called the voice of conscience rising in rebuke. I remember having read of an Englishman, who, when hunting in India, had killed a monkey, that he could not forget the dying look which the creature cast on him ; so that he never fired at these animals again. Another sportsman, William Harris by name, a true Nimrod, has much the same story to tell. During the years 1836-7 he travelled far into the heart of Africa, merely to indulge his passion for the chase. A passage in his book, published at Bombay in 1838, describes how he shot his first elephant, a female. Next morning on going to look for his game, he found that all the elephants had fled from the neighbour- hood, except a young one which had spent the night beside its dead mother. Seeing the huntsmen, it forgot all fear, and came to meet them, with the clearest and most lively signs of disconsolate grief, and put its tiny trunk about them, as if to beg for help. " Then," says Harris, " I was filled with real remorse for what I had done, and felt as if I had committed a murder."

The English nation, with its fine sensibility, is, in fact, distinguished above all others for extraordinary compassion towards animals, which appears at every opportunity, and is so strong that, despite the " cold superstition " which otherwise degrades them, these Anglo-Saxons have been led through its operation to fill up by legislation the lacuna that their religion leaves in morality. For this gap is precisely the


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 225

reason why in Europe and America there is need of societies for the protection of animals, which are entirely dependent on the law for their efficiency. In Asia the religions themselves suffice, consequently no one there ever thinks of such associations. Meanwhile Europeans are awakening more and more to a sense that beasts have rights, in proportion as the strange notion is being gradually overcome and outgrown, that the animal kingdom came into existence solely for the benefit and pleasure of man. This view, 1 with the corollary that non- human living creatures are to be regarded merely as things, is at the root of the rough and altogether reckless treatment of them, which obtains in the West. To the honour, then, of the English be it said that they are the first people who have, in downright earnest, extended the protecting arm of the law to animals : in England the mis- creant, that commits an outrage on beasts, has to pay for it, equally whether they are his own or not. Nor is this all. There exists in London the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a corporate body voluntarily formed, which, without state assistance, and at great cost, is of no small service in lessening the tale of tortures inflicted on animals. Its emissaries are ubiquitous, and keep secret watch in order to inform against the tor- mentors of dumb, sensitive creatures ; and such persons have therefore good reason to stand in fear of them. 2 At all the steep bridges in London

1 In Vol. II. of my Parerga, 177, I have shown that its origin can be traced to the Old Testament.

2 How seriously the matter is being taken up may be seen from the following case which is quite recent. I quote

15


226 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

this Society stations a pair of horses, which without any charge is attached to heavy freight- waggons. Is not this admirable ? Does it not elicit our ap- proval, as unfailingly as any beneficent action towards men ? Also the Philanthropic Society of London has done its part. In 1837 it offered a prize of 30 for the best exposition of the moral reasons which exist to keep men from torturing animals. The line of argument, however, had to be taken almost exclusively from Christianity, whereby the difficulty of the task was, of course, increased ; but two years

from the Birmingham Journal of December, 1839. "Arrest of a company of eighty-four abettors of dog-fights. It had come to the knowledge of the Society of Animals' Friends that the Square in Fox Street, Birmingham, was yesterday to be the scene of a dog-fight. Measures were accordingly taken to secure the assistance of the police, and a strong detachment of constables was sent to the spot. At the right moment all the persons present were arrested. These precious conspirators were then handcuffed together in pairs, and the whole party was made fast by a long rope passing between each couple. In this fashion they were marched off to the Police Station, where mayor and magistrate were sitting in readiness for them. The two ringleaders were condemned to pay, each, a fine of l, and 8s. 6d. costs ; in default, to undergo 14 days' hard labour." The coxcombs whose habit is never to miss noble sport of this sort, must have looked somewhat crestfallen in the midst of the procession. But the Times of April 6, 1855, p. 6, supplies a still more striking instance from the present day; and here we find the paper itself assuming judicial functions, and imposing the right punish- ment. It recounts the case of a very wealthy Scotch baronet's daughter. The matter had been brought before the law, and the evidence showed that the girl had used a cudgel and knife on her horse with the greatest cruelty; for which she was ordered to pay a fine of 5. But for one in her position such a sum means nothing, and she would practically have


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 227

later, in 1839, Mr. Macnamara was the successful competitor. At Philadelphia there is an Animals' Friends' Society, having the same aims ; and it is to the President of the latter that a book called Philozoia ; or, Moral Reflections on the Actual Con- dition of Animals, and the Means of Improving the Same (Brussels, 1839), has been dedicated by its author, T. Forster. It is original and well written. Mr. Forster earnestly commends to his readers the humane treatment of animals. As an Englishman he naturally tries to strengthen his position by the support of the Bible ; but he is on slippery ground,

got off scot-free, had not the Times intervened to inflict on her a proper correction, such as she would really feel. It twice mentions the young lady's name in full, printing it in large type, and concludes as follows : " We cannot help saying that a few months' imprisonment with the addition of an occasional whipping administered in private, but by the most muscular woman in Hampshire, would have been a much more suitable penalty for Miss M. N. A wretched being of this sort has forfeited all the consideration and the privileges that attach to her sex ; we cannot regard her any longer as a woman." These newspaper paragraphs I would especially recommend to the notice of the associations now formed in Germany against cruelty to animals ; for they show what lines should be adopted, in order to reach some solid result. At the same time I desire to express my cordial appreciation of the praiseworthy zeal shown by Herrn Hofrath Perner, of Munich, who has entirely devoted himself to this branch of well-doing, and succeeded in arousing interest in it all over the country. [It should be observed that the first portion of this note belongs to the earliest edition of the work, published September, 1840 ; the latter part was written for the second edition, which appeared in August, 1860. This explains why Schopenhauer says that the first instance, dated 1839, is " quite recent," and that the second, dated 1855, is taken " from the present day." (Translator.)'}


228 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

and meets with such poor success that he ends by catching at the following ingenious position : Jesus Christ (he says) was born in a stable among oxen and asses ; which was meant to indicate symbolically that we ought to regard the beasts as our brothers, and treat them accordingly. All that I have here adduced sufficiently proves that the moral chord, of which we are speaking, is now at length beginning to vibrate also in the West. For the rest, we may observe that compassion for sentient beings is not to carry us to the length of abstaining from flesh, like the Brahmans. This is because, by a natural law, capacity for pain keeps pace with the intelligence ; consequently men, by going without animal food, especially in the North, would suffer more than beasts do through a quick death, which is always unforeseen ; although the latter ought to be made still easier by means of chloroform. Indeed without meat nourishment mankind would be quite unable to withstand the rigours of the Northern climate. The same reasoning explains, too, why we are right in making animals work for us ; it is only when they are subjected to an excessive amount of toil that cruelty begins.

(8) It is perhaps not impossible to investigate and explain metaphysically the ultimate cause of that Compassion in which alone all non-egoistic conduct can have its source ; but let us for the moment put aside such inquiries, and consider the phaenome- non in question, from the empirical point of view, simply as a natural arrangement. Now if Nature's intention was to soften as much as possible the


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 229

numberless sufferings of every sort, to which our life is exposed, and which no one altogether escapes ; if she wished to provide some counterbalance for the burning Egoism, which fills all beings, and often develops into malice ; it will at once strike every one as obvious that she could not have chosen any method more effectual than that of planting in the human heart the wonderful disposition, which inclines one man to share the pain of another, aud from which proceeds the voice that bids us, in tones strong and unmistakable, take thought for our neighbour ; calling, at one time, " Protect ! " at another, " Help ! " Assuredly, from the mutual succour thus arising, there was more to be hoped for, towards the attain- ment of universal well-being, than from a stern Com- mand of duty, couched in general, abstract terms, the product of certain reasoning processes, and of artificial combinations of conceptions. From such an Imperative, indeed, all the less result could be expected because to the rough human unit general propositions and abstract truths are unintelligible, the concrete only having some meaning for him. And it should be remembered that mankind in its entirety, a very small part alone excepted, has always been rude, and must remain so, since the large amount of bodily toil, which for the race as a whole is inevitable, leaves no time for mental culture. Whereas, in order to awaken that sense, which has been proved to be the sole source of disinterested action, and consequently the true basis of Morals, there is no need of abstract knowledge, but only of intuitive perception, of the simple comprehension of a concrete case. To this


230 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

Compassion is at. once responsive, without the media- tion of other thoughts.

(9) The following circumstance will be found in complete accord with the last paragraph. The foundation, which I have given to Ethics, leaves me without a forerunner among the School Philosophers ; indeed, my position is paradoxical, as far as their teach- ing goes, and many of them, for instance, the Stoics (Seneca, De dementia, II., 5), Spinoza (Ethica, IV., prop. 50), and Kant (Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft, p. 213 ; R. p. 257) only notice the motive of Com- passion to utterly reject and contemn it. On the other hand, my basis is supported by the authority of the greatest moralist of modern times ; for such, undoubtedly, J. J. Rousseau is, that profound reader of the human heart, who drew his wisdom not from books, but from life, and intended his doctrine not for the professorial chair, but for humanity ; he, the foe of all prejudice, the foster-child of nature, whom alone she endowed with the gift of being able to moralise without tediousness, because he hit the truth and stirred the heart. I shall therefore venture here to cite some passages from his works in support of my theory, observing that, so far, I have been as sparing as possible with regard to quotations.

In the Discours sur VOrigine de Vlnegalite, p. 91 (edit. Bipont.), he says : 11 y a un autre principe, que Hobbes n'a point aperqu, et qui ayant ete donne a I'homme pour adoucir, en certaines circonstances, la ferocite de son amour-propre, tempere Vardeur quil a pour son bien-etre par une REPUGNANCE IN NEE A VOIR SOUFFRIR SON SEMBLABLE. Je ne crois pas


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 231

avoir aucune contradiction a craindre en accordant a I'homme la SEULE VERTU NATURELLE qu'ait ete force de reconnaitre le detracteur le plus outre des vertus humaines. Je parle DE LA PITIE, etc. 1

P. 92 : Mandeville a bien senti qu'avec toute leur morale les hommes rieussent jamais ete que des mon- stres, si la nature ne leur eut donne LA PITIE a I'appui de la raison : mais il n'a pas vu, que DE CETTE SEULE

QUALITE DEGOULENT TOUTES LES VERTUS SOCIALES,

qu'il veut disputer aux hommes. En effet, qu'est-ce que la generosite, la clemence, Vhumanite, sinon LA PITIE, appliquee aux faibles, aux coupables, ou a I'espece humaine en general 1 ? La bienveillance et famitie meme sont, a le bien prendre, des productions d'une pitie constante, fixee sur un objet particulier ; car desirer que quelqu'un ne souffre point, qu'est-ce autre chose, que desirer qu'il soit heureux ? . . . La commiseration sera d'autant plus energique, que V ANIMAL SPECTATEUR S'IDENTIFIERA plus intimement

L ANIMAL SOUFFRANT. 2


1 There is another principle which Hobbes did not perceive at all. It was implanted in man in order to soften, in certain circumstances, the fierceness of his self-love, and it moderates the ardour, which he feels for his own well-being, by producing a certain innate aversion to the sight of a fellow-creature's suffering. In attributing to rnan the only natural virtue, which even the most advanced scepticism has been forced to recognise, I stand, assuredly, in no fear of any contradiction. I allude to compassion, etc.

  • Mandeville was right in thinking that with all their

systems of morality, men would never have been anything but monsters, if nature had not given them compassion to support their reason ; but he failed to see that from this one quality spring all the social virtues, which he was unwilling to credit


232 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

P. 94 : II est done bien certain, que la pitie est un sentiment naturel, qui, moderant dans chaque individu I 'amour de soi-meme, concourt a la conserva- tion mutuelle de toute Vespece. C'est elle, qui dans I'etat de nature, tient lieu de lois, de moeurs, et de vertus, avec cet avantage, que nul ne sera tente de desobeir a sa douce voix: c'est elle, qui detournera tout sauvage robuste d'enlever a un faible enfant, ou a un vieillard infirme, sa subsistence acquise avecpeine, si lui meme espere pouvoir trouver la sienne ailleurs : c'est elle qui, au lieu de cette maxime sublime de justice raisonnee : " Fais a autrui comme tu veux qu'on te fasse ; " inspire a tous les hommes cette autre maxime de bonte naturelle, bien moins parfaite, mais plus utile peut-etre que la precedente : " Fais ton bien avec le moindre mal d'autrui qu'il est possible" C'est, en un mot, DANS CE SENTIMENT NATUREL

PLUTdT, QUE DANS LES ARGUMENTS SUBTILS, qu'il

faut chercher la cause de la repugnance qu'eprouverait tout homme a mal faire, meme independamment des maximes de I'education. 1

mankind with. In reality, what is generosity, clemency, humanity, if not compassion, applied to the weak, to the guilty, or to the human race, as a whole ? Even benevolence and friendship, if we look at the matter rightly," are seen to result from a constant compassion, directed upon a particular object ; for to desire that some one should not suffer is nothing else than to desire that he should be happy. . . The more closely the living spectator identifies himself with the living sufferer, the more active does pity become.

1 It is, then, quite certain that compassion is a natural feeling, which checking, as it does, the love of self in each individual, helps by a reciprocal process to preserve the whole race. This it is, which in the state of nature, takes the place of laws,


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 233

Let this be compared with what he says in Emile, Bk. IV., pp. 115-120 (edit. Bipont.), where the follow- ing passage, occurs among others :

En effet, comment nous laissons-nous emouvoir a la pitie, si ce n'est en nous transportant hors de nous et en nous IDENTIFIANT AVEC v ANIMAL SOUFFRANT-. EN QU ITT ANT, pour ainsi dire, NOTRE ETRE, POUR PRENDRE LE SIEN? Nous ne souffrons qu'autant que nous jugeons qu'tt souffre : CE N'EST PAS DANS NOUS, (TEST DANS LUI, que nous souffrons . . . offrir au jeune homme des objets, sur lesquels puisse agir la force expansive de son coeur, qui le dilatent, qui I'etendent sur les autres etres, qui le /assent partout SE RETROUVER HORS DE LUi; ecarter avec soin ceux, qui le resserrent, le concentrent, et tendent le ressort

DU HOI HUMAIN, etc. 1

customs, and virtues, with the added advantage that no one will be tempted to disobey its gentle voice ; this it is, which will restrain every able-bodied savage, provided he hope to find his own livelihood elsewhere, from robbing a weak child, or depriving an infirm old man of the subsistence won by hard toil ; this it is, which inspires all men, not indeed with that sublime maxim of reasoned justice: "Do to others as you would they should do unto you ; " but with another rule of natural goodness, no doubt less perfect, but perhaps more useful, namely : " Do what is good for yourself with the least possible harm to others." In a word, it is in this natural feeling rather than in subtle arguments that we must look for the reason of the repugnance with which every one is accustomed to view bad conduct, quite independently of the principles laid down by education.

1 In fact, how is it that we let ourselves be moved to pity, if not by getting out of our own consciousness, and becoming identified with the living sufferer ; by leaving, so to say, our own being, and entering into his ? We do not suffer, except


234 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

Inside the pale of the Schools, as above remarked, there is not a single authority in favour of my posi- tion ; but outside, I have other testimony to cite, in addition to Rousseau's. The Chinese admit five cardinal virtues (Tschang), of which the chief is Compassion (Sin). The other four are : justice, courtesy, wisdom, and sincerity. 1 Similarly, among the Hindus, we find that on the tablets placed to the memory of dead chieftains, compassion for men and animals takes the first place in the record of their virtues. At Athens there was an altar to Compassion in the Agora, as we know from Pausanias, I. 17 : ' Adrjvatois Be ev rf) dyopa ecm, 'E\eov /3//.6?, &>, /j,d\icrTa dewv (3lov /cat //,era/3oXa<? Trpa^f^drcov OTI a>-


as we suppose he suffers ; it is not in us, it is in him, that we suffer . . . offer a young man objects, on which the expansive force of his heart can act ; objects such as may enlarge his nature, and incline it to go out to other beings, in whom he may everywhere find himself again. Keep carefully away those things which narrow his view, and make him self-centred, and which tighten the strings of the human ego. [Tendent le ressort (stretch the spring) du moi humain : i.e., stimulate the egoistic tendency. (Translator.)]

1 Journal Asiatique, Vol. ix., p. 62. Cf. Meng-Tseu (other- wise called Mencius), edited by Stanislas Julien, 1824, Bk. 1, 45 ; also Meng-Tseu in the Livres Sacres de VOrient, by Panthier p. 281.

V. Dictionnaire Francais Latin Chinois, par Paul Perny (Didot Freres, Paris, 1869) ; where the five cardinal virtues (-ft, 1^") are transliterated : ou clistng. V. also : A Syllabic Dictionary of the Chinese Language ; by S. Wells Williams, LL.B. (Shanghai: 1874); where Sin (Sin), i.e., humanity. love of one's neighbour, is written Sin'. (Translator.}

2 The Athenians have an altar in their Agora to Compassion ;


THE PROOF CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE. 235

Lucianalso mentions (his altar in the Timon, 99. 1 A phrase of Phocion, preserved by Stobaeus, describes Compassion as the most sacred thing in human life : ovre eg iepov {3a)/ji6v, ovre etc rf)<; avOpwirivrjs (^ucreo)? a^aipereov rov eA,eov. 2 In the Sapientia Indorum, the Greek translation of the Panca-tantra, we read (Section 3, p. 220) : Aeyerat, yap, o>9 Trpcorrj rwv aperwv 77 eXe^/uocruj/T;. 3 It is clear, then, that the real source of morality has been distinctly recog- nised at all times and in all countries ; Europe alone excepted, owing to ihefoetor Judaicus (Jewish stench), which here pervades everything, and is the reason why the Western races require for the object of their obedience a command of duty, a moral law, an imperative, in short, an order and decree. They remain wedded to this habit of thought, and


for this deity, they believe, is of all the gods the most helpful in human life, and its vicissitudes. They are the only Greeks who have instituted this cultus. (Translator.)

1 V. Lucian, Timon, chap. 42 (Ausgewahlte Schriften des Liician, edit. Julius Sommerbrodt ; Weidmann, Berlin, 1872,

p. 75) : (f)i\os 8e ^ f-evos f) tralpos rj 'EXe'ou /3o>/u6s vGXos nd\vs.

V. also Apollodorus (edit. J. Bekker) ; 2, 8, 1. 3, 7, 1. Dem. (edit. Keisk.), 57. Scholiast on Soph. Oed. Col., 258. (Translator.)

3 A temple must not be despoiled of its altar, nor human nature of compassion. V. Joannis Stobaei Anthologium, edit. Curtius Wachsmuth et Otto Hense ; Weidmann, Berlin, 1894 ; Vol. III., p. 20, Nr. 52. (Translator.)

3 The chief of virtues is said to be Compassion. The Panca- tantra is a well-known collection of moral stories and fables in five (pan6ari) books or chapters (tantra), from which the author of the Hitopade'sa drew a large portion of his materials. V. Monier Williams' Sanskrit Dictionary. (Translator.)


236 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

refuse to open their eyes to the fact that such a view is, after all, based upon nothing but Egosim. Of course, now and then, isolated individuals of fine perception have felt the truth, and given it utterance : such a one was Rousseau ; and such, Lessing. In a letter written by the latter in 1756 we read : " The best man, and the one most likely to excel in all social virtues, in all forms of magnanimity, is he who is most compassionate."


CHAPTER IX.

ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER.

THERE still remains a question to be resolved, before the basis which I have given to Ethics can be presented in all its completeness. It is this. On what does the great difference in the moral behaviour of men rest ? If Compassion be the original incentive of all true, that is, disinterested justice and loving- kindness ; how comes it that some are, while others are not, influenced thereby ? Are we to suppose that Ethics, which discloses the moral stimulus, is also capable of setting it in motion ? Can Ethics fashion the hard-hearted man anew, so that he be- comes compassionate, and, as a consequence, just and humane ? Certainly not. The difference of character is innate, and ineradicable. The wicked man is born with his wickedness as much as the serpent is with its poison-fangs and glands, nor can the former change his nature a whit more than the latter. 1 Velle non discitur (to use one's will is not a thing that can be taught) is a saying of Nero's tutor. In the Meno, Plato minutely investigates

1 Of- Jeremiah xiii. 23. (Translator.) 237


238 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

the nature of virtue, and inquires whether it can, or cannot, be taught. He quotes a passage from Theonis :




dXXa 8i QviroTf TToi^trfis TOV KaKov <iv8p' ayndov,

(But thou wilt ne'er, By teaching make the bad man virtuous.)

and finally reaches this conclusion : dperrj civ e'lrj ovre <f>v(Ti, ovre SiBaKTOv. d\\a Oeia pot pa Trapayvyvoaewri, avev vov, ol? av TrapayiyvrjTat. 1 Here the terms (frvaei, and Oeia uotpa form a distinction, in my opinion, much the same as that between " physical " and " metaphysical." Socrates, the father of Ethics, if we may trust Aristotle, declared that OVK e<f> r} ulv yevecrdai TO crTrovSaiov? elvai, rj <f)av\ov$. 2 (Moralia Ma.gna, i. 9.) Moreover, Aristotle himself expresses the same view : irafft yap So/cei e/caara TWV ydwv vTrdpxetv <f>varei TTW?' KOI jap 81/caioi, Kal (raxfrpoviKol, /cal rd\\a e^o/juev evdvf etc ^ej/err}?. 3 (Eth. Nicom. vi. 13.) We find also a similar conviction very decidedly expressed in the fragments attributed to the Pytha-

1 Virtue would appear not to come naturally (i.e., through the physical order of things), nor can it be taught; but in whomsoever it dwells, there it is present, apart from the intellect, under divine ordinance. [V. Platonis Opera, edit. Didot, Paris, 1856 ; Vol. I. Meno, 96 and 99, ad fin (Translator.}]

2 It is not in our power to be either good or bad.

3 For it appears that the different characters of all men are in some way implanted in them by nature ; if we are just, and temperate, and otherwise virtuous, we are so straightway from our birth.


ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. 239

gorean Archytas, and preserved by Stobaeus in the Florilegium (Chap. i. 77). 1 If not authentic, they are certainly very old. Orelli gives them in his Opuscula Graecorum Sententiosa et Moralia. There (Vol. II., p. 240) we read in the Dorian dialect as follows : Ta? yap \6yois teal aTroSei^eaiv TroTt^pto^eva? dpera? Seov eTTtcrrttyLta? TTorayopevev, aperav Se, rav r/Oticav /cat


av Kal iroioL rti/65 rj^iev \y6/j,eOa Kara TO rjdos, olov e\v6epioi, SUatoi Kal o-w^poye?. 2 On examining the virtues and vices, as summarised by Aristotle in the De Virtutibus et Vitiis, it will be found that all of them, without exception, are not properly thinkable unless assumed to be inborn qualities, and that only as such can they be genuine. If, in consequence of reasoned reflection, we take them as voluntary, they are then seen to lose their reality, and pass into the region of empty forms ; whence it immediately follows that their permanence and resistance under the storm and stress of circumstance could not be counted on. And the same is true of the virtue of loving- kindness, of which Aristotle, in common with all the ancients, knows nothing. Montaigne keeps, of course, his sceptical tone, but he practically agrees


1 V. Joannis Stobaei Florilegium, edit. Meineke, publ. Lipsiae, Teubner, 1855 ; Vol. I., p. 33, 1. 14, sqq. (Translator.')

2 For the so-called virtues, that require reasoning and demon- stration, ought to be called sciences. By the term " virtue " we mean rather a certain moral and excellent disposition of the soil's unreasoning part. This disposition determines the character which we show, and in accordance with which we are called generous, just, or temperate.


240 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

with the venerable authorities above quoted, when he says : Serait-il vrai, que pour etre bon tout a fait, il nous le faille fare par occulte, naturelle et universelle propriete, sans lot, sans raison, sans exemple? 1 (Liv. IL, chap. 11.) Lichtenberg hits the mark exactly in his Vermischte Schriften, (v. Moralische Bermerkungeri). He writes : " All virtue arising from premeditation is not worth much. What is wanted is feeling or habit." Lastly, it should be noted that Christianity itself, in its original teaching, recognises, and bears witness to this inherent, immutable difference between character and character. In the Sermon on the Mount we find the allegory of the fruit which is determined by the nature of the tree that bears it (Luke vi. 43, 44 ; cf. Matthew vii. 16-18) ; and then in the following verse (Luke vi. 45), we read : 6 dyadbs avdpa)7ro<> K TOV ajaSov drjcravpov TT}? KapStoG avrov irpofyepei TO a<ya06v KOL 6 Trovrjpbs avOpwjros e/c TOV Trovrjpov Orjaavpov T7?9 Kapoias avTov Trpotfrepei TOTrovrfpov. 2 (Cf. Matthew xii. 35.)

But it was Kant who first completely cleared up this important point through his profound doctrine of the empirical and intelligible 3 character. He

1 Are we to believe it true that we can only be thoroughly good by virtue of a certain occult, natural, and universal faculty, without law, without reason, without precedent ?

2 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good ; and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil.

3 V. Note on "intelligible," Part. IL, Chapter I (Translator.)


ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. 241

showed that the empirical character, which manifests itself in time and in multiplicity of action, is a phaenomenon ; while the reality behind it is the intelligible character, which, being the essential constitution of the Thing in itself underlying the phaenomenon, is independent of time, space, plurality, and change. In this way alone can be explained what is so astonishing, and yet so well known to all who have learnt life's lessons, the fixed unchangeable- ness of human character. There are certain ethical writers, whose aim is the moral improvement of men, and who talk of progress made in the path of virtue ; but their assurances are always met and victoriously confuted by the irrefragable facts of experience, which prove that virtue is nature's work and cannot be inculcated. The character is an original datum, immutable, and incapable of any amelioration through correction by the intellect. " Now, were this not so ; and further : if (as the above-mentioned dull-headed preachers maintain) an improvement of the character, and hence " a constant advance towards the good " were possible by means of moral instruction ; then, unless we are prepared to suppose that all the various religious institutions, and all the efforts of the moralists fail in their purpose, we should certainly expect to find that the older half of mankind, at least on an average, is distinctly better than the younger. This, however, is so far from being the case, that it is not to the old, who have, as we see, grown worse by experience, but to the young that we look for something good. It may happen that in his old age one man appears somewhat better, another worse,

16


242 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

than he was in his youth. But the reason is not far to seek. It is simply because with length of days the intelligence by constant correction becomes riper, and hence the character stands out in purer and clearer shape ; while early life is a prey to ignorance, mistakes, and chimeras, which now present false motives, and now veil the real. For a fuller explana- tion I would refer the reader to the principles laid down in Chapter III. of the preceding Essay, on " The Freedom of the Will." * It is true that among convicts the young have a large majority ; but this is because, when a tendency to crime exists in the character, it soon finds a way of expressing itself in acts, and of reaching its goal the galleys, or the gibbet ; while he, whom all the inducements to wrong doing, which a long life offers, have failed to lead astray, is not likely to fall at the eleventh hour. Hence the respect paid to age is, in my opinion, due to the fact that the old are considered to have passed through a test of sixty or seventy years, and kept their integrity unsullied ; for this of course is the sine qua, non of the honour accorded them. These things are too well known for any one, in real life, to be misled by the promises of the moralists we have spoken of. He who has once been proved guilty of evil-doing, is never again trusted, just as the noble nature, of which a man has once given evidence, is always confidently believed in, whatever else may

1 Die Freiheit des Willens and the present treatise were published by Schopenhauer together, under the title of Die Beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik. V. Introduction, p. xv., note. (Translator.)


ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. 243

have changed. Operari sequitur esse (what one does follows from what one is) forms, as we have seen in Part II., Chapter VIII., a pregnant tenet of the Schoolmen. Everything in the world works according to the unchangeable constitution of which its being, its essentia is composed. And man is no exception. As the individual is, so will he, so must he, act : and the liberum arbitrium indifferentiae (free and indifferent choice) is an invention of philosophy in her childhood, long since exploded ; although there are some old women, in doctor's academicals, who still like to drag it about with them. The three fundamental springs of human action Egoism, Malice, Compassion are inherent in every one in different and strangely unequal proportions. Their combination in any given case determines the weight of the motives that present themselves, and shapes the resulting line of conduct. To an egoistic character egoistic motives alone appeal, and those, which suggest either compassion or malice, have no appreciable effect. Thus, a man of this type will sacrifice his interests as little to take vengeance on his foes, as to help his friends. Another, whose nature is highly susceptible to malicious motives, will not shrink from doing great harm to himself, so only he may injure his neighbour. For there are char- acters which take such delight in working mischief on others, that they forget their own loss, which is perhaps, equal to what they inflict. One may say of such : Dum alteri noceat sui negligens 1 (disregarding himself so long as he injures the other). These are 1 Seneca, De /ra, I. 1.


244 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

the people that plunge with passionate joy into the battle in which they expect to receive quite as many wounds as they deal ; indeed, experience not seldom testifies that they are ready deliberately, first to kill the man who thwarts their purposes, and then themselves, in order to escape the penalty of the law. On the other hand, goodness of heart consists of a deeply felt, all-embracing Compassion for everything that has breath, and especially for man ; because, in proportion as the intelligence develops, capacity for pain increases ; and hence, the countless sufferings of human beings, in mind and body, have a much stronger claim to Compassion than those of animals, which are only physical, and in any case less acute. This goodness of heart, therefore, in the first place restrains a man from doing any sort of harm to others, and, next, it bids him give succour whenever and wherever he sees distress. And the path of Compassion may lead as far in one direction as Malice does in the other. Certain rare characters of fine sensibility take to heart the calamities of others more than their own, so that they make sacrifices, which, it may be, entail on themselves a greater amount of suffering than that removed from those they benefit. Nay, in cases where several, or, perhaps, a large number of persons, at one time, can be helped in this way, such men do not, if need be, flinch from absolute self-effacement. Arnold von Winkelried was one of these. So was Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, in the fifth century, when the Vandals crossed over from Africa and invaded Italy. Of him we read in Johann von Miiller's Weltgeschichte (Bk. X., chap. 10)


ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. 245

that " in order to ransom some of the prisoners, lie had already disposed of all the church plate, his own and his friends' private property. Then, on seeing the anguish of a widow, whose only son was being carried off, he offered himself for servitude in the other's stead. For whoever was of suitable age, and had not fallen by the sword, was taken captive to Carthage."

There is, then, an enormous difference between character and character. Being original and innate, it measures the responsiveness of the individual to this or that motive, and those alone, to which he is specially sensitive, will appeal to him with any- thing like compelling force. As in chemistry, with unchangeable certainty, one substance reacts only upon acids, another only upon alkalies, so, with equal invariableness, different natures respond to different stimuli. The motives suggesting loving-kindness, which stir so deeply a good disposition, can, of them- selves, effect nothing in a heart that listens only to the promptings of Egoism. If it be wished to induce the egoist to act with beneficence and humanity, this can be done but in one way : he must be made to believe that the assuaging of others' suffering will, somehow or other, surely turn out to his own advantage. What, indeed, are most moral systems but attempts of different kinds in this direction ? But such procedure only misleads, does not better, the will. To make a real improvement, it would be necessary to transform the entire nature of the individual's susceptibility for motives. Thus, from one we should have to remove his indifference to the


246 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

suffering of others as such ; from another, the delight which he feels in causing pain ; from a third, the natural tendency which makes him regard the smallest increase of his own well-being as so far outweighing all other motives, that the latter become as dust in the balance. Only it is far easier to change lead into gold than to accomplish such a task. For it means the turning round, so to say, of a man's heart in his body, the remoulding of his very being. In point of fact, all that can be done is to clear the intellect, correct the judgment, and so bring him to a better comprehension of the objective realities and actual relations of life. This effected, the only result gained is that his will reveals itself more logically, distinctly, and decidedly, with no false ring in its utterance. It should be noted that just as many a good act rests at bottom on false motives, on well-meant, yet illusory representations of an advantage to be obtained thereby in this, or another, world ; so not a few misdeeds are due solely to an imperfect understanding of the con- ditions of human life. It is on this latter truth that the American penitentiary system is based. Here the aim is not, to improve the heart, but simply, to educate the head of the criminal, so that he may intellectually come to perceive that prosperity is more surely, indeed more easily, reached by work and honesty than by idleness and knavery.

By the proper presentment of motives legality may be secured, but not morality. It is possible to remodel what one does, bat not what one wills to do ; and it is to the will alone that real moral worth belongs. It is not possible to change the goal which the will


ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. 247

strives after, but only the path expected to lead thither. Instruction may alter the selection of means, but not the choice of the ultimate object which the individual keeps before him in all he does ; this is determined by his will in accordance with its original nature. It is true that the egoist may be brought to understand that, if he gives up certain small advantages, he will gain greater ; and the malicious man may be taught that by injuring others he will injure himself still more. But Egoism itself, and Malice itself, will never be argued out of a person ; as little as a cat can be talked out of her inclination for mice. Similarly with goodness of heart. If the judgment be trained, if the relations and conditions of life become understood, in a word, if the intellect be enlightened ; the character dominated by loving- kindness will be led to express itself more consistently and completely than it otherwise could. This happens when we perceive the remoter consequences which our conduct has for others : the sufferings, perhaps, that overtake them indirectly, and only after lapse of time, through one act or another of ours, which we had no idea was so harmful. It occurs, too, when we come to discern the evil results of many a well- meant action, as, for instance, the screening of a criminal ; and it is especially true when we realise that the Neminem laede (injure no one) has in all cases precedence over the Omnes juva (help all men). In this sense there is undoubtedly such a thing as a moral education, an ethical training capable of making men better. But it goes only as far as I have indicated, and its limits are quickly discovered.


248 TEE BASIS OF MORALITY.

The head is filled with the light of knowledge ; the heart remains unimproved. The fundamental and determining element, in things moral, no less than in things intellectual, and things physical, is that which is inborn. Art is always subordinate, and can only lend a helping hand. Each man is, what he is, as it were, " by the grace of God," jure divino, Oeia ftoipq (by divine dispensation).

Du bist am Ende WAS DU BIST.

Setz' dir Perrucken auf von Millionen LocJcen,

Setz' deinen Fuss auf ellenhohe Socken :

Du BLEIBST DOOH IMMER WAS DU SIST. 1

But the reader, I am sure, has long been wishing to put the question : Where, then, does blame and merit come in ? The answer is fully contained in Part II., Chapter VIII., to which I therefore beg to call particular attention. It is there that the explanation, which otherwise would now follow, found a natural place ; because the matter is closely connected with Kant's doctrine of the co-existence of Freedom and Necessity. Our investigation led to the conclusion that, once the motives are brought into play, the Operari (what is done) is a thing of absolute necessity ; consequently, Freedom, the existence of which is betokened solely by the sense of responsi- bility, cannot but belong to the Esse (what one is). No doubt the reproaches of conscience have to do,

1 In spite of all, thou art still what thou art. Though wigs with countless curls thy head-gear be, Though shoes an ell in height adorn thy feet : Unchanged thou eer remainest what thou art.

V. Goethe's Faust, Part I., Studirzimmer. (Translator.)


ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. 249

in the first place, and ostensibly, with our acts, but through these they, in reality, reach down to what we are ; for what we do is the only indisputable index of what we are, and reflects our character just as faithfully as symptoms betray the malady. Hence it is to this Esse, to what we are, that blame and merit must ultimately be attributed. Whatever we esteem and love, or else despise and hate, in others, is not a changeable, transient appearance, but some- thing constant, stable, and persistent ; it is that which they are. If we find reason to alter our first opinion about any one, we do not suppose that he is changed, but that we have been mistaken in him. In like manner, when we are pleased or displeased with our own conduct:, we say that we are satisfied or dissatisfied with ourselves, meaning, in reality, with that which we are, and are unalterably, irre- versibly ; and the same is true with regard to our intellectual qualities, nay, it even applies to the physiognomy. How is it possible, then, for blame and merit to lie otherwise than in what we are ? As we saw in Part II., Chapter VII., Conscience is that register of our acts, which is always growing longer, and therefore that acquaintance with ourselves which every day becomes more complete. Conscience con- cerns itself directly with all that we do ; when, at one time, actuated by Egoism, or perhaps Malice, we turn a deaf ear to Compassion, which bids us at least refrain from harming others, if we will not afford them help and protection ; or when again, at another time, we overcome the first two incentives, and listen to the voice of the third. Both cases


250 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

measure the distinction we draw between ourselves and others. And on this distinction depends in the last resort the degree of our morality or immorality, that is, of our justice and loving-kindness, or the reverse. Little by little the number of those actions, whose testimony is significant on this point, accumulates in the storehouse of our memory ; and thus the lineaments of our character are depicted with ever greater clearness, and a true knowledge of ourselves is nearer attainment. And out of such knowledge there springs a sense of satisfaction, or dissatisfaction with ourselves, with that which we are, according as we have been ruled by Egoism, by Malice, or else by Compassion ; in other words, according as the difference we have made between ourselves and others is greater or smaller. And when we look outside ourselves, it is by the same standard that we judge those about us ; and we be- come acquainted with their character less perfectly indeed yet by the same empirical method as we employ with reference to our own. In this case our feelings take the form of praise, approval, respect, or, on the other hand, of reproach, displeasure, contempt, and they are the objective translation, so to say, of the subjective satisfaction or dissatisfaction (the latter deepening perhaps into remorse), which arises in us when we sit in judgment on ourselves. Lastly, there is the evidence of language. We find certain constantly occurring forms of speech which bear eloquent testimony to the fact that the blame we cast upon others is in reality directed against their unchangeable character, touching but superficially


ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. 251

what they do ; that virtue and vice are practically, if tacitly, regarded as inherent unalterable qualities. The following are some of these expressions : Jetzt sehe ich, wie du bist ! (Now I know your nature !) In dir habe ich mich geirrt. (I was mistaken in you.) " Now I see what you are ! " Voila. done, comme tu es f (This, then, is what you are !) So bin ich nicht ! (I am not a person of that sort !) Ich bin nicht der Mann, der fdhig ware, Sie zu hintergehen. (I am not the man to impose upon you.) Also : les dmes bien ntes (persons well- born, i.e., noble-minded), the Spanish bien nacido ; efyevrjs (properly "well-born"), evjeveia (properly " nobility of birth ") used for " virtuous " and " virtue " ; generosioris animi amicus (a friend of lofty mind. Generosus : lit. " of noble birth "), etc.

Reason is a necessary condition for conscience, but only because without the former a clear and connected recollection is impossible. From its very nature conscience does not speak till after the act ; hence we talk of being arraigned before its bar. Strictly speaking, it is improper to say that con- science speaks beforehand ; for it can only do so indirectly ; that is, when the remembrance of par- ticular cases in the past leads us, through reflection, to disapprove of some analogous course of action, while yet in embryo.

Such is the ethical fact as delivered by conscious- ness. It forms of itself a metaphysical problem, which does not directly belong to the present question, but which will be touched on in the last part.

Conscience, then, is nothing else than the acquaint-


252 THE BASIS OF MORALITY.

ance we make with our own changeless character through the instrumentality of our acts. A little consideration will show that this definition har- monises perfectly with, and hence receives additional confirmation from, what I have here specially em- phasised : namely, the fact that susceptibility for the motives of Egoism, of Malice, and of Compassion, which is so widely dissimilar in different individuals, and on which the whole moral value of a man depends, cannot be interpreted by anything else, nor be gained, or removed, by instruction, as if it were something born in time, and therefore variable, and subject to chance. On the contrary, we have seen that it is innate and fixed, an ultimate datum, admitting of no farther explanation. Thus an entire life, with the whole of its manifold activity, may be likened to a clock-dial, that marks every move- ment of the internal works, as they were made once for all ; or it resembles a mirror, wherein alone, with the eye of his intellect, each person sees re- flected the . essential nature of his own Will, that is, the core of his being.

Whoever takes the trouble to thoroughly think out what has been put forward here, and in Part. II., Chapter VIII., will discover in the foundation given by me to Ethics a logical consecution, a rounded com- pleteness, wanting to all other theories ; to say nothing of the consonance of my view with the facts of experience, a consonance which he will look for in vain elsewhere. For only the truth can uniformly and consistently agree with itself and with nature ; while all false principles are internally at variance with


ON THE ETHICAL DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. 253

themselves, and externally contradict the testimony of experience, which at every step records its silent protest.

I am perfectly aware that the truths advanced in this Essay, and particularly here at the close, strike directly at many deeply rooted prejudices and mistakes, and especially at those attaching to a certain rudimentary system of morals, now much in vogue, and suitable for elementary schools. But I cannot own to feeling any penitence or regret. For, in the first place, I am addressing neither children, nor the profanum vulgus, but an Academy of light and learning. Their inquiry is a purely theoretical one, concerned with the ultimate fundamental verities of Ethics ; and to a most serious question a serious answer is undoubtedly expected. And secondly, in my opinion, there can be no such thing as harmless mistakes, still less privileged or useful ones. On the contrary, every error works infinitely more evil than good. If, however, it is wished to make existing prepossessions the standard of truth, or the boundary beyond which its investigation is not to go, then it would be more honest to abolish philosophical Faculties and Academies altogether. For where no reality exists, there also no semblance of it should be.

Footnotes

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  1. See Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, VolI., 62, p. 396 sqq., and Vol. II., chap. 47, p. 682.