Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/26

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IN the preface to the "Data of Ethics" there occurs the following sentence:

With a view to clearness, I have treated separately some correlative aspects of conduct, drawing conclusions either of which becomes untrue if divorced from the other, and have thus given abundant opportunity for misrepresentation.

When I wrote this sentence, I little dreamed that Professor. Goldwin Smith would be the man to verify my expectation more fully than I expected it to be verified by the bitterest bigot among those classed as orthodox.

I do not propose here to enter upon a controversy. I propose simply to warn readers that, before accepting Professor Goldwin Smith's versions of my views, it will be well to take the precaution of referring to the views as expressed by myself, to see whether the two correspond. And, by way of showing that this warning is called for, I will give them the opportunity of comparing representation with reality in a single instance.

In his article in the last number of this "Review," and on page 340, he characterizes the doctrine I have set forth in these words:

An authoritative conscience, duty, virtue, obligation, principle, and rectitude of motive, no more enter into his definitions, or form parts of his system, than does the religious sanction.

Before going further, let the reader dwell a moment on this statement, and consider the full implication of its words. Let him ask himself what kind of conclusions he would look for in a system of ethics which does not recognize "an authoritative conscience"; what ideas of right and wrong are likely to be found in a treatise on conduct which excludes "duty" and "virtue"; what he thinks must be the general traits of a moral doctrine in which "principle" has no place. Then, when he has fully impressed himself with the meaning of Professor Smith's words, and imagined the kind of teaching indicated by them, let him observe the teaching he actually finds. The following passage, from chapter ix of the "Data of Ethics," will prepare the way for more specific passages:

It is quite consistent to assert that happiness is the ultimate aim of action, and at the same time to deny that it can be reached by making it the immediate aim. I go with Mr. Sidgwick as far as the conclusion that "we must at least admit the desirability of confirming or correcting the results of such comparisons [of pleasures and pains] by any other method upon which we may find reason to rely"; and I then go further and say that, throughout a large part of conduct, guidance by such comparisons is to be entirely set aside and replaced by other guidance (pp. 155, 156).