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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/27

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PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH AS A CRITIC.

Even without going further, it will, I think, be manifest enough that, instead of putting pleasures and pains in the foreground, as alone to be considered in determining right and wrong (which Professor Goldwin Smith's account of my views will lead every reader to suppose I do), I have here distinctly asserted the need for another method of determining right and wrong. And if comparisons of pleasures and pains, or estimations of happiness, are to be "entirely set aside" in the guidance of "a large part of conduct," it will puzzle any reader to conceive what such guidance can be if there are excluded from it all ideas of principle, rectitude, duty, obligation. But now, remarking this much, I go on to point out that a large part of the chapter is devoted to the refutation of Bentham's doctrine, that happiness is to be the immediate object of pursuit. I have insisted on the authoritative character of certain "regulative principles for the conduct of associated human beings" (p. 167), which are already recognized and "established," and have urged that conformity to these must be the direct aim, and not happiness. Concerning certain moral ideas and sentiments, I have said:

Are they supernaturally-caused modes of thinking and feeling, tending to make men fulfill the conditions to happiness? If so, their authority is peremptory. Are they modes of thinking and feeling naturally caused in men by experience of these conditions? If so, their authority is no less peremptory (p. 168).

And then, having in various ways explained and enforced the need for these "regulative principles," and the peremptory authority of these "modes of thinking and feeling" known as conscience, I have closed the chapter by saying that "conflicting ethical theories. . . severally embody portions of the truth, and simply require combining in proper order to embody the whole truth" (p. 171).

The theological theory contains a part. If for the divine will, supposed to be supernaturally revealed, we substitute the naturally-revealed end toward which the power manifested throughout evolution works; then, since evolution has been, and is still, working toward the highest life, it follows that conforming to those principles by which the highest life is achieved is furthering that end. The doctrine, that perfection or excellence of nature should be the object of pursuit, is in one sense true, for it tacitly recognizes that ideal form of being which the highest life implies, and to which evolution tends. There is a truth, also, in the doctrine that virtue must be the aim, for this is another form of the doctrine that, the aim must be to fulfill the conditions to achievement of the highest life. That the intuitions of a moral faculty should guide our conduct is a proposition in which a truth is contained, for these intuitions are the slowly organized results of experiences received by the race while living in presence of these conditions. And that happiness as the supreme end is beyond question true, for this is the concomitant of that highest life which every theory of moral guidance has distinctly or vaguely in view. So understanding their relative positions, those ethical systems which make virtue, right, obligation the cardinal aims, are seen to be complementary to those