Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/166

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dered natural and necessary. Mr. Spencer is undoubtedly an evolutionist, but we do not know that there is any distinct warrant for saying he is a necessarian. We do not know that he is more embarrassed by the secular antithesis of free-will and necessity than others have been before him, or are now. Were necessarianism a corollary from evolution, it would be in order to remark that it has also been, with a not uninfluential school of Christian thinkers, a corollary of the conception of the divine nature. Mr. Smith, we observe, records his own objection to the term "free-will"; remarking that what has inappropriately passed under that name should rather be defined as "the difference given us by consciousness between moral and physical causation. He thus recognizes moral causation; and his objection to the expression "free-will" would seem to be grounded on its implied denial of such causation. Mr. Spencer, on his side, objects to the free-will theory because it denies the "cohesions" which demonstrably exist between psychical states. Is it certain that between the two views so great a gulf is fixed that Mr. Smith can afford to snap his fingers in happy security, while contemplating the speculative torments of the author of "The Data of Ethics"? Seeing, however, that this is a difficulty with which human thought has never been able to grapple successfully, it might be as well to raise no question concerning it. The evolutionist condemns a wrong action on this ground, that it conflicts with some principle of proved utility, or of proved equity—the two are really one—which, if not as potent so might be desired, still has its place in the mind of the man who has neglected or overridden it. We condemn moral inconsistency just as we do intellectual inconsistency. When a man puts forward an opinion we regard as false, our only hope of persuading him that it is false is by bringing into the strongest possible relief some truth or opinion, accepted by him, with which the opinion in question conflicts. Precisely parallel is the procedure when a man performs an act of which we disapprove: we call some ethical principle accepted by himself, and acted upon at times by himself, to bear witness against what he has done. By doing so we re-enforce the higher principle, and perhaps bring about shame and repentance for the improper act.

We have thus tried to deal with the chief objections formulated by Mr. Smith against the evolutionary theory of morals. To speak of that theory as a purely "physical" one (as Mr. Smith does) is hardly correct. Mind, according to Mr. Spencer, is made up of feelings and relations among feelings, and these are not properly physical. Memory and judgment may have a physical basis, but they are not themselves physical. The evolution of conduct, according to Mr. Spencer, depends wholly upon accretions of capital, so to speak, in consciousness. A dim and narrow consciousness renders possible only a most imperfect self-direction; a clear and highly developed consciousness, on the other hand, gives a correspondingly increased power of self-