Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/202

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fused by the conflicting requirements of internal amity and external enmity.


Already it has been made clear that the idea of justice, or at least the idea of human justice, contains two elements. On the one hand there is that positive element implied by recognition of each man's claims to unimpeded activities and the benefits they bring. On the other hand there is that negative element implied by the consciousness of limits which the presence of other men having like claims necessitates. Two opposite traits in these two components especially arrest the attention.

Inequality is the primordial idea suggested. For if the principle is that each shall receive the benefits and evils due to his own nature and consequent conduct, then since men differ in their powers there must be differences in the results of their actions. Unequal amounts of benefit are implied.

Mutual limitations to men's actions suggest a contrary idea. When it is seen that if each pursues his ends regardless of his neighbor's claims, quarrels must be caused and social co-operation hindered, there arises the consciousness that bounds must be set to the doings of each; and the thought of spheres of action bounded by one another, involves the conception of equality.

Unbalanced appreciations of these two factors in human justice lead to divergent moral and social theories, which we must now glance at.


In some of the rudest groups of men the appreciations are no higher than those which we see among inferior gregarious animals. Here the stronger takes what he pleases from the weaker without exciting general reprobation; while, elsewhere, there is practiced and tacitly approved something like communism. But where habitual war has developed political organization, the idea of inequality becomes predominant. If not among the conquered, who are made slaves, yet among the conquerors, who naturally think of that which conduces to their interest as that which ought to be, there is fostered this element in the conception of justice which asserts that superiority shall have the benefits of superiority.

Though the Platonic dialogues may not be taken as measures of Greek belief, yet we may reasonably assume that the things they take for granted were currently accepted. Socrates inquires—"Do you admit that it is just for subjects to obey their rulers?" "I do, "replies Thrasymachus.[1] Though otherwise in antagonism,

  1. The Republic, Book I, translated by Jowett, p. 159 (edit, of 1871). Instead of "Do you admit," the rendering given by Messrs. Llewelyn Davies and Vaughan is "You doubtless also maintain."