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Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Mackintosh, Adam Smith, and Brown; who maintain that good is tested by a moral sense, either primitive, or of secondary formation (so Mackintosh) in connexion with the principle of association; or by sympathy; or by our moral emotions. To the rational school, or those who derive the idea of good from a perception of judgment or reason, belong Cudworth, Price, Wollaston, Malebranche, Clarke, Montesquieu, Leibnitz, Wolf, Ferguson, Reid, and Stewart ; and of the French eclectic school Cousin and Jouffroi. Some of these writers regard good as an indefinable idea, others resolve it into truth, or order, or the nature or fitness of things, or into perfection, or excellence, or the like. To this class also belongs Kant, who thus forcibly, on his own principles, describes the origin of the idea of good :- In every case where reason begins to act, it annexes to actions the predicates right and wrong, and this is a necessary and universal operation of thought. The rule Thou shalt not promise falsely' is valid not only for man, but reason cannot figure to itself any intelligent being in the universe at liberty to deceive. The legitimacy here predicated of truth has both necessity and universality, i.e.is à priori, and is no perception taken from observation and experience. Reason enjoins every intelligent being to act rightly, i.e. conformably to an ideal practical law, and the formula expressing the law may be thus stated: “So act as that the maxim of thy will might be announced as law in a system of universal moral legislation. That this moral law is a synthetic proposition à priori* is obvious, and every man has, however darkly, an unchanging and necessary perception of it.'t
In the posthumous volume before us Mr. Spalding maintains the objective character of morality; and he belongs to the school of sentiment, inasmuch as he regards emotion as the criterion of virtue. But before exhibiting his opinions, let us state some particulars respecting him. During his course of study at the University College, London, in addition to high certificates of honour in other classes, he obtained five First Prizes, in the classes of Hebrew, French, Natural Philosophy, and the Philo. sophy of the Mind and Logic. Of the latter subject his pursuit was ardent, and his diligence and ability, as manifested in the vivå voce examinations, and in his essays, left a distinct and
* Synthetic propositions (or judgments) à priori, according to Kant, are those in which the predicate is not already contained in our conception of the subject; and which, taken in their full extent, have not their origin in experience, but in pure understanding and reason, and are universally and necessarily true; e.g. every change must have a cause. That neither of the two following propositions, all bodies are extended, and some bodies are heavy, complies with the above conditions is evident.
+ Vid. Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft.
lasting impression on the mind of his instructor, blended with a sense of his moral worth, more grateful in the retrospect than any mere intellectual pre-eminence, especially that he is now no more. In the transactions of the University, his name is mentioned with honour for his examination in Animal and Vege. table Physiology, and in the Hebrew and Greek originals and the history of Scripture. On taking his master's degree, in 1840, he is recorded as having 'passed a distinguished examination in logic, the philosophy of the mind, and moral philosophy.' In consequence of this examination, he was urged by the examiners to write on some of these subjects; and we learn that 'this recommendation encouraged him to write the following work. Unfortunately, his health already undermined by too great application to study, broke down under the effort; and the book possesses a melancholy interest from the fact that its preparation accelerated the fatal termination of his disease.
Soon after taking his degree, Mr. Spalding went to Italy, in hope of benefitting his health ; and during the two years of his residence there he composed this volume; which, however, we are informed was 'the result of many years' close investigation and reflection. Having returned to England, in 1842, with his health still further impaired, he determined on trying, as a last refuge, the effect of a sea-voyage.
With this object,' says his biographer, he left his native land for the Cape of Good Hope, in September, 1842. During the voyage, he suffered extremely, and on his arrival at Cape Town, was in a state of great debility. Fully conscious that his end was approaching, he used to speak of death with calmness and frequency, On the 14th of January, three weeks after his arrival, his medical attendant stated that his dissolution was near. The intelligence produced no alarm in the bosom of the dying man; for on being asked whether he felt any dread at the approach of death, he replied, “No; I rest upon the Rock of Ages *-this has supported me-it does support memand it will support me. Christ is able to save to the uttermost.'
• Almost the last words he uttered were expressive of the gratification it afforded bim to think that he had lived to finish the work. With great composure, the result of Christian faith, he resigned his spirit into the hands of his Saviour. His life was a fine illustration of that exalted benevolence which forms his leading topic in the following pages.'
Mr. Spalding maintains that it is from emotion alone that we learn to distinguish between right and wrong; but he deci. dedly holds the objective reality of these distinctions, and
* Isa. xxvi. 4 (Heb.) : authorized version, "everlasting strength.
resolves the idea of good into that of benevolence. The fol. lowing are some of the principal doctrines contained in the volume: Our primary notions of morality are derived from the moral feelings produced in us in contemplating the conduct of others; and these motions must be thus gained before conscience can approve or condemn our own actions; virtue itself, and the mode in which it should be exhibited, are the objects of moral obligation; the rule of virtue is the will of God, either as revealed or as inferred from the end and object of the virtuous affections; virtue is benevolence, and all other right dispositions are its necessary consequences; feelings purely pathological (sympathy, or compassion, for instance) have no moral value; it is volition that marks the character of any pathological feeling; thus the choice of benevolence as a principle, and not the mere existence of natural kindness of disposition, makes the latter morally valuable; the moral character of the volition depends entirely on the object of our choice. With regard to the process of mind by which we first arrive at the ideas of right and wrong ; the author remarks that an object is called blue, or red, simply because it produces in us a certain sensation, which we cannot help referring to a cause. Exactly in the same manner the bare presentation of certain actions of others to the view of the mind, produces in us certain emotions, which we refer to their causes. When the contemplation is followed by a feeling of moral approbation, we say the action or state of mind—that is, the cause which originates the feeling, is right; when we disapprove, we say it is wrong. After experiencing the emotion, we cannot help thus referring it to its cause or antecedent, and this cause we call virtue or vice. There is always a preceding “intellectual perception or conception’ necessary to excite the emotion; but it is the emotion itself, so referred, which makes us think of the cause, (that is, certain actions, or dispositions of others) as right or wrong.” The emotions are the origin of the judgment which we are now able to pronounce on the character of these antecedents. Mr. Spalding, however, states that it is only in regard to the origin of the ideas of right and wrong that he contends for the priority of the emotions to the judgments. When the relation in which a whole class of actions can be regarded has been learned by experience, he says that we can at once pronounce a particular action to be right or wrong, according to the class to which it belongs, without any necessity of feeling in the given instance, a previous emotion. Thus (to adduce an instance which is rather pathological than strictly moral), we may say that an object is fearful, by referring it to a class, without feeling the emotion of fear at the time. “But,’ continues our author, “to suppose that the motions of right and wrong are perceived by the understanding, is contrary to all analogy. The source of all abstract general ideas is found in our observation of resemblances. An object is admirable because it agrees with other objects in exciting in our minds a certain emotion termed admiration, not because the mind first . perceives its admirable qualities.’
So far as relates to the manner in which we acquire the notions of right and wrong, our author appears exactly to coincide with the views of Dr. Thomas Brown; though he greatly differs from that distinguished writer as to the question—what is virtue in itself? Both maintain that the bare contemplation of certain actions, apart from all express or even tacit reference to general rules or principles, is sufficient to give us, by means of the attendant emotions, the notions of virtue and vice. ‘We call an object red which produces in us a certain sensation. Exactly in the same manner, we call an action right or wrong which produces in us a certain emotion,’ an emotion of moral approbation or the reverse. It is evident that although the author admits that an ‘intellectual perception, or conception,” precedes all our emotions, both moral and others, (without which indeed the mind could no more have an action in its view, than the blind eye could see a material object,) he supposes no such mental operation as would amount to that cognizance of relations in which the pure or elementary acts of reason appear to consist. The moral emotion is consequent on the mere isolated view of the conduct of others. Some action of theirs, viewed as detached from all its bearings, is immediately followed by our approval or disproval: we contemplate the action with no more exercise of the power of perceiving co-existing relations, than though we, for the first time, saw a body fall to the earth, and took cognizance only of the bare event. Is this theory borne out by facts? It would certainly seem that, in children, the moral sensibilities, both in reference to their own conduct and that of others, are developed in proportion to their power of perceiving certain relations in which actions can be viewed; that is in proportion to the growth of reason. Consciousness, also, in after years, appears, we think, to testify that we can hardly frame to ourselves the conception of a moral action as a mere abstract antecedent to emotion: the action always presents itself to our contemplation, in connection with surrounding circumstances, and relations. Whether the notion fight, and the notion wrong, be completely formed, or not, before emotion has been felt, either in the form of complacency or aversion, it appears to us, at all events, that reason (we do not say a process of reasoning) cannot be excluded from some share in producing the result.
contemplated igents are placed to comprehend
That there is some operation of the rational faculty in the formation of our moral notions, appears to be very generally admitted, and is the doctrine of several of the best recent writers. By some, reason is supposed to comprehend the relations in which moral agents are placed, and, when these relations are contemplated in connexion with certain actions, or dispositions of these agents, we feel moral approbation or disapprobation, by an ultimate law of the mind. Thus, we comprehend by reason, it would he said, the relation subsisting between a recipient of benefits and a voluntary disinterested benefactor; and, in contemplating ingratitude in the recipient, we cannot help feeling an emotion of dissatisfaction or disapprobation. And, generally, a conception of various relations of moral beings, in connexion with that of certain actions, is immediately followed by an emotion, after feeling which we pronounce the action good or bad. On this principle, reason and emotion seem to run, as it were, into one point to produce the result. This is the view of Dr. Wayland, whose work on 'Moral Science we hope to take an early opportunity of noticing. The difference between this theory of the moral faculty and that of our author, is, that the former makes a perception of the relations of moral beings to precede the emotions, which perception the latter discards. Both theories, however, find the origin of the idea of moral obli. gation in our emotions. Dr. Payne advocates the doctrine that reason takes cognizance of relations; but he speaks of moral judgments,' as giving us the notions of right and wrong previously, in the order of nature, to the emotions arising. Way. land would object to this view, on the ground that when we unite a subject and predicate together in a judgment, we already have the notions which are signified by these two terms: for if we say 'this action is right,' we have already the notion right; as we have the notion green, when we say the grass is green.' Jouffroi, with the phraseology of another school, places the notion of moral distinctions in a light not very different from that of Wayland; namely, as arising from a certain blending of reason and moral sensibility, in reference to the idea of universal order.'
The following are Mr. Spalding's views with respect to con. science; whose operations he regards as requiring previous notions of right and wrong derived from a view of the conduct of others.
It is admitted that it is utterly impossible to gain our notions of virtue and vice from the emotions of moral self-approbation and remorse ; because neither virtue nor vice can exist where there is no notion of either; and as these emotions are always consequent on virtue and vice, they must also be consequent on our notions respecte ing the same. But these remarks will not apply to those moral emo