« ZurückWeiter »
may be justly called his good, consists not merely in action, but in reasonable action. By reasonable actions, we understand those actions which are preservative of the human kind, and naturally tend to produce real and unmixed happiness; and these actions, by way of distinction, we call actions morally good.
Hor. You speak very clearly, Philocles; but, that no difficulty may remain on my mind, pray tell me what is the real difference between natural good and evD, and moral good and evil 1 for I know several people who use the terms without ideas.
Phil. That may be. The difference lies only in this; that natural good and evil are pleasure and pain; moral good and evil are pleasure or pain produced with intention and design; for it is the intention only that makes the agent morally good or bad.
Hor. But may not a man, with a very good intention, do an evil action?
Phil. Yes; but then he errs in his judgment, though his design be good. If his error is inevitable, or such as, all things considered, he could not help, he is inculpable; but, if it arose through want of diligence in forming his judgment about the nature of human actions, he is immoral and culpable.
Hor. I find, then, that in order to please ourselves rightly, or to do good to others morally, we should take great care of our opinions.
Phil. Nothing concerns you more; for, as the happiness or real good of men consists in right action, and right action cannot be produced without right opinion, it behoves us, above all things in this world, to take care that our own opinions of things be according to the nature of things. The foundation of all virtue and happiness is thinking rightly. He who sees an action is right, that is, naturally tending to good, and does it because of that tendency, he only is a moral man; and he alone is capable of that constant, durable, and invariable good, which has been the subject of this conversation.
Hor. How, my dear philosophical guide, shall I be able to know, and determine certainly, what is right and wrong in life 1
Phil. As easily as you distinguish a circle from a square, or light from darkness. Look, Horatio, into the sacred book of nature; read your own nature, and view the relation which other men stand in to you, and you to them, and you will immediately see what constitutes human happiness, and consequently what is right .
Hor. We are just coming into town, and can say no more at present. You are my good genius, Philocles. You have showed me what is good. You have redeemed me from the slavery and misery of folly and vice, and made me a free and happy being.
Phil. Then I am the happiest man in the world. Be you steady, Horatio. Never depart from reason and virtue.
Hor. Sooner will I lose my existence. Good night, Philocles.
Phil. Adieu, dear Horatio!
FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE, SEPT. 3, 1730.
The following is a dialogue between Socrates, the great Athenian philosopher, and one Glaucon, a private man, of mean abilities, but ambitious of being chosen a senator, and of governing the republic; wherein
VOL. II. 8
Socrates in a pleasant manner convinces him of his incapacity for public affairs, by making him sensible of his ignorance of the interests of his country in thenseveral branches, and entirely dissuades him from any attempt of that nature. There is also added, at the end, part of another dialogue the same Socrates had with one Charmidas, a worthy man, but too modest, wherein he endeavours to persuade him to put himself forward and undertake public business, as being very capable of it . The whole is taken from Xenophtrn's Memorable Things of Socrates, Book Third.
"A certain man, whose name was Glaucon, the son of Ariston, had so fixed it in his mind to govern the republic, that he frequently presented himself before the people to discourse of affairs of state, though all the world laughed at him for it; nor was it in the power of his relations or friends to dissuade him from that design. But Socrates had a kindness for him, on account of Plato, his brother, and he only it was who made him change his resolution. He met him, and accosted him in so winning a manner, that he first obliged him to hearken to his discourse. He began with him thus;
"' You have a mind then to govern the republic?'
"' I have so,' answered Glaucon.
"' You cannot,' replied Socrates, 'have a more noble design; for if you can accomplish it so as to become absolute, you will be able to serve your friends, you will raise your family, you will extend the bounds of your country, you will be known, not only in Athens, but through all Greece, and perhaps your renown will fly even to the barbarous nations, as did that of Themistocles. In short, wherever you come, you will have the respect and admiration of all the world.'
"These words soothed Glaucon, and won him to give ear to Socrates, who went on in this manner. 'But it is certain, that if you desire to be honored, you must be useful to the state.'
"' Certainly,' said Glaucon.
"' And in the name of all the gods,' replied Socrates, 'tell me, what is the first service that you intend to render the state?'
"Glaucon was considering what to answer, when Socrates continued. 'If you design to make the fortune of one of your friends, you will endeavour to make him rich, and thus perhaps you will make it your business to enrich the republic 1'
"' I would,' answered Glaucon.
"Socrates replied; 'Would not the way to enrich the republic be to increase its revenue 1'
u * It is very likely it would,' answered Glaucon.
"* Tell me then, in what consists the revenue of the state, and to how much it may amount? I presume you have particularly studied this matter, to the end that, if any thing should be lost on one hand, you might know where to make it good on another, and that, if a fund should fail on a sudden, you might immediately be able to settle another in its place?'
"' I protest,' answered Glaucon,' I have never thought of this.'
"' Tell me at least the expenses of the republic, for no doubt you intend to retrench the superfluous?'
"' I never thought of this either,' said Glaucon.
"' You were best then to put off to another time your design of enriching the republic, which you can never be able to do while you are ignorant both of its expenses and revenue.'
"' There is another way to enrich a state,' said Glaucon, ' of which you take no notice, and that is, by the rui n [spoils] of its enemies.'
"'You are in the right,' answered Socrates; 'but to this end it is necessary to be stronger than they, otherwise we shall run the hazard of losing what we have. He, therefore, who talks of undertaking a war, ought to know the strength on both sides, to the end that if his party be the stronger he may boldly advise for war, and that if it be the weaker he may dissuade the people from engaging themselves in so dangerous an enterprise.'
"'All this is true.'
"'Tell me, then,' continued Socrates, 'how strong our forces are by sea and land, and how strong are our enemies.'
"' Indeed,' said Glaucon, 'I cannot tell you on a sudden.'
"' If you have a list of them in writing, pray show it me; I should be glad to hear it read.'
"' I have it not yet.'
"' I see, then,' said Socrates, 'that we shall not engage in war so soon; for the greatness of the undertaking will hinder you from maturely weighing all the consequences of it in the beginning of your government . But,' continued he, 'you have thought of the defence of the country; you know what garrisons are necessary, and what are not; you know what number of troops is sufficient in one, and not sufficient in another; you will cause the necessary garrisons to be reinforced, and will disband those that are useless?'
"' I should be of opinion,' said Glaucon, 'to leave none of them on foot, because they ruin a country on pretence of defending it.'
"' But,' Socrates objected, 'if all the garrisons were taken away, there would be nothing to hinder the first comer from carrying off what he pleased; but how come you to know that the garrisons behave themselves