Imagens das páginas

evident propositions ; but this is a mis- or, like the definitions of that science, take even in regard to the philosophy clear intuitions of the reason? So far of his own favorite science. The truths from this, they are clumsy statements of geometry are deduced from its defi- of various systems of morals, which nitions, and not from its axioms : the have been advocated by different philoproperties of a circle and of a triangle sophers. This may seem incredible, flow from the definitions of a circle and but it is nevertheless strictly true. We of a triangle, and not from any self- can dwell upon this part of our subject, evident truth, nor from any combination however, only long enough to verify our of such truths. Indeed, no truth, in remarks in relation to one of his selfany department of human knowledge, evident truths. can be deduced from axioms or self This self-evident proposition, as it evident propositions.

is called, is a one-sided and fragmentWe should not judge Mr. Whewell, ary view of the great system of however, with any degree of severity, Butler. It is presented in the followfor not seeing this great negative idea of ing terms : ** We have seen that the the Baconian philosophy; for it is a idea of Purity implies the contemplasubject to which neither Brewster, nor tion of mere appetite and desire, as the Brougham, nor Hallam, nor Macauley Lower Parts of our nature, which are had even attempted to do justice: its to be governed by, and made subservimmense value and importance has been jent to, the Mora) Sentiments and Reaentirely overlooked by them. It has son, the Higher Parts. We may state fared much better in the hands of Play- this as a Moral Principle, that the Lower fair, and Herschel, and McClaurin. It Parts of our Nature are to be gorerned has also been exhibited, to a certain ex- by, and subservient to, the Higher. tent, by Locke and Stewart; but it has This is the Principle of Purity.” Now, never been developed and illustrated we do not object to this principle as with that fulness and variety of detail, truth; for we believe that it is, when which its vast importance in regard to properly understood, most profoundly almost every branch of science demands. true. It is the great leading idea of We shall recurto it, perhaps, in some fu- Butler's system of morals, under whose ture number of our journal; at present “dark and crabbed style," as Mackinwe must return to our author.

tosh calls it, there is contained, as Dr. The elements of morals are, then, Chalmers has more truly said, "the to be deduced from certain axioms, most precious repository of ethical prin** Analogous, in morality, to the axioms ciples extant in any language." If Mr. in geometry." Now, where are these Whewell had taken the solid gold of axioms to be found ? Shall we look Butler, and beaten it out into shining for them at the beginning of the book, leaf, as many a modern author has where the axioms of geometry are al- done, in order to adorn his pages, we ways placed ? If so, we shall be sadly should have uttered do complaint ; we disappointed; for in that place there should have admired his wisdom. are no axioms, nor any thing like them. But the use which he has made of Where shall we find them then ? Butler's philosophy, is far different Thanks to the author for answering from this. In the first place, the great this question; or we should never have leading idea of that system is set forth been able to solve it for ourselves. as a self-evident proposition, "analo. They stand in po particular relation to gous to the axioms of Geometry;" the great body of truth to which they though it required the most profound are supposed to lead; and if, in our un- analysis, on the part of its author, to aided researches, we had passed over render it intelligible, and cause its deep them a thousand times, we should truth to be seen. By a severe and never have suspected them of being rigid analysis, Butler showed what is self-evident truths. They are simply meant by the higher and lower parts of the five propositions contained in arti our nature, and without this analysis cles 269, 270, and 271, of the "infinite his doctrine would not have been even series" to which they belong.

clear to the mind. It has acquired the And when we have found them, suffrages, we believe, of the great what are they? Are they like the thinkers who have devoted themselves axioms of geometry, self-evident truths? to the study of moral philosophy; but

it still has many and violent opponents. every moral philosopher, that unless Dr. Wardlaw, for one, entirely miscon- the matters which lie below them are ceiving it, and supposing it to come in- true, his whole system of rules deducto conflict with the doctrines of reve ed from them, rests on a hollow and Jation, has declaimed eloquently against false foundation. No matter what it, and thereby led many astray. And questions we may raise respecting the there are others, who, blindly imagin- nature of the evidence of the Axioms ing that to speak of the supremacy of and definitions of Geometry," we must conscience,” is to derogate from the adopt the axioins and definitions themabsolute authority and glory of divine selves; for the sufficient reason, that revelation, have looked upon the scheme they are necessary truths, which no of Butler as heathenish and profane. human mind can deny. But not so with Others again, including all your Ben- Mr. Whewell's moral axioms. Unless thamites in morals, * will stare at you if the analysis of Butler be correct, his you announce such a doctrine, and ask system is false. Mr. Whewell has what is meant by higher and lower most grossly deceived himself by a parts of our nature ? Is not the desire false analogy; and assumed, as selfof happiness the sole spring of action ? evident, the very thing which, above all To such persons, the great principle of others, is to be established. Mr. BenButler, so far from being self-evident, tham might have done the same thing; appears simply a gross absurdity. With he might have contended, " that men them, the greatest happiness principle, may dispute and wrangle as much as (the very principle Butler labored to they please about matters which lie overthrow,) is the self-evident dogma, below his axioms, such, for instance, as from which all the rules of morals are the existence of conscience; but this to be deduced: all talk about higher cannot disturb the axioms themselves, principles they set down as transcen or shake the superstructure built upon dental jargon. In view of these things, it them."-p. 9. is difficult to say whether it is the more This is not all. The matter will apamusing or amazing, to witness the pear still more strange, when we conundaunted hardihood with which Mr. sider the object of Mr. Whewell in Whewell assumes the principle of But- thus setting out from self-evident truths ler as a self-evident truth. We know or propositions, in order to deduce a of nothing parallel to it, in all our lite- system of rules from them. We shall rature, except the conduct of Bentham, state this in his own words : “ The who assumes the diametrically opposite construction of the elements of Geomeprinciple as self-evident, and then pro- try,” says Mr. Whewell, (still pursuing ceeds to deduce " the elements of mo- his analogy,) “ besides being the creation rality” from it, as if it had never been of a precious and imperishable body of called in question. What a delightful scientific truth, was the first step in the oblivion, in both cases, of the whole philosophy of geometry." The author history of moral science !

distinguishes, it will be perceived, beHaving assumed the principle of tween the elements of geometry and Butler as a self-evident truth, Mr. the philosophy of geometry. In like Whewell proceeds, “I hope I may manner, he distinguishes between the once more refer to the Analogy of Geo- elements and the philosophy of moralimetry; and remind the reader, that all ty; and it is his avowed object, to dethe controversies which turn on matters duce the former from certain unquesbelow the axioms, do not affect the super- tioned and unquestionable axioms, in structure built upon them.—p.9. Now, order that he may prepare the way for this is very true, in regard to Geometry: the latter. Thus, " it seemed to me,” no disputes can shake its axioms; they says he, " that the construction of the “look down with scorn on the Sophist;" elements of morality ought to precede but what shall we say of Mr. Whe- any attempt to settle the disputed and well's axioms in morals? We do not doubtful questions which are regarded deny their truth; but we will say, as belonging to the Philosophy of Mowhat we had supposed was known to rality.”-p. 8. Mr. Whewell evidently

* We do not wish to be misunderstood ; for, as a legal reformer and jurist, we entertain the highest respect for Bentham,

regarded this as a grand undertaking : bis enumeration, are merely branches “the difficulty of constructing a solid of that principle, and not co-ordinate system of morality,” says he, " may be principles with it. This principle has expected to be, in some degree, great, been mutilated, it is true, by Mr. Whein proportion to its great value and ex- well, and called “the principle of puritensive bearings, when once construct- ty," in opposition to common usage; ed."--p.7. One of these great advantages but still as it is in itself, and as it should is, that it will lay the foundation for a be preserved in its integrity by every true system of moral philosophy. It is disciple of Butler, it is the great lumiwith this view that our author declines, nous centre from which all inferior as he supposes, the questions of moral rules emanate. It is usually spoken of philosophy, and confines himself to self- among philosophers, not by the name evident truths, and rigid deductions of the principle of purity,” but by from them. Thus the elements of that of the supremacy of conscience;" morality are constructed : out of these a very inconvenient principle, by the by, elements the true system of moral for those who, like our author, would, philosophy is to arise; and yet one of in all cases, as we shall hereafter see, the self-evident truths from which they enforce an unqualified and passive subare deduced, is neither more nor less mission to human laws. than a partial statement of Butler's sys We now proceed to notice another tem of moral philosophy! It must be very remarkable feature in the work confessed, that this is a very novel me before us. No intelligent person can thod of settling all the disputed points read it carefully, without being struck in moral philosophy, namely, to assume with the arbitrary arrangements of a system of moral philosophy; to call it thought which occur on almost every a self-evident truth; to deduce the page. If the author had not told us, elements of morality from it; and then, that he wished us to understand that out of the elements thus deduced, to he had “ tried to make it a work of reconstruct the system from which rigorous reasoning," we should have they are drawn.

supposed he had proceeded in his work This is not all. According to Butler, with the most complacent disregard of virtue consists in acting in conformity the rules and trammels of logic. Thus, to the dictates of conscience, to “the to select a few examples out of ap immoral sentiments and reason ;" or, in mense multitude, the author says. other words, virtue consists in obeying “ The rules of action may command the superior principles of our natures actions as means to an end ; thus : rather than the inferior, whenever there Steal not, that thou be not whipt." Now, is a conflict between them. Now, this any other person who had not fallen is assumed by Mr. Whewell as one of out with the natural order of things, his axioms; and yet, supposing it to be would have supposed, that the whiptrue, (and we do not doubt its truth,) ping is the means, and the prevention all his other axioms are included in it. of stealing is the end, on the part of It is not a co-ordinate principle with the lawgiver. Not so with Mr. Whethem; it comprehends them all. Eve- well : he supposes that the "command" ry man's conscience, for example, or thou shalt not steal, is given in order to his reason and moral sentiments, teach- prevent whipping. Equally rigid is es him that he should speak the truth; the logic, by which he proves that that he should obey the law of the “moral rules exist necessarily." "Man land ; that he should render to each must act with reference to parents, man his due ; and that he should love wife and children, therefore there mus! his fellow man. Hence, we cannot he families.-p. 57. This is an asserconform to the highest principle of our tion which we select from a string of nature without conforming to Mr. equally arbitrary propositions. If Mr. Whewell's four other great axiomatic Whewell had just inverted this order, principles—the principles of truth, of and deduced his premises from his conorder, of justice, and of benerolence, in clusion, it would have been far more so far as they can be followed. The satisfactory to ordinary minds. If he two of these rules which precede, and bad said, there must be families, and the two which follow, the great princi- therefore we must act with reference ple standing midway between them in to parents, wife and children," we

should, for our part, have been better many other things of the same kind ; pleased with his logic. But Mr. Whe- but we must proceed to consider points well, it seems, is not disposed to say of deeper and graver import.

In conany thing in a natural way; and hence, sidering them, we shall see that our he concludes, that " we must act with author has not only changed the natureference to parents, wife and children” ral order of particular thoughts and -(what! before we have them ?)- principles, but that he has also seized therefore we must have them. It seems whole departments of human knowto be a matter of great indifference with ledge, and transposed and inverted the learned author, whether he arranges them in the same arbitrary and sovehis ideas in one order or another ; whe- reign manner. ther he represents things as standing in To ascertain and define the relations one relation to each other, or in the dia- which subsist between morality and the metrical opposite relation. He tells us, laws of the land, is a great problem, in for example, that “ the internal actions, the solution of which the least inaccudesire, affection, intention, will, point racy may be attended with serious conto external acts; they have acts for sequences to the best interests of man. their objects, and derive their character In his attempts to throw light on this and significance, as right or wrong, great problem, Mr. Whewell has befrom the external acts to which they thus gun wrong, proceeded with the utmost point.”—p. 158. Let the reader be not embarrassment and comparison, and startled by this astounding announce ended in the most despicable of all soment; for it is merely “an element” Jutions. We intend to make these poof morality, which by no means ex- sitious good. cludes the contradictory element. It Our best philosophers lave, and for does not, for a moment, prevent our au- good reasons, supposed that the princithor from coming round to the common ples of morality should be considered sentiment of mankind, that external acts before the law of the land; because derive their character and significance they are higher and more sacred in as right or wrong, from the intention their natures. But Mr. Whewell does from which they proceed. For he tells not like this arrangement; he finds it us, and with an equal air of auracular necessary to his purpose, to treat of the authority, that “the volition which municipal law first, and then of " moaims at theft is morally wrong. The rality which depends" upon the law of intention which points to the theft is the land. His avowed reason for this also morally wrong. The desire of bold innovation is very remarkable. that which belongs to another is morally “ We must treat of Rights before we wrong. These internal acts are wrong, treat of Duties," says he ; " for as we eren if the external acts do not take have said, the terms which express place.” Nay, he even informs us, that Rights are necessarily employed in lay* External actions, as the motions in ing down moral rules.”—p. 72. Now, our limbs, and the motions thereby although he term right used in produced in material things, and in the Blackstone's Commentaries, as well as state of other persons, are not our ac in Butler's Moral Philosophy, it does tions, except so far as they are the con pot follow that it is, in both cases, used sequences of our intention and will. in the same sense. A man may have When we have willed, what follows is a right to do many things under the a consequence of laws of nature, extra- law of the land, which are not morally neous to us; and derives its character right in themselves ; and, e converso, of right or wrong, so far as we are many things are right in a moral point concerned in it, from the will, and that of view, which the law of the land does which preceded the will.Now, we not enjoin, so as to establish legal rights shall say nothing about the strange phi upon them. The idea of the morally losophy implied in both of these passa- right, and that of a legal right, are ges; we intend merely to notice the perfectly distinct, and cannot be idenstrange fact, that the internal act not tified without leading to the utmost only derives its moral character from confusion of thought and expression. the external act, but the external act Hence, there was no necessity of exalso derives its moral character from plaining legal rights, and giving us a the internal act. We might notice treatise on the municipal code, in order

to enable us to understand the rules of that all this holy wrath is excited, Morality. If the author had under- not by a violation of morality, but by taken to treat of the human spirit, a violation of established rights. This would he have introduced the subject is not all. If nothing were estawith a learned dissertation on ardent blished by human laws, our moral senspirits and all other subtle fluids which timents could not be outraged ; because go by the same name; because the human law's are necessary, it seems, to term which expresses them must be em- develope the moral sentiments. ployed in treating of the human spirit? The sentiments, the wrath and the If so, it would have opened a wide field indignation, of which the author has for the peculiar genius of the author; just spoken, he calls, ** Jural Sentiand we should have had a perfect coun ments ;” and he informs us, on the terpart to the work before us : a learn same page, that they ed treatise on physics as a necessary in. troduction to the study of metaphysics! "Are the germs of Moral Sentiments, of

But the real inducement which has a larger and deeper import. The Senti. led Mr. Whewell to adopt the method ment of Indignation against Wrongs, when in question, is far more powerful than expanded and unfolded by babitual

thought, leads us to the condemnation of the reason assigned for it. It is to exalt all dispositions which tend to produce " the Establishment” and all established Wrongs. All such dispositions are disapthings. It is to restore the “ Levia- proved of, as immoral. In like manner, than” in all the plenitude of his power the Sentiment of Rights, when extended It is truly amazing to see, how little and unfolded by the thoughts of what is regard the author pays to great princi- due to others, as well as ourselves, (aud ples of morality, when they stand in the author repeatedly asserts that we can the way of his reverence for the law of know what is due to others or to ourselves the land. Throughout his “ elements Sentiment of Obligation, and hence a Sen

ovly by the law of the land,) produces a of morality," it seems to be one perpe- timent of Duty, or, as it is often termed, a tual struggle to exalt the law: all Sense of Duty."-p. 79. things good on earth seem to proceed from it as well as the emoluments of Now, here we have the genesis its supporters, and opposition to it of the sense of right and wrong : excites a more lively indignation than the pedigree of our moral sentiments; the most flagrant outrages against the “without the existence of the State, we eternal principles of truth and justice. have no rights :" they are all derived

“ Thus," says our author, - from the law of the land; we get angry

“Rights being established, wrongs, the when these are violated, and we nurse violations of these Rights, excite a stronger and cherish and cling to our "wrath as feeling than the mere privation or inter- sumething good.” And well we may, ruption of our gratifications. Rights, be. for it is the germ of our moral sentiing assigned to each person by Rules to ments, and it only requires to be “enwhich the common Reason of mankind tertained," " expanded and unfolded," assents, we resent the violation of these in order to open out into the awful Rights not ouly as an assault upon an indi sentiment of Duty. If this be the true vidual, but as an aggression npon all mankind. When we receive a wrong, we

origin of our moral sentiments, Mr. know that we have with us the reseni

Whewell bas certainly done right in ment of all our fellow-men, at the infrac. beginning his “ Elements of Morality" tion of a Rule which all acknowledge. We with the Commentaries of Blackstone, entertain our resentful emotions with and in concluding them, for the greater complacency; they become strengthened perfection of the moral sentiments, and rooted by this conviction of general with the Equity Jurisprudence of sympathy. The anger which we feel, is Story. Indeed, these learned works, no longer the impulse of our individual these beautiful outlines, should be feelings : IT IS AN AFFECTION OF THE COM

We not only

placed in the hands of our little chilentertain our wraih; we cling to it as some

dren, in order that their moral sentithing good, and admire it as something ments may have an opportunity to exlaudable. We deer our indignation to pand and come into conscious life, in be virtuous."-p. 78, 79.

the only possible way, under " the

gladsome light of jurisprudence," inNow, let it be borne in mind, stead of being left to struggle in vain


« AnteriorContinuar »