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815 29 OCT 1S 1904
From the close relation which necessarily exists between ethics and psychology, it is evident that a systematic discussion of the psychology of conduct must render invaluable aid in the solution of purely ethical questions. It is true that psychology alone cannot give a final decision on ethical problems, but it is also true that the particular form which these problems assume is in many cases determined by the assumptions which are made in regard to the psychological principles of action. These assumptions, unfortunately, are too often accepted without an adequate investigation of the facts, and needless confusion is thus introduced into ethics. It may be urged, perhaps, that ethics is not responsible for this state of affairs, since it must build upon the basis which psychology supplies. This principle, that the verdict of psychology must
be accepted in psychological matters, may be sound in theory, but it cannot be put in practice at the present time, since modern psychology has devoted very little attention to the active side of human nature. In these circumstances it
seems imperative that students of ethics should undertake an independent examination of that department of psychology which concerns them most intimately.
The present inquiry into the psychological basis of ethics has developed from a study of a class of mental facts which has been much neglected namely, those phenomena which are usually classed together under the ambiguous term 'emotion.' The theory of emotion which is advanced in the following pages was briefly stated in the January number of 'Mind,' 1894, at the close of an article on “Professor James's Theory of Emotion." In that article the final contention was that emotion must be regarded as an ultimate mental fact which can best be described as 'feeling-attitude.' This view was elaborated in a series of papers which appeared two years later in The Philosophical Review. Ultimately, this theory was found to lead on inevitably to a general standpoint in regard to the principles of human conduct. When this wider question emerged, the inquiry as a whole assumed the character of a study in the psychology of ethics.
The first half of the book covers the same ground as the articles in 'The Philosophical Review. The criticism of current theories of emotion has been revised, but has not been materially altered. The chapters on “The Nature of Emotion” and “The Primary Emotions” have been amended, enlarged, and largely rewritten. The second half of the book deals with the primary principles of action and with the ethical significance of results attained throughout. The discussion of the notion of Worth, which appears in the concluding chapter, embodies some of the results of an article on " Natural Selection in Ethics” which was published in 1901 in ‘The Philosophical Review.'
My obligations to different writers in ethics and psychology have been acknowledged, as far as possible, in the text. I desire, however, to express my special obligations to Professor James of Harvard. In the actual preparation of this volume I have received valuable criticisms and suggestions from Mr Norman Smith of the University of Glasgow. I am also indebted to Dr Albert Lefevre of Cornell University for the assistance he has rendered in reading the proofs.