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ON THE BASIS OP ETHICS.
THE ETHICS OF NATURALISM.
ETHICS AND ITS PROBLEMS.
It is a common remark that a writer's ethical 1. conneodoctrine is throughout conditioned by his attitude with theoto the problems of theoretical philosophy. The oso^yPhU" main lines of dispute in questions of ethics may be regarded as prolongations of the controversies which arise in metaphysics and psychology. The Realism or Idealism which marks a speculative system reappears in its ethics, whilst differences in the psychological analysis of mental states, or concerning the relation of pleasure to desire, are grounds of distinction between schools of moralists. And not only are the special controversies of ethics decided in different ways, but the scope of the (a) Depenwhole science is differently conceived, as the spec- etwcai°on ulative standpoint changes. Thus, not for one p*i°tfj,fal school only, but for a whole period in the history view
(a)teieoio- of reflection, ethics was regarded as an inquiry
into the highest human good. Opposed schools agreed in looking from this point of view, however much they might differ from one another in defining the nature of that highest good. At other times,
(&) jural, according to the prevailing view, to investigate and systematise the rules of conduct has exhausted the scope of ethics — controversies being carried on as to the nature of those rules, and their source in external authority or in the internal revelation of conscience. Again, ethical inquiry has been
(c) emirir. apparently identified with the analysis and history of the moral affections and sentiments; while a purely external point of view seems to be sometimes adopted, and ethics held to be an investigation of the historical results of action, and of the forms, customary and institutional, in which those results find permanent expression.
These different ways of looking at the whole subject proceed from points of view whose effects - are not confined to ethics, but may be followed out in other lines of investigation. They correspond to ideas which dominate different types of thought and form different philosophical standpoints. The first starts from a teleological conception of human nature, as an organism consciously striving towards its end. The second assimilates ethics to a system of legal enactments, and is connected with the jural conceptions of theology and law. The two last are concerned to show that the subject-matter of ethics are facts which have to be treated by the ordinary inductive and historical methods. These different points of view, however, are to be regarded as complementary rather than as conflicting, although their com- to be conplete synthesis must be worked out in the region philosophy, of general philosophy, and not on purely ethical ground. Philosophy has thus to deal with the notions which determine the scope and character of ethical thought; and in this way it must necessarily pass from the purely speculative to the practical point of view. If it is the business of philosophy to bring into rational order the material supplied by experience, cosmical and anthropological, it cannot be without bearing on the function of man as a source of action in the world. The question, What are the ends man is naturally fitted to attain? or—if we prefer so to express it —What are the ends he ought to pursue? is not merely as natural as the question, What can a man know of the world and of himself? But the two questions are inseparably connected. To know man is to know him not only as a thinking but also as an active being; while to solve the problem of the ends of man implies knowledge both of his nature and of the sphere of his activity.