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Strongest tendencies the result of past activities,
ard is thus reduced to the subjective standard, which it was brought in to explain and support.
Now these strongest tendencies, in the harmonious play of which natural good or perfection is said to consist, are themselves the result of the courses of conduct which have been most vigorous and successful in ancestral organisms, and they may therefore, perhaps, be taken as a survival and index of the antecedent state of human nature. The realisation—or, rather, continuation—of human nature as it has been and is, seems thus to be the ideal which empirical evolution is able to set before conduct,—with this formal modification, that, while the various impulses are, so far as possible, to have free play given them, they should be developed in a harmonious manner. It seems doubtful how far this tendency towards harmony is properly suggested by, or consistent with, evolution, which has implied a ceaseless struggle of opposing forces. At any rate, evolution does not seem competent to give any principle of relative subordination between the various impulses, such as might add reality to the formal principle of harmony. But what it is essential to lay stress on here is, that the only end which empirical evolution seems able to establish is conformity to human nature as it is—the tendencies in it which are strongest and most persistent.
We thus see that the attempt to explain on empirical grounds what is meant by positing " life," or "increase and variety of life," as the end of action, is practically reduced to making the most persistent impulses of human nature the guide of conduct. But these impulses, it has been shown, are only the survival or remnant of past stages in the course of development, not anticipations of future stages: so that evolution is in this way and thus incapable of giving an ideal of progress as the end for for conduct, and the last word it seems able to give us as a guide for action is that we should tread in the places where the footprints of ancestral conduct have left the deepest impress. The ideal of such a system is summed up in the new Beatitude, "Blessed is he that continueth where he is." It is probably just because the empirical aspect of evolution seems so little able to yield an end for human conduct corresponding to the actual course of evolution—which has been progress—that no thorough attempt has been made to develop a system of morals from the principle just reached. It is true that systems have been worked out by moralists who have taken human nature as their standard, and that Trendelenburg, at any rate, expressly includes historical development in his conception of man. But both Trendelenburg and a moralist like Butler (who has as yet no conception of the gradual modifications of human character and tendencies produced by evolution) have a view
of human nature essentially distinct from that which has been called the "naturalistic" view.1 For both assume a definite rational organisation of impulses similar to that taught in Plato's analogy between the individual man and a political constitution, so that the whole nature, or human nature as a whole, cannot be identified with the impulses which strength at any time makes most persistent, but depends upon the rational allotment of function and measure to each.
In summing up the argument of the preceding chapters, it is necessary to refer again to the discussion carried on in chapter vi. on the relation between egoism and altruism as affected by the theory of evolution. This discussion was not inserted in order to throw an additional obstacle in the way of obtaining an ethical end from the empirical theory of evolution. It is an integral part of an attempt to estimate the ethical value of the evolution-theory. The antinomy between the individual and social standpoints cannot be solved by a theory of morality which does not recognise that the individual, in his rational nature, is not
1 Cf. Trendelenburg, Naturrecht, p. 45: "Von der philosophischen Seite kann es kein anderes Princip der Ethik geben als das menschliche Wesen an sich, d. h., das menschliche Wesen in der Tiefe seiner Idee und im Reichthum seiner historischen Entwickelung. Beides gehort zusammen. Denn das nur Historisohe wiirde blind und das nur Ideale leer."
Difficulty of reconciling individual and social ends.
opposed to other individuals, but in reality one with them. The theory of evolution certainly seems to go a long way towards establishing the unity of the individual with the race, and in substituting an organic connection between them, in place of the almost contingent reciprocal relations spoken of in earlier empirical theories. But when we come to inquire into this unity of organic connection, attempting still to keep to the purely empirical point of view, we find that the old difficulties return, that it must be recognised that the connection is empirically incomplete, and that it gives way at the very places where a firm basis for the theory of morals is required. It was in this way that, quite apart from this opposition between the individual and the whole, the empirical character of the theory prevented our getting from it any clear and consistent notion of the ethical end it leads to.
It appeared at first that the ethics of evolution, Hedonistic when interpreted empirically, might be easily re- ttonofevoi. conciled with the older theory of hedonism, by j^Eu? identifying life with pleasure—holding that the highest or most evolved life is that which contains most pleasure, and that increase of pleasure is therefore the end of conduct. In this way the end of evolutionism would be reduced to the end of utilitarianism. Some utilitarians, on the other hand, sought to get rid of the difficulties of their calculus,
by the assumption that the greatest pleasure would be found by following the direction of evolution. But, around both points of view, and the correspondence they assumed to exist between pleasure and evolution, special difficulties were seen to gather. Any hedonistic theory might be met by the assertion that life is essentially a painful experience, and pleasure unattainable; and although the grounds on which this assertion was made seemed to be distinctly erroneous, and hedonism did not appear to be an impossible theory of conduct, yet a similar objection told with greater force against the combination of evolutionism and hedonism. For it holds the double position that the end is to promote life, and that life is to be promoted by adding to pleasure; or else, that the end is pleasure, but that pleasure is to be got by following evolution. It postulates, therefore, that the progress of life tends, and tends even in a proportionate degree, to the increase of pleasure. Yet we could obtain no proof that this progress does, as a matter of fact, increase pleasure in any regular way. On the contrary, the facts of experience seemed to show that life and pleasure do not advance proportionately, nor even always concomitantly. But a still more important and fundamental objection to the hedonistic form of evolutionism was deduced from the nature of pleasure itself; for it can be modified indefinitely, and always follows in the wake of