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in a certain known manner. To-day we are in state A; to-morrow we shall be in, or well on the way towards, state Ab; therefore, runs the conclusion, implied or expressed, we ought to make Ab our end. But this is more than a fallacy due to the confusion of the two meanings of “end.” The conclusion to which it leads is inconsistent with, or at least shows the one-sidedness of, the premisses from which it was drawn. For, if Ab is really the next term in the series of historical progress, our making it our end can neither help nor hinder its realisation. If, on the other hand, there is really a meaning in our making the world-end our own, then we cannot bring that end, the realisation of which is conceived as still in the future, under the category of efficient causality, and say with confidence that it is the next stage in the course of events.
The idea does not work itself out in the same way 3. Difference as an efficient cause works in the processes of nature. We might indeed speak—perhaps with some intel- a ligible meaning—of the tendency of evolution becoming conscious in man, and then working towards its own realisation as a fixed idea. So far as the simpler representations are concerned, this mode of action has been clearly illustrated in Mr Bain's writings; and the characteristic is not limited to the less complex kinds of mental objects. The idea is, in its own nature, a force tending both to exist in consciousness and to realise itself through the
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motor energies.? Consciousness of an end is a motive to action. Thus the notion of final cause includes that of efficient cause; but the two are not convertible. The idea of an end, being conceived by reason, cannot be described simply as a tendency become conscious. It has passed into the region in which various conceptions are, or may be, competing against one another, and the resultant is decided on upon grounds which may be called subjective since they proceed from conscious determination. However the laws of this conscious determination may be expressed, they are not to be identified with the natural sequence of events as it may be conceived to exist independently of the individual consciousness. What seems the tendency of things may be altered or modified upon some ground of preference by the conscious subject. In passing therefore to the working out of a rational or mental idea—such as is implied in the conception of an end—we can no longer fully represent our notions by means of the deter
mined temporal succession called causality. These no- Thus the empirical standpoint leaves the case tions uncon. nected by incomplete. A man might quite reasonably ask empiricism,
why he should adopt as maxims of conduct the laws seen to operate in nature. The end, in this way, is not made to follow from the natural function of man. It is simply a mode in which the events of the world
1 Cf. Fouillée, Critique des systèmes de morale contemporains, p. 13 f.
occur; and we must, therefore, give a reason why it should be adopted as his end by the individual agent.
To him there may be no sufficient grounds of inducement to become “a self-conscious agent in the evolution of the universe.” From the purely evolutionist point of view, no definite attempt has been made to solve the difficulty. It seems really to go no deeper than Dr Johnson's reply to Boswell, when the latter plagued him to give a reason for action: ««Sir,' said he, in an animated tone, ‘it is driving on the system of life.'” When any further answer is attempted now to the question, it appears to be on hedonistic grounds.
But it is not certain that the next stage of even with development will bring more pleasure along with ance of it than the present. Enough has already been he said of the difficulties and uncertainties which surround any attempt to interpret evolution as tending constantly to increased pleasure. It may be thought, however, that, if neither optimism nor pessimism is the conclusion to which we are led, the modified doctrine of what is called Meliorism may be accepted. And this theory—which holds that the world is improving, that the balance of good over evil, or that of pleasure over pain, is on the increase—might seem to form a convenient support to the present doctrine. For it may appear to follow from it that, if the next stage in
i Boswell's Life of Johnson, chap. liv.
the world-process—that towards which evolution is tending—is known, then we should make it our end to accelerate this stage, as it will be one which brings with it a better state of affairs than the present. But not even the most enthusiastic “meliorist” has tried to show anything more than that his doctrine holds true in general, and that, although progress has many receding waves, the tide of human happiness is rising. But we cannot tell how great these receding waves may be; nor may we say that our action can have no power to check them. It follows, therefore, that, in judging of any special and temporary movement of events (and it is not pretended that our anticipatory knowledge of the future can extend far), we cannot assume that the second stage will be better than the first, or that voluntary modification of it—if that be possible—might not improve both the immediate result and its later consequences. It becomes necessary, therefore, to compare the value of the two by the directly pleasurable effects they may be expected to have, so that we are driven back to test the course of evolution by reference to some other principle. The further we go in examining an empirical theory, the clearer does it become that it can make no nearer approach to the discovery of an ethical end, than to point out what courses of action are likely to be the pleasantest, or what tendencies to action the strong.
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est: while this can only be done within certain limits. The doctrine of evolution itself, when added to empirical morality, only widens our view of the old landscape—does not enable us to pass from “is” to “ought,” or from efficient to final cause, any more than the telescope can point beyond the sphere of spatial quantity.
We are endeavouring to get at the idea or end New point of human nature in an impossible way when we tro attempt to reach it on purely empirical lines, and teleology think that, if we work long enough on them, we are sure to come to it. In the same way it was formerly thought by physiologists that, if we thoroughly examined the brain with microscope and scalpel, we should come upon the seat of the soul at last, while psychologists were fain to believe that, in addition to all our presentations of objects, we had also a presentation of the subject or thinking being. The mistake of both was in imagining that the soul was a thing amongst other things, or a presentation amongst other presentations, instead of the subject and condition of there being either things or thoughts at all. Of a similar character is the attempt to get at an end or final cause without leaving the point of view of efficient causality. Were it successful, it would reduce final cause to mechanism. To look upon man or upon nature as manifesting an end implies an idea or notion of the object as a whole, over and above