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mental phenomena seems to imply the superposition of a new theory of action upon the old theory of psychological hedonism. There is no disguising the importance of the modification thus introduced. The name "fixed idea” is misleading if it be taken to imply that persistency and tendency to action are properties belonging to a certain class of ideas only. Mr Bain's doctrine is founded on the hypothesis of the identity of the nervous centres which function in representation and in sensation, and is therefore valid of all representations or ideas. The characteristics of persistency, and of tendency to action, are therefore normal characteristics of presentations, though they may belong in an unusual degree to some ideas from the relation these hold to the dominant cluster of ideas in the individual consciousness. And if we thus attribute to all ideas without exception the tendency to self-realisation, and recognise—as we must—the relation of mutual assistance or inhibition which ideas bear to one another in virtue of their being “presented” to the same subject, we have granted the material out of which, in Herbart's skilful“ Mechanik des Geistes,” the phenomena of feeling and desire are woven.
2. The non hedonistic theory of action.
The view of individual human nature, which holds that all its desires are not directed to personal pleasure, thus claims consideration. With its less restricted theory of action, this doctrine
unifying the various im
may seem to offer a larger means of determining the appropriate end of human conduct. In particular, the suggestion naturally occurs that the ethical end will, on this theory, be something else than pleasure. But there is, nevertheless, no contradiction in holding—as Mr Sidgwick does—that although other objects than pleasure are actually desired, there is nothing else which can be held to be ultimately desirable, or the tendency to which can be said to have moral worth.
The ethical barrenness of psychological hedonism Difficulty of has been seen to result from its narrow and inflexible view of human nature. But theories such as pulses it
implies, those now to be considered have, in an ethical regard, to overcome a difficulty of another kind in the variety of impulses which they admit upon the stage. The “objects” to which these impulses or desires relate have as yet received no further characterisation than that they are objects of desire. And the difficulty of finding a principle by which some order of precedence or value amongst them may be determined is just, in other words, the difficulty of obtaining a moral standard.
The question does not ordinarily arise in the
1“ If there be any principles or affections in the mind of man distinct from self-love, that the things those principles tend towards, or the objects of those affections are, each of them in themselves eligible to be pursued upon its own account, and to be rested in as an end, is implied in the very idea of such principle or affection.”—Butler, Sermons, Pref.
above form, because the moral standard is commonly taken for granted, and the various impulses, affections, and dispositions are made to derive their ethical rank from their relation to that standard. But this method is obviously inappropriate when the standard is still to be ascertained, its determination being the object of inquiry. And it may seem that the constitution of man contains in itself a means of distinguishing the moral value of its vari
ous elements, or of the actions to which they lead, so as to de- and thus furnishing a moral standard or end for standard conduct. This purpose seems to have been to some
extent, though not quite clearly, kept in view by the writers who, in last century, contended against the selfish theory which had been so crudely enunciated by Hobbes. They attempted to show that selfishness was not the only, nor even the most prominent, principle of action ; and, from the system of diverse principles which they found implanted in human nature, they endeavoured to
work out a theory of conduct. This at.. Especially amongst the later English moralists the English Adam Smith, for instance — the question of the moralists,
end or standard came almost to drop out of sight in the midst of the controversy regarding the nature of the “moral sense” or “moral faculty”— the way, that is, in which we become aware of the difference between right and wrong. But in Shaftesbury, Butler, and Hutcheson—the writers
This attempted by
who formulated this doctrine of the moral sensethe attempt is made to connect a theory of the criterion of morality with the source of our knowledge of it. Shaftesbury and Hutcheson both but along looked upon social welfare or the general happiness tarian crias the end of moral conduct, and the criterion in terion, accordance with which moral character is ascribed to actions; at the same time that their main contention was for the immediateness of the “sense" by which we perceive these moral qualities. And they sought to establish the connection of the two doctrines by means of the benevolent feelingswhich they held to be original and independent of private interest—and their immediate approval by the reflex or moral sense of the individual man. Similar ideas appear in Butler, at the same time that he tended to make conscience or the moral sense the standard of morality, as well as the source of our knowledge of it. They, as well as he, however, found it necessary to come back from the social or political to the individual point of view. Even if their conception of “the good” was not evolved from the nature of the individual man, their philosophical standpoint required them to leave broader ground, and show it to be the individual's natural goal. And in doing this, their and with constant tendency is to revert to egoistic arguments — demonstrating the complete harmony of virtue and interest, or attempting to prove to the
with a utili
individual that his own happiness consists in the exercise of the social affections. Thus Shaftesbury tries to show, by an empirical collection of results, that to have the “natural” (or social) affections too weak, or the private affections too strong, is a source of misery, as well as the chief source of vice; and that, largely owing to the pleasure of virtuous action, it is “to the private interest and good of every one to work to the general good.”2 Hutcheson, again, devotes a large portion of his most mature work to allay the suspicion “ that in following the impulse of our kind affections and the moral faculty we are counteracting our interests, and abandoning what may be of more consequence to our happiness than either this self-approbation or the applauses of others ;” 3 while Butler, referring to virtuous conduct, says, in a well-known passage, that “when we sit down in a cool hour we can neither justify, to ourselves this or any other pursuit, till we are convinced that it will be for our happiness, or at least not contrary to it.” 4 Opposed as the whole school were to the selfish theory of human action, they never spoke of any sacrifice of private happiness as a thing to be looked for, or in any way taken into account, in conduct which is the result of calm deliberation. It is difficult, there
1 Inquiry concerning Virtue, II. i. 3.
4 Sermons, xi.