« AnteriorContinuar »
view. But in general it is the virtues that most obviously benefit the tribe that are rewarded, and those that most obviously harm it that are punished.
(3) Another important means of securing morality in the tribe is the education of the young. This includes not only deliberate instruction, encouragement, and warning, but various symbolic rites and customs, whose value in impressing the plastic minds of the boys and girls of the tribe is only half realized. Initiation into manhood is accompanied in many races of men by solemn ceremonies, which instill into the youth the necessity and glory of courage, endurance, self-control, and other virtues. The maidens are taught by equally solemn rites the obligatoriness of chastity. The lowest races studied by anthropologists -- which, however, represent, of course, the result of ages of evolution - have commonly an elaborate provision for the guidance of the young into the paths of the tribal morals.
(4) Further, all occasions upon which the tribe gets together for common work or play strengthen the grouployalty and make the group-welfare appeal to the member as his own good. Hunting expeditions and wars, the sowing and reaping of the communal harvest, births, marriages, and deaths, in which usually the group as a whole takes a keen interest, feasts and dances, bard-recitals,- all common undertakings, dangers, calamities, triumphs, and celebrations, - merge the individuality of the separate members into a unity. In many primitive races these influences are so strong that the individual has scarcely any separate life, but lives from childhood till death for the tribe and its welfare.
(5) Religion is, until late in civilization, almost wholly & group affair. The gods are tribal gods, their commands are chiefly the more obvious duties to the tribe. The fear of their displeasure and the hope of their assistance are among
the most powerful of the sanctions of early morality. Where a special set of men are set aside as priests, to foster the religious consciousness and insure obedience to the divine behests, he is rash who dares openly to transgress. The idea of "taboo" — of certain acts which must not be done, certain objects which must not be touched, etc. — is extraordinarily prominent among many early peoples. The taboo may not be clearly connected with a divine prohibition; but, whether vague and mysterious or explicit, it brings the awe of the supernatural to bear upon daily conduct. The worship of the gods is one of the most important of the common activities, covered by the preceding paragraph, which make for the unifying of a tribe; and the sense of their presence and jealous interest in its welfare one of the strongest motives that restrain the individual from cowardice or lust or any anti-social conduct.
(6) With the development of language, the moral experience of a people becomes crystallized into maxims, proverbs, and injunctions, which the elders pass on to the boys and girls together with their comments and personal instruction. Oral precepts thus condense the gist of recurrent experience for the benefit of each new generation. Such saws as “Honesty is the best policy,” “Lies are shortlived,” “Illgotten gains do not prosper,” date, no doubt, well back toward the origin of articulate language. The gathering antiquity of this inherited counsel adds prestige to the personal authority of the old men who love to repeat it; and the customs once instinctive and unconsciously imitated, or adopted from fear and the hope of praise, are now consciously cultivated as intrinsically desirable. There is, of course, very little realization of why some acts are commended and others prohibited; the mere fact that such and such are the tribal customs, that thus and so things have been done, is enough. Primitive peoples are highly conservative and
afraid of innovation. So that the moral habits which were established before the age of reflection and articulate speech remain for the most part after they have become crystallized into precepts and commands, and by this articulating process become much more firmly intrenched. Then from the existence of miscellaneous maxims and prohibitions, taught by the elders and linked with whatever impulsive and haphazard punishments are customary, to the formulation of legal codes, with definite penalties attached to specific infringements, is an easy transition. With the invention of written language these laws could become still better fixed and more clearly known. The appointment of certain men of authority as judges, to investigate alleged cases of transgression and award the proper penalties, completes the evolution of a civilized legal system, the most powerful of all deterrents from flagrantly anti-social acts.
Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, chaps. II, III. H. Spencer, Data of Ethics, chap. II, secs. 5, 6. J. Fiske, Cosmic Philosophy, pt. II, chap. XXII, second half. A. Sutherland, Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct, vol. 1. C. S. Wake, Evolution of Morality, vol. I, chaps. V, VI, VII. P. V. N. Myers, History as Past Ethics, chap. I. P. Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, chaps. 1-iv. L. T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution, pt. I, chaps. 1–111. Westermarck, op. cit., chap. XXXIV. J. Fiske, Through Nature to God, pt. II, “The Cosmic Roots of Love and Self-Sacrifice.” C. Read, Natural and Social Morals, chap. III. W. I. Thomas, Source Book of Social Origins.
On the morality of animals, see: M. F. Washburn, The Animal Mind. E. L. Thorndike, Animal Intelligence. August Forel, Ants and Some Other Insects. C. Lloyd Morgan, Animal Behavior. L. T. Hobhouse, The Intelligence of Animals. E. P. Evans, Evolutional Ethics and Animal Psychology.
OUTWARD DEVELOPMENT — MORALS
What is the difference between morals and non-moral
customs? MORALITY, before it is a matter of legal prescription or of reflective insight, is a matter of instinctive and unconsciously imitated habit. That this is so is shown by the fact that many ethical terms are by their etymology connected with the idea of custom. “Morals” and “morality" are from the Latin mores, usually translated "customs," "ethics,” from a Greek root of similar sense. The German Sitten has the same fused meanings. Most of our present-day morality is a matter of custom or convention; and there are those who make a complete identification of the two concepts, morality being simply to them conventional habits of conduct.
But a little thought will show that there is a distinction in our common usage; the two categories overlap, but are not identical. On the one hand, our highest moral ideals have never become customary; we long, in our best moments, to make them habitual, but seldom actually attain them. The morals of Jesus, of Buddha, of Marcus Aurelius, have never become habits with any but the saints, yet we recognize them as the high-water mark of human morality. On the other hand, many of our customs have no moral aspect. I may have a fixed habit of going from my home to my office by a certain one out of a number of equally advantageous routes. All of the members of my set may habitually pronounce a given word in a certain way rather than in
an alternative manner equally correct. But about such habits there is nothing moral or immoral.
In a word, morals are customs that matter, or are supposed to matter ; standards to which each member of a group is expected by the other members to conform, and for the neglect of which he is punished, frowned upon, scorned, or blamed. Toward these standards he feels, therefore, a vague or definite pressure, the reflection in him of the feelings of his fellows. The line between mere habits or manners and morals is differently drawn in different times and places, according to the differing ideas as to what matters. The same actions which are moral to one community (i.e., arouse feelings or judgments of commendation) may be immoral to another community (i.e., arouse reprobation or scorn) and non-moral to a third (i.e., arouse no such response at all). For example, in one tribe tattooing may be a mere matter of personal liking, of no importance and with no group-judgment upon it; yet certain habits with regard to it may become widespread. In another tribe certain tattoos may be thought to be enjoined by the god, and their neglect deemed a matter of serious importance to the tribe as a whole; tattooing may here be said to be a part of the tribal morals. To us moderns it is probably a morally indifferent affair; but if we should learn it to be seriously deleterious to the body, it would again become a moral matter. In short, morals are customs that affect, or are supposed to affect, a man's life or that of his tribe for weal or woe.
Obviously, this discrimination is not consciously made by savages; indeed, to this day, such distinctions are enveloped in a haze for the average man. Men do not realize the raison d'être of morals. They follow them because their fathers did or their fellows do; because they inherit instincts that drive them in their direction or inevitably imitate those who have formed the habits before; because they feel a